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Kerry Washington Uses Fashion to Fight Domestic Abuse

Written on September 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm , by

Ever since Scandal began its run in 2012, Kerry Washington has risen to the top of every best-dressed list in the world. Whether she’s rocking the red carpet, fabulously dressing her baby bump (ahem, back when she was pregnant) or collaborating on a line based off her Gladiator character, Olivia Pope, the woman knows how to accessorize. Now she’s taking that knowledge to the next level by teaming up with Allstate for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program that aims to stop domestic abuse.

Washington worked to design a purple purse—the color for domestic violence awareness—that shines a light on an often forgotten part of domestic violence: financial abuse. And the timing behind its debut couldn’t have been more perfect, thanks to the spotlight the NFL is already shining on the issue due to Ray Rice’s recent actions. But we had to know: Why a purse?

“The purse is a symbol of a woman taking her purse strings back,” explains Washington. ”[It is] just such a perfect symbol of where a woman’s financial well-being lives, where her worth resides. That’s where you keep your phone and your wallet, and your keys to your apartment and your car and whatever else matters to you.”

In 98 percent of cases, financial and physical abuse go hand in hand, explains Victoria Dinges, senior vice-president of the Allstate Foundation. It’s one of the biggest reasons behind why women stay in an abusive relationship—credit scores could be ruined or a tremendous amount of debt may rest on their shoulders. And when she leaves, financial security is the biggest indicator of whether or not she’ll be able to stay away.

Dinges also knew that tying fashion into the cause would help women be more open about a private issue that can hit very close to home. “It’s easier to talk about a purse than it is to talk about a black eye or destroyed credit, so the purse is a good entry point [of conversation],” says Washington.

But she didn’t stop with the symbolic meaning of the purse—it was heavily integrated into the actual design, too. “I wanted it to be a clutch because I wanted it to be something that you really hold onto; you can hold it close to you,” says Washington. “I wanted it to be a day bag…a bag you can use to hold the things that matter to you on a regular basis. It’s able to fit your little tablet and your wallet and keys and phone and all the things we travel with.”

The only downside to the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse: You can’t get one yourself. Only 500 are being made, so keep an eye out for them with your favorite female celebs. But Washington says that any purse can be a purple purse. The tassel is detachable, and anyone can get one, along with a story of inspiration from a survivor of domestic abuse. “This tassel, for us, is like the yellow Livestrong bracelet or the Breast Cancer ribbon,” she says. So if you want one, stop by your local Allstate or find one at a local organization that works to stop domestic abuse.

And for all you Scandal fans, you may just see the cause close to Washington’s heart explored a bit more in the upcoming season. Fans of the show know that Olivia Pope rescued her fellow gladiator, Abby Whelan, from an abusive relationship. Will we get to see more of that storyline, similar to when we learned more about Huck and Quinn? “We’ve been told that this season we’re going to get more backstory in her world,” says Washington. “I have no idea what the writers have planned, but it would be interesting if we were able to see more of that. But even just the fact that we’ve talked about it is such a testament to Shonda Rhimes and how fearless she is about bringing up stuff that’s difficult to talk about.”

What else can we expect from season 4, which premieres September 25th? “You will definitely know where the plane was going [at the season 3 finale]…and crazy things happen there,” confesses Washington. “”You’ll definitely see a version of Olivia Pope we’ve never seen before.”

Oh, and because we had to know: Is Washington Team Fitz or Team Jake? “I am Team Shonda,” she says. “So whatever Shonda writes, I’m game.”

Well played, Olivia Pope. Well played.

Want to get more involved? Join the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse challenge through October 3rd and help raise 2 million dollars for the 140 organizations across the country that help fight domestic abuse.

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Buy A Pair of ASICS to Support Pediatric Cancer Research

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

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

 

 

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

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Fight Ovarian Cancer This Month With Laura Mercier

Written on September 1, 2014 at 9:12 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

For many of us, September represents the beginning of autumn, chillier temps and backyard bonfires (with s’mores in moderation, of course—yummy indoor recipe here if you so desire). For former gymnast, Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Shannon Miller, September means raising awareness for ovarian cancer.

