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The Simple Health Move That Could Save Your Life

Written on April 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm , by

If you liked doing fruit fly experiments back in biology class, you’ll love this new health read about genetics.

Call your mother! And your grandmother. And your aunts and uncles. Interviewing your relatives about their health can help you improve yours.

“You can change your genetic destiny as long as you find out early enough what you’re at risk for,” explains Sharon Moalem, M.D., Ph.D., author of the fascinating new book, Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes. Luckily, a pricey DNA test to map your genome isn’t required—just a family health history. “It’s the lowest tech thing: The next time your family is together, sit down, draw a family tree and say OK, Who are we related to? What does everyone have? Are there any patterns that pop out?” he says.

Then tell your doctor about any diseases that run in the family. Flag any early deaths, in particular. For example, if you have relatives who died unexpectedly at a young age from heart issues, it may be a sign of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—an inherited condition that causes the heart muscle to thicken—and you’ll want to talk to your doc before signing up to run a marathon, Dr. Moalem says. Relatives who’ve had blood clots could indicate the genetic blood clotting disorder Factor V Leiden. If you have it (bruising easily is a sign), being on the Pill further ups your risk of deadly clots, so you’ll need to talk to your ob-gyn about your birth control method STAT. And, of course, a family history of breast and ovarian cancers may mean you have a BRCA gene mutation that greatly increases your risk of the diseases.

If your family doesn’t gather often, start dialing your loved ones today. “When you lose relatives—like your great-grandparents—then you lose that information that they may have known about their siblings and parents,” Dr. Moalem says. Once you create a detailed family history, it’s part of your health toolkit and you can pass it down to your kids as well. “It’s information that you don’t want lost,” he says.

Check out this cool tool from the Surgeon General’s office. You can use it to create a digital family health history, which you can print and bring to your doc.

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Ready to Run: Fuel for the Boston Marathon with Nutritionist Heather Bauer

Written on April 17, 2014 at 9:51 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Springtime, sunshine and sweaty success—could there be a better combination? We just wrapped up our own 13.1 miles this past weekend with the More/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon (thank you to everyone who came out!) and our tired legs confirm that race season has begun. That’s why we turned to nutritionist Heather Bauer, R.D., founder of Bestowed.com and coach of Team Stonyfield, to ensure we’re making the most of our miles. I mean, the iconic Boston Marathon is on Monday, after all. Get ready to push your pace with Bauer’s top training and race-day fueling tips:

Fuel your fire: Look for snacks that have whole ingredients, no GMOs, no antibiotics and no growth hormones, suggests Bauer. “Eating clean, organic food just guarantees that your body is going to get the best possible food and power to get through that race.”

Power up with protein: “Most runners know about carbs, but I think protein gets downgraded,” says Bauer. That’s because after a long run, the muscle-building grub aids in recovery time and makes you stronger for tomorrow’s training. Check out her protein-packed recipe below.

Pick the right carbs: Carb-loading is a no-go for Bauer. Instead, she suggests taking in more modified carbohydrates to prevent that dreadful bloated and heavy feeling that comes along with gorging. “It’s about picking more low-glycemic options,” says Bauer. Stock up on whole-grains, fruits and veggies instead of a massive plate of pasta the night before your race.

Watch your weight: “There are people who experience between a five- and eight-pound surge of weight when they are training [for a marathon] because they overcompensate on calories due to how hungry they are,” explains Bauer. Control is key, so stick to “snacks that have a clear start and end.” Instead of reaching for that family-sized pack of pretzels, grab a bar with less than 180 calories or an apple with a single-serving packet of almond butter. “Being a healthy, lean weight on race day is really beneficial to getting through 26 miles,” says Bauer. “Having an extra 10 pounds is like carrying a backpack!”

Photo courtesy of Stonyfield

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Location #9: Chile

Written on April 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm , by

Rock climbing near santiago

Paige climbs at a desert cliff near Santiago, Chile. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com)

Paige is climbing in Chile to support VE Global, which fosters the development of children at social risk in Santiago by empowering volunteers to serve as positive role models, educators and advocates of social justice. Learn more and help Lead Now support VE at www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourchile

—–

By Paige Claassen

I awoke abruptly to horns, chatter, and clanging. I was in the city. Nothing unusual for most, except that I’d spent the last nine months far away from noise and traffic – deep in forests, barren Indian deserts, or vacant winter shores.  For most of Marmot’s Lead Now Tour, my climbing objectives were peacefully removed from civilization. But my final month of travel brought me to Santiago, Chile. I felt culture shocked.

