Written on October 18, 2013 at 11:26 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
I have always considered myself a “light sleeper.” The tiniest noise or change in room temperature has the ability to mess with my REM cycle, throwing me completely off course for days. Turns out I’m not alone, either. Forty-seven million adults in the United States alone suffer from sleep deprivation, so clearly we can all benefit from a few extra zzz’s, especially us athletes. We need it. That’s why when I met with the co-CEO of SHEEX, Michelle Marciniak, I was intrigued with the company’s devotion to improving sleep performance. From bedding like pillows, mattress toppers, comforters and duvet covers to now first-of-its-kind sleepwear (I’m obsessed with their nightie!), SHEEX brings the benefits of performance technology 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for enhanced comfort and an overall better shut-eye experience. I mean, their motto is “Sleep Better. Play Better.” That’s something we can get behind.
As I’m sure many of you know from experience, traditional cotton sheets and sleepwear trap heat. I mean, hello tossing and turning! “SHEEX changes this by allowing the right amount of body heat to easily and effectively radiate away from the body, while also wicking moisture to provide additional comfort and evaporative cooling effect,” Michelle explained. Translation? Silky-smooth body enveloping that transfers body heat two times more effectively than cotton, which allows the body to cool itself for faster, deeper sleep onset. Oh, and 50 percent better temperature fluctuation reduction. That’s why so many professional and amateur athletes (as well as The National Sleep Foundation) endorse SHEEX!
As a former University of Tennessee All-American collegiate (ahem, my UConn Huskies big rival), professional basketball player and former University of South Carolina coach, Michelle knows about fitness and moreover how quality sleep translates to giving it your all on the court. In 2007, she and Susan Walvius were coaching together and after a long day of teaching camp, were sitting in the gym, exhausted. “Being a former elite level athlete and fitness fanatic, I was wearing my favorite performance fabric athletic gear, which I frequently trained in for triathlons,” Michelle told us. “Susan was also wearing the same gear but made a different connection on that summer day.” While Michelle loved the fabric for its quick-dry, moisture-wicking features, Susan loved “the drape and feel of the fabric against her skin.” That’s when Susan said, “I would love to have bed sheets made out of this stuff.” Without blinking an eye, Michelle was in and SHEEX was born.
So how did the dynamic duo use their basketball knowledge in their entrepreneurial venture? “The key to being a successful entrepreneur is surrounding yourself with people who have the experience and expertise from the industry you are entering,” Michelle explained. Although they had witnessed firsthand the evolution of athletic wear fabric throughout their careers, they were not very familiar with the textile industry. “What Susan and I knew is to wake up every day and get better. You are never satisfied with your performance as an athlete or coach. The day you become satisfied is the day that you will get crushed by your competition,” she said.
There are characteristics that athletes have innately, according to Michelle. “Commitment to excellence and passion that you tend to tap into naturally when dealing with a life after your athletic career,” she said. “You learn to use your sports culture to pivot into a career outside of your comfort zone just by tapping into what you have already known your whole life: Accomplishing goals through a tenacious work ethic and drive.” Life as an entrepreneur is no different. Every day, they set out to be better – setting risks and committing themselves wholeheartedly no matter what challenge arises. “The days rise and fall on your shoulders. If you are not out selling your vision, no one else is.” Whoa, talk about tenacity…discipline…and sacrifice.
So what’s the most important thing you need to make it when starting your own company in this dog-eat-dog world? Guts. “Thick skin, as we said in our athletic worlds,” she confessed. “You have to be willing to listen and learn, yet have the uncanny ability to adjust on the fly, making critical, strategic decisions with the utmost confidence and humility.”
Written on October 14, 2013 at 9:50 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Gauging the speed, distance and spin of an opponent’s 60+ mph serve is crucial in the game of volleyball — especially when you’re three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor. That’s why she never messed around with her astigmatism and far sightedness. “Growing up, I always got an annual eye exam,” she told us as she kicked off VSP Vision Care’s five day-long free screenings in Atlanta, GA last week in honor of yesterday’s World Sight Day. “It’s important for people to maintain their eye health. Many people don’t have vision insurance for their eye care needs.” And by many people, around 210,000 Atlanta residents are currently without coverage.
Giving back by hosting the largest free eye care event in the U.S. during the controversy surrounding Obamacare and the current government is just one of the projects Misty has up her sleeve now that she’s retired from international competition. “This is one way that I can lend my voice to help others in the community,” she says. “I’m also coaching and trying to start a family.” So what about playing the game? Of course she can’t keep herself off the court! “I still play for fun,” she says, spilling that her fit routine is focused more now on low-impact exercises with lighter weight training than she endured pre-Olympics. And don’t think that just because she’s not sporting those skimpy (but awesome) uni’s she has given up on staying strong with that killer muscle tone. Her current goal? “To burn as many calories as I can so that I can eat whatever I want at Thanksgiving,” she jokes.
