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June 2011

Fit Blogger We Love: Faith, Fitness, Fun

Written on June 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm , by


Tina shares her sunny attitude on Faith, Fitness, Fun.

Looking for a body image boost? How about rep-by-rep details to increase your strength? Or maybe a tasty breakfast idea? Tina from Faith, Fitness, Fun is your girl—her well-balanced blog keeps us entertained and inspired. Keep reading to learn more about Tina’s catchphrase and how she deals with her sweet tooth!

My favorite way to work out: Asking me to choose a favorite workout is almost like asking me to pick my favorite dessert. If you read my blog at all, you know that would send my head into a tail spin. I adore kickboxing, spinning, workout DVDs of all kinds, and more. But when it comes down to it, my favorite way to workout would have to be both lifting weights and running. Both leave me so empowered! They are both personal because you only have yourself to compete against. Nothing compares to the feeling of reaching a new speed or distance on a run or pushing out an extra set of squats.

Five things I can’t live without: Prayer, my family, cupcakes, Glee and exercise.

My fave fit snack: Yogurt bowls! They are my current obsession because they taste so fabulous and fill me up. I start with a container of Chobani Greek yogurt (because clearly no other yogurt compares). My favorite flavors are pineapple, mango, and strawberry banana. Then, I add fresh fruit (usually berries or a banana), granola (Love Grown granola rocks my world) or unsweetened cereal and some almonds. The bowls clock in at around 300 to 400 calories and satisfy like no other. Try one. Then thank me. I promise you’ll be in love.

My biggest indulgence: Dessert in all shapes and sizes! I have a serious sweet tooth. I actually have some form of indulgence pretty much daily, but have learned to keep portions in check. It allows me to make progress in my Body After Baby journey because it keeps me from feeling deprived. Knowing I can have a little chocolate in my life makes it easier to eat all that green stuff. OK, you caught me. I do love my veggies, but they still don’t compare to ice cream!

Your fitness mantra: “Life is more than diet and workouts.” It’s actually the tagline to my blog. I truly believe that life is made to live. We won’t get to our death beds wishing we had flatter abs or weighed ten pounds less. We will wish we lived life well: Cherishing loved ones, laughing, taking chances and seizing every moment we are blessed with. I spent years battling depression and binge eating because I allowed my life to revolve around diet and workouts as a way to cope with my lack of self-worth. Once I opened my eyes to the beauty of life as a whole, beyond burning calories and counting fat grams, I became the fittest and best version of myself.

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

7 Reasons to Try a Trail Workout

Written on June 23, 2011 at 9:00 am , by

green lush trail to hike on

Flickr photo by Luke Wisley

In a post a few weeks ago about The #1 Predictor of a Happy Marriage, you saw how one FITNESS editor got a fabulous new point of view from demanding hike. But you can still get the health benefits of hiking–or trail running!–on tamer paths, too. Spark People gives offers seven good reasons to put on your trail shoes and get closer to nature this weekend…

1. Burn More Calories
Whenever you change up your workout routine, you will challenge your muscles in new ways and burn more calories. The changes in terrain of a trail will cause you to recruit more muscle fibers to balance and find your footing.  And many trails  are embedded with inclines, steps, bridges, stones, downed tree trunks, puddles, creeks—all sorts of obstacles you need to navigate, which means you’ll burn 10% more calories than walking or running on a flat surface.

2. Protect Your Joints
One good thing about walking or running on a hard surface is that it can help encourage the development of strong bones. But for anyone with existing joint problems or previous joint injuries, all that pounding on a hard surface can really give your body a beating. That’s why trails are a great alternative. Grass and dirt are far softer than cement and blacktop, making walking or running on a trail much easier on your joints.

3. Stay Cool
As the mercury rises, sometimes it is just too hot and sunny to work out comfortably when you’re outside. Instead of letting the heat stop you, hit the trail. It’s noticeably cooler in the shady environment surrounded by towering trees that provide cover from the intense sun.

4. Breathe Easier
Even if you can’t always see it, there is pollution all around us, and you breathe it in when you walk or run next to a road traveled by vehicles. Not cool. One study found that exercising too close to traffic can actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease because of the inhalation of pollution. So whenever you can, get away from high-trafficked roads. The trail is perfect for that!

