Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back On Track and Sparky

I swore I wouldn't let it happen this year, but it happened. Not as bad as it has in the past, but still, I managed to let myself go during the holidays. It's like, the consumption of thousands of calories is one thing on it's own. Not working out is not a big deal if you are eating well. And drinking is fine in moderation. But add it all together:

Multiple high calorie intake opportunities
+ Christmas cocktails and Thanksgiving wine
+ No time to hit the gym because of said opportunities
= packing on the lbs

Not to mention the stress of the move. I was barely in the gym once a week, compared to the 3 days I am used to. I was eating with emotion so anything bad sounded like a great idea. Add to that my "trainer" bf who is really a fat kid in disguise, and you can send my motivation and ability for clean eating right out the window.

I am glad to say that I am back on track. Even JB is with me this time! I found another helpful aspect of fitness and weight loss - no money. I am forced to eat at home and bring my lunch. it's super easy not to spend money when you don't have any, which makes saying no to eating out and happy hours a lot easier. And thanks to my pal, K-Put, I have found the most amazing fitness and nutrition tracker/weight loss and health forum/social network, Spark People!

Back when I first started this whole thing in full force a little over a year ago, I was using the body bugg system, thanks to JB. They have since modified the device, but the one I was using was big and bulky and grey and people looked at me like I was a weirdo with an iPod on my arm all the time. It is a great way to track calories burned and steps taken (it gives you goals to hit each day based on your total weight loss goals) but you also have to use their website to enter your calories consumed each day. This is the most tedious task for me and their database and interface made this take way longer than it really needs to. The process is helpful for people who are not used to portion sizes or tracking calorie consumption. You never realize just how much you are taking in until you log your food. But after I got the hang of it, I kind of fell away from entering my food everyday.

With Spark People, tracking your food is so easy. They have a giant database of foods and you can also import foods or meals that other people have already entered, so the chances of you not being able to find something is slim. It tracks the calories, fat, carbs, and protein in each item and for each meal and at the end of the day, gives you a report and tips if you are too high or too low in certain areas. One of the things I like the most is that it doesn't give you a solid take it or leave it number. It gives you a RANGE. This range is based on your current body-mass index (BMI) and your weight loss goals. Mine is currently 1500-1829 calories per day. As long as I am in that range, I am good to go. It also gives you a range for the other categories too and tells you why too much of these things or not enough of them is bad and what you can do to increase or decrease your intake.

The site offers sample daily menus, which are realistic and easy foods that you find in real stores, and there is even an option at the bottom to print a shopping list for this menu plan. If you use the menu plan, you just put a check mark next to whatever you ate off the menu and it calculates your intake. The water tracker has you input the glasses of water you drink per day and informs you that 8 is the standard amount. Another awesome feature is the iPhone app, so you can still track everything when you are away from your computer.

The fitness tracker is a place to obviously track your fitness activities. They offer sample workouts with demonstrations and most of these things are doable at home with a stability ball and small hand weights. There are many different exercises to choose from to build your own 30 minute routines, and since they have already entered the general calorie burn for these items, it can give you a somewhat accurate account of what you are burning by doing them.

There is also a social networking aspect to the site, where you can build your "spark page" and have "spark friends" and join "spark teams". You can post pics and have a ticker for weight loss progress and leave comments for your friends. There is a "status" line for you to let everyone know what you are up to, and even a blog to post about your progress if you'd like.

There is a point tracker that allots points for doing certain things on the site. If you log in, you get a point, log your food, more points. Read a blog or article, post on a message board, make a recipe from their catalog, points points points!!! Speaking of recipes, they also have a Spark recipes app for your iPhone as well and there is some really yummy stuff on there. I plan to use it quite a bit and may post some here.

So yeah, basically Spark People should hire me to do PR or marketing for them. Anyone who knows me knows when I get into something, I am behind it 100%. And if something works for me, it could work for all my friends, so I want the whole world to know about it. It's free to join, so if you end up with a profile, let them know that breannez sent you and add me as your "spark friend". I love having people to motivate me!

Happy Sparking!


Mrs. Awesome said...

Monday/Wednesday Gym Dates!!!!!

Chris Dolce said...

sounds exactly like the jillian michael's page but FREE. i had a free trial to her and saved a bunch of recipes and workouts but i dont like paying for things that are a: pretty common knowledge and b: available online for free. i'll check it out and add you!

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