The SparkPeople Blog

Socialize Smarter: 6 Picks for 3 Popular Meet-Up Spots

By: , – Staff Writer
5/27/2016  12:00:00 AM   :  3 comments   :  1,148 views

Tuesday: Meet mom for coffee. Thursday: Birthday happy hour for Carol at that killer place down the street, you know, the one with the perfect jukebox? Friday: Date night at the movies.
Sound familiar? Unless you're The Bachelor being whisked away by a private jet for dates to hike in Montana or jet ski in Tahiti, chances are the majority of your social outings revolve around the food and drink scene. Whether it's a date night or a friend night penciled in on your social calendar, the opportunities for an outing to throw off your carefully planned nutrition are plentiful for the average person. No one wants to be a hermit, after all.

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No Butts About It: 50 Reasons to Quit Smoking

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/27/2016  12:00:00 AM   :  1 comments   :  722 views

Smoking is an expensive habit. Beyond the $5 to $13 for a pack of cigarettes (depending on where you live) it also costs the lives of 480,000 Americans, $300 billion in medical expenses and $156 billion in lost productivity each year, according to the CDC. With such a staggering expense at stake, it's hard to believe that more than 16 percent of U.S. adults were still smoking as of 2014.

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What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/26/2016  12:00:00 AM   :  18 comments   :  7,130 views

The older I get, the faster time goes. As each year passes with the blink of an eye, I try to learn from my mistakes and am constantly striving to be a better version of myself. Let's be honest, sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, I still keep trying.

When I think back to my health and fitness habits 10, 15 or 20 years ago, a lot has changed. I've become much more aware of the food I put into my body. Gone are the days of "diet" cookies or fat-free chips, foods that used to be part of the healthy food section of my grocery list. I've become a conscious label reader, and while my diet is far from perfect, I try not to eat too many foods with ingredients I can't pronounce. My exercise routine has changed considerably, as well. I used to feel like any workout under 60 minutes was a waste of time, and 90 percent of my exercise routine involved running. These days, I focus more on quality over quantity and try to add more variety—including challenging strength exercises and new forms of cardio—into the mix. As a result, I've uncovered muscles I never knew I had and have even discovered new exercises that I love just as much as running. Hello, Muay Thai kickboxing!.

There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self on the topic of being healthy. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, right? Which is not to say that this sense of "infinite wisdom" means I do everything right. I make mistakes every day, just like anyone else. But now I recognize a better way to think about my health and my body. Given the chance, I would tell 25-year-old Jen:

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Piloxing in Action: 8 Moves to Try at Home

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/26/2016  12:00:00 AM   :  13 comments   :  9,517 views

Want to try Piloxing in the comfort of your own home before heading to a class? Below are some of the founder's favorite routines as demonstrated by Colette Van Dyk, U.S. Master Trainer of Piloxing. Shoot for 10 to 20 repetitions of each exercise on each side.

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Dinner on Demand: 10 Key Foods You Need in Your Pantry

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/25/2016  12:00:00 AM   :  3 comments   :  13,629 views

On busy weeknights when six o'clock sneaks up out of nowhere (again), does the sequence of events at your house go something like this: First, someone hollers that ubiquitous question, "What's for dinner?" Next, you or your significant other play the “The Pantry Showdown,” which involves standing in front of said space, scanning the shelves for the miraculous combination of ingredients that will rescue everyone from the hangry zone. And finally, if luck is on your side, some nights you actually manage to cobble together something that strikes an acceptable balance between yummy and healthy.

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Smoothies: Skip Them or Sip Them?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/24/2016  12:00:00 AM   :  5 comments   :  14,628 views

Blend up some fruits, veggies, maybe a dash of yogurt, some honey and you're in healthy heaven, right? Not exactly. Like energy bars and other "health" foods, not all smoothies are created equal, either, and hidden sugar is the culprit ruining this drink's potential. 

The truth is that while a homemade smoothie made with the right ingredients and the correct proportions packs a powerful punch, many store-bought smoothies or those available at restaurants are simply masquerading as "healthy" without actually offering any nutritional benefit. Pull the mask off, and you'll discover smoothies such as the 20-ounce The Hulk Strawberry from Smoothie King, which clocks in at 964 calories with a whopping 125 grams of sugar. By comparison, a Snickers bar contains a seemingly tiny 27 grams of sugar.

Experts agree that, when done right, smoothies are a great meal alternative for those constantly on the go, and stress the importance of focusing on your greens, rather than sweet fruits. Our friends at Angeles Health International thought it was high time to unveil the secret to healthier, low-sugar smoothies. Their handy graphic breaks down the ingredients and portions you should consider for your next smoothie, plus five of their favorite recipes.

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