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Project Inspiration: Fight Bad Moods with Creativity

"You can't change what was in the past…not by worrying about it, complaining about it, dwelling in it.  You also can't build the future.  You can impact the now…today….this moment.  By impacting your now, you have the best possibility of impacting your future." ~Author Unknown

That quotation routinely brings me back to thinking about living in the now, the present moment, and making the most of it:

For me, part of trying to live a life of successful maintenance has to be based on understanding what I can truly impact.  Can I impact the consequences of my food choices yesterday?  No, not really.  Those calories are already in my body.  Does wasting the day away regretting, fretting, or languishing in a downer mood help?  No!  If I do drop into one of those moods, and I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about, I'm thankful for one of my teenage daughters.  She'll remind me not to be a "Debbie Downer."  That's a name she got from a Saturday Night Live skit where Debbie is always focusing on the negative no matter what else is going on.  She will remind me that I've told her that in any given moment you can choose to change your mood and your mindset, and that I'm not allowed to disregard my own advice.  I think I might have to set up a text code with her for when she goes off to college.  I'll send her #DDM for Debbie Downer Mood, and she'll help me out of it!
Posted 2/2/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 25 comments   11,995 views
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21 Benefits of Healthy Living

I recently came across a quote that read, "Healthy living is a life sentence, you will never be pararoled or pardoned."  What I love about this quote is that healthy living is a way of living. It is not something that can be measured by a number on the scale. It is the actions we take every day that allow us to leave the diet mentality behind.

Having worked for SparkPeople for over three years now, I have seen many common concerns on the message boards. One of the most common themes is the fear that when a member starts integrating healththy habits into his/her life and the the results aren't as quick as they should be, the member is convinced something is wrong. The member is either eating too much, not exercising enough or for many, they are convinced the program does not work. For many long term dieters, like myself, we are convinced that we may have even permanently destroyed our metabolsim (which is not the case).

I am here to put the record straight that with time and patience the changes will happen, but you must utilize the tools in order to see the success. These changes can take as long as six to eight weeks to show up on the scale, but when a member doesn't get the results he/she expects to see on the scale, the fear is that they must be doing something wrong.

This journey isn't a sprint to see how quickly you can get the weight off only to go back to your unhealthy ways. I view this healthy living journey much like I do my training for an event. I can't slack on my training if I expect to reach my goal. I can't expect to go from the couch to a marathon without going through days, weeks and months of training. Just like adaptation to exercise takes time, so does weight loss.

Midway through my weight loss journey, I went through a very long nine month plateau where no matter how hard I felt I was doing everything right, that doggone number on the scale would not move. At the time I was working with a running coach/trainer who insisted that I throw the scale away. I reluctantly gave my scale away. Now I am not saying that is what YOU should do, but my coach could tell I was putting too much emphasis on the scale and not on all the changes that were happening within my body.

One of my assignments was to compile a list of changes that were happening to my body that had nothing to do with the scale. Almost five years later I still have that list and add to it as I come across the new research as to how healthy living can impact our life, even if the scale is not moving.
Posted 1/24/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Nancy Howard : 43 comments   56,855 views
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How to Squeeze Workouts into Your Hectic Schedule

Often I hear people complain that they just don’t have time to exercise.  It’s no surprise, with all of the demands on our time these days- work, family, friends, etc.  Being busy is a standard way of life for most of us.  But honestly, I’ve never met someone who’s really too busy to exercise.  You might not have a daily hour of uninterrupted time for working out, but you probably have more time than you think.  It all comes down to priorities and a little creativity.
Posted 1/17/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 36 comments   13,821 views
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6 Healthy Habits to Start This Year

One reason "diets" are so tempting is that they provide a guided plan to help people reach weight loss goals. Sadly, many times the latest fad diet or gimmick includes changes that are drastic and restrictive from normal life. Sometimes this means the "diet" can't be maintained on a long-term basis and weight loss goals if reached can't be maintained either.
Dieting without a change in lifestyle is like a screen door on a submarine, pointless when it comes to long-term success. If you are tired of diets, you are not alone. There are millions of frustrated dieters out there still struggling too. If you want to change your lifestyle to reach your weight goals for the last time, here are six healthy habits to get you started.
Posted 1/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 30 comments   11,628 views
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Top 10 Things You Should Know About the SparkPeople Community

