Working From Home or Flexible Hours?

Is It Possible To Have Both?

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By Jerry Lambert

Hi, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  I have a confession to make.  I have been settling.  I have been settling by driving for Uber and Lyft as my primary source of income.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I have been driving for both of them since November, 2015 and I am ready for a change.

is09an5qdSo far, my one and only adventure with a different side hustle has been signing up for Shipt, and I told you how that turned out.  So, I am making a belated resolution for 2017.  Effective today, I am retiring as a full time driver for Uber and Lyft.  I may occasionally pick up some fares when my funds are running low, but the morning and evening shifts are over for me.

Now that I have that out of the way, what the heck do I do now?  I made it a goal earlier this year to find a job (or jobs) that would get me back to roughly half of my previous full time income.  This will be a large achievement if I can pull it off.  I am going to be completely honest.  I have become addicted to the semi-retired lifestyle.  Being able to determine what days and times I choose to work is a major benefit, one that I am not willing to give up.

That said, I now have to come up with a Driving Income Replacement Plan or DIRP.  It sounds like a government program.  Anyway, I have decided to pursue a career in the “Work from Home” field.  Uh huh, you say, just how do you plan to do that?  I have no freakin’ idea!  I am going to pursue this new position (or positions) with the same drive and effort I used to find a job, when I first was laid off.  That job turned out to be in a Call Center and I quit in two weeks.  Hopefully, this time I’ll have better results!

Man planning for new house and carIf you do an Internet search for “Work from Home & Flexible Hours”, you will come up with no end of leads to do just that.  However, from past experience, many of these offers are scams that are just trying to bilk desperate people out of whatever money they have left.  Pretty sick, actually.  Upon further research, I hope to find at least one legitimate Work from Home (WFH) job per day.  I will employ this plan Monday through Friday, until I find the job, or jobs (hopefully no more than three) that will get me to my goal of DIRP.

Now, I am finally getting to the title of this article.  Work from Home or Flexible Hours?  Are they mutually exclusive, or can you have both?  Most of the WFH results I see on the Internet have Flexible Hours as part of the summary.  However, I believe that you can have one without the other.  Being a Virtual Assistant for instance.  In the article I wrote about this side hustle, you can work from home, but your hours may be determined by your client.  This will give you the flexibility of working from home, but not the freedom of setting your own hours.  Trust me, after a year of setting my own hours, having a “Boss” tell me when I have to work is not what I am looking for!

If you type in “work from home vs flexible hours”, a quick search of the web brings back a range of results.  Two of the results piqued my interest.  The first is the job search site Indeed.  I remember liking their website quite a bit, back when I was job hunting full time.  They seem to take a “No BS” approach that is quite refreshing, compared to other job search giants like Monster and Career Builder.  However, when I just did a search for “work from home”, I came up with results for all three headhunters.  But, I digress.  Getting back to the original search I did, “work from home vs flexible hours”. Indeed came back with a list of 4,897 jobs!!!!  WOW!  I like those odds!  Plus, since these jobs are WFH, it doesn’t matter if they are from Chicago, New York, Boston, etc.

Female sitting outside with laptopI also noticed another item that came up in my search.  There is a company called Flexjobs that appears to specialize in exactly what I am looking for.  Legit jobs, by legit companies that will enable me to hit my DIRP goal.  However, it looks like this is not a free website ($14.95 / month).  I generally avoid pay websites like the plague, since I subscribe to the early opinion that most of us tech weenies had. Everything on the Internet should be free!  However, sometimes you’ve got to pony up some cash to get some good results.  I will see what kind of results I get with Indeed first, but it’s good to know that Flexjobs is there as a viable alternative.

Well, I’m glad I came clean!  Putting this out there will help keep me accountable to myself and to you, my much appreciated reader.  I plan on putting my hits and misses on this website every week, so you’ll know which jobs may be worth looking into and which ones you should skip.  Hopefully, I’ll have some promising hits to share with you next week!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

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Side Hustle: Virtual Assistant

Use Your Skills To Stick It To Your Old Boss!

