Elizabeth Lowry

I'm a member of SparkPeople's editorial team and I write, edit and manage the content you read. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy cooking for my family and friends, running, strength training, teaching weekly spin classes and playing outside with my kids. I also love a good challenge and recently found that in Barre class. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good indulgence once in a while--wine and chocolate are two of my favorite things. I am grateful to be here, helping our members reach their own healthy living goals.


Read More of Elizabeth's Blogs:

Annie G. lost 40 Pounds,* Feels "More Positive About Everything"

                                 
"I learned that if I want to successfully lose weight, I had to do it first and foremost for myself. As my weight ballooned, I felt worse than ever about myself." - Annie G.

I am a professional vocalist and it was during an audition that I realized my life needed a drastic change. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life, but when my grandmother passed away, my eating habits became completely out of control.

Her passing was the most significant loss that I'd ever experienced and I felt completely overwhelmed by grief. For the next six months, I coped by eating whenever and whatever I wanted. As my weight ballooned, I felt worse than ever about myself. I was making bad choices and eating fast food late at night, which caused me to sleep poorly. I had so little energy and was dragging myself through the day, rather than taking the time to enjoy anything or to focus on my work. The extra weight caused the arthritis in my knees to worsen and it was very painful walking longer distances, even standing in heels. My orthopedic doctor strongly urged me to lose weight.

At this point, none of my clothes were fitting very well; I only had one audition dress that I could still wear and it barely fit. When I arrived at the audition, I changed into that dress. It was so tight that I could hardly zip it up. I was incredibly uncomfortable because I couldn't breathe very well (which is terrible for singing!), and I knew that my complete lack of confidence was very apparent. I was so distracted with feeling horrible about myself for gaining so much weight that I couldn't focus on my performance.   
 
"Jenny Craig fit well with my lifestyle. I could stay on the program, no matter how unpredictable my schedule was."  
 
I had tried many different diets on my own, but nothing worked for me. I don't have a lot of time to prepare and cook meals, so I needed a structured program that was easy to follow and did not require a lot of cooking on my part. Jenny Craig fit well with my lifestyle. I could stay on the program, no matter how unpredictable my schedule was. I also really liked having a weekly weigh-in and consultation. It held me accountable, so that I could face my fears and challenges about losing weight and get personalized advice and guidance. In the past, I would avoid the scale and lie to myself about my weight. Meeting with a compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable consultant proved to be a great asset in achieving my weight loss success.*

The Jenny Craig foods are delicious and gentle on my stomach. I often eat dinner late at night after returning from a rehearsal or performance. The Jenny Craig food fills me up without feeling uncomfortable so that I can sleep well. I am most hungry in the mornings. I always start the day with one of the shakes, an anytime bar, which supplies vitamins and a breakfast entrée. Starting my day with a good breakfast sets me up for a successful day.

"Life is better in absolutely every way since losing weight!"
 
Life is better in absolutely every way since losing weight! I feel better, look better and have so much more energy. When I was overweight, insecurity about how I looked constantly occupied my thoughts. When I eliminated that constant concern, I just felt more positive about everything. I enjoy shopping for clothes much more and I don't have to buy them with the purpose of hiding the way I look. I am much healthier than I used to be and my knees feel so much better as well!
 
I learned that if I want to successfully lose weight, I have to do it first and foremost for myself. I was ready to make the commitment, and even if I had setbacks, I stayed motivated, focused and kept trying. It wasn't easy by any means, but with determination, will power and sticking to the Jenny Craig plan, I lost 40 pounds!*
 
*Results not typical. Members following our program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week. Member received promotional consideration.

Posted 2/8/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 26 comments   9,503 views

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The Power of Weight Loss and Positive Influence


"When you realize just how great you feel, you keep coming back," Erin says. "It works—I'm proof that it works."

After Erin gave birth to her son, her body changed in ways she didn't expect. Things were definitely different, but, she figured, she'd had a baby, she was in her 30s and she had hypothyroidism—that was just going to be the natural course of things.

