All Entries For holidays

Thanksgiving Tips and Trivia

Happy Thanksgiving! Let's celebrate with some trivia and tips related to the holiday.
Posted 11/22/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 35 comments   20,851 views
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Must-Haves for Your Holiday Wish List (All Under $20!)

Stumped about what to put on your holiday wish list this year? Here are some great gift ideas that will help you along on your healthy living journey—all for under $20!


Stability Ball
If you're looking to build a home gym, a stability ball is a great place to start! Check out this video for tips on how to use it.



Contigo 16-Ounce Double Wall Insulated Tumbler
This tumbler has a heavy-duty seal that prevents spills and keeps your hot drinks hot for hours. (I have one and use it nearly every day. Even three hours after pouring, my coffee is still toasty!)

Your knives probably need a little love after all the use they've gotten over the holidays! This knife sharpener is safe, compact, and super effective.
Posted 11/20/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 26 comments   18,954 views
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Shop Smarter and Save More on Black Friday

Turkey, pumpkin pie, football, family. Thanksgiving might include any of those things, but for many people, a vital part of the holiday weekend is the shopping. And while there are countless bargains to be found, not all promotions may be worthy of an early wake-up call or being jostled by crowds. We put Claudia Lombana, PayPal Shopping Specialist, to the test for her best Black Friday advice. 
Posted 11/20/2012  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 15 comments   8,593 views
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Family Circle's Healthy Thanksgiving Menu

Sacrifice neither your diet nor the traditional Thanksgiving experience with this menu. Each serving of these classic dishes contains less than 500 calories, less than 18 grams of fat and less than 800 mg of sodium.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Makes: 8 servings
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Roast: 30 mins
Get recipe 
Posted 11/13/2012  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   9,246 views
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Healthy Flying Tips for Families

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and many people will take to the sky to visit family and friends. Despite appearances—a plethora of fast foods, snacks and lots of sitting around—flights and airports offer plenty of nutritious food and opportunity for activity, if you know where to look.

  • Make sure everyone eats a healthy meal before you arrive. You’ll be less likely to munch on high-calorie snacks just because they’re around or you’re bored.

  • If eating in an airport, it’s worth it to spend the time seeking out healthy foods. Look for salads, fresh fruit, vegetable-based soups, and baked or grilled chicken.
    Posted 11/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 13 comments   11,876 views
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Healthy Holiday Gift Guide: Ideas for Everyone!

The holiday gift buying season is in full swing. Make life easier, and loved ones' lives healthier, with our healthy gift picks.

Our friends at Remedy's share their best healthy finds for everyone in your life.
Posted 12/16/2011  10:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 10 comments   12,250 views
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Poll: Do You Make Your Own Holiday Gifts?

This time of year can be a mixture of fun and frustration.  When it comes to gifts, we all have those hard-to-buy-for people in our lives and the friend or family member who doesn’t give you any ideas.  If there is something they want or need, they just buy it themselves.  I have a few of those people on my gift list, and I always struggle with what to do for them.  I want them to know they are an important part of my life, but I’m not going to buy them something random just so that they have something to open.  This year, I’ve decided to make gifts for some of them.
Posted 12/16/2011  8:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 30 comments   8,623 views
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10 Holiday Gifts From The Kitchen

As a mother of three kids, my circle of fellow parents, new friends, and my kids' teachers is really growing fast. This year, I'm trying to find simple gifts that will express my appreciation, share my commitment to health and wellness, and yet won't break the bank. I've gathered some of my all-time favorite simple homemade gifts below that will look beautiful, while creating fun memories in the kitchen with your loved ones. 
Posted 12/14/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Samantha Donohue : 9 comments   11,441 views
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'Tis the Season to Battle the Holiday Blues

The holiday season is in full swing now!  Festive lights, the sounds of the season and holiday goodies are surrounding us on an almost daily basis.  Just about everywhere you go you are reminded that it’s that time of the year.  We are getting the message loud and clear that we should be happy. We’re all happy! Right?
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Depression is a medical condition that affects 1 in 10 Americans, which equates to approximately 31 million, and it doesn’t have a season.  The holidays can be particularly difficult for those with depression.  The good news is that having an emotionally rough time in your life is not a medical condition in most cases.  Consider the following criteria to determine whether your feelings of depression should include a visit to your physician or to a mental health professional.  (SparkPeople has a comprehensive condition center with additional information and resources about depression.)
According to Mental Health America, the country’s leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives, this time of year can be as much about anxiety, depression, and stress as it is about joy:

