Jen Mueller (SPARK_COACH_JEN)

SparkPeople Community Director and Fitness Coach

Jen Mueller left her first career in corporate finance to earn a master's degree in health education. She is a busy mom of four and holds a number of fitness certifications (including ACE's Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and Behavior Change Specialist). She is passionate about helping people reach their health and fitness goals. In her spare time, Jen loves running, kickboxing and spending time with her family. Jen enjoys blogging about raising healthy children and how small behavior changes can impact health and quality of life.


Read More of Jen's Blogs:

SparkPeople Premium Has an Answer for All Your Health and Fitness Questions

Getting healthy can be confusing. In any given day, a hundred questions can arise about your diet or how many carbs you should be consuming or how to figure out the appropriate weight to bicep curl or exactly what the difference is between Barre and Pilates. Whether you're a beginner or you've been at it for a while, none of us are experts and trying to figure out the best path to weight loss can be frustrating as a result. But what if you had an expert right in your pocket? Someone to consult along the way who could guide you in the right direction?  

Posted 11/28/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 5 comments   4,665 views

Read More ›

17 Tips for Dealing With Stress From a Working Mom of Four

I have dreams of living a stress-free life, where my children are always happy, my house is always clean and I have plenty of free time to do whatever I'd like. In reality, I'm just like anyone else who has a lot of responsibilities on their plate and gets easily overwhelmed with the daily to-do list.

Stress isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some stress is normal and can even be used to your advantage. It's important to recognize that there are dangers associated with too much stress, though, including long-term effects on your physical and mental health. Headaches, insomnia, constant worrying—these are the kinds of things I'm trying to avoid.

Yet, when I read about how to reduce stress, so much focus is on things that require amounts of time I don't have available in the first place. I'd love to do a yoga class, but finding time for it would create even more stress. A massage would be great, but squeezing in an appointment between martial arts practices and work isn't going to happen. If you're like me, you're looking for simple things you can do right now that will make daily life a little more relaxed. Many of these options take just a few minutes, but the benefits can last a lifetime.

Posted 9/26/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 3 comments   25,297 views

Read More ›

SparkPeople Premium Puts a Personal Trainer in Your Pocket

One of the most frustrating things about adopting healthy habits and losing weight is that you're an experiment of one. What works for one person might not necessarily work for your particular body, metabolism or lifestyle, so it's on you to test drive various eating habits and fitness routines until you find the one that fits just right. It's easy to drive yourself crazy with all of the information out there telling you what to eat, when to eat, how to exercise, when to exercise and the best way to minimize your effort while maximizing your results.

With all the conflicting information and resources out there, wouldn't it be nice if you could talk with an expert, tell them your story and get personalized advice to help you reach your goals? Now, it's possible with the Email a Coach feature as part of SparkPeople Premium!

Posted 9/14/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 8 comments   13,217 views

Read More ›

4 SparkTeam Challenges That Will Help You Reach Your Goals

Most of us have worked as part of a group focused on a common goal at some point in our lives, whether on a class project, a team sport, a work task or a family vacation. In these situations, you know how important support from the group can be. When it comes to losing weight and adopting healthy behaviors into our lives, this kind of support becomes even more crucial. Research shows that accountability to others and social support are key factors in weight loss and weight maintenance success.

Posted 9/8/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 62 comments   17,526 views

Read More ›

Safer and Stronger: Which Self-Defense Class is for You?

My husband has trained in martial arts on and off for years. Still, when he suggested our four-year-old daughter try it, I was hesitant. “Are they going to teach her to fight?” I asked. “They will teach her to defend herself,” he answered.

That’s all I needed to hear to convince me it was a good idea. Fast forward five years, and her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class is now one of her favorite activities. The class not only teaches her skills needed to defend against an attacker, but it also gives her the confidence to stand up for herself.

