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Bethany Cianciolo

Why You Should Try to Be More Like Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross

Written on September 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm , by

Volleyball babes Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are making some seriously sharp spikes during this year’s AVP Beach Volleyball Tour. They’ve won every single tournament and only have one left: the season-ending championship Friday in California that runs through the weekend.

Before we continue, can we pause for a minute and stare at those abs?

So when the Olympic medalists decided to pop by the office to talk all things fitness, food and life, we came to the conclusion that they’re our ultimate spirit animals and should be yours, too. Here’s why:

They have insane sweat schedules. They begin training in January, hit the sand in March and play until October. For pre-season and in-season training, they practice five days a week for two hours each day, and then hit the gym five days a week. They’re big on diversifying their workouts, so Olympic lifting, sprint intervals, Pilates, beach workouts and more all make the roster. ”It’s hard for us to rest,” says Ross. “For me, I want to go and get better and train longer and train harder.”

They love food. There’s no surprise here that they have really clean diets (turkey, chicken, salmon, veggies, oatmeal, almond butter, salads, and eggs were all mentioned at the drop of a hat.), but splurging isn’t off limits. “I’m not afraid of a good hamburger,” says Jennings. “I don’t eat perfectly, absolutely, but I feel like every time I splurge—if I have Mexican or French fries with my burger—I definitely try to fix it with a green drink later or a salad to finish my meal.”

They know what they want, and they’re determined to get it. They’re going for the gold at the next Olympic Games in Rio, and they’re already training for it. We’re already setting reminders to mark our 2016 calendars.

They appreciate traveling. And they’ve done their fair share of it. “Paris and Barcelona are my two favorite places I’ve ever gone,” says Ross. “They just have so much character and so much history and so much culture. You could walk around and do nothing, and still be amazed by what you see.” While Jennings seconds that notion, she’s also a fan of Lake Tahoe and loves playing in Gstaad, Switzerland.

They love their families. Jennings and Ross are both married to volleyball players [Casey Jennings and Bradley Keenan, respectively], so you won’t find much of the “leave work at work” philosophy happening in these homes. But to boost their bond, Jennings and her husband work out together twice a week, and she hides her phone when she’s with her kids. “I want to get as much quality time as possible since they go to bed at 7:30,” she explains. Ross is also a fan of the hide-the-phone maneuver (writing this down now). “I usually stop responding to emails and working by dinnertime,” she says. “Dinner time is for relaxation and bonding. If I’m going super late in the gym, Brad will cook a healthy dinner and have it ready when I get home.” Now that’s what we find attractive in a guy.

Stay updated with the ladies’ progress in the tournament this weekend by visiting AVP’s website.

Photos courtesy of AVP

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Low-Carb Diet or Low-Fat Diet: Which Is Better?

Written on September 12, 2014 at 9:52 am , by

We all know by now that maintaining a healthy weight promotes heart health. But finding the golden path to get you there can be an everlasting challenge, which is why there’s been so much buzz around a recent study that found low-carb diets to be more effective in aiding with weight loss and cardiovascular health than low-fat diets.

But before you run to the grocery store and stock your cart with strictly carb-free foods, there are some important facts about the study to keep in mind. We spoke with cardiologist James Beckerman, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member, to get the deets.

1. While participants on the low-carb diet lost an average of 8 more pounds than those on the low-fat diet, the study only followed each participant for one year. “We don’t know beyond a year what happened to these people,” Beckerman says.

2. Close to 90 percent of the weight loss among the low-carb group occurred within the first three months of the diet. “I think at the end of the day, every diet has a honeymoon period,” he says. “It’s showing the benefits of each diet were more significant just in the first three months as compared to over the whole year.”

3. Within the first three months of the study, the low-carb group ate fewer calories than the low-fat group. However, by the end of the study, the low-carb group had upped their calorie intake by 15 percent, while the low-fat group only upped theirs by 7.5 percent. “That kind of speaks to the fact that perhaps the low-fat dieters were able to stick with their diet a little bit longer term than the low-carb people,” Beckerman points out.

