All Entries For spread the spark
Editor's Note: By popular demand, our Behind the Scenes at SparkPeople feature has returned.
Name: Sarah Felkey (SPFELKEY)
Position at SparkPeople: Marketing Coordinator
Family: I am married to my wonderful husband, Sean, and we have two cats: Frisches, who carries slippers around the house, and Izzy, whose only speed is "run."
How long have you worked for SparkPeople? Since May
Tell us your proudest accomplishment at SparkPeople or a fun fact about your job:
Since I’ve only been here since May, I am still learning about my job responsibilities, but I’m excited about what I’m working on so far, including marketing for our upcoming cookbook, print ads, and emails. I’m also helping beta test a new member support feature that hopefully will be released very soon on the SparkPeople website!
How do you stay in shape? Read More ›
My motto: "Doing whatever it takes."
When the dailySpark asked me to write a guest blog I was completed humbled and honoured. What better way to help inspire people then getting to share my story, where I have been, where I am and where I am going.
On to the title of my blog, "doing whatever it takes." When I started to lose weight in May 2009, I had hit rock bottom with my self-esteem, was very close to the heaviest I had ever been, at close to 320 pounds. My athletic abilities were completely gone and I knew that it was a time for a change.
I had contemplated losing weight for years. In my second year of university, I had a huge drug problem and when I eventually stopped doing drugs (it has been over 4 years) I gave myself 3 goals all with equal importance to me. Read More ›
At SparkPeople, it won't surprise you to learn, we encourage our employees just as much as we encourage our members. That same philosophy, of healthy living, making your life an adventure, and setting small goals en route to larger ones, is embraced by all of employees, from Founder Chris "SparkGuy" Downie right on down to our newest hires. We aren't just in the business of healthy living; we're also living that way.
Many of SparkPeople's employees have been here from the start 10 years ago, but most of us who've joined along the way have left corporate jobs and hectic careers where work-life balance and healthy habits weren't supported and, in some cases, were outright discouraged.
SparkPeople's Tami Booth Corwin is a great example of how much we truly value the very habits we advocate.
She's a wife, mother, and also SparkPeople's President. Despite having two young children and a busy schedule, she always makes time for fitness and healthy eating, something that just wasn't possible when she worked in publishing. Read More ›
By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)
May 21, 2011, marked the date of the first SparkPeople rally sponsored by E.A.R.P.S. (Exotic Animal Rescue and Pet Sanctuary) and SparkPeople members. I have never hosted a rally before, but the idea came about when I was corresponding with SparkPeople member, Ksigma1222, who was featured in the book, "The Spark." He told me “If we build it, they will come.” We were both very eager to have a rally because there is nothing like being around fellow SparkPeople members. There is a very positive energy in the air.
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When Chris "SparkGuy" Downie founded SparkPeople 10 years ago, weight loss wasn't the only thing on his mind. He wanted to help people be healthier, sure, but he also wanted to show them that setting small goals en route to larger ones could help them achieve success in all areas of their lives.
SparkPeople grew into the country's largest diet website and helped millions become healthier along the way. But most of you didn't stop there, including Elle Newmark, whom you'll meet today.
As Chris wrote in his NYT best-selling book, "The Spark":
"At the convention, I also met Elle Newmark, the member who landed a major book deal as part of her SparkPeople adventure and embarked on an exciting trip to Italy, the setting of her book. But she didn’t stop there, as she told us:
I just spent a month in India, researching my next book. That little hill in California near my home is laughable compared to the Himalayas where life is entirely vertical. I spent almost two weeks at altitudes between 6,000 and 8,000, and was able to see and do everything. This enhanced physical ability creates a sense of well-being, self-sufficiency, and plain old power that is priceless. I am 62 years old and I feel like the world is mine for the taking. I can go places and do things that would have been unthinkable 3 years ago. My SparkPeople experience wasn’t a dream come true, I never even dreamed this. All that happened to me was beyond what I ever dreamed."
