''Healthy Living Is the Journey, Not the Destination''

Making significant healthy lifestyle changes—and maintaining them for the rest of your life--might seem next to impossible at first. But don't worry! At SparkPeople, we believe in taking small and manageable healthy steps that eventually become lifelong habits. Our sponsors at Meta also believe that small changes can lead to good things, and they even have a name for it: the Meta Effect. When you make a healthy choice like taking the stairs or eating a Meta Health Bar for a snack, you may continue to make good choices to keep the streak going.

We've talked to several people who have changed their lives through this step-by-step approach--and now, they're sharing their secrets with you in this success story series! Learn how Jeremy changed his life one bite, one step, and one motivational mantra at a time. Go, Jeremy! 

Posted 2/23/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,761 views

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How to Stay Positive When You're Injured

Making significant healthy lifestyle changes—and maintaining them for the rest of your life--might seem next to impossible at first. But don't worry! At SparkPeople, we believe in taking small and manageable healthy steps that eventually become lifelong habits. Our sponsors at Meta also believe that small changes can lead to good things, and they even have a name for it: the Meta Effect. When you make a healthy choice like taking the stairs or eating a Meta Health Bar for a snack, you may continue to make good choices to keep the streak going.

We've talked to several people who have changed their lives through this step-by-step approach--and now, they're sharing their secrets with you in this success story series! Meet Angela, a hard-working mom who believes in the power of balance and small changes. Despite an ankle injury and other setbacks, she's been making consistent strides to get healthier and set a good example for her daughter. Go, Angela!

Posted 2/17/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 3,694 views

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Get-Fit Lessons from an Eternal Optimist

Making significant healthy lifestyle changes—and maintaining them for the rest of your life--might seem next to impossible at first. But don't worry! At SparkPeople, we believe in taking small and manageable healthy steps that eventually become lifelong habits. Our sponsors at Meta also believe that small changes can lead to good things, and they even have a name for it: the Meta Effect. When you make a healthy choice like taking the stairs or eating a Meta Health Bar for a snack, you may continue to make good choices to keep the streak going.

We've talked to several people who have changed their lives through this step-by-step approach--and now, they're sharing their secrets with you in this success story series! Meet Jaynee, an optimistic mom who has gotten healthier one bite and one step at a time. We love her "glass-half-full" mentality and can-do attitude!

Posted 2/6/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8,292 views

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Resolution Revival: Don't Give Up on Your Goals!

Now that it's February, that shiny New Year's resolution you so enthusiastically embarked on a month ago might have lost its sparkle. So how do you bring life back into your plan now that the initial thrill has worn off? Instead of letting your good intentions fizzle out again this year, make 2015 the year when you actually follow through with what you'd planned. All it takes is a little bit of self-reflection and a few tweaks to your routine to make a sustainable (and fun!) game plan to help you revive your resolutions and ultimately reach your goals.

Posted 2/3/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 19,094 views

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Step Into Shape with the 30-Day Walkabout Challenge!

Here at SparkPeople, it's no secret that we're big fans of walking. Almost anyone can start walking right away regardless of his or her fitness level, and it's a fantastic exercise for weight control and keeping the heart, bones and brain in tip-top shape. When it comes to starting a walking routine, the biggest hurdle for many people is simply starting. We've seen time and again that one of the easiest ways to step into walking (hah!) is to follow a structured plan to help maintain consistency while improving fitness at a safe and consistent pace. That's where the 30-Day Walkabout Challenge comes in! SparkPeople has partnered up with Vionic® with Orthaheel Technology footwear to create a doable, progressive walking program that's suitable for everyone. By joining the challenge, you'll receive a 30-day walking plan, a strength-training routine to help you become a stronger walker, plus daily challenges and smart injury-prevention tips to tie it all together. 

Posted 2/1/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 71 comments   81,274 views

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The Biggest New Year's Resolution Fails (and How to Learn from Them)

Each January, people all over the world pledge to eat healthier, get fit, lose weight and become better people in general. Full of hope and ambition, they think: This is the year! Nothing will stop me from reaching my goals this time! But despite that initial resolve to change, we all know what eventually happens—the enthusiasm dies down, life takes over and all of those good intentions eventually get tossed out with the final remains of the New Year's confetti. According to the University of Scranton, just 8% of people who make New Year's resolutions actually succeed at keeping them.

But don't let those odds make you throw up your hands and resolve to not make any changes this year! It's all about the approach, not the resolution itself. Many people simply bite off more than they can chew, setting themselves up for failure from the get-go. However, if you make the right resolutions, you truly can be successful at keeping them—and you could even do more than what you'd initially intended. Here are some lessons real people like you have learned from their past failed resolutions. Take notes—these tips are going to help you become one of the 8% this year! 

