SparkPeople Guest Blogger

The Eating Disorder Hiding Behind One Woman's ''Perfect'' Body

About 12 years ago, a friend invited me along to Miami to celebrate a 50th birthday party in style. The celebration was as to be expected: enjoying the casual beach vibes, eating and drinking with nary a thought about health or fitness. It was all good. All good, that is, until an afternoon island hopping evolved into an attack on body image with me—or more specifically, my physique—at the center of the argument.

With everyone in their bikinis, one woman turned to me, loudly declaring, "If I had a body like that, I'd rule the world!" Rather than celebrating body differences and discussing fitness aspirations, the single comment resulted in the group ganging up on me, critiquing and chiding me for being fit—all over a comment I didn't solicit and found ludicrous.

While there are countless instances in which envy over how I looked caused people to react to me in a certain way, the above example is particularly poignant. The fact that alcohol was involved (which certainly played a big part in the petty behavior) didn't ease the shock I felt from my long-time friend joining in to ridicule me with comments like, "Well, what do you expect—look at how you're dressed!"  What!? In a bikini, like every other woman on board?

Posted 10/13/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 72 comments   10,571 views

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Could Your Self-Esteem Be Undermining Your Wellness Efforts?

Do you repeatedly get on track with your self-care, only to let it slip away again despite achieving good results? Your self-esteem could be the culprit, whether you realize it or not. 
 
It can be tricky to know for sure because self-esteem isn't something you simply do or do not have; it can be stronger in some parts of your life than in others. If you are confident and accomplished at work, for example, you might not realize that you are showing some low self-esteem when you feel guilty or selfish about prioritizing your health.

Posted 10/12/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 63 comments   18,996 views

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18 Ways Anyone Over 50 Can Become More Active

As time marches on, joints that didn't use to ache suddenly ache, and things you used to do with ease are slightly more challenging. There's no denying that getting older can be a pain. But because you're a baby boomer, you're determined to make your "third act" purposeful and active. This is a generation of 'do-ers' and that doesn't stop as you age.
 
Whether working, traveling or learning a new skill, the challenge we face in our 50s, 60s and beyond is to stay healthy and fit so we can enjoy our lives and continue contributing to the world. But how? We see our bodies change right before our eyes, as our middles get thicker and our muscles get smaller. Joints creak, aches and pains are a near-daily occurrence, and injuries seem to pop up more often. We have bones to keep healthy and injuries and illnesses to handle.
 
What's a person to do? Instead of getting overwhelmed and calling it quits or overdoing it by hitting the gym for hours at a time, create what I call a "Moving Life" instead. In your Moving Life, activity is built in as a natural part of your day. If you're sedentary for most of the week or you've been a weekend warrior up to this point, incorporating some or all of these ideas for adding movement to your day could lead to improvements in your overall wellness.

Posted 9/21/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 83 comments   27,548 views

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Grab a Towel for This 5-Move, Full-Body Workout

There is a rumor going around that getting fit has to cost an arm and a leg. Between expensive boutique studios, top-notch athleisure brands and new, enticing tech gear and equipment that you just have to have, you can easily spend hundreds on creating the perfect pricey workout routine—but that's not your only option.
 
Our ancestors survived without top-of-the-line treadmills and stationary bikes, so why can't we? Truth be told, all you really need is your own bodyweight, a towel and a little determination to make all your fitness dreams come true. Using a towel as a piece of equipment in these five moves can both increase the intensity of moves you already know and love, while effectively challenging muscle groups that you can't hit with bodyweight alone.

Posted 9/12/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 53 comments   16,038 views

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Are You Focusing on Progress or Perfection?

One of my favorite mottos, both in fitness and in life, is "progress, not perfection." But what does that really mean? 

In weight loss, so often our minds focus only on the end goal. Step out of line or lose focus on that end goal, and you might as well call it quits. In this one-mile "walk and talk," you'll learn the importance of letting go the damaging all-or-nothing mentality. In gaining an understanding of the importance of the journey and focusing on what you can do and have done, you can overcome any obstacle, from binge eating to skipping workouts. 

