Autumn Walking Adventures

By Ayne, October 16th, 2013


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Nothing is more satisfying than crunching leaves underfoot as you take a crisp walk through the autumn air.  Fall is a great time to get outside and get moving.  The weather is still warm enough to be comfortable but not so warm that you get overheated easily.  Take advantage of the crisp temperatures and go on a walking adventure.  And with so many fall activities to take advantage of, why not plan a health excursion for the whole family!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Apple or pumpkin picking.  Joining in the fall harvest is great way to kill two birds with one stone.  Not only are you getting some great exercise searching for that perfect pumpkin or pick the freshest produce nature has to offer, but you are also getting the ingredients for a great healthy meal.  Recent studies have shown your mother may be right: an apple a day may indeed keep the doctor away.  And pumpkins are a great source of beta-carotene, fiber, and so much more.

So pack your water bottle and get yourself to your local U-Pick ‘Em farm.  The kids will love the chance to pick their favorite fruits and veggies and you’ll get your workout in all at the same time!

2. Corn Mazes.  Corn mazes are a great family friendly activity that can provide you with hours of physical as well as mental exercise.  Also, since many corn mazes can be found alongside local farms, you might just have great access to fresh local produce to take home too!

3. Trick-or-Treating.  Trick-or-Treating is a great way to get in a walk around the block and get to know your neighborhood as well as your neighbors.  The kids will be full of energy as they rush from door to door, so you may get in some good sprints too!  Just be careful of the treats.  If will power is not enough for you, take a look at the calorie break down of these common Halloween treats as inspiration to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Why not also eat a healthy meal before going out in costume and making sure that healthy Halloween treats like unsalted popcorn and apple slices await you at home to make sure you resist the temptation to dive into the goody bag.  And make sure your costume is comfortable so that you encourage yourself to keep moving all night!

4. Fall leaf watch. Nothing is more beautiful than watching the leaves turn.  Find your favorite nature trail or local park and let the beauty of the season sink in.  And why not take your camera along with you?  The inspirational pictures you take may just motivate more than just you and your family.  Find out when the peak time for fall color is in your area and get outside!

5. Ghost tours.  Celebrate the season with a good scare while also learning a bit about the local color of your community.  Whether you are into spooks or not, you can often learn a lot of history from local folklore.  The whole family will have a great seasonal time and get some exercise in to boot!

Do you take pictures when you go out for a walk? Why not share your favorite hikes with us on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!  We’d love to be inspired by your adventures

 

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Tips from Biggest Loser: Jeff Nichols

By Ayne, October 1st, 2013

Jeff-BL14This week, we asked Jeff Nichols, runner up on Season 14 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser to share his thoughts on last season and share tips for the Season 15 cast.

So it looks like it’s almost that time of year again – the time for people to tune in and watch 15 lucky Winners, try and become The Biggest Loser.  It is crazy to imagine that we are about to kick off season 15, just about 1 year after we started the filming of season 14.  It’s crazy to think what 12 months, a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices, tons of knowledge, and a will to succeed will get you.

I think the new season of The Biggest Loser is going to be a fantastic season, not because we have former American Idol winners, not because we have three world class trainers, but because it’s another chance for a whole new crop of people to start changing their lives. I suspect this season is going to be a little bit longer, so if I had to guess it is definitely going to be one of the guys who will win. I’m thinking 350-410 pounds is the starting weight range that’s going to claim victory.

I believe the one thing that can and will set some contestants apart from one another is listening, learning, and attention to detail.  In my opinion, people on my season that listened, tracked their food and burn with their BodyMedia Armband, and sought extra help from trainers were the ones that succeeded.

My one piece of advice for the new contestants:  take this experience and run with it.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and speaking from experience, before you know it, it will be over.

