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Update 12/17/13 2 p.m.: Check out this Washington Post story about SparkAmerica, featuring an interview with Chris Downie!
Hello, SparkPeople members!
I’m here to share with you the launch of our SparkAmerica campaign. This is one of my favorite projects we’ve ever launched, so I took some time to try my best to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re trying to do with this campaign. I'd love to hear any feedback or questions in the comments on this post!
Setting the Stage: How to Think about SparkAmerica
First, I want to set the stage for how you can think about this project. As you know, we like having different types of challenges on the site as a way to motivate members to reach their goals. Examples of challenges can include: eating more fruits and veggies, submitting a crockpot recipe to win a prize, learning a new exercise, and many more.
This emphasis on challenges fits well with the underlying SparkPeople brand and program that integrates these two areas:
- The best of all areas of health and fitness
- The best of behavior change – including goal-setting, motivation, leadership, fun, and more
As you read about SparkAmerica below, just keep in your mind that SparkAmerica is really just a giant challenge we’re building into the site in several fun ways. In fact, when I tell the full history of SparkAmerica, I love sharing how this concept originated from a small challenge started by members in the SparkPeople community!
What Is SparkAmerica?
Now that you understand that SparkAmerica is simply a new type of challenge on the site, I want to share that we think this challenge could become so BIG that it grows into a national and international grassroots movement that is led by SparkPeople members!
Here’s how we are describing SparkAmerica to many large partners coming on board:
SparkAmerica: A National Movement to Spark America’s Health and Health Leadership
"We are bold enough to believe we can change America, but humble enough to know we need help—continued help from our many millions of visitors...and
help from visionary leaders and organizations across America."
–Chris Downie, Founder, SparkPeople
We’ve all seen the statistics: 68% of Americans are overweight or obese. 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Only 22% of us report regular physical activity. $495 billion in lost economic productivity due to health-related issues per year.
At SparkPeople, we believe our nation’s health problems are just as much a leadership issue as a health issue. By looking at the situation from this perspective, we have developed an innovative solution that has never been done before.
SparkAmerica is a campaign championed by SparkPeople and our 15 million members that aims to improve the health of all Americans in a sustainable way.
**One of the big points of this language builds on what I mentioned earlier: that the underlying SparkPeople program integrates the best of health and fitness with the best of goal-setting, motivation, leadership, and more. In other words, SparkPeople + our amazing members may truly be ideally suited to lead this movement!
We’ve been incredibly excited that many visionary leaders and organizations are signing on to be partners with SparkAmerica in some way. I’ll be sharing more about this with you soon.
But, I’ll let you in on a secret. I strongly believe that our most important partner in this campaign is YOU and every other current and future SparkPeople member. After watching so many people transform their lives on the site over the past decade, I KNOW that individuals working together are the real key to building a grassroots movement. And I know that with many of the new features and programs we’re launching as part of SparkAmerica that we now have the right formula to bring this all to life right now in a way that will help motivate you to reach your goals, possibly help the people most important to you (your friends, family, co-workers, and social network). And then, if we have enough individuals working together on this, that is what really could make an impact on one community at a time, scaling up to cities, states, many other countries, and the world.
Read on to see how we’ll make this happen...
What Programs Are Included in SparkAmerica?
As you know, we love SparkPoints! We originally developed this rewards program because we want it to be fun and motivational for people to take one small step at a time to reach their goals—and ultimately reach goals you may have never thought possible.
1. The comprehensive SparkPeople weight-loss and fitness program
One of the best parts about this new SparkAmerica campaign is that the most basic thing you need to do to participate is to just take one step at a time to reach your goals on the site. We will then take your SparkPoints and fitness minutes you earn as part of reaching your goals and do something very fun and exciting with those points and fitness minutes that I’ll describe in the next section.
