The SparkPeople Blog

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 three and holds a number of fitness certifications (including ACE's Health Coach and Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist). She is passionate about helping people reach their health and fitness goals. In her spare time, Jen loves training for marathons (crazy, huh?) 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:

8 Signs Your Cardio Workouts Are Doing More Harm Than Good

Aerobic exercise (think running, biking, and jumping rope) is good for your health, helps with weight loss and generally makes you feel good.  But believe it or not, you can have too much of a good thing—even exercise.  It's important to find the balance between challenging yourself, making exercise a regular part of your daily routine, and doing more harm than good. But where exactly is the line where a healthy amount becomes too much?

Posted 3/19/2014  5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 3 comments   13,716 views

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13+ Budget-Friendly Ways to Work Out at Home

I remember the days when I had time to drive to the gym for a workout multiple times a week.  Now as a busy mother of four, those days long gone! However, that doesn't mean my fitness level has to suffer.  I'm still able to squeeze in a good workout in the morning before the rest of my family wakes up.  By investing in a few key pieces of equipment, I've been able to create quality, low-cost workouts without ever leaving the house—and you can, too! 

Posted 3/7/2014  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 1 comments   8,319 views

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Find Your Sole Mate: The Perfect Shoe for Every Workout

Wearing the right shoes while exercising can mean the difference between a comfortable workout, and one filled with pain, or worse-injury. With thousands of workout shoes on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? By answering a few simple questions, you can narrow down your options and use this guide to find the pair that is your "solemate."

Posted 2/14/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 25 comments   42,049 views

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Take This Many Daily Steps for a Healthier Heart

For anyone looking to lower their risk of diabetes and heart disease, an increase in physical activity is a common prescription from doctors.  But often the advice ends there and patients are left asking themselves, "How much additional exercise do I need?" and, "What kinds of activity should I be doing?" 

A recent study shows that even moderate increases in physical activity can have a big impact on your risk for certain diseases.

Posted 1/23/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 1 comments   6,695 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 : 28 comments   22,540 views

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You Didn't Reach the Goal, But You're Still a Success

Instead of being thankful for the things I can do, it’s much easier for me to get frustrated about the things I can’t.  I’d love to be able to run an 8 (or even 9!) minute pace comfortably.  I’d love to be naturally flexible without having to work at it, and it would be great if I had endless energy for my early morning workouts.  I demand a lot from my body, and honestly, it gives me a lot in return.  I think I need to take a more positive attitude towards my body and my accomplishments.  How about you?

Posted 6/21/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 81 comments   18,748 views

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Most Americans Think Their Diets are Healthy

If you've recently started tracking calories and watching portion sizes, chances are you've been surprised that your morning cereal is really three servings instead of just one. Or that the salad from your favorite restaurant you thought was a healthy option really isn't. It's easy to convince yourself that your diet is fairly healthy until you really start measuring and tracking your food throughout the day. That's why I'm not totally surprised by a new survey that says most Americans consider their diets to be at least "somewhat" healthy.

Posted 5/23/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 173 comments   34,038 views

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Do You Have 'Quick Fix' Dieters In Your Life?

When it comes to losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle, everyone has to do what works best for them.  I can give all kinds of reasons why a balanced diet and regular exercise is the way to go.  But in the end, everyone has to find a style of eating and activity that they can live with for the rest of their lives.  It’s not my place to judge whether or not someone is right or wrong if they choose to go about weight loss in a different way.

Posted 5/16/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 73 comments   10,612 views

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How Full is Your Glass?

Most of the time, I’m running around like a crazy lady all day long.  I’ve got work to do, errands to run, kids to take care of, chores at home, etc.  I’m sure a lot (if not most) of you can relate.  I bring a lot of it on myself because I’m the type of person who likes to get everything done -- right now.  For a long time, I considered my busy routine to be a drag.  I was easily overwhelmed, stressed out, and felt like I never had time for me.  And to be quite honest, those feelings made me sad. 
 
More recently, I’ve taken a step back to look at my life from a different perspective.  Instead of getting so bogged down in all of the day-to-day details, I’m trying to adapt to the chaos and appreciate all of the good things in my life.  I’m trying to see my life for what it is so that I can start taking small steps to make it better.  Instead of wishing things were different, I’m putting together a plan for change. 

