Melissa Rudy

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into the online content field in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.

Read More of Melissa's Blogs:

300 Pounds and Counting: Greg's Two-Year Transformation

Imagine carrying around three large Labrador dogs, nine cinderblocks or 36 gallons of water—constantly, for many, many years. Think about how difficult (or downright impossible) it would be to walk, run, play with your kids or grandkids, or even just climb a few stairs. Now, imagine finally being able to set down that weight, and how light and free you would feel. Greg Palmer (GPALMER) knows a thing or two about shedding that type of heavy burden. In just a little over two years, he has lost more than 300 pounds. Since his amazing transformation, Greg  has become a motivating presence here at SparkPeople, as he shares his inspiring messages and photos on our Community Feed.

Posted 7/20/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 25 comments   8,661 views

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36 Easy, Breezy No-Cook Summer Recipes

When stepping outside is like walking into an oven, the last thing you want to do is turn on the one in your kitchen. But mealtimes don't stop for summer, and all those hot days spent swimming, playing, working and driving here, there and everywhere tend to work up quite an appetite. When dinner looms and the family is headed to hangry-town, skip the stove and throw together one of these insanely easy, no-cook dishes—and save the sweating for the pool.

Posted 7/13/2017  12:00:00 PM By: Melissa Rudy : 40 comments   14,046 views

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Concert Pianist Gets the Spark She Needs to Play Carnegie Hall

Although many people join the SparkPeople community with the goal of losing a significant amount of weight, that's not true for all of our members. Jeanne (HAYBURNER1969) hasn't been overweight a day in her life—in fact, she's spent much more time focusing on the scales in her piano solos than the one in her bathroom. But as this accomplished concert pianist prepared for the biggest performance of her musical career, she didn't feel strong or fit. Jeanne turned to SparkPeople for the boost she needed to take the stage with confidence.

Posted 7/11/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 59 comments   7,401 views

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21 Ways Alexa Can Help You Lead a Healthier Life

Move over, Siri and Google Assistant, there's a new A.I. in town and her name is Alexa. Well, not new, exactly (the Amazon Alexa has actually been around since November of 2014) but the digital personal assistant is quickly transitioning from a rare novelty to a more mainstream technology. Surveys have found that ownership of Alexa has grown by more than 70 percent in less than a year.

Alexa, which powers devices like the Echo, Echo Show, Tap and Dot, is a woman of many talents. Not only can she track sports stats, adjust your home's thermostat and manage your Google calendar, but she can also help you get and stay fit. While you can't instruct her to do your workout for you (pity), Alexa offers plenty of fun, futuristic ways to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan.

Posted 7/10/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 42 comments   12,941 views

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25 Delicious Dishes to Make With Your Spiralizer

If eating veggies is the opposite of your idea of a good time or if you're spending more time with pasta than with your gym membership, allow us to introduce your new best friend. The spiralizer is a super simple kitchen tool that's nothing short of miraculous. With very little effort and in just a matter of seconds, it turns fresh produce into noodles. Simply place a firm vegetable into the grinder, turn the crank and watch the long, ribbon-like "noodles" magically appear.

Posted 7/6/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 42 comments   13,512 views

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10 Calorie Comparisons That May Surprise You

When you're trying to say “see ya” to some stubborn pounds, you’ll want to sidestep extra calories whenever possible. As you fine-tune your strategy to burn more and consume less, you'll likely be on the hunt for lower-calorie foods to help you stay within your target range.

Posted 6/26/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 93 comments   19,847 views

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Does Hypnosis for Weight Loss Really Work?

Weight loss might seem like a purely physical pursuit—eat healthier foods, adjust your calorie intake, move more and the pounds come off, right? But the brain can also be a powerful tool for weight loss. Having the right mindset can help you achieve the kind of long-term, sustainable success you've been working so hard to achieve. If you have trouble summoning the willpower and mental focus to stick to a diet and exercise plan, you might have considered trying hypnosis—but does it really work?

Posted 6/22/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 67 comments   16,072 views

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What to Serve with Stuffed Peppers: 16 Scrumptious Ideas

If you're a stuffed pepper addict, we feel you. Peppers are quite possibly the perfect foundation for a scrumptious snack or even a hearty meal. In addition to the beef, rice, cheese or whatever yummy ingredients they're stuffed with, bell peppers also serve up plenty of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and are chock full of vitamins C, A and E. Plus, with only 45 calories per cup, they're a diet-friendly choice (as long as you choose sensible stuffers, of course).

Posted 6/21/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 35 comments   9,290 views

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Gaga for Garbanzos: 20 Ways to Cook 1 Can of Chickpeas

If you're not a legume lover, chickpeas just might convert you. Also known as garbanzo beans, they're in the same family as lentils, soybeans and peanuts. Proof that good things come in small packages, these petite peas are big on health benefits.

