Tanya earned her dietetics degree, completed a dietetic internship and served as a clinical dietitian in several Cincinnati hospitals. With more than 20 years of nutrition education experience, she is also a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
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The 2010 U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that all Americans eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Government guidelines aside, you surely grew up with your mom telling you to eat your vegetables. Or maybe you even hear it now from your doctor.
When you're new to adopting a healthy diet, you may wonder: What's so good about fruits and vegetables anyway? What kind of benefits will I see if I eat more? Here are four good reasons to be like Bugs Bunny and chomp away on more fresh produce.
Posted 3/9/2014 12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 6 comments 26,189 views
Now that thousands of people have had the chance to use the Spark Activity Tracker, we decided to find out how SparkPeople members were enjoying the Spark. We were wowed by some of the reactions we received from everyday people who used the Spark to reach goals and stay motivated. Here are three stories of our favorite "success stories" so far.
Posted 2/27/2014 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 37 comments 35,962 views
These days, it can be really tough to find a bite to eat on the go that won't break the calorie bank. Fast food chains are convenient, but most options are loaded down with excess calories, fat and sodium. Panera Bread has emerged in recent years as a healthier choice in a sea of burger joints. Although some of its menu items aren't the greatest (720 calories for a bowl of clam chowder, anyone?), we've scoured the menu to find some decent choices the next time you find yourself in a pinch for food—right now.
Panera has stepped up their nutritional game recently with their Power Menu, a selection of high-protein, low-carb entrees with some seriously impressive nutritional stats. We've included some of them in our top six favorite healthy Panera entrees below, followed by 10 more of our honorable mentions. (Note that salads do not include dressing nutritional information.)
Posted 2/23/2014 10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 217 comments 327,648 views
Today we share our final success story from our 2013 New Year’s Resolution Keepers. Jennifer decided to deal with her depression by committing to a complete health makeover. Learn how she changed her outlook and her life by trying new things, setting mini goals and pushing herself beyond what she thought she was capable.
Posted 2/2/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 41 comments 25,814 views
This month we have been highlighting Success Stories for people who set New Year's resolutions last year and stuck with them, to help you begin your own journey to success. Today we introduce you to someone who started 2013 with a resolution to try new foods instead of a goal to lose weight, which had previously not been successful. What she found was the year she chose not to set a weight-loss goal and focus on something else, she actually achieved weight loss, too!
Posted 1/26/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 29 comments 31,891 views
Many of us begin the new year with a desire for a fresh start in a new direction. With the right habits, motivation and support, our goals can become so resolute they carry us to places we never imagined. We want to help you remain steadfast in your healthy living quests this year by introducing you to several people who set goals for 2013--and stuck with them all year long.
Posted 1/19/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 12 comments 24,359 views
Last week we introduced you to Amanda, who successfully kept her 2013 New Year’s Resolution to kick the nicotine habit. Today we introduce you to a single mother that achieved her 2013 resolution to lose weight and helped her family get healthier at the same time.
Name: Janna Miller
SparkPeople Username: jannamiller
Hometown: Colona, Illinois
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Starting weight: 240 pounds
Current weight: 170 pounds
What was your New Year's resolution? My New Year's resolution was to lose 70 pounds by January 1, 2014.
Why did you set a New Year's resolution? On New Year’s Day 2013, I was 240 pounds, taking meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. I was also told I had a slow brain bleed. I had no energy and always felt sick. Being a single mom, I knew I was not going to be around for my kids if I didn’t change. So I finally decided to change. My youngest son was also severely overweight and having similar medical issues. I knew I needed to be a good mom, which meant being a good role model to him.
What did you do to stay motivated? I was very lucky. We went into this project as a team -- my mom, my son, and me. As a former athlete and a current coach of three sports, it fit my personality. We gained strength from each other. We motivated each other, we held each other accountable for our actions and we celebrated each other’s victories.
Why do you think you stuck with your resolution when so many people give up? Our entire family was on board with the program. They knew we needed to do this, and if that meant changing around the menu or adding some more activities, they were all for it. They also would keep us motivated to keep doing our program. If we slipped--and we did at times--they would kick us in the butt and get us going again.
What tools, routines, habits, and motivators did you find most helpful in sticking with your resolution? It became important to plan meals, something I was not very good at. We also got rid of A LOT of food that was just not possible to have on our new lifestyle. This was very helpful for me because if I see it I will eat it. My daughter was a two-sport letterman in high school and in the Army Reserves, so weight is not currently an issue for her. She would keep all of her snack in her locked room! We found snack foods that we could have and made sure we had those on hand for weak moments. We would do weekly weight checks with our doctor’s office every Friday after school, and that helped keep us on track. I also joined the weight-loss challenge at school each quarter, and we weighed in every Wednesday.
Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? I have had many plateaus. Sometimes I was not eating enough and my body let me know so I would up my carbs for a few days and then I would be back on track. Sometimes I needed to change my workouts. I just kept telling myself: This is not about now, this is about always. If you take a short break, that is OK, just come back!
What was the hardest part about committing to your New Year's resolution? For me, it was finding the time to do things for myself. I am a single mom of four active kids. I teach special education, which has a lot of paperwork and individual planning, I coach three sports, I run a very active youth-service group that always has activities, and I have a huge, close extended family. It is hard to fit in "me" time.