Posted 2/5/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 17,400 views

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Amanda Lost 40 Pounds* and Gained Confidence



“I just want to be able to enjoy the moments that I have with my children and my family and not worry about the way that I look,” Amanda says.

Instead of looking at photos from her son's first birthday party with fondness, all Amanda could see was how overweight she looked. As someone who liked to do everything for herself, it was hard for Amanda to ask for help with her weight-loss efforts. Then, she discovered Jenny Craig.

Posted 1/31/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 12,907 views

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10 Challenging Chair Exercises

You should not have to join a fancy gym or spend loads of money on home fitness equipment in order to build lean body mass. Using simple at-home objects such as canned food, a towel or even a chair can be just as effective as using a dumbbell or a resistance band. Remember, the body does not know the difference between lifting a one-pound can of beans or a dumbbell. As long as you are overloading the muscles (even if that overload is from your own body weight) you will build muscle strength.

If you have limited mobility or are recovering from an injury, you don't have to sit still and do nothing. Consider exercising right from the comfort of your home in a seated position. Using a chair and a light set of dumbbells (or soup cans) can help challenge your back, shoulders, abs, biceps, triceps, glutes, quads and calves. One of the great things about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere you have access to a chair, whether at home or on the job. 

Posted 1/18/2018  11:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 104 comments   132,991 views

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Introducing Rapid Results by Jenny Craig

If we're being honest, I'm sure we'd all appreciate it if some things moved just a little bit faster. The workday, the line at the post office, the timer on the treadmill, highway traffic and, especially, your weight loss.

Losing weight can often be a tedious process measured in ounces lost and endless exercising that seems to lead nowhere. While no one has invented a magical pill that you can take to instantly shed weight, there are some diets that can help you safely shed pounds more quickly than others.

Posted 1/4/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 29,301 views

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Lose Weight for Good With Our 30-Day Secrets to Success Challenge!

Welcome to the 30-Day Secrets to Success Challenge sponsored by Jenny Craig! For the next 30 days, you'll receive a daily challenge that encourages you to integrate various weight-loss tips and tricks suggested by our members and healthy living experts. Learn simple ways you can change your eating and exercising habits to help you finally lose the weight and keep it off. We're so glad you are interested in trying out our challenge--we're very excited about it, and we hope you are, too.

Posted 12/28/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 28,151 views

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7 Members Find Success With Meal Replacements



We asked our own SparkPeople members to try HMR's Healthy Solutions at Home program, which is a weight loss and lifestyle change program designed to help you lose weight quickly while learning new skills to help keep it. Below are the SparkPeople member responses after three weeks on the diet, with most participating in weekly phone coaching throughout.

Did you lose any weight? How much? (weight-loss results are self-reported)

"I lost 18 pounds in three weeks.* ** After nearly four weeks, I'm down 22."* ** — SparkPeople member M68499 (joined two weeks of coaching).

"Yes—7.2 pounds." — SparkPeople member MONICA2052 (joined three weeks of coaching).

"Yes, I have lost 5.5 pounds so far." — SparkPeople member GINGERB13 (joined three weeks of coaching).

"Yes—5.2 pounds." — SparkPeople member LINCOLN_FORD (joined three weeks of coaching).

"This is my third week on the program and I have lost 5 pounds." SparkPeople member LCMELOW (joined two weeks of coaching).

"At this time, I have lost 4.5 pounds." — SparkPeople member DGUAJAR

Yes—4 pounds." — GIBSONTV — SparkPeople member GIBSONTV (joined three weeks of coaching).

*Average weight loss for the Healthy Solutions at Home program with phone coaching is 23 lbs. at 12 weeks. Donnelly JE et al. Int J Obes 2007;31:1270-1276. Average weight loss without coaching is 13 lbs. at 12 weeks. Obes Clin Pract 2009:3:149-157

**Results not typical


What was the best part of the diet plan?