Jeff Nichols was the runner up on Season 14 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. He grew up in Monroe, Michigan with two older sisters and three half-brothers. As a child “he stayed active, but really started gaining weight at age 17, when his father passed away from cancer just six weeks after being diagnosed.” He lost 181 pounds on The Biggest Loser starting at 388 and dropping to 207. Currently 26 years old, he lives outside of Chicago with his girlfriend and fellow Season 14 contestant, Francelina Morillo.

 

 

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Category: General, Health

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Myth-Busting With BodyMedia

By Ayne, September 23rd, 2013

dietmythIt’s easy to get caught up in trends.  Everywhere you look you see another celebrity selling the latest fad diet “guaranteed” to help you drop pounds fast.  But be careful.  Most fad diets never live up to the hype and may in fact be detrimental to your overall health.  The old staple of good nutrition and consistent exercise is key.  BodyMedia is here to help expose some of the most popular fad diet myths:

Myth 1: Skipping meals helps you lose weight.

Skipping meals might seem like an easy shortcut to cutting calories, but be careful! You may be sacrificing far more than calories when you choose to skip a meal.

Most nutritionists recommend that you eat 4-6 small meals throughout the day to feel satiated and maintain energy.  Fueling up allows you to be more energetic during the day.  Because people who eat modestly and throughout the day are able to maintain their energy and drive, these people actually wind up burning more calories per day than those who skip meals.  Skipping meals not only forces you to feel tired, but your whole metabolism becomes slower to compensate for the lack of fuel.

Portion control rather than skipping a whole meal is a better bet when it comes to weight loss.  By eating small meals throughout the day, you keep that feeling of being full and prevent yourself from binging on calories later in the day.  Let BodyMedia be your guide!  Keep track of your meals in the Activity Manager and compare your eating habits to how many calories you burneach day.  You may find skipping meals makes you more prone to naps and putting off meals makes you pack in the calories during big late-night meals.

Myth 2: You can eat what you want if you exercise every day.

You just went for a run.  Why not reward yourself with a big piece of chocolate cake?  But before you pick up that fork, there are a few things you need to know:

Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  This is because you can easily consume more calories per day than you readily burn off.  Think about this: an average half-hour jog around the neighborhood can burn around 250 calories (depending on your weight, effort, and a host of metabolic factors).  But that piece of chocolate cake could be 400 calories or more!  What is worse is that many people underestimate how many calories they are eating per day.  This is why it is so important to log your food in a food journal of by using BodyMedia’s Activity Manager.

In short, you have more control over how many calories you eat than you do over how many you can burn during exercise.  This doesn’t mean you can take a break from your workouts.  Workouts not only burn some of your extra calories but also build muscle to boost your resting metabolism in the long term.  The key to weight loss is information to keep the scales tipped in your favor (no pun intended).  Take the guess work out of the equations.  BodyMedia will give you the most accurate read of your calorie burn so that you can make informed choices about your meals.

Myth 3: The Master Cleanse

This diet was made popular when Beyonc announced she had shed 20 pounds while on the Master Cleanse for her role in Dream Girls. This diet boasts an ability to detoxify the body through a ritual fasting program comprised of mainly lemonade and maple syrup. Although this cleansing diet has been around for more than 50 years, it has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Of course consuming a lower calorie diet will help someone to lose weight. However this diet lacks essential nutrients such as protein, key minerals, fiber, vitamins, and of course calories, which are an essential part of a healthy diet. Experts see nothing positive about this diet plan. In fact, the weight that you would lose during the 4-14 day Master Cleanse would most likely be water weight or muscle mass. To make matters worse, if you’re taking part in the Master Cleanse, you’re likely to feel way too exhausted to get yourself to the gym. The cleanse encourages dieters to slowly reintroduce solid foods back into their meals, however once you start eating normally again it is likely that you will just gain all the weight back.

In regard to the detoxifying effect that the cleanse boasts about, well that’s what your liver and kidneys are for!  By eating a healthy, well balanced diet, your liver and kidneys will function properly and serve their purpose without any need for a cleansing diet.

