All Entries For holidays
If there's ever a time to wish for an extra hour (or six) in the day, it's during the holidays. In addition to our normal work, family, and home obligations, we have all those seasonal responsibilities. That can leave very little time for yourself--and lead to excess stress that can interfere with your ability to reach your goals. To help streamline your shopping experience this year--which means more "you" time for healthy habits--we're sharing some of our favorite healthy gifts of the season. We think anyone would love unwrapping one of these!
Monster Isport Freedom Headphones: We love everything about these headphones: Bluetooth, wireless, sweat-proof, no cord--great sound. They're perfect for working out and durable enough for everyday use.
Cuisinart Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System: This is such a great gift for the healthy foodie in your life. It makes smoothies and protein shakes easy to make and take on the go!
The Spark Activity Tracker: The Spark is the only wireless activity tracker that fully integrates with the FREE tools, content and community on SparkPeople.com. You won't catch me without mine--I love that not only does it track my steps taken and calories burned, but it also knows exactly which type of exercise I did! Read More ›
The holidays are supposed to be a happy time—but all too often they can leave you frazzled and exhausted. When your schedule starts to stress you out, decompress with these three tips.
"I'm coordinating four Christmas parties and a bake sale. It'll take a miracle to pull them all off."
Merry Maker: Wrap some presents.
When you are feeling overwhelmed take a short break and do a mindless chore that lets your thoughts wander. Preforming monotonous tasks can boost creativity and problem-solving ability according to a study from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Read More ›
Forget about all the food for a minute. Let's talk about the fitness. Holiday weight gain is a concern for many, but it's not just because of the food. Sure, we eat more rich foods than we probably should this time of year, but we also let our workouts go by the wayside. We're stressed out and busier than ever with mile-long to do lists. The uncooperative weather doesn't help—dark mornings and evenings make you want to curl up in bed—not to biceps curls. So how is it that we can manage to do everything else but not squeeze in a workout? And what does that say about our priorities (and our commitments to ourselves)?
Let's do things differently this year, starting with Thanksgiving. The solution really is simple. We know what causes weight gain and we know how to maintain and lose weight, too. So for the next few weeks, I propose a new philosophy that will keep winter weight gain at bay: Burn it to earn it. Read More ›
Are you ready for some new, healthy recipes to liven up your Thanksgiving Day table? I've created five new recipes that celebrate the season of giving thanks. No doubt about it, pumpkin takes center stage this year, along with squash of all kinds.
Whole Wheat Couscous with Spinach and Squash
228 calories, 2 g fat
Each one cup portion has a serving each of whole grains and vegetables. Read More ›
The Fourth of July is a time for flags, fireworks, food and fun! It’s also a time to remember that safe and convenient food has not always been readily available in our country. Today, the average person spends about 50 minutes in the kitchen each day preparing meals—about five minutes for breakfast, 15 minutes for lunch and up to 30 minutes for dinner. In colonial America, cooks would slave away over the stove for hours. Talk about your American Revolution!
However, some of our modern dining habits actually do bear similarities to those of our colonial ancestors. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, fruits, vegetables and baked products would have been familiar foods in colonial times. Colonial cooks used some of the same cooking methods we still use today, like frying, baking, broiling and boiling. And while the colonists enjoyed their coffee, tea, and hot chocolate like we do, they didn’t have a Starbucks in every neighborhood!
Not much else was the same. While we may not know exactly what George Washington ate for dinner on July Fourth, we do know several things about the preparation of foods in 1776. Here are a few highlights: Read More ›
St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. If you're like most Americans looking for a reason to party, this means one of two (or…two of two) things: 1) You're going to down a pint of your favorite Irish beer in celebrate of St. Paddy, or 2) you're going to drink one of your favorite American beers tinted green.
But if you're trying to keep your weight in check—or even lose a few pounds—a beer or two can really throw things off. Alcohol can lead to weight gain, as the body processes it much differently than food. And burning off a few hundreds extra calories for a day or two of bar hopping is no small feat.
To help you decide which beer might make the best fit in your St. Patrick's Day diet (if any), I came up with this great visual guide to show exactly how many calories are in your favorite stouts, ales and draughts, along with how much exercise it'll take to burn off the beer of your choice. Read More ›
As a chef, I love to entertain in our home--especially around the holidays when the house is decorated and we want to spend time with our family and friends.
As part of my schooling, we were taught how to entertain as part of our hospitality training. We learned to plan and pull off magnificent events without a drop of sweat.
You don't need to go to culinary school to learn the same skills. Go ahead and set the date--you'll be prepared! Just follow my tips below for a well-planned event, and you'll still be smiling at the end of the night while saying (and believing), "Well, that was fun. Let's do it again next year."
Make a party plan!
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This holiday season was different from past years for me in that I actually finished all of my shopping early—almost two weeks ago actually. For once I'm relaxing and enjoying these last weeks of December without the holiday stress of finding and buying those last-minute gifts. But I know that others aren't quite as fortunate. Many of you are still part of the holiday rush, which is why I'm here to help with my own picks for the best fitness gifts for anyone on your list.
