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Habits of Fit People: Turn Off the TV

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: turning off the TV.

Sounds simple enough, but most people I talk to aren't willing to give up the guilty pleasure of their favorite shows. I get it: TV is an ideal downtime, a mental and physical respite that we welcome at the end of a hard day's work. But besides freeing up boatloads of time that you didn't know you even had, there are plenty of other ways turning off the tube can help you get fitter and healthier.

Even for me, a person who enjoys exercise (most of the time anyway), exercising regularly and consistently is no small feat. It takes time, commitment, and organization. It involves making some tough choices, like waking up earlier than I'd like to or not following McDreamy and McSteamy's latest adventures (sad, I know). If staying fit were easy, we'd all be fit people. But in truth, the most common excuse we use for not exercising is lack of time. Where does all of our time go? We have jobs/school, social lives, and countless commitments, but many fit people maintain all of those same obligations and still make time for exercise. I have an idea for how they do it, because this technique works for me, too: They limit how much TV they watch.
Posted 9/1/2010  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 181 comments   28,435 views
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The 10 Healthiest Celebrities

Via That's Fit

10. Michelle Williams
This Dawson's Creek alum and Brooklyn mom turned to yoga for healing after her ex-boyfriend Heath Ledger's untimely death. "Yoga gave me relief like nothing else; it made me a better person and a better mother. I could come back to my daughter anew," she said in this month's issue of Marie Claire. She felt so inspired that she started the Yoga for Single Moms project, which provides free yoga classes and child care to single moms who seriously need a savasana.

9. Donna Karan
Designer Donna Karan has been a practicing yoga since she was 18. After establishing herself as seminal New York City fashion designer, she went on a personal spiritual exploration, trying everything from Reiki and crystals to Kabbalah. She's abandoned her carnivorous past for a raw-food diet, Jill Pettijohn's nutritional cleanses, and is a patient of integrative physician Dr. Frank Lipman. Karan has become a wellness force in the city: She helped create and fund integrative health and healing programs for cancer patients used in New York City hospitals through her Urban Zen Foundation.

8. Christy Turlington
Christy Turlington is a supermodel who's also pretty on the inside. The Tribeca-based yogi is a contributing editor to Yoga Journal and wrote Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice to share her yogic experiences. She frequents Physique 57 and is a vegetarian. In 1999, she created Sundari, an Ayurveda-inspired luxury skin-care line, which she has since sold. And she went on to make a documentary film, No Woman, No Cry, that calls attention to maternal mortality around the world, which debuted at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Turlington has also lent her star power to CARE and anti-smoking campaigns.

Get the rest of the list at That's Fit
Posted 5/4/2010  6:13:46 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 17 comments   10,666 views
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Does Your Family Have Healthy TV Habits?

We all want our families to be healthy. Teaching about eating right and being active are important ways to accomplish this goal. Other habits are also worth evaluating including the television habits of your family. Focusing on TV habits each April by turning off the television for one week as part of a nationwide campaign is one step forward. While this is a great practice, healthy television habits in the home the remainder of the year are also important.

There were basic television viewing rules in my home while growing up in the 1970's. Before cable television or satellite dishes, we were limited to only a few channels and an antenna that dictated which of those channels would come in and when. Exercise was part of television viewing as well since there were no remote controls and many times the children were the ones to run and turn the dial when it was time to change the channel.

Back then, there were commercials that made you hungry, caused you to ask your parents for a new toy, or embarrassed you because you were watching with your dad or your brothers just like today. In the Greater Dayton Ohio area, many children enjoyed special programming weekday afternoons on Clubhouse 22. The program host and characters like Duffy the Dog, Stan the Man and Dr. Creep kept things interesting between exciting shows such as The Brady Bunch, Speed Racer, Gilligan's Island, and Lost in Space. Evening viewing was limited by our parents but our family enjoyed watching situation comedies like Happy Days or M*A*S*H* as well as family focused series like my favorites Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons. Sunday evenings were my favorite television viewing time of the week because my mother would spread out newspaper on the floor in the family room and we would all enjoy a picnic style dinner while watching The Wonderful World of Disney.

I have been just as particular with my own children's television habits as well. When they were little we did not subscribe to cable television so we did not have to deal with so many competing options. PBS and their commercial free children's programming was our friend when it came to enjoying some educational television time. We followed many of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) television recommendations, limited viewing time and encouraged smart selections. Our children have also loved our "movie" nights when we eat dinner around the coffee table and enjoy a movie together and even as teen-agers, it is something our family does regularly.

Television can have a positive place in your home. Here are some guidelines to help you put it in its proper place for your health-focused family.

