DANCINGGARDENER
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MetaSpark

Saturday, September 26, 2020

So I'm going to be a little meta today and talk about Sparkpeople.

Back in 2010 I joined and really got sucked in by all the support and optimism of the community. I also loved the gamification, streaks and reports. The thrill of spinning the wheel displaced many a bad habit for a couple years. I lost 42 lbs. After never ever running before, I ran two 5ks and THREE triathlons.

Then came 2 years not dying from cancer. Then my marriage disolved. Then I had to pull together a new solo life after 30 years of wife, mother, friend. Through out I kept coming back to Sparkpeople hoping to rekindle all the amazing things I had accomplished. I spent many an appointment talking to my therapist about longing for that fire I once had. But I would rewrite an "I'm back" entry on my Sparkpage and then drift off back to my upheaved world and continue to grasp all the loose strings of my life into my arms and barely hold on.

Early this year I found myself on the other side of all the upheaval I was strong, solo and very happy. My "only" problem was back fat and getting the talk from my beloved doctor about my cholesterol. Sigh. I thought about Sparkpeople a lot before actually coming back. I saw Sparkpeople as something I had failed to return to over and over. All my successes were swallowed by how I had "failed" at Sparkpeople.

Then in February I got an email from Sparkpage that I had Sparkmail from HIPPICHICK1. I was instantly thrown back to all the fun I had meeting friends on Sparkmail. But then again it made me feel miserable because I couldn't bring myself to open the email. It still sits in my inbox to remind me how messaging friends you haven't seen for years might be just the nudge she needs. If you are reading this right now,HIPPICHICK1, you will never know what a life saver that hopeful message into the dark was. Thank you so much for remembering me.

Then, on Memorial Day, after a weekend of eating most of a three layer carrot cake with massive amounts of buttercream frosting, I woke up completely Sparking over with the desire to get back on that path I left years ago. I dug out my tenners, redownloaded the UK NHS Couch to 5k week one podcast, drove to the trail head and just did what I was told. I came home, logged into Sparkpeople, and logged my first "run" in seven years. Then logged my food. Then I read a couple running articles. Then I went looking to see which friends are active on Sparkpeople at the moment. Then, then , then... I was rolling in the warmth of all the sparkiness that is here! That was 125 days ago of every day Sparking and I have never felt stronger and happier.

I really have no idea why I woke up that morning so ready to dedicate myself to myself on that particular day. Maybe because Memorial Day makes for a good day one for a summer endeavor. I can tell you though I was very scared though that this would be yet another flash in the pan source of shame. When the banner came up for Premium Coaching I thought, well $4.99 is cheaper than a monthly magazine, what can it hurt? By day one of the free trial period I was completely sold.

There are other benefits of Premium Coaching but the daily series of six webpages is my every-morning ritual. It starts with a daily visualizations, a check in where I can rate how motivated and successful I feel at the moment, then a daily lesson (usually a video) followed by a tracking page (food, exercise, sleep...) and a chance to review what goals you have set and how you are doing with them. This daily 15 minutes concludes with updating my Sparkpage status and then I get a little yoo hoo! meme for showing up and sparking. And because I am really into the gamification, I get TWENTY FIVE points every time I go through the daily Premium Coaching assignments.



I've been using Premium Coaching for 125 days now (but who's counting?). Twice in that time I have been in bed late at night, got up, turned on the light and went out to log into SP because the daily part of this streak is important to me. True I log everything but twice I forgot to do the Premium Coaching assignments. And that simply won't do. I am actually halfway through the 90 day "SparkDiet" premium coaching assignments for the second time but there are also entire sets for plateaus and "consistency and maintenance" which I haven't even looked at yet because I am still learning a lot from the initial set of 90 days. Yep, premium workouts, better reports, premium coaching, being able to ask for coaching advice from a real person through email, and a lot more but honestly even without these, the $5 a month is worth it for an ad-free environment and knowing I am supporting those who support Sparkpeople.

Friends like HIPPICHIC1 through the tiniest of gestures got me back here and Premium Coaching is keeping me showing up every day. I'm down 28 pounds, run 10 miles a week, and feel stronger, lighter and bouncier than I have in years!

And as always in every part of life, your mileage may vary.
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