I have been an active member of Spark People for a couple years now. I like the point system, and that it’s nicely all-inclusive for tracking fitness and food. I like the groups and support.
What I don’t like about it, and other sites like it, is the emphasis on weightloss. On a regular basis I find myself encouraging people to not give up on their fitness goals. What almost always triggers their despair? The scale isn’t moving.
Study after study has shown that permanent weightloss is achieved by only a small percentage of people who embark on a diet program. That, in fact, losing weight and then regaining it is not only bordering on inevitable, but that people often gain back as much as they lost and more. And that when they gain all that weight back, they don’t regain the muscle mass they lost in their weightloss efforts, so they actually have a higher percentage of body fat than they did before.
The evidence is clear: dieting in the leading cause fatness. The more our society has been inundated with diet plans, the fatter we’ve gotten. And the unhealthier.
What does contribute to good health? Good eating habits, and physical activity. For some people, this will lead to weightloss. For others, it will not. And that’s the part that these fitness sites don’t emphasize. Calories in/calories out sounds great, but we aren’t machines. Our metabolisms adjust, and we don’t all process food with the same level of efficiency. Not everyone will react the same way.
So when people approach fitness with their only goal being to lose weight, they generally go through a short period of elation, and then fall into dejection when the scale stops moving. They think, “what’s the point?”
The point is that you are healthier and fitter. Even if you aren’t skinnier, you have improved, and can continue to improve, your fitness level. You will feel better, sleep better, and probably live longer. That is worth your effort.