As some of you may know, before I became an employee for SparkPeople, I was a member just like you. My husband and I joined SparkPeople on January 1, 2004. Back then, the site was great and had a lot of helpful features, but it was nowhere near what it is today. Today, SparkPeople offers a lot of the same basic features that it did back then, but now it has even more, especially when it comes to the Community features! Can you believe when I started there were no SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkGoodies or SparkTeams? Crazy, I know!
Something that hasn’t changed on SparkPeople throughout the years though, is the fabulous Community. From day one of using the site, I found that the SparkPeople Community was one of the most valuable pieces to my success and keeping me motivated throughout and beyond my weight loss journey. As a member, I made many friends by posting in the Message Board forums (this was before SparkTeams and SparkPages were available on the site). I found a lot of support from other members, along with the SparkPeople Coaches. I truly felt like I was a part of something really special, and honestly, I still do!
Posted 1/12/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 43 comments   17,086 views
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Nutrition Year in Review 2011

The American Dietetic Association conducted a survey this year to evaluate people's attitudes about nutrition and physical activity and found a variety of interesting statistics. One interesting finding was that today 46 percent of those interviewed actively seek information about nutrition and healthy eating compared to only 19 percent in 2000. TV and magazines are the top two sources people use to gather their nutrition information. The internet has increased 18 percent since 2008 to become the number three source especially for those between the ages of 25-44.
While there are plenty of poor nutritional options available, this year has also provided information and options to help you make healthier choices and changes. Here are some of the highlights from this year that you might have missed.
Posted 12/22/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 5 comments   9,163 views
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Donate Healthier Items to Food Pantries This Holiday Season

During the holiday season many schools, religious groups, and businesses conduct food drives for local food pantries. In the rush to grab something to contribute, nutrition or food safety isn't always high on the list of considerations. While the generous efforts of donating are appreciated, sometimes the food from pantry shelves is past the expiration date, which causes them to have to be tossed out instead of being able to benefit those that need it. Many of the typical non-perishable choices picked up at grocery stores tend to be high in sodium, sugar, or calories, which do not provide maximum nutrition for those that really need to make every bite count.
This winter, more people than ever are expected to visit a local food bank or seek out a pantry or assistance for utilities, housing and medical care than ever before. Use this list of suggestions to makeover your food pantry donations this holiday season and all winter long. Your healthier donations will go a long way to help those who receive them be as healthy as possible.
Posted 12/19/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 17 comments   7,814 views
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Everything You Need to Know about Preventing Cold & Flu

Just as you hear someone cough or sneeze this time of year, you may wonder if that is something you should be worried about. Many people will come down with a cold or the flu during the winter months. But how should you take care of yourself when you are sick or around someone who is sick? Do you know the difference between the symptoms of a cold, allergies, and the flu? We have rounded up a variety of resources to help you learn about and sort out all the details about colds, the flu, and your immune system.

Posted 12/15/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 11 comments   23,762 views
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Make Good Choices--Even away from Home

Do you remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy is walking through the forest and the mean, angry trees start throwing apples at her?  Sometimes I feel like I’m in that scene when I drive near my house.

One time when I came out of my gym, I counted how many places there are to buy food within a half mile drive in any one of the four directions from that intersection.  At the time there were 33. When I drive through that intersection, I feel like I could have burgers, tacos, burritos, pizza, and egg rolls flying in my direction by mean fast food eateries.  I consider it a good day when I leave the gym and the wind is blowing in the right direction so that I’m not slammed in the face by the smell of cheeseburgers cooking on the grill.

As you’re out doing your last minute holiday shopping and find yourself hungry and assaulted by the smell of those awesome cinnamon rolls in the mall, the temptation of the quick drive through with the 1,000 calorie meal – the list of temptations could go on.  What do you do?  What are your options?  Stop for a brief moment and think about what your options are in the area where you will be.
Posted 12/15/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 24 comments   12,094 views
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Selective Hearing: Turn it On

Back in my high school days I was a long distance competitive swimmer and participated on my school team, as well as the city team. During those four years of swimming I put in countless thousands of laps, hours upon hours of training, but never fully mastered one stroke.

On one occasion I remember my coach having the entire team get out of the pool so they could stand there and watch me swim the butterfly stroke. He wanted to teach them how not to do it. Talk about utter humiliation. Eventually I graduated and moved on, finishing as captain of the team and successful in some distance events that others wouldn’t dream of swimming. Always in the back of my mind though, was the fact that for some reason I couldn’t master the butterfly stroke.

Fast forward three years into college and I met a friend who also was a high school swimmer that specialized in the butterfly stroke. I was quick to tell him how horrible I was at it and that I would never be able to do that stroke correctly. He gave me the “pffft” noise and said “get in the pool, and I’ll show you how to do it.” Within 30 minutes he had me swimming a great butterfly stroke, up and down the pool. How did that happen? 
Posted 11/10/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 46 comments   11,887 views
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4 Truths about Dieting

In my 12 years of writing about dieting, I have interviewed dozens of experts and have come away with a list of the four main truths that all dieters need to know before diving head over rolls into a new weight-loss program. (You might notice that these sound mighty similar to the advice touted by the experts here at SparkPeople!)

