Meet Denise, A SparkPeople Member Turned Employee

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You said you'd love to know more about SparkPeople, so we launched the series Meet the SparkPeople Team. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be interviewing various SparkPeople employees. The behind-the-scenes folks here are really excited to tell you a little about what they do at SparkPeople!
Read the entire series here!

Now meet Denise, one of SparkPeople's most inspirational employees--she started out as a member! She's a versatile and dedicated member of the team!

Name: Denise Tausig (also known as DENISE_SP)

Position at SparkPeople: SparkPeople Resident Expert and SparkTeens Community Leader

Age: 30

Family: I am married (to Matt, who is also a successful member!) with no children, but we do have two wonderful cats, Ares and Cora, who rule the house.

How long have you worked for SparkPeople? About 3 1/2 years.

Tell us your proudest accomplishment at SparkPeople or a fun fact about your job: I LOVE my job! I actually live in Missouri, not in Ohio where the SparkPeople office is located. I work from home instead of going into the office.

A fun fact is that I get to work from home or wherever I choose as long as I have an internet connection.

I not only work on the SparkPeople site but also on SparkTeens, and I love that we are able to reach out to teenagers, too! I feel like I have a great connection with most of the teens on the site and feel very proud of them when they reach a goal or make a healthy step towards their goal(s). It always makes me feel like I am doing my job well when I reach out to the teen members and something clicks for them that changes their life for the better.

How do you stay in shape? I do a variety of things to stay in shape. I get bored pretty easily when it comes to doing the same workouts, so I like to switch it up often. Some days I do workout videos, run on my elliptical at home, walk around the neighborhood when the weather is nice, or go to the gym. I prefer to do my workouts at home, but the gym offers more variety in equipment, so I go there a few times a week.

What's your favorite food? Definitely pizza!

What's your favorite indulgence? For a food-related indulgence, I would have to say chocolate. If we are talking non-food related, then that would be a long, relaxing massage.

How do you feel when you exercise? Energized! I donít always feel like exercising or enjoy it, but once I get started, I feel much better and definitely have a lot more energy afterwards. There are times that I enjoy exercising, but that certainly doesnít happen all the time. For the days that Iím really not feeling like exercising, I tell myself to go with the 10 minute rule--I make a commitment to exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes and if I still donít feel like it, I can stop at 10 minutes. I would say 9 out of 10 times that I actually go beyond the 10 minute commitment and end up feeling great and proud of myself for pushing through it.

What do you do to de-stress? I do a variety of things--it really depends on what the stressor is and how I am feeling overall (besides stressed). Some of the things that I do include: taking a long, quiet walk, taking a bath, meditating, or sometimes if those donít fit the bill, I will do some punching and kicking on the kicking bag I have here at home.

What is your passion in life? My passion in life is to help others. I have always enjoyed helping people and feel so lucky to be a part of a company that does just that! I canít think of a better way to help others, than to help them gain healthy habits for life!

How has working at SparkPeople affected your life? Working for SparkPeople affects me in many positive ways, such as helping keep me in check with my goals and health overall. Also, because I post on both SparkPeople and SparkTeens message boards, I have talked with a lot of people around the world and have gained many great online friendships through my job.

Denise and Matt--two SparkPeople Success Stories! (What an adorable couple!)

Have you gained or lost weight since starting here? I have mostly maintained because I had already lost weight with SparkPeople prior to becoming an employee. I am not actually at my lowest weight from when I did lose weight, nor do I want to be because it was too much work to stay that low. I actually quit stepping on the scale because I got to the point that I was watching the scale everyday and noticed that for me, it was an unhealthy habit. So, at this time, I donít know exactly what I weigh and Iím OK with that because I donít want to be obsessed with a number. I now go by the way my clothes fit and how I feel rather than letting the scale dictate how I feel about myself because of a number.

Have you started any new habits? I was a member of SparkPeople for quite some time before I became an employee, so I already had a lot of new habits established by then. Although, I suppose one of the newer habits that I did start since working for SparkPeople is to drink less soda. I have a thing for Diet Pepsi and my longest streak without having one was about two months straight. I will occasionally have one, but it is not like it used to be.

What's your favorite breakfast cereal? I actually like quite a few cereals, but some of those toward the top of the list include Kix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Shredded Wheat Original spoon size, and my newest favorite is Kashiís Cinnamon Harvest.

What did you eat for dinner last night? A salad and a mini homemade wheat crust pizza covered with a lot of diced bell peppers. Delicious!

Do you have any hidden talents? Does wiggling my ears count as a hidden talent?

What are some of your goals? Overall, my goals are to enjoy life with my family and friends and help others along the way. Also, I am going to school to finish getting my bachelor of science degree in Wellness. This is a major goal of mine as it will not only be something that I have been working toward for a long time and can use to fulfill my passion in life, but I will be the first in my family to graduate from college.