Many factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension. People may also develop other stress responses such as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and difficulty sleeping. Even more people experience post-holiday let down after January 1. This can result from disappointments during the preceding months compounded by the excess fatigue and stress.
What are the symptoms of depression? According to the CDC, they are:
  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself or that you were a failure or let yourself or your family down
  • Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed, or the opposite: being so fidgety or restless that you were moving around a lot more than usual
Depression is potentially disabling and can cause severe family and relationship problems and even loss of income.  If these symptoms occur for two weeks or longer and they begin to interfere with managing everyday life it may be more serious than just "feeling down."  
Posted 12/13/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 18 comments   9,476 views
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Jewish Music to Inspire Your Hanukkah Workouts

Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word "Hanukkah" means "dedication," and unlike other date-specific holidays, it begins at sunset on a day between late November and late December depending on the Hewbrew calendar.

Hanukkah is a time of joy and family celebration, fun and tradition including many delicious foods. While the festivities can draw you away from your healthy lifestyle, it can also be a time to stay dedicated to them.

We create workout lists to help you keep your workouts fresh and to help you stay motivated as you work toward your goals. Members of our SparkJews SparkTeam offered some suggestions for inspirational songs to keep you moving throughout the holiday.

Posted 12/12/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 25 comments   8,595 views
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VIDEO: Better Baking for the Holidays

Recently, we gave a little facelift. Among the additions were a year's worth of informational, entertaining videos! Every day when you visit the site, you'll see one of my videos, full of seasonal tips and recipes.

Today we're sharing my video about Better Baking for the Holidays. In it, I share my best tips to lighten up your holiday favorites. Finally, you can have your cake, and eat it, too!
Posted 12/12/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 4 comments   6,377 views
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12 Fresh Cranberry Recipes

Have you noticed bags of beautiful red berries in the produce department of your local grocery store? Did you know that those are fresh cranberries, a great food to add to your diet? According to The George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods, cranberries are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that provide anit-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. One cup of fresh cranberries has 5 grams of fiber, 90 mg of potassium and 25% of the Daily Value for vitamin C according to the SparkPeople Nutritional Tracker
Incorporating cranberries into your cooking is easier than you might think. Use a food processor to chop them into small pieces and pop them in the freezer. There is no need to defrost them before you cook. Cranberries add a nice tartness to your favorite salad, side dish, or sweeten a main course with cranberry relish. If you can’t find fresh cranberries, dried cranberries are a great substitute and are available year around. Dried cranberries can be used in place or raisins or nuts in any recipe. Make sure you use dried cranberries in moderation as a single serving has 123 calories and 26g of sugar.

I’ve gathered some of my favorite cranberry recipes from SparkRecipes for your health and enjoyment. Ditch the canned processed cranberry sauce and cut the calories and sugar by using fresh cranberries in your cooking this holiday season. 
Posted 12/7/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 10 comments   33,335 views
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Don't Deny Your Trigger Foods--Manage Them

You’re at a party and you see a table filled with some of your favorite foods: potato chips with sour-cream dip; charcuterie heaped high next to pieces of crusty baguette; and a steaming tray of macaroni drunk with melted cheddar cheese. Nearby is the dessert table where you see dense chocolate cake topped with fresh whipped cream; peppermint bark and still warm ginger snaps; a ten-layer coconut cream layer cake. Do you:

a) walk on by clutching the celery sticks you brought from home for dear life
b) grab whatever you can as fast as you can and shove it down at warp speed
c) enjoy a reasonable portion of the food in front of you without a shred of guilt.
I vote for c: a choice informed by moderation and pleasure, not gluttony or denial. It’s totally do-able, but first you need to come to terms with what it means to eat treats.
For many of us, treats are triggers. In other words, if you eat one cookie, you’ll eat a dozen. When I first began my journey to lose weight a few years ago, there were some foods that held me in such thrall, I literally could not go near them. My list included triple cream cheeses, crusty bread of any kind, charcuterie (especially salami), cookies (any kind), cakes (ditto), Doritos, and olives. If two bites were good, twenty were better. I couldn’t eat just a little of these foods so rather than go to town, stuff myself, then feel the inevitable guilt, misery and anger, I cut them out of my life -- for a while anyway. Until I could gain some distance, examine what my relationship was with these foods, and discover what lay underneath my insatiable desire.
I learned a lot.
Posted 11/30/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 27 comments   7,836 views
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The Cost of 'Taking a Break' for the Holidays

I’m writing to you as a card-carrying SparkPeople member today!  I’m in my third year of maintenance so I’ve learned a few things about both losing and maintaining weight loss.  The year is drawing to a close and I think it’s appropriate now more than ever to discuss what it means to "take a break." 

