All Entries For guest blogger
The secret to getting started with exercise is simply doing what you can with what you have, today! There’s no need to join a gym or buy fancy equipment--you can start exercising right now with this full-length workout video that incorporates some simple every day items you probably already have around the house (like a sturdy chair and a broom). Join my mom, Debbie, and me for this get-up-and-go routine that can easily be done at home with little space and zero equipment.
Try this routine up to 3 non-consecutive days per week to spark your fitness habit!
And, if you enjoy this workout, please be sure to check out all of our beginner workouts on our website. Need something even more low-key to start with? Check out our seated chair workout series for more options. Read More ›
Resistance bands are one of my favorite pieces of fitness equipment! Not only are bands super versatile, they easily fit in a carry-on suitcase, making them perfect for travel. Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from fitting in a good workout – join me from your home, hotel room or even your office, for this 30-minute total body sculpting workout that can easily be done in a small space. Read More ›
You've probably been hearing the term 'HIIT' (which stands for high intensity interval training) a lot lately--especially when it comes to describing effective, efficient cardio exercise. And while HIIT offers many benefits, including an increased calorie burn both during and after your workout along with better endurance and improved cardiovascular fitness, it can be very intense, especially if you are new or returning to exercise. Plus, many HIIT routines include challenging moves (like burpees, squat thrusts or mountain climbers) that can be really difficult to execute properly so quickly, especially if you are working with an injury or physical limitations. Read More ›
Looking to have a little more fun with your cardio workouts? Then hop off the treadmill and get ready to mix things up with this routine that uses a small ball to amp up the moves and help you burn more calories in less time.
No ball handy? Try using a small pillow, holding both ends of a light dumbbell (I would recommend a weight under 5 pounds) or simply clasp your hands together to follow along with this full length, 30-minute workout video. Check it out on YouTube, or watch via the embedded video below! Read More ›
As a trainer, I’m a huge fan of squats and lunges, but I know that joint issues can make these common lower-body exercises pretty painful to do. The good news is that there are plenty of other exercises that can help shape up your lower half!
Whether you need to modify for your knees or simply want to try adding a few new leg moves to your repertoire, join me for this low impact, Pilates-inspired, lower body workout that doesn’t require much space and zero equipment. It's just over 15 minutes, so it's also a great option for when you're short on time! (Oh, and feel free to kick off your shoes to further engage the muscles in your feet and ankles.) Check it out on YouTube, or watch via the embedded video below! Read More ›
High intensity interval training (aka H.I.I.T.) doesn't always have to be high impact! This workout is perfect for maximizing your cardio time--without pounding your joints. (Oh, and did I mention it’s free of both burpees and squat thrusts? Score!)
Join me for this low-impact, high-intensity cardio routine that can be done easily in a small space with zero equipment. (No jumping means it's perfect for hotel rooms and apartments, too!) Read More ›
You already know some of the amazing benefits of walking: It’s good for your heart, great for your bones and perfect for weight control), but some days the weather outside can be frightful, and the treadmill can be well, less than delightful.
If you are in need of an indoor walking buddy today, join me for this full length, low-impact workout you can follow along with at home! This 30-minute power walk is easy to follow, fun to do, and it doesn’t require much space to move around. Plus, it's appropriate for all fitness levels. Read More ›
For those of you avid gym-goers out there, you know how important it is to keep your gym bag stocked and ready to go! If you are anything like me, you also like to stay stylish, even while getting sweaty, which is why I designed my oGorgeous brand of bags, so that I can have a gym bag that is as pretty as a purse! I make sure to pack my bag full of the essentials so that I'm always ready for a workout, wherever I am. Let me share some of my gym bag must haves:
These really come in handy when you're lifting weights and want to avoid getting calluses. They're also great as you're developing grip strength.
Read More ›
Editor's note: You've been asking about Zumba for a long time, so we are happy to share this guest blog post from one of our favorite bloggers. Gina, otherwise known as The Fitnessista, is not only a HUGE fan of Zumba, but she's a Zumba instructor and former dancer as well. She was happy to write about her favorite form of aerobics for the dailySpark.
Hi, everyone! My name is Gina and I write over at a little blog called The Fitnessista. On my blog, I write about fitness tips, nutrition advice, recipes, workout routines and my daily shenanigans. Determined to experience a negative “freshman 15,” I lost 40 pounds about 8 years ago and have since then become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. My favorite class to teach, by far, is ZUMBA!
So, you may have heard about Zumba or you might be wondering what the heck it is.
Read More ›
Research has shown that at least 50% of all cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented by lifestyle, and one recent Harvard study found that risk could be reduced by as much as 70% to 75%! Here are 10 things you can do to minimize your risk for colon cancer:
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Watch portion sizes and balance your food intake with activity to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
- Be physically active. Walking just 4 hours a week significantly reduces your risk, and being active will also help you achieve tip #1.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of many cancers not just colon and rectal cancer.
