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6 Surefire Ways to Make Your Resolution a Reality

There's no time like January to start fresh! It may be the dead of winter, but everyone's spirits are up and our willpower is in full force. We are ready and committed to make a change.
As a fitness instructor, I love this time of year. The energy in the gym is contagious and the classes are packed! And as a SparkPeople employee, it's a great time, too. So many new people find us and join our site to reach their goals!
But as you probably know, this New Year motivation fades quickly. It's easy to give up on your goals when you don't have a plan, don't have support, or don't have a realistic way to keep yourself motivated. Let's vow to make this year different. Let's commit ourselves to just one simple goal to keep our focus. You might not be able to do everything on your giant list of goals, but you can be successful with one or two things when you have a good plan in place.

SparkPeople has a lot of fun, simple and effective challenges that are the perfect way to get started and stay motivated. I would recommend choosing ONE program listed below to focus your efforts, but if you're feeling extra motivated, try a couple! Don't worry: You can join in the fun any time, even if you can't commit to everything you'd like to do at once. These are all great ways to hit the ground running in January!  
Posted 1/7/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 4 comments   40,975 views
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The 30-Day Skinny Jeans Workout Plan

No matter what the season, body hugging trends like fitted ("skinny") jeans and leggings appear to be staying with us for a while. That may be even more reason to keep up with your healthy diet and fitness plan year-round!
As a fun way to motivate our readers to keep working toward their goals, I developed a brand new challenge that is sure to kick your butt—and legs and abs—into shape. I know how much people love plans they can follow, so I created the 30-Day Skinny Jeans Plan. Don't be alarmed: Even if wearing these trendy pants isn't high on your priority list, I promise you'll get a lot out of the challenge, including motivation, support, and new workout combinations designed to help flatten your belly, strengthen your legs and re-shape your rear.

You can head right over to now to check out the challenge, or keep on reading for more details on how the plan works and what to expect.
Posted 10/1/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 51,361 views
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Get Back on the Wagon: 5 Tips to Start Fresh this Fall

Summer is winding down and now my favorite season of the year is here: fall. I have always felt nostalgic and dreamy this time of year. I think it's because I enjoyed school as a kid and still associate the autumn season with the start of a new school year that promised good times, good friends and even better memories that still live with me today, like the smell of bonfires, Friday night football games, donning my favorite new back-to-school clothes, and my feet crunching on leaves in the crisp weather. Fall even smells better, if you ask me.

Why not harness the magical power of this new season (which begins officially on September 23) to recommit to your healthy living goals and weight-loss program? You may not be heading back to school like you did in years past, but that doesn’t mean that you can't reinvent yourself all the same.
Posted 9/21/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 110 comments   89,520 views
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Poll: Are Negative Usernames Helpful or Self-Defeating?

The idea for this blog came from a member, and when I saw it I knew it was something I wanted to talk about. It's something I wonder about all the time as I read blog comments on The SparkPeople Blog, answer questions on SparkPeople and interact with the Community. Here was her suggestion:
Posted 4/17/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 872 comments   34,366 views
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Rate Your Commitment to Weight Loss

For some of us, visualizing a goal is easy. For others, goal setting comes more naturally. Thomas Edison visualized the light bulb long before he succeeded in its invention.

Visualizing and goal setting are important steps to success, especially when it comes to weight loss. Preparing for a journey that lasts a lifetime also helps keep everything in perspective. Using available tools, reading articles, and connecting with others for support, keeps us going when we want to give up. Even with all this, the journey is still long, hard, and frustrating.

Sometimes all the resources and accountability in the world can't make up for one of the most important keys to success – commitment to your weight loss and health goals. You can have the vision, a plan, resource tools, and support but without heart-felt commitment to ignite the passion to go the distance, success may be fleeting.

Here is a scale to help you rate your commitment to reaching your weight loss and health goals.

Posted 3/21/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 439 comments   98,110 views
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What Could You Accomplish in 4 Weeks?

Wanting to lose weight and get healthier this year, but not exactly sure where—or how—to start? SparkPeople's 4-week challenges can motivate you to reach new goals, develop healthy habits and have fun along the way!

When you join one of our challenges, you'll get a specific plan to follow, plus all the information you need to reach a new goal or make a new personal breakthrough. You can even earn a special SparkTrophy for each official challenge you complete!

These challenges are a great way to get support and motivation to reach new healthy goals this year, no matter where you are in your weight-loss journey. Choose from any one of these six health, fitness and nutrition challenges!
Posted 1/12/2011  7:37:09 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 27 comments   15,334 views
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What if the 'Unattainable' Really Was Within Reach?

When setting goals, it's easy to put limits on ourselves. "I can lose 10 pounds, but there's no way I could lose 20." Or, "I can walk a mile, but I'd never be able to walk 5 miles." Sometimes we set limits because we want to be realistic (which isn't a bad thing), but sometimes it's because of fear of failure. If you don't set a goal that's pushing you further than you ever though possible, then you won't be disappointed if you don't reach it. But at the same time, what if it really is possible? What if, through hard work and determination, you could attain those goals that seem out of reach? After reading the story of Don McNelly and Norm Frank, I've learned that setting unbelievable goals might not be such a bad idea.
Posted 12/21/2010  2:03:12 PM By: Jen Mueller : 62 comments   15,789 views
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Confession: I Am a Fast Eater

It seems as though I am always in a hurry. I’m not too sure if this is because I have so much to do or if this is just part of my type A personality. From the moment I get up in the morning, to the minute my head hits the pillow, I am either doing something or thinking of things I need to do. I have a to-do list a mile long. My goal is to check off as many of those tasks at the end of each day. For any uncompleted tasks they are either added to the following day's list or I abandon them completely. I’m not too sure why I feel so compelled to be in such a hurry about almost everything, but meal time is the one area I am consistently coming up short when it comes to slowing down.