How BodyMedia Can Help

If you are seriously looking to lose weight and need a way to make sure you are eating healthy, nutrient rich foods, try keeping a food diary. Research done by the team at BodyMedia has shown that subjects who regularly kept a food diary were more likely to lose about 10% of their body weight. In addition to eating fewer calories, subjects who lost the most weight also committed themselves to regular moderate exercise. Remember, the key to weight loss success is 80% diet but also 20% exercise!

Eating nutritious foods in moderate quantities remains the best, most healthful way to lose weight and keep it off long term.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite healthy staples. Why not share your favorite healthy dishes and recipes with us on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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Stellar Sack Lunches

By Ayne, September 3rd, 2013

sack_lunchIt’s back-to-school time!  Get a healthy jump start on the school year by packing a healthy and fun lunch for both yourself and your family.  While there is a growing movement to change school lunches from the usual pizza, tater tots and Sloppy Joes into something healthier, many school districts still have to rely on the old standards to feed the most students.  Homemade lunches are guaranteed to be healthier than school bought lunches because you can monitor what nutritious goodies go into them.  And when you make a lunch for your kids, make sure to double up and make one for yourself as well!  By packing your own lunch, you ensure that you have a healthy option throughout your workday and that you steer clear of vending machine temptations.

When packing a lunch, don’t forget to include:

  1. Water!  Water is always your best option for rehydrating.  Milk, true fruit juice or coconut water can also provide some essential nutrients.  But be careful: Many so-called “juices,” especially those marketed to kids, contain as much sugar as soda and no real nutrients at all.
  2. Whole grain bread. Swap the sugary white bread on your sandwiches for some whole grains.  Not only are whole grains packed with more nutrients than white bread, but whole grains keep you fuller longer.  When you feel full, it is easier to concentrate on tasks and school work.  Consider it brain food!
  3. Crunchy veggies. Skip the chips and include some great crunchy veggies.  While fresh carrots or snap peas are best, kale chips and wasabi peas are also a healthy swap for chips, pretzels and junk food.
  4. Pile it high. And don’t forget some veggies for your sandwich.  Put lettuce, tomato slices, sprouts, cucumbers, onions, or whatever else you desire in a separate plastic zip lock bag to make sure they don’t wilt on your sandwich come lunchtime.
  5. Sweeten the deal. Treat yourself to a sweat piece of fruit for a dessert.  Most fruits like oranges, peaches and bananas travel well, but if you invest in a small plastic container, even berries and fruit slices can come along for the ride.  Greek yogurt in your favorite flavor can also be a great treat.
  6. Shake things up.  Your family doesn’t need to subsist on sandwiches alone. Hummus is  served in individual portions and can make for a great lunch.  Also nothing beats a home-cooked meal.  Leftovers were made for lunches, so be sure to share a healthy serving of last night’s showstopper.

What is your favorite sack lunch idea? Find other lunch suggestions on our Pinterest and share your lunchtime ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.Or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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Chris Freytag Shares Her Inspirational Tips!

By Ayne, August 23rd, 2013

Do you feel your fitness routine is a chore or a fun hobby?  Are you energized about making healthy choices, or do you feel deprived?  Long term success is often determined by our attitudes.  But the good news is that taking control of your body and health can be empowering and uplifting leading to lifelong happiness and a greater sense of well-being.  If you are still struggling with self-discipline, wellness expert and personal trainer Chris Freytag is here to help you switch your script:

 

chrisMAKE THE HAPPY SWITCH FROM DEPRIVED TO DISCIPLINED

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.”  –Lou Holtz

I read this great article on Time magazine’s website recently titled, Self-Disciplined People Are Happier (and Not as Deprived as You Think) and I looooved it. As a fitness trainer, some people automatically think I am a health freak. They believe I only eat green plant food, I spend my entire waking hours in spandex torching the calories, and I never eat dessert … Basically, they think I live deprived. And they sure as heck wouldn’t want to live that way. They might want to live a little healthier, eat healthier and exercise more, but they aren’t about to sign up to live on deprivation street—where it’s all about what they can’t do. But I am here to tell you that you can make the switch from deprived to disciplined and LOVE your life. You can love how you look, love how you feel and even love what you EAT! Disciplined doesn’t mean deprived. It actually can translate to a happy life—for YOU.

