All Entries For summer

Beat the Heat During Your Summer Workouts

Summer is almost here, which means the temperature will continue to rise. Some of you may have already experienced some early summer-type heat and are already starting to get acclimated to it. As we change over to summer weather, we need to remember to take precautions when exercising in the heat.

Our bodies do a great job at cooling off in general, but it does take time for them to get acclimated to the heat as the season changes. Depending on your age, current health condition and your activity level, your body can take 2 or more weeks to acclimate to the heat. This is something to keep in mind, especially if you are feeling like your workouts are getting harder during this time of year and/or you have humidity to deal with on top of the heat.
Posted 6/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 21 comments   23,946 views
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Food Showdown: How Do Sorbet and Sherbet Compare?

If you thought that sorbet and sherbet were the same things, think again! Here's the quick lowdown: Sorbet is made of pureed iced fruits, along with other ingredients (like sugar), but doesn't contain milk. Sherbet is made of fruit juice and sugar, plus some milk, egg white, or gelatin (or all of the above). These two iced treats are both low-calorie and often fat-free alternatives to ice cream and are sold at most ice cream shops. Which cold and fruity treat is lower in fat: Cold Stone's Sinless Raspberry Sorbet or Baskin Robbins' Strawberry Lemonade Punch Sherbet?
Posted 6/13/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 34 comments   38,677 views
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7 Good Reasons to Try a Trail Workout

One thing I love about spring weather is the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. While I run and walk my dog outside in rain, snow and even ice, it sure is a lot more pleasant when the temperature is moderate, the sun is shining, the flowers and trees are blooming, and other people (not just the equally crazy runner you occasionally see at 6 a.m. in the winter) are out and about, too.

Perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy the spring weather and scenery is to hit the trails and take a hike. My dog loves heading to our nearby park with an elaborate trail system. She gets a chance of scenery, meets many other four-legged friends (cautiously and only when on-leash, I'll add!), and gives her nose a workout, too. I love the trails because they get me away from the traffic and pavement I normally exercise on, but also provide a great workout.

If you haven't taken up hiking (or trail running, another of my favorites) yet, here are seven good reasons to put on your trail shoes and get closer to nature this weekend.

Posted 6/11/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 71 comments   29,557 views
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10 Warm-Weather Activities for People with Limited Mobility

This summer, take some time to rev up your workout.  Make a new playlist and clean up your exercise equipment.  Renew that gym membership.  Take time to find fitness opportunities, because there are a lot of them!  Here are ten fun suggestions, some for the mobile and some for the less mobile. 
  1. Take some wild pictures of yourself doing active things for your Spark Page. Snap a few photos of yourself acting silly and running through the sprinkler with the kids, playing tag or walking the long treks of a zoo or amusement park. Get the souvenir photo where everyone is screaming on their way down on the ride!
  1. Aqua-cise. Yes, water is the perfect place to go for a low impact ouch-less workout and it's fun, too. Check with your local YMCA for lower-fee classes or even with your doctor to see if some classes are covered by insurance for a particular physical issue you may be having.  Often times they will be covered under water physical therapy.  Still, even without a class, water is a blast to play and work out in. I love going to water parks. The swimming and the balancing combined with the walking make it a great workout.
    Posted 6/7/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 19 comments   17,992 views
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10 New Uses for Zucchini

Got zucchini? Make the most of this prolific veggie, with easy and healthy main dishes, sides and yes, even dessert.
Posted 4/30/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 77 comments   1,523,074 views
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10 Tips to Stay Safe and Comfortable in a Hot Yoga Class

Last month I subbed a couple of hot yoga classes. Confession: I am not a fan of hot yoga, as a teacher or a student. In addition to being hard on the environment (think of how much energy we use to artificially heat a room--thanks to one of my favorite teachers, Wendy Green, for instilling that in me!), hot yoga can be downright dangerous if you're not prepared. Some studios crank the heat above 100 degrees--and increase the humidity, too. (You want hot yoga, just come to Cincinnati!)

At the studio where I practice, the temperature frequently tops 85 degrees in summertime--that's with minimal air conditioning. If you pack a room full of people who are moving, sweating, and breathing, you'll create heat.

By the end of a practice, the windows are foggy, we're all soaked through, and our mats are dripping with sweat. That's my kind of hot yoga!

Hot yoga is a hot trend in the practice these days. Almost every studio offers a hot class of some variety, from Bikram to Moksha, vinyasa to yin. (One of the studio owners I work for confessed to me that she doesn't like or believe in hot yoga, but it's what students have requested.) And in summertime, almost every yoga practice can feel like a hot one.