"Not having to figure out what to make to eat. As a single person, it's no fun to cook for myself and I get tired of eating leftovers." — DGUAJAR

"The best part is that meal preparation is very easy! The entrees and cereals are premeasured. You basically just heat and eat! Grocery shopping is a breeze too. I only have to shop for fruits and vegetables." — LCMELOW

"The fact that it is simple to follow." — MONICA2052

"The best part of the diet plan was that I always felt full and had no cravings. It also taught me to eat correctly and not skip meals." — LINCOLN_FORD

"The food tasted good." — GINGERB13

"The weekly phone meetings." — GIBSONTV

Compared to other diets you may have tried, was it an easy plan to follow?

"Yes, it was fairly easy. Only once did I have issues eating all the entrees, and that was when I was unexpectedly gone for far longer than I had planned. I had my fruits and veggies with me, but could not eat two entrees after 7 p.m. when I got home. I had an entree with me too, but no opportunity to eat it." — DGUAJAR

"This plan is easy to follow but very hard to stay 'in the box.' I like to chew my calories, so drinking the shakes three times per day just does not satisfy me the way a small portion of food would if the calories were comparable. One very easy thing to use is their app for tracking. The check boxes immediately show what you have left on the plan for the day and make it easy!" — LCMELOW

"Very easy. The food was delicious and you can add any fruits and veggies you want. They have a variety of recipes for the prepared meals they send you, so it isn't the same old thing." — LINCOLN_FORD

"Personally I think the diet is excellent—no calorie counting, just eat what you're told and the weight disappears. Extremely happy [and] we have much so more spending money [now] since we're not eating out." — M68499

How did you feel while on the plan? Were you more in control of your eating choices?

"I feel pretty good—not having the option to eat a lot of things besides fruits and vegetables made it easy to choose." — DGUAJAR

"I feel good! Yes, following the plan exactly puts me in control, but with my social life and with the Thanksgiving holiday, I chose not to follow the plan exactly. They recommended taking my food with me and eating it on Thanksgiving instead of the traditional holiday fare, but many times I meet friends at restaurants for lunch or dinner. I made the choice to eat salads and small portions instead of the HMR meals. I was able to lose weight during the week, so I felt like I made good choices." — LCMELOW

"I felt like I had tons of energy. The weekly coaching sessions gave positive feedback and kept me focused. With the variety of food options, I definitely was in more control." — LINCOLN_FORD

"I felt empowered. [With] family, once I told them I was on this program, [they] did not try to coerce me to eat their food." — MONICA205

Did you like the taste of the shakes and entrees?


"The shakes are very good, and most of the entrees are fine. Some I did not like, but that was personal preference and not the fault of the food." — DGUAJAR

"I'm impressed with the taste. Everything is good." — LCMELOW

"The shakes were delicious. [The] chicken enchiladas are my favorite. [My] second favorite is the chicken alfredo." — GINGERB13

"Yes they all tasted very good." — GIBSONTV

"The shakes are great. They are sweet and no big aftertaste. The vegetarian entrees vary in tastiness—the best vegetarian entree was the mushroom risotto." — MONICA2052

Was it helpful not having to count calories?

"It was very helpful." — DGUAJAR

"I haven't really counted calories; I was weighing my food, which seemed to be working. I was stuck at a plateau and HMR helped me get past that." — GINGERB13

"It was extremely helpful not to count calories while I am learning healthy eating habits." — LINCOLN_FORD

Did you feel full on the plan?

"Yes, for the most part, when I timed my meals properly." — DGUAJAR

"I feel very full. At times it is hard to get everything in that I need for the day because I feel so full." — LINCOLN_FORD

"I felt too full on the plan, [and] had a hard time eating all that was required." — GIBSONTV

"I did. I felt very little hunger. This was, perhaps, one of the most important things I learned on the program—the 'more is better' concept." — MONICA2052

Did you add fruits and veggies to make your meals even more filling?

