Written on August 5, 2014 at 11:12 am , by Lisa Haney
Looking for your next active vacation? Check out The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which opened in December 2013. FITNESS recently visited the gorgeous oceanfront retreat for a long weekend. Here are the highlights from our fit trip:
In-Room Workout Gear Delivery*
Go on, pack all those extra bikini and sandal options—you can leave your workout gear at home. We’re not telling you to ditch your regular exercise routine—instead, reserve a pair of New Balance running shoes, socks, shorts and a shirt (all in your size) to be delivered to your room to use during your stay. Not going to lie, we thought wearing borrowed shoes would be weird. But our pair of Barringer 890s, a neutral cushioning shoe, arrived nearly brand new, yet broken-in enough that we didn’t get blisters when we laced up for several 3-mile runs. Plus, the new socks eliminated the ick factor. (WestinWORKOUT Gear Lending Program with New Balance, $5.)
A Personal Running Coach
We were lucky to run with Chris Heuisler, the RunWESTIN Concierge (best job ever?). Unfortunately, he’s not based at the resort. But you can go for a warm-up run with him and get his pre-race advice if you book the Westin VIP Marathon Package to stay at the hotel when you run any Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Other perks include: speedy bib pickup, race day grab-and-go breakfast for two and in-room ice delivery post-race. (Deets and booking at runwestin.com. Follow Chris @RunWestin)
Ready-to-Go Running Routes*
Westin provides a pocket-sized map with 3- and 5-mile loops (created by employee runners) from the hotel, making it easy to get out and go without worrying about getting lost. The course took us through the surrounding tony resort community—where we did some serious real estate window shopping—and it was easy to veer off for a run on the beach.
Ocean Paddleboarding and Lagoon Swimming
SUP, people! The Paddle Surf Eco Tour, which begins on the beach right next to the Westin, is the perfect fit-vacation excursion. You hop on a stand-up paddleboard and cruise in the ocean along the coast of the resort, stop at a private white sand beach for fresh coconut water (super fresh: your guide cracks open a coconut with a machete), then hike through a rainforest to take a dip in an amazing lagoon.
Speaking of fresh coconut: They use made-daily coconut oil in the Punta Cana Signature full-body massage at the nearby Six Senses Spa. Book it for a relaxing end to a sporty day.
Healthy, Delicious Eats*
It’s refreshing to have plenty of healthy options when traveling and Westin includes SuperFoodsRx options—nutrient-packed, low-calorie dishes designed by doctors and nutritionists—on their menus at restaurants Anani and the beachside Brassa Grill & Bar. Try the crab cakes, cilantro lime shrimp salad and the Puntacana salad, made with arugula and other organic veggies grown at the resort’s ecological foundation. We also loved the berry yogurt parfait for a quick in-room pre-workout breakfast. Check out other great nearby restaurants, all waterfront: The Grill (our favorite for lunch), La Yola and Playa Blanca.
Not that into paddleboarding? There are plenty of other ways to play: kite boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, horseback riding, tennis, golf and Segway tours. Of course, there’s ample opportunity for beach/pool lounging and umbrella drinks.
(*Available at all Westin hotels.)
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Written on April 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm , by Lisa Haney
Call your mother! And your grandmother. And your aunts and uncles. Interviewing your relatives about their health can help you improve yours.
“You can change your genetic destiny as long as you find out early enough what you’re at risk for,” explains Sharon Moalem, M.D., Ph.D., author of the fascinating new book, Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes. Luckily, a pricey DNA test to map your genome isn’t required—just a family health history. “It’s the lowest tech thing: The next time your family is together, sit down, draw a family tree and say OK, Who are we related to? What does everyone have? Are there any patterns that pop out?” he says.
Then tell your doctor about any diseases that run in the family. Flag any early deaths, in particular. For example, if you have relatives who died unexpectedly at a young age from heart issues, it may be a sign of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—an inherited condition that causes the heart muscle to thicken—and you’ll want to talk to your doc before signing up to run a marathon, Dr. Moalem says. Relatives who’ve had blood clots could indicate the genetic blood clotting disorder Factor V Leiden. If you have it (bruising easily is a sign), being on the Pill further ups your risk of deadly clots, so you’ll need to talk to your ob-gyn about your birth control method STAT. And, of course, a family history of breast and ovarian cancers may mean you have a BRCA gene mutation that greatly increases your risk of the diseases.
