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4 Tips to Stop the Fat Talk for Good


Fat talk.  We've all done it.  We have all looked in the mirror at one time or another and said negative things about our physical appearance. 

In fact, we probably do it so often that we don't even notice it anymore.

We pinch our bellies and grumble about our thighs rubbing together and look at the dimples on the backs of our legs in disgust for years. We say it in our heads, we share it with our girlfriends, and even when our partners complement our bodies, we argue with their assessment. We do it so often that it seems totally normal. 

But it's not. 

We aren't made to be filled with self-hatred, self-loathing and negative self-talk; yet somehow it has become completely acceptable to be our own worst enemy.
So how can you stop this kind of talk?  How can we go from bashing our bodies on a regular basis to thinking more positively and replacing those negative thoughts with loving ones? Start with these four strategies.
Posted 4/17/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments   8,983 views
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Rise and Shine: 8 Stretches You Should Do Each Morning


One of the best ways to start your day in a healthy way is to take a moment to ground your thoughts by stretching and intentionally breathing.  It's amazing what you can accomplish in less than seven minutes to set your day on the right path.  
 
When you stretch deeply, you should always be warm.  So performing this series after a morning workout or after a hot shower is optimal. If you do it right out of bed, make sure you stretch more gently.  

Here are eight stretches to add to your morning routine to feel strong, flexible and grounded. These exercises cover all your major muscle groups and can be followed any time of day, including after your workouts.
Posted 4/11/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 15 comments   26,237 views
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HIIT Workout: An Hour's Worth of Cardio in 20 Minutes!


These days, high intensity interval training is hot. More and more exercise researchers are discovering that steady state cardio still does a body good—but pushing your body during shorter bursts of high intensity effort can achieve similar—if not better—results in less time. Sure you have to work harder but I prefer to think of it as working smarter, taking a 60-minute indoor cycling class, for example, and getting all of the same health and fitness benefits in just 20 minutes. Who’s not up for that?
Posted 3/18/2014  5:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 2 comments   9,516 views
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5 Motivating Goals That Result in Weight Loss (without Trying)


It’s no secret that the majority of people who start a new exercise program do so because they want to lose weight, which is a great reason (and motivator) to get fit.
That being said, if your only motivation to exercise is fat loss, you can easily find yourself frustrated and wanting to quit when progress temporarily hits a plateau (which it will).  That’s why setting goals beyond weight loss alone is essential if you're going to stick with a fitness or weight-loss program for the long haul. 

And consider this: Setting goals that don't focus on fat loss can actually help you reach your desired weight-loss goal. It's true! (Check out this SparkPeople success story of a woman who lost weight by resolving NOT to lose weight!)  For example, if you focus on getting stronger, you will likely gain lean muscle mass, which will speed up your metabolism and help you lose more weight.  Or maybe you choose to set a goal like walking with a friend several days a week, or taking your dog hiking every weekend. Those goals will keep you active and moving (which is the whole point) and don't hinge on what a scale says to keep you motivated. Over time, you'll be more consistent with exercise, burn even more calories and, of course, lose more unwanted fat. 

See?  You don’t have to be laser-focused on the scale to be successful in changing the scale.  Setting other goals can be even more motivating—and just as effective!
Here are five of my favorite types of goals that often lead to weight loss and better health (without focusing on the scale). 
Posted 2/12/2014  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   13,780 views
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Why 'Fitspiration' Isn't So Inspirational


Warning: The images and words in this post could be triggering to anyone who has had an eating disorder.

"Strong is the new skinny."
 "When I exercise, I wear all black because it's like a funeral for my fat."
"Skinny is not sexy. Healthy is."

You've probably heard or read the quotes listed above at some point. They're known as "fitspiration" or "fitspo" for short. Fitspo pictures and posters are typically images of extremely fit, lean, and muscular women, with motivational quotes on them like the ones displayed above. 

