All Entries For The Spark book

Meet the Success Stories from 'The SparkPeople Cookbook'

One of the best parts about writing "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight" with Chef Meg was tracking down SparkPeople Success Stories, getting to know them, and sharing their stories with the world.

The stories are a mix of follow-ups from "The Spark"--all those we interviewed had continued to lose and/or maintain their weight and they continued to improve their lives, one healthy step at a time--and new-to-you Success Stories. Today I want to share a few of their stories with you!
Posted 10/27/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 16 comments   12,067 views
Read More ›

Get Ready for 'The SparkPeople Cookbook'

Here at SparkPeople, we have yet another reason to shout "Woohoo!"

Earlier this year, we spilled the beans that we were working on our first cookbook (and we wanted help naming it).  I'm happy to say that "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight" is almost here!

Written by our very own Chef Meg and myself, the cookbook contains everything you would expect from SparkPeople!

The book combines Meg's cooking expertise with SparkPeople's proven weight-loss and nutrition know-how for what will be the only healthy cookbook you'll need. Like the SparkPeople site that inspired it, "Love Your Food, Lose the Weight" uses education, entertainment and community to prove that healthy living, dieting and weight loss don't have to be boring, dull or difficult.

Though Meg trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in London, where she learned classic (and calorie-laden) French cuisine, her at-home meals are like the ones she creates for SparkRecipes--the ones she blogs about each Monday. Meg truly believes that food should be healthy and delicious. As a World Master Chef (one of only 20 women in the world to hold that title!) and a chef instructor at the Midwest Culinary Institute here in Cincinnati, Meg knows that food has to taste great and satisfy the appetite.

But Meg is also a runner, a busy mom of three teenage boys, and a farmer's daughter, so she knows it also has to fuel her body. It's her passion to create food that tastes great and helps you stay slim and healthy. She knows how to cook mouth-watering food while still maintaining her weight (no easy feat for someone who eats for a living!).

It sounds impossible that we were able to create such recipes, but that's exactly what you asked for--and it's what you'll find in "The SparkPeople Cookbook"!

Since our best-selling book, "The Spark," was published in early 2010, members have been asking us for a follow-up--a cookbook! This long-awaited cookbook shows that healthy eating can be simple and fun. In fact, it proves it!

According to our taste test: If people eat flavorful, satisfying foods, they can eat fewer calories without even realizing it, yet be more satisfied while losing weight! We presented dieters and SparkPeople members with two meals: one comprised typical, bland diet foods. The other comprised recipes from our cookbook.

We asked: Which one is healthier? Which one do you want to eat again? Not surprisingly, people thought the “diet” foods were healthier, but they didn’t want to eat them again. What they didn’t know was that our flavorful foods were actually healthier (and lighter) than the diet foods!

We debunked several diet myths, including the thought that you have to eat bland, boring foods to lose weight!

But this is more than a collection of recipes—it’s an education. The SparkPeople philosophy is about encouraging people to achieve personal goals with the support of others. So along with the recipes, you’ll find:
Posted 7/11/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 67 comments   23,286 views
Read More ›

Envisioning Your Future with a Collage and Some Friends


When I joined SparkPeople last May, I stumbled across its One Time Challenge to Create a Vision Collage.. In the context of my personal and professional experience, I was impressed by the sophistication of a website that would include a process that might seem "out there" for some.

Fast-forward five months. During a mid-October storm, SparkGuy posted by flashlight (to The Spark Pilot Program team) a message inviting us to create a Vision Collage. I love collage! I thought, "Someone must have started a Vision Collage team." (After all, using tools to envision your future is an early building block of The Spark's 28-Day Program, right?) So, I set out to find it; I searched SparkTeams for a Vision Collage team.

...and came up empty?