Why hot yoga? Advocates say hot yoga facilitates stretching, increases range of motion, removes toxins, and promotes weight loss. It's true that it is easier to stretch warm muscles (and you should never stretch "cold" muscles), but whether hot yoga will lead to greater weight loss depends on the type of yoga you're practicing.

According to the American Council on Exercise, Hatha yoga (in the West, this has come to refer to slower-paced classes) burns about 150 calories an hour (and does not raise your heart rate enough to be considered a form of cardio), while vinyasa (faster-paced, flowing yoga) burns about twice that much. If you're losing pounds after each hot yoga class, it's likely water weight. (More on that later.)

Whether you practice naturally hot yoga as I do or practice at a studio that cranks up the heat, you'll want to be safe. (You might also want to read: "I Tried Hot Yoga" before you take a class.) Here are some tips to help:  

Posted 4/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 56 comments   199,437 views
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6 New Uses for Roasted Peppers

Roasted peppers are perfect for rounding out a dish, enjoying as a snack, or even using as a food wrapper!
Whom should we thank for such a versatile vegetable that adds so much smoky sweet flavor to an endless amount of dishes?  Some would say Mother Nature and others a cook... I'm going with both.  The earth provides us with the vegetable, but it's the roasting technique that gives it that subtle smoky flavor.
First, let's learn how to make them, and then we can talk about the many ways to use them.
While red peppers are the most common, you can roast orange or yellow ones, too. The roasting mellows their flavor and adds a smoky sweetness.
Posted 8/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 13 comments   14,540 views
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Pets and the Summer Heat: How to Keep Them Safe and Cool

It’s no secret that there has been a lot of extreme heat in many of the states this summer and it doesn’t seem to want to let up. Where I live, it has been extremely hot and humid, which has put a big damper on some of my daily walks with my 9 month old puppy, Zoe. Neither of us has been enjoying the heat, but she loves being outside and going for walks. However, when she is panting quite a bit by the time we get to the top of the driveway, I know there is no way to get her to go for a walk and not have her be overheated.

Dogs and cats don’t sweat like humans do, so they have a harder time trying to cool themselves off. Some signs that your pet may be overheated may include excessive panting, increased heart rate, and in extreme cases – vomiting and diarrhea.

Coach Tanya recently shared some tips for helping us stay cool and healthy during extreme heat, but what’s a dog or cat to do in this type of extreme weather? Well, there isn’t much they can say or do about it, but there are plenty of things we, as responsible pet owners, can do to help them stay cool and healthy.
Posted 8/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 37 comments   21,237 views
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Best Iced-Coffee Drinks for Your Waistline

Does the hot and humid weather this summer have you reaching for iced coffee instead of your favorite hot brewed variety? If so, are they having a positive or negative impact on your weight goals? Although an iced coffee can be as simple as brewed coffee over ice (usually around 15 calories as with Starbucks Grande Iced Caffe' Americano), there tend to be many choices and varying degrees of nutritional value when you order them on the run. If you are enjoying frequent iced coffee drinks and having difficulty reaching your weight goals, there could be a connection. 
Typical recommendations when ordering iced coffee drinks and trying to limit calories is to select the smallest size, request skim milk, and hold the whipped or chocolate topping. Sometimes it can be very difficult to remember to keep everything straight when you are trying to order in a hurry. Here is a quick list of nine 16-ounce choices that can help keep you cool while helping to maintain your waistline.
Posted 8/6/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 70 comments   109,401 views
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Food Showdown: Know Before You FroYo

It's safe to say that the frozen yogurt trend has taken the US by storm—and it doesn't show any signs of stopping. Several ''FroYo'' franchises have cropped up over the past few years, including Pinkberry, Red Mango, Orange Leaf, and many others with tasty names and even tastier flavor and topping offerings. Some of these yogurt shops claim that their product is a healthier alternative to ice cream, made with ''all-natural,'' wholesome ingredients, including good-for-you probiotic cultures to balance your digestive system. But can you believe the hype? Between two big-name frozen yogurt chains, Pinkberry and Red Mango, which has the most ''natural'' yogurt with the fewest ingredients?
Posted 8/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 33 comments   33,048 views
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July's Best Recipes from Chef Meg

Wonder what Chef Meg has been cooking lately? From perfect poached chicken--the secret to moist and juicy chicken salad--to 100-calorie frozen banana splits, our healthy cooking expert has been busy! Check out these recipes--you might find a new family favorite. (I recommend the dressing in the shrimp salad. Yum!)

Back to Basics: Poached Chicken: What's the secret to moist and flavorful chicken? Poaching it! Chicken breasts contain very little fat; this method keeps the meat from drying out.

Many of you asked why we didn't keep the poaching liquid. It doesn't have as much flavor as stock, which is made from chicken bones. You're welcome to keep it and use as you would broth or stock, but the flavor will be mild. To intensify the flavor, you can simmer it until it has reduced in volume by half.