Like many women, Miller had a lot on her plate prior to her diagnosis back in 2011. The seven-time Olympic medalist had just given birth to her first son 14 months prior and was busy establishing her career as an advocate for women’s health.

“This came out of nowhere—completely blind-sided me—and it humbled me in a way that I had never been before,” says Miller. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or how many gold medals you have. Cancer doesn’t care.”

Unfortunately, stories—like Miller’s—where patients show no sign of living with ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of death in American women, are not so uncommon. “The tough thing about ovarian cancer is that most of the time, the point at which you are having a lot of discomfort is typically a later stage of ovarian cancer, which makes it very difficult.”

Claudia Poccia, CEO and co-founder of the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund (LMOCF), is no stranger to the devastating effects of ovarian cancer either—her 39-year-old sister died in 2011 a couple of years after her diagnosis. With a mission to educate women about the disease, support those undergoing treatment, and fund ovarian cancer research, Poccia teamed up with French makeup artist Laura Mercier and co-founded LMOCF in September 2012.

“Laura and I were stunned to learn the terrible truth about ovarian cancer,” says Poccia. “Diagnostic tools are limited, and women lack information on ovarian cancer prevention. We also discovered that treatment options are few and funding for research is inadequate.”

In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, LMOCF is teaming up with Miller to conduct public awareness campaigns to spread the word and educate others about this disease. Support their efforts by donating directly to LMOCF (proceeds go to programs that treat women with ovarian cancer), or by purchasing one of the four products that Laura Mercier developed: 100 percent of the proceeds will go to LMOCF. September 5 is National Wear Teal Day. Join in the movement by dressing in teal and tagging @LauraMercier, #SpeakOutForHope and #LMOCF.

Included in the product line:

1) Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Crème Colour Palette, $48

2) Lip Glacé Peach Hope, $25

3) Bracelet of Hope, $35

4) Teal clutch, $300

Photo by Renee Parenteau

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Marathon Musings: Why You Should Run a Race for Charity

Written on August 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by

People run marathons for a lot of reasons: to accomplish a new goal, take their running to the next level, prove something to themselves, etc. Some even do it because they like to travel. Yes, it makes sense—all ten of my half-marathons have been in a different state, and I firmly believe exploring a new place by foot is one of the coolest things to do. But the main reason I’m tackling my first marathon is about more than just me: it’s about helping a cause raise funds and awareness.

Sure, it takes extra work, but fundraising for the National Blood Clot Alliance and running as part of Team Stop the Clot has been more satisfying than any other race I’ve trained for. Here’s why:

You relate to the cause. When people find out I have a blood disorder, blank stares usually follow. That, coupled with the fact that nearly a quarter million women are affected by blood clots—and 100,000 people a year die from Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism in the U.S. (read more on that here)—makes me passionate about informing the general public in any way I can.

It pushes you to train. When you’ve had a really long week and all you want to do is sleep in and eat bagels on Saturday, knowing an entire team—and organization—are counting on you is enough to get out and run that 15-miler (or whatever distance). Best part? You still get to eat that bagel, and it’s totally guilt-free.

Fundraising is fun. Sure, $2,500 is more money than I’ve ever raised for a single cause, but seeing friends, family and complete strangers come out of the woodwork and contribute to a cause you care about is heart-warming. And throwing a few fundraisers—think a party, 50/50 raffle, and workout at a local fitness studio—is a great excuse to bring together friends that you haven’t seen in a while because you’re busy pounding pavement.

It guarantees entry. This isn’t the most important benefit, but let’s be honest—it’s a definite perk. Opting to fundraise for a charity is a lot of work, but it means I’m definitely able to run one of the most iconic marathons exactly when I want to. Being mentally ready for training is just as important as being physically ready, and this was the year I wanted to be singing “New York, New York” on the Verrazano bridge. Being a part of Team Stop the Clot has allowed that to happen.

