Sparkpeople.com review * * * *

Sparkpeople.com as well as Sparkpeople mobile gets four stars from me. LOVES this site. The best part? It's completely free! No dollars flushed down the diet toilet here.

Basically, you can go to http://www.sparkpeople.com/ and sign up ( for free, lol) and they will customize a weight loss plan for you. They focus on gradual, healthy weight loss, no crash diets here. You enter your weight and weight loss goals, how much you want to work out, etc and they spit out all the numbers for you.

The nutrition tracking is very thorough. You can have them suggest a menu for you, or you can set up your own menu staying in the calorie range they suggest. I go with my own food plan and enter the complete nutritional information on the foods I eat and save them to my Favorites for easy access later. One of the reasons for a missing star in my rating is that I have noticed some of the nutrition info is a bit off.  If you just want a rough estimate of your calories that is great, but I want to know exactly what I'm consuming. Easily solved just by entering the info yourself and saving it to your Favorites. We all tend to eat the same foods over and over so it's not as big a task as it sounds. You can track more than just calories too. I love being able to track how much protein, calcium, fiber, etc I am consuming. It really helps to make sure you are getting a balanced diet in the lower calories you are consuming.


There is also a link to sparkrecipes which has TONS of healthy recipes to try. Very good tool here. You can search for recipes, rate recipes you've tried, and submit some of your own. Nutritional information is included in all recipes, so easy!


As weight loss is simply a calories in/calories out equation you also track your workouts. You can track your strength and cardio in your fitness tracker.  Again, they will customize something for you, or you can set it up yourself. Here I did find numbers a little off on occassion, especially for biking it would estimate the calories I would burn higher than what I was actually burning. People's bodies differ, depending on size, gender, age etc so they are giving an estimate here. I use a heart rate monitor and track exactly the calories burned. I also save these exercises to my favorites for easy access when tracking from my phone. Another possible issue here I found was that when I entered my activity they would up my suggested calorie range to the point that my weight loss slowed to a crawl.  My metabolism is different than most and so I simply adjusted the range back down, an easy fix, but definitely something to pay attention to. Every one is different, learning what works for you is key! The last thing I would mention in the fitness section, is they actually have workouts you can play and do, a nice bonus.


The Reports section is fun and useful. You can see reports on your nutrition, fitness, weight over time, etc. A good tool to see where you are and how you're doing in all these things.


Now the best thing I found about sparkpeople was actually the support system.  It's amazing the teams on that site. If you have an interest, there is a team for it on that site, seriously, anything. Search around and join some teams until you find a good fit. Some are super encouraging and supportive. You can set up your own 'page' on the site telling about yourself and even add photos. People can then stop by and leave you comments at the bottom or give you 'goodies' to add to your page. There are also tons of message boards to post on, topics galore here, something for everyone for sure. Sparkpeople also has an insite message/email system to send each other messages directly without everyone else being able to see them. You can even start your own team.  I cannot stress enough the value of a good support system in weight loss. Find a good supportive team and jump in! One of the best I found was a team called "Done Being the Fat Girl". Crazy name, but FANTASTICALLY supportive team.


Sparkepeople sends out emails on what you should be doing that week they include:  tips, recipes, pointers, encouraging stories, etc for what 'Stage' you are in. They definitely break the process down into bite sized steps to not overwhelm you. Weight loss is a journey and they are very good at not setting you up for a crash and burn.


It is really great to be able to track your weight loss goals, your nutrition, and your excercise in one handy spot. Add to that the support system and you have an AWESOME weight loss tool here. A few tweaks may be necessary to make it work best for you, but so worth the time. I have used it for over a year and still feel it's really helpful. Once I set up my account on the website I then use the mobile site from my Blackberry to make tracking my nutrition and fitness super easy.  I'm sure I'm forgetting something you can do on this site, but I've picked out the things I use most; it really is loaded with helpful things. And yes, it is absolutely free, I've never paid a dime for it. Unbelievable and SO four stars!


I am just a blogger, not a doctor or any sort of professional. What you read here are my personal experiences and opinions. Of course, always consult your doctor before trying a diet, diet pill, or new workout programs.