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SparkGuy's 2011 State of the Spark Address: New Features, SparkPeople in the News, and More!

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Monday, January 03, 2011

Welcome to my annual State of the Spark address! It's been an amazing year at SparkPeople. We set a record by adding more than 2 million new members this year, and solidified our position as the largest diet and fitness site in America!

This week, one of our amazing members helped the world understand why so many people have flocked to our community to improve their health, reach their goals and change their lives.

At age 15, after her father died, SparkPeople member Christina Cores (TINYBUBBLES4) weighed 240 pounds, was mercilessly teased about her weight and "had given up on life." Seven years later, after losing 122 pounds and keeping it off with lots of help from SparkPeople, Christina appeared where countless celebrities had shown up earlier in the year: on the cover of People magazine (on newsstands through January 12) and on the "Today" show this morning.

Christina credits a big piece of her success to logging onto and reading success stories of other members on the site. This community inspired Christina all the way to her goal and then to achieve things beyond her wildest dreams, and now she is out inspiring millions of others by telling her story. There's never been a better opportunity to Spread the Spark to share the power of SparkPeople with your friends and family than by sharing these links and relating your personal experience on this site with others. We hope you'll spark other people to join you here as a way to help them, as well as to support your own goals this new year.

Christina's story is just one dramatic example of how SparkPeople is helping millions of people reach amazing goals!

People wasn't the only new outlet that took notice of what we're doing and all that you're accomplishing. In 2010, we were called "The Facebook of Dieting" by Fortune, "The Online Program That Works" by Good Housekeeping, and the "Best Website for Weight Loss" by Marie Claire.

We're always working to enhance the site, as one of our biggest goals is to make SparkPeople easier and more powerful to use for all our members, both new and experienced. After getting considerable feedback from our members and coaches, we recently re-worked our "Start" page, which is the page you see immediately after logging in to the site, to make it more user-friendly.

Looking Ahead

Enhancing our Condition Centers for people with specific health conditions is another big priority. As one example, we've introduced a new diabetes program that includes trackers, new content, and additional enhancements coming soon, such as a weekly email newsletter, diabetes-friendly meal plans, and a diabetes weight-loss challenge.

Next week, you'll see even more of SparkPeople on newsstands, as we've partnered with All You magazine (available at Walmart) to help create a special "SparkPeople" winter weight-loss issue, featuring several SparkPeople success stories, a winter workout from Coach Nicole, a motivation column from Coach Dean, and seasonal meal plans and recipes from Dietitian Becky and Chef Meg! And later this winter, look for our brand new "5K Your Way" interactive training plans with options for walkers, runners, and everyone in between.

Last winter, SparkPeople members helped our book, The Spark, become a multi-week New York Times Best Seller. Based on its success, an enhanced paperback version of The Spark is landing in bookstores now with a lower price and an all-new 30-page "Strong Start Guide" to help jump-start your weight-loss journey in a healthy way. I've been excited to see so many SparkPeople members say that the book plus the website has helped them reach their goals far more than the website alone. has grown into one of the largest healthy recipe sites on the Web, due in part to the fantastic recipes by Chef Meg, one of only 20 female World Master Chefs on the planet. We're very excited that October 2011 will bring Chef Meg's first cookbook!

All in all, the State of the Spark is stronger than ever. I couldn't be more proud of the uniquely positive community of amazing members who go on the site every day to help others as well as themselves reach their goals, whether it's losing those last 10 pounds, writing their first novel, or landing on the cover of People magazine. Your amazing support motivates us to continually improve the site!

Thanks for being such a positive and vital force to our online Community, and for helping us Spread the Spark far and wide!

Here's wishing you a great 2011. SparkCheers!

Chris "SparkGuy" Downie
SparkPeople founder and CEO

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
FLPALM 6/26/2011 11:44AM



emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/26/2011 11:45:24 AM

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GOOSIEMOON 4/10/2011 10:56AM


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GINA180847 3/6/2011 4:41PM

    You have my everlasting gratitude for your generosity. I am in Mexico right now but when I get back to Canada I will send off a big order including the Spark book, clothes etc.

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DOOGALOOPS 2/12/2011 1:14PM

    Truly amazing!

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SUNSHINEGIRL49 2/4/2011 10:26PM

    Thanks, SparkGuy! This is a great site, and I appreciate all the great features and support.

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BULGEBATTLER 2/4/2011 11:03AM

  I am going to buy either an XBox 360 Kinect or WII system. Any info on which is better?

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M77355 2/1/2011 10:49AM

    We all appreciate your generosity!