Diet Truth #1: A Diet isn't Something You Go On and Off

By one estimate, up to 95% of dieters will regain the weight they lose. And, in some cases, the dieter will yo-yo to a heavier weight than what they were when they started the diet.

For a diet to be effective, it has to involve a lifestyle change – one that you can stick with. (, ahem.)

A diet is not something you go on, then go off after you've dropped a few pounds. The definition of diet is simply “the usual food and drink of a person or animal.” So to lose weight and keep it off you need to consume food and drink that promotes health, not deprivation. (Need inspiration? Check out "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight.")

Pick a lifestyle you can see yourself still following and enjoying when you are 80.

Diet Truth #2: You Can Lose Weight Without Exercise BUT...

Posted 11/9/2011  10:00:00 AM By: John McGran : 31 comments   12,888 views
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TIPS: Chop Onions Like a Pro--without Shedding a Tear

Have you ever heard that if you are trying to sell your house you should always bake a batch of cookies right before showing the house to a prospective buyer?  Supposedly the smell incites the potential buyer and "sells" the house.

Let me let you in on a secret. Forget the cookies--sauté some onions instead.  Walking into a room filled with a cooked onion aroma will put a smile and a "let's stay for supper" into anyone's mind.  The beauty of the onion is that the outcomes are endless.  Will they go into a spicy vegetarian chili, be layered on top a juicy lean roast beef sandwich, or serve as the star in steaming bowl of French onion soup? 
Onions contain potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin B6.  For 1/2 cup serving they provide 1.6 grams of fiber, 1.2 grams of protein, and only 38 calories.
Varieties of Onions:
My favorite is the Vidalia, a Southern onion that is only around for a couple of the months in the summer.  You can eat them like an apple they are so sweet. 
Red or purple onions also are perfect for raw eating due to their sweetness and add a bonus with the color they add to the dish. 
Green onions are also called new/spring onions or scallions.  They are perfect in salads, topping bean tostadas, or on a veggie platter. 
The smelly one of the family is the yellow onion.  These onions are very strong in the raw state but become sweet once cooked.
Posted 9/26/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 19 comments   9,977 views
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Are Medical and Life Issues Getting You Down?

As I have previously shared, I have thyroid disease like millions of other people. For me, an autoimmune disease led to a subtotal thyroidectomy and a lifetime sentence of medication and battling to maintaining my weight and good health. I can empathize with others who try so hard every day to meet their health goals while living with a medical condition and a busy life.
A few weeks ago, I hit a few life and health issues all at one time that just made me want to give up, sit on the couch, eat what I want and feel sorry for myself. Have you ever felt like that? I'm hoping that hearing what I have been dealing with will help you know that it happens to everyone but also that life and medical issues don't have to cause a major setback as you work toward your goals.
Posted 9/15/2011  1:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 45 comments   8,589 views
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Could New Dinnerware Be Your Key to Success?

Control over what goes on our plate is an important but difficult part of weight management. There are a variety of products that can take the guesswork out of portion control as well as everyday items that can be used as portion size visual cues. Many predict the new MyPlate icon will serve as a visual teaching tool, helping people build healthy meals in correct portion sizes.
Some nutrition and health professionals use MyPlate food models to demonstrate correct portion sizes and meal planning. Since food models are expensive and are more directed toward educational settings, printable diagrams demonstrating visual cues on a plate provide a more helpful approach for home use. Now new dinnerware has emerged to help families make proper portion control a daily success.
Posted 9/12/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 30 comments   19,067 views
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Tips to Make Your Diet Your Own

Isn't it interesting how two people can eat the same way but get very different results? For example,  my grandparents enjoyed the same breakfast every day – two eggs over easy, two slices of bacon, half a grapefruit and coffee. My grandfather lived to be 92 and enjoyed low cholesterol levels while my grandmother passed away at 73 from heart disease and a massive heart attack. Several years ago, my parents decided to change the composition of their diet by slightly altering their macronutrient distribution. My father lost 25 pounds and my mother's weight stayed the same.
As Coach Nancy likes to say, "We are all an experiment of one" and because of that, what works for one may or may not work for another. Very few people share the same exact genetics, body composition,  lifestyle, or eating preferences. Approaching weight loss with a "one size fits all" eating routine can result in frustration and loss of motivation when our results don't match those of another. The best diet plan is the one that allows you to learn new eating habits and re-shapes your lifestyle in a way that allows you to meet and maintain the healthy weight you desire. If you are trying an eating approach that has worked for a friend or family member but leaves you frustrated by a lack of results, take a look at these tips to help you make your diet your own.
Posted 8/29/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 15 comments   10,115 views
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