With Sochi right around the corner, Misty looks forward to cheering on the good ol’ U.S. of A. “A lot of the winter sports are foreign to me,” she admits. “I didn’t grow up a skier or ever go to a luge competition, but they’re just as exciting to watch.” Her favorite to watch? Figure skating, although bobsled and hockey are close seconds. Don’t expect this decorated Olympian (she keeps her medals safe in their boxes in a “secret place”) to get sentimental, though. “I’ve gone through four Olympics and it’s nice to take a break from competition and be able to focus on other aspects of my life, which I think makes you a more well-rounded person,” Misty says.
For more information on the importance of annual eye exams, check out VSP Vision Care’s website. Be sure to talk to your local optometrist about early detection for vision problems and other potential chronic diseases linked to eye health, too.
Written on October 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Known for making scrubs look sexy with ease is none other than McDreamy, and now Patrick Dempsey has fit gals like us weak in the knees by getting his sweat on in bike shorts. Why? Not that we really need a reason, but it’s for a good cause. So yes, he’s good-looking, talented, in incredible shape and philanthropic. (Insert extra swoon here.)
Clearly, biking has become more than just a joy ride for this star. It’s become a passion and family affair with his wife and three kids, plus a way to raise funds for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing. “I’m not a big fan of running—I really love cycling and the sense that you can go somewhere,” he recently dished, while reminiscing about pedaling around as a kid, the only way for him to get from point A to B at a young age. “Growing up in the country, it was a form of escape and freedom.”
On October 12 and 13, runners, walkers and riders—including Dempsey—will come together for the fifth-annual Dempsey Challenge in Lewiston, Maine to support his center. Founded in 2008 after the actor’s mother battled three bouts of ovarian cancer, the safe haven provides free support, education and integrative medicine services for those impacted by cancer. “The last four years, we’ve raised over a million dollars in the event. It’s incredible,” Dempsey says. “It’s amazing the amount of support and commitment people have to the challenge. We’re going to have fun things around, like food trucks and entertainment, to celebrate. Plus, everyone gets lobster and beer at the end!”
Between his time on the big screen, a little show called Grey’s Anatomy and now the race track—he clearly has a need for speed—finding time to get his sweat on can be tough, the Clif Bar lover admits. (His fave flavors? Crunchy Peanut Butter and Blueberry Crisp.) “I try to balance it between going to the gym and getting a good core workout in. And then getting out on the bike for at least an hour, hour and half if I can, three or four times a week.” Hikes in the mountains surrounding Santa Monica and barefoot runs along the beach are also a part of his training. “I find that to be low impact on my body,” he says. “The sand helps stabilize your core!” Uh huh, drink in that image…
To learn more about this year’s challenge and their incredible partnerships—Dempsey raved about Positive Tracks, a New Hampshire-based non-profit that encourages the youth to get active and give back through charitable athletic efforts—be sure to head over to their website, ‘like’ their Facebook page and follow the event on Twitter.
More from FITNESS:
- Kara DioGuardi Takes Charge of Her Health—For the Long Run
- How You Can Run One Million Miles to Fight Childhood Cancer
- Jennie Garth Sees Good in New Charity Campaign
Written on September 20, 2013 at 11:09 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Songwriter, producer and Warner Brothers exec Kara DioGuardi was living in Manhattan playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical Chicago when she saw a life-changing (and arguably life-saving) news report. It was WABC-TV New York’s Stacy Sager’s story that struck a familiar chord with Kara, as the journalist discussed her breast and ovarian cancer family history and the proactive test that determines carriers of the hereditary gene mutation. (The same exam Angelina Jolie made headlines with back in May—which positive results led to her preventative double mastectomy.)
“I tested positive for BRCA2—which meant I had up to an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer, and a 40 percent chance of ovarian cancer—and subsequently underwent a complete laporoscopic hysterectomy last December  to reduce my likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer by fifty percent,” Kara recently told us. In January, the former American Idol judge plans to further lower her risk by having a prophylactic mastectomy.
“I feel great,” she says. “I had a great doctor and support system who mentally and physically prepared me for the surgery. I urge anyone with breast or ovarian cancer in their families (mother or father’s side) to get tested. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power.”