You’re a part of a team. Sometimes I miss the good ole’ days of high school and collegiate sports, when I regularly had a team of athletes to lean on when the going got tough. We all had a common goal in mind, which helped boost morale. Now that I’m a part of Team Stop the Clot, I’ve met new people—in real life and on social media—and when I need a reminder about why I’m doing this, I just go to our fundraising page and read all of the inspiring stories from my teammates. And if I get lackadaisical about fundraising, I’m only one quick click away from seeing how the rest of the runners are doing. When their numbers go up, it only fuels the fire to make sure mine do, too.  

For more information on how to become a member of Team Stop the Clot, go to the application page. If you’d like to make a donation, visit my fundraising page.

Photo courtesy of the National Blood Clot Alliance

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Don’t Miss These Ovarian Cancer Symptoms (And Help Raise Awareness with Run for Her)

Written on August 26, 2014 at 9:43 am , by

Written by Mary Kate Schulte, editorial intern

Ovarian cancer: it’s the fifth-leading cause of death by cancer in women, and it’s dangerously easy to miss. We know FITNESS readers are all about their health, and everyday problems like bloating and stomach pain don’t normally cause a red flag. But if these pains are abnormal for you or are increasing, there could be a problem. Beth Y. Karlan, MD, the director of the Women’s Cancer Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, urges women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer because they are easily disguised as run-of-the-mill issues (think frequent urination and bloating). Dr. Karlan, along with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, teamed up with the run/walk fundraising program Run for Her in order to spread awareness and raise money for research.

Run for Her was founded by Kelli Sargent, whose mother Nanci was a patient of Dr. Karlan’s. The event has bloomed into one of the biggest ovarian cancer run/walks in America—there were nearly 6,000 participants in 2013! They began in Los Angeles and are now spread far and wide—even Hong Kong is hosting an event this year. Run for Her will be in New York on September 6th (sign up here), and while preparing for the 5K Run and Friendship Walk, we spoke to Dr. Karlan to get some details on this disease.

Watch For These. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and easily confused with normal day-to-day discomforts. The symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). See your doctor if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of one month or they are new or unusual for you.

Be Proactive. Be aware of your own body and changes that might indicate the need to see your physician. Know your family history; inherited cancer susceptibility is an important part of your personal health care. See your physician regularly.

Prevention. By using birth control pills for longer than one year, women can reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, research shows. In fact, use of birth control pills for six years or greater reduced ovarian cancer by 60 percent. Another method of prevention: removing the fallopian tubes, as recent data demonstrates that this type of cancer appears to begin in the fallopian tube. But obviously, this is an extreme measure, and should not be done if you intend to get pregnant.

How To Help. Spread the facts about ovarian cancer. If it is diagnosed early, doctors can treat and even cure women. Consider attending a Run for Her event or participate in the Research for Her program, an award-winning research registry used to increase representation of women in research.

Dr. Karlan praises the determination of women like Nanci Sargent, saying, “The thousands of people who make up our Run for Her family help push me to do all that I can to move us toward better treatments and even someday a cure.” On her own health regimen, she works out regularly, eats healthfully and stays passionate about her patients and work. Her advice for the runners in New York?  “Relax and enjoy the morning in Hudson River Park.  I will look forward to running alongside all of you!”

Photo by Angela Davis Haley/adhphotography

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Get Fit for Girl’s Education

Written on June 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Ready to raise your endorphins and flex your feel-good muscles? From now until June 21, NYC fitness fanatics can participate in the first-ever NYC Fit Week, signing up for donation-based workout classes, that help fund She’s the First, an internationally recognized organization that sponsors women from around the world to become the first from their families to graduate.

In partnership with EMpowered personal training, She’s the First has teamed up with 14 NYC fitness instructors from some of NYC’s hottest fitness studios (oh hey, Barry’s Bootcamp and Flywheel). In an effort to raise gender equality awareness in the educational arena, 100 percent of the proceeds from this week’s events will fund educational scholarships for young women in low-income countries. Girl power for the win!

