Tag Archives: Sparkpeople
Back in May, as part of my journey to a healthier lifestyle, I bought The Spark Solution, a new book by Sparkpeople that details their healthy lifestyle tips in a 2-week starter program. Since I have been a Sparker for more than four years. it was more of a refresher than anything else. The best thing I got out of the book was quite a few new recipes One of my favorite new breakfast recipes is the Spicy Tomato Egg Muffin, which I adapted to suit my own needs. It has under 250 calories and is a delicious, filling and quick breakfast.
1 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
2 drops Tapatio sauce
1 low-fat sausage patty
2 Tbsp. shredded Mexican blend cheese
dash of black pepper
2 Tbsp. medium salsa
1 whole wheat English muffin, split and toasted
1 large egg
Combine the yogurt and Tapatio sauce in a small dish and set aside.
Place a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the sausage with a teaspoon of water, for 2-5 minutes per side, depending on directions. Sprinkle on the pepper, and place it on one half of the English muffin.
Remove the skillet from the heat, coat with cooking spray, then return to heat and add the egg. Stir the egg for 2-3 minutes, until nearly scrambled, then sprinkle in the cheese and contue stirring and cooking until cheese is melted and well-mixed into egg. Place the egg atop the sausage patty, then top with the salsa. Spoon the sauce on the other half of the muffin, then put the two halves together. Serve immediately.
Becky Hand, R.D. and Stefanie Romine
Health, Fitness and Dieting
About the Book:
From the experts behind the New York Times bestseller The Spark and the creators of SparkPeople.com comes The Spark Solution, a breakthrough two-week diet program to help you lose weight and optimize your health.
The Spark Solution is a dynamic, comprehensive, and proven program. With an introduction by Chris Downie, founder and CEO of SparkPeople, this day-by-day guide combines the latest data and strategies on nutrition, incredibly delicious recipes, and essential workouts. The experts at SparkPeople designed this easy-to-follow regimen to deliver effective and sustainable weight loss.
Thousands have already tried it, lost weight, and discovered a path to healthy living. SparkPeople have taken all the questions and bumps in the road out of the equation with The Spark Solution. There is no better way to lose weight and no better time than right now. Let these first two weeks transform your life.
I posted my last weight loss update in September 2012. At that time I was up a few pounds. I ended up gaining a total of five pounds. Then in May, Sparkpeople came out with a new book called The Spark Solution: A Complete Two-Week Diet Program to Fast-Track Weight Loss and Total Body Health. I decided to try it out because I really needed a way to jump start my weight loss and get back on track.
Here’s what I enjoyed about the book:
- Quite a few motivational stories from people who have already used the Spark system to lose weight and keep it off.
- A two week program (including recipes) of diet and exercise ideas – this was my favorite part. I got quite a few new recipes for my repertoire, one of which I am including below.
- An “after plan” with tips on how to keep the momentum going because I am not on a diet, I am making healthy lifestyle changes.
And here are the changes I made as a result of the program:
- Started tracking everything I eat. This made a big difference because I really needed to plan ahead and think about food.
- Started working out harder and more efficiently. Although I did not follow the exercise plan in The Spark Solution, I did come to realize how many calories I needed to burn in a week in order to lose weight, as compared to how much food I eat. So I switched from just walking 3-5 days a week, to interval training alternating with Walk Away the Pounds videos, plus one day of yoga and one day of rest. I have been exercising more often, burning more calories and actually having fun doing it!!
- I did not give up all the foods I love. I found ways to make them more healthy or cut them down to very small portions for those times when I am really craving them. For those things I do not have willpower with (yet) I try not to keep them in the house.
Overall, I found The Spark Solution to be a great program for beginners, if followed to a tee, and for those who have been at this a bit longer, a good reminder of what to do, mixed with tips and motivation that can be incorporated into your regular routine.
I give The Spark Solution five stars!!! I highly recommend this book!!!