2. The 60-Second Daily Check-In
A new program we are launching along with SparkAmerica is something we’re calling the 60-Second Daily Check-In. Here is the thinking behind that option: Whenever we get together with SparkPeople members in person, they tell us that they share the site with all of their friends. They say that many of their friends will tell them that SparkPeople is great and they become SparkFriends. But, they also say that some of their friends aren’t looking to participate in a comprehensive program like SparkPeople. So, for a long time, we’ve wanted to strip out the best of what we offer (tracking tools; articles & videos from experts; and our supportive online community) and build a very simple program that anyone can use to reach their goals—even if they don’t want to track their foods or lose weight, for example. This program is essentially a slightly modified version of the SparkPeople.com Start page that emphasizes easy fitness-minute tracking instead of daily food tracking.
Since this SparkAmerica challenge is all about encouraging everyone to take action, we aggregate everyone’s SparkPoints and fitness minutes from both programs and bring them together. Next, I’ll show you what we’re doing that is fun and innovative!
SparkAmerica Leaderboards & Challenges
This section is where all of this comes together into something new and exciting that nobody has ever attempted before.
Several years ago in our hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, we did a small beta test called SparkCincinnati. It ended up being so fun that we knew we wanted to make this a national and international challenge at some point. Now is the time!
Here is how the SparkAmerica leaderboards will work: A key part of the challenge is that we’ll have members select their “favorites” from many different categories including city, state, employer, favorite sports teams, favorite celebrities or athletes, non-profits, universities and schools, and more. One key new point about these SparkTeams like your favorite city and state is that you don’t need to be active in the actual SparkTeam in order to join or support it. Instead, you are simply indicating that this Team is one of your favorites that you support (additional participation in SparkTeam community is completely optional).
Next, the SparkPoints and fitness minutes earned by members will be aggregated and applied to all of their selected Teams. We will then rank the Teams in each category and publish ongoing leaderboards. This framework will become a platform for countless types of challenges all over America in a way never done before. SparkPeople has seen that this type of friendly competition is a great way to motivate people to reach goals.
Another fun feature we launched to help you feel even more connected to your favorite Teams is the “Team Bonus Points” feature (Step 3 on your SparkPeople Start page). As you earn SparkPoints throughout the day, you will earn Bonus Spins so that you can give extra points to your favorite Teams to help them rise on the leaderboards. Our goal with this feature is to have a simple and fun way to connect you with your real-world affinities as a way to stay motivated to reach your goals by helping support your teams.
Some examples of SparkAmerica Leaderboard Challenges will include:
- Healthy Leader Challenges ranking individual fitness minutes and SparkPoints
- City Challenges
- Sports Team Fan Challenges
- Corporate Challenges
- Fans of Celebrities & Athletes
- School and University Challenges
- Mom Challenges (where Moms across America come together to help the children of America to end childhood obesity)
- Health and Fitness Professional Challenges
- Rallying Cry Challenges that everyone strives to reach together (an example could be for all SparkPeople members to reach 10 billion fitness minutes in 2014)
- Challenges between two cities during the week that their sports teams play each other
- Short-term goal challenges around some part of the SparkPeople program
The great part about SparkAmerica is that just by using SparkPeople.com as a way to help you reach your goals, you are involved with the challenge. But here are simple ways you can take this involvement to the next level:
- Select your favorite SparkTeams. Be motivated by the fact that reaching your goals will help your favorite teams rise on the leaderboards.
- Use the site to reach your goals.
- Spread the Spark (more on that below) about this to anyone you know. Now your friends can participate on SparkPeople using either the existing SparkPeople.com program, or the new 60-Second Daily Check-In if they want a simpler experience.
- Share SparkPeople content with your social networks (Facebook, Pinterest and more). Our healthy and motivational stories could be that small “spark” that changes someone’s life!
Here are some examples for how you might Spread the Spark:
- SparkTeams: Help your favorite Teams (cities, sports teams, employer, etc.) rise on the leaderboards by spreading the spark to anyone you know who also is a fan of that Team. This can be a fun and simple way to introduce your friends to SparkPeople
- Companies/Organizations: If you work at a company or are involved in any other type of organization (like a church, school, non-profit, etc.), you can consider starting a SparkTeam for that organization and then being the “SparkAmerica Champion” for that organization. With the launch of the 60-second daily check-in, SparkPeople now has something to offer to anyone in an organization!