For such a large, sprawling city, Santiago boasts many nearby outdoor climbing cliffs. Mountains surround the entire city, but the tall snowy peaks are rarely visible beneath the brown haze of pollution. My throat ached each morning, not yet accustomed to breathing the clouded air. Yet Santiago offered the change of pace I yearned for over the past months. I could practice my Spanish while navigating the city and find fresh fruits and vegetables at each corner.

I spent most days attempting hard climbs outside the city, completing a few routes that no women had climbed before. But the end of the month brought the final challenge of Lead Now – the largest climbing competition in South America. The pressure of performing well in front of a large audience and the challenge of attempting a route I’ve never before seen excited me as a teenager. But over time, I transitioned my focus to climbing outside. I hadn’t competed in three years, nor had I climbed in a gym in nine months. Climbing in a gym and climbing outside are practically two different sports. Each requires very different skill sets.

south american rock climbing competition

Paige places 4th at the largest climbing competition in South America. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11.com)

I wasn’t prepared for this competition, but I knew it would be a fun reintroduction to a facet of climbing I hadn’t recently explored. On the first day, I performed well, completing all 5 routes in the qualifying round and placing second. The following day, I placed third in semi finals after timing out on my last route. In finals that evening, my body felt exhausted. I opted for a brief warmup in hopes of conserving the little energy I had.

ve global

Young girls from a VE Global supported residential home in Santiago cheer for Paige at South America’s biggest climbing competition.

In climbing, competitors must remain behind the climbing wall before the competition, so as not to see the routes they will climb. As I walked out to the wall, I scanned the crowd and spotted four of the little girls supported by our Chilean non profit partner, VE Global. Their smiles calmed me. I didn’t feel intimidated. Instead, I felt my old competitive edge creep back in, fed by the loud music and cheers of the audience.

I didn’t do my best in finals. I couldn’t shake the fatigue built up in the previous rounds. My body was accustomed to climbing one very hard route outside each day, but I lacked the endurance needed for a multi-round competition. But unlike my early days of competition, I wasn’t disappointed. I had fun. I left Chile after nine months of travel with a smile on my face, reminiscing about all the new friends I had met around the world and the beautiful places I climbed. The journey has been rich with memories, but it feels good to be home!

To get involved and donate online to help, visit Crowdrise.

Check back next month for a final video about Paige’s adventures and stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in Chile!


Meet Carolina Herrera (and Get Inspired to Go Log Some Miles!)

Written on April 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm , by

The first-ever Women Run the World essay winners gather at the 11th Annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon Start Line. (From L to R): Runner-Up, Allyson Barkan, Runner-Up, Megan McAuliffe, Fitness magazine Editor-in-Chief Betty Wong, Celebrity Host, Hoda Kotb (Today Show), Grand Prize Winner, Carolina Herrera, Runner-Up, Jill Eisenberg, Runner-Up Mary Shahan and More Editor-in-Chief Lesley Jane Seymour.

In case you missed it, the More/FITNESS Women’s Half-Marathon this past weekend brought thousands of women (not to mention some gorgeous weather!) to rally together and kick some serious asphalt in NYC’s Central Park. To pump up the girl power even more, many entered our Women Run the World Essay Contest, telling us why they run. Below, read the entry of grand prize winner Carolina Herrera, who won a $500 gift card and some serious race-day swag. Her story of running to overcome an eating disorder will remind you how lucky we are to have our health and the ability to run every day.

Why I Run

I was thirteen years old when I developed an eating disorder that would plague me for 16 years, until the moment that running saved me from myself.

I never planned to run. Simply, I took on a part time job at a fancy gym that allowed me to use their equipment. After a few weeks on the elliptical I grew bored, and I became intrigued by the giddy bouncing souls on the treadmills. So I moved 3 feet to a different machine, and with these 3 feet my entire life changed.

At first a single mile seemed impossible. I huffed and I puffed and there were days I felt I could not possibly keep going. Yet I kept going. My muscles became stronger, and I came to the realization that maybe I could run two miles. Three miles. And then maybe I could run outdoors.

