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A Thank You and Well-Wishes after 18 Years

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/9/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  67 comments   :  2,518 views

Hi everyone!

We wanted to let you know that our Registered Dietitian, Becky Hand, will be parting ways with SparkPeople. After so many years helping people through her Message Board post responses, articles and blogs, we thought it important to let you know that she is leaving SparkPeople. More importantly, we wanted to publicly thank her for her many years giving advice to our members. Becky has been with SparkPeople almost since the beginning, so the number of members she's helped is immeasurable.

Rest assured, you'll still receive high-quality content and information from our wide variety of experts, which continues to grow. Becky helped set the foundation for the nutritional recommendations on our site, and those will remain the same—all based on well-researched, scientifically verified studies.

Thank you, Becky, and best wishes in your future endeavors!
Want to send your well-wishes to Becky? Share them in the comments below.

The Power of Positive People

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/8/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  47 comments   :  7,375 views

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.

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

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/6/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  134 comments   :  711,610 views

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.”

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Spark Spotlight: Annette (NETTY129)

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/4/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  21 comments   :  6,136 views

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.
This Week's Spotlight: Annette (NETTY129)
Age: 51
Location: Toledo, Ohio 
Small Success of the Week
Annette recently shared her excitement in the Community Goal Feed that she was finally able to do a Leslie Sansone one-mile walk video to help her reach her goals.

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Looking for Inspiration? Look No Further Than These 2 Women

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By: , – Alicia Capetillo, Editor-in-Chief
2/1/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  46 comments   :  8,938 views

Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!

Spark: Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number

There are some things we talk ourselves out of before we even consider attempting them. Whether it's climbing Everest, running a 5K or trying a CrossFit class, fear can often get in the way of us trying new things or getting outside of our comfort zone. We're all guilty of this trepidation to some degree.
Unless, of course, your name is Lauren Bruzzone. At 72 years young, Bruzzone showed up to personal trainer Wesley James and told him she had one goal: to do a pull-up. One pull-up. And she was determined.
Earlier this month, James shared her progress and…well, I'll just let the video speak for itself.


Tomorrow would mark the 3rd week of me working with Miss Lauren on her pull-up. She got her first one TODAY!!! 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 The second video shows where we started! @chasinglaurenb @oldladygains #firsttime #pullups #fitover70 #mobility #flexibility #functionalmovement #functionaltraining #changinglives #aspiretoinspire #saturday #motivation #progress #transformation #seniorfitness #personaldevelopment #bodyweighttraining #bodybuilding #agingevolution #fitwomen #igfit #inspiration #calisthenics #streetworkout #72yearsyoung #fitnessjourney #swipeleft

A post shared by Wesley James (@mrjames_cpt) on Bruzzone is not training for a movie or a fitness competition. She doesn't have an instructor coming to her house to encourage her to work out. She simply got an idea in her mind, broke that goal down to manageable steps with the help of a trainer and committed to showing up. There's a concept in strength training called overload that states that to change your body, you must put the body under an intensity that is greater than it is used to managing. Put simply, you have to get uncomfortable.

For Bruzzone to achieve her goal of one pull-up, she worked with James over the course of three weeks to gradually build strength and get to a point where she could safely perform the exercise. Not only has she inspired thousands as the story was picked up by major news publications, but the look on her face as she raised her body up and achieved her goal is priceless. Bruzzone is the perfect example of why we set goals and an even more perfect example of not letting your mind decide what your body is capable of doing.
Guess what? You can do this, too! And by "this," I mean accomplishing a pull-up specifically, as well as any other goal that might scare or intimidate you. Consider all the things you could accomplish with the right mindset and a targeted plan outlining the small steps that will help you get there. The possibilities are endless and I for one hope that you never allow the word "impossible" to creep into your head. Determination and willpower will get you to where you want to be, so focus on adjusting your mindset first and, with hard work, the finish line will slowly come to you.
Now, what could you do if you didn't think you would fail?

