Everyone wants a spark of inspiration to live a healthier, thinner, fitter lifestyle, and there’s a good chance you’ll get it from The Spark, The 28-Day Breakthrough Plan for Losing Weight, Getting Fit and Transforming Your Life. Author, Chris “Spark Guy” Downie, gives a formula for success that includes goal setting, an eating program, exercise, positive motivation, and community support through a world-class website.
In fact, the real magic of the Spark program revolves around direct involvement in the www.sparkpeople.com website. This is the place to get yourself launched, track progress, post a blog, share a photo or a recipe, find a friend, join a team and look at the many before, during and after photos of people who are on this program. The best part is that the sparkpeople.com website is 100% free. No one-time membership, no monthly payment, no nothing. Downie made a lot of stock money as an early Ebay employee and is on a mission “to give back” by making the world a healthier place.
Downie puts out a wave of positive, contagious energy, and this is hands down the best feature of the website ambiance and book. “Our program,” says Downie, “radiates a joyous team spirit and the knowledge that people are nourished by each other as much as by food.” He invites readers to strive for their truest/best self through the power of nurturing, encouragement and connection.
Downie also draws attention to the importance of being focused and setting a variety of goals. Goals have the power to give meaning to your daily actions and to build momentum and confidence. Emphasis on community, positivism and focused goal setting are the biggest differentiators that set this book apart from other weight loss programs.
The Spark diet is a four-stage process, which Downie bills as a way of life rather than a diet. Unfortunately, it really is a low-fat, moderate calorie diet, and it draws heavily on the USDA food program guidelines. Stage One, the Fast Breakphase, is a set of six preliminary action steps. Stage Two, the Healthy Diet, is the eating program that includes three meals and two snacks. Stage Three, the Lifestyle Change phase, is about adding five non-diet related action steps into your program. Stage Four, the Spread the Spark phase, is about getting others to join the Spark bandwagon and learning how transition to new goals in life. Each of the four steps has several substeps, and this makes the diet complicated and confusing.
As for exercise,there are five 10-minute workouts provided in the appendix. Downie calls these short sessions exercise “streaks.” The basic idea is to sustain at least 10 minutes of positive activity every day.
The Spark has a lot of goodness going for it. The program clearly works for a lot of people, and Downie has a legion of raving fans. However, like many weight loss and fitness books, The Spark suffers from predictable, re-hashed information and consequently did not hold my attention.
Frequently, I had to remind myself not to skim over the boring parts so I could get to a more interesting section. Also, Downie’s presentation of material is not organized for maximum clarity. A few times I had to read a whole page or more before I could figure out what the chapter was going to be about. In general, I found it hard to follow Downie's explanation of The Spark program.
The Spark is rated 3.50 stars out of 5. The website community aspect is more exciting than the book and will appeal to Facebook users and to anyone drawn to online interaction and support. Not recommended for the computer illiterate.