What's Your Spark?

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
According to a Gallup poll, more than half of all Americans have a desire to lose weight, but only about a quarter of them are actually working toward that goal. That means roughly 25 percent are actively trying to shed pounds and embrace healthier lifestyles. So what sets those go-getters apart from the people who haven't gotten off the couch?
In a word, they've found their "spark"—that glimmer of motivation that compels them to not only set goals, but to take the steps and make the sacrifices to achieve them. Without a spark—without a why—you'll be hard-pressed to achieve real results, simply because you don't yet have a compelling reason to do it.
In a group of 50 people who all want to lose weight, there might be just as many different motivators. One person could be driven by a vision of a stronger, slimmer version of herself. For another, the stimulus might be a health scare that spotlights the need for life-saving weight loss. Other sparks could include the desire to start a family, run a race, pursue a physically demanding career, tap into a creative outlet or have enough energy to keep up with children or grandchildren.

SparkPeople Members Share Their Sparks

Motivation is contagious! Get inspired by these SparkPeople members, who were eager to share the defining moments that ignited their fires. Use their stories to help you find your own spark.

"Being a mom is something that I really want to do. When I think about how being healthy will affect that goal, I'm extremely motivated. I know that whenever I get pregnant, being healthy means that my baby will get more nutrients and I'll be able to withstand the physical changes of pregnancy and labor and delivery better when I'm physically fit. As a mom, I can pass on healthy habits to my children. It keeps me going, even on days that are harder for me."

"One big way I stay focused on fitness and nutrition is remembering why I want this, why I want to be strong and healthy. My big ‘why’ is for my three children: I make them my reason, not my excuse. I want them to grow up with proper nutrition and daily exercise in their lives, so they are set up for success from the start! I also want this for me...to finally meet my fitness goals I have set for myself. I deserve that!"

"I agree that being a role model/example for others to live the highest quality, healthiest life is a valuable motivation. Enjoying the rewards of being healthy and fit affects everything, from my energy for work to the joy in friendships."

"I want to like how I look. I want to feel good in my body. I want to live a long, healthy, active life. I want to keep hiking and making art all my life."

"My thighs rub together and wear away the material on my jeans between my legs. I've thrown out countless pairs of pants because of this issue and it kills my confidence to see those holes in my jeans. And I want to be smokin' hot. I want to see what that feels like after being called countless names growing up."

"I want to wear something other than stretchy/maternity pants again."

"To feel more confident. For clothes to look better. Because my boyfriend gave up smoking and I am inspired by his willpower."

"Working out and eating right makes me happy, going on hiking adventures with people and being active with friends makes me happy."

"I think overall health has a big impact on happiness in life, and I want to have a happy, long life."

"Simply...I love it. Working out is my happy, my drug, my stress reliever, my thing."

"I am tired of being overweight and exhausted."

"I am not comfortable with my body. I don't fit into any of my clothes, I'm sluggish and I have a hard time moving."

"I want to live. My father died prematurely of complications of diabetes. I'm pre-diabetic. There is no gray area for me."

"I don't want to be in a wheelchair and dependent on others."

"(I want) to stay as healthy as possible for my senior years."

"Why am I doing this? Because my entire life, up until my early forties, I didn't do anything to eat healthy or lose weight. I was sure that no matter what I did, I would always be fat because it was in my genetic makeup. Now I know the truth: My weight management is 100% up to me. I am doing this because I want to be healthy and break the cycle of obesity in my family."

Finding and Nurturing Your Spark

If you want to lose weight but lack motivation, you may need to do a little more digging to pinpoint your "why." Ask yourself what is important to you, and how losing weight could help you achieve or protect that. Do you want to have enough energy to travel abroad? Would you like to finally feel confident after years of being teased or ignored? Do you simply want to live a longer, healthier life without relying on prescriptions and mobility aids? Are you afraid of becoming a burden on your children or grandchildren?
Once you've found your spark (or multiple sparks), stay committed with these quick tips:
  • Write it down. Keep your spark in plain sight, whether it's on a chalkboard in the kitchen, a poster on your office wall, or a screensaver on your phone. Looking at your written goal will help keep you motivated and connected to your goal.
  • Use a visual motivator. Find or create pictures that represent your spark. Maybe it's a photo of yourself during a healthier time, an image of a place you've always wanted to visit, pictures of your children or grandchildren or a photo of a favorite activity you want to enjoy for years to come. Paired with your written statement, these images can be a powerful tool to keep you on track.
  • Revisit your spark. Goals are living, breathing things. It's unrealistic to expect that they'll never change, or that there won't be detours along the path to success. Every so often, take the time to reflect on your spark, make any necessary adjustments, forgive yourself for slip-ups and remind yourself why you started in the first place.
What's your spark? What drives you every day to push farther and harder toward your goals?