Fitspo is supposed to be a healthy alternative "thinspo" (short for thinspiration). Thinspiration images typically display extremely thin women with motivational quotes regarding getting and staying thin.  In general, these were first created by online users who wanted to inspire and support women with eating disorders to continue with their disorders and stay as thin as possible.

Yikes.

Good thing fitspo became popular, huh?  At least now we have lots of healthy images floating around the web inspiring women to be healthy and strong instead of skinny, right?

Maybe not.  
Posted 11/29/2013  12:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 78 comments   21,943 views
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How Your Genes Affect Your Jean Size


"I am just big-boned. Everyone in my family is big-boned."

"My Mom is heavy. My Dad is heavy. I'll never be anything but heavy."

"My sister has my Mom's lean body and I have my Dad's stocky body, so I will never be lean like her."
 
At one point or another, you've probably heard your friends or family members utter these phrases. Heck, you may have even said similar things yourself. 

So just how much of a role do genetics play in your body shape and size? If you have heavy parents, are you truly doomed to be heavy forever? When your parents are tall and lean, can you get away with eating more—without consequence? If your mom has wide hips, will shopping for jeans always be the bane of your existence?
Posted 11/7/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 33 comments   25,786 views
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A Seriously FUN Full-Body Workout for Fall


Tired of the same old exercises? Are curls, raises, rows and squats no longer doing it for you? Fret not, fearless exerciser, for we have a fun workout that will change all of that!
 
These seven exercises require a little imagination but otherwise no equipment at all. You can do them outdoors, inside a tiny apartment or even on an empty soccer field. As a bonus, this is a workout that your kids will LOVE to do with you—because it feels more like play than exercise. So if you're a mom or dad who needs to squeeze in exercise on top of childcare responsibilities, this is a win-win-win. (The extra "win" is because your little one will become your accountability partner and will ask to do the whole routine with you again and again!)
Posted 10/28/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 20 comments   18,975 views
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30-Minute Latin Spice Walking Workout


Walking workouts are convenient, easy to do, and so great for your health (and your waistline!). But walking indoors can get a little repetitive sometimes, and since my Mom and I both love Zumba, we thought it might be fun to infuse some of the Latin-inspired dance movements into a walking-based workout! So if you're looking for a way to spice up your walking routine, try joining us for this fun, easy to follow, low impact dance walk that's appropriate for all fitness levels.
 
Working on a carpeted surface? Try this workout barefoot and/or modify some of the twisting-type movements to help protect your knees. 
Posted 10/7/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 35 comments   14,549 views
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Best & Worst Exercises for Arthritis


It might seem intuitive to avoid exercising your joints when they're causing you pain. But, like many aspects of the human body, what seems to make sense isn’t necessarily what's good for you! When you're suffering from arthritis, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to exercise. However, you must learn the right exercises to strengthen the muscles around your joints, and the best stretches to gain and maintain flexibility.
 
Here are the exercises that I prescribe for my patients with knee and hip arthritis. My patients have had great success with them, and I hope you do, too. 
Posted 9/12/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments   8,905 views
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Is Being Really Lean Really Worth It?


Say what?!  Is being really lean really worth it?  This probably sounds like a crazy question coming from a trainer who helps clients reach their fat-loss and physique goals.
 
Before we get started, let me say that I realize this is a very ambiguous question.  ''Really lean'' is relative, and I will tell you up front that I don’t have an answer for you. Only you have that answer for you. This blog post is simply intended to help you realize a few things:

1.    Everybody is different.
2.    Some of us can maintain leaner physiques than others.
3.    Going beyond a healthy level of leanness for YOU is a stressor.
4.    It’s not normal, and it may not even be healthy, to walk around shredded all the time.
5.    How lean do you want to be, and will you sacrifice what it takes to get there?
 
Let’s explore each of these.
Posted 8/1/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 117 comments   95,670 views
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4 Effective Exercises for a Beach-Ready Butt


Whether you are curvy, muscular, or slim, chances are you want to have a swimsuit-ready backside, especially in the area where the buttocks meet the upper thigh (called the gluteal fold).  Strengthening this area can help lift, tighten and tone our bottoms.  But despite endless repetitions and time spent on toning this area, many women aren’t getting the results they want.  Why is it so difficult to strengthen and tone this key area? And what are the secrets to getting a strong and sculpted bottom?
 
