The SparkPeople Blog

10 Ways to Finally Achieve Unshakeable Self-Esteem

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By: , – Judith Belmont, M.S., L.P.C.
1/4/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  74 comments   :  9,702 views

Think back on the last three or four goals you set for yourself. Did they have to do with your physical appearance or career? Chances are the answer is yes. Wanting to lose weight, get fit, get a promotion, eat healthier or be more productive are all admirable goals, but when did we lose sight of making our emotional health and wellness a priority?
As a psychotherapist for more than 40 years, I have been struck with finding time and time again that the one key factor that underlies our sense of happiness and wellbeing is not what we achieve "out there" but rather it is our underlying sense of self-esteem that makes or breaks our sense of wellbeing. It is the underlying filter that we see the world. If we don't truly love—or even like—ourselves, nothing from the outside will truly fill the void from within.
If you are like most of my clients over the years, the phrase, "I'll be happy when…"  typically ends with responses such as "I'm thinner", "I get in better shape", "I find a mate", "I get a better job",  "I get a promotion", " I have children", "I move" or "I have more money". What do responses all have in common? They all assume that things on the outside hold the key to happiness. Many successful, witty, attractive people who by society's standards "have it all" lack inner self-confidence and self-esteem, though. Losing weight, getting fit, earning a promotion or finding a mate are all great, but they do not ensure anything more than a temporary high if a nagging sense of low self-esteem still lurks from within.

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These 3 Simple Changes Helped Diane Lose 128 Pounds

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/2/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  62 comments   :  18,069 views

In 2010, Diane (DIANEDOESSMILES) weighed 288 pounds and was confined to her power chair 97 percent of the time. She had depression and an infection in her big toe that led to a diabetes diagnosis. When she went to the doctor seeking help for back issues, he told her that the pain was because she was fat. "I hated him for saying it, but that got my attention," Diane recalls. "What was I doing to myself?"

Because of her health issues, Diane was encouraged to enter an assisted living facility. When she learned she couldn't take her cat with her, though, she decided it was time to start making changes on her own. She tried another online program but had trouble understanding their system. Diane says she was "hit and miss, but mostly miss" with exercise because her pain level was so high. Although Diane went from 288 to 256 pounds, eventually she found herself on a four-month plateau. Feeling like her weight loss shouldn't have stalled already, she decided it was time to reach out for help and joined SparkPeople.

Breaking Out of the Diet Mentality

Even though she joined SparkPeople, Diane didn't initially follow the program. She was eating below her recommended calorie and nutrient ranges and deprived herself of many of the foods she loved. Despite getting down to 174 pounds, Diane was not happy. "Ever notice the first three letters of the word DIEting? I can't help but to think that was on purpose," she jokes.

Diane used quick-fix strategies instead of permanent, sustainable lifestyle changes, so, even though she was still consistently logging into SparkPeople, she quickly gained the weight back. Diane was very discouraged when she found herself over 200 pounds again.

Determined to turn things around, Diane started blogging on her SparkPage. "This is an amazing tool that many people don't use because they think what they say isn't worthy or important to write about. I felt the same way, but eventually, I found it to be a useful tool," she says. "Over time, more people started to read my blogs. It's not about followers, [though,] It's about me getting healthier- physically, mentally and emotionally. I love blogging now."

Diane's 3 Secrets to Success

Over the past six months, Diane has maintained a 128-pound weight loss. She credits her success to three things:
  1. Tracking food and exercise daily. "I eat within the guidelines SparkPeople has set for me," Diane explains. "I am in the diabetes program and know that I need to keep tracking in order to be successful, staying [within] my calorie, protein, fat and carb ranges." Diane also keeps a close eye on her fiber intake, since that helps with her feelings of fullness and satisfaction.
  2. An attitude of "progress, not perfection." "I learned from others who post that phrase in the Community Goal Feed that I don't have to be perfect in order to be successful," Diane says. "I even painted a rock that says 'progress, not perfection' and keep it on my kitchen counter so I see it often." By focusing more on what she has accomplished and what she's capable of achieving, Diane gives herself permission to make mistakes, learn from them and move forward.
  3. The 5% SparkTeam Challenge. "When I joined SparkPeople, somehow I met a most wonderful Sparker (HEALTHYGRAMMY49) who invited me to join the 5% 2011 Winter Challenge," Diane recalls. Since then, Diane has participated in all of the seasonal 5% Challenges, being a "motivational leader" in the challenge for many years. She says the challenge helps her stay on track and holds her accountable to her goals. As a participant in these challenges, Diane started drinking more water, learned to tolerate more fruits and vegetables, and began exercising more. "I am a competitive person who wasn't going to let my team down, [and] that meant I had to exercise," says Diane. "At first, I could only do 10 minutes, three times a week. With help from my teammates, I came up with a plan to do chair exercises and it worked! Now I'm stronger than ever."
Diane even met one of her best friends, MARYANNGI, in the challenge and they were able to meet in person. She encourages others to find SparkTeams that motivate them and give them the support they need.

