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Tester Amanda Tirado; 36; teacher
Starting stats 5'3"; 162 lb.
Pounds lost 11
Her diet history
"I was always able to stay at a healthy weight by working out regularly. But with my family and work obligations, it's more difficult to find time to exercise and eat properly."
How it works
The SparkPeople Diet and Fitness tracker app provides a full weekly meal plan and allows you to record what you eat, along with your physical activity. You get SparkPoints for following healthy habits, such as eating fruits and veggies. Bonus: The companion site offers meal plans, workout videos and message boards, which make it easy to share tips and find social support.
"The best thing is the menu with a grocery list, so everything is planned out. There's a nice variety of fresh food on the menunot like the processed frozen meals I sometimes eatand it's all easy to prepare. The 10- to 15-minute workouts are convenient: I can sneak in a kickboxing session before dinner. I also love the app's GPS tracker, which I use for walks and runs."
"The app was a little glitchy: Sometimes when I logged on, I got a message that said I hadn't entered any food that day, even when I had, and my daily meal plans were missing! While I was able to stick to one or two SparkPeople meals a day, it's tough to stay on target when your partner isn't following your plan."
"This is one of the most extensive programs for diet and exercise tools," says Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. "The social support is a crucial way to get motivated." Social-media sharing can also be inspiring; in one study, dieters who tweeted about their weight-loss efforts were more successful than those who didn't. Every 10 tweets corresponded with a roughly 0.5 percent loss of body weight.
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