5 Awesome Reasons to Try Sparkpeople.com

SparkPeople.comWhat is Sparkpeople.com? It’s not just another weight loss program; it’s a FREE weight loss program that emphasizes healthy lifestyle, above all else. It has fitness tools, nutrition and fitness tracking, support through online resources, and a broad array of fitness videos with instructions on how to safely do the exercises in your home.

The site’s promo copy points out countless activities you can do to get healthy and reach your goals. Among those activities are:

  • Lose weight
  • Live a healthy lifestyle even if you don’t want to lose weight
  • Guides to nutrition, fitness, and motivation
  • Health and wellness information about conditions, treatments, and health news
  • SparkPeople experts
  • Recipes

 Awesome Reason #1

It’s FREE: This is not a hook to get you started on a 10-day free trial with a fee kicking in after that. It is 100 percent FREE. Every resource is available to anyone who signs up. That isn’t to say there aren’t items available for sale, including a fee for direct coaching if you think you need it. But you aren’t required to buy anything. Sign on and have immediate access to tools you can use.

Awesome Reason #2:

Spark. You receive regular e-mails from SparkPeople with links to helpful articles. Do you want to know more about living a healthy lifestyle, weight loss, exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies, or wellness concerns? SparkPeople has articles to answer your questions. These daily e-mails spark you to log on every day, which is the first step to following through.

Awesome Reason #3:

Goal setting. You can’t know where you’ve been until you know where you are going. How many Sparktimes have you said, “I’m going to lose 25 pounds by my cousin’s wedding, or my class reunion (or whatever special date or time is out there).” That kind of thinking leads to yo-yo dieting. SparkPeople’s strategy is to spark participants to embed lifelong changes designed to ensure good health. By setting realistic goals, you set yourself up for success.

Awesome Reason #4:

How many times have you read that keeping a “food journal” or an “exercise journal” is crucial to weight loss success? Have you tried that? Writing down every single thing you eat throughout the day? Writing down your physical activity? I’ve tried. I just can’t do it. SparkPeople has trackers. All you need do is search for a food or activity, select the measure and add it to your tracker. Not everything is there, so you may need to add something now and then, but it is, for the most part, easy to do. (I say “for the most part,” because there is a learning curve, but you can do it.)

Awesome Reason #5:

This site has terrific articles and videos about health related subjects. And I cannot overstate this – it is all FREE. Select from nutrition, fitness, motivation, health and wellness, weight loss, Spark recipes, and more. You will find multiple articles or videos on subjects of interest to you.

There is more to the site. Explore. See if it will work for you. It is working for me. I’ve lost 12 pounds over 40 days, have not felt deprived, upped my activity, and physically feel better than I have in years.

One thing I don’t like about the site is the very reason it is free; it is loaded with ads, and the pop-ups are annoying. But I reiterate the site is free to you. SparkPeople developers learned early on that if you have a good idea you can make “passive” money by offering something everyone wants, and then charging advertisers to offset the cost of delivering that content to readers. SparkPeople hit the mother lode. SparkPeople.com gets more than 100 million page views a month and has more than 15 million registered users. That’s a lot of potential buyers for advertisers. The ads are sometimes annoying, but not to the point of detracting from the mission of SparkPeople.com: to provide tools for a healthy lifestyle, a service people want and are in need of… and it is FREE to the consumer. You can’t beat that.

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Note: I am in no way affiliated with SparkPeople.com . These are my thoughts based on my experience. There may be other similar programs in the marketplace. I have not tried them.

5 Benefits of Grammarly

InspirationI hate editing my copy. It’s the trickiest part of writing. There are so many ways to go wrong when you are producing words by the hundreds. For all the value word processing programs have brought to writers, their biggest flaw is literal non-contextual interpretation of words.

She went their to see her mother. Their is spelled correctly, but it’s wrong in this context.

The bear truth, is misleading unless you are talking about a big brown animal you came across in the woods.

Grammarly.com, an online instant grammar checker and more,  is a wake-up call: Commas, periods, exclamation points, oh my! Spelling, context, confused words, oh my! Voice, mixed metaphors, unclear comparisons, oh my! Grammarly points to the word or phrase and suggests an alternative, or that you rethink what you’ve written, oh my (head in my hands here), and sigh. I am not a horrible writer, but I am too often a lazy one. Grammarly is worth every cent of the $139 I paid for it.

Grammarly forces me to think: Yikes, what a thought. Think more about what I write. Perish the thought. However… (Picture me thinking here: Hmmm, Grammarly might not be happy about that ellipse. Does it have a purpose? It does come in handy now and again, because as I write I may want to slow my readers down. Still, is the ellipse necessary, or am I slowing down the reader too much?) I hope you get the idea. As a writer you do want to think about every aspect of what you’re writing – spelling, grammar, voice, tone, and readability, and yes the occasional ellipse.

Grammarly hates, hates, hates, passive voice: If you use this product be ready for a rude awakening. You think you’re writing in electrifying ways, until you see how many times you slip into passive voice. Why do you slip into passive voice? Because passive voice is easy, and it’s sloppy, that’s why. Things happen, and you tell about what happened, yadda, yadda, yadda. Have you put the reader to sleep in the process? I look over some of the things I’ve written, and I cringe. Instead of engaging the reader, I see where I dumped information in globs. Bad form; sloppy writing.

Grammarly gives you options: You can use the basic mode and Grammarly checks for contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style. Or you can select plagiarism to learn whether you have inadvertently “borrowed” someone’s words and made them yours. There is a vocabulary enhancement function, which points out vague words that can be changed to another word or phrase to make the sentence stronger or clearer.

