When we were researching and writing our best-selling book, "The Spark," we discovered 27 powerful secrets of success that thousands of successful SparkPeople members used to reach their weight-loss goals. These are the proven tips and strategies used by thousands of people who reached their goal weight or lost at least 100 pounds and were on track to reach their final weight. And now we want to share some of their tactics with you!
For all 27 secrets and to learn how to fit them into your life, read "The Spark."
Our members are often surprised by how much they had been eating after using SparkPeople's Nutrition Tracker. And they were often confused by portion sizes, too. To solve this problem, 65 percent of all successful members measured their portions before they ate. Are you eating more or less than you think? Find out!
The Portion Distortion Quiz
The Perfect Portions Guide
What Does 300 Calories Really Look Like?
Successful members were twice as likely to do regular strength training. Aside from helping build and maintain a strong and healthy body, they know that with more muscle, their bodies will regularly burn more calories, even when they're sleeping. SparkPeople makes it easy to start a strength-training program. Our free Fitness Tracker can give you a unique workout program based on the equipment you have available--even if you don't have any weights at home. You can also use the following resources to add strength training to your workout plan:
Reference Guide to Strength Training
Our Free Workout Videos
Of our successful members, 96 percent were actively working toward one or more goals. They all had either set or met weight-loss goals, but they also had active fitness goals (81.5 percent), health-related goals (49 percent), and other life goals in the areas of finances, career, relationships, creative pursuits, and many more. Are you prepared to reach your goals?
Successful members proactively took steps to keep exercise fun. A whopping 64% made it a point to try new and different things, 67% tried outdoor activities, 62% listened to fun music, and nearly 60% purposefully added variety to their workout plans. Other things that kept exercise fun were doing competitive activities (races, charity walks) and taking active vacations. If you haven't found ways to make exercise fun yet, the following resources offer some great tips and ideas that will help you see exercise in a whole new light.
Keep Exercise Fun and Adventurous
Hate to Exercise? Try These Ideas!
Across all successful segments, whether 100-pound losers or those who had met their weight-loss goals in general, the number-one nutritional strategy was to eat more fruits and vegetables. Ninety percent of those who met their goals and reached their ideal weight now eat more fruits and veggies. Need Help?
Easy Ways to Eat 5 Fruits and Veggies Each Day
The No-Excuses Appeal of Fruits and Vegetables
Of those who reached their weight-loss goals, 90% exercised regularly. Those who exercised did so an average of five to six times per week. People who reported being "stuck" (or NOT meeting their weight-loss goals) were significantly less likely to exercise. And those who did exercised less frequently than the successful group--three or fewer times per week. Don't be intimidated by these stats. If you only exercise twice a week, that doesn't mean you're doomed to fail at weight loss. A little exercise is better than no exercise, especially when you do it consistently. Here's more:
Learn to Love Strength Training
Heart-Healthy Benefits of Exercise
Small Bits of Fitness Add Up
Almost 80 percent of successful members started with small steps, and once they built a firm foundation, they went from there. Dieters were more likely to start with big goals and go all-out trying to lose weight fast. Trying to overhaul your life overnight isn't necessary for weight loss. But by building small habits over time, you will feel successful and develop habits that you can sustain over time. Here's more:
Stay Motivated with SparkStreaks
Start Small with an Exercise Fast Break
Start Small with a Nutrition Fast Break
Successful members exercised at home, outside, in the gym, with home equipment or home DVDs, with workout groups or buddies, varying their routines and keeping it fun so that they were more likely to keep going. So how does workout variety help you lose weight? First, it's the anecdote to exercise boredom. The second reason is that it keeps your body guessing so that you get better results than following the same routine each day. So how do you mix up your routine?
Plateau Busters: Add Variety to Your Workouts
Ideas from SparkPeople's Exercise Library
Of those who met their goals, a full 74 percent planned their meals and workouts in advance! And, when compared to those who were "stuck," successful members planned their workouts more than twice as often. Make exercise and healthy eating a priority--without letting it take over your life.
Habits of Fit People: Mark Your Calendar
Save Time with Big Batch Cooking
65% of people who met their weight-loss goals added more activity to their day by "sneaking" it in: pacing while on the phone, lifting weights in front of the TV, doing jumping jacks in between conference calls, taking the stairs and more. The more you move, the more you lose. Any kind of physical activity burns more calories than sedentary activities do, and it can also decrease your risk for health problems, including cardiovascular disease. Need tips adding activity to your days?
Add Activity--Not Just Exercise--to Your Days
30 Tips for an Active Lifestyle
Sneak It In and Shape It Up
Cooking healthy meals was one of the top nutrition strategies of successful members; 77 percent of them used this strategy to meet their goals. Research has shown that people who cook more meals at home consume more of the "good" stuff (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber) and less fat, sodium and calories. You don't need a culinary degree or hours each night to cook a healthful dinner.
Healthy Home Cooking with Chef Meg
Low-Fat Versions of Your Favorite Recipes
SparkPeople members don't just consider people a nice part of their community; instead, they tap into the power of positive people and use that as a weight-loss tool. 60% of successful members connected with positive people who they knew would help them stay positive, and nearly just as many proactively read other people's success stories on SparkPeople.com as a motivational technique. Among people who had lost at least 100 pounds, the numbers were even higher--72% proactively connected with positive people, and 71% read inspiring stories of other successful SparkPeople.
How to Get the Support You Need to Succeed
Surround Yourself with the Positive
Fully 90 percent of all SparkPeople members said they were following a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to dieting. People on a diet actually lost less weight! There were big differences in how dieters thought. They were twice as likely to think of exercise as a chore, more likely to "beat themselves up," more likely to cut out food groups and deprive themselves, and more likely to say that they "donít feel good about themselves." They got less sleep on average--between five and seven hours, versus seven to eight hours in the healthy lifestyle group. Dieters also reported lower levels of happiness. Diets don't work. Stop dieting and start living!
Of the most successful members we surveyed, literally ZERO percent said they let setbacks derail their efforts. How did they get back on track? 84% said that if they hit a setback in their pursuit of weight-loss or fitness goals, they just acknowledged the bump and quickly moved on to get right back on track. You can, too, using these guides:
1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward
25 Ways to Get Back on Track Today
Ninety-six percent of successful members ate a healthy diet most of the time. The majority (70 percent) didn't cut out "bad" foods completely. These members understand that adopting a healthy lifestyle for the long haul is not about perfection. It makes sense, then, that successful members say that when they have a bad food day," they "don't worry about it because I eat healthy and exercise most of the time." Eating right means cutting yourself some slack and enjoying your food.
Moderation in All Things
30 Tactics to Outsmart Your Unhealthy Temptations
For all 27 secrets and to learn how to fit them into your life, read "The Spark."
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