The SparkPeople Blog

A Dangerous Day of "Healthy Eating"

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/31/2017  2:00:00 PM   :  16,438 views

Meet Patty, a happily married mother of two school-age children who works full time at her company's information systems department. Patty has a plan to stick to 1,400 calories a day to lose weight. However, due to slick packaging and masterful marketing, Patty may not realize that many of her so-called "healthy food choices" are actually destroying her plan to lose weight.

Like Patty, a lot of us probably have a hard time always choosing the best option. Take a quick calorie quiz from HMR Weight Management here to see how you’d do selecting “healthier” options when dining out.

Let’s see how Patty would do as she goes through her day…

After staying up too late the night before, Patty starts her morning with a cup of caffeine-charged coffee to reboot her fog-filled brain. Flavoring it with a little sugar and half-and-half is more calorie-friendly than those expensive coffee shop concoctions anyway, plus it's all natural and only adds a few calories, she thinks.

  • 6 ounces black coffee
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 2 packets sugar

Just then, the kids bound into the kitchen for breakfast. They pour sugar-coated, fruit-flavored cereal and milk into their bowls. Patty makes the decision to eat a healthier cereal of wholesome granola with skim milk.

  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup skim milk

After breakfast, everyone piles into the van. Patty drops the kids off at school, heads to the office, and gets straight to work. She spends the morning deeply immersed in several projects, so she's surprised when she glances at the clock and sees that it is already lunchtime. Patty had intended to pack her lunch the night before, but never got around to it, so she heads to the company's café to check out her options. There, she spots the chicken Caesar salad, which consists of chicken strips on a bed of romaine lettuce with various salad toppings, all tossed with Caesar salad dressing. She knows that's the ticket—low calorie and nutrient rich. For a beverage she opts for a soda, figuring just one little splurge won't hurt since her other food choices so far today have been carefully planned.

  • chicken Caesar salad
  • 16 ounce soda

Back on the job, Patty is approached by three of her favorite coworkers. They suggest heading to the local bar for happy hour after work. Although she hesitates, Patty doesn't want to forgo the fun and ultimately joins her friends. At the bar, she makes a conscious effort to keep her low-calorie meal plan on target. She nibbles on just a few crackers and cheese cubes, and orders a small glass of heart-healthy red wine.

  • 5 ounces red wine
  • 6 crackers
  • 3 cheese cubes

Upon arriving home, Patty is surprised by her husband, who has cooked a pasta dinner. Because he knows she's watching her weight, he used whole wheat spaghetti and topped it with a basil pesto sauce. What a thoughtful guy, she thinks, thanking him for the wonderful meal.

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto sauce

After she and her husband clean up dinner and put their kids to bed, Patty feels like she can finally relax and unwind. She really wants ice cream, but makes a wiser choice to reach instead for the frozen yogurt to boost her calcium intake.

  • 1 cup frozen yogurt

As Patty heads off to bed, she confidently thinks, "This healthy, low-calorie eating is a snap. I'm positive I hit my calorie goal or maybe even less. A few more days like today and I know I'll be one to two pounds lighter."

What would you guess Patty's calorie intake was for the day?

A. 1,389
B. 1,845
C. 2,542
D. 3,321

If you selected "C," you are CORRECT!


  • 6 ounces black coffee = 4 calories
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half = 40 calories
  • 2 packets sugar = 22 calories
    Total = 66 calories


  • 1/2 cup granola = 210 calories
  • 1/4 cup skim milk = 21 calories
    Total = 231 calories


  • chicken Caesar salad = 793 calories
  • 16 ounce soda = 208 calories
    Total = 1,001 calories

Happy Hour:

  • 5 ounces red wine = 125 calories
  • 6 crackers = 80 calories
  • 3 cheese cubes = 207 calories
    Total = 412 calories


  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta = 348 calories
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto sauce = 263 calories
    Total = 611 calories


  • 1 cup frozen yogurt = 221 calories
    Total = 221 calories

TOTAL for the DAY = 2,542

In today's calorie-filled food environment, it doesn't take much to go over your daily calorie allowance. Patty made a conscious effort to take in only 1,400 calories for the day, but was actually 1,142 calories over her goal. An effective weight loss tool that has been shown to assist with food selection and portion control is the use of meal replacements.

Meal replacements are a great option for people who struggle to count calories and watch what they eat and want to take the guesswork out of weight loss.

HMR Weight Management is a meal replacement program that’s been offered in hospitals and medical centers for 34 years. 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.)