"I have never in my life eaten so many fruits and vegetables. So yes, I have added fruits to the shakes and veggies to the entrees." — DGUAJAR

"Yes, I had to add fruits and veggies to try to stay full! The fresh fruits and veggies are my favorite part since they are the only freshly prepared part of the program." — LCMELOW

"I have always tried to add veggies to my meals. I usually had fruit as a snack or added to a shake." — GINGERB13

"Yes but it was hard to do it on top of all the other required foods and shakes." — GIBSONTV

"Yes, of course! Although there were no restrictions on which vegetables, I was careful with the starchier vegetables. I ate a lot of veggies and fruit. The 'more is better' concept is great!" — MONICA2052

Were you able to "stay in the box"/stay on the diet plan over the first three weeks?

"I have stayed 'in the box' every day except Thanksgiving. Even then, I chose my foods carefully and stayed away from the really high-calorie foods, and gained only half a pound." — DGUAJAR

"No, it's really hard for me to stay 'in the box.' I am able to follow the 3-2-5 daily guidelines most days. That is three shakes, two entrees and five servings of fruits and vegetables." — LCMELOW

"Yes, I even stayed on it on Thanksgiving Day. The pumpkin pie recipe was the best!" — MONICA2052

"The first couple of days were hard but like all things you get used to it. I find all the foods to be very good—can't get enough of the shakes, they're great." — M68499

Do you think you could continue on the plan for more weeks to reach your goal weight?

"Yes, I think I will continue." — GINGERB13"

"Maybe. The biggest issue I have is that there are only five vegetarian options for the entrees. And I only order four of them because the fifth one I really don't like. I don't think I can eat only four entrees repeatedly for the next six months or so." — MONICA2052

I plan to give it the whole nine weeks. Because I committed myself to this plan, I was able to resist a lot of high-calorie or high-sugar food when I hosted a gathering. I have stayed away from most situations where I might be tempted, but I am proud that last night I stood in front of a bowl of M&Ms and had no compulsion to eat a handful as I would have in the past." — DGUAJAR

HMR Weight Management is an intensive lifestyle program for long-term weight management thatís been offered in hospitals and medical centers for 34 years. Once available exclusively through these medical setting, HMR program is also now available for at home use. With HMR's simple, proven plan, you donít have to rely on willpower. You can eat as much of the planís foods, plus fruits and vegetables as you need to stay full—and still lose weight! Every time you use an HMR shake instead of a higher-calorie meal or snack, you can save calories and get closer to your goal.

For a limited time, get free shipping on your first order of any HMR food. Use code SPARKFREE at checkout.

Disclosure: The reviewer received HMR foods at a discounted price.

HMR



Conquer Your Moment: Join today to lose weight quickly and learn the skills to keep it off.

Posted 12/22/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 37,240 views

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The 14 Best Subscription Boxes Delivering Health to Your Door

There is something special about opening up the mailbox and finding a package addressed just for you. Most of us don't ever outgrow that feeling you get when you slice through fresh packing tape to open a delivery—even if we already know what's inside. These days, you can get just about anything delivered right to your door—from diapers and fruit to yoga pants and shampoo.

Posted 12/13/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 32 comments   40,870 views

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Get Free On-Demand Workout Videos With the FitFusion & SparkPeople 28-Day Check-In Challenge



The FitFusion & SparkPeople 28-Day Check-In Challenge is your chance to get four weeks of FREE, full-length FitFusion on-demand videos to help you take your workouts to the next level. We're so glad you decided to take the challenge! You're going to love your new results.


Hear All About the Challenge From Jillian!




The holidays are a notoriously difficult time of year for people trying to stick with a healthy eating plan and workout regimen. We want to provide you with the tools—support, inspiration, information, accountability and incredible workouts—so that you can start 2018 off with a bang. Don't wait for January—start now and already be ahead of the curve!

If four weeks of FREE Fit Fusion isn't enough, anyone who signs up for the challenge is eligible for 50% off of their first six months on FitFusion using the promo code SPARK. Sign up here to start!

Complete all four weeks and you'll be entered into a drawing to win one of 10 FREE FitFusion memberships for a year!

