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Inspiring Woman: Triathlete and Two-Time Breast Cancer Survivor


Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): I've had the pleasure of competing against Laurah Turner in multiple local races (and by "competing" I mean "watching her leave me in the dust"). I always found her athletic achievements admirable, her sheer speed enviable, and her personality contagious. Recently, I learned Laurah, an amazingly talented endurance athlete who appears to be the epitome of health and fitness, is a two-time breast cancer survivor—and she's only 29. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I asked Laurah to share her inspiring story of how breast cancer changed her and inspired both her career and her fitness goals.
 
I grew up a type A personally. I tended toward routine, was obnoxiously punctual and saw the entire world through Excel spreadsheets and lists. In fact, I was so married to my routines that I even developed the quickest and most efficient way to prepare the perfect pot of coffee. Every morning, I woke up and immediately dove for my coffee pot. I employed a specific set of procedures which resulted in the first bold, sweet, creamy sip of caffeinated heaven rushing over my palate within 3 minutes and 40 seconds, and never deviated from this ritual.
 
July 25, 2004 was no different than any other morning, but somehow during my distribution of  six leveled scoops of Folgers into the coffee filter, my fingertips found themselves palpating a large lump on my right breast instead of steadying  the canister of grounds as they usually would. Was it that? I didn’t have this lump yesterday.  Suddenly a wave of panic engulfed my body.  Had the lump been there yesterday? A week ago?
Posted 10/27/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 48 comments   11,455 views
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6 Lessons from Motherhood That Will Spark Your Fitness


Hi! I’m Tina, the face behind the healthy living blog Faith Fitness Fun, where I discuss a variety of topics related to health and fitness. Join me as I share some ways I used motherhood to actually help me get fitter than I ever have before!
When it comes to being a fit mommy, popular media like to focus on celebrities who drop all their baby weight and have six pack abs within six weeks of delivery. The messages that weight loss and fitness progress should happen in the blink of an eye can discourage those of us without access to personal chefs and hours to spend with trainers. I want to tell you not to get discouraged!

I know from personal experience that, with a little consistency, persistence, and balance, changes can happen and you can have a fit, healthy, and strong body. After my son’s arrival in January of this year (in an ice storm, no less), I had 30 plus pounds I needed to lose to reach my happy weight.

I achieved my Body After Baby goals with the help of some lessons from motherhood. And that’s what I want to share today because I know you can do it. Whether or not you’re a parent, these six lessons I learned from motherhood can help your goals too!
Posted 10/11/2011  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   9,614 views
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6 Tips to Transition Workouts from Summer to Fall


Days get shorter, temperatures dip, and the leaves fall from the trees. Fall brings many changes, but that doesn't mean your workouts have to suffer. Instead of letting these autumnal changes bring upon excuses for exercising, look for the opportunity in each of them to renew and revamp your workout routine.

To make your workouts work with the season change rather than against it, try one of these excuse-proof tactics.

Change it up. No matter what the season, it's important to switch up your workouts. Don't let your body expect and adapt to the same mode of exercise. So, the change of seasons is an excellent time to "trick" the body and try some new twists to your workouts.   Listen for cues from your body to tell if it's time for a workout changeup: are you bored, are your workouts inconsistent, and are you not motivated?  If so, it's time to switch things up. If you've been running all summer long, try adding in some strength training. If you've been a cardio machine queen, try some new group classes instead or personal training sessions instead. You could also add in different kinds of workouts, like metabolic work or tabata workouts.
Posted 10/3/2011  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   8,867 views
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How to Keep a Long Commute from Wrecking Your Healthy Habits


"I don’t have enough time to get in a good work out." "I’m too tired when I get home to cook dinner." I am guilty of these statements. I have a full-time job, a long commute, a personal blog, a house that needs cleaning, and a boyfriend who needs attention. Most importantly, I have a healthy lifestyle. That’s right – I have found a way to balance it all even with a demanding job and a 75-minute commute to and from work. I’ve adapted to the long commute and workday, and will reveal some helpful tips to keep your diet and workouts on track.
 