One of the last unhealthy habits I am really hoping to break is rushing through meal time. A habit that I can trace back to the days of my youth when I would spend 15 minutes in the lunch line at school, leaving little time to eat AND talk with my friends. Studies have shown that the faster we eat, the more calories we consume and the fatter it makes us. Last month when I led SparkPeople's Official Healthy Habits Challenge, I wanted to finally break this habit of eating too quickly. So I started doing research on the steps to take to break this habit and in my research I discovered this is quite a common problem for many of us. Because we live in such a fast pace world where fast food restaurants can be found in almost any American city, this fast pace eating can be linked to the obesity epidemic.

Posted 6/5/2010  11:00:17 AM By: Nancy Howard : 188 comments   19,219 views
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Poll: Are You a Microwave or a Crock Pot?

You may be surprised but this question doesn't involve cooking at all, even though it mentions two of our most commonly used kitchen appliances.

So why would I ask such a crazy question?

A few days ago I was driving home from having a lunch date with my husband when I came across a radio talk show led by one of the country's premier financial experts known for helping individuals and families become debt free. The host started his monologue explaining his program and how important it is for us to keep focused on our goals. However, there was something he mentioned that caught my attention and that was when he asked, "Do you want to be a microwave or a crock pot in achieving your financial goals?"

Posted 4/3/2010  12:09:09 PM By: Nancy Howard : 223 comments   18,512 views
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The Secrets of Success: Be A “Goal-Getter”

When we were researching and writing our best-selling book, The Spark we discovered 27 secrets of success that thousands of successful SparkPeople members have used to reach their goals, lose weight and keep it off. Some secrets--including these--are too good to keep to yourself.

We're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #3 Be a “goal-getter.”
Posted 3/3/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 50 comments   29,429 views
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I Have a New Fitness Goal

When I took inventory of my life for 2010 and shared it with you, there's something I didn't tell you. I hope you can forgive me. I didn't intentionally leave it out, and it was really firmly planned then. However, it's something I think you should all know about.

See, I have trouble labeling myself as athletic or fit. For the first 26 years of my life, I loathed running ("I only run when chased," I said.) and couldn't really ride a bike. I worked out to keep my weight in check, but I hadn't yet found a form of cardio that I enjoyed. Yoga was the only form of exercise I liked then.

In the last two years, much has changed. I rode 85 miles in one day on my road bike, became a yoga teacher, did 10 "boy-style" pushups, conquered my fear of headstands, and ran my first 5K, a second 5K and my first 10K.

Though I work out six or seven days a week, run regularly and teach yoga to others, I have never really considered myself to be an athlete--or a runner.

This new challenge I've set for myself will change that.

I am training for my first half-marathon.

Posted 1/27/2010  5:58:47 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 118 comments   14,331 views
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My 2010 Goals: What Are Yours?

It's hard to believe we are almost 2 weeks into 2010. This blog is coming a little late since we have been undergoing quite an ordeal in the Howard Household. My Mother-in-law was diagnosed with liver cancer only 3 days before Christmas, so for the past 3 weeks we have been working frantically to set her up with hospice while making sure all her affairs are in order.

Even though it seems I have a lot on my plate right now, I did not fail to make some goals to strive for this year. Goals are such an integral part in keeping on this journey I call healthy living, so be prepared--here goes...

Posted 1/13/2010  3:01:54 PM By: Nancy Howard : 122 comments   15,371 views
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Getting Off to a Good Start—Again

When it comes to my health and fitness efforts, the start of a new year is usually not a big deal for me any more. It used to be--I have a long history of new years that started with lots of resolutions to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. But those good intentions never lasted very long, and I ended most of those years weighing more than when I started, getting myself up to about 400 pounds in the process.

Then something changed. I’m still not sure what it was, exactly—maybe I just got tired of feeling miserable all the time, or scared about what I was doing to my health. Anyway, in 2003, something clicked, and I finally started getting serious about changing my lifestyle, not just my weight. 18 months later, I had lost 170 pounds and gotten myself into pretty good shape for a 55 year old guy. And thanks to Sparkpeople, I was able to keep that weight off for almost 5 years.

But then came 2009…
Posted 1/11/2010  5:47:12 PM By: Dean Anderson : 275 comments   25,252 views
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The Changes I Made in 2009

I am not one to make New Year's resolutions, however that does not mean I don't like to set goals for myself. In fact, when you read Chris Downie's book, "The Spark", you will gain a deeper understanding as to the importance goal-setting has in our lives--not just in losing weight and getting fit, but changing how we live and who we are meant to be. In other words, when we accomplish success in one area of our lives, many times it pervades in other areas of our lives, he calls this The Crisscross Effect. How cool is that?

Posted 1/2/2010  2:30:23 PM By: Nancy Howard : 105 comments   19,537 views
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Did Your 2009 Wishes Come True?

As we close out 2009, many of us review the year and take inventory regarding what we have or have not accomplished throughout the year.

Last year at this time, I suggested we list 3 wishes and resolve to make them come true during 2009.

Here where my three wishes for 2009:

  1. Redecorate my dining room

  2. Take the family to New York City

  3. Run in at least one race

To make my wishes come true, I resolved to:

  • Set time and money aside each month for the dining room project until it was complete.

  • Change my weekly/monthly budget as necessary to save money for our trip while planning a trip based on the money saved.

  • Eat, exercise and live a Spark life that allows me to be at the fitness level necessary to run in a race.
How did I do?

Posted 12/31/2009  6:25:36 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 73 comments   12,729 views
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