I'm a technical writer working in manufacturing with an MA in English. I love what I do, and I love every aspect of my life. :) I have a great, supportive family and a loving, wonderful husband.
I'm a custodial stepmom of 3 and a newly married woman.
I just wanted to say hi and tell you that even though I've been away from SP for the past several months (bogged down with work and stress) I am looking forward to ending the mighty-year-of-challenges that has plagued me this past year and start fresh soon... I may be still a bit scarce around here for the next little while but I did want to let you know that I've been thinking of you and hope you are doing well in life, in happiness, and in your journey.
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. You're off to a great start already, just by posting here!
Please check out the SparkTeams - I think you will find a lot of others 'just like you' including many with the same challenges, circumstances and goals. You can choose SparkTeams by age group, lifestyle or interests, geographic location or several other ways.
Some of the teams I like and think you might like 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!!
In my experience, SparkPeople is like a in some ways - it's lots of fun and easy to make friends because we're all in this together. I like the way a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE is emphasized instead of a 'quick fix wonder diet' so it's good for people wanting to lose weight, 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!
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.
Be sure to read and 'study' The Spark book because it outlines the overall program and is compatible with most types of eating plans. Right now there is a 'special offer' on Amazon to get it in electronic format for just $1.99 - you can download the free Kindle reader for your computer or read it on a smartphone so you don't have to actually own a Kindle device to take advantage of this generous offer - so check it out!!!
As for your question, I'm not sure if you mean SparkGoodies, which are given from the recipient's SparkPage, or SparkTrophies, which are awarded by the administrators of SparkPeople for various achievements. SparkGoodies are 'purchased' with your SparkPoints earned by posting to message boards, tracking nutrition and fitness, reading emails and numerous other ways. Not sure if this answers your question but if not, you can send me a private SparkMail and I'll try to do better.
If you haven't already discovered the SparkDiet linked at the bottom of the START page, check it out - the program is simple but extremely effective. There is a TON of information on this site - so much it might even seem overwhelming but fortunately we don't have to 'digest' everything at once! The FastBreak program is a good way to start.
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!
Zumba is great! I have been going for the last few years on and off and I just love it. I know what you mean about your instructor...before I moved I had a great one and I miss her so much! Stick with Zumba...you will love what it does for you!