Once I landed my first job and was thrown into the real world, I realized that people were not kidding when they said, "There are not enough hours in the day". Sometimes, you can’t control the amount of hours you put in at work each day. Traffic and train delays will slow you down, too. Not everything is in your control, but leading a healthy lifestyle definitely is.
 
I recommend working out in the morning. Not only do you feel energized for the long day ahead, but also you are guaranteed to fit it into your day. If you end up having to stay late at work, you’ve already completed your workout for the day.
 
Even though sometimes I feel like crying when my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM, I always feel so much better after a workout. Exercising in the morning will give you the energy you need to get through the day. Thinking about the long commute and workday ahead can be stressful. Exercise will help relieve that feeling before it even starts! Below are some tips that can help you stay motivated.
Posted 9/22/2011  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 45 comments   20,693 views
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Staying on Track When Life Changes Drastically


A lot of changes have occurred in my life in the past two months.

I quit my full-time job to become a freelance writer and healthy living blogger at Peanut Butter Fingers. Then my husband accepted a new job and we moved--into a hotel. We couldn’t find a house to rent in our new hometown right away, which led us to living in a hotel on weekdays and living at my parents’ house (two hours away) on the weekends.

Needless to say, all of these big life changes affected my normal eating habits.
I no longer had access to a real kitchen. No stove. No oven.

In the beginning I was tempted to throw in the towel and rely solely on microwaveable meals to get me though the transitional time until we moved into our rental home.  

Three days of frozen burritos later, I felt lethargic and knew I needed to introduce fresh produce, whole grains and unprocessed foods back into my diet.

I made an action plan.

The first obstacle?
Posted 9/13/2011  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 44 comments   14,030 views
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Think INSIDE the Lunchbox with '4 Ingredients'


Editor's Note: I recently connected with Kim McCosker, of the Australian best-selling cookbooks and popular websites, 4 Ingredients. Vivacious and passionate, the 4 Ingredients team is run by busy moms who are committed to making healthy cooking easy and fun for the whole family. Today, Kim shares her best tips for getting kids to eat right at lunchtime.
 
With three active and growing boys ages 9, 6 and 3, lunchboxes are a part of my family’s daily routine! If you are like me, a busy mom intent on giving your kids delicious, nutritious lunches, here are some great ideas to get your children back to school packed with healthy foods.
 
I like these because they are quick, easy and economical and often help me make use of my leftovers.
 
Choose a lunchbox with individual compartments, or otherwise use lidded containers, kids loooove little containers of things! Then add some of these...

 
Apple slices: Served with peanut, cashew, or almond butter or then sprinkled with coconut or raisins. Or add thinly sliced orange and lemon slices with honey to the top.
 
Cheese cubes: With sliced turkey and grapes--for a lunchbox cheese board!
Posted 8/29/2011  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 21 comments   31,325 views
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I'm 'Doing Whatever It Takes'


My motto: "Doing whatever it takes."
 
When the dailySpark asked me to write a guest blog I was completed humbled and honoured. What better way to help inspire people then getting to share my story, where I have been, where I am and where I am going.
 
On to the title of my blog, "doing whatever it takes." When I started to lose weight in May 2009, I had hit rock bottom with my self-esteem, was very close to the heaviest I had ever been, at close to 320 pounds. My athletic abilities were completely gone and I knew that it was a time for a change.
 
I had contemplated losing weight for years. In my second year of university, I had a huge drug problem and when I eventually stopped doing drugs (it has been over 4 years) I gave myself 3 goals all with equal importance to me.
Posted 7/6/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Gerry Antman : 90 comments   15,529 views
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Finding Freedom from Numbers


by Whitney Fretham (FIT-WHIT)

When I first sat down to consider what I should write about for this blog, I opened blank document and set out a plan. As I was cramping the end of my second page, I stopped, reread my windy thoughts, sat back and thought, "Who wrote this?" I had gotten myself wrapped up into this "persona" of what I thought a health-blog-writer should write like and think like and say. My writing became just another way for me to try to conform into a preconceived notion of who I should be.

I think this happens to us all along our journeys to a healthy life. It's especially easy to get caught up in what we *think* we should do, who we should be, and how the "perfect" end result will equate that proves we are a success: If the numbers don't all add up, somehow we feel we're not really "there," or have failed in some way.