I was not given any compensation in exchange for this review. I purchased the book on my own and wanted to share it with my readers. This post does contain affiliate links. If you click through the link to make a purchase, I will receive a commission.
So how am I doing so far? Well, I’ve lost six pounds in the past six weeks for a total weight loss of 26 pounds!! I think I’m back on track!!
A lot has happened in my life since I last posted a weight loss update in April. We had to sell our house of 19 years in a short sell, Bud graduated high school, we moved into our rental house and Art went back to school. All of that stress means I have felt very lucky to just “maintain.”
But I am trying to get back on track. I have eliminated almost all the snacky/desserty foods from the house and brought in lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Boo and I are walking as many days as possible and I am building up to run/walk 5k by Thanksgiving. I have also started strength training again. I was very happy to find that I haven’t forgotten how to do squats!!
In addition to my beloved Sparkpeople, I am also trying out a program run by Pete Cohen, the British Weight Loss Guru. That’s the name of his program at weightlossguru.com. Pete has a lot of motivational videos, weekly interviews with other weight loss experts, and tons of resources on the website. It really helped me to stay focused during all of my recent life transitions and I am looking forward to using the program to actually help me lose weight.
So I’ll check back in with you in a couple of months and let you know how things are going.
Any challenges you are facing right now? How are you handling them?
I received a complimentary three month membership to Weight Loss Guru for the purposes of review. All opinions are 100% my own.
In Sparkpeople, we talk about something called an NSV. NSV stands for non-scale victory. So here are few of my non-scale victories for the past two weeks.
- I’m out of mom jeans!! Tried on some mid-rise (right below the belly button) Tommy Hilfigers in a size 10 and they fit!! And Boo (who was shopping with me) said they looked really good!! Can’t afford to buy them yet, but baby, they’re mine as soon as I have the cash!!
- This is freggie week and I’m up to six servings of freggies a day!! (For you non-Sparkers, a freggies are fruits and vegetables.)
- We’re back up to 3 days a week of walking.
- I tried a new food and found out I love curry (although Art is not a fan).
I would love to hear of any weight loss victories or NSVs you have had this week!! Please feel free to share in the comments below.
A few things that have made a difference:
- Extreme stress. Sorry, I know it’s not a good way to lose weight, but extreme stress is definitely contributing to me having less of an appetite.
- Packing. Moving around a lot of boxes and packing up the house turns out to be exercise!!
- Leadership – I took on the role of leader for one of my Sparkpeople teams. Being a leader and trying to set a good example has given me an extra level of accountability that I definitely needed. I love my Casual Travellers 5% Spring Challenge Team!! We have learned not to push ourselves too hard, but to do the best that we can and most importantly to TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES!!!
So, as you can see, I am still moving (albeit very slowly) in the right direction. And that makes me more confident that I will eventually reach my goal.
What makes a difference for you in your weight loss journey?
My weight loss journey has been, in some ways, abysmally slow. I’m pretty sure I am averaging one pound a month lost. At this rate it will take another almost two years to get to my goal weight. At the very least I may learn some patience by the time this is over!
Another thing I’ve learned is that weight loss is many times psychological as much as it is physical. As I get closer to 150 (1.5 more pounds to go) it has become harder and harder to lose the weight. I realized that 150 is the weight I have been most of my adult life – the weight I find myself most comfortable at emotionally. But why?
For me, it comes down to attention. At a certain weight, I become just another nondescript mom that blends into the crowd. I don’t have to worry about wearing makeup or saying the right thing. I disappear in a crowd of people and that’s okay with me. I know this may seem difficult to believe since I regularly throw up my innermost thoughts on this blog, but I really am a very shy person. My family likes to say I have a pathological fear of attention.
