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.


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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 sautéing 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 : 8,120 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 : 33 comments   9,126 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 : 28,947 views

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The 35 Most Popular Products Members Are Buying Right Now

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 : 72 comments   17,727 views

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Find Your Financial Freedom with Michelle McKinnon



Inspirational women are all around us, teaching, motivating and leading others by example through the way they live their lives. The Spark Your Life Series connects you to thought-provoking female leaders whose stories can help you achieve life balance, a health and fitness goal or a better state of mind.

Posted 6/19/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 0 comments   13,740 views

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Relieve, Restore and Reset Your Back with These 10 Products

Sometimes simply going about the business of living life can lead to backaches and pains. According to +he Good Body, eight out of every 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives—a statistic that's probably not surprising considering all the times you lift, pull, stretch, twist, slouch, bend or otherwise contort your back to do everything from reaching for that cereal bowl in the morning to picking up the kids' toys at night before going to bed.

Posted 6/6/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 70 comments   18,984 views

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8 Ways to Add Some Flower Power to Your Next Workout

Why simply stop and smell the roses, when you can wear them? Gone are the days when getting ready for the gym or a walk around the park meant hiding your personality under boring, solid-colored clothing. Today's athleisure trends speak in flowery tones—loud ones. From red roses and pink peonies to delightful daisies and bright wildflower bouquets, you can't escape the movement toward adorning your body in head-to-toe flower power

If you're ready to rediscover your inner flower child or are just looking to make a smaller statement with that one perfect floral piece, then you'll find these fresh, fun, functional and flowery pieces are a cinch to mix-and-match with workout clothes you already own. Plus, they are great for any activity, from tiptoeing through the tulips to running through the ranunculus.  

Posted 5/25/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 72 comments   14,941 views

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10 Ways to Stash Your Valuables While You Work Out

It's a beautiful day and you've finally found time to run around that small lake you pass all the time on your way to your son's preschool. You've hydrated, eaten a healthy breakfast, put on your comfiest running clothes and are all set to put that hour-long break to good use. Only after you've secured your ponytail do you realize that you have nowhere to put your key fob. Sure, you can always take it off the keyring and stick it in your bra and hope it doesn't get lost or get clogged with too much sweat but surely there's a better option? 

Posted 5/17/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 60 comments   16,508 views

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4 Ways to Beat the Heat and Stay Hydrated This Summer

The season is finally warming up and transitioning to summer, and with it comes a lot of other changes: You're probably swapping out your pants for shorts, sweatshirts for tank tops and putting your coats and snow boots into storage. You might also pull the grill out of the garage, get out your lawn chairs and start stocking up on sunscreen. Most people look forward to summer's plethora of outdoor activities—but forget to change up what they eat and drink.

Follow these four hydration tips to stay energized, cool and well-hydrated during your favorite hot-weather activities.

  1. Know how much to hydrate. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Sciences recommends that adults try to drink 11-16 total cups of fluids a day. This may seem like a lot, but remember, those fluids can come from a wide range of beverages, as well as foods. In fact, low- or no-calorie beverages provide some sweetness without the calories and are predominately water. If you exercise, be sure to drink before, during and after, too.

    SparkPeople member PKCHANDLER loves low- or no-calorie sweetened beverages because they are "A refreshing drink I don't have to 'count,'" and she, "Looks forward to grabbing a refreshing beverage with no added calories."


  2. Eat plenty of water-filled foods. Fruits and vegetables are packed with water and can count toward your hydration goals for the day. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, pineapple and oranges are nearly 90 percent water. Cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, cabbage and peppers are also about 90 percent water, so don't hesitate to stock up the next time you find yourself at the farmers market or a produce stand.

    Sparkpeople member CMCKENNAHOME satisfies her sweet tooth and stays hydrated with "Fruit, coffee with Stevia or diet iced tea at least once a day," she says.


  3. Don't discount low- or no-calorie beverages. Even if you drink a lot of water all day, beverages with sugar substitutes can help you stay hydrated, too. Not only are they a proven tool to help you maintain a healthy weight, they don’t leave you feeling hungrier, so they can be a beneficial part of an overall weight management plan. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that people who eat a balanced diet are also likely to drink low- or no-calorie beverages. So, go ahead—it's okay if you want to reach for one.

    "[Low- or no-calorie beverages] are just enough—a splurge without a ton of guilt," Sparkpeople member FRUITSANDVEG says.


  4. Pay attention to your thirst. Even if you feel just a little thirsty, quench it by reaching for water or any other low- or no-calorie beverage of your choice if you want a little sweetness. Don't ignore your body's signals. If you don't drink when you're thirsty, you may become dehydrated.

    For more tips on staying hydrated this summer, click here.

Posted 5/11/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 19,412 views

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Build a Better You and Enhance Your Diet with SparkPeople's 30-Day Better Nutrition Challenge

Welcome to SparkPeople's 30-Day Better Nutrition Challenge! For the next 30 days, you'll receive a daily dose of information to help you learn more about both macro and micronutrients and why they are important for building a better you from the inside out.  

Posted 5/5/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 26,270 views

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10 Futuristic Health Products That Should Be on Your Radar

Now that Marty McFly's self-lacing shoes are finally a reality, one thing is clear: The future is here. Getting your hands on the latest technology, though, is equal parts risky and rewarding. After all, how many people actually need $720 shoes?

With new products hitting the market every day, it can be difficult to identify the ones that can actually help you with your daily health and fitness struggles. From a fork that will force a slow-food revolution at your table to a jump rope that ensures you'll never lose count of your skips ever again, these 10 products are sure to make you feel like you're living like the Jetsons.

Posted 5/2/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 90 comments   19,276 views

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Better in Business and Beyond, Learn Why Image Is Everything





Inspirational women are all around us, teaching, motivating and leading others by example through the way they live their lives and inspire others. The Spark Your Life Series connects you to thought-provoking female leaders whose stories can help you achieve life balance, a health and fitness goal or a better state of mind.

Posted 4/17/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 32,247 views

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10 Plus-Size Leggings for Women Who Love Their Curves

These days, it's hard to go to the produce aisle, much less the park without running into at least a few people sporting chic black leggings. Once relegated to workout days only, the black legging is here to stay. Luckily, the legging look isn't only for the lithe, long, limber yogi. Black leggings are available in every size, shape and silhouette, and are a great wardrobe addition for any woman, even those with curves.

Posted 3/21/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 76 comments   39,270 views

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Balance Work and Life with Tips from the 'Mom Boss'

Inspirational women are all around us, teaching, motivating and leading others by example through the way they live their lives and inspire others. The Spark Your Life Series connects you to thought-provoking female leaders whose stories can help you achieve life balance, a health and fitness goal or a better state of mind.

Posted 3/20/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 0 comments   23,506 views

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Induce Sleep Naturally With These 5 Tips

Try as you might, there will simply be times when you have a hard time getting to sleep. As you toss and turn, you might wonder what you're doing wrong that keeps you from sleeping. Are you going to bed too early? Too late? Is your room too noisy? Too dark? Too light?
 
It can be hard to determine the root cause of sleeping issues. The good news is there are many foods, drinks, herbs and other natural sleep remedies you can try at home to help you drift off to sleep—and keep you there. Before tossing in the proverbial pillow, try one or more of these solid sleep inducers and take back the night!  

Posted 3/15/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 31,848 views

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