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Colleen Travers

The First Lady Wants You to Drink Up

Written on September 23, 2013 at 10:34 am , by

Drink more water for your skin, your health and your waist. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Not to be pessimistic, but when it comes to Americans, our glasses are half-empty these days–literally. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day and 7 percent drink no water at all. That’s why earlier this month FLOTUS Michelle Obama launched her Drink Up initiative to get people drinking more water and less of the sugary stuff. To get some tips on how to increase your water intake we chatted with Dr. Jenna Bell, RD. Follow her tips below and follow in the FLOTUS’ adequately hydrated footsteps:

  • Jazz it up: Not one to drink boring old tap water? Try a water enhancer like Stur, sweetened with stevia, so there’s no added calories or sugar. The coloring from each flavor comes from vegetable juice and you can control how much want in your glass with a simple squeeze.
  • Do as Diane Sawyer does: “She puts a glass of water by her bed and drinks it every morning when she wakes up, so now I do too,” says Bell. “If you’re going to take advice from anyone, take it from her because it’s clearly working!”
  • Carry a water bottle: This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is the easiest way to keep drinking as the day goes on. Buy a reusable bottle like S’well, who is partnering with Drink Up with a limited edition bottle that gives 10 percent of proceeds back to the foundation.
  • Start meals with water: “A study in 2010 out of Virginia Tech looked at whether or not drinking water before a meal effects what we eat and weight loss. They found that two glasses of water before a meal helped shed weight and made participants eat less because water fills up your stomach,” says Bell.
  • Order water every time you order a beverage: Coffee? Get water. Wine? Get water. Not only will you stay hydrated, you’ll probably fend off a hangover in the process.

Now tell us: What tricks do you use to drink more water?

How to Pick the Perfect Personal Trainer

Written on September 10, 2013 at 10:12 am , by

Maybe it’s the slew of emails and pitches editors get a day, but lately it seems like everyone is an expert at something. That’s far from the case, says Paul Juris, ED. D., executive director of the Cybex Research Institute. Even if the person is certified, there are some critical checkpoints you should look out for when choosing a trainer for your own fitness goals. See what he has to say below.

Oh, and did we mention that Juris used to be the strength coach for the Dallas Mavericks? If there is anyone who knows a thing or two about using personal training to reach your goals, it’s him!

More from FITNESS: What’s Your Fitness Motivation?

How Long It Takes to Catch a Cold (Spoiler: Not Long At All!)

Written on August 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm , by

Whether you’re a mom who is getting ready for the influx of germs your child is about to bring home as they go back to school or are just stocking up on hand sanitizer for the office this fall, one thing is definite–cold season is creeping up on us. We got the chance to chat with NYC Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Anthony Jahn, MD on behalf of Ocean Saline Nasal Care on how to stay cold-free this season and were shocked at this scary stat he shared with us on how long it takes for you to catch a cold once you’ve been sneezed on, which is the primary way you catch a cold. Watch below:



So from the time someone sneezes on you, or even near you (sneeze droplets can travel much farther than you would think!) it only takes 15 minutes for that cold germ to travel from the front of your nose to the back of your throat. Dr. Jahn also said that the average cold lasts anywhere from seven to ten days – that’s a long time to be sick! You won’t show symptoms for about ten hours, meaning you could spread a cold to your friends or family and not even know it. Bummer.

To skip the sick days this year, use a saline solution like Ocean Saline Nasal Spray to keep your nose moist (and therefore clear of any germs), take vitamin C and zinc and most importantly, steer clear of any sneezy coworkers until their symptoms clear up. Here’s to a happy, healthy fall!

More from FITNESS: Sneaky Cold Culprits and How to Boost Your Immunity


Boost Your Running Mix with Slacker

Written on July 31, 2013 at 10:22 am , by

I’m in the early weeks of training for the ING NYC Marathon in November, but my go-to playlist is already getting a little stale during those long weekend runs. Enter Slacker, a music service you can listen to and personalize on any device. The free subscription allows you to create and listen to stations ranging anywhere from Top 40 tunes to DJ-customized ones that are updated weekly. Slacker also has two subscription levels for even more music. The first allows you to have unlimited skips and the ability to download radio stations for $3.99/month. For $9.99/month you can create your own playlists, listen to full albums (aka never have to buy music again) and–my favorite part–download your own playlist or one that’s already made right to your device. You mean I never have to scroll through my music library and piece together a playlist again? Sold.

To sign up for Slacker visit www.slacker.com. Looking for a playlist boost of your own? Below, Slacker’s in-house music guru DJ Parker shares her favorite new songs that are perfect to work up a sweat to.

Busting the Ballet Myths with Breaking Pointe’s Allison DeBona

Written on July 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm , by

DeBona flies through the air during one of her many performances. (Photo courtesy of Erik Ostling/The CW)

Can you imagine working out nine hours a day? Me neither. But that’s what professional ballerinas do Monday through Friday, in addition to strength training, conditioning and technique workshops. Whoa. We got a glimpse of the life of a dancer in the first season of Breaking Pointe, a reality series that follows a group of dancers at Ballet West, a professional ballet company in Salt Lake City, Utah. To kick off the start of the second season on the CW, we chatted with Allison DeBona, one of the dancers featured on the show about what it takes to become a professional dancer and what putting your life on TV is really like.