Setbacks Will Never Stop Her

Throughout her journey to health, Diane has faced health challenges that she continues to overcome. Three years ago she had a bone infection that resulted in a toe amputation. "Despite the hurdles, I know I'm in the driver's seat," she proudly states. "It didn't discourage me because I was finally walking without any aids. Last year, I gave away my power chair and now I can walk more than three miles a day!"
Diane has learned to look for the silver lining on a rainy day. "I had surgery for a brain aneurysm that was found accidentally. It has affected my left eye and I stand a good chance of losing partial sight, but at least I still have the right eye," she says. "Life is always going to throw nasty health issues at me. One thing I've learned from SparkPeople members and content is this quote from Charles R. Swindoll: 'Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.'"

Diane's advice to other members is to take advantage of everything SparkPeople has to offer. "Read the articles, use the SparkCoach planner on your Start page, join some SparkTeams and SparkChallenges, blog on your SparkPage and check out the Community Goal Feed." She likes to help new members whenever she can, saying that helping those who are just starting the journey reminds her of where she started and how far she's come.

"I'm doing this!" she declares. "I'm maintaining my weight within a five-pound range. I'm happy, joyful and positive. Who knew life could be like this again?"

How do you deal with setbacks? Share in the comments below and congratulate Diane on her amazing journey to better health!

50 SparkPeople Members' & Staffers' Goals for 2019

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/1/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  43 comments   :  5,958 views

Got goals? While we're firm believers that you don't have to wait until a certain date to start embracing healthier habits, there's just something about a brand-new year that seems to inject all of those long-neglected good intentions with a much-needed dose of motivation. If you're feeling the urge to wipe the slate clean, turn over a new leaf or (insert your favorite "fresh start" cliché here), the first step is to have a clear idea of what success looks like for you.

If your goal-setting game is a little rusty, we've got you. Some of our SparkPeople members and staffers have shared what they hope to achieve in the coming year, to help inspire you to set the right targets and then get on track to meet them.

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Spark Spotlight: Amy (ABELAWSKI)

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/31/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  26 comments   :  5,233 views

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.
This Week's Spotlight: Amy (ABELAWSKI)
Age: 38
Location: New York
Small Success of the Week
Amy recently announced in the Community Goal Feed that she had an excellent workout and did 12 pushups in a row, as well as a 45-second plank. 

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30 Ways SparkPeople Members & Staffers Work to Love Their Bodies

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/31/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  36 comments   :  6,565 views

In this age of constant comparisons, time-starved schedules and endless temptations, it's all too easy to slide into the trap of blaming, shaming and sometimes even hating our own bodies when they don't measure up to the standards in our heads. But it doesn't have to be that way. No matter how much it weighs, your body is nothing short of an amazing instrument—even if it has a little (or a lot of) ways to go before reaching its full potential.
Many of our members struggle with body image and self-esteem issues. They have setbacks and struggles. They take one step forward and three steps back, and then repeat the cycle, over and over again. There are days when they feel frustrated, lonely and maybe even angry.
But through it all, they find reasons and ways to love their bodies. Next time you're at a loss for how to appreciate yours, visit this list for some self-affirming inspiration.

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Motivational Quotes You Should Print and Look at Daily

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By: , – Alicia Capetillo, Editor-in-Chief
12/27/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  65 comments   :  13,549 views

Motivation is a fleeting concept. No one wakes up every single day feeling like they want to go crush their workouts and eat all the kale. No, some days, even the most dedicated people just want to blow off their workout, sink into the couch and eat leftover pizza.

If you're someone who struggles to find motivation daily, though, it could be worth looking into why you're not excited about your fitness or eating routine anymore. Perhaps you've grown tired of walking the same loop around the city after work. Maybe the meal plan you've set for yourself used to please your taste buds, but lately everything is just tasting bland. It might just be that you've reached a new level of health and need to step things up to continue feeling challenged and inspired to achieve. Even the most exciting plan can get stale after so many weeks of the same, and it's important to change things up every so often to continue growing, getting stronger and getting healthier. 

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