Written on February 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm , by Lauren CardarelliSlush and the resulting sloppy conditions were all the buzz in Sochi the past few weeks, but according to alpine skier Julia Mancuso, who snagged a bronze in the ladies’ super combined slalom, it wasn’t as bad as everyone cracked it up to be. In fact, Mancuso told us that she likedthe hills in Russia! To put it simply, “it could have been worse.”
The Squaw Valley resident had yet another outstanding Olympic experience competing in three events and attending a handful of others to cheer on Team U.S.A. Adding a fourth medal to her accolades was the bling-a-licious cherry on top. “I was struggling going into this season so being able to get a medal was kind of a bonus,” she confessed. “I was hoping to use that energy into the next events and that didn’t happen. I was a little disappointed but looking back, I achieved something that so many athletes don’t get to do.”
So what’s her success secret? No Beyoncé dancing pre-race ritual here (although we still love you, Queen B). The most decorated woman in U.S. Olympic alpine history swears by one thing: getting her head in the game. “Ski racing is 99 percent mental, so for me it’s about getting to the start and relaxing—getting in the right mindset to go fast!” 81 miles per hour, fast. Talk about mind over matter!
Unlike other Olympians who are just arriving home, Mancuso skipped out on the Closing Ceremonies for a short stint in the States before finishing off her World Cup season. “Three more weeks and then it’s time to start training for next year,” she said a few days before jet-setting off to Switzerland.
And all of that traveling definitely adds up—especially when it comes to diet. “I try to eat healthy but it’s hard to plan ahead,” she said. “It’s one more thing to stress about if you’re not getting the right foods, so I try to control what I can and make good choices of the stuff I can’t control.” Her fuel of choice? ZICO-based smoothies. Check out her fave pre- and post-workout recipe below. Delicious and nutritious, perfect for whatever “podium” you’re looking to achieve.
So what’s Mancuso up to next, once she gets a little down time? She’ll be swapping snow for Hawaiian waters to indulge her surfing and paddleboarding interests, then flying to London to attend her BFF’s wedding. Sounds like a fun year ahead!
Written on January 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Track & Field World Champion Lolo Jones embraces defeat. In fact, it’s the driving force behind her success so far, she says, and what the athlete will most definitely draw from on her bobsledding road to redemption in the upcoming Games. That’s right: this week the 31-year-old was selected for the 2014 Olympic Bobsled Team, along with fellow track star Lauryn Williams. No wonder Jones’ mantra is, “A failure isn’t a failure if it prepares you for success tomorrow.”
The duo became the ninth and tenth Americans to ever compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, which—let’s face it—is pretty darn cool. Fingers crossed that the third time is the charm for Jones when it comes to the podium. The speedy all-star has certainly put in the work, gaining 30 pounds of muscle (thanks to a new routine and proper recovery with Twinlab CleanSeries performance protein products) for her new gig’s dangerous terrain.
“I transitioned to bobsled about a month after track season,” she told us while prepping for team trials. “I’m still training to be a fast and powerful sprinter, but the main difference is, as opposed to running a 100-meter or hurdle race, now I’m running maybe 40 to 50 meters before jumping in a bobsled.”
The shift to colder temps hasn’t had too much of an effect on Jones, though. In fact, she finds it more peaceful to work out during the winter and even embraces trudging through the snow (more than we can say for ourselves). “I feel like I’m pushing my body more than when it’s easy and beautiful out,” she admits. I guess we should bundle up and embrace the Polar Vortex then?
Three to five layers are key to keeping toasty, Jones says, as are wool socks. “They’re waterproof and keep your feet warm!” For slick and slushie days, she relies on Asics GEL-FujiSetsu G-TX sneaks, too. The athlete swears she isn’t superstitious, but she does pride herself in being well-organized—especially before a competition. Her warm gear is neatly laid out before bedtime to avoid adding to any jitters. “The last thing I need to do is wake up race day and look for this or that,” she says. “You’re already nervous enough, the last thing you want is that one missing thing to add extra nerves.”
So what has been her biggest career highlight to date? That’s a tough question, to say the least. “Anytime I put on Team USA and represent tons of people back home, it’s a huge honor,” she says. And we wish her nothing but the best of luck in sporting red, white and blue yet again in the coming weeks. You got this, girlfriend!
