Healthy Habits of the SparkPeople Coaches

Wouldn’t it be great to be inside the mind of a health and fitness expert, even just for a little while? Now you can! Below, your favorite SparkPeople experts share the secrets of their healthy lifestyles. Just like you, they have to deal with temptation and work hard to fit healthy habits into their busy lives. Maybe there’s something they do that you can apply to your own life!

Dean Anderson: Behavioral Psychology Expert, Certified Personal Trainer
Chris Downie: Goal and Achievement Expert
Sara Hambidge: Physical Therapist
Becky Hand: Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist, M.Ed.
Tanya Jolliffe: Nutritionist
Jen Mueller: Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Coach
Nicole Nichols: Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer

My favorite healthy snacks:
DEAN: Non-fat yogurt with frozen blueberries
CHRIS: Fresh raspberries (mmm!), smoothies, nuts
SARA: Trail mix, almonds, granola bars
BECKY: My homemade granola
TANYA: Raisins and peanut butter (sometimes mixed together!)
JEN: Yogurt, Luna bars, cottage cheese
NICOLE: Apples with peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts, yogurt with berries

My favorite not-so-healthy indulgence:
DEAN: Adding a little Midnight Moo (Trader Joe’s organic, non-fat chocolate syrup) to my favorite snack
CHRIS: I enjoy chocolate regularly, but in small amounts- and Doritos!
SARA: Anything chocolate! I usually have a little everyday to treat myself and prevent overindulgence.
BECKY: Potato chips or ice cream
TANYA: Chocolate! I work really hard to avoid the daily temptation and try to limit to once or twice a week.
JEN: Desserts—especially soft-serve ice cream a few times a week
NICOLE: Twizzlers--my favorite candy ever!

My top 3 "go-to" meals:
DEAN: Cheerios (or Weetabix) with soy milk; Ezekiel sprouted grain tortilla with cashew butter and banana; soup (1 bag of frozen mixed veggies, frozen cut bell peppers, box of organic veggie broth, parmesan cheese and seasonings)
CHRIS: Salmon (or some other fish) and brown rice; Greek yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast; whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce with veggies
SARA: Turkey meatballs on whole wheat pasta; grilled chicken and salad; broiled or grilled salmon
BECKY: Nachos (canned, mashed great northern beans + 1/4 cup salsa + 1 chopped tomato + 1/2 chopped green pepper. Spread on plate. Sprinkle with cheese. Microwave until hot and cheese melted. Serve with baked tortillas, glass of low-fat milk, and fruit); SparkPeople's Spinach Feta Personal Pizza recipe
TANYA: Tuna lunch kits, yogurt, and cheese sandwich
JEN: Amy's frozen meals; frozen veggies with salsa in a whole wheat tortilla; black beans and rice
NICOLE: Vegetable stir-fry with brown rice and peanut sauce; Mixed green salad dressed with fresh salsa and avocado; Scrambled egg burrito (whole wheat tortilla spread with refried beans and some cheese, topped with scrambled eggs and fresh salsa)

My weekly workout routine:
DEAN: Most days I walk 2-5 miles (I don't have a car), plus 30-60 minutes on stationary biking while watching TV; 4-5 days on stair climber at gym (45 minutes); 2 days full body weight training
CHRIS: Do something active for at least 10 minutes every day; a mix of cardio, body weight exercises, anaerobic-type exercises (jump rope/sprints), and regular stretching
SARA: Now that I have a baby, I take the stroller and dog for 30-minute walks daily, do some abdominal exercises & stretches, and lift weights 2-3 times per week.
BECKY: Walk or jog 3-4 times a week; light weights with stretching 2-3 times per week
TANYA: Walk or bike 3 or 4 days a week, stepper and weight training 2 days a week
JEN: Cardio (elliptical or running) 4-5 times per week, strength training twice a week
NICOLE: Pilates 2-3 times a week, cardio (Spinning, running, walking) 4 times a week, strength training 1 day/week

My favorite type of exercise:
DEAN: Hill and mountain hiking
CHRIS: Tennis & stationary bike while reading
SARA: Anything outdoors!
BECKY: Walking the pasture, woods and fields with my dogs to check on the cattle, fencing and crops
TANYA: I love playing volleyball and team sports when time permits, which isn't often these days! I got a new bike in the fall and am really enjoying going for rides with my children.
JEN: Running!
NICOLE: Spinning or Pilates

How I got interested in health, fitness and/or nutrition:
DEAN: I didn’t have much choice! I was 52, 370 pounds, and falling apart health wise (type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, arthritis, depression, etc).
CHRIS: I always liked fitness, but becoming consistent helped me break out of shyness and anxiety to reach my goals. Then I saw it as a way to help other people reach their goals!
SARA: I was active in sports throughout high school and played collegiate volleyball, so eating right and staying in shape was important for me to perform well. Through various injuries I became interested in physical therapy & sports medicine, which I do for a living.
BECKY: I was raised on a farm. We raised lean livestock, milked our own cow and made homemade butter and ice cream, had our own fruit trees, berry patches, and a huge garden for our family and neighbors. Because of the farm, my involvement in 4-H, and cooking meals for 10, I was always surrounded by food and nutrition—so I studied food, nutrition and dietetics in college!
TANYA: I was successful in competitive athletics starting in junior high and realized that to be my best I had to fuel for success. Studying nutrition in college and becoming a nutritionist came out of my interest in eating well for my sports.
JEN: I always had an interest in health and exercise, and wanted to get into something where I could help people.
NICOLE: I was a serious year-round athlete in high school and started lifting at about 14 years old, so I've always been active. I've been interested in health, nutrition and exercise, as long as I can remember. After 3 years of majoring in Architecture and feeling unhealthy and unhappy, I decided that health/fitness should be my career--not my hobby. I've never looked back!

What I want people to know about living a healthy lifestyle:
DEAN: A healthy lifestyle is a process that never stops changing and unfolding, not a predetermined goal you have to reach. Everything is part of that process—good days and bad days, successes and failures, gains and losses, pleasure and pain—and the only thing that can really get in your way is trying to ignore or deny what your own experience can teach you. Don’t waste time regretting or clinging to anything—learn and move on.
CHRIS: Once you transition to a healthy lifestyle, you realize that it's a lot more fun and even tastes better than an unhealthy lifestyle.
SARA: Life is so much richer when you are active and healthy—you feel energized and more confident.
BECKY: Healthy living does take some time and dedication, but it is better to spend the time on this rather than waiting for hours to see the doctor.
TANYA: It's hard and takes commitment but it's so worth it!
JEN: No one is expected to be perfect! I eat dessert and have trouble getting up to exercise in the morning just like anyone else. But it does become easier to eat healthy and exercise—it becomes a habit.
NICOLE: A lot of people say they don't have time to be healthy, but everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. The key is to make your health a major priority in your life. If you look at how you spend your time, you'll find plenty of opportunities to cut unimportant things (like TV) and replace them with healthier habits.

What I want to try in the future:
DEAN: Spinning class!
CHRIS: Cycling around the hilly roads of the San Francisco Bay area for fun and fitness.
SARA: Hike in the Grand Canyon
BECKY: Currently my 10-year-old son and I are trying to figure out how to hang his bed from the ceiling. He wants more floor space in his room. He says this is "our" summer project, once school lets out.
TANYA: I would like to try to help school aged children learn to eat and live healthier.
JEN: I would like to do more personal training. It's nice to work with people online, but it's also fun to work together see results one-on-one.
NICOLE: Crossfit