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10 Ways to Socialize Without Food


If you’re someone who likes to go out frequently with family and friends, you know that most outings revolve around food.  It’s easy to say “Hey, let’s meet for lunch!” or “Want to join me for a few drinks after work?”  Whether you’ve just started making improvements to your diet or you’ve stuck to a healthy eating plan for years, you know how tempting these situations can become.  Your friend orders a plate of French fries and you start munching on them without even realizing, or your mom asks if you want to split a dessert you weren’t planning on ordering.  In most cases, it’s best not to avoid these events completely.  Avoidance can help you stick to your plan, but it’s not a long-term solution.  Eventually you’re going to be in situations where food is involved, so you have to learn how to deal with temptations.  This helps change your new habits into permanent lifestyle changes, instead of a “diet” that you are on and off periodically. 
  
Although it’s certainly possible to stay on track with your diet in social situations, sometimes it’s nice to have alternatives that don’t revolve around food.  If it’s your turn to make the plans, choose something fun and different!  You might find that one of the activities below sparks a new way to socialize with those you love.
Posted 12/22/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 1 comments   1,857 views
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18 Ways to Stay on Track over the Holidays


Congratulations on making it through all of those Thanksgiving temptations! Now, it's time to face the upcoming barrage of holiday parties over the next month. Between the office buffets, neighborhood open houses, family gatherings, religious festivities, and community get-togethers, sticking to a healthy eating plan can become difficult, to say the least.

While there are a variety of excuses to overindulge during the holidays, the best defense against holiday eating disasters is a good plan of action.  There is no better way to formulate a plan for holiday survival than to learn from how others stay healthy during this time of joy and celebration.  Use these helpful SparkPeople member tips to stay on track into the New Year.
Posted 11/29/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 22 comments   26,654 views
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Wired? 7 Tips to Help Tech Addicts Sleep Better


Just about everywhere you look someone is using technology. I find it's actually difficult to go out and not see people texting or playing games on their cell phones. It seems that using our phones and other mobile devices (iPads, tablets, laptops, etc.) is such a common thing now. According to this article, the National Sleep Foundation found that "more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or electronic device of some kind in the hour before bed." With the use of electronic devices like that, researchers are finding that the "exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle." This can cause disturbances in our sleep, along with increasing our risk of obesity and diabetes.
 
Posted 11/1/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 12 comments   12,233 views
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Take a Break to Torch the Calories


Having a job that requires sitting most or all of the day doesn't mean that you can't fit in extra calorie burning activities throughout the day. For me, I work from home and am on the computer a lot of the day, however, I take breaks as often as I can to get up and walk around to stretch my legs, which also gives my eyes a rest from the computer screen. Some of my favorite exercise breaks include walking around the house at a fast pace, walking up and down the stairs, dancing around the living room  (my dogs really love this!), or taking the dogs for a quick walk around the neighborhood.  Before working from home though, I worked in a conventional office and would do everything I could to get up and move. I would walk to my co-worker's office/cubicle rather than email them,  take the stairs as much as possible and go for walks during my lunch hour. Even though I'm not in a conventional office now, I still make sure to work in ways to burn extra calories (in addition to my formal exercise) throughout the day.
 
Posted 9/20/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 42 comments   18,185 views
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I Won't Be a Victim: The Importance of Self-Defense


After living in the state of California all of our lives, five years ago my husband and I decided we were ready for a change, and we moved to Missouri. We have enjoyed the change that we experienced with that move and decided that it was finally time for us to purchase our first home. We purchased our house in mid-July and have been enjoying being homeowners. We honestly couldn’t ask for a better first home as we both love it very much. It feels great, and we both feel quite accomplished that we were able to become homeowners much sooner than we ever thought was possible.

Our new house is located in a neighborhood only a few miles away from the house we were renting. Now, this is generally a safe and quiet neighborhood. However, last week we learned an important lesson, that bad things happen even in "safe and quiet" places.
Posted 8/30/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 34 comments   10,003 views
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How to Keep Exercise from Zapping Your Energy


Do you ever hit an energy low during your workouts? If so, there could be a variety of reasons why, but some of those can be an easy fix, such as eating properly, getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water, changing up your workouts, etc.

Whenever I find myself hitting a low during my workouts, I run through a list of things in my head to figure out what may be happening so it doesn't continue to happen for future workouts.  A few things that I do to make sure I have enough energy for my workouts are to make sure I'm well rested, drink plenty of water and make sure I switch up my workouts so I don't get bored.  If I'm not well rested, then I am going to be tired well before my workout, which will not only cause my workout to be less than great, but it can also lead to more fatigue and possible injuries. On the days that I know I didn't sleep well the night before, I either do a short walk as my workout (or something else that is quick and simple) or I skip that day's workout. I would rather go to bed early to help me catch up on my sleep so I will be more rested and less injury prone. If all goes well and am better rested the next day, I am able to put more effort into my workout then.
 
Posted 8/23/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 14 comments   19,234 views
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Fun and Active Date Ideas


My husband and I just celebrated our 14th anniversary earlier this week and I thought it was a great time to share some active date ideas with you. While we haven't had a chance to actually celebrate our anniversary just yet, we will be doing something active and fun when we do. We both enjoy a good movie and dinner, but that can be costly not only for our wallets, but our waistline as well.

