Stage 4: Spread the Spark Overview

Will Rogers - cowboy, radio personality, author - was also one of the wisest political commentators and fountains of common sense this country has ever seen. He once declared: “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.”

He could have said instead that there are three kinds of learning: reading, seeing and doing. Some things you can only learn from experience. Building a healthy lifestyle is one of them.

Since you started your Fast Break, you have been learning by doing. So what do you do with all of this knowledge and perspective? You now have the chance to apply what you’ve learned through the SparkDiet and Spread the Spark.

With more energy, more confidence, more experience, more knowledge, more motivation, and more skills, you’re now ready to achieve bigger things and make a bigger difference. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been developing personal leadership skills and working hard on priorities that mattered most to you. These are skills that can help you in every aspect of your life. By pursuing your weight loss goals, you’ve given yourself two tremendous gifts - the chance to do what you always wanted and the opportunity to lead a meaningful life.

You’ve learned and accomplished a lot that you can pass on to others and use for future goals. In fact, one of the easiest ways to Spread the Spark (and you might already be doing it) is to just set an example. Your daily words and actions can impact more people than you’ll ever know, in ways that you’ll never realize.

A strong example of this opened the eyes of our founder, Chris, before he started SparkPeople. While at his last job, Chris started an exercise streak. Every day on his door, he posted the number of days in a row he had done some exercise, no matter how small. He eventually posted ‘100,’ then ‘200’ on his door. One day, a woman across the hall followed his example and posted a '1' on her door, starting her own streak. After seeing great changes in her appearance, she was inspired to organize fitness programs and activities for others. She made a big difference because Chris had unwittingly helped motivate her. In return, Chris was inspired and challenged to start SparkPeople.

This may seem a bit ambitious if, a few months ago, you were just looking for a weight loss program. But there will be no better time to pursue your goals and dreams than right now, while you’re at the top of your game and momentum is at its peak.

Role of Spread the Spark

Ever been to the beach? Ever watched a sandcastle melt as the tide works its way in, a few inches at a time? Each time a wave washes up on the beach, the shoreline is changed forever. That’s what has been happening to you as you built your weight loss habits. Every day, every action was another wave.

You’re different now. You’re stronger, both mentally and physically. Perhaps your priorities have shifted. Stage 4 is the culmination of weeks of hard work. In this stage, we’ll help you capitalize on your weight loss success and put it to good use as a positive force. You can draw on everything you’ve done up till now to reach your goals and dreams, and to help others do the same.

Back in the Fast Break Stage, back when you were simply drinking 8 cups of water or walking for 15 minutes, this may not have seemed possible. But you’re a different person now. A new lifestyle, a new attitude, and a new supply of common-sense wisdom leave no doubt about it - you can do whatever you put your mind to. Go for it!

This Stage has three main purposes:
  • Continue to live a healthy lifestyle with healthy habits that you’ve worked hard to create
  • Help to “spark” others toward their own goals
  • Get ready to go after your goals and dreams

What you can expect

A spark that’s covered up soon goes out. You’ve worked too hard to let that happen. To keep your spark alive, it’s smart to use this well-known motto: Use It Or Lose It. In other words, find ways to help your spark grow.

Stage 4 helps you spread your spark in three ways:
  • Sparking your new lifestyle with regular checkups
  • Sparking others to reach their own goals
  • Sparking even bigger and better goals in your life

Every two weeks, you’ll receive a lifestyle checkup reminder. Just like going to the doctor or taking your car to the garage, these regular 5-minute checkups will give you an instant evaluation of how you’re holding up. Yet the Healthy Lifestyle Checkup is unlike any other checkup you’ve ever had. Just by filling out a simple online form, you’ll know how well you’re sticking to your new habits and how your healthy lifestyle is progressing compared to the last time you had a checkup. This way, you’ll know which direction you’re moving and any adjustments that might need to be made.

You have the chance right now to take a leadership role in the SparkPeople community and help other members reach their weight loss goals. On the support message boards, there are thousands of people who would love to learn from your experience, who need a few well-timed words of encouragement, and who are looking for weight loss buddies. Think back to how someone helped you on your road to weight loss and what that help meant to you. You can play that role.

To help you along, you can still use the site resources at any time. Try to track calories every other week or so, just to stay on target. And don’t forget to use those message boards as much as possible. If they were a help before, they can be an even bigger boost now. You can always go back and revisit past diet stages if you need a booster shot or refresher. If you start to feel some habits slipping, that’s the perfect time to re-examine some of the things you’ve learned.

If you’re looking for even more chances to spread the fitness spark to others, your MySpark Page has a link to a list of 31 Ways To Spread The Spark. It’s full of simple ideas that can make a real, healthy difference to your loved ones or your community. Check it out and try one - or more!

Also, if you’re not already a Community Team member, this is a perfect time to sign up. Just by staying active on and being a positive force to others, you can earn extra benefits for yourself. To sign up, just click on the Community Team logo next to a team member’s username on any message board.

In your own life, Stage 4 is a great time to set new goals and build on your success. In fact, in the beginning of the stage, you’ll be encouraged to set a goal in another area of life and start working on it. Don’t be intimidated; you already know what to do. The strategy and plan you used for weight loss can be used to achieve any goal you set your mind to. The same planning skills, motivation techniques, confidence boosters - even the same concept of starting small and creating momentum - can be applied to other goals. The energy and performance you’re gaining with a healthy lifestyle can make goal achievement easier than it has ever been!

Common Sense Behind Spread the Spark

People usually talk of "spending" energy and time on others. As if once it's used, it disappears, it's gone for good. But in reality, that effort is a powerful investment. It's an investment because you'll get more of both in return. Plus, you'll learn a lot from everyone you touch. If you’re impacting your world, it makes a healthy lifestyle much more meaningful.

When a match lights a candle, the match's flame doesn't shrink - if anything, it grows. In the same way, you'll be even more inspired by building others up and thus more likely to stick with it. By teaching and helping others, your program will grow stronger. Being a role model is one of the greatest motivators around. The bonus is, they'll also be better equipped to return the favor. That’s how you get the really big results.

The Healthy Lifestyle Checkups are also designed to point you in the direction of big results. Momentum is still going to be important months and years from now. Since healthy living is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process, it may be just as important to know whether you’re heading forward or backward as it is to know where you are. By emphasizing positive momentum, the checkups help you stay focused on maximizing your potential instead of coasting. They’re timely reminders that bad habits are lurking right around the corner, and can uncover the answers to reaching your goals and dreams.

How to approach Spread the Spark

From here on, you’re going to find out what makes weight loss so worthwhile to begin with. The benefits of healthy living extend way beyond the scale - into your living room, your office, even your neighborhood. If you already have an eagerness and willingness to make a difference in other people’s lives, you’ve got the attitude that will make it all meaningful.

Keep in mind that you’re benefiting from spreading the spark just as much. The feeling of watching and helping others to achieve goals is unmatched - take it from us, we’re fortunate enough to see that happen day in and day out. It keeps us going and motivates us even more to stay healthy and fit. You can get that feeling too!

You should feel pretty confident in your abilities at this point. After all, you know how to set and achieve goals, and not many people can say that. If you’re still unsure of yourself, you should at least feel confident that there is an entire community of SparkPeople members who want to continue to help. They’re here whenever you need to vent, figure something out, celebrate, or just catch up. Visit often and take advantage of this valuable resource.

You have a lot to be proud of. As you live Stage 4, always remember that you have it within yourself to do big things. Make that spark contagious!

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