Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I received my copy of the book, “The Spark” about ten days ago and I must say it’s exactly what I expected. The full title, “The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit, and Transforming Your Life,” goes well beyond delivering what it promises.
According to promotional material for "The Spark," it promises to be a revolutionary tool that:
“distills the best of www.sparkpeople.com [and its] medically accepted nutrition and fitness plan and infuses it with a program of personal empowerment.”
That’s exactly what you get. “The Spark” is an easy-to-read manual that follows much of what you find on the website and gives more than just tips for losing weight. As the title indicates, “The Spark” offers a simple approach to transform your life.
As someone who has been overweight, I know that losing the weight is only half the battle; maintaining that progress is the greatest challenge. Well, “The Spark” is a must-have for anyone who is on this path. A key aspect of the book is that your health goal should not be just to lose weight. Your goal should be to make healthier lifestyle choices. The weight loss is a consequence of those healthier lifestyle choices. The best part of the book is that it doesn’t merely tell readers what they already know: that you should exercise and maintain a healthy diet to lose weight. Rather, “The Spark” focuses on the individual and the everyday choices that can help or hurt your progress.
For anyone who is an active member of www.sparkpeople.com and who routinely uses all of the online tools on the site, you will find that “The Spark” does a nice job of taking everything you’ve learned online and tying it all together. But even if you don’t follow the tools on the site, I recommend “The Spark” because of its motivational component. The book addresses the benefit of embracing the support of others, hence the premise of the website, www.sparkpeople.com . It highlights personal anecdotes of real people. You get to meet some of the www.sparkpeople.com members in their own words and read about their ups and downs along their journey.
If you don’t yet have “The Spark” (or if you have it but didn’t start reading it yet), you’re missing out on an important tool to help catapult you toward your health, fitness, and nutrition goals. It is available at any book retailer, and the average price is about $14.00. I think it will be the best $14.00 you’ll ever spend in your effort toward a healthier lifestyle.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
I spent my holiday with friends and family members who have not been around me since I developed my new, healthier eating styles. It was so refreshing to share it with them. Their questions were more inquisitive out of a genuine regard for my new way of eating rather than, “why are you eating weird that way?” as I had been accustomed to hearing from people. I guess to some people, it's weird to have breakfast without eating bacon and eggs.
Speaking from experience, it’s difficult enough trying to maintain your focus when it’s just ‘you’ trying to stay afloat. But when you have people around you trying to tip the boat over, that’s an added burden making things twice as difficult. Fortunately, I didn’t have those types of barriers this time. People went out of their way to ask thoughtful questions and offered healthy alternatives to the unhealthy fare that everyone else was having. I did sneak and nibble on a few of the unhealthy things; however, it was great having a choice.
I didn’t stray too far off course though, and I followed the same tips that I often give to others. These tips work not just during the holidays but all year long:
1. Start the day with breakfast. That helps to spark your metabolism early in the day, which can help curb your appetite;
2. Eat small meals throughout the day so you don’t get too hungry. That can help you avoid eating too much or craving things that can blow your whole program;
3. If you really want some, go ahead and have a sliver of pie or a piece of banana bread or some of that cake. I always have a piece about the width of two of my fingers held together. If you deprive yourself too much, it could backfire causing you to break down and over do it;
4. When you’re having dinner, don’t feel compelled to go back for seconds just because it tastes good;
5. Grab a partner and go for a walk after you eat; and
6. If you do eat too much and if you end up being a couch potato and you don’t work it off, try not to judge yourself too hard. That will only make you feel bad.
I followed these tips and only put on 2 pounds over the past 3 weeks. I’m back on track now and fully charged up; I hope that you are charged up too. Lets make 2010 our best year ever!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
As the year comes to a close, most of us will focus on where life has taken us, while others will look ahead to where it is we want to go. Sometimes when we look ahead to the New Year, we make a list of resolutions. Many people often say they don’t make resolutions. But I think resolutions are important.
A resolution is nothing more or less than a goal, and if you fail to establish any goals, then a year from now you will most likely be right where you are today. So, no matter how big or small – whether many or few – jot down a goal or two that you want to achieve in 2010.
Here are my top three goals for the new year:
CONSISTENT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – While I do some measure of exercise now, I’m not consistent, particularly in the colder months or on those days when I work late. I have several at-home exercise gadgets (i.e., stability ball, resistance bands, medicine ball, dumbbells, Sparkpeople.com exercise DVD) that remove any excuses I could try to make. My goal for 2010 is to exercise four days a week.
WATCH OUT FOR SWEETS – for the past six months or so, I have found myself snacking way too much on sweets. I was fortunate in that I did not see any change to my waist size. But I know I ate more than I needed, and I will have to cut back. My goal for 2010 is to do a better job of limiting my snacking. Even if I make just small changes, it will have long term benefits.