Don't panic: You still have a few days to shop before Christmas! The following fitness gifts are all available online and are ready to ship; most are readily available at national chains as well. But even if your shopping is done (lucky you!), you'll find plenty of fabulous ideas here for YOU. After all, you deserve a nice reward for everything you've achieved this year, right? Maybe you'll even get some holiday gift money or a year-end bonus that you can use to treat yourself to a fit gift (or two) to start the new year off right. Read More ›
Editor's note: Don't miss the video of Becky sharing holiday weight-maintenance tips at the end of this blog!
Sneaky holiday calories are everywhere this time of year. With travel, parties, big buffets, holiday baking, and extra snack foods at the office, a challenging environment is around every corner. These extra calories don’t always come in full-size servings or large-distorted portions. No, these extra calories tip-toe in amid the holiday hoopla. However, if you took the time to count all those "tiny tastes" each day, you would be surprised at how quickly they can sabotage your weight-maintenance efforts.
Check out a typical day of tiny tastes during the holidays Read More ›
For many of us, Christmas morning is a time to indulge in a big, leisurely breakfast that we normally wouldn't partake in on most other days of the year. But if you're not careful, a festive a.m. meal could cause you to blow through a day's worth of calories and fat before Christmas dinner! If you were to choose a special and indulgent holiday breakfast to keep you satisfied without stuffing you silly, which would you pick: One medium-size iced cinnamon roll, or a plate of two fried eggs and two strips of bacon? Read More ›
Many exercisers agree that uplifting music helps increase energy and motivation while working out. This is especially important during the holiday season, when ''to-do'' lists are long and the temptation to skip workouts is high.
Making fitness a priority is a key to holiday weight-loss success. Use these festive songs of the season to help you create a perfect holiday workout playlist that will keep you moving and in the holiday spirit at the same time!
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This time of year, there's always an occasion where you need to bring a dish to share. But between work, home, and school obligations, not to mention your workouts and healthy meal prep, however will you find time to come up with something delicious and creative to take to the neighborhood gathering?
I've compiled a list of appetizers that will take no more than five minutes of hands-on work!
Appetizer vs. Hors D'Oeuvres
These days, appetizers and hors d'oeuvres are often used interchangeably (though we tend to use the word appetizer more commonly, probably because it's easier to spell), there is a difference. Appetizers are the first course of a meal, while hors d'oeuvres are bite-size portions of food displayed on a buffet or passed on a tray by the host or, at my house, a teenager trying to make up for tossing baseballs near the Christmas tree. So really there's no big difference and who in the heck cares what they are called as long as they taste good. To get started let's look at what make a good single bite of party food.
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It's the most wonderful time of the year, unless you are trying to adhere to a weight-loss plan. Then the holidays can feel like a day-after-day deprivation. The 41 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can be packed with festivities filled with fattening foods making you feel frantic and frustrated. But denying yourself of all the holiday treats is not the way to go.
The act of restricting your favorite foods can actually backfire and bring about unplanned overeating and binging. A 2007 study in the journal Appetite documented this vicious cycle which can result in feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression. Dieters who implemented strict food restrictions had an increased desire for those "forbidden foods," bringing about food cravings and greater temptation; when compared to dieters who included these type "forbidden foods" on occasion.
So keep this the most wonderful time of the year--relax, enjoy the holiday and include the foods you love--on occasion! Here are strategies and tips to help: Read More ›
Editor's Note: We know the holidays can be a busy time and that stress is a leading cause of emotional eating and other habits that can negatively impact your efforts to be healthy and happy. That's why SparkPeople is thrilled to share with you this blog post from the team at meQuilibrium.com, a site whose mission very closely aligns with our own. meQuilibrium helps you dial down the negative effects of stress by coaching you to take control of your thoughts, emotions and lifestyle habits with a unique online program.
Together SparkPeople and meQuilibrium are committed to making you healthier and happier, one step at a time. At the end of this post, you'll learn how to get a FREE 6-week unlimited access to meQuilibrium, including a special 30-day introductory stress-relief program, as a gift exclusively for SparkPeople members! Don't miss this limited-time offer!
You’re not a masochist, and yet, this time of year, you could possibly pass for one. You take on more than you could possibly do and aspire to even more. You raise your standards, your expectations, and your stress levels—all in the name of good cheer and a happy holiday.
What? Does it have to be like this? We don’t think so. You can change your experience of the holidays—but you have to aware of what you’re doing first. Let’s start with five things you’re doing to yourself that are making things way harder than they have to be. Read More ›
Gratitude can be a difficult thing to teach but a vital lesson for children to learn.
Psychologists have found that people who regularly say thank you and remember to be grateful for things in their life tend to be happier and more optimistic. They can't say there is definitely a cause-and-effect relationship between gratitude and happiness, but counting your blessings certainly doesn't hurt.
Teaching gratitude is something that should happen all year; however, the holiday season quickly can prove whether the lessons have been a success. The good cheer of the holidays can disappear in a whirl of greed and gluttony. That's true for all of us, young and old, but it's especially apparent when children, the prime gift recipients of the season, act ungratefully.
No one wants to have the kid refusing to thank Aunt Betty for the hand-made sweater – or even worse, declaring it ugly. Yes, we want children to be truly grateful in their hearts, but let's face it, we also want to avoid unpleasant scenes. Gratitude and politeness go hand-in-hand.
Here are easy some ways to teach and show gratitude all year, and especially at the holiday season. Read More ›