That second book, "The Sandalwood Tree," has been published, and we're thrilled that Elle has been able to achieve such success. She took some time recently to answer some questions via email. As a fellow writer, I was truly inspired by her tale. I hope you will be too. She is as eloquent in email as she is in her prose, so I urge you to keep reading! Read More ›
Yesterday we told you that a SparkPeople member was going to be featured on "Oprah." Did you watch Birdie (DR_BIRDIE) on Oprah's weight-loss episode yesterday? If you didn't, or if you want to watch again, here's your chance. Birdie told Oprah all about her 144-pound weight loss, breaking through a plateau, and more.
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After losing more than 140 pounds, SparkPeople member (and resident medical expert) Birdie Varnedore appeared in People magazine in a size-8 bikini, then on "Good Morning, America." The mom of five from Florida was also featured in Chris "SparkGuy" Downie's New York Times best-selling first book, "The Spark."
What motivated this busy mom and doctor to lose the weight? Birdie wanted to live a long and healthy life for her five children, and so did her husband, Nick, who lost 115 pounds on SparkPeople. A neurologist, she has referred hundreds of patients to SparkPeople and spreads the Spark whenever she can. We're thrilled that she has another opportunity to share her story with others.
Today, she's appearing on Oprah's Ultimate Weight Loss Finale. (If you watch closely, you can see a before photo and after video of Birdie in the promo video!)
Birdie (DR_BIRDIE) tells us that she delves into the personal side of weight loss, so we're certain that this is a can't-miss show. Check local listings for time and channels.
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I'm proud of each and every SparkPeople member, and I'm thrilled each time we're mentioned in the press. However, a recent SparkPeople Success Story, which is featured in the current issue of Woman's Day magazine (on sale now--go get it!), is especially touching for me to see.
Anne (MIAMIA7) and her husband Bob (BOBBYD31) are very special to me. In addition to having lost more than 140 pounds (combined) using SparkPeople, they're among the first members I met in real life. Bob ran alongside me as I finished my first 5K, and Anne was there (with Nancy) with hugs and praise after I crossed the finish line. They spoke at the SparkPeople Convention in Cincinnati, and I got to know them later that night, when some members and employees hung out after dinner. They are two of SparkPeople's biggest supporters, and they give just as much as they get from the site. They've each provided tremendous support to me personally, and I'm not alone. They are kind and generous with all they meet on SparkPeople. They truly are inspiring--and incredibly humble.
I don't want to share too many details of their story (pick up a copy of Woman's Day to learn more), but I did want to highlight their success here on the dailySpark. I asked them to share with us what it was like to be featured in a major magazine, and their best tips and tricks for succeeding using SparkPeople. It's only fitting that Woman's Day devoted a whopping FOUR pages to this amazing couple!
dailySpark: What was it like to see yourselves in Woman's Day?
Bob:That was pretty cool, but really we are no different than anybody else, we just got lucky and they liked our story.
Anne:Quite exciting! We had no idea how large the feature would be and were quite surprised with it! We are hoping it helps others to change their lives toward a healthier living. Read More ›
Editor's Note: We're thrilled to announce that singer, songwriter and SparkPeople member Tiffany Moníque is the dailySpark's newest team member. She'll be blogging a couple of times a month about her journey to lose 100 pounds and keep it off using SparkPeople--while maintaining a busy life as a musician, mother, and all-round go-getter!
Tiffany credits The Spark for changing her life. Not only has she lost more than 80 pounds so far, but she kick-started her solo music career as well. We're excited to give you a behind-the-scenes peek at her life on the road as she continues to spread the Spark. Tiffany is a prime example of what you can accomplish using SparkPeople; not only did she take control of her health and fitness, but she's using that momentum to reach goals in other areas of her life. We can't wait to see how far she can go, spreading the Spark along the way, and we hope she motivates you as much as she motivates us!
By Tiffany Moníque (AKApella13)
I'm back--and I'm excited to be a regular guest blogger on the dailySpark!
