Spark Progress

So now that I am a little over a week into the SparkPeople system, I will share how I’m doing.

I’m doing fantasic, thank you for asking!

After the first week I have lost 3 lbs.  I’m not measuring inches, just going by how my clothes fit, because I’ve learned that for me the measuring tape is more neurosis building than the scale.

Not only have I lost some weight but I feel fucking fabulous!  I was confronted with a pot luck at the dojang this past Saturday (black belt presentations – one of my instructors is now Sah Bum Nim – 5th degree Black Belt), I had 1/2 piece a cake, a potsticker, some fruit and veggies and then I bolted.  Talking with a fellow student I mentioned that I am pleasantly surprised with how much better I feel not just physically but mentally.  He made the comment “Garbage in, garbage out” and until now I never realized how true that is.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with was eating right and not giving into every craving that came my way.  After eating amazingly clean for a week, I now have a very clear reason to keep going – my mental health.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety in the past, and the past few days I feel like I love everything, everywhere.  Never before has any “diet” caused this great a positive shift in how I feel.  On the Zone and BFL I was always cranky and sometimes headachy.  On the SparkPeople plan I am actually enjoying my life and feel like I have the energy to do whatever I want.

Now, I’m  not saying that this system is perfect, there are a few things I would change (like getting rid of any fat-free food items and just use real food in smaller quantities if possible).  Not much irks me more than manufactured foods (think margarine, or fat-free cheese).  That being said, there are more “reduced-fat” items than “fat-free” and to me that isn’t too bad.

I love how they have goals structured as well.  You get a little check-box that you tick when you complete a goal.  It sounds so basic, yet there is something satisfying about marking down that I remembered to take my vitamin, or do sit-ups, or drink water.  I’m thinking of adding one for flossing my teeth, since I always seem to forget that.

Somehow, I’ve also gotten a lot more motivation to just add extra movement to my day as well.  I try to park as far away from the entrance to the grocery store as I can.  Instead of sitting and knitting during my daughter’s ballet and exercise class I go for a walk.  This weekend my whole family went on a 2.5 hour bike ride then followed with a 1.5 hour walk in the evening, and it was enjoyable!

All in all I’m just going to roll with it.  I don’t really care how I’m getting it work, it’s more important to me that it is working.  We’re also planning a trip in the fall to Vegas and I want to feel as good about myself as I possibly can.

That and I want to look slammin’ in a new wardrobe.

SparkPeople

You know how I keep joking that when it comes to working for myself I’m a pretty slackadaisical boss?

I’ve known for quite some time that I work well when under somebodies direction.  I pretty much live for carrying out orders, looking for approval, and doing it better than anyone else.  Not only that, but I tend to be task oriented.  I think it feeds into my perfectionist tendencies.  A task can be completed, checked off the list, finished and on to the next one.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon SparkPeople.  My first reaction was, oh it’s just another nutrition tracking program like FitDay or LoseIt.   Digging a little deeper I had flashbacks of WeightWatchers, and downing so few calories because I filled up on high point items that I would be dizzy anytime I stood up.

Digging deeper still and following the program for a few days, plus purchasing and starting to read the book, The Spark, on my new Kindle I have to say I’m impressed!  It’s not full of empty “Rah, Rah, you can do it!” cheerleading.  It has a TON of articles about everything from food & nutritioin, to motivation, to a whole encyclopedia of health articles.  They also have exercises for you do do (worksheets and such) to help you figure out what your goals are and create reminders that you can use (offline) to help you stay focused.

One of my biggest problems with “diets” is the lack of variety.  With WW, I tended to have my core foods and stick with them.   For a week or two that’s not bad.   For three months it’s brutal.  I had similar problems with The Zone.  Not only did I tend to settle into eating the same snacks – all.the.time. – but I hated having to do all the calculations for myself.  Sure, I could have used some energy to put together an Excel program for myself, but by that time I lost interest.

I’m on my third day on SparkPeople and so far I’m impressed with the variety and quality of the foods they suggest.  For meals I’ve had lightly glazed salmon with veggies & brown rice, pork tenderloin with sweet potato and applesauce,  black bean salad, a lentil burrito with sour cream, cheese & tomato, and an egg white sandwich with strawberries.  There’s enough variety that when I start to create my own plan, I will have a pretty large database of meals to choose from.  Oh, and so far they are all delicious!  I was able to make the pork loin in the slow cooker with onion, garlic & herbs (my addition), I made a light glaze to put on the salmon (added only about 20-30 calories), and they allow substitutions.  The software even suggests them if you don’t like what they suggest you eat.

They suggest three meals a day with a snack.  My only issue is that the breakfasts seem a bit small.  Like a lot of the other programs, there is a way to track water and fruit/veggie consumption.

My favorite part is that it’s structured in stages.  I’m in Stage 1 so I’m following the nutrition plan and I have just three small additional goals I need to follow.  First is to drink 8 glasses of water a day (I can manage 6 – anymore and I might as well put my name on the bathroom door and conduct all business from there), the second is to do a minimum of 30 crunches or push-ups a day.  The third is to reward myself daily.  I think for a reward I’m going to put aside a dollar a day to spend however I see fit.  Either I can get some lip gloss at the end of the week or save it until the end of the month and maybe buy an item of clothing.

I’m not certain what is added in Stage 2, but I will let you know when I get there.

Oh, oh, oh!   I forgot the best part.  Other than the book (obviously) everything is FREE!  That’s right no charge.  For anything.  Ever.  If you are on SparkPeople and want to look me up, I’m MinivanNinja.