I have decided to redouble my efforts. If I can write a blog and even start writing a book, then I can lose the fear of being thin too. I want to be healthy and to look good more than I want crispy chicken skin (I do love chicken skin.) So I ordered some new exercise videos and started tracking my food again (I’m close on calories, but lately the quality of food I’ve been eating has gone downhill). I figured out how to cheat and not gain weight. Which means I’m not getting the nutrition I need. So bye bye chicken skin and hello boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. Bye Bye Cheez-its and hello carrot sticks with hummus. Bye bye 150s and hello 140s. I will see you very soon!!
Oh – and today’s my birthday!!!!
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans are one of those foods you either love or you hate. Art calls them “garbage beans”. I, however, am a huge fan of the little legume. Following is one of my favorite recipes for chickpeas, adapted from Sparkpeople.
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2-1 potato (depending on size), cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup chickpeas (canned or cooked)
1 medium tomato, diced or 1/2 can diced stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded cheese
Saute’ potato cubes in olive oil medium heat, until cooked through, add tomatoes and chickpeas and cook until everything is well-heated. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
Calories: 408, Fat: 10 gms, Carbohydrates: 57, Protein: 23, Potassium: 844, Calcium: 29, Magnesium: 20, Fiber: 9, Sodium: 959
Waffles are a favorite breakfast food at our house. When the boys were younger we always kept a box of Eggos in the freezer for easy fixings in the morning. Now that we are all more health-conscious, I love to make this more nutritious version. They freeze really well, take only a couple minutes to heat up in the toaster (especially if you like a slightly crispy waffle) and taste really good with a little peanut butter spread on top. Or for a special treat at night I sometimes toast a half a waffle and spread it with about a tablespoon of Nutella.
So without further ado, here is my recipe for Whole Wheat Waffles, adapted from Sparkpeople.
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (if you buy the little six packs one of those cups is 1/2 cup
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Gradually mix in the eggs, milk, vanilla, applesauce and honey. Stir until well blended.
- Pour batter onto preheated waffle maker which has been sprayed with non-fat cooking spray. For my waffle maker, I use about a half cup of batter per waffle.
Keep in mind that if you use a Belgian waffle maker, you will get bigger waffles and the nutrition information below will be different. (i.e. more calories)
makes approximately 6 servings on a traditional waffle maker
Calories: 160; Total Fat:3 g; Cholesterol: 64 mg; Sodium: 479 mg; Potassium: 99 mg; Total carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 8 g;
For Part 1 GO HERE
By the beginning of 2009, Art and I both realized our business was failing (see A Business Lost). We ewere short on employees, working 10-12 hour days just trying to keep it afloat. For lunch, we would run to one of the myriad fast food restaurants nearby and grab whatever we wanted. I love to cook, but during this time I was so tired when we got home that we usually resorted to more fast food or take out. Sometimes we wouldn’t eat dinner until 9 or 10 pm.
We closed the doors on our golf shop on May 31, 2009 and I fell into a depression. I had two small part-time jobs that I went to faithfully, but most of the rest of the time I slept. Or ate. At my heaviest, in January 2010, I weighed 176 pounds. I hadn’t been on a scale in months and was shocked. It’s funny that when you look at yourself in a mirror everyday, you often miss the changes that are happening to your body. I knew I was up to a size 12 (tight), but I didn’t realize how much weight I had put on.
I decided to go back to Sparkpeople. Started hot and heavy with Wii exercises and the treadmill and tracked my food faithfully for the first 3 months. By March I had lost 11 pounds. Then I caught a bad cold and lost my momentum. I think it was because I had never really been an active participant in the teams. Sparkteams are a way to connect with people in a similar situation to yours and to find and give motivation. I have always been so shy that it was difficult for me to reach out to people I had never met. I fell off the wagon again and was back up five pounds by the end of the year.
January 2011 I went back to Sparkpeople this time at 170 pounds. I knew I had to do things differently – I just wasn’t sure how. The first thing I saw when I signed in was the New Year, New You challenge. Those who signed up for the challenge committed to exercising for at least 500 minutes during the month, as well as following Coach Nicole’s short exercise videos (usually strength training) and tracking our food a few days a week. Nothing huge, but it did feel doable.
