The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit, and Transforming Your Life (Review)

February 11, 2011

Book cover for "The Spark" by Chris Downie.Title: The Spark: The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit, and Transforming Your Life

Author: Chris Downie

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 272

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Borrowed from my roommate

From the cover:

A revolution is taking place! Millions of people are discovering a new way of thinking about their weight, their health, and their lives. They are taking part in a visionary approach to weight loss that combines goal setting, nutrition, exercise, motivation, and community that has a proven track record of ten million pounds lost.

From the experts who created SparkPeople.com, one of the most successful online weight-loss programs to date, comes The Spark, a ground-breaking book that focuses on what you can do, instead of what you can’t do. The Spark is about transforming your life and your idea of what dieting means.

With dozens of photos — including stunning before-and-after shots and easy-to-follow exercise images — this book distills the best of SparkPeople’s medically accepted nutrition and fitness plan and infuses it with a program of personal empowerment.

For the last few months, I’ve been on a bit of a “healthy living” kick. Yes, that is partly a code phrase for “losing weight”. From mid-September until early December, I was mostly focusing on my fitness – seeing a personal trainer regularly, starting to run again, and that sort of thing. I was frustrated, though, because even though I was getting more in shape and my clothes were fitting better, I hadn’t actually lost any weight. I finally decided to try out the website that my roommate uses, Sparkpeople.com, and between the second week of December and the first week of February, I’d lost almost 20 pounds.

A few weeks ago, I also finally picked up this book, The Spark, which was written the founder of SparkPeople. I borrowed it from my roommate on her suggestion, and then slowly read it. And you know what? I wish I had read it sooner.

Mostly, I wish that I had read it sooner because it’s largely a re-cap of a lot of the things I had already learned from using the website program. But also, I wish I had read it before (or instead of) a lot of the other fitness and weight loss books that I’ve read in the past, because it was very different from what I’ve read before.

The thing that really made The Spark stick out was that it was focused more on a balanced, “baby steps” approach, and also on making lifestyle changes that are sustainable. Something else that Downie focused on, which I haven’t really seen in other weight loss or fitness books, is the “small goals” approach: trying to build a “streak” – where you meet small goals daily or weekly – and try to keep going longer and longer until it becomes as much a part of your life as breathing.

On the flip side, I found the constant “think positive” and “you can do it” messaging to be a little irritating. I mean, I get what Downie’s trying to do with this book, and I also get that he – and the SparkPeople program – is incredibly successful. But personally, I could have done with a little bit less of the kumbayah feel.

Also, I do have to say that I’m not sure if I would be able to use this book on its own without the online program. But that may just be because I started on the website first? Who knows.

What I will say, though, is that if you’re looking for something a bit more useful, realistic, and sustainable than the majority of diet programs out there, try out The Spark. Or even just the website. Everybody needs to find something that works for them personally, and this is just one of the options.

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