The SparkPeople Blog

35 Meatless Monday Meal Ideas

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/24/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  4 comments   :  226 views

If you know a vegan or vegetarian, you’ve probably heard all about the wonders of a plant-based diet—and for good reason. Not only are those who go meatless less likely to be overweight or obese, research has shown that they’ll have healthier hearts and may even live longer than their carnivorous counterparts.

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Spark Spotlight: Pele (PELESJEWEL)

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/23/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  51 comments   :  3,295 views

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

This Week's Spotlight: Pele (PELESJEWEL)
Age: 54
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Pele's Small Success of the Week

Getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise!

What's your overall goal? 

To live life to the fullest in a fit and healthy body, and to maintain a cancer-free lifestyle. 
I am cancer-free at this time, and say this to all who are reading: The one event in life that almost got you, is the event that makes you stand up and fight until you win! This is the good fight, it is the fight for your life!
I weighed 328 pounds at my heaviest, and have released 123 pounds of fat, weighing in at 205 pounds today at 5'10".
My short-term goal is to get into "Onederland" in April 2018, and then to journey further to 175 pounds, maintain, then journey to 165 pounds.
How is SparkPeople helping you get there? 

I celebrated my eighth Sparkversary in March 2018. I am a long-time believer of SparkPeople. 
The trackers are the #1 tool for me. Tracking food and exercise daily is key. The Spark community and my circle of SparkFriends are also key to a successful journey. 
This is the most loving community on the web! What other online format allows a 200+, 300+, 400+, 500+ pound individual to have a safe forum to step into the light and own their journey? 
Many, like me, have been weighted their entire life. We tend to isolate, in the shadows, ashamed of the struggle. When I found SparkPeople, I "stepped into the light," and now, I’m proud to hold the light high for others, so they can keep going, crawling if they have to, during their darkest hour, knowing there are other "weight warriors" here, holding the light, because we have traveled this path before and know with certainty that you can, too!
I’ve never seen a community cheer so lovingly for folks who are struggling, have weight to lose or have a debilitating illness that may have set them back. There is a sincere level of “I care” here. It is a true spark!

What's your biggest challenge right now? 

My biggest challenge is work/life balance and keeping stress at bay. I work at my health like it’s my full-time job, but I have to remember that I have a full-time career that is very demanding, includes a ton of travel and managing other people to reach business objectives and profitability. But it’s a challenge that I accept readily, as these blessings are not lost on me. I am very grateful. 

What advice do you have for someone who just joined SparkPeople? 

Own your journey. Own every aspect: the wins, the setbacks, the highs and the lows. 
Learn to be the SparkFriend you need. What does this mean? 
  1. Connect with your friends, once per week or more, on their SparkPage, and leave a comment.
  2. Read and comment on their blogs (not just for points). Like your friends' blogs so they get a “Spark Featured” blog and then the community at large will benefit by reading their inspiration. 
  3. Read and comment on their Community Feed. Cheer on your SparkFriends! 
Remember, when you cheer for others louder than you cheer for yourself, the community gets your positive vibration and will rise up and cheer for you with the loudest roar you’ve ever heard!

Want to be the next small success we spotlight? Share your successes on the goal feed or in the comments below, and you might be the next person we contact!

100 Healthy Habits to Add to Your Life

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/20/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  52 comments   :  14,682 views

Along your journey, you’ve probably heard the term "healthy living" more times than you can count—including here at SparkPeople. You may have a general idea of what it means: Something along the lines of eating better foods, exercising more often, seeing your doctor regularly and taking better overall care of your body. But what does that look like on a day-to-day basis? What specific habits constitute a healthy lifestyle?

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Spark Spotlight: Sandra (SILVERSPARROW04)

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/16/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  40 comments   :  5,572 views

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

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You're Never Too Old to Hike: Trail Tips for Seniors

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/12/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  43 comments   :  10,384 views

You’re never too _______ to  ________.
There are countless ways to fill in the blanks. You’re never too slow to run. You’re never too heavy to do yoga. You’re never too weak to lift weights.
And you’re never too old to start hiking.

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6 Places to Find Cheap, Healthy Groceries

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/10/2018  12:00:00 AM   :  80 comments   :  20,395 views

My sister is a thrifty shopper. She knows where to find deals and is constantly comparing prices, especially when it comes to groceries. When I mentioned that a new Aldi store opened near my house, "You have to check it out!" was her immediate response. "You'll be surprised how many healthy foods you can find there at a fraction of the cost you're paying at the regular grocery store."

Skeptically, I decided to make the trip, assuming I wouldn't find any of the foods I normally purchase and it would likely be a wasted effort. I was completely wrong. For example, the bags of nuts I buy almost every week were two dollars cheaper. The organic apples I pay $2.49/pound for were $5 for a five-pound bag.