In addition, those that complete EVERY DAY of the challenge will also receive a free year-long membership from Thrive Market! Continue to keep your health in check in 2018 and enjoy your favorite organic brands at a discounted price—delivered right to your door! (Valid only for new Thrive Market customers.)

As if that wasn't enough, one grand prize winner will be chosen from those who complete the challenge to have the opportunity to fly to L.A. and actually train with Jillian Michaels herself! (This grand prize is for one member and includes one plane ticket and one room in L.A. for one night.)

Hold yourself accountable to check in for 28 days straight and complete the workouts; FitFusion by Jillian Michaels will add a new on-demand workout video each day of the week to a SparkPeople Challenge Video Playlist. Each day will feature Jillian or another expert trainer. There will be one rest day with a link to one of FitFusion's featured lifestyle or documentary films in place of an exercise video.

Jillian Michaels and the expert trainers on FitFusion provide workouts you can do at home on almost any device in 10, 20 and 30+ minutes to achieve your fitness goals. Visit FitFusion every week during the four-week challenge for new fitness-focused workout videos in the Real Results Challenge Video Playlist! The challenge will cycle through workouts that target your entire body—buns and thighs; chest, arms and back; and abs and core—and will also guide you through fun, high-powered workouts to keep your fitness on track each week. We'll help set you up for challenge success! The FitFusion challenge includes built-in rest days, which will educate you on the power of health and wellness. The lifestyle and documentary movies will empower you to live your healthiest life.



Work out with Jillian Michaels on FitFusion anyplace, anytime, on almost any device! Subscribe on FitFusion today and receive 50 percent off your first six months with the promo code SPARK. Try It Now!

What can you expect from the The FitFusion & SparkPeople 28-Day Check-In Challenge?

  • 28 Days of Free FitFusion On-Demand Video Challenges

  • Each day, you'll receive a daily challenge in your inbox, designed to take your workouts to the next level. Each daily task will help you stay accountable throughout the month by reminding you what to do, offering useful tips and keeping you focused on your goals.

  • 395 SparkPoints

  • Yep, you read that right! You can earn between 10 to 20 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's task. It's that easy!

  • Social Support

  • Ask questions. Post about your progress. Tell us how your challenge is going. Encourage your friends to join you—we'll be right here to cheer you on and support you! We also encourage you to post on your own social media pages to connect with others who are completing the challenge.

  • 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 or sharing on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter. SparkPeople members and non-members alike can participate and sign up for daily challenge emails just by entering their email address.

Sounds great! How do I sign up?

Go to the The FitFusion & SparkPeople 28-Day Check-In Challenge page and sign up by clicking the "Take the Challenge" button to enter your email address. For the next 28 days, you will receive an email with a reminder to complete your daily challenge and get your SparkPoints. You should expect to receive your first challenge email the day after signing up at 8:00 a.m. EST.

When does the challenge start?

Right now! The challenge is open and ready for you to join. The sooner you start, the sooner you can get on the path to a healthier, happier you!

What are you waiting for? Sign up right now to find time for healthy eating and fitness every day. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, too. Let's do this!

For complete challenge rules, click here.

Posted 11/30/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 18,707 views

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Black Friday Gear, Gadgets, Deals and Steals

Even if the holidays have you feeling a little bloated and bah-humbug-y, the deals on good-for-you items that can be found on Black Friday are enough to get you at least thinking about exercising and turning that frown upside down.  

Whether you've been waiting for that perfect time to score a new piece of exercise equipment, a FitBit for your friend, a thermometer for your uncle who loves to grill or a cold-weather fleece for your son in college, we found the deals you'll find just too good to pass up. 

Posted 11/23/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 43,970 views

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Smoothie Goals




From simple to sophisticated, there's no denying the power of the smoothie. Serving as an easy and fun delivery vehicle for greens, veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, protein powder and just about everything else—let's face it, smoothies are here to stay. Whether you take the time to present your creations in a bowl with photo-worthy finishing touches or pour them directly into a to-go cup for the drive to work, we can all agree that there exist smoothie creations deserving of a moment or two of admiration for the time that has gone into these edible works of art.

