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.

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30 Things Exercise Can Teach You About Life

Exercise gets plenty of credit for burning calories, building stronger muscles, boosting mood levels and improving overall health and wellness. But beyond whittling away pounds and inches, did you know that daily activity can also impart some inspiring life lessons? Long after the last step or rep, these nuggets of wisdom can be applied all throughout your day—consider it therapy with (physical) benefits.

Posted 2/20/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 77 comments   67,112 views

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5 Fitness Benchmarks to Abandon

We all have different bodies, different sets of goals and different definitions of the best versions of ourselves. We run or walk at varying paces, lift heavier or lighter weights, deal with unique physical challenges and struggle to schedule workouts around diverse schedules and fluctuating motivations.
So why should we all aspire to reach the same benchmarks of success?

Posted 2/11/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 97 comments   75,635 views

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The Power of Positive People

You wake up with every intention of going to spin class straight from the office. But then you have lunch with your co-worker, who wrinkles her nose at your exercise plans and launches into a monologue about how much time and money she has wasted on workouts that don't, well, work.
Meanwhile, she orders the loaded cheese fries and complains that healthy foods are too expensive and don't fill her up. Every time you try to counter one of her complaints, there's another one right behind it—sort of like peeling away the layers of a very pungent-smelling onion.
By the time lunch is over, your motivation has taken a nosedive, and you're seriously considering canceling spin class is favor of happy hour. Besides, after all the cheese fries you just ate, what's the point?
Negativity is a powerful thing—and it's extremely contagious. If you let them, the Debbie and Donnie Downers of the world will lead you astray from your good intentions and into their world of grumbles, groans and excuses. As the old saying goes, "misery loves company."
On the other hand, if you'd been dining with an upbeat, positive co-worker who encouraged your dedication to spin class, and didn't scoff at your choice of a healthy soup and salad, you likely would have returned to the office feeling excited about your workout and proud of your lunchtime choices.

Posted 2/8/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 109 comments   77,184 views

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Why You Need to Be Eating Chia Seeds—And 23 Ways to Do It

Don’t let their size fool you. Small but mighty, chia seeds pack plenty of nutrition into a tiny package. Derived from a plant called Salvia hispanica, they were originally a primary energy source for the Aztecs and Mayans, who named them after the Mayan word for “strength.”

Posted 2/6/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 188 comments   865,995 views

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10 Bodyweight Training Exercises You Can Try at Home

You know you should exercise, but that gym membership you’ve been thinking about hasn’t yet materialized. Maybe you’re not quite ready to venture outside to run or walk in public. The good news? You can get a full-body workout in the comfort and privacy of home—and it won’t cost you a dime.

Posted 1/29/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 194 comments   716,281 views

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What a Healthy 300-Calorie Breakfast Really Looks Like

Breakfast has a big job. It has to kick-start your metabolism, fuel your body with energy to carry you through the day, help your brain to focus and concentrate, and control your blood sugar—all while keeping you full and satisfied until lunch. That’s a tall order for a meal that is usually prepared and consumed quickly—sometimes even on the go.

Posted 1/28/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 115 comments   93,674 views

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How Real People Learned to Actually Enjoy Exercise (Really!)

For many people, exercise ranks right up there with cleaning the bathroom or going to the dentist: something that must be done, but brings not an ounce of enjoyment. Others might not dread it quite as much, but could take it or leave it. And then there are the lucky few who actually take pleasure in working out. Not only do they enjoy their runs, walks or trips to the gym, they often plan their entire schedules around them.
So what’s their secret? How did they transform a grueling obligation into the highlight of their day?
We turned to the best source we know—our awesome SparkPeople members—to find out how they learned to actually enjoy getting their sweat on. Read on and maybe you’ll be inspired to find your own reason to embrace exercise!

Posted 1/18/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 54 comments   43,221 views

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9 Things Registered Dietitians Tell Their Clients on Day One

Every journey starts with a single step.
Of course, that step can be different for different people, depending on where they’re starting from and where they’re headed. For someone who is trying to exercise more, for example, it might mean taking a walk around the block or buying a pair of athletic shoes. If the goal is to stop smoking, the first step might be cutting out one cigarette a day or tossing the entire pack in the trash. The most important thing is to make a movement—even if it’s a small one—toward the desired result.
What about the journey to adopt a healthier diet? It’s a very common (and very broad) goal, one that can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. You know the basics—more fresh, whole, nutritious foods; fewer processed foods and “junk foods” that don’t fuel your body—but what specifically should you do first?
While your path is uniquely your own, you might find some helpful ideas in the advice that registered dietitians give to their clients who are just embarking on the first day of their journeys to health.

Posted 1/16/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 83 comments   72,924 views

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8 Exercises for a Full-Body Bosu Workout

If you've never used a Bosu ball before, it may look a little strange at first—sort of like an exercise ball that's been cut in half, then mounted on a flat base. Maybe you've spotted them at the gym on your way to pick up the more familiar dumbbells and traditional stability balls. Odd appearance notwithstanding, Bosu balls are definitely worth exploring as an effective exercise tool.