What's your favorite SparkPeople feature? That is such a hard question! To be honest, I think they are all my favorites. The site has grown so much from when I started as a member back in 2004. If I had to pick just one though, I would have to say the nutrition tracker because it helps keep me accountable for what I eat. It is so easy for me to lose sight of what normal portions look like if I donít track my food from time to time.

Denise is one of our earliest Success Stories. Do you have any questions for her about her role at SparkPeople or how she stays on track while managing her busy schedule of school and work?

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Wow! - love the "old"/"new" feature of sharing about behind the scenes workers. I have a daughter going off to college. I've shared Sparkteens with her. I'm worried about the freshman 15. (Interesting that it was yesterday's Spark feature). Even her grandmother sent her an article about eating healthy from Spark. Are there any family teams out there? I don't use the community as much - I know everyone is great!
I wonder if you are still working at Spark and how things have gone with your wellness work?
I live in the St. Louis area. I'm on the Illinois side of the river. Are there any local "Spark" gatherings?
I've been back from vacation, finished up finals and got a bootcamp going for the teens, so now I'm able to get back to some of the questions here.

"How can i introduce a teenage (14) grandson to the Spark program in a gentle and non-critical way. I adore him but see his weight spiraling - he is up to 230 pounds and I worry about his self image and his health."

That is a tricky thing as you donít want to make him feel bad about himself. Do you see him often? When you see him, you can try to find some activities that you both can do, even if it is going for a walk. Doing that may help him get more interested in being more active and possibly open a way for you to talk with him about starting healthy habits. You could share some of your journey with him too. Some other things that you could try is having him help you cook a healthy meal. Any of those types of activities can get him to open up and allow you to talk to him without putting pressure on him. Recently, I have seen a lot of teens posting about how their family members (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc) tell them that they are fat. That just breaks my heart because teens really need their family for support and some just donít get that. So, it is a touchy subject, but I would suggest trying to ďsneakĒ in ways to open up the line of communication with your grandson about a healthy lifestyle and possibly mention One of the amazing things about SparkPeople and SparkTeens is the support from others going through the same thing. For so many, especially teens, that support makes a world of difference as they find they are not the only one having certain problems.

Please SparkMail me to let me know how things go for you or if you need some other ideas.

"How did it come about for you to become an employee, if I may ask?"

Well, this was really something that I think that I was just in the right place at the right time. Being an active member on the site helped me get to where I am now. There are actually a few of us that had that happen, so you just never know what opportunities are out there.

Thanks again to all those that read and commented on this blog!

My 2 daughters started college and quit after a year or a year and a half. Roll ahead 10 years after 1 grandchild going to school and my youngest daughter with a son went back to school and then her sister thought why not too and so they both went back to college. The youngest one graduated in Dec. and the other one graduates in 2 years. I don't think she's taking as many hours as the youngest daughter did. She also is buying a house by herself and has always worked full time. I'm really proud of both of them for going back to finish. The college has been changed to a university. Report
Nice to read about you Denise. Good luck with school! Report

I enjoyed reading about you and wish you the best. You are truly in an enviable position: working at a job you love, doing it remotely, and making a difference in the lives of many people. Report
great story.... how did you land a job at spark people??? Report
I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU DENISE!!! - please hire me!!! :D Report
Hi Denise,
My daughters are on again/off again spark teen users. I have lost over 70 lbs. with spark and have been maintaining for a while. Later this month I will have my first "sparkversary". I really appreciate the great service that spark provides and wish that I had the opportunity to do such important and helpful work with such a great team.
Keep up the good work! We appreciate you! Report
Nice to meet you. Thanks for all you do! Report
Thanks for being part of the best support community around!! Report
Thank you all for the wonderful and very kind comments! I truly enjoy being a part of this fabulous community!! I am actually on vacation this week and will try to answer some of your questions next week when I am back. Thank you again! :) Report

Thanks for sharing your story. I love the idea of the 10 minute rule; I truly need that, considering my current situation: After having lost over 100 pounds, due to diabetes issues, I have gained to within about 40 pounds of my highest weight.

Thanks to all of the SparkPeople for the inspiration you are to me. Report
I love the idea of the 10 minute rule! I think I'm going to try that! Report
Hi nice to meet you, and what a great story, and an inspiration. Report
Denise, I am from Mo. too, near Springfield. I am sold on SP. It has helped me reach my goal. I too have gotten myself to do something with the 10 minute rule, and usually complete what I intended to. I love your tho't on not being ruled by scales. Good to hear from you and get to know you. Brenda Report
You continue to motivate and inspire me and others, Denise! Way to go! Woohoo! Report
I loved reading your story, Denise, and it's a pleasure to meet you! I feel that all of the SP employees are an inspiration, and I enjoy hearing about your personal goals and successes. Thanks for this series!