Let’s just get the notion that living a healthy lifestyle is suffer and sacrifice out of the way. Self-discipline is really about self-empowerment. You’re in charge. You call the shots. And it feels awesome! Here’s how you move away from deprivation and shift toward discipline.

Self-control means feeling good. The study mentioned in Time’s article shows that people who show high self-control feel good and that translates to a better mood. As the article suggests, “self-discipline can make you happier not only in the long run, but also in the moment.” When you feel like you are the CEO of your life you feel good. Period. On the flip side, if you are trapped in a cycle of overeating, self-loathing, regret and defeat, you are going to feel lousy. You can get off the cycle of stress and overeating and more stress when you take control. Every time you say make a decision that’s aligned with your fitness goals, you feel more joy and more personal empowerment. (You know, the exact opposite of how you feel when you tell someone you are going to lose weight and then you eat your way through a bag of chips after a bad day.) You’ve got this. All you have to do to take charge of your decisions is to take charge. You are going to love the way it makes you feel. I guarantee your happiness factor will go up—especially when you do what you say you are going to do—from workouts to that delicious salad you said you’d have for lunch. (And yes salads can be delicious…ask for  the dressing on the side and save yourself a few hundred calories!)

Self-discipline means creating an environment that supports you.  Self-discipline doesn’t have to be about how much temptation you resist, it can be about how smart you are about creating an environment that supports you. Do you hang around others who want to get fit? Do you have friends and family supporting you and your goals? Do you buy foods that support your goals? Do you have an accountability partner or a group fitness class you love? Have you found an exercise you love and couldn’t live without? As the article smartly concludes, it isn’t that self-disciplined people are masters at resisting temptation, they might just be better at avoiding temptation in the first place. How smart is that?

Self-discipline means you use goals as your compass. Without goals, how do you know where you are headed? Goals identify where you want to go, and they can keep you on track. You can always make minor adjustments to get back on track. You can establish your own rules and boundaries to keep you aligned with your goals. Take me for example. Yes, I do like dessert. Ice cream is my favorite and I have it sometimes, but most of the time I pick a healthier alternative so ice cream becomes a treat, not a staple.  Since I do have a sweet tooth, I have healthy recipes I can make to satisfy my sweet tooth without surrendering my healthy lifestyle. I also enjoy a glass of wine when out with my friends or on the weekends. To keep me on track, I follow a 80/20 percent rule where I try and make sure that 80 percent—a big majority—of my decisions fall into the healthy lifestyle camp, giving me 20 percent wiggle room for treats or the crazy busy travel day when a workout isn’t possible. And Yes, I do miss a workout on occasion. But I stick to my rules. I never go more than two days in a row without a workout and I view treats as a once in a while thing, not an everyday thing. My guidelines are about maintain self-discipline. Never do I feel deprived.

Self-discipline means you set your life up for success. With self-discipline, you are on your own side. You aren’t at war with yourself and you begin to learn the decisions you need to repeatedly make for success. When you make those self-disciplined decisions and see the positive results, guess what? You are writing your very own success plan for success! It’s rewarding to feel in control of your fitness and know you are contributing to your health. In a word, self-discipline makes you … HAPPY.

 

How do you make wellness into a lifestyle rather than a chore? Share your tips and ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!   And be sure to get more great tips and inspiration at ChrisFreytag.com!

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End of Summer Family Activities

By Ayne, August 7th, 2013

Picnic_EatingSummer is winding down and there are only a few weeks until the kids go back to school.  As summer camps let out, it is important to find new and healthy activities to entertain your kids while still keeping you and your family on a healthy path.  Here are some ideas to keep your family moving and soaking up the summer sun.