How did you get started dancing?

When I was three years old, my mom put me in gymnastics and dancing. I gravitated more toward dancing and that was that!

Was there ever a point that you got sick of it?

Yes, I actually quit for a while from 8th grade until junior year of high school.

Wow, that’s a big gap. How did you get back into the scene?

I had always loved ballet and the reasons I walked away from it wasn’t because I didn’t like it, I just had a lot of other stuff going on at that moment. When I went back I was just really determined. I did go to college though–most ballet dancers who try to go professional do it right after high school. My parents and I discussed it and we thought it was best if I went to college since I had taken so much time off. I went to Indiana University and they have a ballet program so I worked hard there and then got a job at 24 years old at Ballet West, which is pretty late age-wise for a ballerina. Read more

The Fittest Cities on Facebook, Did Your City Make the Cut?

Written on July 17, 2013 at 10:54 am , by

A quick fix for getting off the couch? Check out all your friends posting their workouts on Facebook. (Photo courtesy iStockPhoto)

It’s no secret that Facebook is a big way to stay accountable of your health and fitness goals. Just take a look at your Timeline any time of the day to see friends who have checked in to a studio, posted their afternoon run or changed their profile picture to a finish line shot. That’s why the site has come up with its list of fittest cities, based on fitness-related mentions, check ins and the use of fitness apps with Facebook in cities with at least 200,000 Facebook users over a three month period. Check out the top ten below to see if your city made it:

  1. Virginia Beach, VA
  2. Colorado Springs, CO
  3. Austin, TX
  4. San Antonio, TX
  5. Livingston, NJ
  6. Portland, OR
  7. El Paso, TX
  8. Oklahoma City, OK
  9. Tacoma, WA
  10. Albuquerque, NM

Fittest Cities by Activity (measured in mentions of activity)

  1. Yoga City: Austin, TX
  2. Running City: Oklahoma City, OK
  3. Swimming City Tucson, AZ
  4. Biking City: Minneapolis, MN
  5. CrossFit City: El Paso, TX
  6. Dance City: Oakland, CA
  7. Triathlon City: Grand Rapids, MI
  8. Marathon City: San Diego, CA

Now tell us: Do you use Facebook to stay accountable?

Talking Waves and Wipe Outs with Roxy Pro Surfer Lee Ann Curren

Written on July 1, 2013 at 10:18 am , by

Just another day at the office. (Photo courtesy of Roxy)

Anytime a surfer comes into the office for a meeting, I’m immediately jealous. The tan, the sun-streaked hair and the overall free-spirited attitude they all seem to encompass has me tempted to trade in my cubicle for a surfboard (except for the tiny issue of having absolutely no idea, nor the courage to learn how to surf). But though she may seem laid back, Roxy pro Lee Ann Curren is a busy lady! Between competing in the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour at the Roxy Pro Biarritz this month in addition to rehearsing with her band Betty the Shark in her free time; Curren’s fearless spirit is completely contagious. Below, Curren chats about her workouts, favorite places to surf and more.

Your dad is surf legend Tom Curren. Did you feel pressured to surf growing up?

There really wasn’t any pressure, because I loved surfing when I was younger. It was cool having my dad always there and looking after us and it was something we could share with him. I have four brothers and we all surf, so it’s kind of like family bonding time. Read more

The Most Difficult Night to Fall Asleep–Plus Tips to Fix It

Written on June 25, 2013 at 11:01 am , by

Sleep better tonight: Write down what is stressing you out before you doze off. (Photo courtesy Cheyenne Ellis)

Find yourself tossing and turning on Sunday nights? You’re not alone. A new survey conducted by Toluna Omnibus showed that more than one-third of adults have the most difficulty falling asleep Sunday night, with 70 percent of those adults reporting it takes them at least a half hour longer to start snoozing than any other night of the week. (Saturday came in second, followed by Monday and then Friday). Not OK! Below, Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and sleep expert shares more insights from the survey and some surefire ways to get to sleep faster any night of the week.

What surprised you most about this survey?
It was most interesting to learn that stay-at-home moms and those who are employed full time have the most trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights, compared to those of other employment status. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full time job, and getting a family ready for the week ahead can cause as much anxiety on a Sunday night as those getting ready for the work week ahead.

Why do you think Sundays are the hardest days to fall asleep?
Many have trouble falling asleep on Sunday night for two major reasons. Over the weekends, because we don’t have the same obligations we do during the week, people tend to go out and stay up later, and sleep in the following morning. It’s crucial to keep a regular sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day (even on the weekends), or at least waking up within the same 30 minutes daily, to avoid throwing off your regular sleep cycle. Over the weekend, we also tend to ‘forget’ about our weekly responsibilities, causing many to struggle on Sunday nights, due to transitioning to and anticipating the week ahead.

