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:

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   14,027 views

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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   19,841 views

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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   17,123 views

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'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 : 86 comments   38,555 views

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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   40,757 views

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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   27,703 views

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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 : 61 comments   26,233 views

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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 : 40 comments   28,694 views

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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 : 41 comments   41,989 views

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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 : 24 comments   27,130 views

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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   84,612 views

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SparkPoints Monthly Contest Winners

Each month you earn at least 300 SparkPoints by doing various activities on the site, you’re automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card or one of 5 Spark Activity Trackers. You can find more details on the contest rules here.

Each month, we’ll update this blog with the winners, so keep checking back to see who’s won!  (If you are a winner, we will also contact you via email.) Good luck!

January, 2016

Amazon winner:
KACIE209   

SAT winners:
TARTLESCAPRI     
CZARINA98     
HAVENPEACE            
HOPEFUL215             
ASTRONGNEWME 

December, 2015

Amazon winner:
ARTISTICGRL

SAT winners:
MOJIATA            
CRKREKEL           
GOTTARUN26   
JAPERS1              
MARGOTB822

November, 2015

Amazon winner:
ROOMINATOR

SAT winners:
MLKDUD             
MUSICMUSTPLAY           
ELENNARE          
MELITAG            
PORTHOS75

October, 2015

Amazon winner:
ABUNNA

SAT winners:
ROLLAND
WMORGAN
CANTATA
LCJNMO1
CHELLIEB
 
September, 2015

Amazon winner:
KMD121
SAT winners:
XRAYLADY65
CONCHA77
EUSTIS525
OREGONTHEA
LYRICCA

Posted 11/11/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 4 comments   16,141 views

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Sugar Showdown: Hard Cider vs. Junk Food

As both temperatures and leaves continue to fall, you may have noticed grocery and liquor stores stocking up on a large variety of seasonal alcoholic drinks, including many types of hard cider. Once a niche ruled by Woodchuck and Strongbow, a quick Wikipedia search now lists more than 130 cider brews in the market and growing. Like it or not, seasonal brews are here to stay. According to IRi, a Chicago-based market research firm, cider sales grew 75 percent from November 2013 to November 2014, making it the fastest-growing beverage in the beer and flavored malt industry.

Posted 11/5/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 16 comments   25,530 views

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How a Busy Mom of Three Lost 55 Pounds*

Anne Marie (ANNIEONLI) recently attended the M2Moms Conference in New York City with members of the SparkPeople team.  She shared her success story with the 300 attendees, and now we want to share her story with you!

Posted 10/14/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 15 comments   43,532 views

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Done with the Excess Weight and Moving Forward!*

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

POSTER: PORITA

I found SparkPeople in 2011 after weighing in at the doctor's office and realizing how out of control my weight had become. After lots of reading and finding encouragement here, I started to take steps to improve my life. By tracking everything I ate and starting with baby amounts of exercise, I lost 20 pounds. I was excited. I finally took a picture of myself to start tracking the progress. I'm DONE with excess weight and all the problems it causes. 

Posted 8/28/2015  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 19 comments   14,479 views

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