SparkPeople's Vision Collage One Time Challenge was important enough to be prominently linked on everyone's SparkPoints page, yet it comparatively received little attention. The irony is that both and "The Spark" rest on the bedrock of SparkGuy Chris Downie's own Vision Collage, made in the cut-and-paste tradition shortly after he'd graduated college. Chris was sparked to make a Vision Collage--not because he knew what he wanted for his future, but because he knew what he didn't want: To become like his co-worker, older, unfit, and counting his days to retirement. Key to Chris' contentment and living a meaningful life was this awareness: "It wasn't that being an accountant in a large corporation was a dreadful future; it just didn't feel like my future." (emphasis added)

Spark's "Garden" of Vision Collages

Undeterred, I started looking for individual Vision Collages and related posts. We needed a team! A SparkPeople Vision Collage is too powerful! It's too fun! Chris Downie's own Vision Collage certainly played a catalytic role in SparkPeople history. I have similarly experienced the transformational power of collaged images.

One of the things that most impressed me in my SparkPeople Vision Collage quest was the individuality of each Vision Collage I found, in both images and choice of artistic medium. This means that there is no right or wrong way to make a Vision Collage and blows apart the best excuse you can conjure. I've seen (successful) Vision Collages so simple that a child could have cut-and-pasted them together, detailed cut-and-paste works of art, and online Vision Collages made with PowerPoint and digital collage websites.

Two patterns began to emerge:
  1. Most SparkPeople members add to or update their original Vision Collage, in step with their own self-discovery and evolving desires; and,
  2. Everyone who made one shared benefiting from the process, in ways both small and large, subtle and overt.
Even Chris, in naming and visualizing what he wanted for his (yet-to-be SparkPeople) future, said, "Some of my goals surprised even me."

Spark's "Gallery" of Vision Collages

I decided to start such a team...ideally, with SparkGuy's support.
Posted 4/5/2010  10:46:36 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 97 comments   18,933 views
Read More ›

'We Lost 100 Pounds Without Dieting--So Can You!'

We started our Secrets of Success series on March 1 and will continue sharing one proven solution to weight loss each day through March 15. If you're hungry for more, check out the current issue of First for Women magazine (on newsstands now through March 22). The "non-diet" solution touted on the cover isn't a supplement, miracle juice or detox diet. It's 20 more secrets to weight-loss success that came directly from, now America's #1 weight-loss website, and our best-selling book, "The Spark!"

Inside the March 22, 2010, issue of First (pictured at left), you'll also find the profiles, stories and before and after photos of four amazing members who used these secrets to lose more than 100 pounds each. Each strategy is backed by research and case studies of real people just like you who are winning the battle of the bulge without resorting to the crazy diet gimmicks of the past.

Courtesy of First, we're sharing three of these tricks with you today, but you'll have to pick up the magazine to get the full story and see the amazing transformations yourself.
Posted 3/5/2010  3:15:36 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 115 comments   109,835 views
Read More ›

'I'm a Better Mom--and I Broke the Cycle of Obesity in My Family'

Editor's Note: Growing up in North Carolina, Brandy Blackburn (BBANGEL1214) ate doughnuts and cookies for breakfast. She was "the fat kid since kindergarten." Fried foods and sugary sodas were ubiquitous, and exercise wasn't a part of her life. After ballooning to more than 300 pounds by the time she graduated high school, she had let her weight get in the way of many aspects of her life--including her career path. Giving up her childhood dream of being a doctor ("Well, who wants to listen to a doctor who is morbidly obese," she thought.), she graduated college, got married and gave birth to her daughter, Melody, now 4. Her daughter was her wake-up call. Brandy, now 25, joined SparkPeople and lost 177 pounds--surpassing all her goals! She was such a successful member that we presented her story to People, and she was part of the magazine's most recent "Half Their Size" issue, as an example of our program's success.

Here, Brandy shares the story of how she lost weight, broke the cycle of obesity in her family, and is working to help stop childhood obesity and "be a voice for kids like me."

By Brandy Blackburn

I was going to ride a roller coaster with my husband, and I couldn't fit on the ride. I was horrified and I just kept thinking, "What if this had been Melody's first roller coaster ride?" She would be standing there watching me do the walk of shame back down the stairs. So that day I decided something had to change. She couldn't grow up like this.

