30 Days of Happy, Healthy Pets

There's no question that owning a pet can be great for your health. Our pets melt away stress, make great workout buddies, and are constant sources of unconditional love. So, it's only fair that we return the favor and treat our four-legged companions with as much love and care as possible. Our friends at Nature’s Recipe believe that all pets deserve to live long, vibrant lives. That's why they focus on providing real, delicious pet food at a real value. We are proud to partner with Nature's Recipe to nourish the relationship between you and your pet with the Make It Real™ 30 Day Challenge. Take our month-long pledge to get happier and healthier together, with fun activities to do each day that will bring you and your furry friend closer than ever.


What can I expect from the Make It Real Challenge

  • 30 Daily "Mini Challenges"
Each day, you'll get a "mini-challenge" to complete to help you strengthen your relationship with your pet and renew your commitment to the health and happiness of your companion. Some days will include fun interactive activities with your pet, and others will have you complete a task to help you become a better, more informed pet owner.
  • 150 SparkPoints
Yep, you read that right! You can earn 5 SparkPoints for each daily challenge you complete. Just visit the challenge page and click the "Earn Your SparkPoints" button to tell us that you completed that day. It's just that easy!
  • Social Integration
We will be using the hashtag #MakeItReal on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest throughout the challenge. Ask questions. Tell stories about your pet. Tell us how the challenge is going for both of you and what you've learned. Encourage your pet-owner friends to join you! When you use the #MakeItReal hashtag, we'll be right here to support you and cheer you on! We also encourage you to use it on your own social media pages to connect with others who are completing the challenge. Be sure to follow our We Love Our Pets pinboard, too, for more tips and motivation as you go along.
  • Open to Anyone: Invite Your Friends to Join!
While members can earn SparkPoints for participating, this challenge is open to anyone! Share the challenge page with your friends by posting it on Facebook, sending an email link, and more. You do not have to be a member to participate. Anyone can sign up for daily challenge emails just by entering their email address.
 
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
Go to our Make It Real™ Challenge page and sign up by clicking the "Get Started" button to enter your email address. After you've signed up, you will receive one email per day for the next 30 days with a reminder to complete your daily challenge (and get your SparkPoints). Note that once you sign up, you should expect to receive your first challenge email the following day at 8 am EST.

When does it start?
RIGHT NOW. The challenge is open and ready for you to join—and you can start or join at any time. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll be on the path to a stronger bond with your furry friend!

What are you waiting for? Sign up right now to get started today—and get ready for 30 days of fun with Fido. (Be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterest and Twitter, too.) Let's do this!

Will you be participating in our 30-Day Make It Real Challenge? Let us know in the comments if you (and your pet) are up for the challenge!

Posted 6/26/2015  10:00:00 AM By:   : 11 comments   6,427 views

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3 Money-Saving Tips for People with Diabetes

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been managing diabetes for years, you know that out-of-pocket expenses can add up fast. The American Diabetes Association reports that, on average, people who have been diagnosed with diabetes spend more than twice as much on medical expenses than people who don’t have diabetes.Here's how to keep costs down while managing your diabetes as effectively as possible.
 

Posted 6/1/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 10,998 views

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Go Gluten-Free in 30 Days

Are you newly diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Feeling overwhelmed and aren't sure how to start a gluten-free lifestyle? You've come to the right place! Join the 30-Day Goodbye Gluten Challenge to get tips, meal ideas and more. It's just the blueprint you need to teach you gluten-free basics and help you phase gluten out of your diet to start feeling better in no time.* 

Posted 5/1/2015  10:00:00 AM By:   : 7 comments   13,290 views

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10 Tips to Live Better Right Now

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 Rebecca, a fan of walking, Pilates and playing with her grandchildren. We love her realistic outlook and positive approach to healthy living! 

Posted 3/27/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 14,999 views

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12 Real-World Tips from a Celebrity Trainer

Celebrity fitness guru Latreal ''La'' Mitchell has trained big names like Michael Strahan, so she knows what it takes to get into tip-top shape! We've picked her brain to find out how to get healthy and fit in a realistic way—no fluff, no nonsense and no gimmicks.

Tell us a little about yourself! What initially inspired you to be a trainer? What's been the biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
When I was 18, I really started to develop a passion for nutrition and exercise, and I wanted to help others live their healthiest lives. My biggest accomplishment is founding the Fitness Bunch Foundation, a non-profit organization that serves to fight childhood obesity. Our mission is to help today’s youth bring fitness back into their lives.

What's the biggest mistake that fitness newbies make?
They set unrealistic goals. You need to be realistic with yourself about how long it took you to get to where you are now and how long it will take you to get to your goal. I always tell my clients to be honest with themselves. It might not be easy, but it can be done if you take small, realistic steps.

What's a telltale sign that someone will fail to reach his or her goals?
If you're always criticizing your body or underestimating your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will make it much more difficult to reach your goals, especially if you don't have a plan or support system in place. I like to say, ''If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.'' 

Whenever my clients say anything negative about themselves, I make them do whatever exercise they hate the most! My goal is not to punish them, but to reprogram their thinking and make them realize how frequently they are indulging in negative self-talk. People don't realize that it really can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself you can't do something, you won't do it. But if you tell yourself you can do something, you eventually will.

Posted 3/18/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 24,057 views

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Sane & Easy Ways to Stay Healthy

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! Donna has struck her perfect balance with an everything-in-moderation approach. Here are her secrets of success!

Posted 3/16/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 18,785 views

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8 Spring Tune-Up Tips for a Healthier You

Spring is just around the corner, and we couldn't be more excited! If you're like most people, you probably spent the past several months curled up under blankets, eating comfort foods and forgoing exercise due to nasty weather. With its warmer weather, beautiful scenery and fresh energy, there's just something about the arrival of spring that urges us to make a new start. Are you ready to come out of hibernation and recommit to your healthy habits? Here are some of our favorite ways to get back on track after a long, sedentary winter. 

Posted 3/13/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 27,476 views

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30 Days to a More Balanced You

It's been a long time coming, but spring is finally on its way! There's something about the season of rebirth that makes us want to start fresh and re-prioritize our goals. Do you have an ongoing health goal you've been wanting to reach for months (or maybe even years)? It's time to reach it for good with the 30-Day Healthy Habits Reset Challenge! Over the next month, we will be serving up steps to help you find balance in your life and accomplish your biggest healthy goals--all in a fun, bite-size challenge format. 

Posted 3/10/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 13 comments   27,301 views

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''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:   : 14,653 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:   : 7,074 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:   : 12,125 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:   : 21,514 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:   : 90 comments   135,894 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:   : 10,915 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:   : 26,058 views

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