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VHAYES04 9/19/2020
Ty Report
METAFUKARI 8/27/2020
Interesting article I had not seen before! As I age I want to do all I can to avoid seeing MD's any more than necessary! Report
Thanks Report
RAPUNZEL53 6/24/2020
Interesting Report
KHALIA2 2/22/2020
10 Report
CECELW 1/23/2020
I no longer have a spark Report
TISTYEN 1/8/2020
My scare wasn't so much a health scare as a potential embarrassment. Last January my doctor had referred me to a weight-loss clinic in Fairfax, but I hadn't acted on it before I left for my trade show in February. On the first leg of my flight home, the seat belt was just barely long enough to fasten it. I was determined not to have to ask for an extender and spent 2-1/2 hours with my gut sucked in as far as it would go. I was determined that by this year's show I would fit into a coach airline seat without having to worry about too-short seat belts and called the clinic when I got home. I've lost about 38 pounds so far and expect to have no such problems this year -- especially since I already fit into the "opening-day" suit I haven't been able to wear in almost 10 years! Report
_CYNDY55_ 12/29/2019
Thanks Report
Mine was seeing all my friends becoming super fit and healthy. Where I seemed to become more sloth like. Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
thanks Report
My spark was seeing my health decline and I was determined to get it back AND never lose it again!!! Report
Seeing what my other siblings and what my parents suffered thru being a diabetic. I am the only one to not be on meds for this terrible devastating disease...hope to stay off as long as possible. Was once told many years ago by a nutritionist that is was NOT a matter of not ever being on meds but how long...I hope to prove her wrong Report
And being happier, healthier and more at peace in my own skin is a nice bonus! Report
For me it was the realization that if I did not get excess weight off and keep it off and exercise, I would end up spending my last years unable to get around due to bad knees and deformed arthritic feet. Also my daughter showed me Indygirl's (Beth Donovan) story. I was sold on Sparkpeople. Report
My spark is not having to buy ans own multiple wardrobes. Report
RA has tried to cripple me my whole life starting at age 6.5. Exercise has kept me out of a wheelchair and now at age 55 I learned to control my food so as to not gain weight during surgical and flare layoffs. I found Sparkpeople in 2009 and haven't looked back since. Report
Health, pure and simple! Report
What if the spark is actually something that is NOT good and positive, but potentially corrosive and dangerous?

