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Clean Eating 101: Healthier Eating Made Easy


Are you curious about the term clean eating? Have you ever wondered what it is exactly or whether it might benefit you?
 
In my experience as a "clean eater," this way of eating can be a fabulous way to improve your health.
 
Clean eating in the most simple terms means eating real food—foods that are whole (unprocessed) and in their most natural state. In other words, people who subscribe to clean eating try to avoid foods altered or processed by humans or manufacturers.
 
That being said, there are many different approaches to eating clean, and none of them are wrong. Everyone from carnivores to vegans can eat clean and it doesn’t have to be complicated. While some people put lots of strict dieting rules around their "clean" diets, that's not the case for everyone. Eating clean really can be delicious, fulfilling, filling and simple! Here's how.
Posted 5/22/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 18 comments   75,674 views
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7 Cool Health & Fitness Gadgets from CES 2014


I just spent the last couple of days at the gigantic Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. To say that this convention is massive is an understatement. Companies from all over the world come to CES to unveil and promote their latest technologies and gadgets in virtually every category, from cars to crockpots to TVs to headphones.

One growing section of CES is health and fitness technology. This wing is dedicated to "Digital Health," where you'll find dozens of types of fitness monitors and activity trackers along with technology based sleep solutions, smoking cessation tools, teeth whitening gadgets and more. 

I had a chance to check out everything new in health and fitness tech earlier this week. Here's a selection of emerging trends and products that I thought were downright cool—and likely to take off in the coming years.
Posted 1/9/2014  5:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   17,617 views
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6 Races So Fun, You'll Forget You're Exercising!


Perhaps you’ve considered training for a 5K, but the idea of running or walking a traditional race just isn’t motivating enough to get you off the couch and out the door.  These days, there are a wide variety of races to participate in, from the local run through your neighborhood to some of the more entertaining (and crazy!) runs popping up across the country.  Have you ever thought about running from zombies, crawling through mud or sprinting through glowing trees and tunnels? 

Fun runs like these can break up the monotony of traditional races, and can also be motivation to pick up the running habit even if you’re not that into it.  Here’s a guide to some of the races gaining popularity as people look for fun ways to get up and moving. 
Posted 9/6/2013  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 32 comments   25,240 views
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We Tried It: Frozen Greek Yogurt


Greek yogurt is all the rage because of its high protein content and versatility. It can be eaten like traditional yogurt (sweetened with fruit or honey, if you like), whirled into smoothies or used in place of sour cream in recipes. It's become so popular and has such a good reputation as being "healthy," that it's even showing up outside of the yogurt tub. You'll find the buzz words "Greek yogurt" outside of the dairy case these days in some unusual places like coating packaged granola bars, inside cereal boxes, mixed with store-bought hummus and even in frozen desserts.
 
We decided to take a look at this trend and see whether frozen Greek yogurt desserts offer any health benefits when compared to regular frozen yogurt. Plus, we wanted to answer the most important question of all: How does it taste?!
Posted 8/21/2013  8:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 49 comments   53,990 views
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hCG Injections for Weight Loss: Do They Really Work?


What if I told you that we've discovered the secret to weight loss—something so amazing, easy, and effective that it can help you drop several pounds a day, lose that stubborn belly fat for good, and finally "fix" your metabolism so that you'll never suffer from weight problems again? Sounds great, right?

All you have to do is never eat any brand name foods from big food companies, eliminate all artificial sweeteners, white sugar and flour (and a handful of other things), switch to a 100% organic diet, eat big salads at lunch and dinner, consume no more than 500 calories a day and inject yourself with a special "solution" each day while you do it. Your reaction to that should be "no thanks, I'll pass," but many others think it sounds like the weight-loss breakthrough they've been waiting for.

It's called the hCG diet. If you haven't heard of it, it's not your fault. Proponents of this diet claim that it's so effective that the government has worked hard to cover it up for years because it would solve obesity and health problems that would put pharmaceutical companies out of business.

