You know how I keep joking that when it comes to working for myself I’m a pretty slackadaisical boss?
I’ve known for quite some time that I work well when under somebodies direction. I pretty much live for carrying out orders, looking for approval, and doing it better than anyone else. Not only that, but I tend to be task oriented. I think it feeds into my perfectionist tendencies. A task can be completed, checked off the list, finished and on to the next one.
Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon SparkPeople. My first reaction was, oh it’s just another nutrition tracking program like FitDay or LoseIt. Digging a little deeper I had flashbacks of WeightWatchers, and downing so few calories because I filled up on high point items that I would be dizzy anytime I stood up.
Digging deeper still and following the program for a few days, plus purchasing and starting to read the book, The Spark, on my new Kindle I have to say I’m impressed! It’s not full of empty “Rah, Rah, you can do it!” cheerleading. It has a TON of articles about everything from food & nutritioin, to motivation, to a whole encyclopedia of health articles. They also have exercises for you do do (worksheets and such) to help you figure out what your goals are and create reminders that you can use (offline) to help you stay focused.
One of my biggest problems with “diets” is the lack of variety. With WW, I tended to have my core foods and stick with them. For a week or two that’s not bad. For three months it’s brutal. I had similar problems with The Zone. Not only did I tend to settle into eating the same snacks – all.the.time. – but I hated having to do all the calculations for myself. Sure, I could have used some energy to put together an Excel program for myself, but by that time I lost interest.
I’m on my third day on SparkPeople and so far I’m impressed with the variety and quality of the foods they suggest. For meals I’ve had lightly glazed salmon with veggies & brown rice, pork tenderloin with sweet potato and applesauce, black bean salad, a lentil burrito with sour cream, cheese & tomato, and an egg white sandwich with strawberries. There’s enough variety that when I start to create my own plan, I will have a pretty large database of meals to choose from. Oh, and so far they are all delicious! I was able to make the pork loin in the slow cooker with onion, garlic & herbs (my addition), I made a light glaze to put on the salmon (added only about 20-30 calories), and they allow substitutions. The software even suggests them if you don’t like what they suggest you eat.
They suggest three meals a day with a snack. My only issue is that the breakfasts seem a bit small. Like a lot of the other programs, there is a way to track water and fruit/veggie consumption.
My favorite part is that it’s structured in stages. I’m in Stage 1 so I’m following the nutrition plan and I have just three small additional goals I need to follow. First is to drink 8 glasses of water a day (I can manage 6 – anymore and I might as well put my name on the bathroom door and conduct all business from there), the second is to do a minimum of 30 crunches or push-ups a day. The third is to reward myself daily. I think for a reward I’m going to put aside a dollar a day to spend however I see fit. Either I can get some lip gloss at the end of the week or save it until the end of the month and maybe buy an item of clothing.
I’m not certain what is added in Stage 2, but I will let you know when I get there.
Oh, oh, oh! I forgot the best part. Other than the book (obviously) everything is FREE! That’s right no charge. For anything. Ever. If you are on SparkPeople and want to look me up, I’m MinivanNinja.