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. I'd like to issue a special invitation to join the "Let's go Hiking" team and if you'll check out my SparkPage and blogs, you'll see pix of some of my hikes in Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley and over near Pahrump.
You can also choose SparkTeams by age group, lifestyle or interests, geographic location or several other ways. Some of the other 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. 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!
Welcome aboard! I guarantee you will not be disappointed in your decision in joining Sparkpeople. I will admit though, the results will vary due to your efforts and your honesty towards yourself. I wish you the best in your Sparkpeople journey and if you should need some words of encouragement or motivation, hit me up as a Sparkfriend and I will help you achieve them. If you should have some time, read my blogs and visit my sparkpage. Look at my Sparkpage Photo Album (you will witness a true transformation of my accomplishments -I am in week 9). There may be some confusion about my attendance. I have been in since 2009, but I just recently got serious to the program (that is why I write week 9). I will be honest with you; I am dead serious about achieving my goal this time around and you are invited to ride along and accomplish yours. If you’re looking for friends to talk about American Idol, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc— please skip me (there are many Sparkpeople on this site that enjoy that type of stuff). Personally, I like to stay on track about our goals and our accomplishments and nothing ELSE! Not to say, if you should have issues that prevents you from achieving your goal (family, relationship, blah, blah), I would be interested in hearing them. I may come off to demanding, but I am dead serious about losing this weight and living a healthy life. Chat with my Sparkfriends-- they will tell you how I hold them accountable for their actions. I will say this, it has been a bumpy road but it is starting to smooth itself out. Again, I wish you the best! Now, enough writing- go and accomplish your goals (Ooorah)!
to Sparking! To both give and receive support, I suggest joining and participating in at least one Spark TEAM. When you signed up, SP offered you a "Spark Class" which is a team for the newbies who signed up the week you did.
You might find this blog helpful. www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=a_s ecret_tip_for_healthier_eating
This is helpful also: If I consume fewer calories than my plan recommends, will I lose weight faster? www.sparkpeople.com/community/ask_th e_experts.asp?q=58