All Entries For guest blogger

One-Mile Wake Up and Walk Workout

One of my favorite ways to start the day is with a morning walk. Not only is walking a great exercise to gently wake up your entire body, but it also boosts energy levels and activates your brain. This one-mile, indoor power-walking workout will help you start the day off on the right foot, no matter what the weather is like outside. Squeeze in some extra daily steps and give your body and brain a wake-up call at any time of day with this fast-paced mile workout. Using a mix of moves and directional change, we'll avoid joint strain while keeping your body and brain awake and alert. 
Posted 10/2/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 1 comments   6,791 views
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4 Push-Up Modifications You Can Try Today

Struggling to master a full push-up? You aren't alone. Push-ups are a great exercise that engages almost every muscle in your body, but they aren't exactly easy to do! The good news is there are several modifications you can use while you are building up into a full one. In this video I'll show you 4 easy ways to modify a push-up (shown from easiest to most challenging) to help you progress and build the strength and stamina you need to finally master a full push-up on your toes.
Here are the specific modifications we cover in the video, along with my reps/set recommendations for each to help you build proper form and functional strength:

Modification #1: Wall Push-Up
Try working up to 3 full sets of 15 repetitions before progressing to modification #2.

Modification #2: Incline Push-Up
Try working up to 3 full sets of 10-12 repetitions before progressing to modification #3.

Modification #3: Quadruped Push-Up
Try working up to 3 full sets of 10-12 repetitions before progressing to modification #4.

Modification #4: Bent Knee Push-Up
Once you have mastered 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions of the bent knee push-up, feel free to try adding in a few reps of full push-ups (on your toes). You can try to do as many full push-ups as you can with great form and then drop down to your knees to complete the set.

Oh, and keep an eye out for my workout partner Peanut in this video—she wanted to help me with my push-up form! Do you work out with your pets at home too?

Did you try the modifications? Let me know in the comments below which one you are working on right now and just remember no matter where you are starting out, practice makes progress!

Need an effective workout program without a single push up (or even any floor work)? Get our “WALK ON: 21 DAY WEIGHT LOSS PLAN” DVD Set! It features 4, 30-minute walking-based routines that include low-impact HIIT cardio, strength training, standing abs and even chair stretches to help you burn fat while building your energy!

About the Author
Jessica Smith is co-author of the Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan (Sunrise River Press, 2012), and a certified wellcoach, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Having started her own fitness journey more than 40 pounds ago, Jessica knows how challenging it can be to lose weight (and keep it off). Recently named one of Sharecare's Top 10 Online Influencers, she loves finding and sharing the latest info on weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits. The star of several best-selling exercise DVDs, Jessica has over 13 years of experience in the industry, and holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Fordham University.

Posted 9/3/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments   17,654 views
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A Full-Body Foam Roller Routine for Beginners

Foam rollers are excellent, inexpensive tools that can be used both for muscular warm up and recovery. Most gyms have a few of them available in the stretching area, but if you are an at-home exerciser you may want to consider investing in one of your own (they usually run between $7-$20—here's a link to the one I purchased on Amazon).
Studies have shown that foam rolling (also known as self-myofascial release) can actually help reduce stiffness, pain, and even improve your range of motion (aka performance) during your workout. Think of it like this—when you first grab a pair of jeans out of the dryer and put them on, they are super stiff and hard to move in, so you do your squatting ritual to help ''break them in'' and fit comfortably again, right? Utilizing a foam roller can help loosen up your stiff, sore muscles again so you can move comfortably and efficiently. Try rolling as often as you like—before or after a workout, and/or on your recovery day. 
Posted 8/24/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   26,290 views
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The 6 Best Foods for Runners

Running is a fantastic activity to help maintain a healthy heart and weight. But the real magic happens when you refuel after your run! To get the most out of running, it's crucial that you eat healthy foods filled with vitamins, healthy fats, plus carbs and proteins that aid in muscle repair and development. Incorporate the following foods into your diet to reap maximum running rewards. 

Posted 5/19/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   22,224 views
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The 6 Best Foods for Glowy Skin

When it comes to healthy, glowing skin, what you put into your body can be even more important than what you put on it. "Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being, but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that you consume, the better your skin will look," says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York. While there are many nutritious foods available, the following list will give you the maximum skin benefits for your bite. 
Posted 5/13/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 1 comments   14,018 views
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Get a Great Workout in 8 Minutes

AMwhat? You might have heard the term "AMRAP" floating around on fitness blogs in recent years as CrossFit has surged in popularity. AMRAP is an acronym for "as many rounds as possible" and is a component of many CrossFit workouts in gyms (or "boxes") around the world. In an AMRAP, you are given a circuit of exercises to do, and you must complete as many rounds of those exercises within a given time frame. It's a time-efficient way to work up a sweat, and it can be done virtually anywhere with minimal equipment! 
Posted 4/21/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments   55,049 views
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How to Stay in the Game When You're Under the Weather

