SparkPeople Guest Blogger
Editor's Note: We are thrilled to be teaming up with Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer and YouTube fitness star, to bring you the #5MileChallenge! Read on for Jessica's explanation of the challenge, and get ready to lace up your walking shoes on June 1st. See you on the road (or track, or trail, or even in your living room with a walking DVD!).
Whether you are just starting to build your fitness habit or are a more advanced exerciser, a regular walking program offers so many incredible health and fitness benefits. That's why I am so excited to be teaming up with SparkPeople to bring you this fun #5MileChallenge!
Our goal is to help you stay more active when you are not already working out, or to get you moving more often to spark up a new exercise habit. Even if you have been exercising routinely for years, it may not be enough to combat the ill effects of hours of sitting, which is why adding more steps to your day is beneficial for everyone (just check out these scary sitting stats!).
Posted 5/15/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 630 comments 50,403 views
When it comes to healthy, glowing skin, what you put into your body can be even more important than what you put on it. "Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being, but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that you consume, the better your skin will look," says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York. While there are many nutritious foods available, the following list will give you the maximum skin benefits for your bite.
Posted 5/13/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 1 comments 14,368 views
It happens to the best of us…perhaps you set a goal to run a 5K, resolved to get back to running, or were coerced into signing up for some crazy race by your adventurous best friend (it sounded like a good idea at the time!). Feeling motivated, you do what most people do--just get out there and start pounding the pavement--and that's when it happens… your body begins to complain. It usually starts as a quiet whisper, some lingering stiffness or low-grade soreness, and before you know it, the whispers become screams.
As you curse your body in a fit of frustration, you recall running pain-free for hours as a child. What changed? We grew up and got desk jobs with long commutes, that’s what. Sadly, our bodies have become tight, hunched, and ill-equipped to handle the motion of running due, in large part, to our lifestyles. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Luckily, there's a workout that can help you become a more efficient runner. Designed by Coach Alison Heilig, Fit Blogger for AcaciaTV and RRCA-Certified Running Coach at Miles To Go Athletics, the following routine is designed to help you start running longer and stronger in no time. Add it to your running regimen three days per week to up your running game!
Posted 5/12/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 3 comments 10,319 views
Most Americans will try to lose weight four to five times every year, according to ABC News. It’s only April, and I’ve already tried twice. How about you?
Every time we fail at losing weight, we decide that we’re not good enough and begin the negative self-talk. I call this my inner critic, and she’s a witch. We all have one, and for some reason we listen to them—no matter how mean they are. It’s time to silence that inner critic and love ourselves. Let’s tell that inner critic to get lost, and we’re going to use a mirror to do it.
If you’re unhappy with your looks, you might go to extremes to avoid mirrors. But the truth is, your mirror can be your best friend, helping you gain self-confidence whether you need to shed some pounds or just want to work on loving your inner self.
Read on for five ways to use your mirror to your advantage.
Posted 5/4/2015 12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments 13,598 views
AMwhat? You might have heard the term "AMRAP" floating around on fitness blogs in recent years as CrossFit has surged in popularity. AMRAP is an acronym for "as many rounds as possible" and is a component of many CrossFit workouts in gyms (or "boxes") around the world. In an AMRAP, you are given a circuit of exercises to do, and you must complete as many rounds of those exercises within a given time frame. It's a time-efficient way to work up a sweat, and it can be done virtually anywhere with minimal equipment!
Posted 4/21/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 11 comments 57,179 views
You wake up feeling a bit less than your best: Achy, fatigued, sniffly nose--the works. Yep, seems like you're getting sick (ugh!). But you've got a workout already planned for today, and you took a rest day yesterday. Should you push through your planned workout or take it easy?
When you're sick and are debating a workout, the first general rule of thumb is simple. When you're deciding whether to head to the gym or stay home and cozy up to that bottle of DayQuil, consider "the neck rule" first. If your symptoms are exhibited above the neck (i.e. runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, scratchy throat), then it is safe for you to head to the gym (but bring some tissues!). If your symptoms fall below your neck (i.e. chest congestion, coughing, or if you have a fever and are taking medications to control your symptoms), you might want to use that gym bag as a pillow instead. Having to press pause on your weekly workout routine can be a motivation killer, but a fully functioning body is your best weapon to stay healthy and fit.
Posted 4/17/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 5 comments 18,462 views
The muscles of your core work together to support posture, protect the spine and improve agility, balance and power, making core strength training an important part of any fitness routine. Unfortunately, for many people, core strength training and back pain or discomfort go hand in hand. Often resulting from weak muscles and poor form, back pain is no reason to avoid core strength training, though. In fact, properly performed core exercises can simultaneously help protect your back and strengthen the abs at the same time.
Decrease the probability of injury with these back-friendly core strength exercises.
Posted 4/8/2015 12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments 96,782 views
Strength training is an important part of any good exercise regimen. Not only do you build muscle (which burns fat), but strength training also helps to speed up the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for longer periods of time. Looking for new ways to strength train without having to move around too much? Here are six static positions that require very little movement while still building muscular endurance and strength.