If your family doesn’t gather often, start dialing your loved ones today. “When you lose relatives—like your great-grandparents—then you lose that information that they may have known about their siblings and parents,” Dr. Moalem says. Once you create a detailed family history, it’s part of your health toolkit and you can pass it down to your kids as well. “It’s information that you don’t want lost,” he says.
Check out this cool tool from the Surgeon General’s office. You can use it to create a digital family health history, which you can print and bring to your doc.
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Written on January 2, 2013 at 11:28 am , by Lisa Haney
Allison, who has written for FITNESS about why she runs, hits her stride in her third novel—about Nell, a woman who lost her memory in a plane crash and must piece together who she is from unreliable sources: her husband, mother and sister, all of whom have their own versions of her history and agendas for her future.
Fast-paced and poignant, it’s my favorite sort of story—when a character lingers in my mind after I’ve finished it.
Written on December 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm , by Lisa Haney
An early—and potentially bad—flu season is already underway, the CDC reported last week. But it’s not too late to get a flu shot, says Kevin Ronneberg, M.D., associate medical director at Target, where he oversees guest care at the company’s clinics and pharmacies. We asked Dr. Ronneberg about the newer, less painful flu shot, how the vaccine affects workouts and more:
FITNESS: The CDC recommends that all Americans older than six months get an annual flu vaccine. Why do you recommend it for fit, healthy young women?
Dr. Ronneberg: Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu. Getting vaccinated reduces your chance of becoming infected with the flu virus—it can also help to protect the people you love who may not be able to get vaccinated.
All Target pharmacies (find one) now offer the “micro-needle” flu shot. Is it actually less painful?
The intradermal needle is 90 percent smaller than a standard flu shot needle and it is also preservative-free. Because the intradermal needle is smaller in size, it is inserted directly under the skin rather than into the muscle. This results in less muscle ache immediately following injection. Essentially, it’s as ouch-free as a shot can be.
We offer various options for flu shots—including the traditional flu vaccine. Our pharmacists are also available to help determine which type of vaccine is right for you. Read more
Written on December 1, 2012 at 11:22 am , by Lisa Haney
FITNESS recently caught up with our July issue cover girl three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, along with fellow USA Volleyball players April Ross and Jennifer Kessy at the Hilton HHonors Beach Volleyball Challenge. You can catch Kessy and Ross, who nabbed silver at the London Olympics against Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, take on Team China, Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, at 3 p.m. today on the NBC Sports Network. Walsh Jennings commentates during the match, which was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu.
Kerri Walsh Jennings Talks About Being Pregnant during the London Olympics
FITNESS: Was it scary playing so hard in the London Olympics knowing you were probably pregnant?
Kerri: No, not at all. I was maybe a week and a half late max by the end of the Olympics. At that point, most people don’t even realize they miss a period. I knew we tried and I was just on it. But I would have never put myself in that situation if I thought the potential baby in my body was going to be at risk—and I know that’s not the case. I played volleyball until the time I was 9 months pregnant with Sundance [her second son, now 2] and felt like I was doing right by him and the same thing with this baby. Being physical is what I do and it makes me feel good and it benefits the baby inside me.
Did it change your mindset at all during the Games?
Kerri: It wasn’t stressful, it was nothing negative—it was just more inspiring. I didn’t take a test until I got home to confirm it, but you know. It was just like, What if? I remember telling Casey [Jennings, her husband] that I’m late and he’s like, That’s so great. That’s how we do it. And I thought, You’re right. We’re here at the final stage of one journey that we’ve been working so hard for and we’ve always really wanted to start this other adventure of adding to our family right away. So it just feels like the timing was so blessed and we’re just really grateful.
You wear a bikini for your job. Do you feel self-conscious about your body when you’re pregnant?
Kerri: I do. The hardest part for me is right now [mid October]—I’m 15 and a half weeks pregnant and you know you can’t really tell that I’m that pregnant but you can. My muscle turned to mush right away with this pregnancy and I actually am very self conscious, and so I wear a lot more leggings and cover up a lot more. And I live in California and it’s hot all the time and it drives me crazy.
I generally don’t have an issue with that. Not that I really love my body or anything, just that I appreciate my body and that kind of helps me overlook what I’m doing. So once I turn the corner and get a little bigger than I am right now I think I’ll appreciate my body again because I know what it’s doing and I’m grateful. But it’s hard—it’s hard to see the cellulite, it’s hard to go from one place where you’re walking around in a bikini top to you can’t even imagine being in a bikini.
I heard you think the baby is a girl.