Posted 5/15/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 88 comments   31,669 views

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Should You Keep your Weight Loss Plan a Secret?

Most people who decide to make a lifestyle change will tell at least a few others about their intentions.  All of a sudden you’re buying more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and you’ve dusted off those gym shoes to go for a walk a few times a week.  Something is up, but how many people do you tell?  Do you tell anyone at all, or just let them figure it out for themselves?  New research shows that sharing your goals could negatively affect your behavior and success. 

Posted 5/9/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 189 comments   29,337 views

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Poll: Would You Trade One Year for the Perfect Body?

Let's face it: Losing weight can be hard work. It requires patience, dedication, and the drive to make permanent healthy changes in your life. It's not always fun to head to the gym instead of watching your favorite show on T.V., or turning down the French fries at dinner and opting for a side of veggies instead. Those who make healthy choices are able to look at the bigger picture and know that these choices aren't always easy, but will leave them better off in the long run. Knowing that it is hard work, would you be willing to trade time to get the body you've always wanted? A new survey says some women are willing to make that trade.

Posted 4/24/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 265 comments   37,116 views

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Poll: Are Negative Usernames Helpful or Self-Defeating?

The idea for this blog came from a member, and when I saw it I knew it was something I wanted to talk about. It's something I wonder about all the time as I read blog comments on The SparkPeople Blog, answer questions on SparkPeople and interact with the Community. Here was her suggestion:

Posted 4/17/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 865 comments   26,039 views

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How Much Exercise Do You REALLY Need to Lose Weight?

New guidelines issued from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) state that 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week might not be enough. In 2001, ACSM recommended that overweight and obese adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to improve their health. 200 to 300 minutes per week was recommended for long-term weight loss. But will this amount of exercise really help you lose weight and keep it off?

Posted 4/10/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 1117 comments   740,335 views

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The Single Best Exercise for Weight Loss

Often people will ask me to share the best exercises for weight loss. They want to know what kind of cardio activity is going to help them lose weight faster than anything else. Even if they don't enjoy it, they are willing to try whatever is going to help them reach their goals more quickly. My response is always the same. So are you ready to hear what the magic exercise is? What's going to help you lose weight keep it off long-term, and get fit?

Posted 4/5/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 295 comments   563,506 views

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Find Out How Many Calories You Burn After Exercise

We’ve always heard that the positive benefits of physical activity continue long after your workout session is over.  More energy, less stress and those “feel good” endorphins are some of the immediate effects.  But what about the mysterious “afterburn” that a lot of people talk about?  Do you really continue burning more calories after the workout, or is it really just during the workout that matters?  A new study finds that it’s possible to burn more calories throughout the day--in fact, up to 14 hours later.
 
The study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, took 10 healthy males and examined their energy expenditure under two different sets of conditions.  “During the first session, participants were mostly inactive, but they stood and stretched for two minutes every hour. They could also perform everyday tasks, such as washing their hands and brushing their teeth, as needed. During the second session, participants followed the same routine, but then cycled vigorously for 45 minutes.”
 
Researchers found that participants burned 190 additional calories while at rest throughout the day after vigorous exercise (defined in the study as a 73% max heart rate), compared to when they did no activity.  The increased calorie burn lasted for over 14 hours--and continued even into the first few hours of sleeping.  This is the first study to use a metabolic chamber (a highly controlled environment) to estimate calorie burned after vigorous physical activity.  
 
The number of calories each person burns during--and after--a workout will vary.  It depends on many factors:  gender, age, genetics, type of workout, etc.  But it’s something to keep in mind as you weigh the benefits of exercise, and whether or not the time and effort is worthwhile.  I think exercise is a key component of any healthy lifestyle, regardless of how much exercise you can do or how intense it is.  Previous studies have also shown that your body's metabolism stays revved after a workout and that generally, the more intense the workout is, the greater the post-workout "afterburn" will be. This study just gives one more reason to get off of the couch and get moving--no matter how much or how little time you have!
 
What do you think?

Posted 3/29/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 78 comments   168,564 views

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