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Get Back on the Wagon: 5 Tips to Start Fresh this Fall


Summer is winding down and now my favorite season of the year is here: fall. I have always felt nostalgic and dreamy this time of year. I think it's because I enjoyed school as a kid and still associate the autumn season with the start of a new school year that promised good times, good friends and even better memories that still live with me today, like the smell of bonfires, Friday night football games, donning my favorite new back-to-school clothes, and my feet crunching on leaves in the crisp weather. Fall even smells better, if you ask me.

Why not harness the magical power of this new season (which begins officially on September 23) to recommit to your healthy living goals and weight-loss program? You may not be heading back to school like you did in years past, but that doesn’t mean that you can't reinvent yourself all the same.
Posted 9/21/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 109 comments   41,807 views
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How Full is Your Glass?


Most of the time, I’m running around like a crazy lady all day long.  I’ve got work to do, errands to run, kids to take care of, chores at home, etc.  I’m sure a lot (if not most) of you can relate.  I bring a lot of it on myself because I’m the type of person who likes to get everything done -- right now.  For a long time, I considered my busy routine to be a drag.  I was easily overwhelmed, stressed out, and felt like I never had time for me.  And to be quite honest, those feelings made me sad. 
 
More recently, I’ve taken a step back to look at my life from a different perspective.  Instead of getting so bogged down in all of the day-to-day details, I’m trying to adapt to the chaos and appreciate all of the good things in my life.  I’m trying to see my life for what it is so that I can start taking small steps to make it better.  Instead of wishing things were different, I’m putting together a plan for change. 
Posted 5/15/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 88 comments   32,705 views
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If You're Waiting for the Perfect Moment, You'll Just Keep Waiting


Often I hear people talk about their desire to change their lifestyle and adopt healthier habits.  “I’m ready to do it, but I’m just going to wait until after vacation to start.” “I really want to lose weight, so after things slow down at work in a few weeks, then I’ll get to it.”  For most of us, life is hectic.  We’ve got jobs that keep us busy, family, social events, and lots of other things that can make it challenging to focus on ourselves.   I can see why people want to wait until the time is right, so that they have the greatest chance of success.  But I don’t necessarily think that’s a good idea for a number of reasons.  Interested in knowing why?
Posted 5/29/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 46 comments   19,479 views
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Changing My Corner of the World, One Sidewalk at a Time


One of my biggest pet peeves has always been people who complain about things, but never do anything to change them.  For example, it’s hard for me to bite my tongue when friends complain about our political system, but never take the time to go out and vote.   If you’re unhappy about something, I think you should speak up and do something to make it better instead of always just grumbling about how it’s not right.  That’s why I’ve decided to do something that makes me slightly uncomfortable, but is important to me and my family.
Posted 5/15/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 110 comments   13,568 views
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A Letter to My Evil Twin


Dear Evil Twin,

I’m writing this letter because I have a few things that I need to say to you.  Please understand that I call you my evil twin with all due respect. As a reference, I am including a picture so there is no confusion as to who I am talking to.

I wanted to write and finally tell you THANK YOU. I feel like I owe you that for teaching me so many things about myself.

First and foremost, I want to thank you for teaching me that I have the ability to change. I really didn’t think I could for a long time. So many times I settled for the way things were. I now realize that I do have the power to change. I did not have to settle for life as I had come to know it. I did not have to settle for the life I was leading for myself or my family. It was a difficult lesson that took me awhile to learn, but I did learn it and I credit you for that.
Posted 4/23/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 62 comments   9,250 views
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You Always Have A New Chance At Life


No matter where you are or what condition you are in, you have a chance to make healthy changes to better your situation. I say that because I used to weigh 460 pounds, was bed-ridden with disabilities and chronic pain.  I now weigh 200 pounds less with no weight-loss surgery and can walk with a walker and on my own at times. The pain is still difficult to deal with, but not as difficult as when I was lying in bed and concentrating on the pain.  You see, I wasn't looking for a way out: I was accepting a fate.