- Practice moderation when drinking alcohol. For women this means consuming no more than one drink per day, for men no more than two. All of the following equal one drink:
• 12 oz. can or bottle of beer or wine cooler
• 5 oz. glass of wine
• 1½ oz. shot of hard liquor
- Eat a plant-based diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants and are the best source of important phytochemicals. Green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are especially helpful as they may slow down or block the expression of cancer genes.
- Increase your intake of fiber. Whole grains, beans and legumes contain important vitamins and minerals, and are excellent sources of fiber. They help to soften your stools, prevent constipation and keep things moving through your GI tract.
- Eat less red meat and avoid processed meats.
- Don’t overcook your meat. It’s important to cook meats enough to prevent food-borne illnesses, but overcooking can cause cancer-causing compounds to form.
- Replace animal fats with nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Olive and canola oil are great choices. Fish oils containing omega 3 fatty acids offer additional health benefits for your heart, brain and immune system.
- Be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the body are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. For the best advice on whether you need extra calcium or Vitamin D, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Since its inception, the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation (Susie’s Cause) has followed a specific road map for success and firmly established itself as the National Voice for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of Colon Cancer. (Susie’s Cause) will continue to strive to eliminate colon cancer as a life-threatening disease through the development and dissemination of grass roots educational programs and a robust online campaign to touch both medical professionals and the general public worldwide. Please support our efforts to save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Read More ›
For me, this is so much more than simply losing weight. I didn’t get to be 170 pounds overweight because all was right in my world. What pushed me to the point where I woke up one day and found a 385-pound man staring back in the mirror?
I sometimes think that the continued popularity of fad diets, quick-fix weight solutions in spite of their dismal track record is simply because it focuses on the symptoms rather than the root cause. These quick-fix, knee-jerk solutions exploit the panic that people feel when they are confronted by their condition. Dealing with the root causes requires digging deep and peeling back painful layers of truth until an answer is unearthed. Unraveling knots is a tedious process.
I believe the path to ultimate success for me isn’t in some mystic root or berry found in a remote part of the world or some new fad fitness routine that will magically melt off pounds. How about the latest gizmo that will flatten your problem areas with just a few minutes a day? If the diet and gizmo industry had the solution, why would obesity still be such an issue?
Before I continue, let's focus on the word ultimate, which I used when describing success. Let me define. The word ultimate can be used in a sense that states that the success that you experience will be unparalleled in its greatness, but that is not the application here. ‘Ultimate’ defined in my statement “ultimate success” is the sum total of all your efforts, the final outcome, where you will finally wind up. In my journey I have lost a lot of skirmishes with my eating addictions yet I have managed to lose more than 100 pounds and keep it off in spite of my failings. My success was ultimately determined by my overall commitment to the ultimate end of reclaiming my life, not in day to day perfection in routine.
So where does the path to ultimate success lie? For me, I found it in identifying the hotspots in my life. Like a firefighter, I have put out a wildfire that threatened to consume my very existence. I have endured, fought and continued to fight the good fight; however, underneath the ashes lie hotspots. Hotspots that threaten to re-ignite with a vengeance. The fire could burn again and all my hard work would be lost.
I have found that if I do not address the forces that influenced me to get to such an unhealthy place, I will soon find myself back there again.
My hotspot. Read More ›
You’re at a party and you see a table filled with some of your favorite foods: potato chips with sour-cream dip; charcuterie heaped high next to pieces of crusty baguette; and a steaming tray of macaroni drunk with melted cheddar cheese. Nearby is the dessert table where you see dense chocolate cake topped with fresh whipped cream; peppermint bark and still warm ginger snaps; a ten-layer coconut cream layer cake. Do you:
a) walk on by clutching the celery sticks you brought from home for dear life
b) grab whatever you can as fast as you can and shove it down at warp speed
c) enjoy a reasonable portion of the food in front of you without a shred of guilt.
I vote for c: a choice informed by moderation and pleasure, not gluttony or denial. It’s totally do-able, but first you need to come to terms with what it means to eat treats.
For many of us, treats are triggers. In other words, if you eat one cookie, you’ll eat a dozen. When I first began my journey to lose weight a few years ago, there were some foods that held me in such thrall, I literally could not go near them. My list included triple cream cheeses, crusty bread of any kind, charcuterie (especially salami), cookies (any kind), cakes (ditto), Doritos, and olives. If two bites were good, twenty were better. I couldn’t eat just a little of these foods so rather than go to town, stuff myself, then feel the inevitable guilt, misery and anger, I cut them out of my life -- for a while anyway. Until I could gain some distance, examine what my relationship was with these foods, and discover what lay underneath my insatiable desire.
I learned a lot.