Kerri: Yeah. The pregnancy is so different so far. My skin is so different—I have way more acne than I’ve ever had—and I’ve been sick way more. With my two pregnancies with my boys [Joseph, 3, and Sundance, 2] I had maybe two days total where I didn’t feel great and this has been the majority of the days I don’t feel great. Chinese calendar says we’re having a girl. My money’s on a girl. We’re going to open a present on Christmas morning to see what we’re having and then we’ll celebrate either way. I love my boys—I would not trade my boys in for the world. But I would love for my husband to have a daddy’s little girl.
Read on for Jennifer Kessy’s and April Ross’ Beach Body Secrets Read more
Written on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm , by Lisa Haney
Want a chance to win an all-expense paid trip for two to New York City to meet Serena Williams and watch some tennis? You’ll get a shot each time you purchase Sleep Sheets, a new sleep aid product that Serena launched last week, at Walgreens stores through July 31, 2012, the two companies announced. Random packages contain winning golden tickets, Willy Wonka-style. Visit facebook.com/takeasheet for contest deets.
Serena got involved as a co-founder of Sleep Sheets—which contain sleeping aids (3 mg of melatonin, 3 mg of L-theanine, and 1 mg each of goji berry and chamomile extracts) and dissolve on the tongue like breath strips—after fighting sleep troubles for years. Taking a sleep med in the past left her too groggy the next day, she says, so she was interested in developing a product for catching more Zzzs that would also keep her feeling fresh on the court.
“I think sleep is underrated and people don’t get enough,” Serena told FITNESS. “[When I get enough] I train better and the better I train the better I can play. And the better I train, the more fit I can become. And the better you can look. So it all boils down to getting some good rest.” With a busy summer of the Grand Slams and the Olympics coming up, she’ll need it!
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Written on April 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm , by Lisa Haney
Happy news today in the celebrity world: After years of dealing with fertility issues, Giuliana and Bill Rancic will soon be parents with the help to a surrogate! It’s also National Infertility Awareness Week, a good time to brush up on fertility facts—especially if you’ve got baby making on the brain. See the larger version of this infographic. –>
This item from the April issue of FITNESS answers a key question a lot of women have.
Q “I’m trying to get pregnant. How long should I wait before seeing a specialist?”
A One year if you’re under 35, six months if you’re 35 or older or not having regular menstrual cycles. “Ninety percent of fertile couples will be pregnant within 12 months if they stop using birth control and have sex whenever they want,” says William Schoolcraft, M.D., author of If at First You Don’t Conceive. “If it doesn’t happen within a year, that’s a clue something is up.” Time is the biggest enemy: “After 35, there’s a tick downward in egg quality every six to 12 months,” Dr. Schoolcraft says. So don’t wait too long. Ninety-one percent of couples seeing a fertility specialist say they wish they had gone to one sooner, according to a recent survey.
Merck conducted the survey mentioned. The company recently teamed up with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and today launched fertilityguide.com, as part of their It’s Just a Conversation campaign to get couples talking about infertility. Visit the site to take a fertility knowledge quiz, find a fertility specialist in your area and download a checklist of questions to ask your doctor.
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- Fit to Be a Mom? How Exercise Affects Your Fertility
- Can Certain Foods Help Me Get Pregnant?
- Fertility: 8 Myths and Truths
Written on February 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm , by Lisa Haney
It’s a busy new year for Jennifer Ashton, M.D., co-host of ABC’s The Revolution. In addition to her job on the new daytime show, the super-fit ob-gyn wrote a new book Your Body Beautiful: Clockstopping Secrets to Staying Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 30s, 40s, and Beyond. She also still treats patients in her New Jersey practice and trains for triathlons. No wonder she was sneaking in a little indoor cycling while we talked to her during a filming break!
In Your Body Beautiful, you recommend a Five-Day/Two-Day diet plan—sticking to a healthy eating routine (filling up on plenty of lean protein, veggies and fruit, whole grains while avoiding added sugar and refined carbs like bagels) during the week and relaxing a bit on the weekends. Why does it work?
Anyone can do anything for five days. Then you get to lighten up a little and reward yourself for just 48 hours and then you reset and start again. We’re talking about lightening up a little…have a cup of ice cream or some dessert. But mathematically, five days beats two days when you do it over the course of a several months for a year and then your metabolism slowly adapts to the more sustained pattern, which is the five-day pattern. So after a while, behaviorally, what happens is that you don’t want to go crazy on the weekends. You won’t see as much of a difference between what your doing Saturday and Sunday and what your doing the rest of the week.
