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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Put Spark People in Your Weight Loss Bag of Tricks

This post will concentrate more on the Food Tracker part of Spark. I will post again with info about the Fitness Tracker. 

Spark People! You may have heard of it. You may not have heard and thought this post was about people that sparkle. In any case, I want to enlighten those of you that could benefit from using this FREE website.

I found Spark People back in December, 2010. I signed up and entered the info that they wanted: height, current weight, goal weight, goal weight date, days I planned to work out, etc. They do not ask for more personal info so don't worry about that.

You can track what you eat with relative ease. I say relative because at times, you do have to enter the info for food you eat manually. Sometimes, the info for that food is listed, thanks to another Spark member but the info isn't always correct. Sometimes the food isn't listed because it might be an off-brand or available only in certain areas. And it can be a pain to enter nutrition for each thing you eat. But the great thing is that once you enter and save that data, it's ALWAYS there for next time. And human beings tend to be creatures of habit, especially with food.

You can have just the list of Favorite foods and you can do "Food Groupings". What are groupings? I'll explain: I eat 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with PB and a glass of milk for breakfast most mornings. I don't want to have to find each item on my Favorites list each time so I grouped them together and now I hit one tab, one time, and it's all there in my tracker.

When you got the page with your Tracker, you will see this box:
You can search for a new food to see if it's listed, enter a food NOT listed, click on your Favorites, click to access your Groupings, or even from a recipe found on Spark (more on that later).

Let's look at my Favorites, or the first part of it that shows up when I click on it:
 As you can see, I even have the info for Curly Fries from Arby's. It's about being honest with yourself and what you eat. If I ate those fries, I choose it and then it will add it to my daily totals.

Now let's look at the Groupings, since I use that each day and it really can save time.
This is the same tab as before and when you click on Groupings, once you have food listed there, you'll see something like this:
I love the Groupings. When I make a chicken salad sandwich, it has chicken, mayo, bread, and cheese. So it's easier to click ONE thing and add it all.

And my PB Toast... my favorite. If I click that option in Groupings and Add Selected Groupings, my tracker looks like this:
I am able to add the PB, bread, and milk all at once and I'm done with breakfast.

As you can see in the photo above, it will add up and display your calories, carbs, fat, and protein at the bottom of the tracker so that it's always easily referenced.

Knowing what you eat and how much you eat is a huge step for anyone wanting to lose, or gain, weight. You cannot just guess and hope you get it right. Without the proper amount of food, you're weight will either just get heavier due to too much food or your weight will plateau due to not getting enough food. It's a fine line and with a free tool like this, it takes the guess work out of it.

Another great thing about Spark People is that there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of recipes imputed by others trying to get healthier, just like you. But you must be careful. The nutritional info for the recipes may vary depending on how you might make the food. If you use lower fat foods or even different brands, the calories and fat may vary. So it's always good to double check the ingredients that you use to make sure they closely match. Being able to save those recipes into a recipe book on the site makes it so easy to come back to them later. And if you try a recipe listed, and the info is correct, you can add it straight to your Tracker!

If you use Spark People, be honest. No one can see your info but YOU so why lie, right?
Sign up, it's free, and enter your info. To be successful in health and fitness, you MUST be honest with yourself. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and sanity.

**I am in no way affiliated with Spark People other than I use it. I do not work for the company nor do I make any money at all if you go over and sign up. I am simply posting this because it has been so helpful to me when traveling this Rocky Road to Healthy.**

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