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The 30-Day Skinny Jeans Workout Plan

No matter what the season, body hugging trends like fitted ("skinny") jeans and leggings appear to be staying with us for a while. That may be even more reason to keep up with your healthy diet and fitness plan year-round!
As a fun way to motivate our readers to keep working toward their goals, I developed a brand new challenge that is sure to kick your butt—and legs and abs—into shape. I know how much people love plans they can follow, so I created the 30-Day Skinny Jeans Plan. Don't be alarmed: Even if wearing these trendy pants isn't high on your priority list, I promise you'll get a lot out of the challenge, including motivation, support, and new workout combinations designed to help flatten your belly, strengthen your legs and re-shape your rear.

You can head right over to now to check out the challenge, or keep on reading for more details on how the plan works and what to expect.
Posted 10/1/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 51,362 views
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You Asked for It: A Workout Plan for BOTH SparkPeople DVDs

Twice the workouts. Two times the fun. Double the results? You be the judge!
Positive reviews continue to roll in for our workout DVDs Total Body Sculpting and 28 Day Boot Camp.  (Thank you for that!) Although both of these DVDs feature very different workouts, I designed both of them with one thing in common: to help you maximize your results by combining compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups with calorie-blasting cardio into a single, super-efficient workout . (Phew, that was a mouthful.) And because each DVD has three or four individual workouts that you can mix and match, each one comes with its own workout plan that you can follow to ensure you're using them to get the best results in a safe and progressive way.
But one of the questions I hear most from people following one or both of these DVDs is how to use them together. This is a great question without a simple answer. The best workout plan will work your body in a variety of ways, include both challenging and easier days, and also allow for rest and recovery so you can get stronger and fitter (and stay sane).  So I developed a new workout plan that combines the routines from both of our popular DVDs into an effective and easy-to-follow program.
If you have both of these DVDs, you are in luck! Start using this plan now and reap the results! If you have only one of these DVDs, then consider this a kick in the butt to finally go out and get the second title you've been missing. (Here's where to purchase Total Body Sculpting or 28 Day Boot Camp). With a brand new plan to follow, you'll be well on your way to your fittest self yet—just in time for summer.  Are you ready for the plan?
Posted 6/30/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 23 comments   25,604 views
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3 Tips to Deal with Exercise ADD

I see it happen all the time on exercise forums or via my friend Facebook: Exercisers (from enthusiasts to newbies) get so pumped up about a particular workout that it's all they can do, talk about or think about...for a while anyway.

After a few days (or a couple weeks if they're lucky), these people are already gung ho for something else. While their enthusiasm and consistency for working out is a very good thing, they ultimately end up complaining for not getting results.

But wait: Isn't a good thing to try new workouts to create that "muscle confusion" or get better results?
Posted 2/18/2013  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 63 comments   76,190 views
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Just for Parents: A Refresher Course on Surviving the School Year

A new school year is under way.  Like many of you, I have been consumed by it for the past few weeks.  School supplies, new sneakers, "back-to-school" night, homework, after-school activities, new teachers, and uniforms have all played some part in the return of school.  These topics have been discussed regularly with friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else I have seen in passing (my dentist, employees at my gym, the girl who prepares my morning chai…).  The great balancing act has begun!

For me, the opening of the school year is usually a seamless transition from summer.  But, for some reason, this year is different.  Third grade feels unlike any other.  There is an anxiety about it that I’ve not felt before (not even when I was in third grade!)  Last week, back-to-school night was outright intimidating!  I watched the third grade teachers’ Power Point presentation and I felt overwhelmed.  I simply couldn’t absorb it all: the dreaded dioramas from my own childhood; an overnight trip of almost 60 kids and only four adults (yikes); something about building machines out of household materials; and the list went on for about 45 minutes.