For better or worse, I have become an expert on getting toned buttocks— mainly because my own backside needs constant toning to stay lifted and firm.  Many fitness experts and trainers seem to be born with airbrushed bodies.  On the other hand, I tell my clients I probably had cellulite when I was in diapers!  Even at my thinnest throughout my teens and 20’s my thighs were riddled with stubborn cellulite no matter how many butt toning exercises I did.  And believe me; I did every single one I could find every day.  It wasn’t until I started working out smarter, not harder that I finally saw the results.  Now I use Pilates and (ballet) barre techniques and each year, I get a little more lifted and toned.  You can’t ask for better than that, right?  I love sharing these tightening and toning techniques with other women—and hearing about your results!
Posted 6/24/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 17 comments   20,641 views
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3 Labors + 3 Babies = 50 Miles


Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): When I learned my friend Susie was going to run a 50-mile ultramarathon, I was in shock and awe. Reading the recap of her race on her blog, which we're now sharing with you here, brought tears to my eyes. Her vivid, emotional and insightful journey from mile 1 to 50 is one that every person can learn from and relate to, even if you've never run a single mile.

After Saturday, September 15, 2012, I will never hear the words "50 miles" again and think about them in the same way. There are so many things, beyond the measure of mileage, that now describe 50 miles. Doubt, perseverance, deep friendship, dirt, overwhelming support, darkness, mental toughness, pain, family, hills, belief, tears, natural beauty, blisters, selflessness, labor, and VICTORY. Each one of these things played an important role in making my first official ultra-marathon a truly memorable, rewarding, yet unmistakably arduous day.
Posted 6/19/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 78 comments   24,989 views
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5 Moves That Are Missing from Your Core Workouts


In college I was a dancer, and Pilates was part of my daily training. Somehow I would ''get through'' the mat classes, just going through the motions, but miraculously, I was never sore. My roommate, on the other hand, would be doubled over the next morning, whining in agony as the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) would remind her of class several hours after it ended. It took me years to figure out that the reason I wasn't sore was that I didn't know how to recruit my innermost abdominals. I was skimming the surface without going very deep. Once I learned how to engage and target the internal abdominals, I was able to redefine my abs from the inside-out.

And that is exactly what I am going to show you how to do today!
Posted 4/29/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 44 comments   158,248 views
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5 Ways Your Cell Phone Can Help You Get Fit


The cell phone is an amazing little gadget – one that has become an integral part of our lives. There is nearly no obstacle that we encounter in our day-to-day living that can’t be solved by a quick Google search or a few clicks of an app. It is our cure for boredom, our link to our social circles, and our random photo op accomplice. Yes, the evolution of cell phones in the last ten years has done many things for us – among making us a lazy, technology-dependent society.
 
It’s not that all this convenience at our fingertips is a bad thing, but it definitely doesn’t enforce an active lifestyle. So for those of us who enjoy challenging not only our bodies but also our minds, here are a few ways to use that cell phone to defy those apathetic tendencies and really promote health and fitness.
Posted 2/1/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 33 comments   29,405 views
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How to Prevent Weight Gain When You're Injured


Exercising regularly can be a challenge for many people even when they are healthy and injury-free. To maintain your fitness level, you have to be committed—and consistent—in your exercise routine. In my new book, The Art of Fitness: A Journey to Self-Enhancement, I dedicate two chapters to these principles alone because I know firsthand just how many people struggle to keep exercise a habit.
 
But what about those of us who suffer from an injury? As if there weren't enough barriers getting in the way of your desire to work out, an injury can really set you back—if you let it. Here are seven easy-to-do tips to assist you in maintaining your fitness level when you are dealing with an injury.
Posted 1/23/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   13,680 views
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