CALORIES: 126.7  |  FAT: 1.4g  |  PROTEIN: 26.3g  |  CARBS: 0.5g  |  FIBER: 0.2g
Posted 8/2/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 6 comments   9,208 views
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Stuff We Love: Coach Nicole's Fit Summer Picks

The heat is on! But as much as we can complain about it, I am loving every minute of this summer. How about you? I've been enjoying just the right amount of busy-ness and relaxation, and I'm not letting the high temperatures get in the way of my fun—or my fitness.
Here are some of the fitness products, apparel, foods and otherwise healthy pursuits that I can't get enough of this season. Hopefully some of them will help YOU stay on track, too!
Posted 8/1/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   12,744 views
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How to Get Your Kids to Drink Water

Water is the best thing you can give your kids to drink during the hot summer days. But how do you get them to drink it? How do you get them to chug down plain old water at the pool when they're surrounded by other kids guzzling down sugary juice boxes? How do you get your hard-playing child to drink water instead of sugar-laden sports drinks? How do you expect them to get a bottle of water at the baseball game instead of a cold, fizzy soda?
Posted 7/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 26 comments   15,339 views
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Could AC Be Making Us Fatter?

Temperatures in Cincinnati and across the country reached near-record highs over the past few weeks. I live in a third- and fourth-floor walk-up apartment just north of the city's center. According to my thermostat, it was 96 degrees Fahrenheit on the top floor of my apartment at 10 p.m.

I very rarely use air conditioning. I turned it on once this year when our fridge overheated and I needed to keep all our food on ice for 24 hours, and we used it the weekend it was over 100 degrees for three days straight, though we set it to 85.  I use it in the car sometimes when driving on the highway--I don't like so much wind blowing on me at high speeds--but even on the lowest setting I have to turn it off after a few minutes. Otherwise, I avoid it as much as I can.  

I'm a naturally cold person, requiring at least a sheet on even the most stifling of summer nights, wearing socks year-round, and shivering in the car, the office, and pretty much anywhere else that central air is in use. Going to a movie theater or the mall in summer leaves me with goosebumps and chattering teeth. When dining out during the warmest months, I opt for al fresco dining; it's no fun to shiver through your meals.

I grew up living in old houses, none of which had central air. From kindergarten through 12th grade, I went to school in buildings without it. My dorm room freshman year didn't have AC, but sophomore year it did, though I had moved to France by spring quarter, when we would actually need to use it. In France, neither my room nor my host mom's house was "climatisée" (air-conditioned) but we had heavy wooden shades that we could pull in to keep out the heat. I noticed there that some businesses or offices were air conditioned, but that didn't mean the entire building would be; the hallways, restrooms, and other communal areas often did not have AC. Most restaurants and small offices, even government ones, were not air conditioned; neither was my university.  No one seemed to mind its absence, so I soon stopped noticing.

Two weeks ago, I had to take my car in for a tune-up, in an area of town that offers little more than car dealerships, fast-food joints, and industrial sites. It wasn't exactly the ideal locale for a walk (on another 90+-degree afternoon) so I sat in the waiting area and responded to emails.

I carry an emergency sweater with me from May through September, which feels slightly ridiculous when walking about but is a lifesaver when blasted by Arctic air in a restaurant or store. Unfortunately, that day my sweater was in my car, which was then being worked on. I shivered, watched the goose bumps rise, and crossed my fingers for quick service. When I returned outside, I felt ill--it was SO hot. Too hot. My body didn't like the drastic fluctuation, and I ended up with a headache.

I just don't get it: Those of us in temperate climates anxiously await summer's sunshine and high temperatures, then the minute the mercury rises, we combat it with freezing-cold air conditioning. Why do we avoid the heat when we've been waiting for it all year?

People think I'm weird for avoiding AC and complaining about being cold in summertime, but as it turns out air conditioning might be among the modern conveniences taking its toll on our waistlines.
Posted 7/23/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 90 comments   13,608 views
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7 Terrific Tomato Recipes

Confession: I'm a tomato snob. I won't eat fresh ones nine months of the year. To me, biting into a tomato and expecting red, ripe, juicy goodness and getting a mouthful of mealy, flavorless mush isn't worth it.

Thankfully, it's tomato season, which means I'm eating these beauties morning, noon and night. Green zebras, hefty mortgage lifters, tiny little purple Cherokees... red, yellow, green, and all colors in between... raw, cooked... You get the picture!

I'm sure I'm not alone in my love of summer tomatoes, so that's why this week's menu honors my favorite summer crop!

Posted 7/20/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 19 comments   15,818 views
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