My spark is the incident that set off a midlife crisis. It is something I should NOT be ruminating on, yet I do. I hold onto it because it does indeed keep me motivated -- or maybe it's just that weight loss and fitness are the only good things that are resulting from it. Report
My Spark was a my first BMI calculater. I was at 25 Report
My spark is making the promise to dance at my granddaughter's (now eight years old) wedding a reality, and that won't happen if I don't lose weight and reverse the medical problems that come with it. And I want my mirror image to reflect my inner healthy girl. Report
A year ago I felt like a blimp and didn't want to feel like that anymore. I was tired of clothes not fitting well at times and I didn't like the way that I looked. I also wanted to be around a long time for my grandson and any future grandchildren. There are "long-life" genes in my family and I want to be the healthiest I can be to enjoy my life as long as my mom has so far (she's 95). I feel so much healthier and better now a year later after losing about 50 pounds and I know that I'll make my final goal sometime in the coming year. Report
Pure and simple - knowing and realizing how what you eat affects your health - so, essentially, for health reasons. Report
My Spark [ even before I joined SP] is my family. I want to live a long life for MYSELF and for THEM! Both of my parents were obese and passed away in their 50s.They never met my DH or my DS!! I am in my 50s, have lost 15 lbs .on SP {and have kept it off for a year},and have the last 10 to go and I know I WILL do it, as I lost all of my excess weight on SP 6 yrs. ago. It only came back when I couldn't handle both SP and beginning Homeschooling. But now, I have found a way to do BOTH Homeschooling AND SP AND lose the weight! ~Where God provides us with our will,He also provides us with a WAY to do it! And now I weigh less! {The 5% Weight Challenges posted each season do help me!} Report
Trying out new pj's at Walmart 2 years ago and couldn't believe how large I had really gotten! A size 18 too! Yikes! That was for me my moment! lol I haven't looked back since! Report
I want to lose weight and be healthy because I have chronic kidney disease and have to carefully watch my nutrition daily so I will not have problems in time. I exercise more and watch my diet and I lost 36 pounds this year,30 on my own. Report
Our health is a precious gift. When we are given such a gift. We need to take care of it. Report
I want to finally do something for ME. For too many years I have been taking care of children, parents, employers, and yes, even a husband. I've let myself be last place and I've decided I deserve better than that! So #1 priority is to loose enough weight to feel comfortable with myself again. Report
Hubby is in a Rest Home. He is obese, he's had a stroke and heart attack, he is Diabetic, and has a mobility issue. Do I want the same for myself? I am obese and could very well go down that path if I don't lose weight. Report
Hubby is in a Rest Home. He is obese, he's had a stroke and heart attack, he is Diabetic, and has a mobility issue. Do I want the same for myself? I am obese and could very well go down that path if I don't lose weight. Report
Poor cardiovascular health is in my genetics, and at age 59, I'm getting worried! But my main spark is that I want to hang on to my independence! I was in a wheelchair for nearly two years, and I didn't like it!! I don't want to have to depend so much on others ever again. And I try to remember the hard work I had to do to get out of that wheelchair and tell myself that if I learned to walk again, then I can learn to eat healthy and get to a normal weight. Report
9 years ago, I had a heart attack; at the time, I weighed about 205lbs. 4 years ago, after an appointment with my cardiologist, my weight had gone to 248. Both my cardiologist and I wrestled while in high school, and talked about it a lot. He remarked that I must have been in about the 165 lb. group. Truth be told, I was in the 112 lb class. When I told him this, he asked how I got so obese. As far as I was concerned, those were hateful words -- I hated them! I decided then that I would get back under 200 lbs. It took me 2 years, through better nutrition and exercising, I got under 195, and removed my stigma of being obese. Report
My parents are living a long time and I was just over 50 and decided I did not want to get old and be unhealthy and not have the mobility to enjoy life. I had good genes and I needed to take advantage of them. I always thought being hypothyroid and post-menopausal I just could not lose weight. Those were just excuses. I started on SP, started tracking my food and started walking. I made this a lifestyle change and not a diet and didn't look back! Report
Motivation comes and goes, so learning to fight through the cycles is clutch. Bottom line, it feels amazing to feel sooOoOoo much better and actually have energy! Less than ten years ago I was morbidly obese, fell all the time...and I received two brand new knees. Once 50 hit, I just knew it was time to take care of me. When it is tough I tell myself to just show up, and remember that I did NOT come this far, to only come this far. I matter, so do yOu! Report
My spark was having Type II Diabetes and giving myself 7 injections of insulin and another diabetes med every day. I had it. I worked with a doctor and got serious about diet and exercise. In the past month I'm off all my insulin and am down to 2 injections, which I'm weaning from.