By Jerry Lambert

Hello again and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club!  I hope you had a terrific holiday season and are rested and refreshed.  Yeah, right!  Anyway, this week I thought I would discuss a Side Hustle that many of you may be interested in.  Becoming a Virtual Assistant.

is09ao1z3I have decided, at least for the first few postings of this year, to focus entirely on Side Hustle jobs.  We all need to generate some extra income to pay off those Christmas bills.  When I first started looking into Side Hustle jobs, I was surprised to find the position of Virtual Assistant.

I am going to be honest.  I don’t come from a Secretarial, pardon me, Administrative Assistant background.  Gotta be PC.  When I was moved onto the Tech Support Desk, I was terrified.  I had to try to help the Secretaries who would call with fubared legal documents.  Needless to say, I had a pretty steep learning curve before I became relatively competent in my job.

That said, I was surprised to find out the Virtual Assistant position was actually a “thing”.  Since this is really not my area of expertise, I have decided to defer to Joanne Munro, who has an excellent website with a complete rundown on how to become a Virtual Assistant.

The VA Handbook takes you through how to set up your business, create your website (for FREE at Wix.com), and take care of all of the legal stuff needed to get your VA business off the ground.  It’s really an excellent resource and I highly recommend that you check it out.  However, keep in mind that Joanne is in the UK, so some of the information may be related to that region.

However, if you are someone like me who was downsized, becoming a VA might be a great way to start a new career and flip the bird to your old company at the same time!

Joanne does mention that Networking is the key to building your VA business.  I would think that Social Media would be an excellent way to spread the word about your budding Side Hustle.  Spreading the word on Facebook about your VA business could net you some solid leads.

Happy typistAlso, I would reach out to your friends at your old job.  See if they have heard about anyone who is in need of additional secretarial help outside of the office or after hours.  Catching up with them over lunch might be your key to future clients!  Also, getting in touch with contacts you may have with your old company’s clients is a good way to capitalize on your time there.

Don’t forget about LinkedIn.  I know that you probably blitzed all of your LinkedIn contacts after you were let go from your previous job.  Do it again, but this time keep in mind your new objective.  Promoting your fledgling business and mining for prospective new clients.

I know that our firm had one secretary who worked the afternoon shift.  She was there to help attorneys who had after-hours work that needed to be done.  You may want to consider specializing in after-hours availability.  I would think if you get contracted by a couple of companies as an after-hours Virtual Assistant, you can pretty much write your own ticket.  Again, not speaking from experience, but I would think that it would make a lot of sense.

is09ao1ykThat said, keep in mind what you may be letting yourself in for as an after-hours VA.  When the law firm I worked for had a “Closing”, it could run all night.  That may be a can of worms you do not want to open.  However, if you can find a company that needs after-hours support, it might be steady work without the threat of an “all-nighter”.

I hope this article has encouraged you to venture out on your own as a successful Virtual Assistant.  After all, what better way to stick it to your old employer than by using the skills you perfected to become a successful VA?!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Movie and TV Extra

Do You Wanna Be In Pictures?

By Jerry Lambert

Thank you for joining me for this week’s Brown Parachute Club.  Today, I have decided to change things up a bit.  I am going to conduct an interview with someone who is experienced with the Side Hustle: Movie & TV Extra.

Crowded pedestrian crossing at night, Hong Kong, ChinaI know that sounds crazy.  How can I be in a Movie or TV Commercial?  Where would I begin?  How does it work?  How do I get paid?  Do I get to meet the star of the movie?  These were all of the questions that I thought of, so I decided to talk to someone who is an expert in this field.

Jakey Staley has been a Movie and TV Extra for 10 years.  She has been in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and more recently Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  She has been in many other movies as well.  I sat down with Jakey to pick her brain on how it all works.

TBPC: Hello Jakey, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.  I wanted to talk to you about your career as a Movie and TV Extra.  Since I know you have done this for a while, you seemed like the perfect person to talk to about this subject.

TBPC: How did you get started becoming a Movie and TV Extra?

Jakey: Thanks, Jerry.  A friend of mine talked me into doing a free movie.  She had seen it advertised in the paper.  It was when the movie scene was first getting big in Detroit, so we showed up and got to be in a parade.  It was for a Made-For-TV movie starring Sigourney Weaver, called “Prayers For Bobby”.

TBPC: Which company or companies do you work for?