The secret to getting fruit to stick to the insides of the glass is to pick a sticky fruit, thinly slice it, add those first, then add your other smoothie ingredients. Plus, when you're done with the liquid, you'll have an extra little snack left in your glass.



There's something stunningly beautiful about the perfect placement of frozen berries and tiny flowers on this purple dreamboat of a smoothie bowl. For those of you recreating at home, just remember to make sure your flowers are edible.



You can almost taste the joy that went into creating this simple, nutrition-packed, jolly green smoothie. Sometimes less IS more.

A post shared by Amber (@amberromaniuk) on



It's hard to feel blue with this delightful treat in front of you. Swap out the fruit on top to add your favorite varieties, grab a couple of spoons and share with someone who makes you smile.



Can you pick a favorite from this amazing lineup? How would you choose? Maybe you don't have to—looks like the question of what you should have for breakfast is answered.



They always say that you eat with your eyes first. If you're looking for a meal or snack that's almost too pretty to eat, try blending together frozen strawberries and yogurt for a simple base, top with a sprinkling of raspberries and pomegranate and finish with a touch of chocolate shavings for a little decadence in an otherwise serene smoothie.



Posted 11/22/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 20,003 views

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16 Ways to Grow Your Diet With Plants

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Growing up, most of us incorporated dairy into our daily diet without a thought. Milk on your cereal, a cheese sandwich and yogurt at lunchtime, a good sprinkle of cheddar atop your burger or tacos for dinner and a couple scoops of cookies 'n cream while watching your favorite shows before bed.

As a kid, eating your veggies likely wasn't as high of a priority. A baggie of carrot sticks may have accompanied your lunch, and some green beans might have appeared on your dinner plate.

Then, as you grew older, you were able to make more and more dietary decisions yourself. Maybe some of those childhood habits stuck, while others fell off for various reasons. While milk is high in calcium and a good source of protein, it doesn't always agree with everyone's digestive systems. And while carrots are awesome for vitamin A and beta-carotene, there is more to the plant world than those little bagged orange goodies.

Whether you are on a weight loss journey, aspire to better overall health or simply want to cut back on animal products, now is a great time to try. With a full assortment of plant-based products on the market, from coconutmilk to cashewmilk ice cream, it's never been easier to incorporate more plant-based foods into your daily diet.

If you're ready to commit to an all plant-based diet or just cut back a little on dairy, these tips can help get you there.

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  1. Skip the cow's milk and try a milk alternative in your favorite smoothie (with plenty of your favorite fruits and veggies, of course).

  2. Get creative with your oatmeal by mixing in fresh, frozen or dried fruit, honey, peanut butter or any other yummy fruit or nut spread.



  3. Add a splash of flavored coconutmilk or almondmilk creamer to your coffee.

  4. Get your daily calcium intake from plant-based sources, such as collard greens, soy milk, tofu, kale, oranges or almonds.

  5. Instead of cheese, embrace the creaminess of an avocado on salads or pureed butternut squash in soups or potatoes.



  6. Substitute culinary coconut milk in your favorite creamy sauces.

  7. Enjoy Meatless Monday any day of the week.

  8. For some protein, add beans to your meals instead of ground meat, or try for a mixture of half ground meat and half beans (such as black beans and ground turkey).

  9. Pack single-serving handfuls of heart-healthy nuts in your purse, car or desk drawer as a quick and healthy snack that packs protein.

  10. Add veggies—the more, the better—to any dish. Not only are they low in calories and chock-full of vitamins and nutrients, they keep you fuller longer.

  11. Visit your local farmers market for in-season fruits and veggies. Clean, prep and store them in your fridge for easy, healthy snacking.



  12. Love to dip? Try hummus—it comes in many flavors and varieties. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try other plant-based dips, such as baba ganoush or guacamole.

