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May 2011

Thinspiration Tips from the Doctor Behind Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition

Written on May 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm , by

Photo Courtesy of Institute

Dr. Schaack ensures that the participants are healthy throughout their yearlong transformation. (Photo courtesy of California Health & Longevity Institute)

Did you catch the premiere of ABC’s new summer show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition last night? Each episode chronicles one person’s yearlong fitness and weight-loss transformation. Motivational fitness trainer (and cutie!) Chris Powell and a team of medical and nutrition experts at the California Health & Longevity Institute near Los Angeles coach the show participants.

We asked Terry Schaack, M.D., the medical director of the institute who monitored the participants’ progress, to share his best tips for finding social support when you’re trying to lose weight. Since temptations arise daily—often several times each day—when trying to lose weight in the real world, having an encouraging team nearby can make all the difference.

Dr. Schaack’s Top Five Support Secrets

  1. If you are getting together with a friend to catch up, go for a walk instead of meeting for a drink or meal.
  2. When a friend asks you to sponsor her for a race or walk-a-thon, say yes (if you can) but also ask if you can join her for the event.
  3. The next time there’s a work event where food will be served, request that there be a low-cal option.
  4. Check out your town’s Parks and Recreation division, which can be a great resource for low cost fitness activities. You will find that many of the people who go to the events are there for the same reason as you.
  5. If a friend or family member is not supportive, understand that your continued success and dedication is the only way to show them that you are on the path to better health. It will be easier for them to support you when you are taking steps toward your goal.

Now tell us: Where do you find social support to keep you on track?

3rd Annual National Running Day!

Written on May 31, 2011 at 10:50 am , by

Grab your pals and hit the road! Tomorrow is National Running Day.

Mark your calendars and get your sneakers ready: tomorrow, June 1st, is National Running Day! Even if logging miles is a daily habit for you, share your passion for running with someone else! Schedule a run with a friend who’s looking to get in shape, join a running group and meet new workout buddies or hit the road to support a charity. Whatever you do, try to inspire another person to get outdoors and move tomorrow.

“Unlike other sports, running requires little to no equipment and can take place almost anywhere. It is an ideal activity for people who want to stay fit or get in shape, relieve stress, and most of all, have fun,” says Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of New York Road Runners. “Last year there were over 100 National Running Day group runs and events from coast to coast and this year we’re excited to see even more because every runner and each step counts.”

Check out www.runningday.org to find events in your area, learn 10 ways to celebrate the sporty day in style and discover how to support charitable causes related to running.

My motivation to lace up my sneakers? I run because it makes me feel strong and capable of overcoming challenges!

Now you tell us: I run. . . _____________________

Fit Links: Better Burgers and Music To Go Gaga For

Written on May 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm , by

Photo by Joseph Deleo

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Jump Into Summer In Style

Written on May 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm , by

Summer kicks off this weekend, and for many of us that means heading to the beach, whipping out the grill for some burgers and spending time with our family and friends. That also means it’s time to pull out all of your favorite summer essentials! From beach bags and towels to sunscreen and shades, we’ve got you covered for the long weekend, and all of your summer weekends ahead.

Clockwise from top left

  • Sun Hat: Great for looking cute and blocking harmful rays from the sun. ($13, Forever 21)
  • Beach Towel: Go for a bold pattern—you’ll always keep track of your spot on the beach! ($27, Lacoste)
  • Sporty Digital Watch: Whether running in the sand or riding some waves, a comfortable watch will keep you in style and on schedule. ($55, Freestyle)
  • Tote Bag: You gotta carry your latest issue of FITNESS in something, right?($248, Henri Bendel)
  • Flip Flops: Let’s be real, these are the summer essential (along with SPF, of course). ($18, Havaianas)
  • Sunglasses: Keep your eyes protected with some simple shades or cool summertime sunnies! ($150, Oakley)
  • Sunscreen: A summer MUST! Make sure to apply all day, everyday. ($7, Coppertone)
  • Nail Polish: Pops of color on your fingers and toes adds some fun to your summer outfits! ($8, Essie)

Now tell us: What are your weekend getaway bag essentials?

Show Off Your Hot Legs—Safely!

Written on May 27, 2011 at 11:24 am , by

Seek out the shade and don't forget the SPF! (Photo by Denise Crew)

We’re all breaking out our cute sundresses and shorts here in the FITNESS offices now that we’re finally getting a little warmth and sun in NYC. And I’ve been thinking of all those beautiful bare legs after I learned from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise program that it’s the body area where 20 to 25 percent of all melanomas occur in women.