What are three tips to get to sleep faster any night of the week?

  1. Use a worry journal prior to going to sleep, to get thoughts out of your head, onto the page and scheduled for active thought at another time. On one side of a piece of paper, write down the things that are bothering you. Next to them, write down a solution, even if it is to think about the worry tomorrow.
  2. Try taking a natural sleep supplement 30 minutes before bed, like Dream Water, which includes natural ingredients like Melatonin, 5-HTP and GABA that will help you to relax and fall asleep, without the potential side effects of OTC and prescription drugs.
  3. Make sure your environment is conducive to a good night sleep. I recommend a cool room at about 65-72 degrees and making your bedroom as dark as possible, avoiding any glaring lights from computers, bedside clocks, streetlights, etc. To block out light, consider a sleep mask, like the Dream Essentials Escape™ Luxury Travel & Sleep Mask, which allows for complete coverage without any pressure on the eyes.

When it comes to the debate on exercising at night or in the morning, which is better in order to get a good night’s sleep?

Numerous studies show exercise at any time of day, especially cardio, leads to a better night sleep, but it’s important to ensure your exercise routine does not interfere with your sleep cycle. It really depends on the individual to figure out what time works best. Those who find exercising provides them with a burst of energy should schedule their exercise earlier in the day, at least four hours prior to bedtime; however, it is also important not to sacrifice hours of sleep in the morning, by waking up early to fit in a work out. Bottom line – schedule a workout, but make sure it does not come at the expense of the seven to nine hours of sleep needed daily.

For more sleep tips and advice from Dr. Breus, visit thesleepdoctor.com.

More from FITNESS: The Get-to-Sleep Guide




Sit and Sweat: TechnoGym’s New Wellness Ball

Written on June 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm , by

Editors planking on the Wellness Ball. Hello, sore abs!

One of the many perks of working here at FITNESS is the ability to test out new workouts and routines often. And while as a staff we work up a sweat quite a bit, we have our fair share of standard 9-to-5 days too, which of course means sitting all day long. But now thanks to the new TechnoGym Wellness Ball, anyone can get a workout at their desk by using it for what trainer Josh Holland calls, “active sitting.” The ball is composed of two different densities, so that bottom half is heavier than the top half (so no rogue ball rolling down the hall!). It also comes with a QR code on the handle, which gives you the ability to scan with your smartphone to grab additional exercises.

To correct your posture, strengthen your core and improve your flexibility on those days when you can’t make it to yoga or even a quick lunchtime walk, sneak into a conference room and try a few of these moves below using the Wellness Ball.

First, start with a stretch. Wrap your arms as far around the ball as you can then do the inverse, lie with your back on the ball and roll it slightly to elongate your back and open up your chest and shoulders.

Plank and Pike (Core): Start with a plank, forearms on the ball and feet on the floor (for additional support put the ball against a wall). Hold for 10 seconds and go into a Pike and Level–from plank position pop your butt into the air, then back down to level for 10 reps.

Chair and Squats (Legs): Place the ball between you and a wall at waist height with your back to the ball. Squat into a seated position for 10 seconds and hold. Next, squat up and down, rolling the ball against the wall with your back from the seated position for 10 reps. End back in Chair position and lift one knee at a time for 10 reps.

Even if you can’t bust out a squat in the middle of your busy day, just sitting on the ball gives you a slow and steady burn if sitting correctly. Holland says to make sure you are always engaging your core. To give yourself a quick self-check, place your hands behind your back and lengthen the chest to straighten out your posture.

For more information on the TechnoGym Wellness Ball, visit technogym.com.

A Skinny Pasta Recipe for a Slimmer Summer

Written on May 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm , by

The perfect pasta for your first outdoor BBQ this season! (Photo courtesy Christine Avanti)

For some reason, pasta always seems to get linked to a winter comfort food. And it’s true that on a cold, blustery day a bowl of spaghetti can hit the spot, but when given the right ingredients it can make a pretty mean, lean summer dish as well. Check out this recipe below from Christine Avanti, CN, author of Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salad and Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food so you can continue your carb love affair and still sport a bikini this summer.

Simple Skinny Pasta
Makes 7 servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup artichoke hearts packed in water
4 ounces mozzarella (fresh packed in water), cubed
1 cup Skinny Vine Slim Chardonnay
1 pound whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions


1. In an extra large frying pan, sauté onions, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and tomatoes in olive oil until onions being to caramelize. Deglaze pan with Skinny Vine Slim Chardonnay wine scraping all the brown bits from the pan. Add artichoke hearts and lightly sauté until artichokes are evenly distributed.
2. Add cooked pasta and fresh mozzarella and lightly toss with a set of tongs.
3. Plate and sprinkle with flat leaf parsley or basil.

Nutrition info per serving: 366 calories, 18g protein, 53g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 10g fat

 More from FITNESS: Give It a Twirl: Low-Calorie Pasta Recipes