7 Must-Join SparkTeams for Goal Getters

By , SparkPeople Blogger
What if there were a place you could go to meet people who not only have similar interests as your own, but also could offer support and comradery as they worked toward their own healthy living goals right alongside you? The power of community and support groups cannot be understated and, lucky for you, there is a place in the SparkPeople Community where you can find all of these things and more. Whether your goal is to conquer emotional eating, learn more about photography, find others with similar weight-loss goals or meet people from your city, there's a SparkTeam for that.

SparkTeams are groups of people who have come together based on common interests and goals. When you join SparkPeople, members are automatically added to a few teams, such as your "class" team for the week you started and a team based on your age and weight-loss goal. There are thousands of teams out there, though, so how do you find the right ones for you? You can browse the SparkTeam categories or search keywords to find specific teams that fit your needs. Whether you're brand new to the site or looking for a little inspiration, we rounded up seven active, supportive SparkTeams for members who are looking to achieve seven common healthy lifestyle goals—one of these teams might be your perfect match!     

"I Want to Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day."

The 10K Steps a Day SparkTeam was started in 2006 and has grown to over 6,000 members. Participants regularly discuss and share creative ways to get their 10,000 steps daily. For example, one member explained how she works to take extra steps around the house whenever possible. "I walk from room to room doing chores. If I'm at the computer, I do my work while marching in place. I can quite easily keep my feet moving steadily as long as I have something to do. Walk in circles while folding laundry or pace while sorting before putting it in the wash. It helps greatly to be 'inefficient,' meaning [I] put one thing away and walk back for the next item, rather than taking both at once!"

Team leaders create monthly team challenges, such as the "Personal Step Challenge" and there are motivational and game threads to keep members involved. Organizers say the purpose of the team is to help others reach any step goal they have, even if it's not 10,000. It can be a weekly or monthly goal instead of daily, as long as it encourages people to move more.

"I Want to Eat Clean."

The Eating Clean SparkTeam supports those who are trying to eat healthy and natural foods by cutting out the junk from their diets. The team was started in 2007 and has grown to over 8,500 members. In addition to meal ideas submitted in threads such as "Eating Clean Lunches" and "Weekend Eating", members can also enjoy general advice about how to eat clean on a budget. One member shared the ways she saves money while eating clean. "I found that when I removed process/refined foods from our family's diet, my food budget actually went further!" one member shared. "I shop only on the 'exterior' of the grocery stores now (produce, meat and dairy), and I'm able to splurge at our local market for the yummy, locally produced items that are seasonal in nature. Our home garden is just ramping up, and we just picked our first bowl of raspberries this morning!" The team also shares tips for staying active and recognizes birthdays and other milestones within the group.

"I Want to Make Meals With a Slow Cooker."

If you're looking for ways to make cooking a little less stressful and a lot more convenient, the Crock-Pot Cooking and Recipes SparkTeam might be your answer. Started in 2007, this team has grown to nearly 3,000 members and includes Message Board forums devoted to the kind of food you're preparing, be it pasta, meat or potatoes. General threads also dive into topics such as how to use a Crock-Pot, recipes that have worked well for other members and tips on how to tweak recipes based on individual preferences.

In the "What do you love about Crock-Pots?" thread, members discuss the benefits of this type of cooking. One member explains, "I love the way it makes the whole house smell delicious! I also love the simplicity, and [that] it's cheaper than going out and spending money on restaurant food. My favorite thing of all is that I can cook delicious, healthy meals from scratch and eat (or freeze for later) during the week. Something homemade and so easy, too!"

"I Want to Start Strength Training."

Although you can find useful information on SparkPeople about the basics of strength training, proper form and how to design your own program, it's also nice to connect with others who have this common goal. The Iron Maidens SparkTeam, which started in 2006 and has over 5,000 members, is a group of women who welcome everyone from the beginner to the advanced weightlifter. Members can ask each other for advice, ask specific questions about their routines or share what's working well for them. They also share favorite exercises and routines based on a wide range of goals and interests.  One beginner who recently joined the team had this to share about her experience: "I always hated any sort of exercise that didn't involve my horse but I'm at that age when I can't get away with not doing anything. I recently started working out with weights at home and discovered I love it. All those wasted years trying to be a cardio bunny and hating it, when I should have realized those same years of chucking heavy bags of horse feed around were far better for my soul. I have a few mobility problems which add to the challenge but [I] am looking forward to picking up tips and motivation to keep me going." 

"I Want to Learn to Garden Organically."

The Organic Gardeners SparkTeam is for people interested in growing eco-friendly and organic plants and edibles. The team was founded in 2007 and has over 3,600 members. Participants discuss gardening topics such as rain barrels and composting. They talk about their gardens, what they are planting and when, and even post pictures of the plants they are growing.

"Seed catalogs have been arriving for three weeks now," writes one member. "Time to go through and start planning and ordering and getting ready for the spring. I envy those who can grow things all year long, or who have greenhouses and cold frames to extend the growing season. I'm usually ready to be done with gardening some time in September, but once everything is gray and dormant and the trees are leafless, I'm ready to get started again and long to see green outside my windows!"

"I Want a Daily Fitness Challenge."

Consistency is great when it comes to exercise, but it's important to change up your routine regularly. If you're not sure how to do that or just need ideas to add a little variety to your routine, the QuickFire Challenge is a must-join group. Started in 2009, team leaders post daily fitness challenges that can be modified as needed by the group's 9,500 members. "Our QuickFire Challenge is for everyone at any fitness level," explains one team leader. "You may be a marathon runner, but you still need fitness that works in your everyday life. You may go to the gym every day, but you still need these spurts of energy throughout your regular day, between gym workouts. For those who come with little or no exercise background, these are for you as well. You may modify the workouts to fit your fitness level. The idea is to elevate your heart rate throughout your day, which will parlay into a regular workout. You will feel like doing more when you feel your body getting accustomed to moving more."

Participants are encouraged to do the daily challenge, then post about how it went on the Team Wall. This adds a level of accountability for those who need it and develops a sense of community around a common goal each day.

"I Want to Conquer Emotional Eating."

Emotional Eaters is one of the largest SparkTeams on the website, with nearly 300,000 members. The team was started in 2006 as a support group for those who struggle with eating due to stress, boredom, nighttime snacking and other food issues. There are daily check-in threads, "Words of Encouragement" where members can read uplifting messages if they need a boost, recognition of team member birthdays and nominations for team member of the week.

One member explained why she keeps returning to this team, even after a long absence. "Back again! I keep forgetting how much information is on SparkPeople and how it really helps if you work it. I am looking forward to continuing my weight-loss journey amongst people who understand the struggle!" If you've struggled to end emotional eating in the past, joining this group might be just the push you need to find success.
Weight loss is hard to do alone, so support from others is a key component of the healthy lifestyle journey. SparkTeams are a great place to get a boost when times are tough and celebrate a victory when things are going well, so don't be afraid to jump in and get involved!