During this time I began to look at my body in a different way. I began to value it for what it could do, not solely for what it looked like. One June day in 2012, I met with a spiritual advisor and I confided to her that on the days I ran, I felt I could eat with no remorse. She said simply: “So run more.”

So I did. And soon I signed up for my first race. When I crossed the finish line someone handed me a banana and someone else draped a medal around my neck, and I realized there was no turning back. That was it: I was hooked.

Since that race I have run many more. I have also been laid up due to sinus surgery and then again after a back injury. These times have been difficult, but I always knew I’d get through because it was never an option to quit. Not for me, not anymore. I now know the road is always out there, just waiting for me to come home. For that is what it has become: running is home. Running is where I go to connect with myself and with the world. It reminds me that there is beauty all around us; that there is beauty in me. My legs are strong today. They are thick and they are strong.

What running has taught me, and the gift it has given me, is this: I have learned to love myself; I have learned that there is more value in what my body can do than in what it looks like. I have learned that the once booming voice in my head that yelled I was not good enough is but a whisper today, and that with each resonating step that my running shoes take, that voice quiets until it is no longer heard. I have not forced myself to throw up since June 9, 2012. I have treated my body with respect and love. I have, at last, found peace within myself.

And this is why I run.

-Carolina Herrera

Now Tell Us: Why do you run? Sound off in the comments below.

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Run the World’s First Digital Marathon—Hello, London!

Written on April 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm , by

After I ran my first half-marathon in 2011, I decided right then and there that I was going to run at least one half in every state. So far, I’ve crossed 10 off my list and love the combination of traveling and racing. It might be cliche, but it’s true: you discover so many fun, interesting things about a city when you’re running the streets rather than speeding by in a car or on public transit. Unfortunately, I haven’t crossed international running adventures off my bucket list quite yet—blame it on the lack of excess money hanging out in my wallet—but thanks to Paofit and the Virgin Money London Marathon, I can get one step closer (pun intended) without breaking the bank, or even leaving my treadmill.

Now, if you read the word “treadmill” and immediately felt your eyes start to glaze over, stick with me. As much as we all love to complain about logging infamous dreadmill miles, it turns out more of us are doing it than not. According to Paofit, 53 million U.S. runners spend time on the machine compared to 49 million who run outdoors. Say what?! While I’m no stranger to using the treadmill to get me through my weekly Scandal fix, that stat still shocks me. But now, if you want to use your treadmill time for something a little more useful than watching Olivia Pope get hot ‘n heavy with President Fitz, you can. Like, by running a virtual course of the London Marathon, one of the most iconic races in the world. Here’s how:

  • Download the Paofit app for free, along with the Digital Virgin Money London Marathon Showcase.
  • If you have a Life Fitness treadmill, plug in your iPad (iPhone and Android versions are coming later this year) to the Track+ or Discover Tablet Console. Once you do, your speed will be accurately recorded and the treadmill will automatically adjust its incline to reflect the course terrain. You’ll also get to see fellow runners on the course in real-time, so you still get that sense of competition many of us use to keep calm and power on.

Don’t have a Life Fitness machine? No sweat. Still download the Paofit app and Showcase, and set it on your console. The vibration generated by running on the treadmill will cause the course ahead of you to speed up or slow down to properly reflect your cadence. And if you want even more of a pace guarantee, you can calibrate Paofit to match your stride. Seriously, this may be the coolest treadmill technology I’ve ever heard of. Not to mention it totally helps familiarize you with the course (hello, Tower Bridge!), in case you ever do decide to leap over the pond in run the race IRL.

Oh, and if the idea of running the London Marathon course doesn’t quite sway you, I have two things to say:

1. We need to chat this out, because I don’t understand how this doesn’t sound awesome.
2. The Paofit app has eight sample running locales around the world, so you can experiment with other places and purchase locations starting at $1.99.

Now, I’m off to go get my own miles in. Let me know in the comments what famous course you’d love to run and maybe we’ll meet up to tackle it together.

Photo courtesy of Paofit

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We Tried It: JumpLife Gym

Written on April 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

What it is: A body-rocking trampoline fitness class.

Good for: Anyone, from beginners to professional athletes. The trampolines offer a low impact workout that uses the resistance and rebound motion from the trampoline to help tone and tighten your body.