Posted 6/19/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 51 comments   18,226 views

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SparkPeople Runner Shows Boston Who's Boss

Sometimes, it takes a big life change to get on track toward health and wellness. For single dad Kevin (MOBYCARP), it was an empty nest. Shortly after his daughter moved out in 2011, he discovered SparkPeople and started recording his food intake and activity. Little did he know that his new daily habit would lead him to some amazing transformations—and across a legendary finish line.

Posted 6/16/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 61 comments   10,921 views

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Low- or No-Calorie Drinks That Won't Sabotage Your Summer Diet

When you're on a weight loss journey, every calorie counts—but sometimes you want a little sweetness that water just can't provide.

The good news is there are plenty of low- or no-calorie beverage options that will help keep you refreshed and hydrated without adding any extra calories. According to multiple peer-reviewed studies, low- or no-calorie sweeteners have been proven to aid in weight loss and weight maintenance, and they have been deemed safe for general consumption by numerous government agencies around the world.

If you're looking to satisfy a sweet craving without sabotaging your weight loss goals, try adding one of these diet-friendly beverages to your daily lineup.

  • If you're stuck in an "afternoon slump," try a low- or no-calorie iced tea to power you through your workday.
  • Squeeze some fresh lime or lemon wedges into a low- or no-calorie cola for a sweet and refreshing beverage.

  • Create a refreshing smoothie by blending together one small banana, 1/3 cup of your favorite berries, low- or no-calorie sweetener, 1/3 cup of low-fat milk and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • Enjoy happy hour without the added calories by adding sparkling water to your favorite fruit juice for a diet-friendly summer spritzer.

  • Pack a low- or no-calorie flavored water infused with vitamins or other nutrients into your cooler when heading to the beach or pool.
  • Having fun in the sun? Stay hydrated and refreshed by keeping a bottle of flavored water with electrolytes in your beach bag at all times.
  • Cool off after a long workout with a refreshing low- or no-calorie sports drink.

  • Add some fresh mint leaves to a glass of sparkling low- or no-calorie iced tea.
  • Indulge your sweet cravings at the summer BBQ with an ice-cold diet root beer.

For more information on choosing the right fluids for your nutrition plan, click here.

Posted 6/7/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 28,108 views

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35 Girl Power Anthems to Energize Your Next Workout

Girls just want to have fun—and get fit! We all know that amazing feeling of euphoria and accomplishment that comes after a workout, and how much the body and mind benefit from a heart-pounding sweat session. But when you're feeling tired, burned out or just plain uninspired, the memory of the last time you killed it at the gym may not be quite enough to motivate you to get off the couch and get moving.

When you can't talk yourself into a workout, try singing instead. For centuries, people have been using music as mental fuel for exercise. Research shows that an up-tempo beat not only makes exercise more enjoyable, but can also enhance performance. If your aim is to get more out of your gym session—or simply muster the motivation to clean out the garage—try getting your groove on.

Posted 6/1/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 52 comments   12,716 views

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5 Playground Exercises for Parents (and Kids at Heart)

Remember when you were a kid, and you'd spend countless hours swinging, sliding, pushing, hanging and climbing at the park or playground? You didn't realize it then, but you weren't just playingyou were also getting some pretty amazing exercise.

Life may not be as carefree as it was back then, but you don't have to be a kid to turn workouts into child's play. We asked trainer Tamara from The Workout Mama  for her favorite exercises to do at the playground. You won't need any fancy equipment and because many of these are compound moves (working more than one muscle group at a time), you can quickly get in a full-body workout and still enjoy some play time afterward.

Posted 6/1/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 65 comments   54,249 views

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Running Gear Thatís a Waste of Money

Running seems like a pretty low-maintenance activity—just you, the shoes, the road and you're off, right? That doesn't mean there aren't a million-and-one gadgets and gizmos out there, though, each one promising to make your next run the best one of your life.
Particularly when you’re new to running, it’s easy get suckered into buying every tool and trapping that salesclerks and seasoned runners recommend. But keep in mind that people at running stores are trying to make a sale, and your running friends may have different preferences or priorities that compel them to buy certain items that aren't necessarily essential for you.

Posted 5/26/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 87 comments   29,269 views

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20 Incredible Ways to Make Chicken in Your Instant Pot

Unless you're vegetarian or vegan, chicken is probably one of the mainstays of your weekly meal rotation—and for good reason. Not only is it delicious, it's also low in fat, low in calories and high in protein, making it a great addition to any weight loss plan. That said, if you're preparing the same old chicken recipes night after night, it's easy to get stuck in a rut that could have you swearing off poultry altogether. And if you're time-crunched or oven-challenged, you could find most traditional chicken recipes a little daunting.
Enter the Instant Pot. There's a reason this electric pressure cooker is selling like hotcakes—it delivers the juicy, tender results of the slow cooker, compressed into as little as half an hour of cooking time. (We're big fans of this Instant Pot you can purchase on Amazon for under $100.)

When you don't have the time or foresight to meal-prep the night before, you can toss a few ingredients into the Instant Pot after work and enjoy a healthy, home-cooked meal with minimal hassle.

Posted 5/23/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 55 comments   20,829 views

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