Spend a day at an amusement park.  Ever feel exhausted after a day at the amusement park?  That’s because you are getting great exercise.  Amusement parks have you walking, running, and laughing… a perfect recipe for a great family workout.  Just steer clear of all that high calorie park food.  Pack your own healthy lunches and have a great time.

Get outdoors. There are hundreds of great national parks to explore.  If a national park is not right around the corner in your area, try a city park or local trail.  Many local parks offer pre-arranged family activity days, or you could discover your own.  Allow your kids to explore the great outdoors by bringing along a nature guide.  You can make it into a competition of who can spot the most local trees or wildlife.  And be sure to pack plenty of healthy snacks like nuts and trail mix as well as water to keep your family fueled  and hydrated for your adventure!

Have a picnic.  Picnics are another great way to get outside while teaching healthy food choices.  Allow your kids to help in the selection of healthy picnic items, like quinoa salad, fish and lean meats to grill, and fun fruits.  Don’t forget the watermelon.  Watermelons is packed full of vitamins, lycopene, and of course water to help you and your kidsstay hydrated through picnic activities like Frisbee, tag, and hide and seek.

Design a scavenger hunt.  Even if you never leave your backyard, a scavenger hunt can be a great way to keep your kids moving and engaged.  Scavenger hunts can be a great idea even on a rainy day.  If you can be outdoors, have your family look for natural objects like a five-pointed leaf, a blue stone, or a feather.  If you need to move the fun indoors, try safe household objects.  You can even award a prize to whoever finds the healthiest snack!

How do you keep your kids active and healthy all summer long? Find more family friendly ideas on our Pinterest.  Share your tips and ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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BodyMedia Summer Shake-Up!

By Ayne, July 15th, 2013

ShakeUp_DetailDo you need an extra added push to keep you motivated all summer long?  Want to be rewarded for all your hard work in the gym? BodyMedia has you covered!  Introducing BodyMedia’s Summer Shake-up!   Join us on Facebook from Monday, July 15, 2013 at 12am (EST) until Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm (EST) for a full 30 days of fun and prizes.  For all thirty days, we will be giving away all the tools you need to add extra oomph to your wellness plan.

It’s free and easy to enter.  Find us on Facebook, and become a Fan by “Liking” the page.  Once you’re a Fan, simply click the Sweepstakes tab.  Complete the entry form, agree to the contest rules, and then submit!  You will immediately be entered into our daily drawing for great healthy gifts and prizes, including:

  • Biggest Loser Workout DVDs
  • 3 month FitOrbit online personal training membership
  • AUVIO Folding Headphones
  • KOR One Water Bottle
  • Wello live online personal training
  • Zoku Quick Pop Maker
  • BodyMedia CORE Armband and Display device for you and a friend!

… And so much more!  Different prizes will be offered each day!  Be sure to check in daily to increase your chances of winning.  Restrictions may apply, so be sure to check out the full contest rules on BodyMedia’s Facebook Sweepstakes page.

What else keeps you motivated? Share your tips and ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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Don’t Take a Vacation from Your Fitness Routine

By Ayne, July 3rd, 2013

vacayVacation season is here!  You work hard and deserve a break now and then.  Vacations can be a great stress reliever and a great time to get back on track.  Just because you are taking a break from the daily grind does not mean you should take a vacation from healthy habits.  Reward yourself for all your hard work by treating your body right.  By keeping up your fitness routine throughout your break, you may find you have more energy to get the most out of your getaway.  

Pack Your Own Parachute 

A great way to control what you eat on vacation is to bring your own quick meals.  You may find it helpful to eat in once a day.  Packing easy travel meals like fruits, nuts, packs of oatmeal, and protein bars will allow you to have a healthy option wherever you go.  By packing your own meals, you may find that you save money on your trip as well!

And be sure to keep a water bottle handy as you sight see!

