SparkPeople Guest Blogger

Target Your Entire Lower Body in 14 Minutes

If you love barre workouts (or are ready to try one), check out this ballet-inspired lower-body routine that’s designed to sculpt and shape your hips, thighs and buns (oh, and your abs, too!) in less than 15 minutes. Pull up a sturdy chair (or head to the nearest countertop) for this efficient, effective, squat and lunge-free workout.


 
Want more? Click here to try more of our barre and ballet inspired routines on JESSICASMITHTV!
 
Like this workout? Be sure to subscribe at Youtube.com/JessicaSmithTV to access a full library of over 150 FREE full-length workout videos. New episodes air every Saturday at noon EST!

About the Author
Jessica Smith is co-author of the Thin in 10 Weight Loss Plan (Sunrise River Press, 2012), and a certified wellcoach, personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Having started her own fitness journey more than 40 pounds ago, Jessica knows how challenging it can be to lose weight (and keep it off). Recently named one of Sharecare's Top 10 Online Influencers, she loves finding and sharing the latest info on weight loss, fitness, and healthy lifestyle habits. The star of several best-selling exercise DVDs, Jessica has over 13 years of experience in the industry, and holds a bachelor's degree in Communications from Fordham University.

Posted 6/16/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   118,831 views

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Father's Day Success Story: 'I Want to Be There for My 3 Kids'

Brad Milligan (BRADMILL2922)

Weight Lost: 197 pounds
Hometown: Jeffersonville, IN
 
What was life like before losing weight?
I was a big kid and a big teenager. Being 6'7", I was never going to be small. I never enjoyed exercise much, but I did it because it was part of playing sports. I was always an athlete growing up, including playing baseball in college. When sports ended for me, I stopped exercising. I steadily gained weight in my 20s from lack of exercise and poor diet. When I was at my highest weight of 509 pounds, I didn't feel like doing anything. I didn't want to go out of the house and hang out with friends because I was embarrassed of myself. I really couldn't participate in many sporting activities or physical activities in general because it made me tired. I had no energy.

What was the main motivation behind your weight loss?
My main motivation was my kids. I am a single dad of three children and I wanted to be around for them, be more active with them and set a good example.  I realized that the way I was going, that wasn't going to happen. I had a lot of "dieting" stops and starts over the years that failed every time. I had lost myself and who I was. On May 4, 2012, I weighed in at 466 pounds and I decided that on May 5 (Kentucky Derby Day around here), I wasn't going to do this anymore. I came up with a plan of diet and, eventually, exercise that I thought would help me lose the weight. No shortcuts. No fad diets. No trainers. No surgery. No diet pills. It was going to be hard work and I knew I needed some help along the way which is where SparkPeople.com came in. I set a goal to lose 167 pounds, which would get me down to 299 pounds. I would be less than 300 pounds for the first time since college!

Posted 6/15/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 213 comments   40,316 views

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Easy & Healthy Ways to Grill Indoors

How great are summer barbecues? There's just something about gathering together with family and friends to enjoy a fantastic meal and share favorite stories from the past while you build new memories for the future.

But did you realize you don't have to wait until summer to grill? Or go outside at all for that matter? Indeed, congregating with your companions can be a year-round indoor activity as well. And the star of the show: Your range!

Grilling items with your range can be done in at least two specific ways, and rather than your typical heavy hamburgers or sauce-slathered barbecue, there are so many more options at your disposal. This is true not only because you have the luxury of grilling whatever's in season no matter the weather outside (outdoor barbecues aren't overwhelmingly popular in December for a reason!) but also because you have much more control over the temperature of the "fire."

Here are two completely separate grilling options using two different preparations, both of which can be made inside your kitchen using your range. 

Posted 5/23/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   14,212 views

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Clean Eating 101: Healthier Eating Made Easy

Are you curious about the term clean eating? Have you ever wondered what it is exactly or whether it might benefit you?
 
In my experience as a "clean eater," this way of eating can be a fabulous way to improve your health.
 
Clean eating in the most simple terms means eating real food—foods that are whole (unprocessed) and in their most natural state. In other words, people who subscribe to clean eating try to avoid foods altered or processed by humans or manufacturers.
 
That being said, there are many different approaches to eating clean, and none of them are wrong. Everyone from carnivores to vegans can eat clean and it doesn’t have to be complicated. While some people put lots of strict dieting rules around their "clean" diets, that's not the case for everyone. Eating clean really can be delicious, fulfilling, filling and simple! Here's how.

Posted 5/22/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 20 comments   138,941 views

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Eating to Fuel Different Race Lengths

Running is an incredible source of exercise and one of the best things about it is that you can compete against yourself. Whether you are participating in a 5K or a full marathon, there are races for all levels, and plenty of good causes to get you out there to run. But before you lace up and take off, make sure you are taking the time to fill your tank with proper food and hydration. Here are some ways to ensure that you are adequately fueled to finish any race with power and energy.

Posted 5/21/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 4 comments   26,752 views

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'After Losing 100 Pounds, I View the Entire World Differently'

Seeing her 275-pound self on TV at a football game motivated Jan-Marie to get serious about her health. Read on to learn about her journey to an amazing 100-pound loss!
 
