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Things That Don't Suck about Getting Older

Yesterday was a pivotal day. I said goodbye to being a 20-something and today I woke up as a 30-year-old woman. 
I don't really feel different, but I also kind of do. Maybe because when I was growing up, 30 seemed so old (certainly I don't feel that way now). It also seemed so "grown up" when I was a kid, a teen, and a college student.  Turning 30 has been on my mind a lot these past few weeks.
My dad, now nearing 60, has always told me that mentally, he doesn't feel any different now than when he was 25; it's only our bodies that show and feel our age. I think I understand that more and more as I get older. Each passing year, whether it's New Year's Day, a birthday or an anniversary, is a chance to reflect, regroup and refocus. You can choose to change or start fresh. But no matter what, these life events remind me that I need to appreciate the passage of time more than I do. It goes SO fast, and I can say for certain that every year I get older, time seems to fly by even faster than it did the year before.
Everyone who is older than me says that life get better with age. But I'll be honest: I sometimes have trouble seeing the upside of things. When my husband threw me a surprise party last weekend to celebrate, I felt sad about all the people who didn't come instead of being happy to mingle with those who did. And now that I'm another calendar year older, I can't help but think of all the things I haven't done—rather than recollecting all of my accomplishments to date. And then there's the big elephant in the room: babies! I thought that by 30 I'd feel ready (I do want kids), but I don't feel any more "ready" than when I was 22. I guess that only shows how little I really knew when I was younger!
Of course, even a glass-half-empty girl 30-year-old like me knows that it's not all bad. I mean, personally, I've always looked way younger than my age, so I'm actually hoping I look old enough to be perceived as a person with experience and credibility. (When I first joined the SparkPeople staff at age 22, my boss thought no one would take me seriously as a fitness expert because I looked, in his words, "15 years old.")  But there are even things about your body, your mind and your life in general that get better as you get older. So to celebrate each day you wake up alive, and each year that passes—and you're still here living it—here's a big list of things to look forward to as you get older (as told by SparkPeople members!).
Posted 9/19/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 145 comments   32,853 views
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CONTEST CLOSED: Win a Core Gym Bag from Live Well 360

Confession: I'm a bag lady. I'm usually carrying at least three at any time. My daytime bag/purse for summertime is a ratty purple canvas shoulder bag that cost about $15. (Note to self: Buy a new purse!) I carry my lunch and snacks in reusable shopping bags. I use a free oversized tote bag as a gym bag. I use a 10-year-old messenger bag for my laptop (it's still in great shape)! Somehow, with all of those bags, I'm always struggling with space and organization--and I often misplace smaller items somewhere between the yoga studio or the office and home.

The worst bag is my gym bag, which lacks any sort of organization. What I need is a better gym bag. Like the one we're giving away today! A blogger/Twitter friend, Sheila Viers, started a fitness bag company a couple of years ago, and I've seen her coveted bags make their way around the web. Their signature bag, the "Core," is called the anti-duffel bag, and for good reason: There's a place for everything, and everything's in its place. My friend Gina has one and LOVES it! When Sheila heard that the dailySpark was turning 2, she wanted to give away one of her bags (a $129 value) to a lucky dailySpark reader.

Posted 8/20/2010  8:43:51 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 103 comments   21,081 views
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CONTEST CLOSED: Win 1 of 3 Ball Canning Kits

CONTEST CLOSED Four years ago, upon moving to Cincinnati, I immediately set about exploring my new hometown. I quickly stumbled upon what has become one of my favorite places in the city: Findlay Market, the oldest public market in Ohio. Home to a farmers market, vendors selling local and ethnics ingredients, and plenty of interesting food shops, it's a foodie's heaven. I immediately starting buying whatever produce I could at the farmers market, even freezing and dehydrating some, such as tomatoes and cherries, for winter.