I've discovered that staying on my SparkPeople plan gives me a sense of control that I wouldn't otherwise have in my dizzying world. Without SparkPeople, I would have nothing to ground me. It is my security blanket and passion. It is always there for me. Food used to be that security blanket, but now it stands between me and my new passion for health.
Posted 4/13/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 57 comments   8,979 views
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Change Your Genes in Just 20 Minutes


We all have those days when exercise is the last thing we feel like doing.  For me, it’s usually after a night of kid-interrupted sleep, when the alarm goes off and I just want to hit the snooze button instead of get out of bed.  Then I think about how I’ll feel when I’m done, and that’s what motivates me to get up and get moving.  Like I’ve said before, it’s a decision I never regret.
 
There are immediate benefits to a good workout that you probably notice:  more energy, less stress, a sense of accomplishment, etc.  There are also good things happening in your body that you wouldn’t notice right away, but are just as important.  A short 20-minute workout can have a positive impact on your genes, according to new research.
Posted 3/27/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 27 comments   14,482 views
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Maybe It's Time to Change


In a few short days I will be traveling to the Big Apple (AKA New York City) to run in the NYC Half Marathon. When I took up running six years ago I had no clue where this journey would take me. It was and has always been a dream of mine to run the streets of New York City. And I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to lace up my running shoes, sport my running attire and fulfill my dream of running around  Central Park, down 7th Avenue, pass Times Square, then along the West Side Highway until I reach the finish line at the South Street Seaport.

In my two years of destination runs, this will be the first run that I will be running without my fellow SparkRunners. When this journey of destination runs began in New Orleans in February 2010 with over twenty SparkPeople members, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the incredible opportunity this would give me. To have the honor to meet other SparkPeople runners from across the country--from Seattle, to Chicago, to Pittsburgh, to Portland, to San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, even Victoria, British Columbia, is truly a blessing. This will be the first time in a very long time I will be lining up on the start line without my fellow runners to meet me at the finish line.  

In preparation for my training runs,  I asked my fellow runners to share with me their favorite running tunes so that I could make a play list to train with. While I will not be racing with music in New York, I do find training with music helps me get past the tough times when I just don't have it in me to take on that hill or that next mile.
Posted 3/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 47 comments   9,070 views
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Do You Live An Accountable Life?


Deciding to change your lifestyle for improved health or to reach weight goals requires commitment. Because the crazy journey often includes successful motivational boosts with trying setbacks and plateaus, people frequently give up on the marathon necessary to reach desired goals. For those that remain focused on the prize and are willing to do the hard work, additional benefits are typically realized especially through personal development in other areas of life.
 
Being an accountable person means being responsible or answerable to someone for something. Self-accountability forces us to be honest with ourselves and to take responsibility for our actions and can be one of the keys to successful personal development and goal achievement. Failing to be accountable for the food we choose to eat or the lack of effort we put into our workouts can be a major pitfall and obstacle to successfully reaching goals that also limits personal development. However, with conscious decisions and intentional effort you can live an accountable life that helps you reach your personal goals while also improving other areas of your life. Here are some tips and tools that might help you begin living a more accountable life.
Posted 3/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 32 comments   18,409 views
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That One Small Adjustment: Finding Your Way to Health



There is a quote I like that has made a big impact on my healthy lifestyle journey: ''We’re all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work!''--Tosca Reno. Think about that for a moment.

I have been at this journey for three years now. Along the way, I have had to constantly remind myself that big progress can be made over time with small adjustments and continuous effort. It’s the over time part that is hard for us to grasp sometimes. It's easy to get stuck in that ''all or nothing'' mentality, where we will want to give up if we don't see fast results on the scale. So here is a physical example of what I mean by small changes over time making an impact:
Posted 3/1/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 52 comments   8,263 views
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The Butterfly Effect


Have you heard of the ''Butterfly Effect''? In 1963, a man named Mr. Lorenz had a theory that was fairly simple and was laughed at by many colleagues.  His theory stated that a butterfly could flap its wings in Texas and, as a result, air molecules would be moved.  Those air molecules would cause other molecules of air to move, maybe in Tennessee, then in Florida, and eventually moving enough molecules that it would be possible for a violent storm to form on the other side of the planet.  This theory was proven true in the 1990’s, and not just with molecules of air. I feel that this principle relates in a lot of ways to the formation of SparkPeople.