- You! We realize that sometimes members will heavily use SparkPeople.com for a while to reach a weight-loss goal and then they might stop using the site. With more emphasis on simple ways to stay engaged with SparkPeople that go far beyond weight loss, we hope that members will stay more engaged with the site for longer periods of time. The important part about this is that this simple consistency—even if it takes only 60 seconds per day—can build your momentum over time to reach goals you might have never thought possible!
Our goal is to build out this challenge one step at a time. So, the first step is to launch in the U.S., our home country. But we are very passionate about bringing this challenge to many countries around the world. Our first step is to provide a leaderboard for all other countries. A next step will be to build out those leaderboards into specific country challenges like SparkCanada, SparkUK, etc. Another next step will be to reach out to possible large partners in other countries for help. Please remember we’re still a small team trying to do our best to help as many people as we can, so stay tuned for more steps for additional countries. Our real goal is to Spark the entire world!
We welcome your questions and feedback about SparkAmerica. Please comment below with any thoughts or questions about whether SparkAmerica makes sense to you, what you like about it or anything else! Read More ›
Every December, we editors here at SparkPeople love digging through all of our content from the past year to see what our readers (you!) liked the most. It is so fun and rewarding to look back on what we’ve done throughout the year, and compiling this annual list helps give us a better idea of the exact kinds of topics you want to see on our site—which helps us create more high-quality and relevant content for you!
2013 was a year of healthy snacks, fun workouts, controversial health topics, and more. Check out these top 15 headlines of the year to see if there’s anything you might have missed (starting with number 1). Happy reading, and here’s to even better headlines in 2014! Read More ›
People who keep a detailed food diary (like the SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker) lose twice as much weight as people who don't track what they eat. Are you using your Nutrition Tracker every day? Are you recording everything you eat and drink? Are you measuring your portions for accuracy? If you've gotten stuck on your weight-loss journey, this is the best place to start looking for small changes you can make to your eating habits.
Update 10/21/13 9:55 a.m.: SparkPeople's new Start page is now live! Read below for details and a video showing you how to use your new page. Thanks!
Good morning, everyone!
Today we are very excited to announce the launch of a big enhancement to your SparkPeople experience. We know, we know: Change is often viewed as a dirty word. It's something people don't always like, especially from a website that you are used to using a certain way. But this change has been many months in the making and has even been tested and approved by a group of SparkPeople members who got a sneak-peek! We wanted to get it just right—and we are confident that YOU are going to love what you see, too! Read More ›
Everyone in the SparkPeople office has been wearing and using the Spark Activity Tracker during the beta testing phase so we were very excited for it to finally release on October 1. While we love its small size, fun light-up display and ease of use, we were anxious to hear what SparkPeople members would think about this tiny tool that tracks steps, miles and fitness minutes (and automatically syncs the data with your SparkPeople Fitness Tracker). We’re finding new reviews from members daily, and we're delighted to see how much they're enjoying the Spark! (Learn more about exactly what the Spark Activity Tracker can do for you.) Read More ›
UPDATE 8/13/13 5:00 p.m.: The live online hangout we first announced is now complete but you can access the video anytime by clicking the link above. We have also embedded a recorded video of this event in the blog post below. Questions discussed and answered by Coach Nicole and the panel of fitness experts included:
- Is Crossfit safe for the average person?
- What should you eat before a long run or race?
- Is water the best way to hydrate during a workout?
- What is best for weight loss: intermittent fasting or eating more frequent meals?
- Is long endurance exercise better for weight loss than shorter, high intensity exercise?
- Why is cross-training important and how should I do it?
- And so much more!
Read More ›
Are you looking for a new way to stay motivated and connect with SparkPeople? You're in luck! We're now on Instagram, the photo and video sharing app! We love how easy Instagram is to use and that it allows us to share fun, healthy tidbits from behind the scenes at SparkPeople every day. While we do love writing about healthy living, it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's proof:
Please share your Instagram username in the comments below, or follow us and we'll follow you back. Help us spread the word that #healthyliving is all about living! (Don't forget to give us a shoutout and use the hashtag #sparkpeople!)
If you don’t have an Instagram account, take a sneak peek at our feed here.
Are you on Instagram? What types of photos would you like us to share?
