by Chris Downie
So, if anybody reading wasn’t aware, I have actually been a member of SparkPeople since 2007, when I joined at the end of January. I joined and I ignored it, and I went to Weight Watchers instead.
Last year, I rejoined, under a different name and I tried to trick myself into believing that following a 1,200 calorie diet was a good idea for somebody of my size. When I mentioned to my doctor that I had followed a 1,200 diet for 2 months and didn’t lose anything – in fact, I gained weight – he didn’t say this was unhealthy.
So when I re-rejoined this time, I wiped my old stuff, made a new handle (fatgirl2203) and have been following their guidelines since the start of January 2010.
(See all my SparkPeople entries here.)
So when it was mentioned that they were releasing a book, of course I looked into it. Of course, there was the incentive of SparkPoints, too, but mostly, I wanted the book. I wanted the inspiration, wanted the background, wanted, wanted, wanted.
My book actually arrived about 6 days after I ordered it from The Book Depository, which was free shipping and a hardcover version, where Amazon.co.uk lists it as paperback, and I got to reading it right away. Anyway, it arrived on roughly January 12th.
Now, I’m not the fastest reader in the world. I finished reading it last week, at the end of January. I took my time with it, reading a chapter at a time, making sure I was taking in as much information as possible.
Chapter 1 is Chris’ story: how he started Streaks and started SparkPeople, and the background of how he came up with the idea and the system. It’s not called My Story for nothin’.
Part I, or chapters 2-5, are inspirational chapters, things you’ll need to pay attention to, things you can go back and re-read when you need a boost. Focus, Fitness, Fire and Positive Force: the cornerstones of success in what has been named the “Fuel For Improvement System”.
Even as a member of SparkPeople, where I can go onto their website and read whatever articles I want, read any piece of inspiring success or informative nutritional articles, the first part of the book is still fresh, still interesting. Still inspiring.
Focus is about setting yourself goals. Understanding what you’re working towards. There’s no point in drifting about, with nothing to guide us, nothing to work towards. It just won’t work. There are ideas for goals to set yourself, information on what a short-, mid- and long-term goal should encompass.
Fitness is about, you guessed it, the importance of exercise. Now, they’re not telling you to go and join a gym and start running five miles a day as a beginner. To quote, “What if I said that you could begin transforming your life by simply walking back and forth to your mailbox every day?” Fitness‘ aim is not to get you to run yourself into the ground. As with everything, it’s about building things up, making things easier for yourself. How to fit exercise into your daily life.
Fire is about the spark that sets everything else ablaze: the inspiration that hits you that is the first step on your journey, the little flame that grows into a fire in your belly and keeps you going. Fire is the most basic cornerstone, the idea that you can achieve something great with yourself. How to take many positive steps, little steps, that lead to something bigger and better. (Consistency, consistency, consistency!)
Positive Force is about “a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment unlike any other”. Spreading the Spark is one of the best things about being part of SparkPeople: changing the lives of others by doing great things for yourself.
(Even if I was to use an example from myself: when I was in the pool on Monday, there was a guy who had been there the previous week, and we’d both managed 20 lengths. This week, he was at 22, and he was going to stop. I said to him, “Why stop at 22? 30 lengths is almost a half a mile.” When he came back after resting in the sauna for a while, he and I both did, indeed, make 30 lengths. Next time, I’ll tell him that 32 lengths is actually the half-mile we were aiming for, and we’ll do that, too.)
It’s about giving back to others, being a positive force to others, and how, in your own journey, you can inspire and help others in theirs.
Part II: The SparkDiet, chapters 6-9, is all the information you’ll need – including ways to calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and therefore your required caloric intake – to be a successful SparkPerson. Ironically, despite calling itself the SparkDiet, it’s not a diet. It’s little changes you can make in your life to help you control your life, control your eating habits. There are the four stages: Fast Break, Healthy Diet Habits, Lifestyle Change and Spread The Spark. Each is explained in-depth, and all of your requirements – food trackers, exercises, a Healthy Lifestyle Pledge, mix-and-match meals and many more – are in the book.
Or, if you join the website (free to join, free for everything on it), you can download printable versions of some of the items.
The Spark is an excellent book for people who are really looking to make a change in their lifestyle and diet. It’s not a fad, doesn’t promise that you can get 6-pack abs or lose 20lbs in a week. It’s sensible information, a great read, and, more importantly, a backup if you’re caught without the internet and can’t get on the website!
Even as a member of SparkPeople, I still enjoyed the refresher course it provided me, the new information it provided me with, and the fact that I now have a couple of pages of exercises from SparkPeople Coach Nicole Nichols that I can pop down off the shelf whenever I want, means that I’m more than happy to have spent the money on the book.
And, above all of that, the cheery bright orange means it stands out on my bookshelf, makes it easy to spot, and pleasant to look at.
Not only will I be re-reading this book, but I’m recommending it to anybody – members of SparkPeople or not – who want to make a change in their diet and lifestyle, and who aren’t quite sure to go about it.