Posted 4/5/2010  5:56:35 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 40 comments   15,507 views
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Slash Your Child's Risk for Obesity by 40%--Without Diet or Exercise

We put a lot of the blame for childhood obesity on fast food, school lunches, and sedentary lifestyles, and certainly all of these factors (along with many others) are at play. But can we really do much about these factors, especially in the short-term? Fast food is here to stay. While these restaurants offer more healthy options than ever before, people are still ordering the old standbys. Parents are busy—too busy to cook at home or aren't knowledgeable about how to prepare homemade meals at all. And when we're too busy to cook dinner, the same goes for lunch. School lunches are a way of life for busy and low-income households that rely on them. And kids aren't as active—we know that. But we don't live in the times we used to, when kids could go outside all day long without supervision—something we'd never allow this day and age. So are we powerless to change the fate of our children?

Research published in Pediatrics shows that reducing your child's risk of obesity is simpler we may think. In fact, three easy household strategies can decrease a child's obesity risk by 40%--and not one of them has anything to do with fast food, school lunches, exercise or overhauling your family's lifestyle.
Posted 2/17/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 69 comments   28,241 views
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Childhood Obesity: Is total TV watching time the problem, or is it the commercials?

It’s been documented for quite a while that there’s a strong link between TV watching and obesity in children. The assumption has usually been that the time a child spends watching TV reduces the time spent on physical activity, but this new research indicates things may not be this simple.

When researchers from UCLA recently studied the TV and video viewing activities of 2000 children, they found that there was no association at all between viewing time and obesity for those children who watched videos or other commercial-free programs. But that picture changed when children were watching programs that included commercials. Researchers found that the more commercials the child was exposed to, the more likely it was that the child would be obese. This was especially true for children under 7.

Posted 2/11/2010  5:23:17 AM By: Dean Anderson : 113 comments   16,022 views
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Turn Up Your Activity By Turning Off The TV

The topic of TV is a constant battle in my house. I would be happy if we got rid of the TV completely (okay, except when it's the middle of a season of Top Chef.) My husband, on the other hand, was a little too excited when we got our new flat-screen, big-screen, too much-screen TV. There are lots of good reasons to watch less TV, especially since the average American spends 5 hours a DAY in front of the TV. It's easy to assume that less TV might lead to healthier habits, since you'd have more time to exercise or cook a healthy meal. A new study shows that less TV might not change your diet or increase your exercise, but it could lead to an increase in overall activity levels.
Posted 1/15/2010  6:21:55 PM By: Jen Mueller : 149 comments   17,350 views
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Biggest Loser Contestants Run a Marathon: Inspirational or Irresponsible?

On a recent episode of NBC's "The Biggest Loser", the 4 remaining contestants were given their final challenge: run a marathon. They had 60 days to train, and although the episode doesn't discuss the details of their training program, we assume that they did most of the training on their own. Maybe some people found inspiration by watching the contestants struggle through the 26.2 mile race. But as I watched the episode, I just became more and more frustrated. Am I the only one?
Posted 12/29/2009  2:08:49 PM By: Jen Mueller : 566 comments   34,881 views
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Finally! An Entertaining Kids Show with a Healthy Focus!

By SparkPeople member Michelle Alfert (LAPOCHITICA)

Over the summer, I have been working with more than 80 elementary kids in a summer day camp program. About two weeks into the summer, a few of my 5th graders began joking about some Zefronk character.

Given our obvious age gap, I merely smiled as they hummed some diddy and attempted French accents. Of course, it wasn't long before I was dragged into the conversation given my terrible impersonation of a French accent. So who is Zefronk? I have to admit, I thought he was Zac Efron. Isn't he the preteen obsession right now? False!

Two weeks later I visited home and was bombarded by my very own sister--almost 12 herself.

"Michelle! Have you seen Zefronk?!" So I take it this was not Zac Efron.

"No, but I've heard of him."

"You have to see it!"

Right then I was led to the TV where she so conveniently had every episode DVR'd. I kid you not--my sister is the cool kid at school, but she sang and danced to the entire opening song. I guess that was the hum diddy.

So if, like me, you haven't caught on, Tasty Time with Zefronk is a Playhouse Disney cooking show featuring an animated Dachshund host. (Visit the website.) Also appearing on the show is his assistant, Sue the songbird, and sneaky Dom, the cat with a habit of stealing Zefronk's snacks. The animation is not particularly amazing, and the plot is fairly repetitive. Still, there is something ingenious to this 15 minute show that even grown-ups can enjoy.

With all the negative influences on television today, here's one that's positive!
Posted 8/24/2009  5:42:12 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 64 comments   13,198 views
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Poll: What Do You Think about Weight-Focused Reality TV Shows?

It's no secret that obesity is a problem in America. The majority of people—not just a few—are overweight or obese. Yet the advertisements, singers, actors, TV shows, models and movies of popular culture don't reflect these numbers. Neither did so-called "reality" TV…until now.

