SparkPeople Guest Blogger

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 : 50 comments   13,570 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 : 48 comments   15,369 views

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5 Ways to Achieve a Better Back

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 : 69 comments   23,592 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 : 32 comments   1,056,931 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 : 175 comments   30,254 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 : 84 comments   1,238,534 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 : 75 comments   21,828 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 : 23 comments   29,543 views

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Release Stress Right at Your Desk With 5 Chair Yoga Moves

You've been sitting at your desk for several hours and you haven't moved. It's you, your computer and your phone for the foreseeable future. Your back starts to ache and your neck feels stiff, so you wiggle in your seat and try to find a better, more comfortable "sitting" position. Nothing seems to work. The ache persists and you spend the rest of the afternoon cursing your uncomfortable chair for turning on you.
 
What you don't realize is that if you took a few minutes out of your day to stretch out with some simple yoga poses, you would be doing your body a great service. Not only can a few targeted poses strengthen your core and spine, but they can also help you in opening up your lungs, activating your breath, focusing your mind, and in fact stretching your entire body without ever fully abandoning your chair.

Posted 2/15/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 25 comments   59,846 views

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Prep Endless Homemade Mason Jar Soups With This Handy Chart

Mason jars are trending—not only for crafts, but also for people who are looking for fun, fresh and fantastic new ways to get or stay healthy. Mason jar salads and Mason jar oatmeal have had their moment, but the latest, greatest meal-prep project is Mason jar soups.

Posted 2/1/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 36 comments   28,895 views

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Feel the Lower-Body Burn With This Quick Circuit Workout

Love it or hate it, leg day or at least spending time flexing those leg muscles is a must for any strength training schedule. Lucky for you, you can get in a mile's worth of steps and a solid all-over leg burn in just 15 quick minutes.

Posted 1/16/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   56,786 views

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Walk a Mile & Sculpt Your Arms, Right at Home

Who says you have to bundle up and brave the elements to take a walk? With this multi-tasking session, you can step and sculpt from the comfort of home.

Posted 1/5/2017  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 19 comments   29,695 views

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7 Tips to Boost Your Body Confidence

You've probably heard a lot about the importance of having a good body image or body confidence. After all, who doesn't want to love themselves more and feel more confident in their body?

And it sounds simple enough: love yourself and your body as you are. But how exactly do you do that? Especially if you've struggled with feeling good about your body for years or if you are trying to lose weight? How can you improve your body confidence?

Posted 12/26/2016  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   13,882 views

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Start Strength Training After 60 With These Targeted Moves

If you have reached the age of 60 without any aches, pains, health problems or injuries, congratulations! However, the vast majority of the population by this age has had their fair share of challenges, which makes exercising all the more difficult. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all adults weight train at least two non-consecutive days a week, in addition to regular cardio work. Not only will regular resistance training make you feel like a superhero when you're picking up the grandkids, but you'll also be decreasing your risk of heart disease, decreasing blood pressure and improving cholesterol, among other benefits.  
 
By the time you reach the age of 60, what should your strength-training program include to reap the benefits, though? The weight room can be intimidating for anyone who's never lifted weights, and with so much equipment available, finding the right combination of exercises can be downright confusing. Any resistance training routine should include three elements: Exercises that increase flexibility, increase your strength for all major muscle groups and be selected with care to avoid aggravating past injuries or causing new ones, most importantly. For your first foray into the weight room, keep these 16 moves in mind and get ready to get strong.

Posted 10/27/2016  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 16 comments   86,494 views

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Optimize Your Performance with 9 Athlete-Inspired Moves

Athletes have careers that ride on every performance, game or competition. The majority of these athletes spend their entire lives training for their moment—sacrificing time with family and friends in order to make it to the top, skipping vacations for days in the gym, spending the off season training and perfecting skills in order to be better for when the next season comes around. The elite athlete mindset is focused on being the best. When the difference between gold and silver can be just a fraction of a second, a fierce dedication and attention to detail can give them the advantage.

No matter if you are an avid athlete or a weekend warrior, though, we have that desire to perform at our best in common. It is human nature to want to excel, and it is motivation, determination and the details that gets us to the finish line.

Posted 8/15/2016  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments   28,321 views

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