All Entries For spread the spark

Blogging from the Road: Tiffany's Back on Tour with Beyonce

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!

Welcome, Tiffany!

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.

Posted 5/4/2011  10:34:56 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 37 comments   14,514 views
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Yes We Can!

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.

Posted 4/27/2011  2:10:03 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 80 comments   15,392 views
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A Memorable SparkPeople Weekend

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.

Posted 4/5/2011  6:17:26 PM By: Nancy Howard : 70 comments   12,817 views
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Meet Tiffany, a SparkPeople Success Story and the Next Big Star!

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!

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."
(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!
Posted 2/10/2011  3:16:45 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 185 comments   90,160 views
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Special SparkPeople Issue of 'All You' Magazine Out Now

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!).
Posted 1/14/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 137 comments   24,573 views
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Meet Tim, SparkPeople's Social Media Expert

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

Age: 28

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!).
Posted 1/11/2011  6:06:36 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   9,641 views
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UPDATED: SparkPeople Member in People--and on the Today Show!

UPDATED: Did you miss Christina's Today Show appearance? Watch now!

Great news! SparkPeople member Christina Cores is featured on the cover of People magazine's annual "Half Their Size" issue (on newsstands tomorrow, Dec. 31)--and she'll be on the Today Show on Monday, Jan. 3 at 8:18 a.m. The story was also picked up by the syndicated shows ET, Inside Edition, and Extra. (Check local listings for times.) WooHoo!

Christina (she's the woman on the right on the cover) lost 122 pounds and became the person she always knew she wanted to be. You can read her weight-loss story in People, but here it is in her own poignant and touching words:

Posted 1/2/2011  9:39:56 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 166 comments   42,720 views
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Magazine Names SparkGuy a 'Champion of Health and Fitness'

We here at SparkPeople started this day out with one giant "WooHoo!"

Why? Our own Chris "SparkGuy" Downie has been honored by Fitness Magazine as one of 10 Champions of Health and Fitness in 2010. Chris is in great company: Jessica Biel and Jamie Oliver, who are doing their parts to make this world a healthier one, are among the other honorees.

We're stoked that a major magazine honored Chris--and SparkPeople--this way.

Posted 12/21/2010  5:50:51 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 136 comments   14,115 views
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This Med Student Maintains Her Sanity despite an Insane Schedule

By Katherine Ragland, aka VEGGIELADY4LIFE

If you struggle with an insane work or home routine, I can certainly relate. As a married fourth-year medical student with two very demanding dogs and a food and nutrition blog, I often struggle with fitting everything into my schedule. After ten plus years of juggling intense academic work with outside jobs, relationships, and hobbies, I have honed in on three areas crucial to maintaining my sanity in a “mad, mad world.” If your to-do list seems to be ever-expanding and your energy level is constantly crashing, my advice to you is to focus on these three things: sleep, nutrition and exercise (in that order!) Maintaining healthy habits in these key areas will provide you with the energy and enthusiasm to tackle nearly any life challenge.

  1. Sleep – Often an overlooked area in many people’s lives, good sleep hygiene is perhaps the most important component to a healthy lifestyle. While we sleep, our body repairs muscles, reformats memories, and essentially restocks our energy reserve. Sleep is crucial to optimal daily function!

    Posted 11/17/2010  11:03:16 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 30 comments   13,021 views
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Member Featured on Today's Joy Fit Club

If you tuned in to the fourth hour of the Today show on Monday, you might have seen a familiar face on screen next to hosts Hoda and Kathie Lee and resident nutrition expert Joy Bauer. Renay Stafford, aka SPASTIC5466, shared her story and became a member of the "Joy Fit Club"!

Over 3 1/2 years, 4'11" Renay went from 275 pounds to 130 pounds. So how did she do it? She told Joy that "The Biggest Loser" was what originally inspired her and kept her going when times were tough. In addition to kicking her fast-food habit, she started exercising, and she joined SparkPeople, where she found the support she needs to help her maintain her weight.

Joy explained some of the easy swaps that helped Renay:

  • fatty pepper steak with white rice (1,100 calories and 42 g fat) for a homemade version with sauteed peppers and onions, lean steak and a half cup of brown rice (565 calories, 21 g fat)

  • veggie burgers and oven-roasted sweet potatoes instead of burgers and fries

  • Click here to watch Renay's story now! (Check out our interview with the one and only Joy Bauer here.)

    Renay thanked her husband--and her "great group of girls on"! Congratulations to Renay on losing the weight and keeping it off. To be featured on the "Joy Fit Club" is quite an honor!

    Monday was a great day for another SparkPeople member. Dana McKeen (better known as ZIRCADIA) was featured on the Woman's Day website, as part of "Real Weight-Loss Stories: I Kept the Pounds Off." She lost 110 pounds and has kept it off for 2 1/2 years.

    Plus, Marie Claire named us one of the 7 Best Websites for Weight Loss.