Posted 4/4/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments 96,978 views
Did you know that there are well over 300 yoga poses in the physical yoga practice? If that number seems overwhelming to you, don't worry! Learning the following five yoga postures is a great way for you to get acquainted with the practice as a beginner. Once you have a good understanding of these postures, you can start to feel more comfortable in a class or practicing on your own at home. If you do each one of these for 5 to 8 breaths, it also creates a great beginner’s yoga program for you to do every day.
Posted 3/23/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 17 comments 39,430 views
Fact: Doctors love to eat. It is a truth that I learned early on in my medical training and one that has followed me through my career. To survive long shifts and a revolving door of patients, I quickly learned that a solid meal is key, but that doesn’t always mean we have time to sit down for a nice meal of quinoa and kale. For doctors, food is energy, plain and simple, and that means carbs, fats and proteins that can be procured and eaten quickly on breaks.
As the treadmill of my life as a surgeon cranked up to full speed, I adopted these poor eating habits to cope with my increasingly hectic schedule. Sporadic eating throughout the day led to overeating at dinner, and bribing nurses with glazed croissants ended with indulging in one or two sweet treats myself. I gave little thought to nutritional value or savoring the taste of what I was eating and thus, as my practice grew, so did my waistline.
Suddenly, 20 years had passed since my days as an eager intern, and my weight was up--along with my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar. Who knew I couldn’t just tell my patients how to be healthy without following the same advice myself?
But then I realized something great: It was not too late to make a change. I could save my patients and myself at the same time. Yes, there is a donut shop on the first floor of the hospital, but I don’t have to frequent it. While there are bays of elevators taking me up to the 8th floor to see patients, I don't have to use them. In the end, it is about finding the right balance. The secret to healthy living is not a fad diet or some short term sacrifices; It is about making good choices, most of the time. I am not perfect, but my weight is down, my blood sugar levels are normal and my cholesterol is under control. I don’t count calories, but I do exercise five days a week, alternating cardio and weight training.
Posted 3/5/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments 23,171 views
Dancing is one of the most enjoyable exercises you can do to be healthy and ecstatically happy while getting fit and losing weight! Dance is fun and exciting, and you’re always learning something new and interesting. All you need is your two feet and your favorite music. The best part is that there is no prior experience necessary! The more you dance and the longer you do it, the better it feels and the more skillful you become. Not only can dance workouts can burn up to 1,000 calories in one hour, but dance also builds stamina, strength, agility and flexibility. Dance also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, promotes a healthy immune system, and can even help you sleep better and reduce the symptoms of depression. Try it and see for yourself how good you feel after! Here are some simple and fun dance moves for everyone to try at home.
Posted 3/3/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments 13,605 views
I hate working out! There, I said it. We all have reasons for exercising, but for many of us, it’s not because we genuinely love it. Working out has a slew of health benefits, makes us feel and look better, and can even slow down the aging process and help boost our immune systems. But sometimes, those reasons alone aren't motivating enough to get us up off the couch if exercise isn't already an established part of our routines. So, how do we go from being sedentary to making fitness a regular part of our daily lives? Honestly, the hardest part is getting started—and these five steps will help give you the motivation you need to make that first step (literally and figuratively).
Posted 2/19/2015 6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 1 comments 24,522 views
Microwaves are obviously the speediest (and therefore easiest) way to cook. But it turns out that shorter cook times can also help to preserve more of your veggies' natural nutrients. In fact, other cooking methods may deplete the nutritional value so much that your green beans basically lose all their green... metaphorically speaking, of course.
Some people believe microwaving vegetables zaps them of their vitamins and minerals. However, the main culprit of nutrient drain is actually water.
Posted 2/18/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments 30,327 views
A couple facing diabetes and other health issues joined together to start a weight loss journey that took them from sedentary and lifeless to vigorous and healthy. They now have many Valentine's Day celebrations ahead of them as a couple thanks to careful food tracking and daily walking!
Names: Steve and Debbie Cartwright
Usernames: Sac-6582 and Debarizona
Amount of weight lost: Steve lost 180 pounds and Debbie lost 87 pounds
Hometown: Peoria, AZ
Occupations: Steve is in ministry and Debbie is a facility director for a camp/retreat
Ages: Steve is 54 and Debbie is 52
Posted 2/10/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 94 comments 47,840 views
Neck pain is one of the most common problems that many of us experience. Studies show that 30% of people experience neck pain, with women affected more often than men. The neck includes seven segments (or vertebrae) with discs acting as shock-absorbers between the segments. The vertebrae are supported by 18 groups of muscles that maintain support and allow function. Why so many muscles? Well, the head weighs about 10 pounds and sits about 10 inches above the shoulders with only the neck to support it. No wonder it gets sore from time to time!
So, how do we keep our neck healthy and strong? The answer is maintaining motion and strength exercises. So let’s look at both. And remember, if you experience pain, stop the exercise and consult your doctor. And don’t feel you have to do all of the exercises. Pick the ones that help the most and don’t cause increased pain.
Posted 1/31/2015 12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments 99,610 views