5. Beat Boredom
Tired of the same old routine? There is so much beauty and interest in the natural world that you may find the minutes fly by as you look at the trees, animals, birds, and other plants along your trail.

6. Lift Your Spirits
More and more research shows that spending time in nature isn’t just fun—it’s essential for our well-being. Getting away from the hustle and bustle, basking in the sun, slowing down and smelling the roses: It can help us reduce stress, ward off depression, get our daily dose of vitamin D, and generally feel healthier.

7. Bond with Your Buds (or Your Kids)
Going for a hike is a great way to hang out with your friends and do something active. Trail hiking is great for pets and kids, too. They’ll have a blast exploring the plants, insects and animals they see. It’s a family-friendly activity you can add to your “fun” list that gets everyone active!

Read more from Spark People’s Coach Nicole Nichols…

More from Spark People:

The S-Factor Confidence-Boosting Playlist

Written on June 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm , by

Download these songs to pump up your mood! (photo by Ericka McConnell)

A few FITNESS staffers recently tried a class at Sheila Kelley’s S-Factor studio and got a fun, confidence-boosting workout. (Stay tuned for more info about this in our September issue!) Here’s a playlist from instructor Ilov Grate for your own feel-good fitness routine:

Ai Du,” Ali Farka Touré & Ry Cooder
I’m Not in Love,” Tori Amos
She Rides,” Danzig
Fever,” Copycats
Do I Move You (Remix),” Jihae
Chasing Pirates (Droogs Remix),” Norah Jones
“Darling Nikki,” Xlover
Diva,” Beyoncé

Dance Routine:
Get Some,” Lykke Li
Fresh Blood,” Eels
Hold the Line,” Major Lazer feat. Mr. Lex & Santigold
Pussycat Moan,” Katie Webster
Waves,” Camille

Now tell us: What kind of workouts and music boost your body confidence?

June DVD Review: Breathless Body

Written on June 22, 2011 at 10:52 am , by

Photo courtesy of amydixon.com

Photo courtesy of amydixonfitness.com

June’s Top Workout DVD: Amy Dixon’s Breathless Body

Best for: Moderate to advanced exercisers looking for a challenge; those who are ready to drip sweat.

Why it’s a star: Equinox group fitness manager Amy Dixon is not messing around with this workout! After a brief warm-up, she picks up the pace with eight different Tabata intervals (20 seconds hard, 10 seconds resting; repeat eight times for one interval). The rest time sounds ample, but don’t be tricked: You’ll need every second! Each exercise is offered at three different intensity levels, so you can choose the one that best fits your current abilities. If you pick the most challenging one you can complete with good form, you will be breathless!

Where to get it: amydixonfitness.com, $19.99

Now tell us: Does a trainer (virtual or in real life) help you push yourself harder during a workout?

Cookbook Author Katie Lee Hits the Waves and the Bookshelves

Written on June 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm , by

Katie Lee enjoys the waves in Malibu. (Photo courtesy of Katie Lee)

Katie Lee enjoys the waves in Malibu. (Photo courtesy of Katie Lee)

Dinner was the main event in Katie Lee’s home as she grew up. Starting at age four, Katie learned to cook from her Grandma Dora and her love of food only grew—she’s now the author of two comfort food cookbooks, is The Early Show‘s contributor on all things food and even hosted the first season of Top Chef.

But when Katie stumbled upon hard times, she decided to take up a new sport: surfing. The experience (she researched while surfing in Mexico) helped to inspire her first novel, Groundswell, which was released today! We spoke with Katie to learn about her new hobby and how she stays so fit while around so many tempting treats.

How did you make the transition from chef to novelist?

I have wanted to write a novel for years, but I never could find the right story to inspire me. I tried so many times, but I always thought the story had to involve food and I just couldn’t get it right. I guess writing is kind of like love: If you’re looking for it, you’ll never find it. It’s when you least expect it that it sweeps you off your feet.

What inspired you to begin surfing?

I was going through a rough time in my personal life and wanted to try something completely out of character to “get out of my head.” I was always enamored with the ocean, but terrified of it at the same time. One day, I was on the beach watching the surfers and thought I’d give it a shot. I signed up for lessons and went to my local surf camp.

What have you learned about yourself from the sport?

I’ve never been particularly athletic or good at sports, so I was really surprised that I was able to surf! I’m by no means a great surfer, but I love it and the mind-body connection I experience while surfing. It gave me a new sense of confidence and achievement.

