Does SparkPeople Really Work?


Does SparkPeople really work?If you’re wondering if you should sign up for SparkPeople and give another diet plan a try, you should check out this review and see if it’s something that would be useful in your situation. So many programs out there are simply flashes in the pan, and end up wasting your time and money. Is SparkPeople one of them, or do they break the mold and offer something useful? Let’s find out.

Overview
SparkPeople is a diet, weight loss, and overall healthy living site that incorporates many Web 2.0 features, and makes everything user friendly. At first glance it’s hard to determine what their angle is, providing all of this information for free, but it’s clear that they are amassing a very large, very specific niche of members all interested in dieting and health.

The genius behind the site is that it doesn’t exactly bring anything new or exciting to the table, rather it organizes pre-existing information, makes it pretty, and adds some tools and features that many people might find useful on their quest for a new body.

The Claim
SparkPeople is not big on claims, but the implicit claim is that you’ll be able to lose weight by following the programs and recommendations that you’ll get from their service.

They show testimonial before and after pics on their main page, leading one to believe that you can lose a large amount of weight and keep it off by using the SparkPeople website, including all of its features like tracking your weight, the foods you eat, and the workouts you complete.

They also hint that if you follow their program for 6 weeks you could end up losing 9 pounds, as that’s how much they claim the average user of their service achieves. It’s not clear how they came up with this number, but they use it as a disclaimer that the testimonials they feature are not typical results.

The Hype
The more people use sites like SparkPeople the more buzz they receive, and because of the viral nature of sites like Facebook and Twitter it doesn’t take long before people seem to be talking about it more and more. SparkPeople is smart in that they are the first to devise a program and allow people to access it without charging a fee at the onset.

Surely, diet programs have been around for ages, but if you want the real meat from something like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers you have to sign on to become a member and pay monthly dues. SparkPeople is the first to organize a comprehensive weight loss program and allow anyone to sign on and get started, and it incorporates a lot of social technology so that you can keep yourself interested, and your friends updated, giving you some social accountability.

Any dieting program that gets its share of attention can be considered hype. People don’t need anything other than their own mind and willpower in order to lead a happy, healthy life at their own perfect weight, and it is the job of these types of programs to make people feel that they can’t do it alone.

The Cost
They claim that the site is free with no strings attached, but you are required to sign up as a free member, either directly or using your Facebook credentials. Today there are many websites that make their money based on how many members they have signed up and actively using their website. Advertisers care greatly how many times their message will be seen and memberships are a form of currency.

By entering in your personal information, you are in essence paying for the service, just the same as when you use other websites like Facebook that ask for personal details. It’s all being used to profile you for potential advertisements. Surely, the first thing you see once you complete the sign-up process is a large banner ad. If you don’t mind this, then these sites are free to use, since it doesn’t require payment in the form of cash to get started.

The Commitment
SparkPeople will show you the path to a healthier lifestyle, and they’ll even provide pretty graphs along the way, but in the end you’re going to be the one that has to eat the healthier foods and perform the exercises. It’s based on tried and true methods of eating and living that have withstood the test of time, so you can be sure that if you apply what they suggest to your life, you’ll see results, but you have to put the time in and be serious about what you’re doing.

Evaluation
The crux of the website seems to be tracking things, and utilizes some simple technology that lets you input what you eat, how often you workout, as well as your weight and measurements. it’s the same sort of precision record keeping that you would find on the Wii Fit, and allows you to keep a better record of your progress, rather than just looking in the mirror and not seeing results.

Food Tracker – Way too bulky. They’ve gone through the trouble of entering hundreds of different foods you could possibly eat, but fail to include basic things like a salad. They want you to detail everything that went into the salad, making this entire step more trouble than it’s worth. Counting calories is old school, and if you are eating a balanced diet, is largely unnecessary and is one of the easiest ways to crash on a diet.

Fitness Tracker – They don’t let you type in what exercises you’ve done, but make you choose from a pop-up menu of workouts and actions you can take. It would be nice if you could enter in jogging, or swimming, but you have to fumble through several pages of exercises and thumbnail images in order to scan for the closest thing to what you’ve done. The exercises listed aren’t revolutionary, and are some of the most basic things that have been around for decades.

Final SparkPeople Review

In a world filled with so many false promises and costly advice, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a site like SparkPeople.com come along and shake things up. The only way it wouldn’t work in making an improvement in your life is if you don’t follow their recommendations and don’t track your progress. As a informational source it’s solid, and as a technology it works.

SmartPeople is as old school as it gets. When it comes to the sort of diet you should have they are promoting eating healthier foods and smaller portions. When it comes to exercising, they recommend performing reps of exercises that have been around for decades. When they tell you to track your progress, they expect you to weight yourself and take measurements of things like your waist and upper arms.

You won’t see any mention of some strange diet where you can’t eat carbs, or can only eat things that are green. You won’t see any fancy workouts that use special equipment. And you won’t hear them talk about measuring your body fat percentage. All of these modern age ways of losing weight and maintaining health are mysteriously missing from the site.

If you’re looking for a revolutionary way to lose weight and gain muscle you won’t find it here. The information SparkPeople provides is freely available elsewhere, and they are not using any sort of fad diet or other gimmicks to get you results. This can lead some people away from it, in search of the Next Big Thing in weight loss.

Our Recommendation
SparkPeople is free to join, and has a lot of information to provide, as well as a way to easily get started. Try it out and see if it’s a fit for you. You have nothing to lose, besides the weight.

They aren’t re-inventing the wheel, and you won’t find anything remarkable or revolutionary at their site. The service they provide is organizing a lot of information into one place, and making it easy for the user to interact with the different features. If you’ve found that you’ve had trouble sticking with diets and workout programs in the past because you would lose your interest, this could be the answer you’ve been looking for, as the interface is rather engaging.

If nothing else, it should keep you interested in what you’re doing, and help keep more accurate tabs on what you accomplish.

Here’s an example of the content you might find at SparkPeople:

What do you think? Does SparkPeople work or not?


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Silvia January 6, 2012 at 1:04 am

I totally agree! This diet is wonderful, I feel much better right now…

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Donald September 11, 2012 at 1:37 am

I started sparkpeople.com on 6/18/12 and i’ve lost 23 lbs today is 9/10/12 so yeah i am a believer.

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Lynda Schab August 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Congrats! 23 pounds is awesome!

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Lynda Schab August 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I signed up for Sparkpeople about a year ago but haven’t really checked it out. I actually just signed up for Weight Watchers Online since I have used WW in the past and it works for me. But I do have several friends who love Sparkpeople and have been encouraging me to utilize it. After reading this review, I’m thinking that when my WW subscription expires, I’ll continue on with SparkPeople to keep up my momentum, as well as move on to something fresh and new. And, of course, FREE is always a bonus!

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