Posted 9/7/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 104 comments   16,734 views

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Could Posting ''Flaws and All'' Photos Boost Your Confidence?

Whether you're a voracious newsfeed reader or the casual Instagram browser, chances are if you're on social media you've seen the "before" and "not-quite-after" photos fitness blogger post online. Here's the setup: People take two pictures within seconds, minutes or hours, changing a few things in the "after" before posting them both side by side. For instance, on the left you might see a woman posing herself in a flattering way—flexing, sucking it in, finds that perfect angle with good lighting—and voila! This woman looks amazing. She has incredible abs, muscle definition, the whole package. Then, that same woman simply changes her posture, relaxes her muscles, pulls the compression tights down a bit and voila—she has cellulite and love handles in the picture on the right. In other words, she's a real person.

Posted 8/23/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 121 comments   16,998 views

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Get a Boost With This Motivational 1-Mile Walk With Jessica Smith

Looking for a little inspiration to go along with your daily walk? Consider tossing the headphones and bumping beats aside to try this walk and talk on for size. 

Using a metronome set to 140 beats per minute, you'll keep a steady walking pace throughout our chat, hitting that one-mile marker in about 14 quick minutes. In this video, I'll be discussing hte importance of staying grateful for what we have while working toward what we want. In the journey to health and fitness, we often focus only on the future, those goals and how we'll feel once we achieve them. However, taking care to be mindful of the present, the work you are putting in to reach your goals and how you feel day to day is key in enjoying and embracing the whole journey. 

Posted 7/12/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 96 comments   21,311 views

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4 Hula Hoop Moves Your Inner Child Will Love

After gaining 80 pounds during her first pregnancy, Kristin Benton, was looking for a solution. Little did she know that the solution would lead her on a new path in life, one that would be as much about fun as it was about fitness.
 
As someone who had never been into "fitness for fitness sake," staying fit for Benton was more about sports and more social activities. With 80 pounds to drop, she turned to an unconventional solution: the hula hoop. Every night, she'd grab a hoop, spin it around her waist for 30 minutes and before long, she was 40 pounds lighter. Nine years later, Benton left her high profile corporate job to found FXP Hula Hoop Fitness (now FXP Fitness), which invented the world's first weighted, portable fitness hula hoop with a workout program based upon proven principles of Pilates, ballet barre and yoga.

Posted 6/13/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 67 comments   22,222 views

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What a Mystery Illness Taught One Man About Weight-Loss Success

At 20, most people are midway through college, exploring the world, discovering what it means to be on their own or starting their first "real" job. At 20, I became ill with an illness doctors could not diagnose. One night I went to sleep healthy and the next day I woke up with numbness and pain that soon led to paralysis in my right leg, overall weakness and weight problems. The onset of my illness was so quick and severe that my family and I thought we could find a cure just as quickly as it appeared.
 
My family and I started on a quest to find an answer, but after visits to top hospitals and institutions across the country, the mystery remained. While some offered conditions like multiple sclerosis or Lyme disease as a possible cause, the only certainty was that it was chronic and it not only affected my body, but was starting to affect my spirit, as well. Living with the illness and the uncertainty left me feeling stressed, afraid anxious and, well, fat.

Posted 5/29/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 53 comments   19,069 views

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Achieve a Better Back With 5 Spine-Strengthening Moves

Symptoms of the aging spine include the following: friends or family noting that you look "bent over," a subtle groan coming out every time you reach down to tie your show, a waistline that seems to be expanding despite your steady weight. Isn't aging lovely?
 