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- 10 U.S. Olympic Hotties Heating Up Sochi
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- Sochi Sneak Peek: What You Need to Know About the Winter Games’ Locale
Written on January 9, 2014 at 9:42 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
New York City-based celebrity trainer Joel Harper knows a thing or two about building lean muscle. That’s why his star-studded clientele—ranging from Dr. Oz to Olympic medalists—keep him on speed dial. But sculpting that fit and firm dream bod doesn’t come from the gym alone – it starts in the kitchen. “When it comes to exercise, your body needs the fuel to make it work and then repair properly,” says Harper. “It needs the raw material to build muscle. The key is there are no shortcuts.”
Harper keeps his metabolism revved with three meals and five (yes, five!) snacks a day. “I’m always hungry, so I have healthy options automated,” he says. And don’t even think about giving him convenient, additive-laden garbage when his stomach starts to grumble. Harper sticks to organic grub and avoids anything pre-packaged, including dessert. So how does he curb his sweet tooth? He munches on fruit. “I love every kind of fruit and learning new healthy ways to eat them.”
One of his favorite techniques: blending fruit into a protein smoothie. It tastes great while pumping up muscle recovery and growth. Win, win. Harper whips one up like his go-to below within 30 minutes of a vigorous workout. Cheers!
- 1 cup of flax milk
- 1/2 of a banana
- 1/2 of a papaya or mango
- Handful of blueberries
- 1 scoop of Vanilla CleanSeries Protein Powder
- 4 ice cubes
- Dash of cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Written on January 8, 2014 at 9:05 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Gabrielle Douglas really is America’s Golden Girl, as Vanity Fair so fittingly named the gymnast shortly after the 2012 Summer Olympics. Bling aside (she won both team and individual all-around gold medals—no big deal), it was Gabby’s all-star grin and heartwarming, underdog story that stole the hearts of viewers from around the world. Now with two books, a leotard line and a few acting gigs under her belt, the 18-year-old Olympian really is the whole flippin’ package.
Her positive attitude, despite her rocky past, still resonates with me when I think back to the London Games and look forward to playing fan girl during Sochi. After all, mental toughness is arguably just as important as physical strength when it comes to athleticism, right?
“I remind myself that I can do anything that I set my mind to do,” Gabby recently told FITNESS when we asked how she keeps her cool pre-competition. “I tell myself to stay calm and focus on one routine at a time.” Another important psych tactic, she says: “Trust your abilities.” Noted.
But like most of us, the pint-sized “Flying Squirrel” can be tough on herself—especially when she flubs up from time to time. “My coaches and family tell me to be proud of my accomplishments and not to dwell on the mistakes,” she says. “Sometimes it’s really hard to do, but I tell myself to look at my mistakes as fuel to drive me toward my success.”
The prep, dedication and sacrifices made along the way can be tough, she admits, but it’s all worth it in the end. Luckily, Gabby has a great sense of humor to make light of the not-so-fun days. “I’m a closet comedian,” she confesses. “I love to make people laugh!” And laugh you must when your daily routine consists of squats, calf raises and lunges. Ouch! “Gymnasts don’t normally work out with weights—we mostly use our body weight as resistance,” she explains, adding that a strong core and lower bod is paramount in her sport. “I focus on strength and conditioning exercises, but I also have to maintain my flexibility, so I stretch every day and really enjoy running outdoors.”
But what sport would she participate in if she wasn’t busy rockin’ the floor, beam, vault and uneven bars? “My brother took martial arts and it looked like a lot of fun! I love how fierce but graceful the moves are.”
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- 3 Squats to a Strong, Firm Butt
- Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney on Getting Back Into the Gym and Finally Being Impressed
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Written on December 24, 2013 at 10:02 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Whammy! Last week, Ron Burgundy and his co-anchor/wife Veronica Corningstone—played by the talented, hilarious bombshell Christina Applegate—returned to their news desks in the highly anticipated comedy Anchorman 2. Rumor has it, the sequel is worth the decade of a wait. “Don’t act like you’re not impressed…”
Besides the hubbub surrounding the buzzy release, Applegate has kept quiet outside of the spotlight the last year or so, focusing instead on raising her toddler daughter and enjoying some major me-time. “I’m taking some time off and working on just being a mom,” she recently told FITNESS. “I’m loving every minute of it!” Juggling a career with mommyhood took a toll on the Emmy award-winning actress mentally and physically, which explains why Applegate is just now getting back into the swing of things with a clean diet and Pilates-based training. The starlet’s goal: to gain back her pre-preggo strength, especially in her core. “I usually try to get in a good 30 minutes of cardio before I do about an hour with my trainer. We do a lot of weights!”
