Light a Spark

I know of many people, myself included, who struggle with weight, eating healthy foods, and exercising. But what do you do when there is so much cost involved? Health clubs, Weight Watchers, doctors, they all cost money. So what’s a person to do?

A person should check out www.sparkpeople.com.

This is a free website designed to act as a guide to eating right, weight tracking, and exercising, as well as offering forums and advice in all these categories.

FOOD TRACKING
Similar to Weight Watchers food tracking, you can add your own foods’ nutritional information or use the thousands of options already entered. Then by entering meals and snacks eaten throughout the day, you can easily see where your calorie, fat, protein, and carbs counts are sitting. There’s also a “glasses of water” daily tracker. And by entering your goals, Sparkpeople will give you a range of where your numbers should be.

For example, if I had two eggs, two pieces of toast with peanut butter, and coffee for breakfast, I would enter this and Sparkpeople would tell me I could have between 623-962 calories available for use during the rest of the day, as well as 107-180 carbohydrates, 0-20 fat grams, and that I should shoot for 30-97 grams of protein. Used as a guide, this could be a beneficial tool. And for anal retentive people like myself, I like the charts and graphs this information can produce.

EXERCISE TRACKING
You can enter in your own goals based on time or types of exercises completed, or you can ask Sparkpeople to create a work out program for you. Cardio or weights, running or pushups, the choice is yours.

Also, if you have a set route outdoors that you would like to track, you can trace it on their map, and the site will tell you how long it is and approximately how many calories you could burn based on long it took you to complete the route. I have three routes saved that I use often.

FORUMS
Any topic, any discussion. They are sticklers for keeping it professional and clean, so no excessive swearing if you don’t mind.

Need to lose more than 50 pounds? There’s a group for that. Need some healthy breakfast suggestions? That discussion is a popular one. Lost a bunch of weight and need support to help keep it off? Never fear, there are many like you out there.

The one thing I don’t enjoy about the site is that there’s almost too MANY things. Advertisements, superfluous links that aren’t used often, points for every “task” you complete on the site, it sometimes gets cluttered. It took me five minutes to find where my main profile was so I could update my profile picture and change my goal weight.

But if you can overlook the somewhat messy layout, it’s definitely a useful (free) tool. Now get out there and be healthy!