Memphis and Meta Take Small Steps for Big Health Changes

Here at SparkPeople, we love seeing other companies help communities reach healthy, positive goals—and Meta is doing just that! This summer, Metamucil® underwent an evolution to become part of a full line of wellness products called Meta, which aims to give people simple solutions to help them live their best, healthiest lives. The folks at Meta believe that making small, everyday changes can lead to long-term health and wellness results (a philosophy that mirrors our own). Now, Meta is challenging Americans in Memphis, TN—which is currently ranked as the unhealthiest city in the United States*--to make strides toward more healthful living, one step at a time. Memphis is up for the challenge, and the city is making better health more attainable for everyone with a year-long partnership with Meta and national sweepstakes** hosted on the Meta Facebook page

Posted 10/16/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 1,016 views

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Peek Inside the Mind of a Health Coach

These days, getting and staying healthy is becoming a bigger concern with diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease on the rise. But it can be hard to know where to start or who to ask for help beyond your primary care physician. Where do you turn when you just want someone to help you put together a plan to help you reach basic healthy lifestyle goals?

This is where Health Coaches come in! These professionals are fairly new faces in the healthcare world, but their impact has been growing rapidly. Health Coaches can help tailor a plan specific to your goals, whether you would like to lose weight or simply start building healthier habits. We've interviewed two Humana Health Coaches, Melina and Kristina, to give you a peek into the world of these professionals--and why you should consider giving Health Coaching a try to take your healthy lifestyle commitment to the next level. 

Posted 10/10/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8,900 views

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5 Ways Health Insurance Companies Can Reward Your Healthy Habits

You know how health insurance works: You pay a premium, you pay a deductible and sometimes you also pay a copay. It can feel like a lot of paying, all told. But health insurance doesn’t just have to cost you money. Health insurance companies have an interest in you staying healthy and preventing chronic illness, too. After all, someone who is healthy will end up living a longer, happier life--and spending much less on medical expenses.
 
While yesterday’s insurers took a here-and-now approach, today’s companies are offering a host of health-promoting incentive programs to help their members prevent and manage health conditions. These programs are painless and powerful motivators to keep up healthy habits. Every insurance company is different, but most of the time, all it takes is a quick, baseline assessment in which you create personal, measurable goals (like getting a check-up or tracking workouts), and you’ll soon be earning rewards. These rewards most often consist of discounts or points toward the purchase of items or services (like exercise equipment, movie tickets, hotel stays and more) simply for doing basic health-related tasks. Here are some of the ways you could reap rewards from your insurance company (many of which you would probably do anyway!). 

Posted 9/22/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 13,877 views

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The Best Health & Motivation Resources You Aren't Using

Getting motivated is tough, and staying motivated is health’s million dollar question. You might be able to muster up the will to get to the gym a few times a week for a few weeks and then… nothing. Working out starts to feel like a slog. You fall back into your old TV habit and the next thing you know, you’re back on the couch instead of taking that after-dinner walk or meeting a friend for tennis. Inspiration can be especially sparse if you’re balancing a crazy work schedule, kids, aging parents, and everyday chores. But the good news is, there are now more motivational tools out there than ever to help you get (and stay) inspired to live a healthier life. One of the following helpful resources is bound to help you stick with your goals for the long haul! 

Posted 9/15/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 19,553 views

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Are Low- and No-Calorie Sweeteners Really Safe?

Have you ever wondered why just about everyone likes sweets? Stop wondering.  The fact is we are born with an innate desire for sweet taste. And we begin to enjoy sweet taste as soon as we taste mother’s milk or infant formula. Some believe that desire was nature’s way of leading us to foods that had calories for survival.

As rates of obesity continue to rise in many countries, we know that too often we eat more sweet foods than we need for survival!  The problem occurs when we overindulge in our desire for sweets and consume more calories than we burn off. But there is a way that we can have our cake and eat it, too--by choosing foods and beverages sweetened with low- and no-calorie sweeteners. That’s one reason why these ingredients were initially developed--to allow us to enjoy sweet things with fewer calories. Another reason is to provide sweetness without sugar that increases blood glucose, so that diabetics could enjoy these foods. However, as an expert in food ingredient safety, I am often asked:  are sugar substitutes such as aspartame or sucralose safe? 

Posted 9/5/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,324 views

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5 Reasons Why It's Okay to Drink Diet Beverages

If you’re feeling confused by all of the headlines about diet beverages, you’re not alone. There’s a growing amount of misinformation about diet beverages. Here are some of the facts that we tell our patients who ask about drinking these popular drinks:   
 
1. They help satisfy your sweet tooth.
 
Diet beverages can help fulfill our innate desire for sweet – but without adding calories. In fact, University of North Carolina researchers8found that drinking diet beverages didn’t increase appetite or desire for sweets. Diet soda drinkers in their study actually ate less dessert.
 
2. Diet soda doesn’t raise blood sugar levels.
 
That’s a big deal for the 29 million Americans who have diabetes, not to mention the 86 million more with pre-diabetes. No wonder that the American Diabetes Association9recommends that people with this disease consume foods and beverages sweetened with low- and no-calorie sweeteners. 

Posted 8/28/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,303 views

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Do Diet Sodas Really Help with Weight Loss?

One of the questions that I am often asked by my patients at the Anschutz Center for Health and Wellness is this: ''Can I drink diet soda and still lose weight?'' The follow-up question is usually: ''Is it true that diet beverages can make me feel hungrier?''
 