Besides surfing, how do you stay in shape?

I exercise about six days a week. I live to eat, rather than eat to live, so I have to really work out hard! I do Core Fusion, SoulCycle, yoga and run on my treadmill.

Do you watch what you eat?

I do, but don’t count calories. I try to eat a mostly plant-based diet, making my plate 70 percent vegetables and 30 percent protein. During the week, I don’t eat sugar and save my indulgences for the weekend.

Since we couldn’t talk with the Southern food connoisseur without asking for a meal suggestion, click below for one of Katie’s favorite crowd-pleasing recipes!

Read more

Four Tips to Ace Your Run With Tips From Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix

Written on June 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm , by

Allyson Felix (Photo courtesy of ACUVUE)

Allyson Felix listens to Adele's album 21 while training. (Photo courtesy of ACUVUE)

Allyson Felix is one athlete that’s hard to keep up with (literally)! Need proof? She took home the gold at the 2008 Olympic Games and several times at the World Track Championships, not to mention her record-breaking performances in the 200 meters as a junior and on the high school track.

Today, Allyson is a member of the president’s Council for Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and you’ll spot her competing in the 400 meters at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon this weekend (for broadcasting info, click here).

The FITNESS team was lucky enough to share a few of Allyson’s spare minutes discussing her beauty routine—watch the video interview over at Beauty on the Go!—and fitness tips. Check out her top four pointers for runners:

  • Team Up. “Running is a lot more fun with friends!”
  • Let Loose. “If your arms are tight and tense, that tension will move into your neck and back and make your run much more difficult than it has to be. Relax your arms!”
  • Have a Plan. “You’re probably not going to wake up most mornings dying to put in three miles. Know when you’re realistically going to be able to get your run in and be committed to that schedule.”
  • Get the Right Gear. “I really believe that if you look good, you’ll feel a bit more confident, so I always try to find cute workout clothes to give myself extra motivation.”

Allyson is also teaming up with ACUVUE, the contact lens brand, for a neat mentorship contest. If you or someone in your life is between the ages of 13 and 21, check it out!

More from FITNESS: Now that you know how to train like one, check out distance runner Kara Goucher’s suggestions to eat like an Olympian.

Take Your Lunges to the Next Level

Written on June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm , by

C9's Cardio Tank (Photo courtesy of target.com)

Last week, I was lucky enough to join in a group training session with star trainer Brett Hoebel, who helped contestants on last season’s Biggest Loser ranch drop hundreds of pounds. And let me tell you, he knows how to make a person sweat!

The team from C9 by Champion, Target’s super-chic and affordable fitness wear line, organized the event and let a team of editors try Hoebel’s capoeira and kickbox fusion class. (Check out the cute tank I sported in class at left —can you believe it’s less than $15?)

At the end of the heart-pumping workout that included plenty of squats, jumping jacks, punches and kicks, Hoebel led us through a quick circuit that he promised would help shed pounds if you stick with it. The entire routine was effective, but I had a “light bulb moment” during the lunge section.

Your lower body should be in this position at the bottom of the lunge. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Your lower body should be in this position at the bottom of a lunge. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Lunges are normally one of my favorite exercises because they challenge the large muscle groups (in other words, they burn plenty of calories and increase your heart rate!) while strengthening your lower body. So I was pumped when Brett taught the class a few tricks to kick my go-to move up a bit. Try them today:

  • Level 1. Perform a traditional lunge: Step forward with one leg into a lunge position, keeping your front knee behind your toes, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Level 2. Space it out: Complete the same lunge motion, but do it while stepping over the width of a yoga mat (drop the front heel just past the front edge of the mat while keeping the back toe behind the back edge) and lightly tap your back knee on the mat at the bottom of the lunge. Try to step completely over the mat—doing so will ensure that you’re taking a large enough step. Bring foot back to start, switch legs and repeat.
  • Level 3. Lunge over an imaginary hill: Continue lunging over the yoga mat, but this time, imagine that you’re stepping over a small (approximately six inch) hill in the middle of the mat. This will force you to lift your foot up before gently lowering it down in front of the mat—increasing the leg burning powers. Tap your back knee, like in level two, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.

Make any of these variations harder: Hold one dumbbell in each hand.

Do the level that suits you for 30 seconds, take a 30 second break, and repeat three more times.