Satiating bad eating habits has been the toughest part of losing the baby weight, she says, but fruitwater has been Applegate’s sweet-tooth saver. “It’s nice to know that I have something that tastes like a naughty treat that’s not actually bad,” she says. “You can only drink so much water in a day. It’s nice to have something that’s fresh and bubbly and sweet with added vitamins—which we lose a lot of when we’re training.” Sticking to the celeb-coveted alkaline diet is also crucial for Applegate, a lifestyle plan the long-time vegetarian started to strictly follow after her breast cancer diagnosis.
Another health shift Applegate made following her double mastectomy was completely eliminating stress. “I was always like a sponge to other people’s B.S. and I would just take it on,” she says. “That’s a killer right there.” Thanks to a few sessions with a church friend, Applegate was able to hash out how she responded to life’s challenges and learned to let former weighted strain and hassles slide right off of her shoulders. “Where I used to be pissed off or needed to be right, now I’m like, ‘Whatever. Is it really affecting me? No.’ Unless you come over and chop off my arm, I really don’t care what you do. Just don’t hurt my kid, or me physically, and I’m good to go.”
So what can Applegate dish about returning to her Anchorman role? No spoiler alerts here: “It’s funny. There are just so many surprises!” Just don’t expect her character to be sporting the same tight ensembles from the first installment. A decade has passed for both Veronica and Christina, after all. “I kind of thought, ‘It’s 10 years later, if I’ve got 10 more pounds on me than the first one then I think it’s completely acceptable,’” she says with a laugh. “Veronica is much more established, more of a Jane Pauley/Barbara Walters at this point, so my clothes are way more conservative than they were in the first. But I don’t care, this is my post-mommy body; this who I am now.”
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Written on December 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
‘Tis the season to be jolly—right? With last-minute presents to purchase, cookies to bake and traveling woes up the wazoo, the holidays can be just plain stressful. And when we’re stressed, we eat. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.
“We overeat because the alarm center in our brain hijacks the thinking center—it’s an ancient mechanism, built to protect us from danger when food was scarce,” says Dr. Julian Ford, professor of psychiatry and director of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine traumatic stress center. “It tells us we have to keep eating even if we know we shouldn’t or no longer feel hungry.”
The external “joyful” holiday pressures, in addition to those we put on ourselves, cause our noggin to go into over-drive, explains Ford. “It’s a perfect storm for putting our brain’s alarms on high alert, leading to a feeling of constant pressure, exhaustion and ultimately disappointment when we can’t duplicate the Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed wonderful life.”
Eating can be a break from the hullabaloo hassle, as well as a source of more stress. As we all know, indulging in our favorite sweets and savories can lead to a downward spiral and the residual guilt always outweighs the joy we get from that temporary fix. To make matters worse, colder temps play into these mental games, setting us up for a diet disaster. “Our bodies may need more calories to keep us warm in the cold weather,” says Ford. ”Eating more in the winter is also often a way to cope with feeling bored when cooped up inside or depressed with the long, dark nights and short days.”
So how can we stop all the stress? Follow Ford’s top tips to tackling holiday H-E-double hockey sticks and the overeating that seemingly comes with the territory:
Make Your List, Check It Twice. Write down all of the foods you enjoy—those that give you that warm and fuzzy feeling with every bite, says Ford. Include both naughty foods and nice options so that you have a complete menu of what hits your pleasure zone. Keep the “good” ones handy in times of trouble (a low-cal granola bar is the perfect munchie for those long, winding checkout lines!) and prioritize those items at your seasonal soirée.
Want vs. Need. When you find yourself about to eat as a reflex reaction, take a few seconds to get off auto pilot and focus your mind by asking yourself, “Is eating this, right at this moment, going to really satisfy me and give me a sense of personal control?” If the answer is no, don’t eat it. “Remember that it’s your choice, based on valuing yourself,” says Ford.
Silent Flight. What’s the best way to avoid temptation? Distraction. “Look for ways to free yourself from the holiday (and day-to-day) pressures and demands,” suggests Ford. Carve an hour out of your busy schedule to find your center in your fave yoga class or sweat it out with some cardio. “Besides burning calories and reducing the feeling of hunger, exercise can help focus our minds by providing the quiet time we all need to think carefully about the choices we’re making,” says Ford. It’s all about seeking enjoyment and having a sense of self control.
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Written on December 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Shape up your 2014 slimdown in half the time—yes, seriously! The highly anticipated third installment of P90X is here so you can continue to “do your best and forget the rest,” as fitness guru Tony Horton always says, in just 30 minutes.
Beachbody’s new 90-day program cuts the killer 60-minute routines down without sacrificing intensity. “A lot of people were saving themselves during the first half to get through the second, so we thought, ‘Let’s eliminate all of that and sequence things just right,” says Horton. “There’s 16 workouts, four more than P90X and two more than P90X2. They’re shorter; have a lot more variety with all new moves. It’s not P90X shorter—it’s brand new, on its own.”
