Motivation Articles

One Day at a Time - Part 1 *

Donna's ''Ah Ha'' Moment


Couldn’t all of us use a little motivation from time to time? Recently, one member inspired everyone here at SparkPeople, and we think her story can help you too. Donna (DONNA999) may be several pounds away from her goal, but as a busy mother of two with a demanding job, she’s like so many of us—learning from mistakes, making gradual changes, seeing progress and facing pitfalls. We’re going to follow her as she uses SparkPeople to reach her goals. Read how her journey began.

From "Donna’s Journal," April 27th 2005, 1:00 a.m.

I decided to start a journal today because I had my second "ah ha" moment today, and I've realized I need something to keep me focused on what I have to accomplish. I'm going to be brutally honest with myself.

For the last eight years I've been involved in software implementation projects for my company. This involves long hours at work, most of it sitting in front of a computer. To keep us from leaving the office, the project managers provide lots and lots of food and snacks within easy reach.

Okay, okay, most people realize that lots of sitting and lots of eating adds up to lots of weight. But while I "knew" it had a lot to do with my weight gain, I didn't really "realize" the impact.

The first "ah ha" moment came on the first day I recorded my food intake in the Nutrition Tracker. I remember the date very, very well. March 29th.

I THOUGHT I had been doing well during the day not eating nearly as much as I normally would. After all, I only ate one of the donuts and didn't snack on several additional ones while I worked. I skipped the jars of candy, passed up the cookies and chocolate cake, cut back on my cokes, from three or four to only two. I didn't have a BIG lunch—just ate one of the cheeseburgers provided and only half my fries.

I got home from work and cooked dinner for the boys and helped them with their homework and then watched a little TV to relax. Just before I was going to go to bed I remembered that I planned to log my food for the day. I logged on to SparkPeople and started recording.

The numbers piled up! It was a major shock to see how quickly the calories, fat grams, and carbs added up. I was over the suggested limit by lunch and the numbers kept on coming.

I stared at the screen and then took off some of the food so it wouldn't look as bad, I adjusted quantities, traded full-fat for fat-free, and changed and changed and changed. I put food in and then took it out again as if that would take the calories out of my body—oh, wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? Over and over I played with the food list.

After a while, I stared at the screen and I knew I was wasting my time if I didn't record what I really ate.

I couldn't stay in denial any longer, as my first "ah ha" moment bounced through my brain like a rubber ball in a small enclosed place.

I ate too much.

It was as simple as that, I thought. I need to learn to control my portions and control the number of calories I eat.

I thought of how much I weighed that morning—205 pounds. More than I had ever weighted in my life. Every month I seemed to put on another pound or two, until a week ago I had to break down and buy a size-18 dress for Easter brunch. Buying that size had been such a shock. I still thought of myself as a size 5 or 7. But I wasn't that size anymore. I hadn't been in about eight years.

I've always been a good planner and scheduler. It's one of my strengths. I decided that I was going to take the time to PLAN my food a day early and then stick with my plan. Again, a simple thought, but then no one ever said eating healthy was complicated.

That night and every night since, I have created my food plan for the next day. I scheduled three meals and two to three snacks for work. Worked to ensure that there were at least two fruit and two veggies and two dairies every day. I also vowed I would drink my 8 glasses of water BEFORE I drank a single coke.

I've stuck to my plan like cement glue to paper. If I wanted to eat something not on my plan, I went to the computer and adjusted the food before a crumb crossed my lips. If I could eat it and stay within my calories, fat, and carbs then I would eat it. If not, I wouldn’t.

It was hard at first. Planning my food. Drinking my water. But it became easier over the weeks. It took almost three weeks for me to drink 8 glasses of water in a day. By the time I managed to do it, I no longer craved the cokes.

The results of "scheduling" and tracking my food and adding exercise into my week have been great. I lost 13 pounds in a couple of weeks, and began wearing my looser size 14s.

I'd thought I had the whole "getting into and staying in a healthy weight" thing down and was feeling smug and proud... then came my second "ah ha" moment...

* Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program. 

Read more from "Donna’s Journal".

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Member Comments

  • I loved reading about your "aha" moment. When I first became aware of my distorted perception of portions, it was a real eye-opener. Thank you.
  • All we can do today is all we can do today. Break up your goals into day size bites!
  • Far too often we are intimidated by the enormity of a project when if we viewed it as a series of smaller projects we could easily tackle them
    Great inspirational events have been narrated, this is work created by our brains, i seen some like effective program on http://www.lightw
    -stimulator-method/ , these program also helpful for creating new and effective goods for the human being
    Wow, I really needed to see this. Like Donna, I used to be a pretty small size and although I've been overweight for about 10 years now, it never fails to shock me when I have to buy clothes or look at myself in pictures! Last week I ate everything in sight...I hate to admit that, but it's true. And all that after I had actually lost 6 lbs.! I don't even want to know how much I gained. So.....deep breath and moving on. I have a big move in 2 months and it's so stressful, the outcome of the move will be GREAT, but getting it over with is making me anxious. Thanks for the brutally honest story, Donna...I hope to post back by the end of the week that I have regained control. Going to the supermarket after work to pick up something decent to cook. I thank God for this site and knowing I can read about others! :)

    Without an Aha moment - at least 1 ! -
    the health/weight loss journey
    is impossible

    Keep up the GOOD WORK

  • When I clicked on "Donna's journal" to continue reading, it was nowhere to be found, not even in a search. Where is the rest of the story?
  • I used to do the same thing - 'edit' my food for the day so it didn't look so bad. Like lying to myself and a website would make my pants fit anymore comfortably...
  • Wow, did this hit home! I'm basically the same starting weight and size, and used to be the same dress size (although when I reach Size 10 again, I think I will be completely and blissfully satisfied).
    So happy this is part of the motivational/insp
    irational series and I can refer to it again and again!
  • though of my self in many places of the blog it made me smile when you talked about not putting in all your food so the count would not be so high.
    thank you for sharing that , planning ahead that is wh at I am going to do
  • LOTTY711
    Very motivational. I know exactly how it feels to see how many calories you are actually eating. I have really made a concerted effort to stay with in my calories allotment.
    Reading this was as if I wrote it myself! I could relate to every word of it! It is a real wake up call to truly do better at planning and tracking and to be honest with myself! Thank You!
    Thanks Donna for the inspiring story. I think using a journal is a positive step that I want to incorporate into my plan.
  • I just loved this article, My heart just went out to Donna...although I have only been active in Sparks for the last 3 months...I to have had that Ah-Ha moment....mine one day was : Okay instead of putting the quantity down as I ate 2 servings, I would just put 1 servings....then the light bulb went off.... Wow ... who the hell do I think I am fooling .....I am the only one who looks at this (Tracker) The Whole Point of tracking is seeing what is going on with what I put in this Huge suitcase called me....Only then can I make changes I know that no matter what I eat and amount goes in the tracker ... Cause if I don't what is the point and where will it get me? And now 3 months later, yes the tracker works for me :)
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