Read More ›
You might have noticed that something's different on your favorite healthy living blog this morning. As of today, the DailySpark is now The SparkPeople Blog. You'll get the same everyday tips on healthy living from the same SparkPeople's experts. It's just in a new place, with a slightly different, easier-to-remember name. And, yes, you'll still get your SparkPoints for reading.
The SparkPeople Blog now lives on SparkPeople.com, rather than on a separate website. Not to worry--you will still be able to find all your favorite DailySpark blog posts both via the SparkPeople Blog and any favorites you might have saved. And you'll continue to see SparkPeople Blog posts in our daily emails and elsewhere across the site. Read More ›
My one-year "Sparkversary" of working at SparkPeople came and went in January, and I've been reflecting on all the amazing things I've gotten a chance to do over the past 12 months. Between writing, editing and managing content on the site, I also got to go on a whirlwind adventure to California to help direct and film a batch of videos for SparkCoach, our premium interactive coaching program. But I wasn't in this alone—I also had the pleasure of working with SparkGuy himself and SparkPeople member Shelli (MOSTMOM1). (You might remember Shelli's "SparkPeople Cup'' and "Hooping Gangnam Style'' vlogs—needless to say, this woman is FUN to work with; we had a blast! You can read her account of our trip here.) Read More ›
As SparkPeople's editor, the best part of my job is coming up with great story ideas for our members. Health education is my background (and my passion), so being able to distill often complex topics into digestible—and actionable—pieces to help you reach your goals gives me a lot of joy. I work with an amazingly talented team of experts and freelancers (think certified trainers, behavioral psychologists and dietitians) who really know their stuff and can help bring these topics to you week after week.
I recently looked back at the top-performing headlines from SparkPeople in 2012. These are new stories that YOU read most. Take a look these 15 features for some of the best tips and ideas that you may have missed over the past year (starting with number 1). Enjoy! Read More ›
Meet Chris Kramer, a SparkPeople.com member (username ChrisKenandkids) who lost 73 pounds! Here's how she did it. Plus, find out how she fuels up for her favorite sport: tae kwon do.
How old are you? 43
How long have you been a SparkPeople member? Since September 2009, but really active since January 2011.
How did you find SparkPeople? My sister found the site and became a member. She suggested I check it out. I was doing Weight Watchers at the time I signed up and wasn't ready to make the change until 2011.
What is your favorite feature on SparkPeople? I love SparkRecipes, and I like meeting other members through the SparkPeople Community.
How much weight have you lost? I've lost 42 pounds since becoming serious about weight loss in 2011, and I'm 73 pounds down from my heaviest weight (233 lbs).
How long did it take to lose the weight? It took seven months for me to lose 42 pounds on SparkPeople. Read More ›
We've gathered a list of some of the newest content on SparkPeople.com! Take a look at this month's top headlines.
Get Back on Track This Fall
With swimsuit season over and the holidays fast approaching, fall can be a tricky time for weight loss. Stick to your goals all season long with help from SparkPeople!
6 Recipes to Make with Your Kids
Cooking with your children will teach them how to prepare and select healthy food choices for life. Whip up these kid-friendly meals with your little chefs.
10 Excuse-Busting Exercise Quotes
Sometimes, a little motivation is all you need to lace up your gym shoes and get moving. Browse these inspirational quotes the next time you're tempted to skip a workout.
Avoiding Work-At-Home Weight Gain
Despite its perks, telecommuting can create a major conflict with your healthy lifestyle. Here's how to stay fit (and avoid the fridge) when home is where your job is. Read More ›
We've gathered a list of some of the newest content on SparkPeople.com! Take a look at this month's top headlines.
Lose Weight with Fall Comfort Foods
Don't panic over autumn's tricky and tempting treats! Indulge in your favorite fall flavors with these slimming dishes.
The Best Strength Moves for Runners
A strong runner is a fast and healthy runner. Find out which exercises you should be doing to boost your performance.
5 Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating
These supermarket staples are delicious, nutritious--and have been shown to raise "good" cholesterol levels to boot. How many of them are you eating on a regular basis?
The Power Food with a Rotten Reputation
It's been banished from carts and kitchens everywhere--for no good reason! Here's why you should reconsider what you've heard about this unexpected super food. Read More ›
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