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You know that exercise improves your health and helps with weight loss, but if you're an average Jane or Joe (aka not a certified fitness coach or trained exercise physiologist), your best intentions may not be enough. What exactly should you be doing anyway? How do you know what exercises to do? How long should you exercise? How often? What types of exercises are best? Before you even set foot in a gym, you are feeling like a fish out of water. For many people, not knowing what to do is a big barrier to doing anything at all.
You don't have to hire a trainer to think like one—or to get started with exercise or even create your own ideal workout plan. Here are a few tips to help you get started. Read More ›
There are thousands of diet plans available these days, and there are just as many different workout programs. The trendy diets and workout plans of the past couple of years (think Paleo, Dukan, the 17-Day Diet, hCG, PINK, P90X, Insanity and more) will rise, peak and fall just like the popular diet and workout plans of the past. There will always be a new, trendy diet or workout plan. As different as they all may be, they all have one thing in common: They promise to be "the program" to help you take off the weight. But can they all be telling the truth?
As a health and fitness professional, the question I get asked most often revolve around my opinion on other diet or fitness programs.
What do you think about the [insert name here] diet?
Does [insert workout program/DVD] really work?
What's the best diet (or workout program) for weight loss?
Does [insert workout program/DVD] really work?
What's the best diet (or workout program) for weight loss?
My answer to these common questions may surprise you. Read More ›
Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): So many workout DVDs land on my desk, but since I only have so many hours in the day to work (and work out), I've started enlisting the help of my fellow SparkPeople employees to test them. I asked Teri, a new employee on SparkPeople's sales and marketing team, to try the first (and recently released) DVD by Chris Powell, trainer from the TV show "Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition." When I previewed the DVD, I liked what I saw: lots of encouragement, good modifications (plus tips to progress exercises), and workouts that seemed introductory and geared toward beginners and/or people who have a lot of weight to lose. I also loved seeing the real people doing the workouts along with Chris. The DVD includes three workouts (15 minutes, 25 minutes, and 30 minutes) that increase in intensity as you get fitter.
Teri is getting back into fitness since starting her job at SparkPeople two months ago, and her goal is to lose 25 pounds. Find out what she thought about this workout DVD! Read More ›
Wanting to lose weight and get healthier this year, but not exactly sure where—or how—to start? SparkPeople's 4-week challenges can motivate you to reach new goals, develop healthy habits and have fun along the way!
When you join one of our challenges, you'll get a specific plan to follow, plus all the information you need to reach a new goal or make a new personal breakthrough. You can even earn a special SparkTrophy for each official challenge you complete!
These challenges are a great way to get support and motivation to reach new healthy goals this year, no matter where you are in your weight-loss journey. Choose from any one of these six health, fitness and nutrition challenges! Read More ›
Happy New Year! Millions of people are resolving to lose weight, tone up, and get healthy this year, and if you're reading this, you are probably one of them. In reality though, only some of us will succeed in reaching those goals. (Sorry, it's true!) But you can set yourself up for success starting today, and I'm going to tell you how.
Did you know that the first two weeks of your new, healthy lifestyle might just make or break your success? It's true. More than 50% of people report losing momentum within the first two weeks of starting a diet, and almost 20% lose willpower within 3 days according to one SparkPeople.com poll! But you CAN get results, increase your motivation, and meet your expectations during these first few weeks of January—if you do the right things. By following these tips, you'll be five times more likely to reach your goal!
Recently, I shared the seven secrets to a strong start with Cincinnati's local FOX affiliate, FOX 19. These are the actions that SparkPeople.com members followed during the first two weeks of their programs in order to lose twice as much weight as people who did not follow these steps. And now, I'm sharing that video with you! Read More ›
I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, mainly because my history of sticking to them past the first week or two of January is pretty bleak. The times when I’ve actually been successful at changing my behavior (especially behavior related to eating and exercise) didn’t begin with a special date or a resolution for the new year. They began when I realized I was in trouble, and finally had to acknowledge that I really needed to start changing my behavior NOW—no more putting things off, even for a few days.
This year, I find myself in that kind of situation today, which also happens to be Jan. 1. So, I figure I might as well take a little time to write down exactly what it is that I think needs to change, and some ideas about how I’m going to make those changes happen. Read More ›
Fitness experts recommend a triad of exercises we should incorporate into our lifestyle in order to achieve optimum fitness. These exercises include cardio-respiratory activities, flexibility exercises and resistance training. Cardio-respiratory activities such as walking, cycling, running, and swimming help with our overall health, while flexibility exercises, such as stretching, help with range of motion around the joint. Lastly, we should all participate in some form of resistance training regardless of our age or gender, whether with free weights, machines, resistance bands or even your own body weight.
If you feel you do not have time to incorporate all the various exercises into your busy schedule, according to the American Council on Exercise, "significant fitness and strength gains can be made in just two strength training sessions per week when you target all muscle groups."
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One morning, Saunya woke up, readied herself and her young daughter, and headed off to work. She was tired, and she was frustrated.
She was overweight and tired of being tired and unhappy. She searched for diet and workout ideas for busy people and found SparkPeople. She immediately joined.
So far, she has been a member for less than two months, and she's already making changes. She's walking during her lunch breaks and trying to say no to food when she's not hungry.
Still, she says she needs help. She saw a call for tips and ideas on the dailySpark, and while she didn't have one to share, she was desperately in need of one. She wrote:
"I honestly really don’t have a tip or idea. I need some help. Read More ›
Victory Gardens were a popular thing back in the early 1940s. Some referred to them as 'war gardens' while others called them 'food gardens for defense'. In 1943 due to the rationing of canned goods for families, these gardens produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed across the nation.