Hey y'all (in my native Nashville, Tennessee, drawl). So, let me tell you what I’ve been up to lately. I hope all is well with you! For those of you who may not remember me, I am Tiffany Moníque (AKApella13) – singer, songwriter and background vocalist for Beyoncé. I was honored to be featured on the dailySpark and CBS News a few months ago for my success in losing almost 80 pounds. Prior to and since that time, I've been quite the busy lady in effort of keeping up with the incredible opportunities that have come my way. But before I go any further, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your love, support and words on encouragement along my weight loss journey. It has been quite exciting for me as I transition into this new reality of better health, life, fitness and success. I've tried my best to befriend everyone who lent my support my way and will continue to do so in the future. Even if it takes me a while to respond, please know that I read and appreciate all of your comments and words of encouragement.
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By John T. Jurkiewicz (JOHNTJ1)
I found SparkPeople quite by accident. I noticed a small ad tucked on the side of the web page I was viewing. The word "free" was what initially caught my attention. Being lazy by nature, I was glad to see there was a way for me to track my food and exercise without using a notebook, a ruler, a pencil and a calculator. Little did I know I was getting so much more than a simple tracking device.
This lifestyle change you and I are involved is not easy. Anything of real value never is. Success requires hard work, dedication and sacrifice. It's a lot more than counting calories, fat and carbs. It requires more than a gym membership. It means you're changing you, changing the way you look at food, at your relationship with food and most importantly changing the relationship you have with yourself. It means there are days you look in the mirror and you tell yourself that unless you alter some of your behavior, you are not going to be the success you hope to be. I know, I been there. I am learning, I am moving forward, even on the days that I feel like giving up. There are four things that sustain me.
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The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with friendship. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote sums up what many of us felt when we joined together for one of the most life-changing experiences the last weekend in March. In one of largest SparkPeople events, outside the SparkPeople conventions, well over 50 SparkPeople members descended on the Pennsylvania community of Cranberry Township, just north of Pittsburgh, to participate in the Just a Short Run (JASR) event. This race consisted of a 5K, 8.1 miler, half-marathon and 30K, a distance for every runner or walker. After a year of planning by Bob and Anne Dawson, Jan Fransden, Lynn Aufman and John Parker, we were all eager to share the blessing that an event like this can make in our lives.
The icing on the cake was having SparkPeople members Britt -AKA BAM0827 and Bonnie- AKA SMILEITSALLGOOD present us all with homemade SparkPeople patches they lovingly made for us to wear proudly during the race so that we could identify one another at the event. I can't begin to tell you how many people came up to me during the race asking me what the SparkPeople symbol was on my back and why so many people were wearing them.
What made this event so special is, that while we all come from different walks of life, the one common denominator amongst us is that we all met on SparkPeople. For many, this was his/her first time ever running/walking a race of his/her chosen distance. For others it was an opportunity to solidify friendships that have been forged over the months in the SparkPeople running teams. And for others this was the opportunity to take the risk of fulfilling a life-long dream. And for those who did not participate in the event, they came to share in a celebratory lunch after the race.
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Have you reached your goals using SparkPeople? Want to share your story and inspire others?
Our friends at Fitness have a super cool contest right now that is the perfect outlet for all those SparkPeople Success Stories out there.
"The Face of Fitness Photo Contest" runs through April 16 and requires just a few photos and a short essay. If selected as a finalist, you could win a photo shoot with the magazine in NYC, and the grand prize winner gets a trip to Hawaii!
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When you work at SparkPeople, Success Stories are a big part of the water cooler chatter. We know all of our Success Stories by name, and we love to spread the word when a member of the SparkPeople "family" has a WooHoo moment!
"Did you hear about that member who lost 80 pounds and is a back-up singer for Beyoncé?"
"What? No way!"
"Yes. She has an amazing voice and has an album of her own. CBS News just did a story on her."
"Whoa. Such a great story!"
True story--and one that we're psyched to share with all of you.
Not only did Tiffany Monique (AKAPELLA13) end a long cycle of yo-yo dieting and go from 235 pounds to 158 pounds--and counting--but she's also making huge strides in her career as a recording artist. Best known as one-third of the Mamas, Beyoncé's back-up singers, she recently recorded her debut EP, "Nemesis," and has another album in the works. She's primed for a big breakthrough, and SparkGuy and all of us here are trying to give her the boost we know she deserves. (You can help, too!)