Though my mom now has a large garden and cans tomatoes, salsa, and pasta sauce each year, I've never learned how. With a husband and only two kids in the house instead of four--and those two kids are now teenagers and not infants--she has time for many of the tasks she had to put on hold while she was raising us on her own. (Besides, I was such a prissy pill in high school that I wouldn't have eaten anything we grew or canned ourselves anyway.)

This year, with my first house and my first garden, filled with a dozen tomato plants, five hearty basil plants, and a couple dozen other plants (herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, and four kinds of peppers).

No one warned me that 12 tomato plants is excessive for two people! With the garden currently yielding a quart of tomatoes a day, we're finally ready to take the big leap… and try canning. And, as luck with have it, the good folks at Ball reached out a month ago and invited Nicole and me to a canning luncheon.

They’ve created a new canning kit that costs just $11.50, is available at big box retailers and supermarkets, and aimed at people who are newer to canning. With just 3 pint jars, it's perfect for people like me who want to spend an hour or two canning--not days like my mom does.

Ball is giving away three of the new Discovery Canning Kits in honor of our dailySpark Anniversary! They say: "Foodies who love new cooking techniques will appreciate this low-cost starter set. A modern product design/ trendy recipes attract new consumers to trial using existing kitchenware."

Read on for some of the surprising things I learned about canning during the luncheon:

Posted 8/16/2010  5:01:57 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 131 comments   18,288 views
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dailySpark Year Three: Putting 'Life' in Healthy Living

Happy Anniversary, dailySpark. You've come a long way, baby, since those early posts back in mid-August 2008. I was a newbie to SparkPeople back then, just getting to know the sites and the wonderful employees and members here.

Since then, we've all grown--and shrunk together. Without all of you, we never could have grown into the well-respected healthy living blog we are today.

We've interviewed everyone from top weight-loss expert Dr. Martin Binks (one of our most popular interviews!) to Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien to fitness gurus Denise Austin and Leslie Sansone.

We started with just five bloggers, but we've more than doubled. We have shared guest blog posts from fitness experts Chalene Johnson, the Fit Bottomed Girls, and David Kirsch. Sports nutrition expert Dave Ellis is a huge fan and contributor, and we've welcomed top healthy living bloggers and inspirational members. Those guest bloggers are constantly surprised by the sheer number of comments we get on each blog post--and how positive they are. Thank you for helping to set the dailySpark apart from the rest.

While SparkPeople is home to the tracking tools, educational articles, exercise demos, and community that allow each of us to be successful along our healthy living journey, the dailySpark is an outlet that allows the SparkPeople experts to show the human side of weight loss. Each of us is here at SparkPeople not only as an employee but as a person who has struggled with weight, body image, and self-esteem. We've been where you are and where you've been, and some of us are right there alongside you now. Regardless of where we are in our own weight-loss and healthy living journeys, we're always standing on the sidelines cheering you on.

Recently, I had a heart-to-heart talk with Tanya, our healthy eating expert. She shared her passion for the underdogs. Like Bruce with his The Slowest Loser series, Tanya felt a kinship with those readers and members whose path from here to there took a slower, meandering one. Having learned to live with thyroid disease, she knows what it's like to do everything right and still not achieve the goals you set for yourself.

Instead of giving up, she set new goals, rewrote her rule book, and became an inspiration to countless SparkPeople members. She started a new series, called One Step Closer. Her cardinal rule: Healthy living isn't about being perfect; it's about consistently moving one step closer to your goal, whatever that might be.

Posted 8/16/2010  5:00:04 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 63 comments   15,212 views
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7 Tips to Make Your Race Day Better

In less than three weeks I will be celebrating my 4th anniversary of when I took on the challenge to become a runner. I actually began training eight weeks prior to this date, but I use my first 5K race I ever participated in as my running anniversary date. The reason, I never really considered myself a runner until I ran my first race. Looking back I know differently, but trust me, I can remember the day like it was yesterday.

During the past 48 months I have learned a few lessons about racing, having tackled every distance from the mile to the marathon. Below are some tips I have practiced along the way that may help make your race day a little less nerve wracking.