Posted 1/26/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,014 views

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9 Tips to Stick to Your Goals in 2015

By now, the novelty of New Year’s resolutions has faded, and you might not be as motivated as you were on January 1st. How do you make this year different, so that you don’t have to set the same goals again next year? Here are some simple things you can do to make it easier to stick to your goals this year and beyond.  

  • Set the right kind of goals. It’s great to set a goal to lose 20 pounds this year, but how are you going to do it? Create SMART goals- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. “I am going to lose the first 5 pounds by March 1st. I will achieve this by eating in my recommended calorie range daily and walking for 20 minutes, 4 times a week.” This system gives you a clear plan for how and when you’re going to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. 
  • Tell someone. Those around you (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) can be a great source of support as you make changes in your life. Ask your husband to keep your favorite junk food out of the house, or ask a friend to go for a walk instead of meeting for drinks. The people around you can help with accountability when motivation is lacking or you have doubts that you will succeed. 
  • Be prepared for ups and downs. You’ll have good days when things are going smoothly and you’re totally on track. But you’ll also have those days when things aren’t going so well. What are you going to do in those moments when you feel like giving up? Changing habits and behaviors isn’t easy, so make a plan for the days when you need to dig deep and find the drive to continue moving forward. 
  • Put reminders in visible places. Your goals should be top-of-mind so that you can stay focused and continue making progress. Write them down on sticky notes and put them in your car, on your refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror, or anywhere else you will see them multiple times a day to remind you of the commitment you’ve made. 
  • Discover snacks that are good for you and healthy. Yes, it’s possible for healthy foods to taste good! Yogurt with fruit (instead of ice cream) can satisfy your sweet tooth and carrots with hummus (instead of chips and dip) can give you the crunch you’re craving. Baked sweet potato fries can taste just as good as French fries for a fraction of the calories and fat. Don’t be afraid to try something new, because you might be surprised at how good it tastes and how many calories it saves.  
  • Reward yourself. Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well-done.  Don’t wait until you reach your ultimate goal to pat yourself on the back. Rewards don’t have to be fancy and expensive. Celebrate small milestones (like lifting more weight or losing a pant size) by doing something nice for yourself. 
  • Make your goals a priority. It’s easier to hit the snooze button than get up early for a workout. It’s tempting to get dessert when everyone else is ordering it. But if you know those things are going to hurt instead of help your progress, it’s time to make some tough choices. Sometimes you have to put your goals ahead of other wants and needs in order to be successful.
  • Have fun! If you hate eating broccoli, then don’t. If you hate walking on the treadmill, then don’t. Discover the foods and activities you enjoy, because it’s more likely you’ll stick with those long-term. Exercise and healthy eating shouldn’t be a chore you dread. They should be positive changes you feel you can live with for the rest of your life. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t kick back and relax or eat your favorite ice cream as a special treat. Everyone needs to live a little now and then! 
  • Believe in yourself. Maybe you’ve set goals like these before and not succeeded. You can’t change the mistakes of the past, but you can learn from them and move forward. You have complete control over what happens from this moment on, so make the most of it! If you have confidence that you can do it, anything is possible!

 

This blog is made possible by Yoplait, a SparkPeople sponsor.

Posted 1/21/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 22,772 views

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10 Healthy Tips from a Marathoner Mom

Making significant healthy lifestyle changes—and maintaining them for the rest of your life--might seem next to impossible at first. But don't worry! At SparkPeople, we believe in taking small and manageable healthy steps that eventually become lifelong habits. Our sponsors at Meta also believe that small changes can lead to good things, and they even have a name for it: the Meta Effect. When you make a healthy choice like taking the stairs or eating a Meta Health Bar for a snack, you may continue to make good choices to keep the streak going.

We've talked to several people just like you who have changed their lives through this step-by-step approach--and now, they're sharing their secrets with you in this success story series! First up, meet Melody, a hard-working mom who has made small, lasting changes to help her family stay healthy. Her healthy journey has been a long one (over 7 years from the beginning until now), but her determination and hard work has paid off--and her husband and kids are now reaping the healthy benefits with her!

 
As a busy mom, it must be hard to fit in exercise some days! What are some of your favorite ways to sneak in small bits of activity throughout the day?
I homeschool my children, which means we work hard throughout the day on our studies. When we need a rest, we like to have a short "brain break" where we get up and get our bodies moving. We have crunch competitions, do jumping jacks, run in place, toss a ball, or even sprint to the end of our road. It gets our blood flowing and helps my kids get a quick break for their brains so they can focus better.  
 