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Prayers For Bobby

Jakey: At the filming of Prayers for Bobby, we saw cards on a table for an agency called “Real Style”.  My friend and I both signed up for Real Style, posted our pictures, and met the ladies who started the company.  They knew the industry was going to start to get big in Detroit.  They saw a need for Extras in the movies and all of the Producers who come to town know which agency to call when they need Extras.  Real Style is how I got started in all of this.  Your name and picture go into a database and they send you emails on everything that’s coming out. 

TBPC: How long have you been doing it?

Jakey: I’ve been doing it for about 10 years.  Prayers for Bobby (filmed in Royal Oak, MI) was the first time, so it has been about 10 years.

TBPC: Do you work with Real Style exclusively?

Jakey: Yes, I work exclusively with Real Style.  They are THE agency for Movie Extra and Commercial work in the Detroit area.  They work primarily in Michigan.  I recently got an email for a commercial for a furniture company in Grand Rapids.

TBPC: How much do you get paid and how do you get paid?

Jakey: You get paid Minimum Wage.  It’s mostly an hourly wage ($7.40/hour in MI).  It can be a set dollar amount, say $300 for the day, or something like that.  It’s always right around minimum wage.  You are paid directly by the Production Company and receive your tax forms from them as well.

TBPC: How many times do you “Extra” per month?

Jakey: I’ve always had a full time job, so I’ve had to take vacation days.  I’ve never been able to do a week or longer shoot.  Sometimes the Production Company will ask for 2 or 3 days, with “Whip It”, I did 3 days altogether.  It’s normally a string of days in a row for the bigger movies.  The smaller movies usually get their shooting done in one day. 

TBPC: Is it difficult to get jobs?

Jakey: It’s all first come, first served.  When you get the email, if you have the date available, you respond to the agency.  They are very organized.  They will respond to you with all the details.  Sometimes you click on the link and it says, “Sorry, we’re full”.  When I first started it was a lot easier to get into the movies.  I had more time available back then.

TBPC: If I was going to get started, how would I do it?  Just contact Real Style and let them know I want to do it?  Would I need a headshot and all of that?

Jakey: Yep, they do them right there.  They’re a great company, I’ll plug Real Style!

TBPC: To me it sounds like something that would be fun and interesting to do.  Something out of the “norm”.  When you’re in my situation, suddenly you’re open to trying something different.

Jakey: Yeah, it is.  There were a lot of retired people, who had days available, they just need bodies in the background for movement.  They can’t focus on your face.  They need as many bodies as they can get.

TBPC: So when you’re talking to someone, your lips are moving, but that’s it, right?

Jakey: Yep, always quiet on the set, you feel like a Mime. 

TPBC: Are there any costs for the Extra?

Jakey: The only cost is $25-$50 to get into the database and add your headshot.  You can have up to 5 pictures in the database.  You should always keep them updated, because the Producers do look for Extras by age, height, weight, and so on.  You don’t do any speaking roles, because if you speak on camera, you have to join the Union (Screen Actors Guild).  That’s expensive!  However, I do know someone who joined and has had a featured role in a movie, so you never know.  I have heard that Shia LaBeouf started out as an Extra.

TBPC: How long is the average Shooting Day?

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Whip It

Jakey: Well, on “Whip It”, one of the shooting days was 16 hours!  There’s a funny story.  I had taken the day off work, I did a 16 hour day on “Whip It”, got home, showered, and went back to work!  That was a long day!

Most shooting days are 8-12 hours.  Not everyone gets picked.  There was one movie where there were about 50 of us and they only needed 20, we all got paid for an 8 hour day.  We sat in a big tent and played Euchre all day.

TBPC: Based on the amount of time spent, what do you figure is your hourly wage?

Jakey: You get paid the minimum wage.  If you get paid in a lump sum, that is generally for commercials.  These Producers have been doing this for a long time, so they know how to watch every dime and are very strict when it comes to the budget for the movie. 

TBPC: Do you get to meet the stars of the production you are working on?

Jakey: Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

TBPC: Do you have any interesting or funny stories from filming?

Jakey: “Whip It” was cool, even on the 16 hour day, it was about 100 degrees in there.  Drew Barrymore was on skates and a bundle of energy even though it was, like 3 a.m. and we were all dead tired.  She picks me and my friend Karen out of the crowd for a scene and says, “You two look cool!”  She sets us up at the edge of the roller derby rink.  There’s a part in the movie when Ellen Page, one of the stars of the movie skates by, and grabs a poster that Drew Barrymore had given my friend Karen.  Ellen Page grabs the poster and tears it up and throws it.  The camera was aimed right at us, so we think, “This is it!  This is our big break!”  When the movie comes out, you can only see the side of my face and Karen’s hands, that’s it!  Movie Magic! 