Posted 6/15/2011  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 59 comments   12,148 views
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Suffering from Celiac? Tips for Going Gluten-Free


Editor's Note: According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, 1 in 133 Americans are affected by this ailment, which causes them to fall ill if they come in contact with even a trace amount of gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Abbie Roth, a freelance writer and academic editor, found out she had the disease in early 2009. She wrote a blog to help others who face a life with celiac or gluten intolerance.

By Abbie Roth

I’ve been living gluten free for more than two years now. Like many people, I was less than thrilled with my diagnosis. I remember crying over my beautiful dinner of grilled salmon and steamed rice because all I wanted was a piece of bread. Initially, I even rebelled against my diagnosis and binged on pizza, which I soon regretted. Once the reality sank in that I could actually feel good by eating the right foods, I never looked back.

Posted 6/8/2011  2:34:08 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 44 comments   11,672 views
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Exercising (Not Exorcising) The Inner Diva


By Jenn (KITHKINCAID)

It's all about ME! Me, me, me! There I said it. You can call me selfish, but I prefer self-centered. It sounds more grounded.

I would have been terrified to say those words a year ago for fear of what other people might think. But part of what I have learned over the past year on Spark is that not only does it not matter what other people think, but ultimately, no one else but me can be held responsible for looking out for number one. As much as we are all in this together for moral support, the personal growth that accompanies a weight loss journey is a pretty solitary endeavour. And so it should be. It's YOUR journey – not your mom's, or your boyfriend's, or your kid's, or your dog's, or even your SparkFriend's – yours.

Posted 5/30/2011  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 62 comments   11,752 views
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A Liberating 'Naked' Run


By SparkPeople member Jamie Berube

I feel naked if I run without my ipod and Garmin. I rely on Lady Gaga and Usher to push me through my first mile. The beats of Kanye and Jay Z help to quicken my stride as I get into the groove.The numbers obsessed part of me can't help but peek down at my Garmin Forerunner every five minutes to see my mile splits and distance.

But it hasn't always been this way.

The first time I went for a "run" I was 19. Garmins hadn't been invented and iPods were a lawyer's kid's luxury. I was happy with my mixed CDs and a Discman. Four years later and these gadgets are as essential to a run as my legs themselves. Dependency? Maybe a little.

However, there are days when I need my run to accomplish one thing: quiet the noise inside my head. This can't be done with "Poker Face" on repeat.

Being more interested in negative splits and distance rather than my organic movement along the roads of the So Cal suburbs makes my run feel tense and taut. For me, this adds to the noise inside my head.

Work has been rough lately. I'm a social worker which demands more than I have to give sometimes. On a Thursday evening I came home and needed to run. I cared nothing about how far or fast I went, I knew I just need to go.

I spread a smear of almond butter on a banana and chugged a cup of ice water before I headed out.

I popped my ear buds in and hit the pavement with a half hour until sunset. As I picked up my feet I struggled with the heaviness of the first quarter mile. The dimness of the dinnertime sky coupled with the dropping temperatures of nightfall would normally have dissuaded me out of my sneakers and back onto the couch. But I was invigorated. After five minutes I had a "Forrest Gump" moment where, figuratively speaking, I felt like the braces broke off my legs and I was freed to really run. I felt good and strong. Mostly though, I felt free.

I didn't expect this. After-work exercise rarely feels good and fun for the first ten minutes before the endorphins kick in.

How could this have been? What did I do differently?

Posted 5/19/2011  6:04:43 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 64 comments   14,068 views
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Bike to Work Week: Why I Ride My Bike 25 Miles a Day


Editor's Note: Since moving to Cincinnati in 2009, Sam Klontz has commuted from his downtown apartment to his office in northern Kentucky--about 25 miles round trip--via bicycle almost every day year-round. Co-founder of the Cincinnati-area amateur road cycling team BSM Cycling, Klontz sold his car last year and relies on his bike almost exclusively for transportation. Whether it's 90 degrees and sunny or 20 degrees and windy, he rides to work. Despite the extra hour he must allot for bike commuting each day, the extra clothing and food he must carry, and the inevitable sweatiness upon arrival at the office, he remains committed to bike commuting, and he considers himself to be a bike activist. In honor of Bike Month (and Bike to Work Week), I asked him to share his story, along with some photos from his daily commute. Above, you'll see the bike he rides daily, amid a parking lot packed with cars.