Witnessing the mental and physical benefits both my kids and husband experienced, I decided to jump on the bandwagon by enrolling in Muay Thai kickboxing. An avid runner, I was looking for a new kind of workout that would challenge my muscles, but I was also interested in learning tools I could use if ever confronted with a situation where I needed to defend myself or protect my kids. A year later, I can attest that martial arts classes are solid workouts that will get your blood pumping (sparring for 5 minutes sounds easy until you actually do it), and I’ve learned techniques that I can call upon if faced with a dangerous situation.

Posted 7/25/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 12 comments   16,141 views

Read More ›

5 Signs It's Time for a Digital Detox

These days, it’s almost impossible to escape the constant barrage of emails and text messages from friends, family, co-workers and just about everyone else on the planet. You’re bombarded with updates on social media—everything from pictures of the new kitten your third cousin just adopted, to what your favorite celebrity ate for lunch. You feel lost if you miss a day on Facebook or an episode of "Game of Thrones," and your friends wonder if you’ve dropped off the face of the earth when you take more than a few hours to “like” their recent posts.

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago, you probably didn’t have a Facebook account or a smartphone. Maybe you had an email account that you checked occasionally, but you’d never heard of texting or apps. There was no DVR, so if you missed an episode of your favorite show, you’d have to wait for the rerun. Times have certainly changed.

Posted 6/14/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 11 comments   21,042 views

Read More ›

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

The older I get, the faster time goes. As each year passes with the blink of an eye, I try to learn from my mistakes and am constantly striving to be a better version of myself. Let's be honest, sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, I still keep trying.

When I think back to my health and fitness habits 10, 15 or 20 years ago, a lot has changed. I've become much more aware of the food I put into my body. Gone are the days of "diet" cookies or fat-free chips, foods that used to be part of the healthy food section of my grocery list. I've become a conscious label reader, and while my diet is far from perfect, I try not to eat too many foods with ingredients I can't pronounce. My exercise routine has changed considerably, as well. I used to feel like any workout under 60 minutes was a waste of time, and 90 percent of my exercise routine involved running. These days, I focus more on quality over quantity and try to add more variety—including challenging strength exercises and new forms of cardio—into the mix. As a result, I've uncovered muscles I never knew I had and have even discovered new exercises that I love just as much as running. Hello, Muay Thai kickboxing!.

There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self on the topic of being healthy. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, right? Which is not to say that this sense of "infinite wisdom" means I do everything right. I make mistakes every day, just like anyone else. But now I recognize a better way to think about my health and my body. Given the chance, I would tell 25-year-old Jen:

Posted 5/26/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 25 comments   17,740 views

Read More ›

'The Biggest Loser': Biggest Success or Loser Idea?

Soon after its 2004 debut, "The Biggest Loser" became an American culture phenomenon. Each season, contestants push themselves to the limit, losing astounding amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time. Achieving these kinds of jaw-dropping results, though, requires tremendous amounts of exercise and a very strict diet. Given the extreme circumstances of the show's format, "The Biggest Loser" has experienced its share of ups and downs over the years.

Posted 5/12/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 91 comments   41,908 views

Read More ›

Why I Decided to Get Off the Tracker Train

Activity trackers are all the rage these days, as you see people wearing them on their waistbands, shoes and wrists. Popularized by Fitbit and Jawbone, it seems there is now a fitness tracker for every personality and health need. These tiny devices track a plethora of information—how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burned, how many flights of stairs you’ve walked, how much sleep you’ve gotten and more. Basically, conscious or unconscious, your tracker knows your body better than you.  

Of course, more information is always better so that you know exactly how active you’ve been at any given moment of the day. Who wouldn’t want to have these stats at their fingertips? Cue me raising my hand right now. Surprised? The fact is, I gave up my activity tracker after I decided it was doing me more harm than good.