You wake up feeling a bit less than your best: Achy, fatigued, sniffly nose--the works. Yep, seems like you're getting sick (ugh!). But you've got a workout already planned for today, and you took a rest day yesterday. Should you push through your planned workout or take it easy?
When you're sick and are debating a workout, the first general rule of thumb is simple. When you're deciding whether to head to the gym or stay home and cozy up to that bottle of DayQuil, consider "the neck rule" first. If your symptoms are exhibited above the neck (i.e. runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, scratchy throat), then it is safe for you to head to the gym (but bring some tissues!). If your symptoms fall below your neck (i.e. chest congestion, coughing, or if you have a fever and are taking medications to control your symptoms), you might want to use that gym bag as a pillow instead. Having to press pause on your weekly workout routine can be a motivation killer, but a fully functioning body is your best weapon to stay healthy and fit. 
Posted 4/17/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 4 comments   15,147 views
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Strengthen Your Core Without Wrecking Your Back

The muscles of your core work together to support posture, protect the spine and improve agility, balance and power, making core strength training an important part of any fitness routine. Unfortunately, for many people, core strength training and back pain or discomfort go hand in hand. Often resulting from weak muscles and poor form, back pain is no reason to avoid core strength training, though. In fact, properly performed core exercises can simultaneously help protect your back and strengthen the abs at the same time.

Decrease the probability of injury with these back-friendly core strength exercises. 
Posted 4/8/2015  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   93,044 views
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6 Must-Try Isometric Moves

Strength training is an important part of any good exercise regimen. Not only do you build muscle (which burns fat), but strength training also helps to speed up the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for longer periods of time. Looking for new ways to strength train without having to move around too much? Here are six static positions that require very little movement while still building muscular endurance and strength. 
Posted 4/4/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   94,501 views
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5 Must-Learn Yoga Poses for Beginners

Did you know that there are well over 300 yoga poses in the physical yoga practice? If that number seems overwhelming to you, don't worry! Learning the following five yoga postures is a great way for you to get acquainted with the practice as a beginner. Once you have a good understanding of these postures, you can start to feel more comfortable in a class or practicing on your own at home. If you do each one of these for 5 to 8 breaths, it also creates a great beginner’s yoga program for you to do every day. 
Posted 3/23/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 16 comments   37,628 views
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5 Dance Moves Anyone Can Do

Dancing is one of the most enjoyable exercises you can do to be healthy and ecstatically happy while getting fit and losing weight! Dance is fun and exciting, and you’re always learning something new and interesting. All you need is your two feet and your favorite music. The best part is that there is no prior experience necessary! The more you dance and the longer you do it, the better it feels and the more skillful you become. Not only can dance workouts can burn up to 1,000 calories in one hour, but dance also builds stamina, strength, agility and flexibility. Dance also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, promotes a healthy immune system, and can even help you sleep better and reduce the symptoms of depression. Try it and see for yourself how good you feel after! Here are some simple and fun dance moves for everyone to try at home. 
Posted 3/3/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments   12,636 views
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5 Ways to Find Your Perfect Workout Routine

I hate working out! There, I said it. We all have reasons for exercising, but for many of us, it’s not because we genuinely love it. Working out has a slew of health benefits, makes us feel and look better, and can even slow down the aging process and help boost our immune systems. But sometimes, those reasons alone aren't motivating enough to get us up off the couch if exercise isn't already an established part of our routines. So, how do we go from being sedentary to making fitness a regular part of our daily lives? Honestly, the hardest part is getting started—and these five steps will help give you the motivation you need to make that first step (literally and figuratively). 
Posted 2/19/2015  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 1 comments   22,961 views
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5 Veggies You Didn't Know You Could Cook in the Microwave

Microwaves are obviously the speediest (and therefore easiest) way to cook. But it turns out that shorter cook times can also help to preserve more of your veggies' natural nutrients. In fact, other cooking methods may deplete the nutritional value so much that your green beans basically lose all their green... metaphorically speaking, of course.

Some people believe microwaving vegetables zaps them of their vitamins and minerals. However, the main culprit of nutrient drain is actually water.
Posted 2/18/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   28,730 views
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The 9 Best Exercises for Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common problems that many of us experience. Studies show that 30% of people experience neck pain, with women affected more often than men. The neck includes seven segments (or vertebrae) with discs acting as shock-absorbers between the segments. The vertebrae are supported by 18 groups of muscles that maintain support and allow function. Why so many muscles? Well, the head weighs about 10 pounds and sits about 10 inches above the shoulders with only the neck to support it. No wonder it gets sore from time to time!

So, how do we keep our neck healthy and strong? The answer is maintaining motion and strength exercises. So let’s look at both. And remember, if you experience pain, stop the exercise and consult your doctor. And don’t feel you have to do all of the exercises. Pick the ones that help the most and don’t cause increased pain.
Posted 1/31/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   82,801 views
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6 Simple Steps to Unleash Your Best Body Ever

My husband Terry, once a top collegiate division one athlete, martial artist and dancer, recently realized that he'd added six inches onto his waist since our three-year-old daughter was born. When we first met, he had a lean six pack, but just a few months ago, he was grabbing a sizeable spare tire with both hands in front of the mirror. ''What happened? How did I get here, Tina?'' he asked me almost helplessly.

Terry knew he had to make a change, but not just for vanity's sake. He knew that if he wanted to see his daughter grow up into a beautiful woman someday and be there for all of the milestones in between, he needed to do something differently right away. So, he started the process of getting healthier immediately. How? By planning for sustainable results. 

Posted 1/30/2015  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   28,560 views
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