Now a healthy mom of eight-month-old Greyson (she and husband Mike McCuddy turned to surrogacy following five years of fertility issues), Kara is back in the swing of things teaching for a second year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, running her publishing company, Arthouse, and finding new talent for her Warner Brothers affiliated record label.
Her best sweat secret to finding fit time between all of the juggling? “I recently started P90X and if I hadn’t, I am not sure I would be able to lift my big boy as easily,” she reveals. “I love it because it has taught me exercises I can do anywhere at anytime—even getting 20 minutes in a day is enough!”
Besides following Tony Horton’s regimen (and her upper body workout of a son), Kara is now gearing up for the inaugural Run for Her New York Walk on October 27 in support of ovarian cancer research. Lucky for us East Coasters, the popular Los Angeles walk’s growth sparked the organization of this year’s New York City event to continue raising funds for advancing medical discoveries and treatments, alongside awareness of the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
“This event is very important to me as it brings the ongoing battle of ovarian cancer to the forefront,” Kara says. “I will run in honor of my mother, Carol DioGuardi, who died of ovarian cancer at 58. She was not given the option of genetic testing. It may have saved her life. Although running has never been my strong suit, I plan on completing the 5K for all those women out there who have been affected by this insidious disease.”
Sign up now (early registration costs only $35!) to join Kara at the Hudson River Park and support the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. West Coast gals, be sure to get moving for the cause in L.A. November 10.
More from FITNESS:
- Angelina Jolie’s Brave Decision for Her Health
- Help Fight Cancer By Joining a Coast to Coast Relay
- How You can Run One Million Miles to Fight Childhood Cancer
Written on September 5, 2013 at 11:23 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Ever wish your life were a musical? Like, who wouldn’t want to break out into song after defying gravity in your weight training and every other daily razzle dazzle (maybe a little ditty about food, glorious food? I know that comes to mind every time I dig into a big bowl of gruel—er, oatmeal). OK, maybe it’s just me…
It’s no surprise, though, that research has found music to evoke nostalgia and induce happiness. What better a happy place than Broadway and the memories that go along with it? Just think about last time you cozied into the plush seats, the excitement that builds when the orchestra’s overture starts and the curtain begins to rise. Don’t even get me started on the costumes and intricate set designs. (Squeal!) For all of you theater buffs, a show tunes soundtrack can bring you back to those moments—not to mention power you through a grueling sweat sesh. Toe-tappin’ beats with lyrics weaving together themes of strength, passion and individuality will bring a smile to your face and put a pep in your step—I mean, who wouldn’t want to get moving after reminiscing the incredible choreography from “Newsies,” “Footloose” and the like. That’s why we put together a playbill playlist of some of our favorites in honor of Broadway Week. So go ahead, pop in those earbuds and in the great words of “Funny Girl,” no one can “bring around a cloud to rain on [your] parade.”
Now you tell us: What’s your favorite Broadway musical?
Written on September 5, 2013 at 10:43 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Need to stir up your go-to healthy eats? Robin over at Knead to Cook has what you crave—muffins, cookies, pies, you name it—without the guilt. And whoa, it shows! The fit mom who sticks to an impressive six-day workout regimen (three days running, the other three hitting the gym for cardio and lifting) cut down on sugar and recently lost over 30 pounds, making major PR strides. We’ll have what she’s having! From lightened-up, homestyle Italian dishes to perfect pre- and post-workout fuel (check out her addictive No-Bake Energy Balls below), this gal cozies you up to her table like you’re a part of the family and proves that nutritious cuisine can taste good, too.
My favorite way to workout: Running, especially in the fall and winter. I’m definitely a cold-weather runner.
My biggest motivators: My two daughters. I want them to look at me as an inspiration for what is possible. They shouldn’t use age as an excuse—ever!
My favorite fit snack: Non-fat Cabot cottage cheese. It’s packed with protein and I mix it with Justin’s almond butter; it’s such a treat! I cannot get enough of it.
Motivational mantra: “No one ever drowned in his own sweat,” by Ann Landers. I actually have it written on the chalkboard wall in my kitchen and I look at it every single day.
My “I did it” moment: Even after running a marathon, my biggest “I did it” moment was recently, at the Beach to Beacon 10K, when I ran it in 49:01. That’s my fastest race time yet, thanks to my recent 31-pound weight loss.
No-Bake Energy Balls
- 1 c old-fashioned oats
- 1 c toasted coconut flakes
- 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 c almond butter (or whatever nut butter you have in your pantry)
- 1/2 c flaxseed meal
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/3 c + 1 /4 tsp raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
Mix together in a bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Remove and roll into balls. (Robin uses a small scooper!) Place in an airtight container to refrigerate for 5-7 days, although they will most likely be long gone before that!