I also found a team that was reading the book A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson. This 21 week study really helped me to see that my issues with food came from fears and resentments I had built up inside me over the years. As I have found a way to let the bitterness go it has become much easier to find other sources of comfort than food. I also bonded with the ladies in the group and finally understood the benefit of Sparkteams. When the New Year, New You challenge was over I immediately joined another challenge to keep me accountable (currently I am participating in the Winter 5% challenge – Go Teddy Bears!!). I also found a couple of teams that had similar interests/concerns to me. I make sure to check in on Sparkpeople every day – even just to talk to others if I don’t feel like exercising. Over the course of 2011 I lost another 15 pounds for a total of 21. I finally feel like I have found the right formula for a healthy lifestyle.
I haven’t given anything up – I don’t crave many of the foods I used to turn to comfort, but when I feel like I want to have them I do – just in carefully controlled portions. And I don’t feel guilty when I see other people losing weight at a much faster pace than I am. I just remind myself that I am getting there slowly but surely, and as the turtle said, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
I weighed 112 pounds on the day Art and I were married in 1988, which is a bit on the low side for my height. I really wasn’t watching what I ate, but I was riding my bike every day, walking when I could, and never ate much for dinner anyway. Also, I had essentially stopped eating for the 3 days prior to the wedding, so within a month afterwards I was back up to my normal 120.
I have never been a gym rat and was pretty agoraphobic the first few years of our marriage. I pretty much gave up on exercise during that time, although I would occasionally go to the gym with Art to play racquetball. Over the next few years my weight went up to 135.
After the births of my boys I stabilized around 140 and was quite happy at that weight for another 7 years, taking regular walks with Art and occasionally attempting the gym. I knew I had gained weight, but I still liked how I looked in clothes and was so busy running after two little boys that it never occurred to me I was out of shape.
In October 2001 Art was recalled to active duty in the Air Force. Fortunately, he was never sent into a combat area, but he was gone from home more frequently than before. I turned to comfort food more than ever. Cheetos, Cheez-its, Velveeta shells and cheese, popcorn with lots of butter, tortilla chips with queso dip and Nestle’ King Size Triple Chocolate cones were my favorite. One one of Art’s overseas trips I gained 10 pounds in 2 weeks. By 2003 I was up to 155 pounds.
I decided it was time to get serious about losing weight However, I still didn’t see the benefit of exercise. I was still walking one or two days a week with Art and doing crunches whenever I felt guilty (not that often) but that was about it. Family Circle magazine published an insert based on their Eat What You Love and Lose diet and I decided to try it. I learned some new recipes and some easy ways to track calories and lost 2o pounds. Back to 135!! I was ecstatic.
That fall I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Not just high – ridiculously high. How could that be when I was at a healthy body weight? I had no family history of heart disease. I started on two different kinds of blood pressure medicine. It never occurred to me that lack of exercise might be part of the problem.
In June 2005, Art and I opened our golf shop. I was so busy running back and forth and up and down the stairs and moving boxes, not to mention doing the books and manning the cash register during busy times, while still homeschooling Bud, that I was pretty much able to eat whatever I wanted. I was so stressed I went right back to my comfort foods. I didn’t gain any weight, but I certainly wasn’t healthy. As business and life stabilized the weight slowly started to creep back up.
Christmas 2007 brought a brand new treadmill and soon after that I discovered Sparkpeople. For a few months I used the website to track my exercise, learned some new strength training exercises and some more new recipes. For the first time since high school I attempted pushups!! In May of 2008 when I had a partial hysterectomy I was very glad for all the exercising I had done. I was back to work in a week with one of the fastest recovery times the doctor had ever seen. By July it was too hot to exercise indoors or out (no air conditioning, except in the bedroom) so I gradually fell out of the habit.