So what can you expect from the plateau-busting sweat sesh? For the first time, Horton introduces Pilates into the mix, as well as a separate warm-up/stretch DVD, Cold Start. “What I’m trying to do is introduce Pilates and yoga to men and more resistance training to women,” he says. “Exercise science shows that if both sexes begin to understand how the other half lives, then they will ultimately be stronger, more flexible, leaner, more cardiovascularly fit and well-rounded. There’s a little warm-up [in each routine], but we get right into it to jam-pack as much as we can.” Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Horton’s notorious muscle-confusion is also taken up a notch in X3 by introducing his breakthrough “Acceleration System” and different ways of approaching the program overall. “There’s a lean option for people who want to burn more calories and do less resistance,” explains Horton. Don’t be fooled, though—this is not a graduate program. “It’s for everybody and anybody that just wants to get in shape, maybe for the first time, and be able to sustain it.”
With the holidays quickly approaching, P90X3 is the perfect gift for both yourself and fit friends looking for big changes in the new year. Just remember, your dream body won’t happen over night, says Horton. But your results will be “off the chain” if you put in the time, eat right and stick with it long-term. “If your purpose and your plan are aligned, then it doesn’t become this short-term goal of losing weight or shaping a body part to look good in clothing. Ultimately, the goal here is more of a bigger picture, focusing on the things that you can control today so you’re more consistent.”
What does the 55-year-old former stand-up comedian have on his resolutions list for 2014? “I’d like to hold a handstand for a minute—a free handstand without a wall,” he says. Get this: He’s held one for 59 seconds before – twice. So close! But setting achievable goals are the key to success, Horton advises, adding that 40 pull-ups in a row is another thing he’s working on. “I’ve done 37. I think I was a monkey in a past life!” We’ll stick with a goal of one…maybe two.
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- Turn Fitness From Hobby to Career with Beachbody
- Insanity’s Shaun T Has ZERO Excuses
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Written on December 2, 2013 at 9:23 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Whether you’re “Dressin’ Up” for a hot night out on the town or struggling to be “Wide Awake” for an early bird spin class, Katy Perry has the turn-it-up tune to tap into your inner-rockstar. I mean, is there a better workout anthem than “Roar?” I don’t think so.
In true Perry fashion, her newest album PRISM delivers hit after girl-power hit, all with that go-getter ‘tude we know and love (And talk about total arm envy in her music video “Unconditionally,” which was released last week). So how did the starlet shape up for her upcoming world tour? We got her svelte secrets and put together a killer playlist of our Katy faves for you to pop on whenever you need a boost.
Hit the Trail. “I prefer to get my exercise outside,” says Perry, confessing her love for hiking and bike riding with friends. Just don’t get her started early in the a.m. “I love feeling stronger and clearer-minded after a workout, but I HATE mornings!” What does she jam out to as she tackles the terrain? Drake, Lorde, Sky Ferreira and HAIM.
Strong is Sexy. “When I’m on tour, I get into a pretty steady rhythm so it’s not that hard to get in a workout every day,” says the avid SoulCycler. “I need to work out to keep my stamina up for singing and dancing at my shows.” When it comes to a gym sweat sesh, Katy (oftentimes sporting Adidas attire) kicks it with one of our fave trainers, Harley Pasternak, known in Tinseltown for his firm-and-burn routines. After a 15-minute warm up, the duo tackle two to three full-body exercises with weights, followed by three to four muscle group-specific exercises. “He has me constantly moving,” she says. Katy’s strengthening circuit is followed by cardio—she enjoys skipping rope to spike her heart rate!
Plan for Success. “The challenge on tour is eating healthy because not every place you go has fresh food,” she says. To avoid getting stuck with preservative-packed snacks, the singer comes prepared for on-the-go noshing with Popchips. Her signature flavor, Katy’s Kettle Corn, is a winner—just like her!
Written on November 27, 2013 at 11:22 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Maria Kang is just a mom—a mom gone viral, that is, when her ab-flaunting “What’s your excuse?” captioned photo sparked controversy and media scrutiny. Things had just died down for the Californian fitness enthusiast when she hit another nerve last week with a Facebook rant about plus-size women in lingerie.
Kang issued a warning about what she had to say, then vented her disapproval for those who encourage overweight women to be proud of their bodies. The mother of three urged her nearly 230,000 followers to change the mentality that’s sweeping the nation (sourcing multiple statistics), noting that she was not knocking those who are proud and heavy…but instead simply trying to empower healthy role models in society. Three hours later, Facebook removed her post and she was temporarily blocked from the site altogether.