With gravity pulling you down on a daily basis, you need strength and endurance just to hold yourself up. If we relax and slump back in the desk chair or while standing in front of the stove too often, the eventual result is a sore back and a weakened, distended abdomen. While everyone deserves a good break from the stresses of daily life, prolonged sitting is now considered by many experts to be the new harbinger for many chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
 
Our spines change as we change over time—it has the effects of our lives written all over. Whether it's daily habits putting a strain on the 50-plus joints of the spine or accidents or illnesses that affected the spine, it's important to care for these bones as we age. With some tools, you can counteract the effects of aging on your spine, increase your sitting endurance, experience less stiffness and maybe even less groaning over time.

Posted 5/19/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 87 comments   32,156 views

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10 Easy Side Dishes to Make That Chicken Dinner a Winner

When it comes to the protein portion of a healthy diet, boneless, skinless chicken is a hero. It’s versatile, easy to prepare and naturally lower in fat and calories than many other meat options. But by itself, chicken can be, well, a little boring.
 
If baked, grilled or roasted chicken is a regular part of your dinner rotation, you’ll need some great side dishes to add a little spark to the plate. From lentils to slaw, these 10 side dish recipes that can help breathe new life to that chicken dinner.

Posted 5/9/2017  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 38 comments   1,122,652 views

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Here's the Thing About Getting Older

I don’t know why it feels like such an accomplishment to have stayed alive for half a century, but it does. It really, really does. Recently I hit that milestone 5-0 and with it came a lot of excitement and a lot of reflection. Honestly, it feels like a second adolescence, mercifully minus the angst and acne. Kids practically grown, years of wisdom under my belt, new stage of life—no wonder the people in the AARP commercials are always smiling.

First off, let me just say I don’t think 50 is old. I find age to be subjective. I know some 20-year-olds that act like they’re 85 and vice versa. Currently, I base any age-related issues on my dad. He’s 77 and just went back to grad school because, why not? It seemed like the right thing to do and there's always more to learn. He also walks a couple of miles a day and regularly does pushups. The lesson? Seventy-seven, not old. I watch him and follow his lead.

Much of how an individual handles aging seems to come down to attitude and priorities. As I neared the turning of another decade, I asked myself, “How do I want to age? Kicking and screaming? Gracefully? Call it quits and give up? Or do I try something else entirely?” I’ve seen people go kicking and screaming. It isn’t pretty. Grace has never been my strong suit, so I can’t see myself starting now. Quit and give up seems like a terrible option, which leaves me with something else entirely.

Posted 4/28/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 191 comments   37,381 views

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9 Things You Should Never EVER Say to Your Husband

Communication is the foundation of any good marriage. When you're with someone day in, day out, for years on end, issues are bound to crop up. If you think a topic warrants a discussion, you should absolutely feel comfortable discussing it with your husband. But when it comes to certain hot-button issues, like friends, weight and the bank account, you might want to tread lightly. From serious to silly, here are nine things you should probably never say to your husband.  

Posted 3/23/2017  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 88 comments   1,246,135 views

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Shelli's Journey from ''Shame Yourself Thin'' to Body Acceptance

The size acceptance movement, body positivity movement, fat acceptance movement— call it what you may, it's a movement that continues to create quite a buzz, from the covers of magazines to social media newsfeeds. The movement is about accepting yourself and other people as is, no matter the size of their waist, if they're pear-shaped, their curves or any other physical feature. Sounds like what we teach our kids, right? What could be possibly controversial about acceptance? Hold hands and sing "kum ba yah" around the campfire. Pass the s'mores.

Posted 3/13/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 78 comments   25,138 views

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4 Soothing Stretches for Cold and Flu Relief

When overly tired or stressed out, our immune system becomes less effective and often results in a cold or the flu. Getting sidelined by sickness when you have errands to run, deadlines to meet and mouths to feed is frustrating, to say the least, but finding simple ways to ease some of the aches and pains until you're back on your feet is a relief.

Gentle yoga poses or a restorative yoga class can help by letting your body rest and reduce some of that stress. With these four simple yoga poses, you'll provide light opening for the chest, neck and shoulders to help relieve some of the discomfort often caused by congestion. 

Posted 3/2/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 28 comments   35,480 views

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