If you happen to be super swamped this week—or aren’t in NYC—don’t freak. NYC Fit Week is just a small part of She’s the First’s year-round national campaign, Run the World. Through this, supporters align their own fundraising goals with a fitness endeavor, like running a marathon, and start a fundraising page where friends, fam and and everyone in between can send in a donation. She’s the First’s annual goal is to raise $75K by the NYC Marathon on November 2, and they’ve already made it a quarter of the way!

But if you aren’t quite ready to make your own fundraising page, you can still get involved (seriously, there’s really no excuses here). Simply download the Charity Miles app, and select She’s the First as your charity partner. Check into the app whenever you head out for a run or hop on a bike, and 10 to 25 cents (depending on your activity) will be donated.

Clearly, girls’ education is a very important cause, and we couldn’t be more excited to join in and help. Visit RunTheWorld.ShesTheFirst.org to see the schedule and sign up for a class.

Photo courtesy of Kate Lord

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Find Your Calm in the Middle of Times Square

Written on June 16, 2014 at 10:01 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Honking cars, a sea of people, lit-up billboards and a naked cowboy serenading tourists. It sounds like a place of chaos (and trust us, it is most days), rather than a serene place to practice yoga. This Saturday and Sunday, however, the Athleta “Mind Over Madness” two-day yoga event is back again, taking over the heart of Times Square and challenging NYC-based yogis to restore the body, mind and spirit in the midst of city life.

So why would you want to submit yourself to a crowd of half-naked people getting bendy, when you can do it in the comfort of your own home (or just a clean studio)? Besides the fact that it’s a crazy fun and challenging way to celebrate the summer solstice, the money raised by MINDBODY Connect will benefit Bent on Learning, a nonprofit organization committed to teaching yoga to NYC public school children, and Urban Zen, an integrative therapy program.

And just in case you forgot what the summer solstice is (hey, we’ve all been there), it’s the one day of the year, usually around June 21st, that signals the official start of summer. In addition to it commencing the blissful time of year for flip flops, days at the beach and all things warm and wonderful, it is also the one day when the sun reaches its greatest height, shines longer and sets later, meaning more time for all sorts of outdoor fun (and calorie burning, obvs).  

Although day one is already sold out, day two on Sunday, June 22, is still open for registration, with the first class starting at 8 a.m. and the final class beginning at 2:30 p.m. Classes run for 1.5 hours, cost $20 and are taught by master instructors, including renowned yoga teacher Rodney Yee and meditation guru Alan Finger.

So go on and register for an altogether unique experience to find peace of mind amidst a crazy-busy schedule. And don’t forget to tag us (@FitnessMagazine) and use #SolsticeTsq in the swoon-worthy Instagram shots we know you’ll take—after all, you’ll get to tell all your friends (thus making them jealous) that you did yoga in Times freaking Square. How cool is that?!

Photo courtesy of Derek Goodwin

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How One Granola Bar Brand Is Saving Lives—Literally!

Written on June 10, 2014 at 10:46 am , by

Severe acute malnutrition claims the lives of 2.6 million children each year (that’s one child every 12 seconds), but what if you could put a stop to that…by simply munching on your own afternoon snack? Now you can. This Bar Saves Lives has taken a bite out of Toms, Warby Parker and the like’s humanitarian business models to turn grub proceeds into good.

“The solution exists,” co-founder Ravi Patel told us during a recent FITNESS office pow-wow. “There’s just not enough of the life-saving food, Plumpy’Nut®, to go around.” So after returning from a trip to Africa where they witnessed childhood hunger first-hand, founders (and actors) Patel, Ryan Devlin and Todd Grinnell pledged to put an end to childhood hunger and started a movement with tasty treats of their own. And they started out by taste testing in their own kitchens. Don’t you just love that!?