Shop: Have Kichgo, Will Travel

Let's get real for a moment, shall we? I'm a fitness addict—I love the way my body feels when I make time to sweat, I enjoy challenging myself to lift heavier weights and I'd argue that there are few things that feel better than catching your breath after an intense interval. I never thought I'd be this person, but here we are. My name is Alicia and I'm an addict.
That is, until I head out on vacation. As a Type A perfectionist and routine-driven person, I'm very much on the ball when I'm at home. Which is why, the minute I hit the ground in a new place, I let go of the expectations that I place on myself. And in letting go of those expectations and pressures, my mind instinctively also purges itself of the promises I made to hit the hotel gym.
I've packed vacation-friendly workout gear in my suitcase in the past—a jump rope for Portugal, resistance bands in Costa Rica—yet always found that I couldn't talk myself into a workout that would be compelling enough to get me out of bed early. With limited equipment, my options left me feeling bored before I even started, especially when there was a whole world out there to explore. I'm an active traveler, trying to walk to see as many sights as possible and often engaging in some kind of kayaking or cycling to enjoy the nature of my temporary home, which usually feels like enough to keep me on track with my goals.  But, inevitably, as I'm sitting in the car or plane headed home, I always chastise myself for not pushing to do more.
After one look at the KICHGO bag, I instantly recognized one thing about celebrity trainer and developer Kit Rich: She gets it. Developed in response to her clients struggling to find workout inspiration when they were away traveling or when she took trips of her own, the "big gym in a little bag" allows you to get creative and continue to challenge your body even when you can't get to a proper gym. Weighing in at less than two pounds, the bag contains the gear you need for effective, dynamic, never-boring workouts. With resistance bands, sliders, mini bands, a Pilates ball, jump rope and various straps and handles, the bag is a one-stop shop for anyone who's ever thought about pumping up their travel workout game. The kit allows you to put together a full-body workout that can target every major muscle group without having to rely on outdated hotel gyms or just your bodyweight. Plus, at just $45, you'd likely pay more to purchase each item separately.

Photo courtesy of KICHGO.

If you spring for the video package, you get the bag itself along with 20 workout videos that include circuit, Pilates, yoga and strength-training routines. Ranging in length from five to 30 minutes, it's the ultimate combination for anyone like me who likes the idea of working out while on vacation but struggles with the execution. Everything you need, right in one convenient place.
Even if you don't travel, I've found myself pulling out the various items for added resistance and stability challenges in my home workouts. My abs now scream at the sight of the dual-sided sliders thanks to a few targeted moves and if you've never done a lateral walk with mini bands, trust me when I say your hip abductors will hate/love you the next day. As it states on their website, Kit "isn't trying to reinvent the wheel." If you already have a jump rope or another travel-friendly pieces of equipment, you love bodyweight exercises or just don't want to exercise outside of your gym, save your money. If, though, you've been looking to add some portable workout gear to your life, the KICHGO bag has all the basics you need.

Smile: Love Your Job & You'll Never Work a Day In Your Life

At just over 32 million views, chances are you've already seen the video of UCLA's Katelyn Ohashi's perfect 10 gymnastics floor routine. It's gold, people. Not only is Ohashi captivating as she performs mind-bending twists and flips, but her energy straight comes through the computer screen as you watch her smile and groove through her routine. If, by chance, you've been living under a rock (or perhaps huddled inside by a fire—I would not blame you), here it is in all its boppy glory: 

What's more, according to USA TODAY, Ohashi actually retired from elite gymnastics a few years back due to injuries and some harsh critiques about her body. Since leaving the body shaming and pressure behind, she's blossomed and found her passion for the sport again. And, boy, does it show. Ohashi is proof that when you love what you do, it radiates positivity all around you.
How does your passion bring you joy and motivate you to be the best version of yourself?

This 1 Change Helped Lori Transform Her Body

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/31/2019  12:00:00 AM   :  57 comments   :  15,510 views

In 2009, Lori (LORI-K) was sedentary, ill with respiratory issues from 23 years of heavy smoking and ate poorly. Although she was never severely overweight, Lori knew she was unwell. With a husband and three children who were depending on their mom, Lori decided the time had come to start making changes to improve her health.