Lately, lots of new reality shows are popping up that feature overweight and obese people. "The Biggest Loser" was the first and it's still hugely popular. Then came "Ruby," and "Dance Your Ass Off," but all of these reality shows have one thing in common: losing weight. But FOX's new "More to Love " show, which is like an overweight version of "The Bachelor," isn't about weight loss at all. It's about finding love right now—not later when you may or may not be thinner.

I've seen bits and pieces of all of these shows, and I watched the first couple of episodes of "More to Love" out of curiosity. With more and more weight-focused shows hitting the airwaves, including the Lifetime sitcom "Drop Dead Diva," I'm wondering: What do YOU think about weight-focused shows like these? Are they helping us step toward "fat acceptance" or do they "normalize obesity" in a negative way? Are we all just reading into it too much?
Posted 8/14/2009  6:36:42 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 236 comments   16,139 views
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Children's T.V. Choices Could Affect How Much They Eat

I'll admit it: I'm a snacker. For as long as I can remember, I'm someone who doesn't go more than a few hours without eating. I can't imagine eating breakfast at 6 a.m., and then waiting until 11 or 12 to eat again. I think my body would go into shock or blow up or something. As my daughter gets older, she's becoming just like me. "Mama, let's have a snack," she'll say, right around the time I'm thinking "Geez, I'm hungry. I wonder what I could have to eat."

I try to make our snacks as healthy as possible (fruit, veggies, granola bars, yogurt, etc.) Although I don't have to worry because my daughter doesn't watch T.V. yet, a new study shows a link between what kids are seeing on T.V. and how much they eat. So if you've got a young snacker at home who likes to watch T.V., or a child who eats meals in front of the tube, you'll want to keep a close eye on just how much they are consuming.
Posted 7/31/2009  6:07:49 AM By: Jen Mueller : 68 comments   11,989 views
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'So You Think You Can Dance' Meets 'The Biggest Loser': Will You Tune In?

The Biggest Loser, NBC's weight-loss reality show, is a hit.
So is FOX's dance show, So You Think You Can Dance?

Now Oxygen has a show that seems to combine them both. Contestants compete in both dance and weight-loss challenges each week on the show Dance Your A** Off. The winner will take home $100,000!
I just watched a sneak peek on the Oxygen website:

Trice shows her new, professional dance partner what she can do. The 23-year-old breaks out into the splits and busts moves I've only seen in music videos! Did I mention that she weighs 274 pounds? She's impressive! I can't wait to see more.

Will you tune in?
Posted 6/28/2009  11:53:44 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 199 comments   11,083 views
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More TV Means Less Talking Among Kids and Parents

When should children be allowed to start watching TV? How much time should they be able to spend in front of the tube each day? These are hotly debated topics among parents everywhere. Some parents buy Baby Einstein DVD's and their children watch them from an early age. Other parents choose to wait until children are a little older before introducing TV. Some parents are very selective about what they let their kids watch; others are not. Although it's controversial, there are no "right" and "wrong" answers when it comes to this topic. But a new study might make some parents rethink the decision to allow TV from an early age.
Posted 6/26/2009  6:08:17 AM By: Jen Mueller : 96 comments   7,130 views
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Stacy London Promotes Looking Good At Any Size

Stacy London, co-host of TLC's show "What Not To Wear" is known for being critical of people's choices when it comes to fashion. She's even brutal at times when it comes to what's wrong with your wardrobe. But even though she might make negative comments about the shirt you're wearing, she will never comment on your size or tell you that you need to lose a few pounds.
Posted 4/28/2009  2:08:05 PM By: Jen Mueller : 297 comments   22,370 views
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Coach Nicole Spreads the Spark on FOX!

We're all strapped for cash these days, but that doesn't mean we need to let our health go by the wayside. This morning, I appeared LIVE on local (Cincinnati) FOX 19 to explain how to workout at home without spending a lot of money. I mentioned SparkPeople's free fitness resources, our Fitness Starter Kit (available for less than $25 at, and even our 7-day Bootcamp workout plan! Plus, my co-worker Jenny was on hand to demonstrate a few exercises using a ball and a resistance band.

Want to see the 3-minute segment for yourself?
Posted 2/17/2009  5:22:13 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 100 comments   7,847 views
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Tune In! SparkPeople Member to be on 'The Doctors'

One of our favorite nationally syndicated talk shows, "The Doctors," will air a show tomorrow (Friday, December 5) that features SparkPeople member Cynthia (SABLOUWHO), and we're encouraging members to tune in.

Visit to view a preview of the show and to check your local listings to see when "The Doctors" airs in your area.

Will you tune in? Wish Cynthia luck in the comments below!
Posted 12/4/2008  2:33:43 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 59 comments   4,026 views
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