Name: Jan-Marie Ruminski
Username: BOBCATGIRL76              
Amount of weight lost: 100 lbs
Hometown: Beavercreek, Ohio
Occupation: Academic Advisor
Age: 24
 
What was life like before your weight loss?
Looking back, I was never really an unhappy person. I loved life and had a ton of friends. But I was always aware that I was bigger than the majority of people in my life. I was involved in a ton of things in high school and college, like sports and theater, but I now realize how much my weight held me back in those areas.

What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?

Posted 5/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 36 comments   41,289 views

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The Hidden Exercise Risk No One Talks About

I thought I knew a thing or two about diet and exercise. For example, I knew how to do a squat, and that avoiding carbs altogether wasn’t necessarily a wise thing to do.

Then I enrolled in personal training school and realized just how much I didn’t know.
To be perfectly honest, I had never really given any thought to the subject of exercise safety – and it took getting a formal education to bring it to my awareness.

When you want to lose weight and get in shape, you focus on the important things: what foods to eat, which fitness program to follow and how to balance your calories in vs. calories out. Of course these factors are normal and helpful, but when it comes to exercise—an activity designed to bring you optimal health and well-being—there are hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface if you aren't paying attention.

Posted 5/14/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 78 comments   86,283 views

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The 11-Minute Miracle Workout

One of the major benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training) is it’s efficiency! This type of intense work means there’s no need to spend 60, 30 or even 20 minutes doing cardio. This 11-minute HIIT session is short, sweet and sweaty! It’s perfect for when you are short on time, as an add-on to another workout or as a staple in your regular weekly rotation (I don’t recommend doing it more than 3-4 non-consecutive days per week, though).

Posted 5/6/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 19 comments   135,910 views

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6 Exercises That Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy

What’s the best way to stay in shape during your pregnancy—and beyond?  Get in the best shape of your life before you get pregnant! Here are my top six exercise recommendations for preparing your body for a strong and healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

Posted 5/5/2014  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments   39,605 views

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DVD Review: Get R.I.P.P.E.D. in Less Than 50 Minutes a Day!

We're always on the lookout for new fitness DVDs that are fun, challenging, and easy to fit into a busy day. So when R.I.P.P.E.D.: Total Body Challenge promised us a calorie-torching, full-body interval workout in less than 50 minutes, we had to take it through a test run. Interval-style training always drives away our workout boredom—and it delivers serious results to boot—so we couldn't wait to give this program a try! To find out if R.I.P.P.E.D. really delivers (and whether it's right for you), keep reading. 

Posted 5/1/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 14,503 views

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The Top 5 Myths about Women and Strength Training

Have you ever heard a woman say, "I can't lift weights. I don't want to get bulky." Or how about, "I don't want to gain muscle. I just want to tone the muscle I already have."

These are just a couple of the common responses I hear when I suggest strength training to women who are interested in getting in better shape.  Sadly, there are many myths that women believe about muscles and strength training.
Although we've seen a bit of a paradigm shift happening the past few years in which more women are making their way into the weight room, there are still just a few myths that won't die, and I'm going to bust them now.

Posted 4/29/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   32,844 views

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6 Pre-Race Food & Fitness Blunders

You have a race coming up—congratulations! Whether it's a 5K or a 50K, you have a lot to be proud of! To make sure your race goes off without a hitch, start here.
 
When it comes to race day, there are plethora of do's and don’ts to set yourself up for success. While there are a variety of expert opinions on how to approach a race, it ultimately comes down to figuring out what works for you—and trust me, I have had plenty of personal trials and errors from which anyone can learn. Here are some of the common nutrition and fitness mistakes even experienced runners make that can be detrimental during the race itself.

Posted 4/24/2014  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   40,179 views

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4 Tips to Stop the Fat Talk for Good

Fat talk.  We've all done it.  We have all looked in the mirror at one time or another and said negative things about our physical appearance. 

In fact, we probably do it so often that we don't even notice it anymore.

We pinch our bellies and grumble about our thighs rubbing together and look at the dimples on the backs of our legs in disgust for years. We say it in our heads, we share it with our girlfriends, and even when our partners complement our bodies, we argue with their assessment. We do it so often that it seems totally normal. 

But it's not. 

We aren't made to be filled with self-hatred, self-loathing and negative self-talk; yet somehow it has become completely acceptable to be our own worst enemy.
So how can you stop this kind of talk?  How can we go from bashing our bodies on a regular basis to thinking more positively and replacing those negative thoughts with loving ones? Start with these four strategies.

Posted 4/17/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 14 comments   33,460 views

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3 Symptoms Your Husband Shouldn't Ignore

Your husband says he has a nagging pain below his ribs, chest tightness that won’t quit or has simply been feeling sluggish lately, but doesn’t feel like calling his doctor (or doesn’t have one). Here are three symptoms he (and you) should take seriously.

Posted 4/16/2014  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   105,532 views

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A Quick, Zero-Equipment Cardio Workout

Are you getting bored with your cardio routine? Spice things up with this quick, efficient (and kinda fun!) cardio workout that can be done with or without impact in a small space at home. I’ll show modification options during the routine, so be sure to stick with whatever works best for your body!  

Posted 4/16/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   30,772 views

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