First watch her CBS News story here:
She credits "The Spark," which she read while on tour with Beyoncé, for a large part of her success. She wrote to SparkGuy:
It's amazing because so many of the stories in "The Spark" made me feel as if someone were peeking into my window. I grew up as a skinny teenager and began gaining weight in college... I guess you can say I gained the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior and Post Graduate "15." LOL!(Do you need a tissue after reading that? I did!) Now read our exclusive interview with Tiffany. When she's a big star--we can all say we knew her and supported her along the way! WooHoo!
This was also the time I began to take my music career seriously but always ran into roadblocks because of my weight. I was even told by a well-known music executive that I had the chops, but my "looks didn't compete with the divas" on his roster. I was CRUSHED. As my song Nemesis outlines, I learned to transform that negative energy into fuel for my success. That mentality showed immediate effects with my esteem, but it didn't do as much for my success in entering the major music entertainment industry.
I am honored that Beyoncé looked beyond my size to see my gift. The opportunity to sing background for and tour with Beyoncé gave me the education and training required, in my opinion, for any artist to truly be successful.
But it was not without consequence. I, and the other full figured background singers, read countless reviews that praised our vocals but criticized our weight. We were called "fat tubbies, big mommas, bodyguard singers" and more. It was a constant reminder of how cruel people can be, but also how unhappy I was with my weight and that I needed to get obesity out of the way to make my dream a reality.
This is where "The Spark" comes in. I joined the site and purchased the book all while on tour. And within the first couple of pages, I felt as if I needed to check the ceilings and windows for surveillance cameras. I was the one who saw the amount of weight loss needed as so extraordinary (100 lbs) that it seemed impossible. I was the one who set goals so grand and large but didn't account for the small steps that needed to be made first. And MOST importantly, I am the mother who, though thrilled with the opportunity of being on tour with Beyoncé, felt guilty that I was leaving my son behind in order to make a living. Yes, this is the life I desire, but not solely from the "background." I desire a successful music career on MY terms that affords me the opportunity to have my son with me instead of having to solely watch me on television or through a Skype camera for months on end.
Your book was definitely instrumental in helping me honestly assess what my goals and motivations were."
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Everyone at SparkPeople has been eager to share some big news for months now, but we had to wait until the time was right. That time has finally come!
For the last several months, we've been working closely with the writers and editors at All You magazine. We love All You for many reasons: it's low price, it's realistic portrayal of real women with real bodies, its great tips and advice. So we were beyond thrilled to contribute to the magazine to help create a special "SparkPeople" health and fitness issue, which is on newsstands (sold exclusively at Walmart stores) today!
This is a major breakthrough for the SparkPeople brand—a great opportunity for us to showcase the amazing weight-loss stories of several members, share our workouts, recipes and advice in a new format, and Spread the Spark to even more people. And the photos! I have one word to summarize the food, the exercises and the before and after shots of our members: Breathtaking!
You can find this issue at Walmart starting today, but here's a sneak peek of what—and who—you'll find inside (plus an offer to get this special issue for FREE!). Read More ›
Editor's Note: By popular demand, our Behind the Scenes at SparkPeople feature has returned.
Name: Tim Metzner (SP_TMETZNER)
Position at SparkPeople: Marketing and Business Development
Family: Amazing and beautiful wife Kristy, our yellow lab mix Canyon, and Carson, our overly snuggly cat.
How long have you worked for SparkPeople? Started as a co-op in June of 2001 and came on full-time in 2005 (so almost 10 years)!
Tell us your proudest accomplishment at SparkPeople or a fun fact about your job: I'm probably most proud of how early on I got to join the company and the crazy range of things that I've done in my time. Some of my wide-ranging tasks have included: property management in our early days (whether fixing toilets, painting, or showing up in the middle of the night to check on alarms going off), helping sell and flight/traffic ads on our websites, managing all of our marketing, and creating and managing partnerships with other great companies.
I also was responsible for creating and executing our social media strategy and am probably best known by our members as the guy behind our posts on Facebook and Twitter (love interacting with our members there!). Read More ›