Regular readers of ye ol' blog will know that I've been hinting around about something called SparkPeople for the past couple of days... I wanted to save the full description for my WFMW post, so that I can share this tool (which is, essentially, what it is) with as many people as possible.
First, a little background... I started gaining weight with puberty, but unlike most of my peers, I didn't gain the height to balance it out (I'm 5'4"). And I love to cook, and I love food. And I really, really hate to exercise. Fast forward to 32 years of age, and I find myself with a lot of weight to lose. A lot. Like 85 pounds.
That would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to admit on the internet, for all the world to see, if it weren't for SparkPeople.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Over the years I've tried joining a gym (expensive, and absolutely no change in my body whatsoever), dieting (usually long enough to go to the store, buy all the diet food, see the Oreos, decide to "treat myself," eat the entire package of Oreos, loathe myself, and swear that dieting doesn't work.... HAHAHA!), Weight Watchers (lost 10 pounds over the course of several months, HATED the meetings), aerobics (kill. me. now.) and so on.
Here's the thing - I've always started these things from a point of discouragement and feeling beaten and desperate - never out of excitement or enthusiasm, never from a point of strength.
Then I heard about SparkPeople. Married friends of ours had each (EACH!) lost 20 pounds in a MONTH using the COMPLETELY FREE SparkPeople program. Clearly this required further investigation.
I joined Sunday. I've lost 4 pounds. I've learned how to eat better (I am not going to bore y'all with endless stories about what I ate and how much and blah blah because you're here to see cute kids, not hear about my diet. BORING. But Monday I thought I'd been really good, even though I was up in Grammaland I only ate about half what I normally would at dinner, and I ordered the healthiest thing on the menu at lunch - I overdid my target calories by about 1100. And I thought I'd been good! It was really eye opening). I got up and exercised Monday and Tuesday. I bought a Swiss ball to help me exercise. I bought a yoga mat. I planned what I was going to eat when I went out for lunch on Tuesday BEFORE I left the house, and I stuck to it, and felt GREAT afterwards...
It's a very good thing.
Here's how it works -
Under myNutrition, you can get personalized menus (which you can totally customize - let's say tonight is fish and spinach, but you hate both, you can click on them and substitute chicken and broccoli instead, and it doesn't let you substitute ice cream. Hahaha... You can also add custom food, which is handy. I added my morning coffee and copied it to every day). It keeps track of calories, carbs, fat, and protein. It prints reports so you can see how you've done over time. There's a "quick track" area to keep track of how many glasses of water you're drinking, and how many servings of fruit and veg you're eating. It's a very powerful tool for keeping track of what you're putting in your mouth. I had no idea I was mindlessly eating so much (and that I was eating so much even when I thought I was being mindful!). You get points for tracking your food and reaching your goals (water, etc.). It prints your grocery list for you, so that you don't even have to think when you go to the store. I've paid for things (like Saving Dinner) to do that in the past. This is still free, and fully customizable. And it covers all three meals plus one snack a day, where Saving Dinner was just dinner.
Under myFitness, you can enter how much cardio and strength training you've done each day. It recommends various activities for you based on what equipment you said you had available. If you don't like crunches (and really, who does?) you can swap them out for some other exercise that's more comfortable. You get points for tracking your exercise. It prints reports, too.
Under Weigh In you can enter your weight and measurements (you can fully customize this, too, if you want to keep track of the size of your thighs, it allows you to put in a place, and it will graph it along with the standard chest, waist, hips, etc). I can't even tell you how reinforcing it is to start to see that line go down, down, down.
There is a vast community of people on SparkPeople, too, and they're very positive, encouraging, and AVAILABLE 24/7. I've been posting a lot (you get points) in the group "DONE being the fat girl!" (ha) and the main message boards. If you wake up at 3 am and want to eat every Oreo in town, there's someone there, online, to talk you down.
There is a library of information about nutrition, health, and fitness. If you don't know how to properly do a reverse crunch, you can watch a brief, commercial free video that will show you. If you want to learn more about abdominal adhesions, you can find out, for free (and get points). If you want to compare 1/2 of a banana to 3/4 cup apple slices, in terms of nutrition, you can (personally, I'd go for the apple). If you want to see exactly how much that 1/2 cup of fro yo is going to put you over your calories for the day, and what you're going to need to give up in order to fit it in, you can.
People, I am telling you, I have NEVER been this motivated about anything weight loss. Ever. I only wish this had existed for the year before I got married. I might not have been the wide bride.
Did I mention that I've already lost 4 pounds? Since Sunday? That's half of what I lost doing Weight Watchers for like 3 or 4 months, and SparkPeople is FREE.
In a nutshell, SparkPeople is like Facebook with a purpose, and every bit as addictive. My username is Amy0526, and I really hope that if you want to change your life, you'll join SparkPeople and "friend" me. Because I am DONE being the fat girl. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy, strong mother who teaches them how to stay healthy and fit. I want to be able to play with them until they're worn out. I want to be BJ's trophy wife :) . And I want you to come with me.
Shrinking Works for ME! Visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer for more WFMW tips!