When I was little, my doctor told my mom that we needed to get my weight under control. I didn't want to do it, and she didn't push it. I would much rather have been mad at my mom for a few months than have to go through everything I did with my weight for years.

As a parent, I now understand you don't want to hurt your children's feelings, but being a parent isn't easy, and it's our job to protect our kids even if it is something like their weight and bad eating habits. I know the habits I teach my daughter today are the ones she will teach my grandchildren because I had taught her my bad habits.

Posted 2/11/2010  12:32:19 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 236 comments   27,159 views
Read More ›

Spotted: 'The Spark' and Some Amazing Members

Greetings, SparkPeople! I'm writing to you from back home. I visited the team in Cincinnati last week, and we had a party to celebrate our recent successes. A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to send us photos of your "Spark Sightings." Round One was a hit, and so was Round Two. Check out these great stories and photos of members Spreading the Spark--and spotting The Spark.

"I purchased a copy of The Spark and donated it to my local library, which is also where I am employed. My theory is that some will not want to spend the money until they have had a chance to really ‘check it out’ to see if it is worth their hard earned dollars. I see it as a win/win situation, if they don’t care for it, at least they have heard of it, if they love it, they will go out and purchase a personal copy.

So far, our library is the only one in the state to offer The Spark.That means that folks in other towns may request an interlibrary loan and borrow ours. I have made an announcement and posted a photo on the ‘Spark Maine The Official Team’ so that all will know.

The photo is of myself at the Ellsworth Public Library, Ellsworth, Maine.

I LOVE my book! I am on chapter 3, and reading if VERY carefully, and slowly, taking in as much as I can! I don’t want to miss a morsel of the great information!"

Sandy Abbott (HIKERSAN)

Posted 2/1/2010  3:33:13 PM By: Chris "SparkGuy" Downie : 56 comments   16,431 views
Read More ›

Only 4 Days Left to Enter the Chapter Challenge Contest

We kicked off 'The Spark' Chapter Challenge Contest just a couple weeks ago and already, nearly 6,000 people have downloaded a free chapter from our New York Times Best Selling book, The Spark. For each person you refer to download this free chapter, you'll get 10 SparkPoints and a chance to win some great prizes while Spreading The Spark at the same time!

Plus, the top 100 people to make it onto our leaderboard will all be entered to win $500 toward a weekend getaway! MRSHONEYC has the No. 1 spot so far (more than 110 friends of her have downloaded the chapter!), but people with only 9 referrals are still on the board, too. That means it's not too late for you to play—or to win!
Posted 1/27/2010  11:12:55 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   9,604 views
Read More ›

Spread the Spark and Win a Call from SparkGuy

By Jenny Uhlmansiek (SP_Jenny)

Things are pretty exciting here at SparkPeople, with the launch of our first book The Spark and all the good news surrounding it! We truly appreciate everyone’s support in helping us reach our goal of turning The Spark into a best seller. If you haven't picked up your copy of The Spark yet, you can go to Barnes & Noble and save 30% off the retail price for a limited time. (Click here for your coupon! Hurry! This coupon ends today!)

Posted 1/15/2010  11:52:06 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 34 comments   9,952 views
Read More ›

Great Article in Good Housekeeping

Remember last week when I mentioned some big news and an article in a major magazine? I couldn't divulge details then, but that magazine is now on newsstands, so I can share: I wrote an article for Good Housekeeping (in the February 2010 issue with Amy Grant and Vince Gill on the cover). The article is a cover story! (Can I get a Woo-Hoo?)