  13. Satisfy your sweet tooth with non-dairy desserts made from cashewmilk, coconutmilk or almondmilk.

  14. Try sprinkling seeds—chia, pumpkin, sesame, hemp, flax or others—on top of any meal, or add them to smoothies, dips or trail mix for added nuttiness and nutrition.

  15. Use olive oil instead of butter when sautťing vegetables or making sauces.

  16. Try a plant-based yogurt alternative when you want a cold, creamy snack or quick breakfast.

Swapping plant-based foods for dairy in your diet isn't as difficult as you might think, and it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Start small with a few simple swaps and see where your diet takes you.

Posted 8/11/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 18,298 views

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Score Big on Amazon Prime Day

Are you an Amazon Prime Member? Then today is your lucky day! It's Amazon Prime Day—a day full of deals just for you. Whether you've had your eye on a new pair of leggings that hold up through any yoga class  or an awesome new speaker to blast tunes from your favorite workout playlist, you're bound to find a deal you won't be able to resist.
 
If you're not a Prime member, you can easily sign up here or register for a 30-day free trial if you're brand new to Prime. If you own an Echo Dot, you can also gain access to voice-only shopping deals for prime members by saying to your device, "Alexa, what are your deals?"

Posted 7/11/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 34 comments   11,028 views

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How a Plant-Based Diet Changed My Life

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What you choose to eat and how you choose to live is a big part of what makes you, you. What works for one person may not work for another—and that's okay, because we are all striving to be the best versions of ourselves. To live authentically means to alter your diet and activities to better fit your lifestyle, whether you choose to be a vegetarian, cut back on dairy or simply give up after-dinner snacking. No matter your decisions, we're here to support you every step of the way as we all work together toward being deliciously different and authentically ourselves.

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As we explore what it means to be Deliciously Different, Deliciously You, we spoke with SparkPeople member and health coach Martha Glantz about her journey to take control of her life through weight loss, exercise and adopting a plant-based diet.

About Martha

Martha has been active in the SparkPeople community since 2013. In 2011, after struggling with her weight her whole adult life, she began her weight loss journey by recording her progress and using a pedometer to walk 10,000 steps a day. In 2013, she decided to switch to a primarily plant-based diet, including fish or grass-fed beef on occasion. In addition to her daily walking, she also started doing cardio workouts and lifting weights at the gym. Now, she is proudly down 86 pounds and feeling great.

In June 2014, Martha enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and earned her certificate as a health coach. While she became a coach primarily to help herself, she has also worked with others. The program reinforced for her that one size does not fit all, and has helped her embrace a "different strokes for different folks" approach to healthy living.

How have plant-based foods helped you maintain your weight?
In addition to feeling better when eating a predominantly plant-based diet, I ended up losing the last 35 pounds and have kept it off. I think the emphasis on plants makes me much more aware of what I'm eating because of their benefits. With a plant-based diet I can eat a lot, feel full and satisfied and take in relatively few calories, which helps with weight maintenance.

How do you incorporate plant-based foods into your diet?
For my meals, I include a vegetable and/or fruit. For instance, breakfast contains a whole grain, a fat, a protein and a fruit. Lunch is high in veggies with a big salad or a stir fry—I'll cut up all sorts of veggies and have at it, adding in hot sauce and some protein, like an egg, tofu or cheese. I rarely have a non-vegetarian lunch. My beverage at lunch is usually water, seltzer or occasionally low-fat milk. Dinner at home usually includes a soup or stew with lots of different vegetables and a protein, often accompanied by a salad. I have tried dairy free yogurt as well.There are so many dairy-free options available right now, and I am looking forward to exploring them all.

Snacks are often carrots and hummus, fruit and nuts, fruit and a piece of cheese or celery with peanut butter. I tend to have two snacks a day and keep them each around 150 calories.