    And member Bridgit Torbett was featured on AOL's Style List. Read her story, Makeover Diaries: From Unhappily Married to Free, Fit and Fine, here.

    As SparkGuy would say, "Woo-hoo!"

    Did you read (or watch) any of these success stories? Did they inspire you? Did you pick up any tips?
    Posted 10/6/2010  5:53:54 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 20 comments   14,804 views
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    Dallas SparkTeam Holds First Rally

    By Jerome Merlau

    September 26, 2010 is a day that I had been looking forward to for several months. Back in July, the decision was made that The SparkDallas team needed to have a get together so we could meet our teammates in person, share stories and spend some time together. Picnic, everybody loves a picnic, so that’s what we decided to do. Random is the best way to describe how the date was selected for this event. That’s it I thought, this is going to happen. I didn’t care if there were two or 200 who showed up, we were going to attempt to bring a group together for a little meet and greet.

    Posted 10/2/2010  8:23:18 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 47 comments   11,078 views
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    SparkPeople Members Take on the Hood to Coast Relay

    By Kate Eakman

    Imagine running four or five miles in the dark on a back country road. You ran six miles yesterday afternoon. And you still have another five or six miles to run later today.

    You haven’t showered since early morning yesterday. You haven’t slept in a bed since the night before last and you won’t get to sleep in one for another day. Rest breaks are in a van filled with five other sweaty runners all doing the same thing you are doing.

    Ice and water are your friends.

    Exhaustion--well, exhaustion is your enemy.

    You paid good money to do this.

    And you are having the time of your life.

    Welcome to Hood to Coast, a 197-mile relay race that begins at Mt Hood’s Timberline Lodge and ends at the Pacific Ocean in Seaside, Oregon. Every year 1000 teams of runners strap on their running shoes and prepare to participate in the Mother of All Relays. The runners take turns completing legs of four to seven miles, taking 14 to 36 hours to complete the course, one that tests physical and mental strength and stamina.

    Posted 8/24/2010  6:03:13 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 122 comments   16,305 views
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    From Eating for My Weight to Eating for My Health

    By Julie Bream of Peanut Butter Fingers (JL2726)

    We live in a world where the latest way to lose five pounds changes every 1.5 seconds. When I was growing up, everyone was all about eating low-fat or fat-free foods. When I entered college, the low-carb craze was in full swing.

    I can remember the week I tried living on a diet fueled by meat and cheese and very little carbs. I was living in my sorority house at the time and was surrounded by women who were constantly talking about feeling fat or feeling guilty after indulging in a brownie. I read a lot about the low-carb diets and followed the intro phase, which limited my daily carbohydrate consumption to 20 grams.

    After a week of feeling lethargic and defeated, I told my then-boyfriend that I'd rather have a little extra "me" to love, rather than feel the way I did while trying to maintain a low-carb lifestyle.

    Sure low-carb living works for many, but I found my greatest success and happiness in living a life fueled by a variety of healthy foods, rich in vitamins, nutrients and, yes, even carbs.

    When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2008, I began reading a lot about the importance of a healthy diet in cancer prevention. It was then that I truly began eating for my health, rather than eating to maintain or lose weight.

    My mom's diagnosis was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I realized that my body doesn't care how thin I am. My body functions best on a healthy diet, rich in fresh produce, whole grains and healthy fats.

    Posted 7/26/2010  2:07:09 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 105 comments   30,625 views
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    SparkPeople Debuts in Washington Post

    The word is getting out about SparkPeople, and the good press is rolling in. In the last six months alone, we've been featured in Fortune, Good Housekeeping,, The Times of London, and Today, plus some of the Web's best healthy living blogs. And whom do we have to thank for such glowing reviews? Chris "SparkGuy" Downie for following his dream and starting SparkPeople? Yes, and... the fabulous team we work with every day? Yes, but also… YOU!

    As we've said time and again, SparkPeople is eternally gratefully for the support, encouragement, and, most of all, success of our more than 8 million members. With that many members, if SparkPeople formed a state, we would supplant Virginia as the 12th largest in America. Wow!

    Now, the SparkPeople community has another feather in its cap: A column in the Washington Post written by Jennifer LaRue Huget.

    Posted 6/21/2010  10:23:15 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 79 comments   11,374 views
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    UPDATED: Fortune: We're the 'Facebook of Dieting'

    UPDATE: This story is now available online.

    Here's what SparkGuy had to say about the experience:
    "I have to tell everyone that it was a lifelong thrill to sit in the Fortune magazine offices and share the SparkPeople story with 3 high-level people there. I'll never forget it and am so excited that this article will help us spread the spark to many more people and organizations."

    SparkPeople is no stranger to good press. From TV to blogs, newspapers to magazines, the media are noticing us more and more these days.

    Now, we have another feather for our cap: Fortune! This well-respected business magazine, which primarily focuses on large companies that are household names, wrote a great little piece on SparkPeople in the April 12 issue (on newsstands now).
    Posted 4/13/2010  2:02:42 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 168 comments   23,091 views
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