The first few weeks of losing weight are exciting.  You are ready to get rid of the extra pounds that you carry and you are motivated.  Your reasons are personal and many of you may be motivated by extrinsic factors.  Counting calories, points, or whatever your system is easy and you are exercising with consistency.  The pounds are flying off (mostly in the form of water weight) and your clothes are starting to feel looser.  You may even start to get some compliments that provide even more fuel to keep going for yet another day.  But (I know you saw this coming), after some time that “new diet” feeling starts to wear off and you start to struggle.  Most people hit the first rough patch within the first two weeks.  It may take others a couple of months before they start to lose steam and start to wonder why they can’t go back to doing things the "old way." But, there comes a time when you will struggle to stay on track and the lure of returning to your old habits seems almost impossible to resist.  There is even some evidence that suggests your own body is sending out hormones to try to convince you to return to your old ways!

If you started your journey at SparkPeople, you are well-aware that what we are not proponents of diets.  Diets, as commonly defined, have a start date and an end date.  The end date of the diet signifies the day that you begin to return to your old habits thus also signifying the date you begin to regain the lost pounds.

But, let’s be realistic here.  It’s not possible to keep your motivation and willpower strong at all times.  There will be times, usually during stress, that you need to focus on more pressing matters.  There will be illnesses, job changes, relationship problems, financial problems, etc.  These stressors, in many cases, will erode your willpower and motivation and will make it more difficult to stay on track. 

What are your options during these difficult days? You can go with the “all or none” mentality and choose "all" to stay on track or you can choose "none" and go back to your old habits.  Alternately, you can choose a middle ground.  What I want to highlight today is the danger of choosing “none” and “taking a break” and to give some examples of what it’s like to choose somewhere in the middle. 

Giving up and “taking a break” is probably not the best choice to make.  I’ve heard many people say that they are “taking a break” and will resume living a healthy lifestyle after a certain date.  It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that they are going to start again “after the holidays.” 

So, let’s look the caloric toll and add up what might happen between November 1 and January 1 if you decide to “take a break.”

The numbers used here are simply estimates of calorie needs and expenditures.  Please do not get caught up on them because your body is not a calculator.  SparkPeople has wonderful trackers that enable you to figure out your personal caloric needs based on your level of activity.  However, I am using these generic numbers to illustrate the caloric differential of weight maintenance vs. losing vs. gaining.  The caloric differential of what your body needs vs. consumes is ultimately the key and the point of the following examples.

Our sample SparkPeople member is:
  • an extremely motivated obese female
  • actively losing 1-2 pounds a week
  • on 1,500-calorie per day plan
  • exercising five times per week burning 300 calories per session
Her (sedentary) basal metabolic rate: about 2,000 calories per day (the calories needed to maintain her current weight).  

Her deficit: about 5,000 calories per week
  • 500 a day from diet X 7 days = 3,500
  • 300 calories X 5 days a week from exercise = 1,500
  • That equals her about 1-2 pounds per week on average weight loss (3,500 calories=one pound lost but remember that your body is NOT a calculator)
Result:  If she continues her lifestyle change from November 1 through New Year’s she could lose about 12-13 pounds of fat and will be down a dress size for the new year!

Now, let's see what happens when she “takes a break” for the holidays. 
Posted 11/29/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 97 comments   21,000 views
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Poll: Will You Make Time for Fitness before You Feast?

Every Thursday, I wake up earlier than normal to go for a run before I go to the office. This coming Thursday happens to be Thanksgiving, a jam-packed day in which I'll be cooking for more than a dozen people. Although it's Thanksgiving, it's still just Thursday to me. That means I'll be up early and out the door running while most people are still sleeping.
Since cooking for others and having company over can be stressful—and time consuming—sticking to my workout plan helps me stay sane, but it also helps me stay on track.
So what I'm wondering is: Will you be joining me Thursday morning for a workout, too?
Posted 11/23/2011  8:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 141 comments   10,077 views
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