The SparkPeople Blog

4 Ways to Stay Focused This Holiday Season

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/12/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  6 comments   :  11,419 views

At this point in the year, holiday parties and special events are in full swing.  It makes this time of year especially hectic, with many of these activities likely revolving around food.  Is it possible to stay on track with your eating plan when you’re surrounded by temptation and have no clue what’s in the dish someone else has prepared?  Is it possible to stay on track with your fitness plan when you’ve got other commitments and can’t attend your regular gym class?  The answer is ''yes''! Just like anything else, if you make your health a priority, you’ll find the time and motivation to exercise and make good food choices.  Here are some simple tips to help you stay focused this holiday season.

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5 Simple Habits that Help Prevent Major Health Problems

By: , – Presented by Humana
12/8/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  19,777 views

It's no secret that our everyday lifestyle choices have a direct effect on our long-term health. According to a recent study, about 60%–70% of healthcare visits in industrialized countries are associated with chronic, preventable diseases caused by poor lifestyle choices, including lack of physical activity, overeating, chronic stress and poor sleeping habits. The good news is, simply changing these daily habits can help us significantly improve pre-existing chronic conditions--or prevent them altogether before they happen. Here are some of the most impactful, medication-free changes you can use as another course of treatment in your toolbox to get your health back on track. 

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12 Healthy Holiday Gifts

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/6/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  1 comments   :  11,556 views

Can you believe it’s already that time of year again? It seems like the holiday season approaches more quickly each year. Before you know it, the malls will be filled with last-minute shoppers scrambling to find parking spaces and gifts for their loved ones. If you’re like me, searching online from the comfort of your own home is an easy and less stressful way to shop. Considering giving the gift of health this year? Here are some ideas in a variety of price ranges to get you started.  

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4 Ways to Save Major Money on Healthcare Costs

By: , – Presented by Humana
12/3/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  9,439 views

Taking care of your health certainly isn't cheap! Even routine tests and everyday care can add up to a significant amount of money. When health costs start to stack up, where do you look? You probably already shop around for cheaper prescriptions, grocery store discounts and economical gym memberships. You might have even used online discounters, like Groupon or LivingSocial, to source deals on services from massage and acupuncture, to laser eye surgery and varicose vein treatments.
But what else can you do to cut even more costs? Follow these tips to start saving big time on all your personal healthcare needs! 

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How to Start Exercising: A 20-Minute Routine

By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
12/2/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  5 comments   :  41,478 views

Ready to start exercising, but not sure where to begin? I’ve created this workout just for you! Everybody has to start his or her own personal exercise journey somewhere, so if you are ready to start moving, join me for this efficient and effective workout that uses just your body weight, a chair and a wall. This 20-minute routine will help you develop strength and stamina and will teach you proper form for basic exercises like squats, planks and push-ups.

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One Easy Trick for a More Productive Day

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/23/2014  12:00:00 AM   :  1 comments   :  6,335 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)

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