CONTINUE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF OTHERS – This goal is one that has been the most helpful to my own progress. You’d be amazed at how inspiring it is to ME when I try to inspire someone else. Whether you call it karma, reaping what you sow, or something else, it has been highly effective for me whenever I motivate others. My goal for 2010 is do more encouraging things and be more supportive.
These are my goals for 2010. If you don’t have any, now is a good time to come up with some.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
If you’re looking for some interesting ways to have a healthier lunch or dinner, try adding a little imagination and creativity to your meals. Making just small changes can make a big difference. Consider these tips and hopefully they will make you think of some additional ideas:
- When eating sandwiches or wraps (whether at home or in restaurants or delis) add several vegetables, such as carrots, onions, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, or other vegetables.
- Eat a side of a mixed green salad with your lunch or dinner. Be sure to avoid the creamy dressings. Try going for vinegar-based dressings.
- Don’t always go for a protein bar or shake to satisfy your hunger between meals. Fruits and vegetables can be some excellent power foods. This can be particularly important after you exercise to give you a boost of energy.
- Pay attention to the contents of the juices you drink. Many juice brands on the market are significantly diluted with water and contain a lot of sugar. Not only do they give you too many calories, but they also are not giving you the amount of nutrition that you may think you're getting. Be sure to read the labels carefully so you know what you’re getting. For optimal health, don’t buy a brand just because it’s on sale.
- When choosing a baked potato, get creative in garnishing it. Some toping alternatives to butter or sour cream include salsa, grilled vegetables, stewed tomatoes, or plain maybe with a little salt and pepper. In addition, some people are conditioned to having a potato heated; but a cold potato with the right toppings is delicious - or try this. If you have been eating a baked potato for a couple of days, try placing it in a skillet or a table top grill and browning it on both sides.
- If you’re like me, then you will love salads; however a salad can get pretty darned boring if you’re not creative. Add green peppers (or use different colored peppers), shredded cabbage or use a variety of different types of lettuce, apple or pear chunks, chunks of eggplant, shredded carrots, shredded butternut squash (yes it’s delicious raw), avocado, kiwi, chopped celery, and some beans. If you do it right, your salad can be a meal in itself. But like I mentioned earlier, be careful of the type of dressing you use.
- Make the most of your grilling, and don’t discount the benefit of your tabletop grill. Wrap your favorite vegetables in some foil, use some non-stick spray, and season with your favorite herbs and spices and place on your grill. Sometimes as a change, place the veggies on skewers. Grilled fruits are good too. I like placing pineapples, strawberries, peaches, and guava on skewers for grilling.
This is just a sampling of some of the things you can do to spice up your meals without all the fat and calories. Just a few changes can do wonders for your tastebuds - and your waist line.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Whenever I get the opportunity, I tell my friends, family, associates, and even people I hardly know all about www.sparkpeople.com and what I like about it. It’s among the key reasons attributable to my success with maintaining my weigh loss progress. A Sparkpeople slogan is, “Make Your Life An Adventure” and that’s exactly what you get – an adventure – if you put forth the effort.
Sparkpeople is great for many reasons, however one of the biggest reasons is the support and encouragement you get from others. When you have a goal shared by others, it means a lot when they give you a little boost. When you feel like giving in to the temptation to eat a bag of chips and a box of Entenmann's Cookies or a couple of donuts, it’s good to belong to a community of other people who understand exactly what you’re feeling.
Here are other more practical reasons why Sparkpeople is an excellent tool for weight management:
1) The ability to record all of your meals on a daily basis, including calories and nutrition content is something that I really like. It’s easy to think you’re on the mark until you write it down. Until you get in the habit of conscious eating, most people either eat too much or don’t enough of the right kids of things consequently missing out on the nutrients they need. The Sparkpeople Food Tracker helps with that.
2) The cardio and strength training feature is good too, and not just for piling on the Spark Points. You can track your fitness goals and chart your progress toward those goals.
3) Many big and little things you do throughout the site assess points. The points aren’t good for much. They are primarily another way to give encouragement and motivate you to do more and get more involved. It’s just part of the site’s reward system.
4) Sparkpeople is a place to get answers to your questions. Not only are many members very knowledgeable, there are also many resident Sparkpeople.com Experts – people who are employed by Sparkpeople – who can help provide clarity on many topics. There are also several stories, articles, and reports on matters that pertain to health, fitness, and nutrition.
5) You can blog about your experiences, which really is good to (a) help you see where you are, and (b) share with others so they will know they aren’t alone in the struggle and perhaps learn a lesson or two from what you experienced.
There are several other benefits to www.sparkpeople.com which people must define for themselves. I am always recommending to people that they come here if they want something different – and most importantly FREE. Sparkpeople gives what you put into it. The more you give, the more you get.
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