Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just the Spark I Needed!

First of all, I want you to know that I have never solicited any kind of deal with SparkPeople, nor have they approached me. There's no deal to be had, anyway--It's a FREE program that I've found to be very helpful, so I'm writing this post--That's all :)

Last summer, I took Kendall to California on a mother-daughter trip. Mr.4444 and Kyle had planned a guys trip, but it never panned out. This summer, when we were in Calumet, I casually asked Kyle, "So, when are you and I going to take a trip?" and to my surprise, he asked me, "Where?" I sort of jokingly said, "You could go hiking with me out in Seattle or California," and to my surprise, he said, "Okay."  He even brought it up again, a couple of hours later, so I knew he really meant it!  So, Kyle and I began to plan a trip out west next summer, and it was just the motivation I needed to get in shape. I promptly made a commitment to myself to make some lifestyle changes, and I have.

Until August, I hadn't exercised in years (coincidentally, since I started blogging!). I ate whatever I felt like and always indulged the little voice inside me that told me I should eat whatever I felt like without regard to my health. I took my health for granted, but now that I have a goal, I really want to be healthy and fit; I want to be strong and not blow a knee or something stupid like that get in the way of my goal.

My sister Michelle and a handful of other friends had been talking about SparkPeople, so I decided to check it out, and I'm really glad now, because SP was just what I needed to educate me, support me, and offer the structure I needed to lose weight.

I've lost nine pounds since joining SparkPeople August 1st, and I'm feeling so good!  I've been riding my bike and using SP's route tracking feature to map the miles and calories burned for each trip. When I get bored with my workout routine, I use one of their free workouts to change things up. They have a lot of options to watch on your computer, and most of them are short (10-20 minutes). Think your bum knee or rotator cuff issue keeps you off the exercise track? Think again--SP has an exhaustive list of exercises for specific parts of your body, allowing you to still get in shape. One workout that I like is the 15-Minute Ball Workout . Nicole, the Fitness Expert, is really great at teaching and motivating through the videos, all of which are free.

SparkPeople also has a lot of excellent recipes to use, including many from SP users. SparkRecipes are great! I've tried Carol's Slow Cooker BBQ recipe and loved it. You can even put a recipe into SP, and it will calculate the nutrition values for you! It's been great trying new recipes and saving my own so that I don't have to enter them again each time I make them.

If you're like me and don't know a lot about fitness, SparkPeople also has a multitude of educational articles, such as....

Which is better? Exercising Before or After Breakfast?
Which is Better? A Doughnut or Skipping Breakfast?

SparkPeople helps you keep track of your nutrition for the day, and when you're finished, it will analyze the results for you. For example, I'm tracking calories, carbs, protein, and calcium (you can track whatever you want). At the end of my day, I know how well I've stayed on target with my goals. I do the same with my fitness goal, and I love the accountability. The beautiful thing is that I'm only accountable to myself; I don't have to weigh in publicly (unless I want to). If I go over (or under) my goals, SP doesn't preach to me. It does, however, explain how specific decisions affect my health, and I like that. For example, today, I came in a little under for carbohydrates, and SP told me:

When it comes to carbohydrates, it's important to avoid extremes. Too many, and you could gain weight; too little, and you could hurt your health. Carbs have gotten an unfounded bad rap in recent years, but they are actually the best source of fuel for your body and your brain. Aim for no less than 120 grams of carbohydrates each day (unless otherwise directed by your medical provider).

My personal SparkPage can be found here and is linked in my sidebar.  It's part of a Facebook-type feature that you don't have to take advantage of, but I like it, because it allows my sisters, friends, and me to support each other. While I don't have a teen in need of this feature, Spark people also has a feature called SparkTeens. They also have groups for all kinds of medical conditions like GERD, depression, IBS, and Type II Diabetes here. You can join a community to find others with your issues to support you. I'm even thinking of starting a group for my school district, where we can all support each other as a large group.

You can also sign up for a number of different emails from SP, and I like that they don't bug you about anything. SP isn't trying to sell you anything but a healthy lifestyle, and for that, I'm grateful.

I'm looking forward to being fit and strong next summer and enjoying a memorable trip with Kyle. Have you got a fitness goal? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

[BTW, sorry if you've been commenting Anonymously and find that you can't any longer. I was getting at least ten spam emails per day via anonymous comments, and I just couldn't take it any more! Let me know if you'd like help setting up an email address to use--It's really simple, and there are tons of free options.]


  1. I've got a SparkPeople membership that I've kind of been ignoring. But I recently canceled my WW membership in a money-saving move. So maybe I'll go back to SP with fresh eyes. Thanks for the nudge.

  2. I love SparkPeople! I've been using them for a few years to lose and then maintain. Great site! Congrats on the 9lbs, that's awesome!

  3. I love SparkPeople! I've been using them for a few years to lose and then maintain. Great site! Congrats on the 9lbs, that's awesome!

  4. I'm with Amy, and have an account I haven't been using. I think I'll get back there and link up with some encouraging frineds. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  5. New to your blog, LOVED this post...I have been surfing over at SP for the last 30 minutes and am going to join...I have 15 lbs to lose and needed some motivation...thanks!!

  6. Sounds like you have the encouragement you need! Good luck!

    I try hard to maintain myself too. Its difficult sometimes. As long as I stay "fit" (uesd loosely) I feel great!

  7. My six month visit to the doctor she told me about Sparks People, glad to hear more about it from someone who is using it.

  8. YAY on the 9lbs!!! one of my friends swears by sparkpeople and has made some great friends and lost a lot of weight-it really is a great site! and how awesome that you and your son will be taking a trip together!

  9. I thought you looked great in those last pics you posted! I can't imagine you have any more weight to lose now. You're fabulous!

  10. You gave a GREAT representation of the website! So glad I have you in my Spark People corner as well! :) I never had thought of it...but like you I also love that no one gets on my case about going over or under...I just get a fresh start the next day with some tips of how to avoid going over or under!

  11. I'm defiantly checkin' this out. I always work out an hour each morn' with FIT TV. There's everything from Boot Camp workouts to belly dancin' which I always follow up with Namisa Yoga. This morn' I flipped on the tube at seven and got, "you have not purchased this channel." Called 'em and FIT was pulled from our package and placed in the more expensive channel. Ten years I've been usin' it. {{{SIGH}}}

    I need to find something that will mix thing up for me and work different muscle groups ever day.

    Thanks girl!

    Have a beautifully blessed day!!!

  12. I use Weight Watchers, but I think that this sounds like a great tool, maybe I'll try it out sometime! Also, congrats on the weight loss, that's great.

  13. Way to go! It sounds just like WW except you don't have to pay! Ever since the bad economy started 2 years ago, attendance is down, and maybe SP is one reason. I would like to think that, but knowing us people, I think most folks left cuz it is a lifetime commitment and a bit of work. You are doin great!

  14. Thanks! I'm going to have to check it out. It's time for me to get motivated (again) and do something!

  15. Good luck on SparkPeople!
    I need to start up on that again. It's an awsome site and really helpful with weight loss!


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