Posted 3/17/2010  3:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 56 comments   20,718 views
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Announcing the Winners of the Anniversary Giveaway!

Thank you so much for making our dailySpark Anniversary Celebration a success. More than 2,500 of you responded to our survey, the results of which we'll be implementing over the coming weeks and months. And we had more than 36,000 for all eight of our giveaways!

This morning, we randomly selected the winners of each giveaway. Without further ado…
Posted 8/28/2009  6:52:36 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 96 comments   11,968 views
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LAST CHANCE: Enter the dailySpark Anniversary Giveaway

The dailySpark is celebrating its first anniversary! We couldn't have reached this milestone without devoted and engaged readers such as yourselves, so we would like to say thanks for making this such a successful, fun year.

We'll choose the winners of all our great prizes tomorrow morning, but I wanted to give you one last reminder to enter all of our dailySpark Anniversary Giveaways!

We're giving away plenty of great prizes!
Posted 8/27/2009  2:23:36 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 26 comments   13,233 views
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Win a Heart-Rate Monitor from the dailySpark!

The dailySpark is celebrating its first anniversary! We couldn't have reached this milestone without devoted and engaged readers such as yourselves, so we would like to say thanks for making this such a successful, fun year.

We've been launching a new giveaway each day, and this is the final prize!

Today's prize is a Nike Imara Heart Rate Monitor!

Enter to win Nike Imara Heart Rate Monitor built just for women. This women's-specific design is sized to fit a woman's wrist, and it's the same one that Coach Nicole uses (though yours will be brand-new, not to worry!).

  • ECG-accurate for precise heart-rate data
  • Calorie counter records calories burned during workout
  • Displays heart rate in beats per minute or as a percentage of maximum heart rate
  • Programmable target heart-zone function alerts you when out of optimal zone
  • Data mode recalls exercise time, time in target zone and calories for last workout
  • Other functions include: time, date, two time zones and alarm
  • Scratch resistant mineral glass crystal
  • One-touch backlighting
  • Water-resistant to 50 meters

To enter, click here. (For complete rules, please click here.)

We'll choose all the winners for our giveaways on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, at 9 a.m. EST. You still have time to enter all of our great contests!

Please note that we've changed the way you enter for contests. Do NOT comment on this entry; it no longer counts as an entry. You need to click on the link above and fill out the official entry form!
Posted 8/23/2009  12:00:55 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 79 comments   13,266 views
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Win a Prize Pack or Subscription to Fitness Magazine!

The dailySpark is celebrating its first anniversary this week! We couldn't have reached this milestone without devoted and engaged readers such as yourselves, so we would like to say thanks for making this such a successful, fun year.
Each day this week, we'll be giving away various prizes!

TGIF! Sure, we're ready for a fun, active and healthy weekend but in this case we're saying Thank Goodness for Fitness (magazine)!
Today's bonus giveaway is perfect for fans of Fitness Magazine! We have a subscription here in the office, and we love all the great tips and informative articles.

One winner will be selected to receive a Fitness Magazine prize pack includes: a Fitness Magazine subscription, cosmetic bag, umbrella, apron, hat, notebook, and massager. Two other winners will win one-year subscriptions to the magazine!

Posted 8/21/2009  6:07:34 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 29 comments   12,357 views
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Win Fitness Equipment from the SparkPeople Store

Sometimes, even when you lose, you win. And sometimes, the more you buy, the more you save. That's also the case with two specially priced "bundles" available right now in the SparkPeople store. Whether you want a great deal on home fitness equipment to start a workout routine without going broke OR you want more SparkPeople gear so you can Show Your Spark in style, we have two great options that you (and your wallet) will love!