That’s when I know that they are seeing some of the same confusing headlines about diet beverages that I often see in the local and national news media, and even more frequently on the web.
 
What I love about my job is that I get to try to find answers to some of these puzzling nutrition questions. To that end, my colleagues and I just completed a study that asked the question: what effect do diet beverages have on weight loss? We were surprised by the answers, which makes me think that you may be, too. 

Posted 8/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,413 views

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13 Smart Snacks to Keep at Your Desk

Hunger doesn't always stick to a schedule, especially during the workday. Your lunch break might be scheduled for noon, but your appetite doesn't always get that memo! Hunger can interfere with your ability to focus on important tasks, and it can make you cranky (or worse, hangry!), which can certainly affect your relationships with your co-workers. That means you gotta get that hunger in check even when you can't leave your desk. So keep healthy snacks on hand to stay on track with your diet and on task at the office!  

Here are 13 nutritious and filling (yet low-calorie) foods that travel well. Some can be stored in your desk, while others need to be stored in the fridge or an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack until you're ready to eat.

Posted 4/10/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 7 comments   20,424 views

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Satisfy Any Craving for Less than 100 Calories

When you're trying to manage your weight or eat better, cravings can be your Achilles' heel. They come at the most inopportune times and cripple your will power; you gotta have [insert your biggest temptation] right now, no matter what. It's all you can think about!

Most of us don't crave healthy or low-calorie foods, unfortunately. It's always ice cream, chips, or chocolate--never cucumbers, rice cakes or broccoli. To make matters worse, those cravings usually hit late at night when we don't have many (or any) calories left in our budget for the day.

The good news is that whether you have a sweet or savory, creamy or crunchy craving, you can satisfy it for 100 calories or less without feeling deprived. Here's how:

First, think long and hard about what you're craving. If it's chocolate, chances are a piece of fruit isn't going to satisfy you. You need to eat what you actually crave to feel satisfied.

Posted 3/14/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 53,085 views

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10 Smart Swaps That Save Calories

When it comes to healthy eating, you don't have to sacrifice flavor. You can easily slash fat, calories and even carbs, if you're watching those, from all your favorite dishes without turning them into "diet" recipes. Here are 10 examples of how swapping in one or two simple ingredients can create a delicious dish that's far healthier than the original. With these Smart Swaps, you'll never know we made any changes to affect healthfulness!

Posted 3/1/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   27,254 views

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11 Ways to Crush Nighttime Cravings

It's 8 p.m. You should be getting ready for bed or at least winding down your day, but all you can think about is how much you want to sink your teeth into that chocolate-covered peanut-nougat candy bar in the kitchen drawer. Or how good a bag of crunchy potato chips would be right now. Or how it would feel to swirl your spoon through a big bowl of butter pecan ice cream and lick up every last drop.

You know you shouldn't…and yet, the craving is all-consuming! Your mind engages in a tug of war so strong you feel like your will power might just be yanked out from under you.

Posted 2/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 18,421 views

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4 Questionable Sources of Probiotics

It’s no secret that probiotics provide digestive health benefits. But some sources can be misleading in their probiotic reliability. When it comes to your digestive health, you can’t spare reliability.

Here's where the good bacteria can be found.

Posted 12/31/2013  6:00:00 AM By:   : 6,204 views

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DVD Review: A Workout for the Everyday Woman

Is it just us, or are workouts getting more and more intense lately? It seems like you can’t turn on the TV or open a magazine without hearing about the latest ''extreme'' workout fad that promises to get you six-pack abs and boundless energy. Although those type of workouts might appeal to some people, they’re definitely not for everyone. What ever happened to sane, safe exercise programs for the average person just trying to stay healthy and fit?

Enter Lisa Whelchel’s Everyday Workout for the Everyday Woman. Lisa Whelchel is a busy mom of three, an author, motivational speaker, and former TV star from The Facts of Life. As an average woman who struggles to fit exercise into her busy days, Lisa’s DVD is a breath of fresh air for any woman trying to start a reasonable and sustainable fitness routine—or for any woman who just wants to mix things up a bit! You can learn more about what to expect from the DVD in the YouTube video below:


Posted 12/4/2013  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   7,551 views

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Review: A Workout DVD for Every Body Type!

Is your fitness routine feeling a little "blah"? Are you looking for a customized full-body workout that incorporates both cardio and strength training in 20 minutes tops? Look no further than Escape Your Shape: 21-Day Body Makeover. This easy-to-follow DVD comes jam-packed with three different fun and encouraging workouts to try for every body type.

Posted 11/20/2013  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   8,940 views

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DVD Review: Fit Mommy-to-Be Prenatal Yoga

Pregnancy can bring on all kinds of aches and pains in a woman's body. Exercising throughout pregnancy can help with some of these aches and pains, but sometimes it is hard to find a safe and effective pregnancy workout. Hilaria Baldwin, certified yoga instructor and wife of actor Alec Baldwin, has come out with one of the best prenatal yoga workouts that I have seen, so there is no need to keep looking! With this DVD, Hilaria guides you through a challenging series of yoga poses that provide a great yoga workout while also helping your body and mind feel better. Talk about a win-win situation!

Posted 10/15/2013  7:00:00 AM By:   : 1 comments   7,925 views

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