Still Under Tall (What I learned from Spring 5% Challenge)
Monday, June 01, 2015
With a small feeling of trepidation I signed up for the Spring 5% Challenge. I had never participated in a Challenge like this and I wasn't sure I could keep up with the accountability portion that is required to be part of a team.
I signed up, and was part of the Champions in the Kitchen. I chose that team because I really enjoy cooking and it sounded like the competition would not be overwhelming for a newbie. I didn't have any idea how life changing this challenge would be!
First of all, the Team members of Champions in the Kitchen are a really warm and wonderful, supportive group. I was still pretty new to SparkPeople and all the team leaders made me feel really comfortable. Now, eight weeks later I have an entire team of friends who struggle with some of the same problems and challenges I do and offer up continuous support.
I learned that once I had committed to participating, I have a competitive streak I never acknowledged. That streak started out keeping me accountable and grew to wanting to do my best not just for the Team but to help the Team accomplish the overall goals set by the Spring 5% Challenge.
I learned that choosing a reasonable goal (such as losing 5% of your starting weight over an 8-week period of time) was not only a new concept to me, but a very attainable goal. Every other time I tried to lose excess weight I set unrealistic goals. You know, "I have to lose 100 pounds, and I need to do it in 6 months." Well, even the best of intentions didn't fool my body. My body heard the goal and just winked at itself and said "Yeah, right. Dream on sucker." Then my body threw up every roadblock known to "dieters'.
Yeah, that's another thing: I am NOT on a diet! I am following a healthy eating plane for LIFE. Truth to tell, it's no secret that the diagnosis of Diabetes 2 scared the reality into me, and I knew that I'd better get on board real quick if I wanted a chance to live to see my grandchildren all reach adult-hood. I also, finally, accepted the cold fact that my life depended on me tracking my carbs and making healthy choices and that THIS IS NEVER GOING TO END.
A "diet" is an often unrealistic food plan that "ends" when the requisite number of pounds is lost or the "dieter" just gives up. Guess what camp always chose me first? I always, always ended up with a big LOSER stamp on my forehead and it was NOT for the weight that came off and (more importantly) stayed off.
I've lost the same weight more times than I can count. I actually reached a point in time where I did give up. I had decided there was no point to trying when nothing worked. Fortunately I was diagnosed with Diabetes. Yep, that was probably the best diagnosis I could have received because the mere threat of diabetes did nothing, nada, zip, zilch, ZERO. Some of us have to learn everything the hard way.
SO, what did else was different this time around? First, no food is off-limits as long as it is portioned out and tracked. Sometimes I'll even decide to eat a food and track it before I eat it...and when I check the "numbers" I decide that food isn't worth it and that there are healthier choices available. So I choose healthy. Sometimes the less healthy choice wins out, but no matter what I always track everything. I even tracked on Easter! (Thank goodness that was the only holiday to hit early on in the Challenge. By the time Memorial Day rolled around I was much stronger.
Second, since our exercise minutes counted as miles to reach our destinations, I knew I had to move to be able to help the Team. For every minute of "intentional exercise" we logged one mile. That meant that just counting steps with my Fitbit wasn't going to do it. I had to make an effort to move. Trust me, it was an EFFORT! I had worked retail from 2009 to 2013 and mostly just sat around for 2 years using Fibromyalgia and arthritis pain as an excuse to avoid exercise. Yeah, I know, the best medicine for Fibromyalgia doesn't come in a capsule it comes in your walking shoes.
I was so out of shape, it was truly embarrassing. I couldn't walk 100 feet without being winded. We have two very steep but very short staircases to navigate in the house and I did anything to avoid using the stairs unless it involved going to the kitchen or to bed. And guess what, my husband felt so awful that I had so much pain he just waited on me hand and foot. My fingers were the only trim things on my body (I spend a lot of time at the keyboard).
In just 8 short weeks I went from a "lump" walking as little as possible to someone who really wants to exercise a minimum of 20 minutes a day and who walked less than 1000 steps a day to 4,000 plus steps each day. Every week I adjust that goal upward and eventually I'll regularly get 10k steps/day. Then I'll aim for 12k and who knows where it will stop?
Now I use my elliptical trainer daily because I still have pain, but I no longer use it as an excuse for inactivity. I can go for walks with my husband and our dog without stopping to rest along the way. When I take the dog out, I'm walking with her, not just waiting by the door until she does her business. Yes, I can still get my heart rate up and I can work up a sweat just by walking up the hills in the neighborhood, but now I don't feel like I'm going to pass out before we get back home. Now I look for ways to include more steps in my daily routine, so I'm using those steps a lot!
I also learned that a little consistency goes a l-o-n-g way! Great results don't occur overnight, great results come with effort and time. If I just look at one day at a time I know I can handle whatever comes my way. Life doesn't get easier when your health improves, but the way you approach life when your health improves really does become easier.
Wonder what I'll learn in future challenges?