Read More ›
Editor's Note: Coach Nicole and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Jill Donenfeld, a cookbook author, caterer, and seasoned party expert. She was home in Cincinnati to promote Party Like a Culinista: Fresh Recipes, Bold Flavors, and Good Friends. Jill's mom is a fitness instructor (who has modeled for exercise demos on SparkPeople!), and every night the family cooked healthy meals together.
Jill's philosophy: "The Culinista way to party is all about celebrating with the best ingredients—minimally processed whole foods, lots of greens and grains, seasonal and local when you can—to create incredible health-minded dishes that will wow your guests without weighing them down. Jill and Josie have written detailed menus that make dinner parties stress-free with lots of tips for pre-party planning and easy multi-task cooking. They even include a break for that essential wardrobe change so you’ll be looking great and frazzle-free when hungry guests arrive."
Today Jill is sharing her best entertaining tips, plus three recipes from Party Like a Culinista: Fresh Recipes, Bold Flavors, and Good Friends! She's also giving away three copies of the book. Take it away, Jill!
Before you even begin grocery shopping, make sure your broiler, oven, and burners are working, if you are not in the habit of cooking. Prior to cooking, take out the garbage and make sure you’ve got enough room to trash odds and ends in the appropriate places (carrot tops in compost, tofu package in recycling, etc.) as you go. Be sure all of your dishes are clean. Get the place ready for cooking! It’ll only take a few minutes—you can do it!
As your guests start arriving, think about things from their point of view: They’re nibbly and could us a glass of wine after a hard day’s work. So, first things first: Put out some bites—our menus include some great appetizers—or prepare something simple such as popcorn or a cheese plate. Then, open a bottle of wine. Done!
Guests are taken care of for at least a half an hour. Now you can stop feeling like they are waiting for something. They’re not! They are here to see you, to plug in with friends, and to enjoy themselves. So you should, too! Read More ›
I’ve been going to the gym for a long time. I love to exercise and move my body while tuning out the world to the sound of Kanye West on my iPod.
But I wasn’t bred and conditioned by Herculean, health-nut parents who cycled on Saturdays or ran 5Ks for fun with their Spin class buddies. I learned to love exercise on my own.
I grew up in the suburbs of central Florida in a polished small town, where both popularity and athletic prowess escaped me. I was chubbier than most of my classmates and started wearing plus-size clothes at 16.
I hated P.E. class and exercise because I was insecure about being too big or not good enough. The summer before I turned 20, I decided, would be the summer that I would lose weight. I had moved away from that small town, and I was ready to flaunt the independence I had discovered in college.
It took a lot of courage, but I joined a local gym and was strategic about my choice.
I wasn't looking for the best deal or the biggest facility: I deliberately chose a gym that wasn’t popular or hip. I didn’t want to be spotted by the cool kids as I waddled on the treadmill in my size XL T- shirt or heaved through a set of lunges.
I chose a gym dominated by retirees who read newspapers or listened to books on tape on the stationary bike. It had TVs and an easy exit, too, in case someone I knew spotted me. I was sold.
Those first months and pounds were excruciating. But once I dropped my first 30 pounds, it became easier. After 40 pounds, it started to feel good.
Today, I'm 90 pounds lighter, I still go to the gym several times a week and I run outside on the weekends. It’s not always easy to stay motivated--even now. I get burned out and need breaks and lose motivation… like when it's 95 degrees or I've had a bad day and want to devour a plate of cookies. Still, even if I slip up, I don't give up.
Here's why--and how. Read More ›
Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): I've had the pleasure of competing against Laurah Turner in multiple local races (and by "competing" I mean "watching her leave me in the dust"). I always found her athletic achievements admirable, her sheer speed enviable, and her personality contagious. Recently, I learned Laurah, an amazingly talented endurance athlete who appears to be the epitome of health and fitness, is a two-time breast cancer survivor—and she's only 29. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I asked Laurah to share her inspiring story of how breast cancer changed her and inspired both her career and her fitness goals.
I grew up a type A personally. I tended toward routine, was obnoxiously punctual and saw the entire world through Excel spreadsheets and lists. In fact, I was so married to my routines that I even developed the quickest and most efficient way to prepare the perfect pot of coffee. Every morning, I woke up and immediately dove for my coffee pot. I employed a specific set of procedures which resulted in the first bold, sweet, creamy sip of caffeinated heaven rushing over my palate within 3 minutes and 40 seconds, and never deviated from this ritual.
July 25, 2004 was no different than any other morning, but somehow during my distribution of six leveled scoops of Folgers into the coffee filter, my fingertips found themselves palpating a large lump on my right breast instead of steadying the canister of grounds as they usually would. Was it that? I didn’t have this lump yesterday. Suddenly a wave of panic engulfed my body. Had the lump been there yesterday? A week ago? Read More ›