While SparkPeople's CEO, Chris Downie, was working at P&G, he knew there was something more for him.  He already had passion for his health and he put a plan into action.  Soon enough, SparkPeople was born and his dream became a reality to ''spark'' others into better health.  You see, Chris spread his wings and moved a few molecules in the universe, and those molecules are still moving.

That is the beautiful thing about the Butterfly Effect.  Chris started SparkPeople because of his passion for health and helping others.  He put the word out about a new weight loss website; others heard about it and joined.  Those new members had success and enjoyed the site, so they told their friends and family about SparkPeople, which lead to another person, which led to the guy I heard about SparkPeople from, which lead to my own wellness and this very blog that you are now reading.  That is absolutely amazing when you really think about it.
Posted 2/20/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 27 comments   7,140 views
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Is The Nutritional State of Our Nation Improving?


By now, most of us are well aware that many things have changed over the last two years since the First Lady launched the Let's Move campaign. We have seen improved restaurant labeling as well as diet friendly sections on menus to help people make informed decisions when eating away from home. The new national food icon MyPlate has become a tool referenced in school health curriculums, by nutrition educators, and in marketing campaigns. Add the recent release of the updated school lunch recommendations and you can see the breadth and width of change aimed at helping Americans achieve a healthy weight.
 
We know that as our weight increases, so does our risk of developing medical conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and strokes to name a few. Beginning in 1997, standardizing classifications for overweight and obesity were adopted. Someone is defined as overweight when his or her body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher. Obesity is defined by a BMI exceeding 30. Obesity is further clarified as Class I Obesity with a BMI of 30.0-34.9, Class II between 35.0-34.9, and Class III is a BMI greater than 40.
 
The first Dietary Goals for The United States were introduced in February of 1977 in a report prepared for the Select Committee of the Senate on Nutrition and Human Needs. The primary reason for the guidelines was to provide a practical guide to good eating since the research indicated the public was confused about what to eat to maximize health. So have we gotten healthier over the last three decades with healthy eating guidelines?
Posted 2/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 21 comments   6,304 views
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Is it Possible to Become a Morning Person?


"Night owl" is not a term anyone has ever used to describe me.  Even in my younger years, before kids made me more tired than I ever thought possible, I didn’t stay up late.  I can comfortably last until around 10 p.m., and then it’s time for bed.  But getting up early doesn’t bother me.  I like to get a lot of things done early in the day, including exercise.  So most days around 5:30 a.m., you’ll find me on the treadmill or in front of the T.V. doing an exercise video.
 
I know people who say that although they’ve tried hard to become a morning person, it never happens.  My mother-in-law, for instance, does her treadmill run around 8:30 every night- just as I’m winding down for the day.  What works for one person doesn’t always work for another.  But sleep experts say that with time and effort, it is possible to reset your biological clock and become that morning person you’ve always hoped to be.
Posted 2/7/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 68 comments   21,696 views
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How Will You Make This the Year of Lasting Change?


If you are someone who has struggled with weight issues for a while, you know how frustrating it can be.  You start the year with lots of motivation and great intentions to change your habits and become a healthier person.  Things go great at first, but as the weeks and months go by, you find yourself slipping back into old habits.  The diet and exercise "thing" becomes a drag, and eventually you decide it’s not worth it and you’d rather indulge in the hot fudge sundae than get all sweaty on the treadmill at the gym. 
 
Ask yourself this question:  What is going to make this year different?  Whether your goal is to lose 100 pounds and be on the cover of a magazine, or you want to become more fit so that you can keep up with your kids at the park, how are you going to make that happen? When do you say that enough is enough and you’re tired of living a life that’s not your ideal? 
Posted 1/3/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 31 comments   10,513 views
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Today is THE Day--the One Where You Reclaim Your Life



THIS is a very special day!

There has been much discussion about this day and we weren't sure it would ever get here.  However, I've checked and I've double-checked the calendar and TODAY is THAT DAY!  Oh sure, there will be some who aren't as happy about this day as others.  I mean, if we really mean what we have said at different times, today should be an incredible day.  Today could quite possibly go down as THE highest productivity day ever in the history of the world. If this doesn't excite you, I'm not sure what will!  Your life or the life of a loved one could very well be changed FOREVER, just because today happened.

Not only is this January 2, 2012, today is SOMEDAY!
Posted 1/2/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 54 comments   9,174 views
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