Love the "brain break" idea! On top of the exercise, what small nutrition tweaks have you made to help you eat better and get healthier?
When I first started my health and wellness journey, I decided from the start that I was not going to cook separate "diet" food for myself while my family ate something different. So, I dusted off my recipe books and started learning to make meals we all could enjoy. I taught myself to cook from scratch with fresh, colorful foods. I let my kids pick healthy recipes they wanted to try, and we started keeping a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter and fresh veggies in the fridge for snacks. We even went to a nutritionist together as a family, where we learned about correct portion sizes and healthier food choices. 

Posted 1/19/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 10,124 views

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8 Ways to Snack Smarter in 2015

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of snacking? Is it the excessive amount of chips and dip you ate at a party last weekend? Is it eating too many of the cookies in the pantry that seem to be calling your name?  Believe it or not, snacking can actually be a good thing! When you plan ahead and make healthy choices, snacks can help prevent overeating, give your diet a nutritional boost and leave you feeling more satisfied throughout the day. The key is learning how to make snacking work for you, instead of derailing your healthy eating efforts. Here are 8 tips to help you snack smarter in 2015. 

Posted 1/15/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 34,977 views

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10 Late-Night Snacks for 150 Calories or Less

Have you ever had those nights when it’s time to wind down for the evening and all you can think about is your grumbling belly? Is it better to just suffer through it and go to bed, or listen to your hunger cues and have a snack? Contrary to popular belief, late-night snacking doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A calorie is a calorie no matter when you eat it, and the last thing you want to do is go to bed hungry. Hunger can leave you feeling deprived and more likely to binge later on, so planning ahead by having healthy snacks on hand will help you resist the temptation to eat the pint of ice cream in the freezer or finish off the bag of chips in the pantry that seem to be calling your name. 

Posted 1/14/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 96,783 views

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5 Simple Habits that Help Prevent Major Health Problems

It's no secret that our everyday lifestyle choices have a direct effect on our long-term health. According to a recent study, about 60%–70% of healthcare visits in industrialized countries are associated with chronic, preventable diseases caused by poor lifestyle choices, including lack of physical activity, overeating, chronic stress and poor sleeping habits. The good news is, simply changing these daily habits can help us significantly improve pre-existing chronic conditions--or prevent them altogether before they happen. Here are some of the most impactful, medication-free changes you can use as another course of treatment in your toolbox to get your health back on track. 

Posted 12/8/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 24,237 views

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4 Ways to Save Major Money on Healthcare Costs

Taking care of your health certainly isn't cheap! Even routine tests and everyday care can add up to a significant amount of money. When health costs start to stack up, where do you look? You probably already shop around for cheaper prescriptions, grocery store discounts and economical gym memberships. You might have even used online discounters, like Groupon or LivingSocial, to source deals on services from massage and acupuncture, to laser eye surgery and varicose vein treatments.
But what else can you do to cut even more costs? Follow these tips to start saving big time on all your personal healthcare needs! 

Posted 12/3/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 10,913 views

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Your Own Personal Nurse Is a Phone Call Away

Your doctor can be a great resource to help guide you toward a healthier life. But every so often, you might need professional health advice immediately--advice that you can't necessarily get from a quick Google search. Maybe you're dealing with a chronic condition and don't have the time, energy or money to make an appointment with your physician for every little question. Dealing with a chronic illness can be confusing and challenging, and it might seem like you need a go-to person who can address all your concerns as they come up. The good news is, those people do exist! They are called Personal Nurses, and they may be available at no cost through your insurance provider. We interviewed Jessica, a Personal Nurse at Humana, to find out what these professionals can do for you. She also gave us some great tips on how to get the most out of your doctor's visits, how to effectively cope with a chronic illness, and more--so take notes! 

Posted 11/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 10,682 views

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Get a Team of Personal Health Professionals

When you’re not feeling like yourself, it’s good to have a team of friends and family to help. But where do you turn when you need support and expertise? Many people don't know that some health insurance plans offer up personal health professionals to help you navigate the healthcare space and design a plan to become your healthiest, happiest self. These experts are available to work one-on-one with you to establish a baseline and set realistic goals. They can provide personalized guidance, education and resources. Additionally, they will follow up with you based on your personal needs and preferences--all included in your health insurance package.

Posted 11/6/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 11,126 views

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The Best Ways to Stay Motivated for Good

You can read hundreds of nutrition articles and talk about getting healthier until you're blue in the face, but all the knowledge in the world won't do you any good unless you've got the motivation to go with it. And even though getting motivated might sound like the easy part, it's actually the trickiest! In our world of instant gratification and convenience, it can be all too easy to plop down on the couch instead of hitting the gym, or to grab takeout in favor of cooking a healthy dinner. To help us answer the million-dollar question of how to get and stay motivated, we asked two Humana Health Coaches to give us their top ten tips for setting—and reaching—any goal you set your mind to. 

Posted 10/27/2014  1:00:00 AM By:   : 25,049 views

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