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:
How much can you relate to the following scenario: You start every January 1st with great intentions. You’ve renewed your gym membership, stocked your pantry full of healthy food, tossed out all of the chips and cookies and told yourself this is it. The healthy lifestyle begins now.
Things go well for the first few days, the first few weeks or even the first month. Then slowly, the old habits start to return. You’re tired of getting up an hour early every morning to head to the gym, so you hit the snooze button and begin skipping workouts a few times a week. The occasional splurge is becoming more frequent, and staying in your calorie range becomes the exception rather than the rule. Eventually, all of the hard work that began on January 1st has been undone, and before you know it, you’re right back to where you started. What went wrong?!? Here are some ways to prevent history from repeating itself in 2015.
Posted 12/29/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 14 comments 25,756 views
I’ll admit that I’m very particular when it comes to the foods my kids eat. I’ve learned not to be too restrictive, because it’s important how to teach them to make their own choices and how to incorporate treats and other foods they love into their diets. My oldest is 8, and so far, I think we’re doing pretty well. My kids don’t feel deprived that they don’t eat fast food on a weekly basis, and they don’t mind when I add kale or other leafy greens to their favorite smoothies.
I always assumed that school would be a place that would support my healthy eating efforts. What I’ve found is actually quite the opposite: by far, school is where my kids get the most junk food.
Posted 12/26/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 17 comments 13,060 views
If you’re someone who likes to go out frequently with family and friends, you know that most outings revolve around food. It’s easy to say “Hey, let’s meet for lunch!” or “Want to join me for a few drinks after work?” Whether you’ve just started making improvements to your diet or you’ve stuck to a healthy eating plan for years, you know how tempting these situations can become. Your friend orders a plate of French fries and you start munching on them without even realizing, or your mom asks if you want to split a dessert you weren’t planning on ordering. In most cases, it’s best not to avoid these events completely. Avoidance can help you stick to your plan, but it’s not a long-term solution. Eventually you’re going to be in situations where food is involved, so you have to learn how to deal with temptations. This helps change your new habits into permanent lifestyle changes, instead of a “diet” that you are on and off periodically.
Although it’s certainly possible to stay on track with your diet in social situations, sometimes it’s nice to have alternatives that don’t revolve around food. If it’s your turn to make the plans, choose something fun and different! You might find that one of the activities below sparks a new way to socialize with those you love.
Posted 12/22/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 4 comments 28,602 views
I will never forget the day one of the dads at school came up to me and said ''We’ve been thinking about having a fourth, especially after watching you. You seem like you really have it together, you’re relaxed about having four kids and you just kind of go with the flow.'' I told him that was the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard in my life, because it couldn’t be further from the truth. ''Go with the flow'' is not a term anyone who really knows me would use to describe my personality. It made me realize that appearances are not always what they seem. I’m the first to admit that most days, I’m just trying to keep my head above water. I’m busy, I get stressed out easily, and I wish I could find better ways to relax. At the end of the day, I’m doing my best, and that’s all I can ask of myself.
Posted 12/15/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 22 comments 22,302 views
At this point in the year, holiday parties and special events are in full swing. It makes this time of year especially hectic, with many of these activities likely revolving around food. Is it possible to stay on track with your eating plan when you’re surrounded by temptation and have no clue what’s in the dish someone else has prepared? Is it possible to stay on track with your fitness plan when you’ve got other commitments and can’t attend your regular gym class? The answer is ''yes''! Just like anything else, if you make your health a priority, you’ll find the time and motivation to exercise and make good food choices. Here are some simple tips to help you stay focused this holiday season.
Posted 12/12/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 7 comments 15,453 views
Can you believe it’s already that time of year again? It seems like the holiday season approaches more quickly each year. Before you know it, the malls will be filled with last-minute shoppers scrambling to find parking spaces and gifts for their loved ones. If you’re like me, searching online from the comfort of your own home is an easy and less stressful way to shop. Considering giving the gift of health this year? Here are some ideas in a variety of price ranges to get you started.
Posted 12/6/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 1 comments 16,655 views
You often hear people talk about how having kids changes your entire life. I have to agree, having been through it more than a few times over. I have four children ranging in age from nine months to seven years, and although they are exhausting, they are equally wonderful. Pregnancy was never a walk in the park for me, but I tried to do all of the right things--eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and gain a healthy amount of weight. Because of this, I assumed it would be pretty easy for me to bounce back into shape after baby arrived. While that’s been true to a certain extent, there have definitely been some surprises along the way.
Posted 8/26/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 15 comments 52,093 views
As summer starts winding down and back-to-school shopping begins, lunch boxes and supplies might be on your list. What can you do to help ensure that your kids eat the healthy food you pack instead of trading it for chips and cookies--or even throwing it away? There are lots of cool accessories to make lunchtime more exciting. Looking for ideas to turn boring carrot sticks into a food they won’t want to turn down? Here are some of our picks to brighten up lunch and make healthy eating fun!
Posted 8/18/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 5 comments 33,029 views
As the temperature climbs, don’t let your workout motivation fall. With the right clothing and gear (as well as some extra precautions), you can enjoy outdoor exercise at any time of the year. Here are some of our picks for the best workout clothes and accessories to keep you cool and motivated all summer long.
Posted 7/21/2014 5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 9 comments 26,150 views
Summer is a great time of year to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity. Unlike the dark mornings and evenings of winter, summer provides plenty of daylight hours for a walk, run or swim in the pool. But as the temperature climbs, there could be days when it's just too hot to safely exercise outside. Does that give you an excuse to skip your workout? Not a chance!
There are lots of ways to exercise indoors, which can help you stay safe, cool and comfortable. Then after the hard work is done, you can relax with a cold drink, feeling proud that you stayed consistent with your workout routine. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Posted 7/7/2014 5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 6 comments 32,231 views
As you know, we’ve made a number of changes to SparkPeople's website (and apps) recently. Most of these changes were welcomed by the majority members, while some have voiced concern that the new changes take some getting used to.
I wanted to try and provide some perspective about why we’ve been doing these things, so that you can understand the strategy behind it and know that our goal is not to frustrate or confuse our long-time members.
Posted 6/18/2014 11:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 18,398 views
Father's Day is quickly approaching, so you might be thinking about ways to recognize the special dad in your life. Fitness-related gifts can be a unique option to the traditional tie or coffee mug. Whether you have $1 or $100 (or more) to spend this year, consider getting dad something that he can enjoy while benefitting his health at the same time!
Posted 6/2/2014 5:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 3 comments 28,827 views
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 : 11 comments 250,290 views
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 : 4 comments 74,921 views
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 : 72 comments 265,515 views