Posted 1/15/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 106 comments   132,098 views

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25 Warm & Cozy Ginger Recipes

Ginger's main claim to fame might be its adorable namesake cookies—and don't get us wrong, they're delicious. But this versatile spice makes an appearance in plenty of other recipes, many of which fit nicely into any healthy eating plan.
Derived from a flowering plant found in China, ginger has been linked to a bevy of health benefits. It contains compounds and metabolites that have been used to help improve digestion, curb nausea, alleviate cold and flu symptoms, reduce muscle pain, fight inflammation and boost cardiovascular health. Plus, 100 grams of fresh ginger is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, contains no sugar and is low in calories.
When cooking with ginger, you can use a fresh ginger root that is peeled and grated or sliced, or purchase it in dried or ground form. Ground ginger is sold at the supermarket along with other herbs and spices.
Need some ginger-spiration? We've rounded up a few of our favorite recipes in which it plays a yummy role.

Posted 1/9/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 74 comments   36,055 views

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6 Tips for Keeping Your Resolutions on Track

On the first day of a new year, resolutions are like a fresh snowfall: bright and clean, unmarred by even the slightest failure. But by the time February rolls around, life's daily challenges and pressures have started to leave their muddy footprints, gradually turning the once-pristine snow into dirty slush, until you eventually forget how brilliant and full of promise it once was.
It's perfectly normal for even the most carefully chosen goals to lose some of their luster as the novelty of the new year starts to fade. That doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to wallowing in the mud of defeat, though. There are always fresh, unsullied opportunities waiting just around the corner, and every day is a chance to strike out on a brand-new path.
Instead of beating yourself up for neglecting your workouts or straying from your healthy eating plan, strap on your proverbial boots and try some of these expert-recommended strategies to keep your goals in sight well after the ball has dropped.

Posted 1/7/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 126 comments   51,183 views

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50 SparkPeople Members' & Staffers' Goals for 2019

Got goals? While we're firm believers that you don't have to wait until a certain date to start embracing healthier habits, there's just something about a brand-new year that seems to inject all of those long-neglected good intentions with a much-needed dose of motivation. If you're feeling the urge to wipe the slate clean, turn over a new leaf or (insert your favorite "fresh start" cliché here), the first step is to have a clear idea of what success looks like for you.

If your goal-setting game is a little rusty, we've got you. Some of our SparkPeople members and staffers have shared what they hope to achieve in the coming year, to help inspire you to set the right targets and then get on track to meet them.

Posted 1/1/2019  12:00:00 AM By:   : 62 comments   20,843 views

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30 Ways SparkPeople Members & Staffers Work to Love Their Bodies

In this age of constant comparisons, time-starved schedules and endless temptations, it's all too easy to slide into the trap of blaming, shaming and sometimes even hating our own bodies when they don't measure up to the standards in our heads. But it doesn't have to be that way. No matter how much it weighs, your body is nothing short of an amazing instrument—even if it has a little (or a lot of) ways to go before reaching its full potential.
Many of our members struggle with body image and self-esteem issues. They have setbacks and struggles. They take one step forward and three steps back, and then repeat the cycle, over and over again. There are days when they feel frustrated, lonely and maybe even angry.
But through it all, they find reasons and ways to love their bodies. Next time you're at a loss for how to appreciate yours, visit this list for some self-affirming inspiration.

Posted 12/31/2018  12:00:00 AM By:   : 45 comments   19,257 views

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12 Hearty Soup Recipes That Will Warm You Up

The weather outside may be frightful (unless you're lucky enough to live in a southern state), but soup is so delightful…
On a chilly fall afternoon or blustery winter night, a steaming potage ranks right up there with a hot bubble bath when it comes to keeping warm. Luckily, soup has a lot more going for it than its temperature. It's easy to cook, easy to serve, easy to eat, easy to reheat—are you sensing a theme here? Plus, if you're looking to ramp up your family's nutrition, it's the perfect medium for sneaking veggies past picky eaters.
Whatever your tastes, preferences and dietary requirements, there's a soup for that. Grab a spoon: We've rounded up some of our favorite SparkRecipes that will be sure to keep everyone warm and satisfied, no matter how harsh the elements.

Posted 12/19/2018  12:00:00 AM By:   : 115 comments   442,313 views

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30 Things to Say to Yourself to Avoid Sleeping Through Your Morning Workout

You meant well at bedtime. You registered online for spin class, set out your gym clothes, shared your intentions with your significant other and drifted off to sleep with visions of strong, sculpted legs and glutes dancing in your head.
But that was eight hours ago.
Now, jolted into reality by the very loud, very rude alarm, that early-morning workout isn't quite so appealing. On the contrary, it seems like cruel and unusual punishment. And you'd be willing to trade pretty much anything—money, chocolate, even a couple of the pounds you've already lost—to sink back into the dream you were just enjoying.
But wait! Before turning off the alarm and nestling back under the covers, borrow one (or more) of these quick-but-effective motivators to make sure your sleepy 6 a.m. brain won't do something you'll spend all day regretting. And if you’re worried you won't be able to remember any of these mantras in the morning, write your favorite ones down right next to your bed where you will see them first thing.

Posted 12/14/2018  12:00:00 AM By:   : 98 comments   25,879 views

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