For each purchased bar, This Bar Saves Lives’ non-profit partner makes one portion of Plumpy’Nut®, which is then sent to areas in the world where it’s needed most (primarily Africa, India and Haiti). And not only are you giving others the nutrition they need, you’re also receiving quality energy with natural, locally-sourced and non-GMO ingredients. Double-whammy! The clover honey in my fave Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey comes from Wisconsin, for example. And the roasted pistachios in the Wild Blueberry Pistachio? Californian, born and raised. Everything from the ingredients to the packaging (the pattern on the wrappers are from African textiles, which also have a feel-good, giving-back tie) is mission-based, something we at FITNESS truly stand by.

So what are you waiting for? Fuel up to put an end to childhood hunger. Place your order on their site and be sure to keep an eye out for new varieties in select stores and boutique gyms nationwide (another reason to hit up Whole Foods? See you never, paycheck). They’ll also be offering some pretty cool initiatives in 2015, so follow their social media platforms ASAP for the skinny!

Photo courtesy of This Bar Saves Lives

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Adriana Lima Is a Knockout (in More Ways Than One!)

Written on June 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm , by

On most any day in downtown New York City, you might spot a celeb or two ducking into hip Aerospace gym for a kick-butt boxing session. But last Thursday morning, supermodel Adriana Lima took over the studio—with a film crew and card-carrying Vegas showgirls in tow—to fight for a great cause. (She has the mean left hook to do it.)

Credit: Gary He for Insider Images

Lima led a sweaty 45-minute workout with longtime trainer Michael Olajide, Jr., to raise funds for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. “I’ve been supporting the St. Luke Foundation since I visited Haiti when I was pregnant,” says Lima, the mother of two little girls. “I had the chance to meet the inspirational people that volunteer there. As an organization, they provide education and medical outreach to more than 150,000 people a year.”

The Victoria’s Secret model had raffled off a spot in Thursday’s class to benefit St. Luke’s. Minus the rolling cameras—the event was being taped to promote the charity—the cardio-boxing session reflects Lima’s typical lean routine. “I have worked with Michael Olajide, Jr. for more than 10 years,” she says—and it shows, not just in her physique but her footwork. Part of the plyo-tastic session involved speed jump-roping with criss-cross maneuvers that would make your usual rope drill look like playground stuff. Lima didn’t miss a beat doing high knees, alternating one-legged landings and jacks. “My first few months of training, I tripped over my rope,” she admits. “The best part of boxing is that, after working out at least three times a week for 10 years, it’s still a challenge, whether with an opponent or with myself.”

Training with Olajide in fact helped Lima bounce back in record time for the Victoria’s Secret show in 2012 when she had only a month and a half to get lingerie-ready after having her second daughter.

Another go-to for Lima is coconut water. “It’s my pre- and post-workout drink,” says Lima. “I grew up in Bahia, Brazil where everyone of every age drinks coconut water—it’s healthy, delicious and of course reminds me of home.”

You can check out Lima’s real-deal punches and rope skills at http://www.aerospacehpc.com.

 

 

Trade Miles for Money—and Help Beat Homelessness—with Mizuno

Written on May 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern 

Did you know that over the span of one month last year there were 610,042 people homeless on any given night? According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 35 percent were living in unsheltered locations. Instead of feeling like you can’t help out, just use your fitness to give back. From now until August19th, Mizuno will donate $1 to Back on My Feet—a national for-purpose organization dedicated to helping homeless people find jobs and get housing—for every mile run, up to 100,000 miles. A nice incentive to get moving, right?  

You can make your workouts go the extra mile without breaking any extra sweat. Just head to Mizuno’s “If Everybody Ran” website and download Mizuno’s free mobile Baton app (available on iTunes and Google Play). Next, simply pick a week to log as many miles as you can and hit the pavement! The app tracks your runs, and when your week is up you’ll “pass the baton” to other runners through social media. They even have a leaderboard that keeps track of their top donators—great for us super competitive runners who want to be at the top.

As of press time, y’all have helped raise nearly $10,500, and the top runner logged 151.5 miles in one week—wowzer! Think you can beat ‘em? Go ahead, then tell us on social (@FitnessMagazine) how your running is going.

Photo courtesy of Mizuno

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