To be perfectly honest, I think I am writing about this topic because I need a refresher course on the ins and outs of surviving parenthood during the school year.   And, to be even more honest, it wouldn’t hurt to commiserate, find hope, or laugh along with many of you out there whose kids also just started a new school year.  Here, I will remind myself (and you, perhaps) of some important topics:
Posted 9/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 9 comments   10,181 views
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The 10-Minute Mindshift

As a health coach for busy professionals, I hear a lot about how little time people have. My clients pack their days with meetings and commitments until there is barely room to breathe. But the truth is, no matter who we are, we all have the exact same amount of time--24 hours in each and every day. We can’t choose how much time we get; but we can choose how to spend the time we have. And those choices make all the difference. Redirecting even small amounts of time away from unhealthy activities and toward healthier ones can start a snowball effect that will transform your life!
Posted 4/25/2012  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 22 comments   20,780 views
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How to Fit In Fitness and Still Have a Life

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog and subsequently led a special SparkPeople LIVE! meeting on the topic of designing your perfect workout plan.The information I shared (how intensely and frequently you should do cardio and strength training throughout the week) is important and was well received, but really, it's just the tip of the iceberg.

I've given you the basic rundown of how much exercise you need to reach your goals, but next comes the hard part: How the heck do you fit it all into your schedule? And maybe even more importantly, how can you do all that exercise and still have a life outside of the gym?

That, my friends, is the million dollar question. Like many things in weight loss and in life, most of us know what to do, but that doesn't mean that we really know how to put that knowledge into practice. Lack of time is the biggest hurdle we face when trying to fit in exercise. And now I'm telling you to do cardio 3-6 times a week for up to an hour, to strength train at least twice a week with every major muscle group and to fit in stretching each time you do either. How are you supposed to swing that without making a second home of your gym?

That's what this blog is all about. Today, I'll share with you some sample workout plans that "fit it all in" plus my time-saving tips to get you in, out—and thoroughly exercised—in less time. I'll also share my own workout plan so you can see how I structure exercise in my week. Are you ready?
Posted 3/2/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 30 comments   42,431 views
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How to Lose 100 Pounds on a Crazy Schedule*

I do not live in a perfect world where everything falls into place inside the boxes and lines of my day planner. Few of us do. So many of us can relate to the day-to-day chaos that requires quick decisions made in the heat of battle. I don’t keep the same schedule for more than 7 days at a time. Just as soon as I adjust to day shift, I rotate to midnight shift, then afternoons, then back again. It seems like I am always scrambling to adjust, to regain my balance only to have to adapt again.

Many of us can tell a similar story. Maybe you are someone constantly devoting your time to the care and nurture of others. Maybe you are on the road a lot. Every person has a unique set of challenges that seems to get in the way of their goals.

So how did I do it? How did I manage to overcome all of that, lose 100 pounds and train for a marathon? These are my top must-dos to gain traction on a demanding schedule.
Posted 2/25/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Robert Wadhams : 103 comments   41,683 views
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How to Design Your Ideal Workout Plan

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.
Posted 1/21/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 27 comments   146,464 views
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Poll: When Did You Last Change Your Workout Routine?

Love it or hate it, the only constant in life is change. Some people avoid it. Others crave it. And sometimes, how you feel about it depends on where the change is happening (think career, relationships, residence, or life stage). I love the comfort of routine myself. It keeps things predictable and easy when the rest of my life seems stressful.
Recently, I gathered a group of my SparkPeople co-workers for a lunchtime kettlebell workout. Three of us had done kettlebells before and have used them fairly routinely for a while. The other five had never tried them. None of us had gotten together at noon on a Monday for a workout before (let alone this specific workout); all of us were trying something new.
That led me to wonder: When was the last time you changed your workout routine?
Posted 9/28/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 45 comments   9,886 views
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Dealing with Workout Interruptions

The idea for this blog came to me while walking on the treadmill one morning.  Usually I squeeze in a workout before my kids get up, but on this particular morning, I'd decided to sleep in a little instead.  So after the kids got up and we started the day, I asked if they wanted to come downstairs with me and play while I walked.  My workouts these days are only 30 minutes long (that's about all I can handle with another baby due any day), so I figured they could keep themselves occupied for that long.  I didn't think about how the playing, activity, and questions about what I was doing could interrupt the quality of my workout. 
Posted 8/30/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 42 comments   12,163 views
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7 Ways to Make the Most of a Short Workout

A few years ago, Boston Sports Clubs conducted a study to find out how exercise duration affected one’s adherence to a workout program. They found that participants who exercised for 20 to 30 minutes actually exercised more consistently than people who worked out for 45 to 60 minutes at a time. The results are clear: You may be more likely to stick with shorter workouts than longer ones.