Rebecca Report
I love the 10 minute rule. I use a 15 minute rule myself, and it works great! I always go beyong the 15 minutes and normally do the full workout. Report
Denise, what a lovely young woman with a gorgeous smile! You and Matt make a good-looking couple. I'm so excited that you're going after a degree in wellness! You're a natural...and what I love about you is that your "Spark mind" is still in the trenches, still very much aware of the struggle that brought us all here to Spark. Keep us all posted! Report
Congratulations Denise. Looking forward to hearing more about the great people at SparkPeople Report
It's nice to meet you Denise - I think many of us are envious of your position at sparkpeople. Sounds like the ideal organization to work for and getting paid for such an enjoyable job is the proverbial icing on the cake. Way to go. I've introduced a student or two to spark teens, but the confidentiality factor keeps me from checking to see if they are active - but that's a good thing to keep them safe from all the "nuts" out there. I know the one has lost weight - hopefully through what she has learned on sparkteens. Keep up the good work.
Frances Report
It is nice to learn the behind the scene info at Sparkpeople. I am very new to the site and so far am really enjoying it!
Thanks for sharing with us. Report
....just want to say thank you to all the employees of the wonderful web sight, a thank you seems small in regards to all the sight has given to me! Thanks again for wanting to help others! Please know that you ARE infact doing that!
Lavenderpurple Report
Okay, where do I send my resume? SparkPeople looks like a great place to work and I wouldn't mind working from home with my Internet connection... I promise! :-) Report
You're the coolest, Denise! You need to post some more pics of the cats, and possibly a video of you wiggling your ears. Report
It is great to read more about the people that put the site together and those that keep it going. Well done!
Great to meet you..I'm from Missouri too!
Macon, MO Report
Nice to meet you and I like your story!

Wiggling of ears raised my eyebrows, my what a fun talent, and a great way to start a conversation when the room is full of folks just getting together and all quiet and ready for someone to break into the discussions ;oP

That's great too that you're inspiring teenagers, many are so confused these days with dramatic war games, drama movies, hard core music, swearing, gender confusion, anger, frustration, harming others and themselves, hanging out w/the wrong crowds, needing more confidence, adding their friends to inspirational sites to guide them and help them embrace a healthier way of living and/or maintaining their hopes and dreams, and being kinder.

Good for you to make such an impact on others lives! Way 2 Go Denise! Report
Howdy, Miss Denise! Thoroughly enjoyed learning about you.
Question: How did it come about for you to become an employee, if I may ask? I'm envious! LOL Report
Thank you for sharing! Report
A true inspiration to me and always willing to help me along the way...I am honored to call her my friend. Thanks for sharing your story Denise! Report
It's a pleasure to "meet" you, Denise! Report
D-nice! I had no idea. Lets chat soon. Report
Yes, "wiggling your ears" does count as a hidden talent!


Tammie Report
Thanks for your work with teens. It is a much needed time to form great healthy living habits for life. Report
Hi Denise -

great to learn more about you :) Yummy, pizza! Can't wait to meet you in person!

Jenny Report
Great to learn about you, Denise!

Tell Matt to over-seed that lawn this fall, just before winter hits. ;-) You'll be rewarded with a lush, green lawn next spring! :-D Report
Sparkhug to a wonderful friend and person, we are so lucky to have you at Spark!!! Report
Thanks for sharing your story. I procrastinate when it comes to exercise so your tip about the 10 minute rule is a new habit I will incorporate into my plan.Thanks for making a difference! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. :) Report
Hi Denise, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. I have also been with sparkpeople since i think 2004 and often wondered how to become employed with this great company. I have over the years been very active for one of the biggest loser challenges we have here, but during the last 2 years, i have had to move 3 times and just now, over the last month have i gotten back into things here. if you could sparkmail me and tell me a little bit about how to get involved more and maybe how to get a job through sparkpeople, that would be awesome...

thank you again, and congrats
Kelly Report
Love the 10 minute rule - I AM a lazy runner - and could translate to my running schedule. Thanks for the tip! Report
What a great inspiring article. Thanks so much, Denise for sharing your story! Report
Thank you Denise, I also enjoyed reading about you and I think I am going to adopt the 10 minute rule. My sisters and I have been walking a couple of miles every day and today it is raining and no one feel like doing much of anything. I am going to bring up the 10 minute rule. Thank you again. Report
Hi Denise...enjoyed reading about you.
Love the idea about the 10 minute rule. Sometimes its easy to find an excuse not to exercise, but I like the idea of this. I think it will help keep me in check on those days that I'm feeling not so energetic.
Have a great Spark Day!

How can i introduce a teenage (14) grandson to the Spark program in a gentle and non-critical way. I adore him but see his weight spiraling - he is up to 230 pounds and I worry about his self image and his health. Report
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