All Entries For summer
As a person who incorporates fitness into my everyday life—whether I'm at home or traveling—I sure do plan to staying active even when I'm on a relaxing vacation. After all, with no distractions and nothing but free time, what excuse do I have? The more activity you can build into any vacation, the better your chances of returning with all the good things (think souvenirs and memories) and none of the bad (extra padding around the middle). In fact, most people do want to relax and indulge a little on vacation, and that's fine. But planning for extra activity will definitely help you stay on track with your fitness and weight management goals.
While you may think that's boring, I've got news for you: Vacation exercise isn't about the treadmill. There are tons of fun, active ways you can torch calories and get a workout without even realizing it. Here are some of the many activities I can't wait to try during my own vacation (and a rundown of how many calories* each one burns). Read More ›
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.
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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?
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You know that crinkle in your forehead is from your daughter announcing she's quitting the debate team to play drums in a garage band. And that bruise on your thigh is from hauling recycling bins out to the curb. But every so often something pops up on your skin that you can't explain. "Most of the time these things are harmless," says Susan Taylor, M.D., of Society Hill Dermatology in Philadelphia, ticking off a long list of common noncancerous conditions from skin tags to age spots. "But if you're not sure what it is, see your doctor." If it's one of the 3.5 million skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year, the sooner you get treated, the better your chance of being cured. Read on to learn about the changes that can happen to your skin -- and how to protect it. Read More ›
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.
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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.
- 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!
- 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. Read More ›
Get gorgeous skin from head to toe, with beat-the-heat advice
Your Back and Chest
- Use a body wash with (at least) 2% salicylic acid on these areas—it exfoliates skin without causing inflammation, says Mary Lupo, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans. Try Proactiv Deep Cleansing Wash, $20, which has botanicals that simultaneously soothe skin.
- Finish treatment with a benzoyl peroxide gel or cream to kill any remaining bacteria. Read More ›
Got zucchini? Make the most of this prolific veggie, with easy and healthy main dishes, sides and yes, even dessert.
Cheesy Zucchini Rice
Mix shredded zucchini (2 medium) and 1 cup of part-skim cheddar cheese into just-cooked brown rice; the residual heat will steam the squash and melt the cheese, creating a healthy and tasty side dish.
Zucchini Ribbon Salad
Use a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin strips of zucchini (stop when you reach the seedy inner core). Toss with lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper for a bright-tasting, no-cook salad. Read More ›
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:Read More ›
With Labor Day weekend drawing near, summer is unofficially drawing to a close. Most kids are back to school, office "summer hours" are over, and our tans are fading fast.
I don't know about you, but I’m looking forward to one more long weekend full of days spent outside (wearing plenty of sunscreen!), late-night laughs with loved ones, and grilled dinners eaten alfresco. I
As a way to celebrate summer just one more time, we're giving away 5 copies of our ebook, "SparkPeople's Ultimate Grilling Guide: 75 Hearty, Healthy Recipes You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into," available now on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Sure, we included plenty of veggie-rich side dishes, offered tips on grilling non-traditional dishes, and shared ways to stretch your meat budget to suit your waistline and your wallet, but there was something we didn't mention: This book is chock-full of recipes that are perfect for the meat lover in your life. And if that's not enough, these meals are both healthy and hearty.
Among the 75 recipes are:
- Grilled Garlic Citrus Flank Steak
- 'Shroom-N-Onion Stuffed Burger
- Southwestern Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Need more ideas for Labor Day meals? Want to enter to win a copy of this e-book? Read More ›
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. Read More ›
Fact vs. FictionShould you swim with a full stomach? Let scrapes air out? Tinkle on a jellyfish sting? There once may have been some wisdom behind the advice (although probably not with the jellyfish sting), but many summer suggestions are outdated. With the lowdown from top experts, find out which warm-weather beliefs are based on real common sense—and which are complete nonsense.
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.
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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? Read More ›
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 Read More ›