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KIMPAINTS 1/28/2011 9:59AM

    Thank you SparkGuy!!!!

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DANCINCAJUN1 1/26/2011 8:29PM

    Happy to be a part of your team joining in 2011 ... thank you for the opportunity. emoticon emoticon

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KEN1965 1/25/2011 5:39PM

    Thank you. emoticon

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THEWINNER33 1/25/2011 3:00PM

    emoticon emoticon

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REMUS55 1/24/2011 7:04PM

  Good Luck emoticon

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NEWMAC2011 1/24/2011 1:15PM

    That's great! Can't wait to hear everything Nicole has to say. emoticon

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STILLPOINT 1/24/2011 12:23PM

    Congratulations and thank you for providing such a wonderful resource and for your committment to continue improving the site!


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KAT573 1/24/2011 11:28AM

    Hey SparkGuy! Still waiting on that 'franchise'. emoticon

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WILDFLOWERR_ 1/24/2011 11:09AM

    any way you could make the text box bigger so we can see more of our post when we are editing it?
also, if we have more than one place in our track other goals section, could you fix it so when we track one, we can track all? IE fitness minutes

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A-STRONGER-ME 1/24/2011 8:41AM

    I love SparkPeople and have been an active participant for a coupleof years now, but the new Kontera ads are killing the ease of navigation on the site and really irritating people. Can you make them stop?? Pretty please??

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HELGA1958 1/23/2011 8:13AM

    Love this site. Thanks

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TEDCOLUNGA1A 1/23/2011 3:05AM

  Thank you so much for the site. I am so grateful to find a useful site that I can rely on. It has been a great inspiration to my overall well being. Thank you again for a great site.

Kindest regards

Ted Colunga

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HCARTZ1964 1/22/2011 11:05AM


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DONNACFIT 1/21/2011 10:57AM

    I'm a magazine junkie and lately I've been seeing Sparkpeople mentioned in almost every magazine I read!!!

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JDFAN448HS 1/21/2011 2:27AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
Thanking you for this website and the opportunity to improve my health and overall well being. Cheers,
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BURNINGTHYME101 1/19/2011 11:50PM

    It was quite by chance that I saw this group being advertised on Fox News 2-3 years ago. SparkGuy and his team were just getting started, but he already had so many actually losing weight and not charging people a leg and an arm. Sounded so good it couldn't be true so I decided check it out a while back. Glad I did! I've made Sparkfriends and am losing weight in a safe manner. Further I plan to get down to 200lbs. by the end of November.

I'm very thankful for this site for the many loses of many people. emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/19/2011 11:58:02 PM

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SPECIALGURL7 1/19/2011 11:12PM

    I am glad my cousin turned me on to SparkPeople. It has been a great inspiration.

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2CUTE2BFAT2011 1/19/2011 9:04PM

    Thank you so much for this website!!!

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46SHADOW 1/19/2011 3:43PM

    Thank you so much for the gift of this site. Lifechanging in little steps.

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LOSINGIT23 1/19/2011 12:17PM

  Would Chef Meg consider making a gluten free cookbook? It could really help me on my journey. I have had Celiac Disease (I can't eat anything with wheat, rye, or barley or I get really sick) for 3 years however beginners in the gluten free world need to know their is more beyond rice cakes!

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SUGAPLUM69 1/19/2011 11:44AM

  Tinybubbles4 is how I found SparkPeople ... her story in the People Magazine :D Thank you TinyBubbles4 for spreading The Spark!! Two days after joining SP I purchased the paperback copy of The Spark ... a new beginning to a new me!! Special Thanks to "SparkGuy" for his friendship & support! I look forward to every new day because I know that no matter what, I have the great support of a wonderful community in SparkPeople! My reasons for joining weren't so much weight loss, but more for setting goals, healthy living ... and I sincerely am hoping to motivate others as I share along the way in posts & my own blogs. One of my dreams has been to become a LifeSkills Coach/Motivator and I believe that SparkPeople is going to guide me right down that path in life!! Happy Sparking Friends :D

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LADYBUGVIV 1/19/2011 9:38AM

    As a 'recently diagnosed with type two diabetes' Sparkler, I have lost 20 pounds after being put on medication for the disease. The change in my mental alertness and energy levels is even more awesome. The craving for carbohydrates is gone and with it the feeling of hopelessness.

This has made me wonder how many of my fellow Sparklers would benefit from having their A1c tracked by them and their physicians for a year or more and why the protocol is that one has to top 7.1 on that A1c scale before the diagnosis of diabetes is made and help through medication is offered.