Posted 5/9/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 65 comments   42,635 views

Read More ›

5 Weeks to a 5K and a Healthier You!

Spring is just around the corner, a time when 5K races are a popular weekend activity. Perhaps you’ve thought it might be fun to try one, but fear you’d never be able to finish. Maybe you’ve walked a 5K in the past, but you’re ready to take things up a notch. Whatever you goal or experience level, we have the perfect training plan for you!
 
SparkPeople developed three unique “5K Your Way” training plans to get you ready to complete a 5K race in less than five weeks. Join a challenge and you'll get daily workouts and tips on how to stay motivated, what to wear for your workouts, how to cross-train properly and more!

Posted 2/10/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 3 comments   33,608 views

Read More ›

Streaking Her Way to Success 2,000 Days in a Row

This is a featured "SparkStory", one of the classic posts from our members that provides support, encouragement and inspiration to the SparkPeople Community. 

SparkPeople Member: NORASPAT

In 2009, I came across “The Spark” while at a bookstore with my husband. I had never heard of SparkPeople, but had recently (and surprisingly) been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I purchased a copy for myself, as well as three more as Christmas gifts for my sons. Shortly after, my son set me up with my first computer so I could make the most of everything the book had to offer. I was 66 years old, and had no clue how to use a computer or navigate the site.

Posted 2/4/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 66 comments   27,850 views

Read More ›

Fear of Heart Transplant Leads to Beth's 200 Pound Weight Loss*

This blog is a featured "SparkStory", one of the classic posts from our members that provides support, encouragement and inspiration to the SparkPeople Community. 

SparkPeople Member: EMSSBEARS

I am the perfect example of the yo-yo dieter. Having been overweight for most of my life, I tried nearly every diet out there, some several times without success. Each time I’d diet, I’d lose the weight, but then as the attention and compliments became stressful, the insecurities and low self-esteem would kick back in and I would start overeating again. The end result was not only gaining back the pounds I’d lost, but adding an additional 20 or 30 pounds each time.

It took a long time for me to realize that I was using my weight as a defense mechanism to keep people away, a thought that came as the result of being physically attacked once when I was at my ideal weight.

When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and found myself unable to walk or use my arms to exercise for seven months, I became quite depressed. Over the next two years, I was given chemotherapy treatments and eventually regained the ability to use a walker and limited movement. By that time, though, I was at my all-time highest weight and my heart muscle had been severely damaged. I was ready to give up.

Posted 1/15/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 42 comments   31,112 views

Read More ›

Health Problems Prompt Sarah to Lose 90 Pounds*

This blog is a featured "SparkStory", one of the classic posts from our members that provides support, encouragement and inspiration to the SparkPeople Community.
 

SparkPeople Member:  SM0RE007

In 2011, I weighed close to 240 pounds. I was starting to experience an array of health issues. I had all sorts of aches and pains. I often felt like I had the flu because my glands were constantly swollen and I was regularly exhausted. I was depressed, lonely and I hardly left my new house.

Posted 1/11/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 45 comments   44,358 views

Read More ›

A Shocking Diagnosis Leads to Big Health Decisions*

This blog is a featured "SparkStory," one of the classic posts from our members that provides support, encouragement and inspiration to the SparkPeople Community.

SparkPeople Member:  SHADOWSPARK

I can only describe the feeling as being in a state of shock. I was leaving the doctor's office after learning that I weighed 275 pounds, my cholesterol numbers were high and I was entering the range of being a borderline diabetic. Worse yet, I was holding a prescription for a cholesterol-lowering medication that the doctor had highly recommended I take. 

Posted 1/4/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 26 comments   30,019 views

Read More ›

Introducing Two New Challenges for the New Year!

By now, you probably have your New Year's resolutions planned out and ready to go. If you feel like you need a little extra help to make sure this is the year your healthy-living goals become a reality, we've got the assist right here. We are very excited to introduce two brand, spanking new challenges, designed to help you get your New Year started on the right foot! 

Posted 1/1/2016  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 20 comments   86,371 views

Read More ›

Read More Entries ›