When I was in New York, I had the honor and privilege of meeting GH Editor Rosemary Ellis--and got a tour of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. It was really impressive to see all the research that goes on there, and it's an incredible honor to have such a respected magazine give us such amazing coverage.(Happy 125th Anniversary, Good Housekeeping!)
Posted 1/13/2010  10:15:19 AM By: Chris "SparkGuy" Downie : 407 comments   48,255 views
Read More ›

'The Spark' is a Best Seller--and We're On 'Today' Again

I've been pinching myself so often lately that I might soon have a bruise on my arm. So much good news has been coming our way in the last few weeks that it's hard to believe that it's all happening at once. While 2009 was a pretty amazing year for SparkPeople, 2010 is the year of The Spark.

Last week, I recapped my trip to New York with you, and I told you that we had even more exciting news to share.

And here it is:
Posted 1/12/2010  11:00:02 AM By: Chris "SparkGuy" Downie : 77 comments   16,708 views
Read More ›

Spotted: 'The Spark'

Last week when my new book, The Spark, was published, I shared with you the photo of me first spotting the book in stores. Since then, I've traveled from my home in California to New York and a few other cities, and I've seen it in bookstores--and even in people's hands. I asked you to share your photos of The Spark, and many of you did! As promised, here are "Spark Spottings"!

Posted 1/10/2010  3:14:03 PM By: Chris "SparkGuy" Downie : 40 comments   15,890 views
Read More ›

A Mighty Big Thanks for Sharing the Love

It's truly a world wide web, but it can feel mighty small and cozy some days. Like today, when we at the dailySpark are thanking all of those bloggers and websites who have taken the time to review and feature The Spark. We're excited to read the reviews of The Spark from our esteemed peers--and our wonderful members as well! If you missed one, you should definitely check these out, if you haven't already.

To start, we got a great review at, a great source for health and fitness news. "Look for this to be a bestseller in 2010," they wrote.

We were over the moon to see that Lisa "Hungry Girl" Lillien, who has already endorsed the book, wrote about us in her popular daily email. We feel the love: "The four-stage plan combines eating right, getting exercise, setting goals, and other positive stuff to motivate you. We feel energized just writing about it... And we LOVE YAYAYAYAY for this book!" Right back at you, HG!

MizFit not only gave us her exclusive "MizFit Seal of Approval," but she also did a fabulous video review as well!
Posted 1/10/2010  6:41:09 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 31 comments   14,267 views
Read More ›

SparkGuy: On the Road Again

Hello, SparkPeople! It's SparkGuy again. Wow, was it a busy week! I was in New York and Washington, D.C., for press tour to support The Spark, and boy, has it been exciting!

Posted 1/8/2010  2:00:38 PM By: Chris "SparkGuy" Downie : 129 comments   22,322 views
Read More ›

SparkGuy, Live from the Big Apple

Greetings, SparkPeople. It's SparkGuy here, blogging from the road. I'm a long way from home this week, on the East Coast to promote The Spark. I've done TV interviews with local stations around the country, spotted The Spark in Times Square, and even met with some old friends and members. I've also had a few really exciting meetings. (Stay tuned to the dailySpark for more news on those! Just keep Spreading the Spark! It really helps.)

Even though New York is crazy-cold, I did a run for an hour around the city today--brrrrrr. Luckily my hotel room has high ceilings, so I did some jump rope in here to warm up.

I don't have much time to write, but I wanted to share some of the highlights of the trip so far!

Posted 1/5/2010  4:29:02 PM By: Chris "SparkGuy" Downie : 141 comments   19,605 views
Read More ›

SparkPeople's Best Day Ever

Thanks to all of you for your kinds words, encouraging messages and excited notes about the launch of "The Spark."

Here at SparkPeople headquarters in Cincinnati, we celebrated the launch with a trip to a local bookstore to see the book on display and a group lunch. We were so excited that we actually got there as we the employees were bringing the new books out. By later that afternoon, we were getting emails, texts and tweets from friends, fans and members who had seen the book (and bought it)!

"The man checking me out asked if the book was featured on a show today because he has been selling them like crazy," Tanya told us when she went to buy more copies of "The Spark" for friends and family.

Posted 12/30/2009  4:29:17 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 152 comments   21,393 views
Read More ›

Read More Entries ›