We think these products are SO great that we're giving away one of each of these bundles in the dailySpark Anniversary Giveaway!
Posted 8/21/2009  10:18:58 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 43 comments   17,604 views
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The Fascinating Fitness Stories You Haven't Read

I wanted to write one more post about my favorite fitness stories from the past year. Some of these are the best products I reviewed, while others are short-lived series you may have missed. (Remember Burn It Off?). See my favorite posts, fitness products and tips from the past year!
Posted 8/20/2009  5:26:48 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 29 comments   11,541 views
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Memorable dailySpark Comments from our Members

When I was a kid it seemed as though it took forever between New Year's and the end of the year. However, now that I am edging ever so closer to the big 5-0--only 2 years away--I have a better understanding as to all the comments the adults in my life used to make when I was a kid about time flying by. But we all know that time moves no more slowly for kids than it does for adults--it all comes down to a matter of perspective.

August marks two special anniversaries. One is my first anniversary working for SparkPeople and the second is the first anniversary of the dailySpark. Speaking for myself, this has been such an incredible year which has totally transformed my life. To think that a former member is now writing blogs is truly surreal. While I may not be the most articulate blogger, I do my best to offer my perspective on life and this journey we call healthy living.

One thing I have learned this past year is, as much as you learn from us, we learn just as much from you, our members. Trust me your comments on the blogs are always well received and we do take time to read through them. Even before I was asked to write a blog for this special event, I had been keeping a log of comments many of you shared on many of the blogs, not just mine, but everyone's. What I discovered is our members are articulate, funny, inspiring, courageous, and thought provoking.
Posted 8/19/2009  5:02:06 PM By: Nancy Howard : 62 comments   10,624 views
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Win 1 of 5 Sets of Workout Clothing from SparkPeople!

The dailySpark is celebrating its first anniversary this week! We couldn't have reached this milestone without devoted and engaged readers such as yourselves, so we would like to say thanks for making this such a successful, fun year.

Each day this week, we'll be giving away various prizes!

Today's prize is five sets of workout clothing from!

I don't know if you've heard the news, but we've got plenty of new styles of T-shirts in the SparkPeople Store--many of them with fun and inspiring messages! "I'm making my life an adventure," "WooHoo!" "Fitness in Progress!" and "I finally lost it!" are just four of the shirts we offer. (See all of our apparel here.) If you win this giveaway, you'll get to choose any SparkPeople shirt you like, in the size and color of your choice, plus either a pair of Capri pants or a workout towel. The T-shirts aren't just for the gym. Wear them out on the town, too, as a way to Spread the Spark!
Posted 8/19/2009  2:08:13 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 114 comments   18,987 views
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The dailySpark's Best Food Reviews

In the last year, we've tried dozens of foods. We buy some at the supermarket, request others from companies and receive still others unsolicited. We're full!

The SparkPeople team has been incredibly helpful along the way. They've suggested products to try, eaten more than their fair share of healthier snack foods and responded to my numerous requests for their opinions.

If the general consensus is that we like something, we feature it on the blog. If not, we don't write about. (Also, if we didn't pay for something, we tell you that the product was sent to us. However, even if we get a food for free, we don't necessarily review it and that doesn't guarantee that we'll like it.)

From bread to ice cream and everything in between, plenty of snack foods have crossed our lips. Here is a list of 10 of our favorite foods we've reviewed since launching the dailySpark (in no particular order).

  1. Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle bars
    100-calorie chocolate goodness. That's all we need to say. Control yourself. It will be hard, but you can do it!
    Posted 8/19/2009  10:44:10 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 58 comments   11,620 views
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I Profess that I Love to Confess!

Over the past year, I've written more than 100 blogs for dailySpark and have enjoyed every minute of it! Out of these hundreds of posts, I have many favorites, but only a few stand out as important and personal: my confessions. Through these cathartic posts, I've disclosed my weight, my fear of bathing suits, my body image struggles and even my embarrassing failures with all of our readers. In turn, you've shared with me some of the most supportive, encouraging and helpful advice I've ever received from anyone—let alone complete strangers! Today I am going to reflect on the confessions that had the biggest impact on our readers—and me.
Posted 8/19/2009  6:38:12 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 40 comments   7,948 views
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