Congrats on taking the next step to reaching a healthier you by getting active with SparkPeople - it's a great community, wonderful resources and fantastic support- it's also lots of fun and easy to make friends because we're all in this together.
Sometimes the best way to start is to just pick a small goal such as drinking 8 glasses of water a day or eating 5 fruits and veggies - whatever you pick, I like the way a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE is emphasized here instead of a 'quick fix wonder diet' so it's good for people wanting to lose weight, but also to maintain a previous loss, get healthier, improve fitness and many other goals including gaining weight or saving money - it's about waaaaaay more than 'just' losing weight so you have definitely come to the right place! You're off to a great start already, just by posting here and I think you'll be at your goal before you know it!
Another nice thing about SparkPeople is that we have permission to be human - we don't have to change everything at once or be in a hurry to reach our goals. Take a few baby steps and then a few more and before you know it, you'll have completed a long journey - I hope you enjoy this community as much as I have - it teaches us how to make positive lifetime changes because that's the only thing that will work over time!
Please check out SparkTeams - you can choose them by age group, lifestyle or interests, geographic location or several other ways. I'd also like to invite you to join the Virtual Walk/Run/Cycle Thru the US @ exercise.lbl.gov SparkTeam - it's a really fun way to track your walking while you travel 'virtually' across America from Virginia to Oregon. Go to the SparkTeam page at www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/groups_i ndividual.asp?gid=19805 for more information.
Some of the other teams that are good for beginners include the Official 10-minute Daily Exercise Streak Challenge, Starting Over Weekly Mini-Challenge Team, 10k Steps A Day and Motivation & Positive Attitude Plan - but there are so many to choose from, you can have a great time looking for the ones that seem to fit you best! In fact, I suggest joining more than one group, post your intro there and write blogs as often as you can - you will find tons of friends and support that way, I promise!!
If you ever need any help using features of the site, there are tutorial videos under the HELP section that can show you how to use the features of the site. You can also find them on the START page and several other places on the site. It takes awhile to get the hang of the site but you can earn SparkPoints and Trophies while you explore and learn!
You've made a great choice in joining Sparkpeople. There are tons of resources here for you to check out. It can feel overwhelming. But, the truth is...you don't have to use it all. Just choose one or two things to try. Use them for awhile. Keep what works, toss what doesn't. I do recommend the use of the Nutrition and Fitness Trackers. Over time you can create good info to mine for what is working and what isn't. The info allows you to course correct as you need on your way to your healthier life and lifestyle. I also recommend that you choose a Spark Team or two to join based on your own, goals, interests, and/or hobbies. There's lots of positive info and support from others who understand exactly what YOU are talking about. Enjoy the journey!
Good for you for taking control of your health NOW, when you're 18. At age 18 I weighed nearly 200 pounds and kept trying all sorts of fad diets to lose weight. Needless to say they didn't work. Eventually I learned there's no short cut - no quick fixes - no miracle pills. The bottom line is we need to eat less and move more. The hard part is actually doing that consistently enough to see results!
SparkPeople is full of great information about how to lose weight in a healthy, sensible way. You'll start by setting 3 small, attainable goals that will help you build healthy habits over time. Each phase of the SparkDiet will build upon the last, so really take the time to "get the point" of each phase and don't rush through them.
If you find yourself knowing what you "should" do but not being motivated to do it, there's a free podcast that has helped me a lot: Inside Out Weight Loss. The newest episodes are on iTunes but the old episodes lay the foundation for the approach and can be found at personallifemedia.com. This podcast is all about motivation and perspective and can dovetail beautifully with the Spark plan.