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Written on August 15, 2013 at 10:54 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
85 mph. On a sled. Feet first. Inches above a track made of solid ice without protective gear—except a helmet. In case your stomach hasn’t sunk to your toes yet, imagine zooming down the slippery 3,200+ foot course unable to see where exactly you’re going, just “feeling” it. Gulp. Welcome to the dangerous, yet thrilling world of luge. The sport, which made its Olympic debut in 1964, may sound chilling to most but is nothing short of an adrenaline-pumping ride for Team USA’s World Champion, Erin Hamlin. How does one start luging? Are those sleek ensembles even warm? We got the scoop and so much more. Read on and be sure to cast your USA Luge uniform and sled vote by August 24—that’s right, you have a say in what look our athletes will sport for the Sochi 2014 Games.
How did you get into the luge?
It’s kind of an obscure sport so it’s not really your normal I-did-it-in-school story. USA Luge does what’s called a “Slider Search” every summer. They go to a couple of random cities around the country and recruit kids. It’s the only way they can really get people into it. My dad had seen an ad for this program in his company newsletter and asked if I’d be interested. I was a gymnast at the time, so I was in that whole athletic mindset. I decided to go, pretty much on a whim, and as cliché as it sounds, the rest is history. I got pulled into the development program in 2000. It’s super competitive, so of course they tell you that only five kids out of the 400 are ever going to make it anywhere. I was like, “Alright, I definitely want to be one of those five.” I got hooked right away.
Did your gymnast background translate into the luge?
I definitely think it benefited me as a 12-year-old. I remember being the only girl at my tryout who was able to do a pull-up! I think that real foundation of athleticism and core work, as well as flexibility and upper body strength, helped.
Tell us a little about your training now—we heard you’re quite the yogi!
Yes, I do yoga as much as I can. Less than I would like to, but there are a few other types of training that are more important for me right now. We do a lot of weight training. On the track we really focus on our start, which is a really powerful explosive movement. So we do a lot of Olympic lifting, as well as other more sport-specific stuff like rowing movements; a lot of pull-up and core work like planking and weighted or body weight mid-section work.
Does yoga help you stay centered?
I know one of my strengths is really being able to stay relaxed, and that’s a huge part of our sport. It helps the sled react better. Being able to stay relaxed and not get myself too worked up before races—I can really just chill out and not get too hyped up. [Yoga] just makes me more of a laid-back person in general, I think. If I do have a really bad race, I tend not to dwell on it for very long. I can learn from it and leave it behind quickly so it just helps me to move forward better.
Written on August 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Sarah Thomas is about to tackle some major gender barriers, evening one of America’s biggest playing fields—football. The 39-year-old Brandon, Mississippi resident and mother of three is set to make history as the first permanent female ref hopeful in the NFL this upcoming season. You go, girl!
Discovered by a scout after working her way up from peewee to college-level (she was the first female to officiate an NCAA game in 2007), Thomas is currently one of the 21 official finalists in the NFL’s higher-level training pool. Oh, and did we mention she has a full-time job in pharmaceutical sales? Plus a 7-month-old? No big deal.
The mentally demanding career is not all about snap judgments or pros/fans not approving your calls (insert obnoxious booing and trash talk here)—it’s also physical! Referees have to be fit so they can keep up with the players, plus agile enough to get out of a quick running back’s (or scary linebacker’s!) way. Not a problem for Thomas. According to The New York Times, she was the first athlete at her high school to letter five times in a sport (softball) and went onto the University of Mobile on a basketball scholarship.
Confidence is another one of Thomas’ strong (striped) suits, according to the NFL’s vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino. Being a woman doesn’t make her any less qualified or capable to officiate in her eyes. “I don’t feel that it’s been harder for me because I’m a female,” she told ABC News. The only time she ever felt out of place? When she sported her uniform during her pregnancy. “The spouses of my crew made me a maternity referee shirt,” Thomas told The Times in 2009.
Thomas did not set out to break a glass ceiling; she just followed her love of the game. And for that, we applaud Thomas and wish her nothing but the best of luck. Talk about girl power if she makes the cut! As she told Bloomberg last month, “If you’re doing things because you love them, then things have a tendency to just kind of fall into place.”
Now you tell us: What are your thoughts on Sarah Thomas becoming the first female NFL referee?
