The SparkPeople Blog

One Easy Trick for a More Productive Day

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/23/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  1 comments   :  1,558 views

Hello, SparkPeople Members!

First, thanks a bunch for all of the great comments about my chickens last week! I thought this would be a fun way to share part of the healthy lifestyle we're trying to lead, thanks to my wife who initiated this project. Hopefully this sparks you to keep searching for healthy habits one at a time to fit into your lifestyle (since I know not many people will be able to raise chickens). As a quick update, I'm happy to announce that Snoozy laid her first egg this week! She is our most timid chicken of the flock. This already seems to be giving her more confidence to stand up for herself, which is important because she's at the bottom of the pecking order and can get picked on. 

Plan to Plan (SparkTime!)

Today I want to share what I believe is one of the best ways to reach any goal: developing a simple planning system that works for you to increase your organizational skills. I KNOW this sounds boring (I can hear some groans). But a major point about doing the right "boring" tasks consistently is that it really can change your life.

One reason I'm sharing this today is that I hit a fun milestone this week as a result of more dedication to my own planning system. I crossed 100 days for my streak of spinning the SparkPoints login wheel -- WooHoo! This may be the longest login streak I've had. In the past, I have been on the site just about every day interacting with members and tracking my goals, but sometimes I would forget to spin the wheel and would lose my streak. This streak is now meaningful to me because it's a daily visual reminder of my commitment to both planning and reaching my goals.

What was different this time? It's simple. About 3-4 months ago, I got very serious about my daily planning -- especially setting aside time in the morning as a "plan to plan" session I call "SparkTime". There are many types of strategies for planning, but I use a simple spreadsheet and set up a template with daily tasks broken into 5 categories or columns. Then I follow this simple process each day:

1) Each morning, I copy the template into a new section for that day and add priorities for the day like work projects I need to complete
2) I have a section in the spreadsheet called "Priority Goals" where I put the next few tasks I want to do
3) When completed, I move that task to the completed section
4) I have a notes section where I make notes about anything that happens that day

My "tasks" can be incredibly small. Examples include:
* Spin the SparkPoints Wheel
* Work on X project at work (like writing this email!)
* Eat breakfast (otherwise I forget)
* Do at least 10 minutes of fitness (in the morning, if possible)

This simple process keeps me on track and almost acts as a coach. When I move a task to the completed section, this is like a small reward. Seeing tasks on this list keeps me accountable.

This way, my mind doesn't get cluttered with a bunch of details, and I'm free to do more thinking about bigger projects like fun new enhancements we're working on for the site and apps.

Are you ready to give this a try? Here's a friendly challenge: can you build a SparkPoints login streak that represents your desire to reach goals?


Click to my blog to see a sample of the spreadsheet I use for planning to make this easier to visualize. Also, feel free to share fun ways you keep track of your daily planning!

If you want more motivation about the power of consistency, take a look at my free new Mini-Book if you haven't seen it yet.


I got Paul from our engineering team to add our "Get Your SparkPoints" button to this email. Now, each week, you can click the SparkPoints button below and receive 3 points. Or, just click this link now to test this out and help me set a new record for clicks from this email -- thanks for your support!

Weekly Check-In

Check-in time! Click to this blog and share any small steps you took to reach your goals the prior week OR a goal you have for the upcoming week.

Have a great week everyone!



Chris (SparkGuy)

Your Own Personal Nurse Is a Phone Call Away

By: , – Presented by Humana
11/18/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  5,042 views

Your doctor can be a great resource to help guide you toward a healthier life. But every so often, you might need professional health advice immediately--advice that you can't necessarily get from a quick Google search. Maybe you're dealing with a chronic condition and don't have the time, energy or money to make an appointment with your physician for every little question. Dealing with a chronic illness can be confusing and challenging, and it might seem like you need a go-to person who can address all your concerns as they come up. The good news is, those people do exist! They are called Personal Nurses, and they may be available at no cost through your insurance provider. We interviewed Jessica, a Personal Nurse at Humana, to find out what these professionals can do for you. She also gave us some great tips on how to get the most out of your doctor's visits, how to effectively cope with a chronic illness, and more--so take notes! 

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7 Reasons Parents Should Feel GOOD--Not Guilty--about Exercising

By: , – Liza Barnes Geismar, RN and Health Educator
11/17/2014  5:00:00 AM   :  1 comments   :  5,678 views

Whether you're a parent who works full time, part time, or stays at home, working out can be a challenge.  Finding the time amid cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework, sports, lessons, and bill-paying; finding the energy when you're short on sleep; and finding someone to watch the kids so you can get to the gym or go for a jog is no small feat!  And then there's the guilt.  Maybe you feel guilty because working out means even more time away from your kids, so you choose to skip the gym.  Maybe they're with you all day but they cry when you drop them off at the gym child-care, so you opt to stay home instead.  Whatever the reason, if you're missing your workouts because you're feeling guilty, read on to shake off the guilt and get fit—because as it turns out, your workouts are actually good for your kids, too!

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These Adorable Sleepy Chickens Will Make You Smile

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/16/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  11 comments   :  2,698 views

Hello, SparkPeople Members!

I hope you had a great week! After a more serious topic last week about Seasonal Affective Disorder, I'm back this week with a lighter and fun topic: my chickens!

Have you ever seen a sleepy chicken? If not, read on and I'll show you some cute, sleepy chickens getting ready for bed. 

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10 Trainer Tips That Will Transform Your Body

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/12/2014  5:00:00 AM   :  8 comments   :  21,863 views

In 2011, I was both shocked and honored to be named America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch in the first-ever contest of its kind, which was run by Life Fitness and the American Council on Exercise, and I have continued to be involved as a judge and consultant for the contest in recent years. It has expanded outside of America to search for and name the best trainers across the globe. A few weeks ago, Life Fitness crowned 2014's top personal trainers to watch and a new winner in yet another amazing competition.
I recent caught up with the top 10 finalists (and the winner himself)—the crème de la crème of fitness pros—to share their best exercise tips with you! From time-saving exercise techniques to the best workout you can do when you're short on time, these must-read ideas are like consulting with the most inspiring and credible fitness trainers around the world without leaving home.

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The 12-Minute Better Posture Workout

By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
11/10/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  6 comments   :  20,092 views

Your mom was right--standing up straight really is good for you! Better posture can also help you look taller and slimmer instantly (no Spanx required). With all the sitting and slouching we do while typing, texting and driving, maintaining good posture can require a little extra work. Join me for this equipment-free, full-length workout video designed to develop strength, flexibility and proper alignment in the postural muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and core. A mat is recommended for the floor work (though a carpeted surface should work fine). 

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