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Gifted Hands

There was another time when I was doing, “Gifted Hands” (The Ben Carson Story) with Cuba Gooding, Jr.  He was very nice, a friendly guy.  There was a scene when he was standing in front of me.  I was a nurse at a desk and he was right in front of me.  After the movie was released, I saw my boss on the escalator and she said, “I just saw this movie with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and your twin must have been in it, because she looked just like you!”  I said, “That was me!”  She thought it was great.

Also, during the filming of “Whip It”, Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore were terrific and kept all of the Extras entertained and fired up during the 16 hour night of shooting.  They were great.

Well Jakey, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  I’m sure your information will be a great help to our readers!  We’ll certainly keep an eye out for you in those movies!  Thanks for your time!

A list of Jakey’s Movies:

Whip It
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Prayers for Bobby
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
LOL
This Must Be The Place
The Amazing Cynical Man
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

To find a movie extra casting company in your area, do a search online, or you can go to Casting 360, which has jobs all over the country.  I’ll see you in the movies!  Break a leg!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

 

 

 

Giving Tuesday

Don’t Forget To Give!

By Jerry Lambert

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club and to the Holiday Season!  By this time, you should be preparing for Christmas and had all the turkey you can handle (no, I’m not talking about Cousin Eddie) .

Black boy putting money into donations jarThis year, I learned about a new charity event.  Have you ever heard of Giving Tuesday (#givingtuesday)?  I put the title all as one word, with the hashtag for a reason.  This is a campaign that was started by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y(MCA) in New York.  They use Social Media Influencers to spread the word and encourage giving at this time of year.

Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday each year.  I would have scheduled it the day before Thanksgiving and called it Giving Wednesday.  After blowing your bankroll on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I wouldn’t think there would be a whole lot left over for Giving Tuesday.

However, it is a reminder to take care of your charitable giving early.  Before the “Christmas Steamroller” plows through December and you wind up in January with a mountain of bills, wondering what just happened!

Since Giving Tuesday is a Social Media-based event, it gives me hope for the younger generation of this country.  The Selfie-Generation seems so self-obsessed, it is encouraging that a campaign like Giving Tuesday has caught fire.  It is promising that this age group can count their blessings and consider giving to others, who are genuinely in need of their help!

BLM028702During this extremely busy time of year, it is difficult to sit down and figure out which charity deserves your donation.  The hassle of trying to figure out who should receive your hard-earned money can become more of a chore than a blessing.  Also, how do you know which charity you can trust?  How do you make sure the money you donate is finding its way to the people or animals who really need it?

Unfortunately, there are many charities who make a living off the generous nature of its donors.  Check out this article that details The 20 Best Charities in America: 2010.  You may not be familiar with many of these charities, but they have the lowest overhead of any charities reviewed in 2010.  That means that virtually every dollar donated goes directly to the people or animals that need it the most.

Here is another chart that details some of the best vs the worst charities.  There are a lot of terrific military charities listed.  So if you want to give to our Heroes, here is a great way!

As far as animal charities go, I have always found it is best to stay local.  I avoid the national money-grubbing charities that tug at our heartstrings, with commercials of neglected and abused animals.  Petfinder has a great way to find a local shelter in your area that can use your donation of money (and time).

Portrait of a pit bull mixI know what you’re thinking.  “I would love to give to charity, but I don’t have two pennies to rub together.  I am barely making ends meet as it is.”  I know it’s a lot to ask.  However, since I have started donating 10% of my income to a different charity each week, I have found a string of blessings have been coming my way.  I can only account for these blessings by my charitable giving.  It’s like “Indiana Jones and the Leap of Faith” I mentioned in my last article about Goals.  Sometimes, you just have to take that first step and see what happens!

I hope you decide to donate to a charity of your choice this Christmas Season.  Just remember, no matter how bad things are for you right now, there is always someone else who is worse off.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Goals!

The Road Map To Get Where You Want To Go In Life!