Several years ago, churches in my area started victory-type gardens to provide fresh produce to food pantries. Not only did this provide a healthier option for folks that were in need of food compared to high sodium canned vegetables, it also renewed an interest in backyard gardening in our suburban area.
Today victory-type gardens are becoming popular once again but with a different goal. Today, self-reliance has become a motivating factor behind home gardening. When you grow your own food you increase the ability to control how it is grown, what you pay and how much will be available. With the hint of spring in the air, now is the time to begin garden planning, planting designs and preparation. Here are some simple ideas to help you plan a victory-type garden for your family.
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Like many of you, I'm a busy mom who tries hard to balance work, family life and my own priorities. One of my personal goals is to stay healthy and fit. That's not easy, especially on those days when I barely have enough time to brush my teeth, much less find time for a long workout. That's why I was excited to check out the DVD our friends at SqueezeItIn.com sent us to try. It sells for $14.99 and can be purchased on their website.
SqueezeItIn.com is a website full of exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. The exercises don't require equipment and often use everyday movements to create a workout. For example, countertop push-ups can be done while making dinner, and hot squats can be done while blow drying your hair. The program suggests dividing your workout into three 10-minute segments throughout the day. The DVD contains many of the exercises that are found on the site, as well as a longer workout and more tips for how to fit exercise into a busy day.
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By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)
Being disabled or having chronic pain or illness makes exercise difficult if not impossible. Some days I wake up and just want to stay under the covers in bed, where the pain is at its best level of control. That's no kind of life and led me to weighing 460 pounds.
After joining SparkPeople, I learned that short bouts of fitness add up. I started my fitness journey by going to my doctor/nurse practitioner, and they set me up with in-home physical therapy. There are plenty of physical therapy options depending on your insurance coverage. I've done pool exercise, mild gym exercise, total gym exercise, and table exercise. You should see your doctor or health-care professional before considering which option might be best for your disability. Together, you can decide whether you might be able to do some of the exercises at home.
If cost is a concern, it would definitely be cheaper to get a gym membership with a pool than to pay physical therapy bills. A few sessions might give you the basics and you could go from there. Some gyms have very well-trained water aerobics instructors, so do some research before signing any papers. Another way to save money is on the mild gym and table exercise area. A few sessions of therapy can give you the basics, and you can continue to exercise at home. Generally, physical therapists use equipment like exercise bands, stability balls, and very light weights. These sessions also use various standing poses and the table exercises use laying poses to help stretch the muscles. Physical therapy helps you gain strength, flexibility and endurance to go to the next level.
There are indeed other ways to get moving without therapy. The little gadget in the photo above (called an arm cycle or arm ergometer) can be used for arms or legs while sitting. When I had physical therapy, it was one of the machines they had me use to reap the benefits of cardio using only my arms. There are machines of various grades out there, so read the reviews. Some are cheaply made pedal machines, while others are made to give very intense aerobic workouts for people who are undergoing rehabilitation. It's a great way to get aerobic exercise without having to stand.
Amazon.com also has DVDs of bed and chair exercise including aerobics, yoga, tai-chi, and other things to keep workouts interesting and off your feet.
At 460 pounds, these are the workouts I created to get stronger and ready to walk again: Read More ›
A few months ago, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Leslie Sansone for the dailySpark. Sure, I knew who she was and that our members love her, but I had never actually tried any of the "Walk Away the Pounds" DVDs that made her the famous fitness guru she is today.
Leslie was kind enough to send me a free copy of her newest title, Leslie Sansone Walk At Home: Walk Your Belly Flat, a 3-mile walk you can do from the comfort of your living room. I busted it out on a cold day that I didn't want to head outdoors for a walk. Want to know what I thought about it? And more importantly, whether it'll help you lose that stubborn fat around your midsection? Read More ›
When it comes to my health and fitness efforts, the start of a new year is usually not a big deal for me any more. It used to be--I have a long history of new years that started with lots of resolutions to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. But those good intentions never lasted very long, and I ended most of those years weighing more than when I started, getting myself up to about 400 pounds in the process.
Then something changed. I’m still not sure what it was, exactly—maybe I just got tired of feeling miserable all the time, or scared about what I was doing to my health. Anyway, in 2003, something clicked, and I finally started getting serious about changing my lifestyle, not just my weight. 18 months later, I had lost 170 pounds and gotten myself into pretty good shape for a 55 year old guy. And thanks to Sparkpeople, I was able to keep that weight off for almost 5 years.
But then came 2009…
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Winter has officially just arrived but there have already been countrywide weather related issues that have changed plans, caused need to rush to the store as well as panic. At the same time, the unemployment rate is high, budgets are tight, and there is constant talk about the need to eat healthier.
Recently I have seen ads for special companies and services to buy long-term emergency food insurance or shelf stable emergency food kits to help your family be prepared for whatever may come. Building a stockpile takes time but the right approach can get you started in a cost effective and health conscious manner. Here are some basic tips to help as you start a stockpile in the New Year.
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You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.
Here's one that works for me: Shooting for a fun fitness goal. So why does something like this matter?
Sure, exercise itself can be fun, especially when you really enjoy doing something so much that it doesn't even seem like a workout (for me, that's tennis). But to keep at it day after day, week after week, year after year…you see where I'm going here. Over time, what was once fun can seem monotonous and your motivation to exercise can drop faster than a skydiving elephant!
All of this changes when you set a fun fitness goal. I'm not talking about "exercise 5 times a week" either. Set a goal that inspires you to train so that you can reach it. This way, your desire to reach your fun fitness goal will motivate you to keep exercising consistently. So what kind of fitness goal is fun and motivating enough to help you stick with a workout routine? Read More ›