More from FITNESS: Looking for a fun do-anywhere workout? This routine’s for you: 8 Energy-Boosting, Muscle-Toning Moves.

Fit Links: Laughter, Friendship and Less TV Time Are Keys to Better Health

Written on June 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm , by

Sharing a laugh with your pals is good for your health and can help you lose weight! (Photo by Sarah Kehoe)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Behind the Swings: Stacy Lewis Overcomes the Odds to Master the LPGA

Written on June 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm , by

Stacy tees off at a tournament in April. She tied for second place! (Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Stacy tees off in April. This shot, and several others, helped her win this major tournament! (Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Stacy Lewis is tearing up the golf course this year, currently sitting at number six on the 2011 LPGA Money List. But there’s much more to her story than you see on the links.

Before winning her first LPGA tournament this year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (where the picture, at left, was taken), Stacy was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11. She spent the next seven and a half years in a back brace, and endured back surgery—which added a titanium rod and five screws to her frame—that left doctors wondering if she would ever walk again. But Stacy bounced back in amazing form, not only walking but coming back swinging. She helped her University of Arkansas women’s golf team win the NCAA Championship just two years later.

Today, Stacy supplements her busy golf life with philanthropic work, including her role as the spokesperson for the Scoliosis Research Society. (Coincidentally, June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. To find out more information and to support the cause, click here.) We spoke with Stacy to steal her training program and find out more about her golf idols.

What does a typical week on tour look like for you?

Mondays are usually travel days. Tuesday I practice, Wednesday is the Pro-Am tournament and Thursday through Sunday is the tournament itself.

Wow! That’s an intense schedule. So what’s the most golf you’ve ever played consecutively?

At the end of last year, I had six weeks of tournaments in a row. By the end of that stretch, it was time for a week off!

Keep reading to find out how Stacy stays in tourney-ready shape and learn her top tip for golf beginners.

Read more

How Did Your Dad Affect Your Fitness?

Written on June 17, 2011 at 11:44 am , by

Parents Beth and Keith stay fit with their kids. (Photo by Sarah Kehoe)

For Father’s Day this Sunday, we asked over at Facebook how dad helped us get healthier and inspired us to stay fit. Here are some of our favorite responses:

  • “Dad taught me how to play tennis—hours of hitting against a garage door ‘backboard.’ Now, at age 70+, he competes with me every year in a tennis tournament up in Maine where he retired. Priceless!” —Margaret Williams Blount
  • “I remember when I was younger he used to go to the gym, weight train and ran a few marathons. I was too young to participate in things like that at the time. Now that I’m older, I’m the one cracking the whip FOR HIM to get moving! I love him and I want him around for quite a bit longer.”  — Erika Bernd
  • “Any sport I was in, my dad was there, cheering me on. Cheerleading competition? Dad was there, cheering me on. Track meet? Dad was there. Pictures, videos, the whole nine yards. My dad is an amazing man and role model. He played football in high school and University and he still walks everyday and sails occasionally. My fitness hero.” — Julie Doss Becker
  • “Sports weren’t very popular for girls when I was growing up, but Daddy didn’t care and always helped me to participate in whatever I wanted to. There were no cleats for girls, or girl ballgloves, no softball helmets with a hole for a ponytail, or even girl softball uniforms. We wore the boys’ stuff. At an impromptu softball practice on a city field  long ago, we were shooed away by nearby neighborhood boys wanting the field. Daddy piped up to the girls and the moms around, ‘Hey, we’re not gonna let those boys treat us girls that way!’ And we didn’t budge. He was always one of the girls.” — Kristie Sharp Williams
  • “My Father just passed away last month. Although we didn’t work out together, he did pass on his love for gardening to me. I love that he wanted nothing but healthy, organic foods for his family. I am now raising my family to be active and enjoy ‘real’ and organic foods. My kids love to garden with me just their Grandpa!” — Leaann Haley Hoffman
  • “My dad passed away many years ago. At the time he was so active, he was called an ‘exercise nut’. He passed on his love of exercise to me and there are many times when I’ve done something physically challenging, I think how proud he would be of my accomplishment. Thanks, Dad.”— Lynn Olmsted

Happy Father’s Day from the FITNESS team! Thanks to all the dads who’ve become fitness inspirations and role models!

Now tell us: How did your dad affect your fit lifestyle today?