How do you fit in exercise—especially triathlon training—with such a busy schedule?
I work out about two hours a day. I do a lot of cardio and a lot of The Bar Method, resistance kind of work. I lift weights, too, which I think is really important for women.
So now with the new show and still seeing patients in my medical office, I will get up at five in the morning to do at least an hour of my workout before I start my day. And then I’ll fit in the other hour at the end of the day. It’s a real priority to me, mentally and physically. My family knows that I am cranky when I don’t work out. Working out makes me really happy. It makes me feel good, I stay healthy and I get fewer colds. Last summer I did two triathlons for the first time. My message for the book, as well as my method for the show, is that women in their 40s can be more fit then they were 10 or 20 years ago. I think that that’s really exciting so I make it a priority.
Written on January 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm , by Lisa Haney
Tonight on The Bachelor, Ben and his eligible bachelorettes take their love show on the road, jetting to gorgeous Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, where they stay at the W Retreat & Spa. Apparently the romantic, tropical locale has contestant and former FITNESS cover girl Courtney feeling frisky: She leads Ben to the W Beach for a late-night swim (skinny dip, perhaps?), the show’s promo teases.
We can’t wait to watch—to catch all the drama and the beautiful Vieques backdrop.
FITNESS was recently invited to stay at the laid-back luxe retreat (alas, not while Ben was there) and explore Vieques. We found a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation—an ideal destination for a fun, fit couples trip or an active girlfriend getaway. If you go, check out these top hits on our Fit List:
- Morning yoga: Start each day with a 90-minute traditional morning yoga class on the outdoor deck behind the W’s SWEAT fitness center. (The class sometimes takes place on the beach when weather allows.) Non-yogis: Work out on the brand new cardio machines and weights in the fitness center or hit some balls at the nearby SWING tennis courts.
- Hiking and kayaking adventure: Black Beard Sports, located next to SWEAT, offers several custom guided tours of the island. We hiked to a nearby breathtaking vista and then kayaked to Red Beach for a gourmet picnic. See if Mark is available to be your guide.
- Biking: You can also rent a bike at Black Beard. For a scenic and moderately challenging four-mile spin*, take a right on the road (Route 200) from the retreat and head past the airport to Starfish Beach, where you may spy bright red starfishes on the sand. On your way back, hang a left to ride out to the end of the mile-long Mosquito Pier for a stunning look back at the island. You’ll pass dozens of the island’s free roaming horses along your route. (*The folks at Black Beard can provide detailed directions.)
- Bioluminescent bay tour: Don’t leave Vieques without taking a nighttime kayak tour on the magical bio bay, which is filled with microscopic organisms that release a chemical whenever there’s movement in the water, making it glow. Every paddle stroke creates a trail of light. The W can arrange your outing with a company such as Abe’s Snorkeling & Bio Bay Tours. Request a tour with Abe himself, if he’s available. He’s a total trip and excuse enough to visit Vieques.
Written on November 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm , by Lisa Haney
Pop quiz: Do you know where your pancreas is? Or what it does? Registered nurse Candice Rosen, author of The Pancreatic Oath, is on a mission to educate people about the often-overlooked gland located between the stomach and spine. The gland secretes digestive juices and releases hormones to help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy. Because of its vital function, a healthy pancreas is the key to overall wellness, Rosen believes. “If people took the pancreas seriously and ate to protect it, there would be no need for World Diabetes Day,” she says. “Type 2 Diabetes is not a disease, it’s a consequence.” Protecting your pancreas, by eating in a way that doesn’t make it work overtime, may prevent diabetes and other life-threatening health conditions and can even help you reach and maintain your optimal weight, she explains.
Here are a few simple “self-health” steps Rosen recommends to start caring for your pancreas today:
- Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. For example, swap sugary fruit juices and sodas for water or unsweetened iced tea. Treat dessert as a celebration and indulge only once a week, instead of after most meals, and share with a friend.
- Decrease alcohol intake. When you do have a cocktail, follow it with a glass of water or unsweetened ice tea before you have another.
- Eat whole foods instead of processed foods.
- Be sure to get plenty of leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard and spinach.
- Decrease or eliminate fast food.
- Know your body. Weight loss is not “one size fits all”—everyone’s body reacts differently to the foods they eat, Rosen says. She recommends eating meals that keep your blood glucose levels between 70 and 100, as measured on a glucometer.