Eating healthy on a budget doesn't have to be more expensive than a diet full of processed foods. By planning ahead and comparing prices, you can incorporate inexpensive, healthy foods into your diet for less than you might think. You've probably heard money-saving tips like "buy in bulk" and "shop in season," but are there really certain stores that provide deeper discounts than others?

Bargain Shoppers, Rejoice!

  1. Aldi       
Registered dietitian Jodi Danen frequents Aldi to find good deals on specific items.  "Aldi's pricing on things like organic milk, kefir and specialty cheese is great—along with peanut butter, bread and butter.  Aldi also offers a "Double Guarantee," meaning if you're not satisfied, they will give you a replacement product and your money back. SparkPeople member LADYREDCOMET is a regular Aldi shopper, finding that the prices are consistently 20 to 50 percent less than the grocery store in her area. "For example, I pay $1.49 for a 10-ounce bag of spinach at Aldi," she explains. "A similar (or smaller) bag is usually $2.79 to $3.29 elsewhere."
  1. Costco 
Julia Nickerson, founder of the website Savory Tooth, says that Costco is a great place to find good prices for a number of items. "They have great deals on nuts. Walnuts and pine nuts are usually quite expensive, but you can find them at a great price at Costco. I've also bought pecans, macadamia nuts and flavored almonds from them," she explains. "Costco is great for buying large and cheap bags of almond flour. They also have a lot of low-carb snacks like roasted seaweed, protein bars and cheese crisps. If you don't live near a warehouse, you can buy online from Costco's website." Costco also has a very generous return policy. If you aren't fully satisfied with your purchase, you can bring it back for a full refund.
  1. Trader Joe's      
Talk to anyone who loves frozen foods, and chances are Trader Joe's will come up. The brand known for items with cult followings (cookie butter, Everything But the Bagel seasoning) is also one of the best places to find affordable fare for your meal-planning calendar. Jamie Lopez, a registered dietitian and food blogger, loves Trader Joe's for affordable groceries and says she can buy a week's worth of food staples for around $30. "Some of the basics that are consistently cheaper at Trader Joe's include eggs, yogurt, milk, frozen goods and peanut butter," she says. Trader Joe's is a frequent stop for BATGURL250, too, who says they have cheaper organic produce. "A lot of times you can get organic apples for $0.99/pound, as opposed to $3 or more per pound at other stores. Their organic nuts are usually cheaper, and they have frozen organic produce with prices comparable to conventional frozen produce at regular grocery stores," she explains. 
  1. SuperTarget      
SparkPeople member MLAN613 finds big cost savings at SuperTarget. "I love using their Cartwheel app in combination with the RedCard. Their store brand, MarketPantry, is fairly tasty and I think they have the best deal on frozen fruit," she says.
  1. ShopRite and Wegmans              
SHERYLDS is in the habit of shopping the store circulars and stocks up when there is a good sale on items she buys regularly. "I have found that the two stores with the best prices in my area are Shoprite and Wegmans. My suggestions are to learn prices and try the store brands. I have found that the store brands are just as good as the more expensive name brands," she recommends. 
  1. Online Options
If you live in an area without a variety of stores from which to choose, don't think you're stuck with the options at your only grocery. When in doubt, head to the internet, where you can often find more variety and compare prices before buying. 

TEDDYBEARDONNA orders frequently from Vitacost because she lives in a small town without many choices. "I often get 20 percent off my order and they have specials all the time. I am gluten-free and find I save a lot by using them." Similarly, AJDOVER1 relies on Thrive Market, noting that even though there is a membership fee, the savings make it worth it. "They have a huge selection of organic foods, baking ingredients, spices, sauces, condiments, vitamins, nutritional supplements, nuts and dried fruit," she says.  Amazon's Prime Pantry offers free shipping on orders over $40 (or a flat $7.99 shipping fee on smaller orders.) Although there is an annual membership fee, this is another convenient way to purchase groceries at a reasonable cost.

Protect Your Wallet with These 4 Money-Saving Tips

  1. Buy in bulk. When you see good deals, stock up. Many fresh foods can be frozen to prevent spoilage, and packaged foods that have a long shelf-life can be stored until you're ready to eat.
  2. Shop with a list. When you go in with a plan, you're less likely to get distracted by spur-of-the-moment impulses calling your name from the "deal of the week" aisle.
  3. Know your prices. If you know a good price on the peanut butter you buy weekly, stock up when you see a sale or shop other stores to compare. You might not have the time to visit multiple stores every week, but if you've got time for just a few, it could save a lot of money in the long run.
  4. Check out the sales ahead of time. Gone are the days when you had to wait for the circular to be delivered to your house or had to pick one up when you entered the store. Now you can do that prep work ahead of time by checking out store websites (which often have digital coupons to download) for weekly deals. Many stores even have Facebook pages where they will post deals of the day or week.
Groceries are a significant part of most people's budgets, so it's worth the time to compare prices, look for deals and watch the savings add up. Do your homework and your wallet will thank you!
Where do you find the best deals on groceries? Share your finds with us!

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