Grammarly will send you to a professional proofreader: I believe there is a charge for this service, but if you want another pair of eyes to look at your work, the option is there.

A caution here. Grammarly doesn’t do your work for you. You still must read your copy. The suggestions in Grammarly are just that, suggestions. As the writer, it’s up to you to accept or reject the program’s recommendations.

In summary this is a good product for writers whether you are writing a business letter, an op-ed piece for the local paper, a school paper, an essay or a book. Punctuation and grammar are the building blocks of written communication.

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Note: I am in no way affiliated with Grammarly.com. These are my thoughts based on my experience. There are other similar programs in the marketplace. I have not tried them.

SEASON OF CHANGE

Butterfly

Is it good, this thing called change?
Yesterday I was free,
today caught in some
dark void
neither one thing
or another.
Waiting.

Change comes.
Light.
Air.
Stretching.
Unfolding.
Free,
flying into the day
wing color like
jewels in the sun.

Yes,
this thing called change
is good.

Photo: clipart.com

Lean not on your understanding

Grace beyond words

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Son LightAmong the chosen. How awesome is that? God in his glory, fully realized in every sense of the word, powerful beyond imagining, greater than anything human minds can conceive, creator and author of all of life, in all of the cosmos, God has chosen to love me. I am struck speechless at the idea of it, knowing full well I haven’t deserved this love and have at times forgotten that it is there, holding me up, protecting me in the storms of life, taking it as my due. God’s love for me is singular. It is based on his infinite love for his creation: me. The thing is that although it is singular to me, it is also singular to every person who calls upon his name. His choice. His love revealed in the form of a wee babe who grew to be a teacher, friend and redeemer. Amazing grace beyond words.

More than NM True: The Real Las Vegas, 5 Cool Things

I love New Mexico, from its mountains in the north to its deserts in the south. I love the mix of cultures and variety of recreational and cultural activities. My favorite place is Las Vegas in the country county of San Miguel. Things are happening here. Walk down Bridge Street, and you feel the vibrancy and energy. Take a peek inside the Plaza Hotel, a graceful reminder of days gone by yet full of modern amenities.

Check out Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe on Douglas Avenue and see just about everyone you know. Take a trip down 7th going toward Storrie Lake, and you will see new construction popping up. Don’t forget to give the Railroad district a once over. You will be back. The railroad era Castenada hotel and Fred Harvey dining room is under restoration. You might even get a glimpse of a Harvey Girl giving tours or making a stop at events around town, or around the state. Here are just five among many reasons to love this Northern New Mexico town.

Las Vegas City Museum and Rough Rider Memorial
Room in the city museum

The City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection opened in 1961 as a unit of the City of Las Vegas. The Museum is housed in the historic Municipal Building, a 1940 Works Progress Administration project. The museum collection includes more than 7,000 items relating to the heritage of the Las Vegas area. Many items may be viewed through an on-line collection catalog. The Museum offers educational opportunities through classroom visits and activities. Entertaining and informative programs for all ages are offered throughout the year. (From Museum website.)

Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation: “The Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation was formed in 1977 to encourage the preservation and appreciation of Las Vegas and San Miguel County historic resources. Established by land grant in 1835, Las Vegas was originally called Nuestra Senora de Los Delores de Las Vegas Grandes (Our Lady of the Sorrows of the Great Meadows). The history of Las Vegas is influenced not only by many different cultures, but also by two major forms of transportation. As a major trading point on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas became a prosperous Spanish town with a wide variety of adobe structures. As trade on the trail increased, so did the variety of settlers and architecture in the town. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad saw a further increase of new residents many of whom built Victorian houses reminiscent of their homes in the East. While the Victorian residents are quite a surprise to visitors, used to the Pueblo revival of Santa Fe, it is the combination of the indigenous adobe architecture and the variety of Victorian architecture that makes Las Vegas unique.” (From the CCHP website)

fiesta dancers
Fiesta Dancers in Las Vegas, NM

Annually in August CCHP puts on a Places With a Past tour that features six to ten properties more than 100 years old, many of which have been restored and are currently occupied. A favorite on the tour is the Montezuma Castle, now part of the United World College. CCHP also conducts other historic events throughout the year. For details contact CCHP at 505 425-8803. Also see the site’s photo tours to get an idea of what PWAP tours might consist of.

Fiestas is a 4th of July celebration combined with Hispanic cultural events. This year it kicks off on Friday, July 3. The parade on Saturday highlights a day filled with music and dancing at the Plaza. Food vendors, presentations and down home fun for the entire family. Events and music continue throughout the day on the 5th. There are 5 and 10 K races and events for children. It’s not too early to think about summer fun.

Nuestra Senora de los Dolores
Nuestra Senora de los Dolores by Margarito Mondragon

Artists and their work. I am amazed at the degree of talent we have in Northern New Mexico. Is it because the clear skies and beautiful landscapes are irresistible magnets for creative spirits? Is it because we have so many galleries? Does Highlands’s art department contribute by providing exhibit space at the Ray Drew Gallery, in Burris Hall and at other sites around campus? Perhaps it is the town and it’s eclectic character. Whatever it is, Las Vegas and San Miguel County rival any other “arts” community in the state with the number of outstanding artists and craftspeople working in a variety of media. Public art is popping up, folk art and sculptures and murals, all depicting some aspect of life in all its complexity.

And then there are the wonderful, kind and hospitable folks who live here. Jim Terr, a creative fireball, recorded this at Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe on Douglas Avenue. Goodness Knows, Goodness Shows.These are only five wonderful reasons I love my town. There are many more. Add yours to the comments section. And if you agree with me, share this post.

Goodness Knows, Goodness Shows

 

 

 

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