SparkPeople Guest Blogger

How 3 Formerly Overweight Trainers Started Careers in Fitness

Fitness trainers are superhumans, able to simultaneously sweat and talk and work at the same time while challenging you to push yourself to be your best. They can be your biggest motivator, but they're on another level, nothing like you. Right? In fact, many people feel so inspired by their own weight-loss journeys that they feel compelled to give back and become trainers themselves.
 
No matter how much weight you’re trying to lose or how drastically you’re looking to change your relationship with food and exercise, getting fit is a journey unique to each of us. Success stories can be the motivation you need to push you closer toward that finish line, and when those stories come from people who now make their living being fit, those stories are even more inspirational.

Posted 3/26/2018  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 28 comments   11,390 views

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An AMRAP Workout That's Perfect for Anyone With Limited Mobility

It happened again: You bent down to pick something up and your body yelled, "Nope, not happening." "Why is this so difficult?" you ask yourself. "Why won't my knees bend enough? Why does this simple movement trigger a stiff feeling in my back?" There's no denying that your ease of movement is just not what it used to be. Your body is starting to tell you your joints need mobility.
 
It's common to think you should stretch what feels tight, but sometimes the muscle that is tight is also weak. This tightness you feel could be your brain's way of protecting your muscles from instability. The motor neurons feeding your muscles sense excess tension and tell the muscle to relax. However, if this feedback loop in the nervous system continues over time, your muscles could become weak. Stretch after waking up stiff, for example, and you could be starting a cycle of constantly stretching, feeling looser momentarily and then having to repeat on a daily basis.

Posted 3/14/2018  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 99 comments   33,674 views

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This Heart-Pumping, 15-Minute Workout Is Perfect for Small Spaces

Why is it that when people hear the word "cardio" the mind automatically goes to a painful hour on the treadmill or a sweat-soaked afternoon in a fitness class? Perhaps it was an elementary school gym teacher who made you believe that an hour of running several times a week was the only way to stay in shape, or maybe it's a perception that you created after walking by the exercise room at your gym and seeing everyone drenched and panting after too many burpees. 

Whatever the cause of cardio's often-bad reputation, if you want to get your heart-pumping, you don't need to carve out a full hour to reap the many physical and mental benefits of engaging in cardio training. No, that's not true at all. In fact, you only need 15 minutes. 

Posted 3/8/2018  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 50 comments   17,883 views

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Why I Don't Do Cardio

I have a confession to make: I don't do cardio.

As someone who works fitness industry, it often comes as a surprise to people when I share this information. My aversion comes down to the simple fact that I don't enjoy cardio, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I used to run or spend hours on the exercise bike, and I still have a free-standing punch bag I used to use at home. Unfortunately, when I first started trying to lose weight, the novelty of being out of breath, sweating insane amounts and aching all over wore off quickly. After only a few weeks, I was done.

Posted 1/24/2018  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 94 comments   16,080 views

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Why You Should Set Goals, Not Resolutions

With a new year comes an onslaught of "new year, new you" conversations. How will you improve yourself in the coming year? What should you consider changing about your lifestyle to make your next year your best one yet? Can a little tweak here and a little change there be the ticket to your happiest self?
 
As New Year's resolutions dreams and plans swirl around your head, I'd like to make one request: Don't make resolutions. Really, it's not worth it. If your plan is fitness related, especially, seriously, do not even bother. It might sound crazy, but I promise there's a better, more effective way to approach your new year, new you.
 
First, let's check the numbers.

Posted 1/2/2018  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 97 comments   11,652 views

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The True Power of Setting the Right Goals

When it comes to improving our health and well-being, many of us find motivation failing us when we need it most. It's a common feeling that plagues many, especially when it comes to weight loss, which might mean that weight goals are simply not effective at motivating most people over the long term.
 
Concern about weight feels like a powerful motivator in that moment when you decide you just can't live like this anymore. You start out intensely focused on the new, better life you deserve but, if you're like most people, that determination doesn't last.
 
It's especially frustrating when you know you want to change for compelling reasons like wanting to be healthier and live longer. These reasons make perfect sense but, surprisingly, they lack the deeply emotional appeal that most people need in order to stay focused for the long haul. You know that someday if you stick it out, you'll be glad you made the effort. That payoff can seem distant and obscure, though, when what you need is something that feels worthwhile and rewarding today.

Posted 12/15/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 89 comments   19,472 views

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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 : 74 comments   13,995 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 : 66 comments   29,769 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 : 86 comments   40,671 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 : 56 comments   18,723 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 : 111 comments   24,274 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 : 125 comments   21,025 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 : 99 comments   26,415 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 : 70 comments   25,578 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 : 54 comments   20,702 views

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