Dine Out Smart

Dining out is part of the vacation fun, but it can also be hazardous to your calorie count.  Take charge of your meals by:

  1. Asking questions about how meals are prepared. Don’t be shy about asking the waiter to prepare dishes without so much butter and oil.
  2. Eat fresh and local!  Try local seafood and fresh delicacies for low calorie and nutritious options.
  3. Share dessert.  What a great way to treat yourself and your loved ones without going overboard.

Make Exercise Part of Your Itinerary 

Get out of the hotel and live life to the fullest!  Vacation is a great time to try new activities like snorkeling, skiing, paddling and more.  But if you love your normal work out, you can pack that with you too: Take a walking or bicycling tour.  Enjoy a few laps at the hotel pool or at the beach.  Many hotels even have their own gym.  Nothing feels better than being exhausted at the end of a vacation day well spent.   And of course, be sure to pack your BodyMedia device to keep track of how much you are walking and burning!  

How do you stay on track when you are away from home?  Share your healthy vacation tips and ideas with us on  Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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Father’s Day Fitness

By Ayne, June 10th, 2013

ramon

This Father’s Day, give dear old dad the best gift of all: a long and healthy life.  Celebrate all he has done for you by making this Father’s Day fitness friendly.  And if you’re a dad, let your family know you’re here for many years to come by setting a healthy example.  Here are a few ways to add fun and fitness to your Father’s Day:

Get out the Grill!  It’s summertime and nothing completes a summer celebration better than the family gathering around the grill for an outdoor meal.  Grilling lean meats and veggies not only tastes great, but is great for you.  Grilling emulsifies extra fat on meat and allows it to drip down and away from your food.  This ensures that the healthy choices you have already made are prepared in the healthiest way.

Toss the ball around.  Father’s Day is a great time to get some dad-bonding in.  Why not take this opportunity to create memories by getting outside and playing dad’s favorite sport.  Toss the football around, or maybe organize a family baseball game.  Whether your dad loves golf, kayaking, or hiking, doing an activity together as a family is great for bonding, and you get some great exercise too.

Find the perfect healthy gift.  Everyone knows Dads love gadgets!  Today only (June 10th), BodyMedia is celebrating Dad’s with a special deal! You can save 30% on a LINK or CORE device, or over 40% on a CORE and Display Combo.  Your dad deserves to get the most out of his workouts and healthy choices.  Give Learn more at BodyMedia.com.

How are you spending your Father’s Day?  Share your tips and ideas with us on how to keep Father’s Day healthy on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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BodyMedia’s “Burn to Earn” Challenge!

By Ayne, June 4th, 2013

burntoearn

Summer is right around the corner!  Everybody needs a little extra motivation from time to time.  And this summer, BodyMedia and Earndit have the perfect formula to keep your eyes on the prize.

Turn your workouts into prizes! BodyMedia is teaming up with Earndit – the web service that gives you points and rewards for being active Enter BodyMedia’s “Summer Burn to Earn” challenge – a 30-day competition running June 1-30 offering the chance to win a trip to the award-winning Biggest Loser Resorts, BodyMedia armbands, and more simply by measuring your physical activity with a BodyMedia FIT armband and uploading your results into Earndit’s point calculator.

Entering for these great prizes is easy:

Just link your BodyMedia FIT account to Earndit, and you’ll begin to automatically receive points for every time your armband registers your activity. For every minute your MET level is 3.0 or higher, Earndit will give you a point equal to 0.1 x MET Level.  The more and the harder you exercise, the more points you will acquire (limit of 60 points per day)!

By uploading your data to BodyMedia frequently, you make sure that your points are current. Try to earn as many points as possible throughout the month. Your total points will determine what prize tier you are eligible for:

  • If you reach at least 750 points, you could win one of the ten 2nd-tier prizes.
  • If you reach at least 1,000 points, you could win one of the ten 1st-tier prizes.
  • If you reach at least 1,500 points, you could win the grand prize.

So grab your BodyMedia armband, pick your favorite exercise, and get moving!  Get all the contest details here!

What keeps you motivated?  Share your thoughts and ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter, or start a conversation at SparkPeople.com and MyFitnessPal!

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