“I think that everyone should love and accept their bodies,” Kang told FITNESS yesterday. “I don’t think that anyone can progress when they have a foundation of shame, so I didn’t want to seem like I was bashing them. No one should be ashamed of who they are. But there is a fine line that we’re walking, and that’s what I was talking about: When you say you love and accept yourself versus love and progress yourself.”
With two-thirds of our nation obese, $3 trillion being spent on health care, and childhood obesity on the rise, Kang believes there are multiple contributing factors tipping the scales, all in which stem from family. “Economically, it’s tougher to get good food when you’re poor,” she says. “Socially, if people around you are eating like crap and it’s normal, then it’s normalized. And culturally, if people are saying you’re okay being overweight, they keep on reinforcing this outlook.” The root of the problem, in her eyes, lies in leadership. “If the parents are healthy and they are healthy role models, then they can raise healthy kids. That’s just how it goes. It’s so simple but so hard when we live in such a blameful culture.”
So is she at fault for fat-shaming? Is the criticism warranted? According to Kang, she’s simply telling the truth and would never intend on hurting anyone’s feelings. “If you have excess body fat, especially around your midsection where your organs are, that’s not healthy for you,” she said in response to the recent backlash. “I think we should never shame anybody to lose weight. We should motivate them in a positive way, but when you say love and accept yourself, you’re creating not only a normalization, but a sedentary, complacent society.”
Although some have deemed Kang a pudge-loathing personal trainer, that’s not exactly the case. “I’m average…and nowhere near a size zero,” the former NASM-certified instructor said. She doesn’t work out for a living — her day job revolves around overseeing the ownership of two residential care homes for the elderly — but she loves volunteering her time to mommy exercise groups every Tuesday night. “I think your job is to be healthy if you’re a mom,” she added, a concept that provoked her founding of Fitness Without Borders, a community education and motivation non-profit.
So, why so passionate about the obesity epidemic? Kang, a former bulimic, witnessed first-hand the debilitating repercussions of the medical condition with her own mother. “She’s 52 years-old and has so many health issues. I work with people who are overweight by choice. I think that’s the reason why people are so pissed off; I’m telling them that they have a choice when they really want to have an excuse.”
Is it a choice? We at FITNESS believe someone can be fat but fit, and you can’t tell what’s going on with a person’s body just by the way they look. Regardless, Kang certainly knows how to stir the pot, and one thing we can totally get behind is her belief that small steps in the right direction can lead to major gains, which doesn’t happen over night. According to Kang, you have to be uncomfortable with where you are to desire change. “It’s not an all or nothing thing,” she said. “You have to take it one step at a time.”
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- The Anti-Diet: How Not Dieting Is the Key to Losing Weight
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Written on November 27, 2013 at 10:18 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Thanksgiving is all about tradition so before diving into a slice of killer homemade pumpkin pie, many runners lace up and join together for a holiday-inspired footrace. Run to eat—why not?
This upcoming day of thanks is no different than the past 26 for 82-year-old Willa Porter, who will be earning herself yet another race tee at the nation’s sixth largest turkey trot in Dana Point. For the speedy former marathoner (she wins her age group every single year in the 5K), the annual fit festivity provides an opportunity to give it her all with kids and grandkids in tow. Supporting the race’s charitable partners like the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment is also important to Porter, especially since her husband holds a chair position for support group.
Known as “The Race Before You Stuff Your Face,” the Dana Point Turkey Trot 5K, 10K and Kids’ Gobble Wobble has become a Californian favorite that stretches along breathtaking Orange County cliffs and coves. “It is so beautiful and family-friendly,” says Porter.
So how does the inspirational athlete brine her bird and keep dinner on schedule if she’s out there pounding the pavement? “I [used to] prepare food the night before and put the turkey in the oven before I left for the race,” explains Porter, but things are easier now that her sons—grown with families of their own—take turns hosting. The last two years, she also participated in the turkey dinner for veterans and military following the race, and will celebrate the same way next week.
Despite being in tip-top shape now, Porter didn’t start competing – or really exercising regularly – until her late 40s. “I started jogging and bike riding in my late forties when my sons were almost grown and I had more time,” she says, adding that it wasn’t so much of a goal as it was a hobby and fun recreation. Her one piece of advice: give running a try, no matter what age. Cheers to that!
Interested in squeezing in a pre-feast sweat-fest of your own? Head over to Active.com to get your gobble on.
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