While we still can’t say a golden one-size-fits-all diet exists (everything in moderation, people!), keep in mind that making small changes to the kinds of nom-noms you’re placing in your mouth can reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. Avoiding as many processed foods as possible—especially processed meats— and trans fats is key. And make sure to pack in extra fiber to keep your cholesterol low.

Photo by Sarah Kehoe

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What You Can Expect From The Biggest Loser This Season

Written on September 11, 2014 at 8:05 am , by

Following up a controversial end to the last season, weight isn’t the only thing shifting on The Biggest Loser.

Season 16 “Glory Days” premiers tonight on NBC, and you can expect to see some all-around major changes, like the fact that there will be four trainers—two of them are brand new and replacing Jillian Michaels—and all of the contestants are former athletes.

Jessie Pavelka and Jennifer Widerstrom—along with return trainers Dolvett Quince and Bob Harper—will work their magic with 20 different contestants, including former NFL stars Damien Woody and Scott Mitchell.

“These guys have been kind of challenged to the max. So they can take heavy loads of exercises. They can take big moves, and as a trainer it makes it exciting,” Pavelka says. “Obviously they’ve been pushed. Yeah, they have a big issue with weight and a big issue with food, but they can still move well.”

Some of the moves you can expect to see: core exercises, balance and stability training, boxing, weight-training, plyometrics and running. If there’s a particular exercise someone hates, expect to see that contestant doing lots of it. “There’s a lot of empowerment that comes with facing things that are a struggle for you, and that’s what I like to do,” Widerstrom says. There will be lots of dynamic movements, which help to get the brain behind the muscle—super important for anyone physically working their bodies in new ways. “I connect them to the movement. I connect them to the joy of why that inertia in their body is important,” she says.

But the most exciting change with this season? The passionate energy.

“The weight-loss part of this is great, but listen to the words that the contestants using,” Pavelka says. “Listen to the way that they carry themselves—their confidence. Those are the things that I think will stand out even more than the weight loss this season.”

Still not convinced?

“It’s like not even the same TV show,” Widerstrom says. “I really get to connect with people and help share their stories and hopefully inspire people that are at home struggling with similar things.”

Follow the contestants’ journeys every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. And in the meantime, check out the changes host Alison Sweeney is making in her personal and professional life.

Photos courtesy of NBC

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Alison Sweeney, Host of “The Biggest Loser”

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Apple Watch

Written on September 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm , by

Clearly, wearable tech is having a major moment. So much so that tech giant Apple is throwing their hat in the game, and we’re pretty stoked to get our hands on their latest product.

The Apple Watch, set to release early next year, will include three collections—the regular Watch collection, the Edition collection (sleeker, sexier and fancier), and what we’re most excited about—the Sport collection. (We’re already designating this as a late holiday gift to ourselves. No shame.)

Here’s what you need to know about the Apple Watch Sport:

It’s a phone and health tracker in one. Each watch starts at a hefty $349, but it provides an extra fitness punch than your average phone or independent tracker. So in addition to monitoring your activity levels, you can still send and receive texts, answer calls, use Siri, stay on top of events, access boarding passes, etc. It syncs with your iPhone, too, so you can start a message on your watch and finish it later on your phone.

It’s durable and light. Because it’s made out of a really flexible material, you won’t have to worry about it feeling chunky or clunky while you’re exercising. It shouldn’t feel any different than having a Garmin or Timex strapped onto your wrist.

It adjusts easily. You pick the fit!