Written on July 19, 2013 at 11:04 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Jennie Garth is the definition of a supermom: She’s a mother of three and manages to juggle her career as an actress and director with family time. And don’t think a swamped schedule ever stands in this gal’s way of a good sweat—it’s obviously not a problem! The 40-year-old, notoriously known for her role as Kelly Taylor on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place, has been flaunting a slim bod this summer and (holy teeny bikini) she’s never looked better. Sneaking in jogs and maintaining a healthy cuisine regime is key, Jennie told us this week when we chatted about her new passion project, Eye Saw Good. Read on to find out how you can donate and help kids’ eye care without ever whipping out your checkbook—plus Jennie’s must-do move for those six-pack abs!
What inspired you to connect with Alcon and Eye Saw Good?
I have three girls. Two of them are in glasses already and one of them wants glasses! It was startling to me to find out that one in four kids in America need vision correction and they don’t have access to it. So this is an opportunity for me to bring awareness to a campaign called Eye Saw Good. It’s a really interactive, fun way for everybody out there to get involved and feel good about something that they’re doing: Just take photos of something you consider to be good and positive and share them on Twitter with #eyesawgood. The hashtag triggers a donation to Kids Vision for Life, an organization that provides kids in need with glasses, eye care and exams. It’s a cool, sort of artistic, way for people to be a part of something. They just have to share their pictures; they don’t have to share their money!
Staying fit as a busy, working mom must be tough. How do you make time to keep up with fitness and a balanced diet?
It’s definitely challenging—I’ve been traveling so much lately. I do what I can wherever I am. I love running outside or just fast walking. All you need are sneakers! That’s how I do it—just mindful eating and continuing to stay active.
OK, spill. What’s your bikini body secret? Your abs are fab!
I like this ab move: Hold something behind your head (we suggest a weight, ball or your buddy’s ankles) and lift your legs up and down, like a straight pike. Just keep your abs tight the whole time! My other favorite is a handstand. Against a tree, a wall, or a person. It comes from yoga—I used to do yoga but haven’t been lately because I just can’t commit to a class schedule. It is one of my favorite yoga moves because it’s an arm wonder, too.
You rocked Dancing with the Stars a few seasons back. Do you still dance?
I don’t! I recently danced at a wedding and it was clear that I lost all my moves. I need a dancing partner; that’s my problem. Those are hard to find.
Best pump-up song on your workout playlist?
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Macklemore, and Dubstep is something that keeps me going. It’s funny to think that I’m running up the canyon listening to Dubstep!
What’s a healthy dish you whip up for a family dinner?
I’ve converted my kids to brown rice now, which I think is a great start if they’re going to eat a complex carb or starch. We drink a lot of coconut water at our house, and for oils, we love light olive or coconut oil.
Want to get involved with Jennie’s project? Do good with what you see. Simply “donate” a dollar by uploading your picture on Instagram or Twitter with #eyesawgood and help make a difference in children’s vision services, provided by Alcon’s The EyeSolution program and the Kids Vision for Life charity. Curious about what else Jennie has in the works? Be on the lookout for a forthcoming book and television show!
Written on July 10, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
Summer workouts are heating up and thanks to MISSION’s Enduracool products, cooling off is a snap—literally. Powered by Coolcore™, the patented technology is activated by moisture, perspiration and quick, whip movement to create an invigorating sensation so you can beat the heat during your workout, not throw in the towel. We put their Instant Cooling Arm Sleeves to the test recently with Detroit Lions running back (and recent daddy) Reggie Bush. Let’s just say burpees weren’t so bad with Reggie leading the pack! The fluorescent sleeves were refreshing from wrist to upper bicep. Bonus: they protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays if you’re taking your workout outdoors. Can’t beat that, runners! Here’s what we learned about the 2005 Heisman hunk after our mixed martial arts sesh—his fave off-the-field routine. And guess what? Reggie’s favorite body part on his bride-to-be is not what you’d think.
Favorite pump-up workout song before a big game?
“I Can Feel It,” Phil Collins.
Personal mantra to get you through a tough workout?
Hard work pays off.
Your pre-workout snack?
I usually workout in the morning, so usually something breakfast-y. Either fruit, bacon and eggs, cereal, something like that.
Your favorite female body part?
Wow, um…I mean, I’m going to think about, obviously, my fiancé. My favorite body part on her are her lips.
How do you keep in tip-top shape, besides football?
I like switching it up. I love doing fighting workouts. Training can get boring. It can get repetitive, so I think it’s cool to switch it up, to do a different type of sport, a different element. For one, you get to learn how to fight, you get to learn to defend yourself; it gives you an appreciation for what fighters and boxers go through. It keeps your mind, I think, interested in working out. You’re doing things you like to do and never realizing you’re getting a hard workout in, so you’re enjoying it. You should enjoy the workout. Obviously, the burn hurts, that part doesn’t feel good!