While I’m religious about using daily SPF on my face, I usually don’t think about protecting my exposed limbs unless I’m off to the beach or spending most of the day outside. So in honor of SunWise’s Don’t Fry Day (cute!) today, I’m vowing to start using a daily SPF body lotion to protect my whole body.

The organization’s catchy  “Slip, Slop, Slap & Wrap” sun-savvy motto is now stuck in my head:

  • Slip on a shirt.
  • Slop on SPF 15+ sunscreen.
  • Slap on a wide-brimmed hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses

More from FITNESS: You can take a two-pronged approach and tackle cancer prevention from the inside out too. Check out what to eat to beat skin cancer.

Why You Need to Step Away from Your Desk

Written on May 27, 2011 at 9:21 am , by

Photo by Sara Forrest

Well don't just sit there! (Photo by Sara Forrest)

Are you sitting down for this? You probably shouldn’t be. A review of work-related physical activity over the last five decades found that the number of jobs requiring moderate activity has declined to only 20 percent; the other 80 percent of jobs are sedentary or require only light movement.

Since we’re sitting here typing this right now, this isn’t really shocking news. So what does it mean for us with desk jobs? It means that trying to watch your diet and going to the gym before or after work isn’t quite enough to stay fit. Ross C. Brownson, an epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who was cited in the study, points to the need “to broaden our definition of physical activity” beyond the traditional planned time we devote to our workout and to find ways to sneak more exercise in our daily routine.

Here are some quick ways to make sure you’re up and about:

  • Set up a reminder every hour for you to get up and move around.
  • Move printers farther away from your desk.
  • Invite a coworker to walk around on your lunch break.
  • Stand up and stretch during long conference calls.
  • Do a 10-minute workout and quick yoga moves at your cube.

Now tell us: How do you sneak in more activity at work? Share your tips!

Do You Work Out on Vacation?

Written on May 27, 2011 at 1:43 am , by

Do you exercise in paradise? (Photo courtesy of Gwen Flamberg)

If you’re traveling for Memorial Day: Will you stick with your workout and diet plan or reward yourself with a (deserved!) day or two off?

Only 45 percent of Americans say they try to avoid gaining weight on vacation, according to a survey of 1,000 people commissioned by Marriott’s SpringHill Suites. Other interesting stats:

  • 55 percent say walking or jogging is their favorite way to exercise on vacation
  • Three times as many travelers use cardio machines compared to jogging outside
  • The top three ways that women stay fit while traveling:
  1. Cardio machines (31 percent)
  2. Jogging path (9 percent)
  3. Pilates, yoga or stretching (6 percent)

Now tell us: What are your favorite ways to get a fitness fix and eat right during a trip?

Fit Blogger We Love: Meals and Miles

Written on May 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm , by

Meghann celebrates after completing one of her many races.

Meghann celebrates after completing one of her many races.

Meghann certainly lives the fit lifestyle she preaches on her blog Meals and Miles. It seems like each time we check in on her blog she has just crossed the finish line at, or is training for her next, big running event! She also shares plenty of yummy recipes that make us want to dash to the kitchen. Read on to learn about Meghann’s strength goals and the importance of her family support system.

My favorite way to work out. . . is with friends. Training buddies keep you sane and motivated.

On my fit life list: Qualify for Boston (that’s probably every runner’s pipe dream), complete a full Ironman (go big or go home), live somewhere where I can bike or walk to any destination and stick with a strength training plan for longer than a week!

I’m happiest when I’m. . . acting like a fool. Life is too short to be taken seriously! It’s much more fun when you’re dancing like no one is watching or trying something new just to try it.

My “I Did It” moment: Running my sub-four hour marathon in December. I had trained and worked so hard for that moment. I came in with just seconds to spare, but knowing during the last mile that I was going to make my goal brought tears to my eyes. Hard work really does pay off!

My motivation comes from: My family! Recently my sister and brother have caught the running bug, which has brought a whole new level of fun to the sport. Not only are they joining me in running, but they’re also teaching me about new areas of fitness I’ve never considered before. Without them I would never have begun a strength training regimen or registered for my first half Ironman. I figured if they can do it, then so can I!

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Tell us in the comments below.

My Summer Sweat-It-Out Gear Picks

Written on May 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm , by

Since we’re kicking off summer this Memorial Day weekend, it’s time to stock up on some new running and workout apparel essentials. I’m always excited to try new things, so I was really excited when these products hit my desk:

Mizuno Wave Prophecy (Photo courtesy of mizunousa.com)

SNEAKERS: Mizuno Wave Prophecy

What makes these shoes stand out? They don’t have the usual mid-layer strip of foam for support. The technology consists of “wave” plates so you really feel like you’re gliding on your run. When I tested these, I was amazed at how easy (aka low-impact) my run had felt on my feet after doing my usual 4-mile morning trip. There’s no other way to describe it than feeling like I bounced down 2nd Avenue of NYC! I’ll gladly embrace this new style as long as Mizuno keeps producing such a unique-fitting shoe.

