I am a Spark Person

Food balanceI’ve been experimenting with a new set of tools for tracking and working through on my food. I went to WW last Saturday, and for now will continue going to meetings for weigh in, but instead of tracking my points, I’ve decided to track more stuff using SparkPeople.

I am a geekette, happy and comfortable using online resources and tools. The WW e-tools site has useful information but it was very flat. There are message boards there, but that’s about the only way to interact with other people and I admit that I almost never used them. I pretty much just used online journal, recipe builder, and some recipes – but not many of those, either, since I have a ton of cookbooks (most of which I look at but don’t cook from).

SparkPeople is jazzier and more interactive – and free. You can build personal pages, participate on teams such as “over 50”, “women in menopause”, geographic area, all sorts of things that fit with your profile. Or none at all if you don’t feel like it. These teams help build support and interaction. The site has tons of recipes and is loaded with articles on health and nutrition.

When you set up a profile, you decide what your goals are: weight loss or maintenance/toning. There are a few other questions and then the system tells you what your daily targets are for nutritional values and exercise. You can change your goals at any time and are encouraged to monitor exercise and water consumption as well as food. There’s a fun system of SparkPoints that you get for doing a variety of things you probably would or should be doing anyway. But points are good, right?

Pretty much the only part I’ve been using (give me a break, it’s only been 4 days) is the nutrition tracker. I enter items from a list just as in e-tools, can have favorites just as in e-tools, and see daily totals. The values, though, aren’t points, which are sort of made-up numbers, but actual real nutritional categories. The default is to show calories, fat, carbs, and protein. But you can also modify it to pull out more areas to track, such as potassium, sodium, fiber, and more.

Although two foods may have the same points value, their nutritional content is usually very different because food is not created equal. So I really like being able to have a more realistic idea of what I’m eating, both in terms of staying within a healthy range for each element and in seeing a weekly pattern.

So far, so good. I’m not even trying to be on a weight-loss plan this week; just tracking what I’m doing is kind of a miracle. There is a lot to explore on the site and over the next few weeks I plan to figure out some of the stuff I haven’t seen yet. So far so good, though.

Check it out – it’s free!