Lori's first step was to quit smoking, and that goal prompted her to join SparkPeople. "I had several failed attempts at quitting until an illness scared me enough to get serious about becoming smoke-free," she recalls. At just 41 years old, Lori was told that she had the lung capacity of a 95-year-old woman, which left her petrified. Lori was prescribed medication to help her quit smoking but it had some negative side effects. At that point, she turned to willpower, walking and drinking a lot of water to deal with the cravings.

"At first the walks were very short. A block and back is all I could do," Lori recalls. As time passed and she began feeling better, her walks got longer and longer. Eventually she decided to try a 5K training program and began running. "I went from being very sick and having a hard time breathing to eventually running long distances including a half-marathon just three years after I quit smoking," Lori proudly states. 

While starting a regular exercise program was important, Lori knew she also needed to change the way she was eating. "I was a self-professed junk food junkie," Lori admits. "[My kids were young] so I ate a lot of fast food [and] their snacks, or [I] didn't eat at all." As she spent more time on SparkPeople and learned about proper nutrition, Lori began to realize that her diet needed serious changes. "I started logging all of my food which was an eye-opening experience," she says. By logging, she was able to see how she was doing relative to her recommended calorie and nutrient ranges and identify where she needed to make serious changes.

Injury Leads to a Shift in Routine

In 2016, a foot injury derailed her running progress. "I knew I had to do something to stay active," says Lori. "My husband had been lifting weights for a while, so I joined him and did upper-body strength training while I was unable to run."

Instead of becoming a temporary solution, weight-lifting became a passion that Lori has pursued ever since. "I quickly came to love weight-lifting as I started getting strong, seeing changes in my body and changes in my overall mood."  Lori says she gained confidence, improved her posture, experienced less anxiety and stress, and had an improved sense of well-being as a result of her strength training. "I've been lifting weights for two years now. I'm almost 51 and healthier than I've ever been," she declares. 

Lori's fitness routine includes a structured weight-lifting plan as well as regular cardio exercise such as running, rowing, elliptical and high-intensity interval training. Lori treats her fitness routine like a job that counts on her to be there every day. Consistency is key.

"I weight train five to six days a week for at least an hour but usually longer," Lori says. "I follow specific lifting plans and switch them up every six to 10 weeks or so; upper body is my favorite (chest, shoulders and arms)."
Lori isn't afraid to lift heavy and encourages other women to challenge themselves in the weight room. "Don't be afraid of 'bulking up'," she advises. "Weight-bearing exercises are important as we age and naturally begin to lose muscle mass. I've been lifting for a little over two years, and from my experience, it takes daily, lengthy and focused lifting to start developing [significant muscle mass]."


Lori's Advice for Newbies

Although Lori joined SparkPeople for support and resources when she quit smoking, she's still an active member nine years later. She tracks all of her fitness and food to measure progress, and says she sees better results when she's consistently tracking. "The friends I've made here and the support I've found have been amazing," Lori says. She reads member blogs for inspiration and enjoys participating in SparkChallenges for an added boost of motivation.  

For someone just starting out on their wellness journey, Lori believes that anything is possible. "Anyone is capable of making big changes as long as they are consistent with fitness and proper nutrition. Experiment with different food plans and activities until you find something you enjoy that produces your desired results."

Lori has a few valuable tips to share with new members: "[In addition to] logging your food and exercise, take pictures along the way," she advises. "Pictures show a much better measure of progress than the scale. Also, take measurements [since sometimes you can see a loss of inches even if the scale isn't moving] and journal your thoughts. These tools have been very helpful for me." 

Over the past nine years, Lori has become discouraged many times when she wasn't seeing the results she'd expected. "There have been times when I lost all motivation and direction," she recalls. "What I have learned is that my motivation won't always be there, but discipline and willpower is what gets me through the rough patches. I remember why I started and get it done even when I don't feel like it. I just keep moving. With consistency, every weight lifted, every repetition performed, every step walked or run, and every wise food choice adds up to big changes over time," Lori believes. 

How has weight training made positive changes to your body? Share in the comments below and congratulate Lori on her amazing progress!

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