Story and photos by Samuel C. Klontz,
Bike Commuter and Co-Founder,
BSM Cycling

My passion for cycling dictates most decisions I make. Transportation, vacations, clothing, 90% of my conversations with friends, and my spending habits can all be traced to a more than mild obsession with the bicycle. When I was asked to put into words some of the reasons why I bike commute it seemed like a simple and joyous task.

Then I sat down and began to think hard on why I started, where my motivation came from during the 5 degree winter days when I could barely feel my face, and how much longer I can live car free.

Creative juices did not immediately begin flowing as I had hoped. Then the proverbial lightbulb went off. I pumped up my tires, put on some BSM team spandex, and pedaled toward the deserted roads to get lost!

Over the last few days of riding to work, riding with friends, and riding to explore I have compiled a list of reasons that help me to explain my love to riding to inquisitive people. So here it goes ...
Posted 5/17/2011  10:18:46 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 48 comments   21,844 views
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Yes We Can!


By John T. Jurkiewicz (JOHNTJ1)

I found SparkPeople quite by accident. I noticed a small ad tucked on the side of the web page I was viewing. The word "free" was what initially caught my attention. Being lazy by nature, I was glad to see there was a way for me to track my food and exercise without using a notebook, a ruler, a pencil and a calculator. Little did I know I was getting so much more than a simple tracking device.

This lifestyle change you and I are involved is not easy. Anything of real value never is. Success requires hard work, dedication and sacrifice. It's a lot more than counting calories, fat and carbs. It requires more than a gym membership. It means you're changing you, changing the way you look at food, at your relationship with food and most importantly changing the relationship you have with yourself. It means there are days you look in the mirror and you tell yourself that unless you alter some of your behavior, you are not going to be the success you hope to be. I know, I been there. I am learning, I am moving forward, even on the days that I feel like giving up. There are four things that sustain me.

Posted 4/27/2011  2:10:03 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 80 comments   13,013 views
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Our Exclusive Interview with Olympic Swimmer Natalie Coughlin


The dailySpark recently had the opportunity to ask Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin a few questions, thanks to the California Dried Plum Board.

Natalie Coughlin, who was the most decorated female athlete of both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, is currently training for the 2012 Summer Games, but she took some time to answer our questions:


dailySpark: How important is goal setting to your training? What is your proudest moment as an athlete?

Natalie Coughlin: Goal setting is one of the biggest components of training for the Olympics. Without goals, training has no direction. There's no one moment... I'm proud of my consistency and longevity in the sport.

dailySpark: When you have an “off” day when motivation seems to elude you, how do you push through it?

Natalie Coughlin: Knowing that I'm lucky enough to have one of the greatest jobs; being a professional athlete is a blessing.

Posted 4/20/2011  2:00:37 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 8 comments   8,888 views
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We Tried It: Ugi at Home


By That's Fit

We often hear about how some celebrity spends two hours at the gym six days a week, or who eats exactly 1,300 calories per day in order to get into killer shape, but the truth is that many working actors are working just as many hours as we are -- and their days are just as busy.

Ugi was created with busy people (famous and anonymous alike) in mind by kinesiologist and celebrity personal trainer Sara Shears. She wanted to provide her clients a system that was portable, straightforward and integrated both diet and exercise.

Here's how the system works. For $189, you get the Ugi at Home system, which includes an Ugi ball in the weight of your choice (the website helps you determine which weight is best for you): 6 lb, 8 lb, 10 lb or 12 lb. With the Ugi ball (which is a bit soft and squishy, like a beanbag), you receive a workout guide book, a DVD showing all 150 exercises from the book, a guide to making good eating choices, access to Ugi's online library of exercises, an interval timer and a free downloadable Ugi interval timer for iPhone (with other smartphone platforms in the works).

For pros, cons, and more, click here.

Posted 4/20/2011  6:00:16 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 19 comments   8,453 views
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