That may seem plausible. I love a good conspiracy theory myself. But the deeper you dig, the more red flags you'll find about the hCG diet and its infamous injections.
Posted 7/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 203 comments   403,204 views
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9 Ways to Use Chia Seeds


In honor of Heart Awareness Month, I've gathered up recipes that have the ultimate superfood: chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. If you have not heard of chia seeds, read "What Can You Do with Chia Seeds? Plenty!" for more information. Don't let giggles and jokes about the kitschy Chia Pet commercials dissuade you. I add chia to almost all recipes these days. I love that it's gluten and alergy-free. Try these chia recipes today. 
Posted 6/18/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 51 comments   422,075 views
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The 4-Minute Miracle Workout (That Really Works)


Tight on time?

Don't give up on your workout today. If you have a mere four minutes—that's just 240 total seconds—to spare (and who doesn't), then you do have time to squeeze in a super effective workout that provides major health, fitness and weight-loss benefits.

What is this 4-minute miracle workout?
Posted 5/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 116 comments   147,832 views
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You Asked: How Should I Train for a Mud Run?


Last summer, I surprised a few family members by asking if they wanted to form a team to do a mud run.  I’m not known as adventurous—or as someone who likes to get dirty—but mud races were becoming so popular among runners (and non-runners alike) that I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.  To my delight, the race was lots of fun and definitely something I’d do again in the future. 
  
Mud runs have exploded in popularity over the past few years.  One example is the Warrior Dash, which started as one run in 2009 with 2,000 participants.  In 2012, 65 Warrior Dash events were held across the world, involving more than 1 million participants.  Today, you have no shortage of mud-related "obstacle" races from which to choose. Each race is different, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign up. 
Posted 3/11/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 58 comments   46,654 views
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13 Healthy Foods to Try in 2013


Did you resolve to cook more in 2013? Want to branch out from your favorite healthy foods? Here are my top 13 healthy foods you have to try in 2013! Some of these foods will be completelyt new to you; others will simply be new uses for old favorites.






Bison

Traditionally grazing animals on grass brings on the flavor but leaves the fat back on the farm.  Swap out ground bison for any recipe calling for ground turkey or beef.  According to the USDA,  a comparison of bison to 90% lean ground beef awards the medal to bison.  A 3.5 ounce serving of bison contains 146 calories and 7 grams of fat, while the beef arrives at the table with 176 calories and 10 grams of fat.
Bison Bolognese
Greek Turkey Burger
Ground Beef-Potato Casserole
Keema (Ground Beef Casserole)
Salsa Turkey Burgers
Turkey Chili with Corn and Black Beans
Vegetable Beef Soup
Posted 12/31/2012  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 18 comments   21,507 views
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You Asked: Is the Raw (Vegan) Diet a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?


In college when I began to really study up on nutrition, I was interested in all kinds of diets. Although health was important to me, I was also desperate to lose weight. At the time I was vegan (yes, it's totally possible to be an overweight vegan!) and someone turned me on to the raw diet. While vegan eating is one kind of diet and lifestyle (that eschews all animal products and only eats plant-based foods), the raw diet takes veganism a step further. While there are raw styles of eating that do involve eating raw meat or raw eggs, this blog will specifically talk about the raw vegan diet.
Posted 9/12/2012  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 4 comments   11,212 views
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5 Reasons I've Never Tried CrossFit


During the last few years, ultra-intense workouts have been gaining popularity—and not just among athletes or hardcore exercisers who are gluttons for self-punishment. Even the relatively unfit and overweight are jumping at the chance to push their bodies to their limits. Why? Some consider it fun. Others feel that is the best (or only) way to really get in shape. Whatever the reason, intense workout programs are attracting a wide variety of participants who have a variety of different goals (whether strength, speed, power, health, muscle tone, weight loss, or looking better naked).
 
By now you've probably heard of CrossFit (the "sport of fitness") or know someone who has tried it. I stumbled upon CrossFit videos on YouTube a few years ago and was immediately intrigued. I would spend hours a night watching people work out competitively and was in awe of their strength and capabilities—not to mention their physiques! I've learned a good deal about CrossFit since then, through my husband and sister-in-law (both of whom are certified CrossFit trainers), friends who do the workouts, and my own research and reading.