By Jerry Lambert

This week I want to discuss something I have been doing in earnest since I was fired from my job of almost 26 years. Setting and Achieving Goals.  I came across this concept many years ago, and like Journaling it is something that I should have been doing all along.

climber celebrating on snow capped peak
Stay Focused On Your Goals!

To many of you, this may be an idea that you are already very familiar with.  However, I had not run across this concept when I was young.  It wasn’t until I read the classic “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, that the notion of Goals, as a defined course of action, was presented to me.

All of us are familiar with the concept of setting and achieving goals, but not in such a structured format.  I use the example of learning to tie your shoes.  Every child wants to learn how to tie his or her shoes.  Little Bobby defines the goal, tying his shoes, and he gets to work on achieving that goal.  He learns a series of movements or actions steps he must take to achieve his goal. He pictures himself tying his shoes and with practice before he knows it, he has tied his shoes.

The previous example is a very simple one, but the principle is the same.  To quote that great Jedi Philosopher Yoda, “Size matters not!”.  Regardless of the size of your goal, the formula is the same.  I am going to give you an overview of this concept, along with some resources where you can learn more.

“Psycho-Cybernetics” sounds very robotic, but what it means is “putting your mind to work on reaching your goals”.  Much of the book is about improving your self-image, but I found the part about using your “goal-striving mechanism” or “success mechanism” to chart your course in life very interesting.

I am going to keep this overview very “high-level”.  Listed below are the basics of goal setting and achievement and why each is so important.  At the end of this article, I will list a number of resources that I have found helpful in getting me to set and achieve my goals.  Let’s get started!

  1. Your first step is to “Define Your Goal”. What is it you want? You really need to think about this.  Do you want to make more money?  How much do you want to make and how are you going to go about getting it?
  2. Is your goal in alignment with your Values? Sure, everyone wants more money, but most of us are not willing to rob a bank or knock over a liquor store to get it!
  3. What are the “Action Steps” you need to take in order to achieve your goal? In the example of tying your shoes, put the shoes on your feet (check), cross the laces (check), make the rabbit go into the hole, or make bunny ears, etc. (check). You get where I am going with this.  Every step you take to achieve your goal should be written down, no matter how big or small.
  4. Start working towards your goal! You will find that breaking your goal down into small, manageable steps will make reaching it that much faster.  You will also find just STARTING to work on the goal will often create a series of coincidences (some verging on the weird) that are necessary for you to achieve your goal. Picture Indiana Jones taking the “Leap of Faith” in The Last Crusade.  You have to take that first step!

If you read my article about Journaling, in it I mentioned you should review the previous week’s entries.  This will show any items that may have been skipped on a particular day.  These items may have been Action Steps toward one of your goals that occurred to you while writing in your Journal, but they didn’t make it into your Goal Plan.

One crucial step in the Goal Process I left out is “Defining Your Dreams”.  That is a whole seperate subject, but it needs to be done before setting any goals.  I left it out because it is a much larger concept and I wanted to keep this article about the mechanics of goal setting and achieving.  However, any book or resource about Goals that doesn’t start with Dreams should be avoided!

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“You Miss 100% Of The Shots You Don’t Take!” – Wayne Gretzky

The importance of goals cannot be under-estimated.  I heard about a study, done many years ago, involving recent Harvard Graduates.  They were all asked what goals they had for their life.

  • 84% said they had no specific goals, except to kick back and enjoy themselves over the summer.
  • 13% had goals for their future but they were not written down.
  • 3% of the students had written goals to chart their future.

Ten years later, the 13% of students who had unwritten goals were making twice as much as the 84% who had no goals.  The 3% of students who had clear, written goals were making ten times as much as the other 97% put together!  The 84% of students with no goals are working for students who had written or unwritten goals!

I have heard that you can take a homing pigeon, put it in a box, drive a thousand miles in any direction, open the box, and it will circle 3 times, then fly straight to it’s starting point or “Home”.  The only one other “animal” on this planet with this “goal-striving mechanism” is the human being.  Pretty cool, huh?  However, it’s always good to have Google Maps.

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Hang In There Kid!