The Circuit Tank (Photo courtesy of shop.lululemon.com)

TANK: Lululemon Circuit Tank

The brand that loves to mix trendy designs, uber comfort and the versatile style of an everyday tank introduced us to the awesomely supportive Circuit Tank. With this top, no extra bra is needed (yippee!) since the shelf-bra has adjustable notches to go as tight or as loose-fitting as you need. Plus, the open back and criss-cross straps gives the person behind you in class something cool to look at. I’m totally in the wear-and-wash everyday stage with this new tank from my faves over at Lululemon.

Better Than Naked Shorts from The North Face (Photo courtesy of thenorthface.com)

SHORTS: The North Face Better Than Naked Shorts

I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peak of this style a year ago when they started the line with an easy-breezy jacket…that felt. like. butter. So what’s not to love about summer running shorts that feel like they’re barely there when the heat gets turned up on a mid-day jog? You literally do not even realize you’ve got your bottoms on (which could be a good thing or bad thing depending on how you look at it!), because the material is so lightweight, so silky, so smooth and just perfect for anyone who wants to go minimalist on a sweltering hot day. You’ll find me in these shorts as I start training for my first marathon.

JM for K-Swiss Sexy Bra (Photo courtesy of kswiss.com)

SPORTS BRA: Sexy Bra from JM for K-Swiss

I’m a Bikram Yoga fanatic so I’m always looking for cute but functional apparel for the barely-there styles I sport during class. Let’s face it: If you’ve tried hot yoga, you know that it’s just easiest to wear as little clothes as possible because things get sweaty in that room! So when Jillian Michaels debuted her first-ever collection with K-Swiss, I was immediately drawn to this sexy, yet supportive sports bra from my favorite trainer. It holds your babies in, but also looks pretty sexy with a pair of moisture-wicking short shorts. No matter the time of the year, you can find me sweating it out in my weekly Bikram class. Looking as good as I’m feeling is a must! This sports bra is good for classes, yoga or even under a light-weight tank on a nice summer day. (JM for K-Swiss is also a top pick in our Summer Gear Guide story in our June issue. Find it on newsstands now!)

Now tell us: What apparel makes your summer workouts cool and comfortable?

5 Facts About Green Tea

Written on May 26, 2011 at 9:56 am , by

green tea cup

Photo courtesy of Spark People

If you drink tea because you enjoy the taste, great. But with all the news, studies–and, sometimes lack of research–we wanted to break down the truth about green tea.

1. While green tea is rich in antioxidants, studies have shown that the bottled varieties of tea don’t even come close to the antioxidant levels you’ll find in home-brewed green tea. Researchers found as few as 3 milligrams of flavonoids in premade (bottled) teas, compared with up to 150 milligrams in the kind that is brewed at home. To get the most of your tea, steep it at home for 6-10 minutes, then enjoy it either hot or iced. (This will save you money, too!)

2. It should be noted that green tea extracts and green tea supplements have not been as widely studied as the fresh-brewed beverage itself has been. Most research on the health benefits of tea applies to tea drinking alone. Whether any of these benefits can be achieved by taking a pill or extract, drinking an energy drink with EGCG added, or eating a packaged food product that contains extracts of green tea is questionable. Many of these products contain so little green tea that they’d offer no benefit at all. Others may contain high levels that can be unhealthy (see warnings below). Your best bet is to stick with a fresh-brewed cup of tea and not spend extra on costly functional foods or supplements.

3. Green tea may decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid. Therefore it is best to be drink tea between meals rather than using it as your mealtime beverage. Wait 1-2 hours between eating foods rich in iron and folic acid and drinking tea to maximize your absorption of these nutrients.

4. Research indicates green tea MIGHT be effective for: Improving cholesterol levels, preventing low blood pressure, reducing the risk or preventing the onset of Parkinson’s disease, and preventing cancers of the bladder, esophagus, ovaries and pancreas. However, more research is needed before anyone can say it’s likely to help.

5. Currently, there is not enough evidence or research to say that green tea for sure aids in: Weight loss, Type 2 diabetes prevention,  prostate cancer prevention, breast cancer prevention, lung cancer prevention, or gingivitis. Many times, when you read or hear about the potential benefits of something, it’s because a study’s research is news.

Go deeper: Read the complete article from Spark People about the truth on green tea.

More From Spark People:

Danger Drinks and Healthy Alternatives

Guide to Herbal Supplements

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