Where you go: Tribeca, New York City

How it works: JumpLife offers four different trampoline-based classes: JumpDANCE, JumpGYM, JumpFUSION and for the youngins, JumpKIDZ. You can check the schedule and sign up for classes online.  Once you’re there, hop on your own personal trampoline and get ready to sweat to the beat of some rocking tunes.

What you need: Form-fitting clothing, cross-training kicks and plenty of water. Avoid wearing anything too baggy or long pants—we love capris for this workout—so you don’t trip on a hem or um, flash anyone mid-jump.

What it costs: First-timers score a deal at $18; after that a session costs $28. If you decide to make it a go-to, consider opting for one of their packages, available in 5, 10, 20, 30 and 50-class packs. Check out more details here.

What we think: This class was a blast from the past—seriously my inner child was out in all her glory! Before hopping (pun intended) into sweat-mode, I popped SKEnergy’s Berry-flavored energy shot—which is made from green tea and green coffee beans with all natural flavors—to get the kick I needed for this early morning workout. After that, it was all smiles, even as I began to feel the burn. But before you start thinking just how high those little trampolines will get you, let me stop you. This class isn’t like bounding on a massive, springy backyard trampoline; it’s all about staying grounded and using your core and legs to jump down into the rebound of the trampoline verses up into the air. It’s killer on your glutes and thighs and when our trainer, Terrell Pruitt, had us add in some light weights, it was a great upper body workout too.

Want us to get the scoop on another workout? Post a comment and let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It!

More Workouts We’ve Tried:

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We Tried It: DailyBurn’s Inferno HR

Written on April 9, 2014 at 9:36 am , by

What it is: The first interval heart rate zone workout series released by the online streaming video service, DailyBurn.

Good for: All levels. The trainer, Anja Garcia, did a great job of providing modifications for beginner and more advanced athletes.

Where you go: Anywhere your heart desires. Download the service and stream onto your phone, TV or iPad. So, it’s obviously great for those who travel a lot or tend to avoid gym settings.

How it works: Simply sync your iOS device with a heart rate monitor, cue up DailyBurn and follow the Inferno HR workout program. As you sweat, DailyBurn streams your heart rate info onto the screen so you get a better understanding of heart rate zones and how to burn the most calories in a short amount of time. Want a basic rundown of working with a heart rate monitor? Check out this article first.

What you need: It depends on the workout you select within the Inferno HR program, but I recommend having a set of dumbbells and a yoga mat handy. You’ll also need a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (try this one), your sneakers and the urge to sweat.

What it costs: $10 per month for access to all of DailyBurn’s workout programs, available 24/7. With NYC classes averaging $25-$35 a class, this is a total steal.

What we think: For the price, I’m totally on board with this program. Anja’s energy is infectious and she pushed me to my max, helping me focus on staying within the proper heart rate zones when I wanted to go balls to the wall and sky rocket out of ‘em (fun fact: that’s not really the most effective way to train). I enjoyed the variety of exercises—we did everything from jumping lunges to Turkish getups—and after a mere 25 minutes, I had a healthy puddle of sweat beneath me. I’d call it a success.

What to watch out for: Make sure you have the heart rate monitor on correctly. When I first got hooked up, my data displayed me in zone 3—picture heavy breathing and lots of intense movement—when in fact I had only walked about five paces to say hi to a friend. To get set up properly, spritz the sensors on the back of the chest strap with water and make sure the monitor is in direct contact with your skin (translation, ladies: make sure it’s not over your sports bra band). Position it snugly around your ribcage and you should be good to go. To extend the battery life, be sure to detach the sensor and lightly rinse after each use.

Curious about a workout? Let us know in the comments and we may put it to the test for a future We Tried It!

More Workouts We’ve Tried: 

Doonya Fitness Party

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Get Out and Get Fit with Rails-to-Trails

Written on April 8, 2014 at 9:34 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Spring has finally sprung! Well, sort of. It’s still a little chilly, but the sun is out and we’re definitely ready to blaze some trails. With hiking (and allergy, unfortunately) season just around the corner, Claritin is teaming up with non-profit Rails-to-Trails to raise funds for those of us looking for more outdoor areas to get—and stay—fit.