The struggle of diabetics to live well with this disease I can attest to. Living with it for 6 years before diagnosis was made gave me cause to doubt myself in so many ways. I am learning and I hope to continue to learn about diabetes and how to live well with it. Any help SparkPeople can give will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


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GOGIRLOLDER 1/19/2011 9:14AM

    emoticon my life is changing and I am living!!

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MISSILENE 1/19/2011 8:31AM

    I enjoy sparkpeople alot. But all of a sudden I don't get any emails. Whats wrong?

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DEBRABUF 1/19/2011 8:25AM

    I totally love the new spark page! Thanks for always trying to make our experience even better.

One thing that would be great is if on the nutrition page where we track our food if there could be a check box to select foods from that day's Lunch and save as a group. I visited a site recently and thought wow this would be great on Spark. I know we can create food groups, but on the tracking page it might make life a whole lot easier and more appealing.

Can't wait to buy the magazine!

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PTRCRYNN 1/19/2011 6:45AM

    I am just starting out here on Sparkpeople. I have struggle for many years with my weight and I finally found something that worked. Thank you Sparkpeople !!!
Patty emoticon

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OKANOG 1/19/2011 3:01AM

    Way back when members paid to join. I joined because it had the best daily food tracker and I believe it is still the best, today.

One of my first gifts from Spark People was a red apron. When I received it I could barely tie the belt in the back. Today I can almost wrap the belt around twice and tie it in the front!

Thank-you for making the site free for people from all walks of life, from teens to struggling single parents and seniors whom can afford the help they need and receive such wondeful support from the caring members of Spark People. emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/19/2011 3:04:50 AM

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BEVERLYFROMNV 1/18/2011 10:57AM

  thank you sparkpeople emoticon

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LITTLEGIRLSMOM1 1/17/2011 6:58PM

  Thanks SparkPeople

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DALENOFZIGER 1/14/2011 7:12PM

    Unlocking chains with hope through SP emoticon

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AMHFALKO 1/14/2011 2:04PM

    Thanks Spark People!!!

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CHRIMSONFYRE 1/14/2011 9:55AM


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KELLYERIN 1/13/2011 11:39PM


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LORETTA24 1/13/2011 11:16PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PLUMPUD 1/13/2011 10:42PM

    Spark is the best! Thanks! emoticon

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ITCANBEDUN 1/13/2011 8:41PM

    Thank you so much for everything you do. This site has really helped me. emoticon

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NOIRNATURAL 1/13/2011 8:38PM

    good job sparkpeople!

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ACIMPEGGY 1/13/2011 8:25PM

    Thanks for the update! You are a hero!

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BLOSSOMKITTY 1/13/2011 8:07PM

    Thank You for all you do!

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IAMKATIDID 1/13/2011 8:05PM

    I have been a member for a full week today, and I think it is an amazing website. Now, reading this blog and viewing Christina before/after...I am feeling even more positive about getting and staying fit for life.

Thank you,

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GRACIE629 1/13/2011 7:38PM


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DOLDHIPSTER 1/13/2011 7:08PM

    KUDOS to SparkPeople...After being laid off from work due to medical issues caused by my weight ( 428 lbs ) and being told if I didn't lose I would die , I started dieting...Between mid Feb. and the end of April I lost 6 lbs; and then I found SparkPeople..Between food tracking, trivial education and articles of health and nutrition I lost 51 lbs between 5/1/10 and 8/30/10 or 1/2lb per day..fearing I was losing too fast I stopped for 4 mos and managed, thanks to what I had learned, to maintain my loss...Now I am back for a second round and hope not only to lose as much again but learn even more. Also of note is that by losing just that first 60lbs I have resolved 75% of my medical issues...GONE is my secondary Polythycemia..My blood pressure has returned to normal and, I am no longer pre diabetic. I must also add that I was lucky enough to find a relentless cheerleader in another member Paulette (NEVADAPP)... Thanks SparkPeople..........Steve (doldhipster)

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GETFIT2LIVE 1/13/2011 4:30PM

    Chris, 'thank you' isn't sufficient for what you and your team have done for me by creating SparkPeople and continuing to develop and improve the site. In the year that I've been actually using SparkPeople, I've lost over 60 pounds and gone from a couch potato to a runner and a regular at my gym (even 'member of the month' for December!). I tell people all the time about the site and and about The Spark; diets don't work, changing your lifestyle does. Thanks for giving me the tools and the community to help me change mine!

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Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.