Sparking Healthy Habits

It seems like I have always struggled with my weight. During my middle school years, classmates teased me, calling me names such as “Thunder Thighs.” In high school, no matter how hard I ran on the cross country course or how many diets I tried to follow, I always felt like the fat kid. I wanted to lose weight but could never seem to achieve my dream body.

The battle of the bulge continued into adulthood. Most new mothers understand the challenge of losing weight after after their baby’s birth. When the twins were babies, I searched online for a free website that would help me lose the leftover pregnancy weight. I discovered SparkPeople, an awesome site full of tools for setting and achieving my health goals.

SparkPeople’s wealth of articles, workouts, and videos inspire and motivate me to take better care of my body. There is an area for tracking my weight, eating habits and exercise, among other things. I am most successful in losing or maintaining my weight when I write down everything I eat; SparkPeople’s online nutrition tracker (also part of their mobile app) make this convenient.

The social aspect of SparkPeople sets it apart from similar sites. The community includes SparkTeams, SparkPages (customizable pages to share your story), and message boards. Members can even exchange healthy recipes or write a blog. For every activity I complete on the SparkPeople site, I earn SparkPoints, which I can use to send virtual SparkGoodies to encourage other members.

Four years ago, my weight had spiked due to poor food choices, inconsistency in exercising, and lack of motivation. I rediscovered SparkPeople and joined the Biggest Loser Challenge (BLC). Each quarter, BLC SparkTeams of 24 members compete in weekly nutrition and exercise challenges in their quest to release more weight and achieve healthier bodies. During my first nine months participating in the BLC, I lost 30 pounds. I continue to participate in the BLC because it motivates me to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I check in with SparkPeople daily, when possible, for a healthy dose of motivation from their many resources. For a small fee, you can remove ads and gain access to premium SparkPeople features which provide additional support and motivation, but all of the main components are completely free.

When friends ask me for advice on losing weight, I usually direct them to SparkPeople and explain how using the site’s online tools helped me shed thirty pounds. The support of an online community dedicated to fitness and healthy eating is a far more effective catalyst for change than the teasing taunts of childhood.

Even though my peers no longer call attention to my weight, I have good reasons for trimming down. Taking care of my body helps me have more energy to serve God effectively. In addition, I am setting a good example for my children and can avoid or delay the onset of hereditary health issues such as diabetes. I feel better and have fewer aches and pains when I am at a healthy weight.

Any good tool is worthless if not used correctly. I admit that I have not made the best use of SparkPeople in the past few months while I have been busily blogging. The number on the scales has been creeping up, and I know it is time to Spark some healthy habits. Would you like to join me?

Have you tried out SparkPeople? What did you think? Please share your favorite health and nutrition website in the comments below.