What foods are your weaknesses? How do you deal with any cravings you may have for sweets or junk food?
It's not food that is a weakness as much as wine! When I was losing weight, I didn't have wine during the week and was very moderate during the weekend. Now, I do have wine most nights and generally keep it to two glasses, because when I have more I want sweets. Otherwise, I may have a cookie or some low-fat ice cream, rarely going overboard. Junk food doesn't appeal to me, with the exception of potato chips, which I just don't keep in the house.

I do love French fries and have had them throughout losing and maintaining weight when I go out. Not all the time, but once a week or so. Rarely do I have more than a third to a half of the order. I've found that if I have something like this that I love, I won't overdo it. Same with pizza—I love it, and have it every once in a while (I order it with less cheese and no meat—all veggies).

Describe your turning point to a plant-based diet.
When I started on my journey, I weighed about 226 pounds. At age 61, I knew I had to do something and it had to stick. To that end, I decided to not go on a diet, but to choose to [make wiser food choices] most of the time. A year later, I took a class at the local hospital on eating better and decided to make some more changes, gradually moving to a more plant-based diet.

I realized that I had to lose more weight to get to the normal BMI range and that exercise had to become a non-negotiable part of my life. I ended up losing about 35 more pounds and added daily exercise. Now, about 60 to 75 percent of my meals are vegetarian most weeks.

How do you maintain your diet?
I think since I made so many of the changes over time, it has become second nature to choose the wiser food options. When I go out to eat (which is much less than it used to be), my eye seems to naturally go to the vegetarian option. When I'm thinking of what to make for dinner, I have many vegetarian cookbooks to choose from. If we are going to have meat or poultry, I look for grass-fed, no antibiotics. At our weekend place, we can go to the farms. In the summer a friend and I split a share at a CSA and that challenges me to find new recipes for all the vegetables I get. It's fun and we get great food too!

I knew when I retired that I would have to be careful to not go out so much, and I tend to have lunch at home most days of the week. If I do go out, there are a few places in town that have delicious vegetarian food.

I like to challenge myself with working out. I recently started with a personal trainer and just took my first spin classes. SparkPeople gives me great ideas on how to change up my exercise routine to keep it fresh and challenging.

How do you incorporate your favorite activities into your lifestyle?
As a retired person, it is easy to find time to exercise. I start by walking around the house and getting warmed up. I take our dog out for a morning walk that can be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. I try to get to the gym most weekday mornings for cardio and alternate days of barre, yoga or stretching. I wear a Garmin VivoSmart HR+ band, which encourages me to get up and walk for at least five minutes every hour.

I also make time to move whenever possible: I park far from store entrances or walk around town before doing my errands. People recognize me and say, "Oh you're the one who walks all the time!" I know it is good for me and it is something I enjoy. Our dog loves to walk, so she gets several walks every day. On the weekends (we have a lake house where we spend most weekends), I take long walks to get both exercise and the enjoyment of being outside.

How has becoming a health coach allowed you to not only live healthfully yourself, but to inspire others to live their best lives as well?
When I retired in June 2014, I wanted something to challenge my mind and keep me focused on living a healthy life. A few months later, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and earned my certificate as a health coach. I took the IIN health coaching course for self-knowledge, but also because so many people would ask, "What did you do and can you help me?"

I joined SparkPeople in 2013 as one more way to ensure I stayed at my goal weight. I love this place! There is great support and I learn something every day. I am part of the National Weight Control Registry, as I believe it is critical that we learn from what has worked for those of us who have lost weight and kept it off. I love letting other Spark members know that it can be done! Blogging on my SparkPage and receiving positive reinforcement is really great—if I can help others, that helps me.

I've kept my weight off, which is something else that seems to inspire others. When friends see me after several months, I think they are surprised that I look the same. Since most people gain their weight back and I haven't—that in and of itself is something different.

Posted 7/10/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 35,000 views

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Remember when needing a new sports bra meant actually driving to the mall and going to a few different department stores to pick out just the right one? Now, getting what you want is just a couple clicks away, thanks to online retailers like Amazon.

Posted 6/28/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 84 comments   23,056 views

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