Never heard of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy? Let me fill you in: basically, they turn abandoned railways into multiuse public paths—like the famous Highline in New York City or the 238-mile-long Katy Trail in Missouri. “Our mission is to try and retrofit communities to get people to lead active lifestyles,” says Keith Laughlin, president of Rails-to-Trails. When the organization launched in 1989, there was less than 250 miles of rail-trails, but today they span nearly 21,000 miles across the U.S. The ultimate aim is to have 90 percent of Americans live within three miles of a trail, Laughlin explains. With 700,000 miles of extensions and new trails currently in the pipeline, they’re well on their way, and it’s a goal we can totally get behind.

One celeb supporting the initiative? About a Boy star Minnie Driver. “I love the idea of communities recycling their unused rail lines,” she says. “If you’re living in proximity to [a rail-trail], that’s a wonderful part of your community to utilize as a way of staying healthy and getting healthier.” And as the face of Claritin’s new “Be a Claritin Trailblazer” campaign, Driver announced the company’s $50,000 donation to the conservancy last Thursday and launched a social media campaign to raise an additional $10,000.

Want to join in and help the cause? Visit Claritin’s Facebook page and for every like, comment or share between now and June 1st, they’ll donate an additional dollar (up to $10,000). Check out Minnie’s video and let us know where you’d like to see more rail-trails pop up.

Photo of New York City’s Highline courtesy of ©Iwan Baan

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Music Monday: Kellie Pickler’s Post-DWTS Workout Secrets!

Written on April 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm , by

I’ve been obsessed (like major #girlcrush) with singer Kellie Pickler ever since she was on American Idol—and I know that I’m not alone. Her bubbly I-won’t-let-fame-change-me charm and sheer talent has won the hearts of country lovers and loathers alike. So naturally, when Kellie was named one of the Dancing With The Stars contestants last year, she shined. And so did her abs. Each time Kellie made her way one step closer toward that coveted Mirror Ball trophy (providing me with more opportunities to drool over her dreamboat of a partner Derek Hough), I couldn’t help but wonder about her svelte secrets. Like, hey—can I get me some of that long and lean action, stat?

Well, last week I got the skinny from the Season 16 winner herself. “The trickiest thing for me is finding a workout that gives me somewhat of the same result I got from Dancing With The Stars,” Kellie says. “I started doing [Shaun T’s Focus] T25 not long ago and it’s been great for when I’m on the go, in a hotel room or on my tour bus. My husband and I love to do that together!” Noted. Starting the day on the right “and positive foot” sans shortcuts—Kellie always chooses stairs over escalators—is also key. “It sets the tone for your day,” she says, which she enjoys filling with hikes and kayaking trips when she has some downtime.

The vegetarian starlet also attributes her fit bod to maintaining a clean diet. “I love raw almonds and apples with peanut butter on them…[and] I do a lot of juicing,” Kellie dished. Her one indulgence: dark chocolate, a craving she often curbs with protein-packed Rockin’ Refuel drinks.

In honor of finally cracking the bombshell’s workout/diet code, not to mention the release of her new single “Closer to Nowhere,” we Picklered a playlist perfect for the gym, commute or workday. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Shamrock Farms Rockin’ Refuel


Sweat for Good: How YOU Can Kick Cancer to the Curb!

Written on April 4, 2014 at 10:01 am , by

“Ride it forward” is 45-year-old Janeen Parave’s new motto. That’s because the two-time cancer survivor is on a mission to spread awareness and raise funds by training for her second Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) this summer. Last year, Janeen participated in the 190-mile bike-a-thon within a matter of eight months of completing breast and ovarian cancer treatments. And now she’s back—stronger than ever—ready to tackle the Massachusetts mileage this August with a $4,500 goal. Um, can we give her a big virtual high five and “You go, girl!”?

“PMC taught me the value of setting goals and that I can accomplish anything physically and mentally beyond my cancer experiences,” says Janeen. “I learned how resilient the human body can be after being sick. When I crossed that finish line, not only did I know I did something great for others, but I did something extraordinary for myself.”

Help Janeen and other cycling weekend warriors reach their goals in the upcoming months by making a donation—or what the sweat, sign up yourself! Can’t commit to 190 New England miles but still want to make a difference? Get involved with a local event like Soul for Survival or a “Virtual Ride” like Tour de Pink, which allows you to pick the location, when you ride and how much mileage you want to cover for breast cancer research. For you pavement pounders, lace up for an American Cancer Society event near you or stride for another cause you’d like to support, like assistant web editor Sam, who’s training for the New York City Marathon with Team Stop the Clot! Working your tush off never felt so good.

Photo courtesy of Janeen Parave

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