These findings didn’t surprise anyone at SparkPeople, since we’ve found that short workouts provide a great foundation to build lasting lifestyle changes. And why are longer workouts harder to stick to? Time constraints coupled with an all-or-nothing exercise mentality (deciding it’s better to do nothing when you can’t fit in a full hour) could be to blame.

When SparkPeople founder Chris Downie and I were researching and writing the new Strong Start Guide for the new paperback version of The Spark, we discovered similar findings. We surveyed more than 2,000 members to find out exactly what they did in the first two weeks of their weight-loss programs to either make or break their motivation and affect their results. "Strong starters" were the most successful in the beginning—and in the long term, and the habits, attitudes and even workouts they followed were markedly different than those whom we refer to as "false starters." When it came to exercise, these two groups couldn't have been more different!

Both strong and false starters alike seem to know that exercise is an important component of a weight-loss plan. In fact, the majority of people in both groups incorporated three to five days of exercise per week when starting their programs. But would you believe that the people who lost more weight and got off to a stronger start spent less time working out?
Posted 1/28/2011  11:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 42 comments   28,105 views
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A Year's Worth of Motivation at Your Fingertips

A recent study showed that when people received motivational emails with pictures of people exercising, they increased their gym time by 54%. Whether it was the image, the email, or just the reminder itself, these messages helped people get more active than people who didn't receive ongoing messages.

For the times when you can't get to the computer, I created the next best thing: SparkPeople's daily tear-away calendar. It's full of my favorite fitness and nutrition tips, quick and healthy recipes, motivational quotes, and goal-setting ideas. One of the most requested items in the SparkPeople Store, we're happy to announce that our 2011 motivational calendar is now available!
Posted 9/29/2010  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 22 comments   12,362 views
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Poll: Do You Eat by the Clock or Your Own Hunger Signals?

In a weight-obsessed world with no shortage of diets, food products and meal plans to choose from, it can be hard to know how to eat. Should you eat low-carb, no-carb, or only complex carbs? Are more snacks better than none at all? Are mini meals throughout the day really better than three solid squares? It can be overwhelming to think about it all, and we haven’t even gotten into specific foods, nutrient breakdowns or calories.

Recently, I’ve been feeling extra hungry. (No, I’m not pregnant. Why does everyone always say that?) I’ll eat breakfast and then a couple hours later feel ravenous. Or I’ll eat my midday snack and be counting down the hours until lunchtime (is 11 too early?). This led me to wonder: Do you eat on a schedule or when you're hungry??
Posted 7/30/2010  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 180 comments   22,619 views
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Habits of Fit People: Don't Make Exercise Excuses

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: not making exercise excuses.

The difference between fit people and unfit ones isn't a matter of intention—it's about consistency. We all have the best intentions to work out, but fit people will find a way to exercise no matter what life throws at them. They are committed to following their fitness plan day in and day out, even when long work hours, childcare, holidays, travel, and other unforeseen circumstances throw a wrench into their plans. They don't confuse "being busy" with being active. Fit people plan their workouts, maintain a backup plan, and even commit to a shorter workout if that's all that time allows. Put simply, they don't make exercise excuses. So how can you be more like them?
Posted 4/30/2010  7:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 140 comments   28,229 views
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The Secrets of Success: Mix It Up to Keep It Off

We've already learned how important exercise is to weight-loss success. But what kind of exercise helps the most? Is any one form of cardio or strength-training better than another? We recently survey our most successful members--people who reached their goal weights or were still going strong after losing at least 100 pounds--to find out. We compiled all of their tactics in our best-selling book, The Spark, but we're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #8: Mix It Up to Keep It Off.
Successful members exercised at home, outside, in the gym, with home equipment or home DVDs, with workout groups or buddies, varying their routines and keeping it fun so that they were more likely to keep going. So how does workout variety help you lose weight?
Posted 3/8/2010  6:08:20 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 62 comments   20,450 views
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