The one thing I have NEVER been able to understand is why the Goal Process is not taught as a course of study in grade school, high school, or college.  What other subject is more important in helping you get to where you want to go in life?  For some reason, academia has decided that kids will “pick it up” as they go along with their studies.  How?  Have you ever been “educated” on the steps I have listed above?  If we truly want our youth to excel in life, these lessons need to be taught and reinforced at every grade level!

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Here are the resources I mentioned on the subject of Goals:

Maxwell Maltz: He was a Plastic Surgeon who realized that sometimes fixing someone’s face didn’t fix their life.

Brian Tracy: He has written many books on the subject of Goal Setting.  His YouTube Channel is full of priceless info.

Napoleon Hill: He is an oldie but a goodie.  He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to interview the top businessmen of the age and discover their secrets!  The resulting book was Think and Grow Rich!  The number one secret? Goals!

The University of Motivation put together a list of the Top 100 Goal Setting Books!

The software that I use to track my goals is ToDoList by AbstractSpoon.  It can be downloaded for free at Download.com. It is not a web-based product, but it is invaluable in organizing and keeping track of your goals!  I recently discovered a great website that will allow you to track your goals online, for FREE!  Goal-Buddy is an excellent way to log your Goals, Habits, and Tasks, to keep you on target.  Plus, since it is online, you can access your goals from your PC, Phone, or Tablet. Unfortunately, the website isn’t Mobile on your phone or tablet, but it is pretty easy to use anyway.  I highly recommend it!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

SparkPeople

How To Keep On Top Of Your Health And Fitness Goals!

By Jerry Lambert

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  This week I am going to talk about something that I came across while I was unemployed.  I am referring to the amazing Health and Fitness website: SparkPeople.

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Get Healthy And Fit With SparkPeople!

After I had been laid off for about 8 months, I was feeling pretty low.  Despite some initial positive interest, my small business startup was floundering.  I needed to do something I could control when so much of my life was out of control.  I decided to take action on losing weight.

After losing the weight, I felt great, but I was stumped on how to keep track of my weight, food intake, water, exercise, etc.  It was crucial to stay on top of my weight after I lost it.  This is where SparkPeople comes in.  I initially discovered the app trying to find a way to keep track of all of the areas I just mentioned.  SP is a Godsend!

The app and website help you to keep track of your weight, food intake, water intake, exercise, and much more.  My only complaint about the website is that it is geared mostly toward women.  However, that doesn’t mean that men won’t benefit from the website.  Far from it!

In addition to keeping track of all of your health and fitness stats, SP has a huge library of articles and videos on just about every health and fitness subject you can imagine.  You can also use SP to track your exercise goals and it can sync with many fitness trackers like Fitbit.

On the front page of the website, you will log all of your daily food and exercise information, plus keep track of your goals.  You can also create groups to make it easier to track your food and exercise.  Below that is the Challenges area.  There are a number of personal challenges that you can sign up for, from Taming Your Sweet Tooth to the New Member Challenge.  Most of the challenges run between 21 and 30 days and are a great way to keep yourself motivated and accountable during your journey.

In addition to the Trackers and Challenges, the front page also has a Community section.  In this area, you can post your fitness journey and get support and feedback from people who are all on the same fitness road as you!

Close up of bucket of fruit
Don’t Forget The Fruits And Veggies!

The best thing about SP is that most of the content on this website is FREE!  You do have to sign up and get a login and password, but there is no fee and they don’t need your credit card on file!  There is a paid option that is very affordable.  It will allow you to use the website without ads, which is a major consideration since the website is very ad-heavy.

But wait, there’s more!  In addition to all that SP already does, there are healthy recipes as well!  There are also more apps!  One is for recipes (SparkRecipes) and the other breaks down the nutritional values of all the fruits and vegetables that you’ll be eating (Perfect Produce).  All of the apps are available on Google Play.  Just type in SparkPeople in the search box.

I only wish that I had discovered SP BEFORE losing my weight.  It would have made the whole process so much easier.  I am probably going to ride out the holidays at my current weight, but after New Years’, I plan on putting together a Challenge that gets me down to around 220.  I should be able to use SP to help me get there and stabilize my weight in the 215-225 range.

In the jumbled chaos that makes up the Internet, once and a while, you find a diamond in the rough.  That diamond is SparkPeople.  I have already shared the site with all of my Friends on Facebook.  This article will hopefully let more people know about the website, apps, and how great they are at helping you live a healthier lifestyle!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!