There will be some really cool new apps. Specifically, there’s the Activity app, which tracks your daily activity. It shows you how many calories you’ve burned, how many minutes of exercise you’ve done, and how often you’ve stood throughout the day. The Workout app motivates you to rev your sweat with mid-workout reminders that you’re almost done and gives you summaries of each specific sweat session. The watch even uses the Fitness app on your iPhone to help you set goals based on your workout history. Oh, and with the new WatchKit program, developers can create new apps that adapt with the watch. No word yet on existing apps, but we’re hoping to see some of our favorites (we’re looking at you, RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal) on our wrists.

Match it to your outfit. Fashion is officially an important component for designers to think about when developing new gear—which is why we’re seeing new lines like this one pop up on the reg. The Apple Watch Sport will have two different sizes and five different colors: blue, pink, green, white and black, so you can coordinate to your fave shade.

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Playtime: The FITNESS Gear Guide

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Take Free Spin Classes at Revolve!

Written on September 9, 2014 at 9:24 am , by

New to New York City and trying to get fit on a budget? We’ve been there, girl (slash we’re still there…sigh). Gym membership costs are sky-high, and if you’re anything like us (which we know you are!), you’re probably dying to try every new fitness craze that’s out there.

Now the good news: Our spinning pals at Revolve Fitness are helping us out with an awesome program. You can volunteer to work a shift at the gym for an hour and 45 minutes, and they’ll pay you with a free class. You can expect to greet riders at the door, give tours, adjust bikes, do laundry and restock amenities. Whether you’re a student or a working professional, this sounds like a seriously sweet exchange.

The shifts the Revolve team needs help with are early weekday mornings, evenings and weekends, but you can email unionsquare@revolvefitness.com to see what time slots they’re looking to fill.

Happy (free) spinning!

Photo courtesy of Revolve Fitness

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5 Things Every Football Player Wishes You Knew About Football

Written on September 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm , by

NFL season is officially on, and we’re pretty sure the men in your life (husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandpas, distant cousins, etc.) are already glued to Sports Center and planning what type of beer they’re going to grab for game time. And while most of us are led to believe the male-football obsession is the only one that exists, it turns out things aren’t so one-sided. In fact, nearly half of the NFL’s fans are female, according to recent Scarborough research. So instead of rolling your eyes at every angry gesture your man and his friends make at the television, let yourself get caught up in the emotion too. Because not only are there things they want you to know (trust us, they’ll find it incredibly sexy when you rattle off player stats), but the players wish you did, too. New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason gave us some scoop:

1. Football requires brain power. Yes, the game is actually more than just a mean arm and fancy footwork. The guys have to think fast and memorize each play beforehand, so nix the “dumb jock” stereotypes, stat.

2. It is a job. We all know players in the NFL are making some nice chunks of change, but they don’t just show up, play the game and leave. There’s a ton of preparation that goes into each game, and when they travel, they have a curfew and bed check. No special guests allowed!

3. Not all players are the same. ”The majority of guys have a lot of stuff outside of football that makes them unique,” says Beason. “Football is a reflection of who you are, but it’s not all you are.”

4. They, too, have fitness mantras. “Talk is cheap; play the game” and “No toughness; no championship” are some of the quotes we found splashed across the Giants’ locker room when we took a tour with actor Taye Diggs and Duracell. Right on, boys.

5. Those headsets the coaches use are crucial. Angry coaches screaming into mics ring a bell? Communicating to the guys on the field is harder than it looks! Games get really, really loud, and they need to get messages to their players fast. Before technology, coaches had to use hand signals. Yowza!

Want to see how NFL games are powered? Check out Duracell’s infographic for some interesting facts on the technicalities of the games.

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Watch Gisele Bündchen’s New Under Armour Commercial

Written on September 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm , by

Under Armour has been featuring some seriously badass women in its “I Will What I Want” campaign. On the list so far: Misty Copeland, Lindsey Vonn, Sloane Stephens, Kelley O’Hara and Brianna Cope.

Each fab lady comes from a different athletic background, but they all have one thing in common: Among the obstacles and the criticism in their respective sports, they’ve worked VERY hard to get where they are now. And if there’s one person who knows criticism, it’s Gisele Bündchen.