Did you experience any other benefits (improved relationships, reach other goals, improved self-image/confidence etc.) while sticking with your resolution? I can keep up with my kids and my great-nephews more! I am now thinking about trying to date if I can fit it in!
What advice do you have for others who might set a similar resolution for this year? It is not a new diet and you can’t think about it that way. You need to change your lifestyle because you and your family are worth it. Sometime we get into these old habits, and we know they are not working for us but they are comfortable. It will take time to make the new habits feel comfortable just keep working at it.
Get a support system! Make it a team effort! Who can’t get a little healthier?
Now that you've succeeded with this resolution, have you/will you set any other goals? Yes. I think I am going to go back to school.
How did SparkPeople help you achieve success? I have been motivated by a lot of the articles on SparkPeople. They have lots of good information and even if you only use a little it helps move you in the right direction. Remember a healthy lifestyle is not a sprint--it is a marathon. Slow and steady will get us to a healthy life.
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.
How about you? Will 2014 be the year you reach your goals? The best way to set yourself up for success is to make sure that your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Using these guidelines is a proven way to create goals that you can stick with for the long haul. After reading the explanation of SMART goals in this article, print out this goal-setting worksheet to create your own SMART goals to make 2014 the year you find success.
Posted 1/12/2014 12:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 15 comments 16,898 views
Just because you're trying to eat healthier this year, doesn't mean you can never go out to eat with your friends or family. Instead of getting frustrated and throwing caution to the wind, just do a little research ahead of time to identify healthy restaurants near you and menu options that fit in with your nutrition goals.
We've scoured popular restaurant menus to give you a head start with 15 healthy dishes that will fit into most eating plans. And don't worry, even if you do make a less-than-ideal choice at one meal, that doesn't mean you have to give up on healthy eating. Just go right back to your plan at the very next meal and don't waste time feeling guilty!
Posted 1/1/2014 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 10 comments 51,250 views
Each year many people make food-related New Year's resolutions or goals. Figuring out how to make dining out fit in with those goals can be a big challenge. Over the years, we've highlighted many of the healthier options in our Diet Friendly Dining series. Last year we were encouraged by the increased number of nutrition conscious restaurant options that were available.
This year, we've seen all sorts of new foods hit the market. Some, like the recently invented Cronut, throw nutrition caution to the wind. Others, like Satisfries, are an attempt to create tasty lower-calorie favorites. We scoured restaurant menus to find the biggest nutrition disasters so you'll know what to avoid when eating out in the new year.
Posted 12/27/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 31 comments 91,511 views
The high fiber cereals of years ago offered little taste for the nutritional benefit they provided. Today, that has changed and you can get a great tasting cereal that is also a good fiber source.
Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Not only does it aid in weight loss by helping you feel full and satisfied longer, it also helps reduce risks of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and aids in blood sugar control. Many people need more fiber in their diet and breakfast cereal provides a great option for maximizing your daily intake by getting the day started with a fiber rich meal.
Posted 11/2/2013 12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 332 comments 405,957 views
Everyone loves a top 10 list and many of them provide a good chuckle or two. Today we bring you a more serious top 10 list that instead of a chuckle, may make your gasp. Why? Here are 10 seemingly innocent salads that contain more than 1,000 calories each!
Posted 10/5/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 397 comments 311,150 views
It may have taken her five tries and 35 years, but 64-year-old Diana Nyad never gave up on her goal and her dream of swimming the 103 miles of Florida Straits, from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage.
She tried to make the swim the first time in 1978 but wasn’t successful, so she moved on with her life and pursued other interests. However, after turning 60 and losing her mother, the dream came alive again, as she explains in this TED talk from October 2011.
Posted 9/4/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 35 comments 38,824 views
We recently had a dailySpark team-brainstorming meeting. As we tossed around blog topics and ideas, Coach Nicole had a question that caught all of our attention. She asked, "If someone is running late in the morning, is it better to grab a doughnut on the go or skip breakfast?" I said it was better to grab the doughnut. I think my answer surprised her. Why would a doughnut be a better choice you ask?
Posted 8/9/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 241 comments 210,273 views
We all enjoy eating away from home from time to time and try to make smart choices when we do. Sometimes we sabotage all our best efforts and give in to a moment of weakness. The more you know about Diet Friendly Dining when you are eating Food on the Run the more you will be able to resist temptation.
Recently Eat This, Not That outlined the 20 Worst Restaurant Foods in America. Here are seven you should avoid if at all possible.
Posted 6/28/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 237 comments 333,399 views
Music is important to many people. It can pick you up when you're feeling down, motivate you when you need a little push, and inspire you to go the extra mile during a workout. We love to share our favoriate workout music list suggestions here on dailySpark, and we frequently receive requests for Christian exercise music. So I've compiled a list of my top 100 Christian workout songs.
There are many genres of Christian music, and even if you don't consider yourself to be religious or spiritual, you may discover that in addition to "clean lyrics," many of these songs are uplifting and encouraging in both their titles and words, making them motivational for just about anyone.
Listening to uplifting music can help anyone feel better and more positive about life. It can provide motivation to move forward with your healthy lifestyle goals, too. So whether you are feeling depressed, stressed, discouraged, or angry, this list of songs with positive messages can turn your focus back on all that is good in your life.
Posted 5/22/2013 6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 277 comments 693,771 views