As a certified fitness professional with a traditional background (and without any firsthand experience in an actual CrossFit gym), I can certainly tell you that CrossFit is unlike most other workouts and workout programs out there. It strives to be the total fitness package—to help people achieve optimal health and fitness across all measures of strength, agility, speed, power and endurance. (Read CrossFit's full description here.) It combines Olympic powerlifting + gymnastics + plyometrics + speed work + weights + time + competition in a way that continuously challenges one's body in new ways. And although it has a reputation of being intense (which it certainly is, no doubt about it), proponents also claim that it's completely "scalable" to every individual's fitness level.  
 
Sounds great, right? Well, could it be too good to be true?
Posted 7/13/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 120 comments   86,729 views
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Is Hooping Really a Workout? We Tried It to Find Out!


More and more people these days are turning to workouts that feel less like work and more like play. Dodge ball leagues for adults are increasingly popular, and out-of-the-box exercise classes like aerial yoga, circus arts and trampolining (rebounding) are almost as commonplace as kickboxing.  Another fun pursuit on the list of fun fitness trends is hooping—as in hula hooping—which you probably used to do as a kid.

SparkPeople alone has almost 600 hoopers in one SparkTeam, and the website hooping.org has nearly 8,000 registered members. Celebrities rave about the benefits of hooping workouts, and actress Marissa Tomei even released a series of hooping workout DVDs through Gaiam in 2010.

With the popularity of hooping on the rise, we've received a lot of questions about how many calories it burns and whether hooping can actually take the place of more traditional workouts. There has been very little scientific research on this subject, but I always find that it's best to answer these questions not just with the research available, but also personal experience.

So I gathered several of my SparkPeople co-workers to investigate hooping firsthand. We took a class at Shine Yoga Center in Cincinnati, led by hooping instructor Leslie Kreines, and were joined by SparkPeople's most famous hooper, member Shelli (MOSTMOM1), who regularly blogs about her hooping adventures.

What did we discover?
Posted 5/2/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 63 comments   29,252 views
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Why I Hoop (Hula, That Is)


Normally, I’m not athletically-inclined. I took marching band to get out of gym. For me, to like something that resembles a sport is nothing short of a Christmas Miracle. Hooping is my sport and I'm not joking when I say I love it. Maybe it’s more an art form than a sport. Not that I'm graceful at it, but it's expressive and joyful. As hippy or cheesy as that sounds, it's true. I chug along on my elliptical, do strength training and lots of other things. And that’s all good. But hooping brings me joy; it makes me laugh. Belly laugh. While exercising. That’s new territory for me.
Posted 3/20/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Shelli Mosteller : 61 comments   8,562 views
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Poll: Do You Still Use Fitness DVDs?


In this era of on-demand entertainment, where everything (our phones, our TVs and our laptops) is connected to the Internet to stream whatever we want to watch right when we want to watch it, what does it mean for the humble little fitness DVD?
 
The first exercise videos were introduced on VHS in the '80s, and they revolutionized fitness. Home workout videos made exercising in your living room a regular thing—cheap, accessible and private, compared to paying to take classes at a gym. I've never known a world without fitness videos (I'll be 30 this year). But could fitness DVDs soon be a thing of the past?
Posted 3/9/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 159 comments   12,974 views
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Free Pass to a Fabulous Fitness Event in New York City


Tomorrow I'll land in one of my favorite cities: New York. I'm be there to attend the ECA/OBOW Fitness Convention, which is one of the most talked about health and fitness events for fitness pros in the world! As a conference attendee, I'll be taking fun workouts and workshops to help me get all the details on the newest workout trends so that I can share them with you guys (and answer your burning questions) and become a better trainer in my future videos and DVDs. WooHoo!
 
Thursday through Sunday, I'll expand my fitness knowledge and skills by attending a kettlebell class from my favorite trainer Paul Katami, a Pilates workshop with world renowned Pilates expert and author Alycea Ungaro,  and even a "Groove" style workout with Misty Tripoli (whose Body Groove workouts I recently raved about). In addition, I'll attend lectures to learn more about the latest research in back health, exercise and weight loss, and body-weight training among other topics.
 
Even if you're not a fitness professional, you can get still join in for some of the fitness fun if you'll be near the Marriott Marquis hotel on Broadway in New York City between March 9 and 11!  Here's how.
Posted 3/7/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 15 comments   6,972 views
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