Posted 8/9/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 17 comments   12,121 views
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Study: The Hungrier You Are, the More Certain Foods Appeal to You


One thing I don’t have patience for is being hungry.   I’ve never been one of those people who can go all day without remembering to eat.  My body is like an alarm clock, and when the buzzer goes off that it’s time to eat, it just keeps getting louder until I do something about it.  When I get really hungry, the first thing I grab for is usually a granola bar or something else that’s high in carbohydrates.  I always figured that’s because it’s quick and easy, but new research shows that my growling stomach could be causing me to gravitate toward these types of foods.
Posted 7/17/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 34 comments   13,104 views
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Tips for a Skin Safe Summer


Summer provides a perfect opportunity to get a healthy dose of the sunshine vitamin that many of us need. At the same time, we are mindful of the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays we have heard so much about over the years. We look for tips that make applying sunscreen easier and more fun for kids while not always wearing it ourselves.  
 
Last summer the FDA unveiled new rules related to sunscreen claims to help reduce consumer confusion about UV protection and claims related to being waterproof or sweatproof. The new rules would have gone into effect June 17, 2012 were it not for an FDA issued delay last month that provided a six-month extension.
 
With all the confusion regarding when and how the guidelines will change, it can be difficult to know how to protect your skin against the sun at the beach or during outdoor workouts. Here are some useful tips to help you have a skin safe summer.
Posted 6/25/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 10 comments   7,443 views
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Sugar, Oh How Sweet It Is


When you read the ingredient listing on a nutrition label, do the sugar terms jump out at you? Perhaps listings like sugar, brown sugar, or honey cause you to pause. What about listings such as evaporated cane juice, malt or turbinado sugar? Do they register as sources of added sugar?
 
Sugar has been in the news quite a bit recently. Learning ZoneXpress, a USDA national strategic partner, announced a new educational poster highlighting the sugar content found in popular beverages.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) just released a newly updated position paper regarding full-calorie and low-calorie sweeteners.  Why is there so much attention on sugar?
Posted 6/11/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 3 comments   7,956 views
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How Can We Cut 64 Calories a Day From Kids' Diets?


Many things have changed since 1971. Back then, there were no cell phones, personal computers, or the internet. There was also no satellite TV, music came from 45 records or albums, and you couldn't find online dining guides to make wise choices for the rare occasion when you would eat away from home. What has also changed is the rate of obesity in young people.
 
Researchers have recently analyzed historical height and weight data from 1971 to 2008 for U.S. children between the ages of two and 19. Evaluating the trends during that time led researchers to project an increase in childhood obesity to 21 percent by the year 2020 compared to today's rate of almost 17 percent. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to see the obesity rate decline to 14.6 percent instead.
 
Unfortunately, since so many Americans are overweight, many parents have a hard time taking a good look at their children's weight. A new study estimates children need to begin creating a 64 calorie energy gap (aka calories in vs. calories out) each day through diet and/or exercise to reach the 2020 childhood obesity goals. Here are some substitution ideas to cut these calories through diet.
Posted 6/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 16 comments   8,788 views
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Life Lessons 101: Taught By My Dog, Zoe


As some of you may remember, I have a yellow lab named Zoe (along with a new puppy adopted from the shelter and three cats). When my husband and I brought Zoe home though, our lives changed forever! She is full of character and enthusiasm, to say the least. While I’ve been taking her to obedience training classes to get her to learn how to behave well, she is not the only one that has been learning new things. Zoe has taught me some very valuable life lessons that I think may help others too.
 
Posted 4/5/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 48 comments   11,347 views
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Does Healthy Cooking have to be Complicated?


As my kids get older, I find myself focusing even more on meal planning.  I want my kids to try a wide variety of foods.  I don’t expect them to like everything I cook, but I want home cooked, healthy meals to be second-nature to them.  Growing up, my mom was (and still is) a great cook.  She was always trying new recipes, and now I’ve become just like her.  My husband commented the other day that “you never know what we’re going to be having for dinner” because I’m constantly mixing things up.  Granted, I’m just like my mom in that I don’t deviate from recipes.  Someday I’d love to learn to really cook, where I can throw together a bunch of random ingredients in my refrigerator to create a delicious meal.    But I’m not at that point yet.
Posted 3/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 21 comments   7,423 views
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Natural Pain Remedies That Work!


I used to weigh 460 pounds. Because of that, I have degenerative disease, herniated disks, pinched nerve bundles, arthritis, bad knees, and the list goes on. As a result of these things, I used to be the depression queen. My daily mantra was "I can’t”. The truth is, I felt hopeless in my world of pain and weight issues.  I thought nothing could save me.  Now I am at a nearly 200 pound weight loss, thanks to SparkPeople and Sparkers like you!
 
But what about my pain? Is it gone?  No, sadly, but it has become much more manageable with a few wonderful techniques I’ve discovered along my journey.
 
After starting SparkPeople, I fired every doctor I had and got new ones.  I explained my needs and desire to get better, but I refused to put up with any form of ridicule. (Example:  One doctor grabbed my stomach and called it "This thing.")  I needed advice and direction, not judgment.  So I found a new doctor who set me up with in-home physical therapy to address my specific needs.  Your specific needs may be different, so it is always best to start with a knowledgeable, yet understanding doctor. 
Posted 2/17/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 37 comments   12,286 views
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Weekends: You Can Survive Them


Do you find yourself doing great with your healthy lifestyle habits during the week, only to find that you lose your motivation to stick to those healthy habits during the weekend? Don't worry, you are not the only one! I see numerous SparkPeople members say something similar to this somewhat often. You work so hard during the week for your job and/or school, your family, doing various tasks, changing various lifestyle habits, etc., and perhaps you feel you need a break from it all at the end of the week. However, by making some small adjustments you can change that all around and make your weekends healthier too! We have rounded up a variety of resources to help you get through the weekends with more motivation to stick to your healthy lifestyle habits.

Posted 2/9/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 39 comments   14,654 views
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