When word spread that the supermodel would be the next addition to the campaign, she received some serious backlash. And the way Under Armour—and Gisele—dealt with it is pure genius.

Check out the commercial. Gisele gets some cardio in with a major punching sesh. While she hits the punching bag, comments—both positive and negative—appear on the walls. The Brazilian beauty constantly receives contradictory feedback, but it clearly hasn’t slowed her down, as she’s currently the highest-paid model in the world. Oh, and she got 43 no’s at her first try at international fashion shows before hearing a “yes.” Now that’s inspiring.

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CVS Officially Ends Tobacco Sales

Written on September 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm , by

Can we get a slow clap for CVS? As of today, the company is completely tobacco-free.

Now CVS Health, the corporation is wiping the carcinogens from shelves in an effort to promote healthier communities, and the decision comes nearly a month earlier than expected. “As a pharmacy innovation company at the forefront of a changing health care landscape, we are delivering breakthrough products and services, from advising on prescriptions to helping manage chronic and specialty conditions,” President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

Lung cancer is the most preventable cancer in the world, yet remains to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Want to help CVS raise awareness? Join its social media campaign, #OneGoodReason, and encourage others to live tobacco-free.

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Quitting Smoking: Getting Started & Staying Smoke-Free

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Take the Bus to Lose Weight

Written on September 3, 2014 at 9:55 am , by

Big city turn you into a public transit kind of gal? We know it isn’t always a great experience—strange, sweaty bodies too close to you in the summer and bone-chilling wind greeting you with each station-to-office trek in the winter.

But don’t cash your bus coins in yet. A new study found that those who commute via public transportation have less fat and an overall lower BMI than those who drive a car. Ellen Flint, Ph.D., a researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the study, says it’s the walks to and from your destination that are keeping you trimmer—an entire 6 pounds, in fact, for a 5-foot-4-inch woman.

Flint studied 7,500 men and women in the UK. Those who walked, biked, or used public transportation to and from work were not only 6 pounds lighter, but an entire BMI point lower than their car-commuting counterparts. “And that was despite adjustment for a range of other factors about the lifestyles of these individuals that we thought might be responsible for their weight status and commuting choices,” she explains. “So things like diet quality; how health-conscious a person is; income and socioeconomic status; the amount of physical activity that the person does in their job and in their leisure; their health and disability status: We really adjusted for all of those factors to try and distill the relationship between the level of activity in their commute to work and their bodyweight and composition.”

Flint hopes the study sheds light on the fact that even though riding a bus to work doesn’t seem any more exerting than driving a car, the required body-movement bursts—like walking to and from the train station, standing on the bus, and climbing up and down stairs—really do make a difference.

“On a population health level, encouraging that incidental physical activity in the daily lives of the population could really add up to something which might help combat obesity levels,” she says. “It’s quite a large weight difference. It’s one that we think is clinically significant and it suggests that there is a large untapped potential for policy makers to consider the health benefits one might get if one was to really try and promote and facilitate greater use of public and active forms of transport.”

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Buy A Pair of ASICS to Support Pediatric Cancer Research

Written on September 2, 2014 at 10:16 am , by

Nothing makes our fit-girl hearts skip more than seeing some of our favorite athletic-wear brands support really great causes. Case in point: We practically ran to the ASICS store and kicked off our old sneaks as soon as we found out the company would be teaming up with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for the second time. It’s a nonprofit organization that raises money to support research on pediatric cancer, the number-one disease killer among U.S. children.

 

 

ASICS created an exclusive, limited-edition collection for the cause and will donate $10 for each pair of shoes sold (aren’t they gorgeous?!), $2 for each clothing item and $1 for each accessory. But regardless of how many items are sold, ASICS has promised to donate at least $100,000 to the organization. Buy ‘em while you can, though, because they sold out in just three days last year!

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