Learn More

The Power of a Boring Exercise Routine

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/30/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  72 comments   :  10,233 views

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
  • You eat the same breakfast every day because it gives you one less thing to think about on busy mornings when you're trying to get out the door.
  • You drive the same way to work each day because you know the route and the traffic routine is fairly consistent.
  • You exercise every day on your lunch hour because you know that time of day works best for you.
  • You eat snacks and meals at the same time each day because you know that's when you'll be hungry.
There's nothing wrong with being a creature of habit, especially when those habits are good for you and your overall wellbeing. Habits help you get through the day productively so that you aren't constantly having to make complicated decisions.

With so many fitness trainers and experts insisting on the importance of "mixing things up for maximum results," though, you might feel pressure to constantly change your exercise routine. While it's true that you don't want to do the same exercise routine exactly the same way every single day for months and months, does that mean everything about your routine has to change? If you walk regularly, do you need to stop walking and do something completely different?

Yes, our bodies quickly adapt to the same daily activities. But surprisingly, there can be power in a routine that, in general, doesn't change. Especially when you're first starting out, a regular routine can help keep you accountable and get your body used to this new normal of being active. Once you've become a seasoned exerciser, a regular routine can offer a simple way to track progress and allow you to continue the activities you have learned to enjoy.  

SparkPeople Members Share the Appeal of a "Boring" Exercise Routine

Paula (PAULALALALA) knows how she wants to structure her weekly workouts and the less she has to think about it, the better. "I find it easier to keep up with the routine when I know what to expect from my workouts. The workouts I've chosen are the ones that I can see and feel results from. The classes I've chosen are with instructors who don't use the same exercises every time, but are predictable in the way they set their workouts up," she explains. "There's nothing quite as discouraging as going into a class where the instructor feels they have to throw everything in the book at you, and then spend half the time explaining the new moves. I go away from those workouts feeling as if I haven't really spent my time wisely." 

For others, keeping to a consistent routine makes the numbers game easier when it comes to tracking. Ryan (RYAN133HW) finds it easier to stick to a plan and track her progress when she does the same kinds of workouts. "Each morning when I get up, I know today is Tuesday so I'm going to spin, or today is Friday so I have yoga," she explains. The schedule also offers Ryan the opportunity to challenge herself and gauge her progress in real time. "Each week I am aware of how much I improved from the week before When I first started to spin, [for example] I couldn't make it through the full hour without at least two or three breaks," she recalls, "I remember how proud I was the first time I was able to continue peddling throughout the entire class. The first time I came out of the saddle, I can't even tell you how that made me feel."

That feeling of improvement, of getting stronger and of seeing change is a powerful, almost addicting sensation. Watching as your yoga poses improve, your runs get easier and your dumbbells get heavier will likely make you want to keep reaching for that next level. As you start to see what your body is capable of doing, that---rather than feeling obligated—becomes the driving force. That desire to reach a new personal best is a source of motivation and accomplishment that you might not otherwise see if you bounce from class to class or routine to routine.  

In his 30 years as a bodybuilder, Bill (BILLMC6) similarly believes that if you find some form of exercise that you are willing to do on a regular basis, you will see benefits. "Consistency is better than jumping around from routine to routine, since constant change prevents you from really getting good enough at anything to see positive results," he says. "I will admit that I am not a big person, but by doing what I love for the past three decades, with basically the same routine, I have gained muscle, gotten stronger and have a lot more confidence in myself than I had when I was younger."

ANARIE prefers the term "well-rehearsed" over "boring" to describe an exercise program that basically stays the same. "I like variety, but there's a lot to be said for routine. If you do the same thing over and over and over, you reach a point where you don't have to think about it and your mind is free to wander," she says. "It becomes almost like meditation, or like playing a well-practiced musical piece. I suspect that a lot of people who are successful at sustaining an exercise routine over the long term are able to do it because they enjoy exercise as their thinking time."

If you've struggled with consistency in the past and found it difficult to stick with a regular exercise routine, perhaps it's because you haven't found exercises you enjoy. When you like what you're doing, you're more likely to stick with it, that's a fact. If your daily walk is something that challenges your body, gets your heart rate up and you look forward to doing, then stick with it!  There are many ways to vary your walk by adding hills, speed intervals, changing the distance and more to keep your body guessing. Many times your body will give you the signs that it's time to change your workout routine
Everyone is different, so while some people need variety to keep them interested, others need routine to keep them happy. I've been a runner for years, and if someone told me I had to stop and do something different, I'd be unhappy. I have days when I work hard to try something new with my run, but other days, I go on autopilot and use that time to clear my head and think about other things. As with most things in life, it's all about balance.