I do miss some of the junk I used to eat, and I still don't love to cook, but I will never go back. Report
My spark is just being healthy as I go into my 60's and 70's and 80's. I may not do it as fast as I did when I was in my 20's and 30's, but I'll still be able to do it - whatever IT is for me. I should still be able to look in the mirror and say to myself - "girl, you still got IT". Report
My why, so my kids will never have to be embarrassed by their mother, so they will continue to be active like they are now at a young age as well. I want them to live a healthy life and see it is possible to do so even after hard times and depression and when the odds are stacked against you. I want to show them, more is caught than taught!
So I can dance ballet again the way I used to! I already started just for the exercise, and I cannot wait to lose this weight so I can do it without having so much to lug around! Will be wonderful! It is already wonderful and it will only get better as I lose weight.
And to look good, I used to feel good about myself and have confidence, now I find myself embarrassed and ashamed all the time. I hate that feeling, I never want to feel like this again. Report
I've struggled with my weight my whole life. I've wanted to be a normal size so that I would feel more confident and attractive, to be able to buy clothes easier, to have more energy and to be a better athlete. I always used the excuse of being too busy with work but when I stopped working, I actually gained weight. That's when I sat myself down and said "enough!" I started reading everything I could by people who had been successful at loosing weight and that is how I found SparkPeople. Now my motivators are listed on my SP Goal Board and I read them at least once every day. My number one motivator is "to reach a life-long goal that has eluded me, causing shame and frustration". Report
My Spark? When my doctor told me I was obese, and had Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis in my knees, and asthma. She said, "It's your life - your decision." I gave myself a spa membership for my birthday, joined SparkPeople, and lost 65 pounds. That was 4 years ago - everything is now reversed and I will retire happy, healthy, and still Sparkin'. Report
I have a family history of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and mental illness. After losing my job of 25 years, my home and then moving in with my parents who live in another city, I realized that the perfect opportunity had presented itself to evaluate my lifestyle and habits. On 11/19/2015 I joined SparkPeople and commited to changing my unhealthy eating habits, my lack of physical activity and my "Stinkin' Thinkin" about myself. Though the going has been slow, I have now lost 15 pounds and am reaching my excercise goals each week. I am committed to learning how to live a positive, healthy, balanced life with the help of SP and the wonderful community of people who are all on the same journey I am on. God Bless Us All! Report
My Spark was that I found Spark People, and it's free! I am on a limited income and it didn't seem possible. Another spark was that I have disengaged from involvement in volunteer activities that benefitted other people, but were at an expense to my self. I do not regret doing them, but it was time to move on and put my health first. Report
About a week or two before changing my life I had to walk up 3 flights of stairs at Grand Central....found myself stopping at each landing to catch my breath. That was bad. Then a week or two later heard a report that drinking wine every day was BAD for your liver. Right then I decided to stop drinking wine during the week and start eating healthy. One step at a time from then on. Report
I'm a cancer survivor, and I truly believe that healthy eating and exercise and meditation has helped in my survival. Report
My Spark? A new, shiny, little girl -- my granddaughter -- who appeared on this planet in Feb. 8. I want her to know her Grandmother as a vibrant, healthy, fun woman who can run, climb and jump, and play in the creek with her... I am her role model of not only womanhood, but how one grows old. Why would I want her to be any less than wonderful? To do that, I have to be the same! Report
Mi "spark" is to fight depression. I lived depressed for over 15 years (since I was a teen) and as depression feeds of misery I started to gain weight, eat junk, get addicted to sugar, and smoking 1 pack a day. Fast forward to today and I'm 26 lbs lighter, I quit smoking, processed and junk food, added sugar, artificial sweeteners and I embraced 5-6 days-a-week workouts twice a day, clean eating and healing from the inside out. Guess what? My depression has been gone for over 9 months! I'm not going back. Report
When I turned 53 and was way overweight, I realized my father died at age 52 and I was probably next if I didn't change some things. Started SP, working out consistently, and eating healthy. It's still a challenge, but it's so worth it! I have gained back a little of the weight, but do challenges to push myself to keep losing...and eventually get so I can maintain. thank you Sparkpeople for the friends I've made on here, met in life, and now are some of my bff's! :) Report
My son was diagnosed with Autism. I want to live as long as I can so that I can take care of him for as long as possible. I can't afford to become a burden to my family. Report
Being told by my doctor I was category 2 obese, having a lot of heart burn and out of breath going up stairs. I want to get in shape for my health. Report
I was hitting new highs on the scale and growing out of clothes so I decided that it was time to not only start but stick with the plan. Not exercising was my downfall so I decided that it would be the first thing I did each morning and it worked. It is now a habit and if I can't get in a workout first thing, I make sure it happens later. I want to look better in clothes again and fit in to some that I haven't worn for a while. I want to be able to enjoy looking for clothes any where and not have to pick and choose where I shop because I won't find my size. I want to keep up with my energetic 3 year old grandson when he comes to visit this summer. Report