What about you? Are you a creature of habit when it comes to your workouts, or do you believe that variety is the spice of life?

35 Healthy Asian-Inspired Recipes

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/20/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  48 comments   :  8,541 views

Herbs and spices and curry, oh my! There's nothing better than enjoying a flavorful Asian dish from your favorite Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean or Malaysian restaurant—unless it's preparing it yourself from the comfort of home. With an amazing recipe, the right ingredients and some culinary creativity, you can create a kung-pao-tastic dish that's just as delicious as your favorite takeout joint—and most likely considerably cheaper and way healthier.
Need some Asian inspiration? Here are some of our favorite regional recipes from talented food bloggers, along with a few from our own SparkPeople members.

Read More ›

How to Embrace Your Exercise Shortcomings

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/17/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  53 comments   :  11,607 views

"No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch." Susie Miller

I've always joked about the fact that I'm a slow runner. I remind my kids that even though they can beat me in a sprint, eventually my endurance will win out and I'll catch them. Just as the tortoise eventually caught up to the hare, it just takes me a little while longer.

Have you ever been intimidated to try new activities because you know there's a chance you'll finish last or can't keep up? Are you worried that people will judge you because of it? Perhaps there's a class at the gym you've always wanted to try, but you're not sure if you're fit enough. Maybe you'd love to take a walk or jog around the neighborhood, but don't want everyone to judge your form or pace. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you're too focused on other's opinions when you should just be focusing on yourself?

Read More ›

The Moment That Helped a Dad Lose 75 Pounds and Get His Life Back

By: , – hmr
10/16/2017  2:00:00 PM   :  0 comments   :  19,706 views

Kevin lost 75 pounds in 12 months.*

"If you do exactly what (HMR) tells you to do, there's no way you can fail...that's the great thing about this program."

Sometimes a single moment can make the all the difference.

For Kevin, that moment came when he was climbing a set of stairs with his son. At over 200 lbs., he had to stop and grasp the railing as he struggled to keep up. At that moment, feeling embarrassed and humiliated in front of his young son, he knew he had to make some changes.

His primary care physician was concerned about his health, and recommended that he join the in-clinic Healthy Solutions® program. The simple, structured plan was what he needed to get his life back on track.

As he was losing weight, he practiced new healthier lifestyle skills he learned through HMR, like:

  • How to fit exercise into a packed schedule
  • Ways to eat lots of fruits and vegetables for weight and health benefits
  • Simple strategies to reduce calories at each meal without going hungry

With the help of his HMR coach and HMR's nutritionally complete (and filling!) meal plan, Kevin lost 75 pounds in 52 weeks. Now, Kevin is grateful for his new life— and he doesn't worry about having to take the stairs.

Watch Kevin's Story

Healthy Solutions® at Home brings HMR's clinically proven diet and lifestyle change program to your doorstep. The plan is simple: Lose weight quickly using HMR foods plus fruits and vegetables. Along the way, learn the healthier lifestyle skills you'll need to keep the weight off, long after the dieting phase is over.


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

The Eating Disorder Hiding Behind One Woman's ''Perfect'' Body

By: , – Stacey Ferrari, Personal Trainer and Motivational Speaker
10/13/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  71 comments   :  10,105 views

About 12 years ago, a friend invited me along to Miami to celebrate a 50th birthday party in style. The celebration was as to be expected: enjoying the casual beach vibes, eating and drinking with nary a thought about health or fitness. It was all good. All good, that is, until an afternoon island hopping evolved into an attack on body image with me—or more specifically, my physique—at the center of the argument.

With everyone in their bikinis, one woman turned to me, loudly declaring, "If I had a body like that, I'd rule the world!" Rather than celebrating body differences and discussing fitness aspirations, the single comment resulted in the group ganging up on me, critiquing and chiding me for being fit—all over a comment I didn't solicit and found ludicrous.

While there are countless instances in which envy over how I looked caused people to react to me in a certain way, the above example is particularly poignant. The fact that alcohol was involved (which certainly played a big part in the petty behavior) didn't ease the shock I felt from my long-time friend joining in to ridicule me with comments like, "Well, what do you expect—look at how you're dressed!"  What!? In a bikini, like every other woman on board?

Read More ›

‹ Back | Read More Entries ›

Have a Tip or Idea?

Send it to