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The Health Initiative Close to Vanessa Williams’ Heart

Written on June 7, 2013 at 11:17 am , by

The diet tip Vanessa swears by: Don’t keep unhealthy options in your house. “You’re going to torture yourself!”

As an actress, singer, dancer, author, model and mother, Vanessa Williams puts a triple-threat to shame. No wonder she looks so darn good at 50! Since being crowned the first African American to be crowned Miss America back in 1983, Vanessa has conquered television (Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives and 666 Park Avenue, to name a few) and the big screen. Most recently, she returned to the Broadway stage in “The Trip to Bountiful.” But a busy life of fame and fortune doesn’t stand in Vanessa’s way for one of her biggest passion projects: spreading heart health awareness. With loved ones affected by heart disease, she turned to Bayer and WomenHeart to make a difference. We sat down with the starlet to learn more about how a simple handbag item can save lives and—of course—found out her age defying secrets. Read on for the full interview.

What inspired you to connect with Bayer aspirin in this whole initiative of the Handbags and Hearts?

I’ve been involved with heart issues for probably 10 years now. My grandmother died at 28 of a heart attack, my other grandmother died at 64 of a heart attack and so I’ve always been pretty vocal about women’s health issues—especially heart disease. They approached me about starting the campaign for Handbags and Hearts to increase the awareness of the correlation, being the number one killer for women, but also to have people—especially women—carry aspirin in their handbags, their purse, their pocketbooks. That’s important. And also to have women know that our symptoms are different than men’s. We want to drive people to the website so they can see what the symptoms are, be aware of them. Obviously if there is an issue, the first thing they need to do is call 911, but go in their bag and grab an aspirin because it’s shown that it helps to reduce further damage to the heart once a heart attack actually happens to you. It helps save lives. It’s been a fantastic partnership with WomenHeart and Bayer. Every person that pledges and every woman that goes online to pledge at the site, they’re going to donate up to $200,000.

Besides aspirin, how do you personally boost your heart health?

Cardio—I work out all the time. I mix it up, whether its treadmill at my house, or riding bikes. Recently, I’ve been doing in LA a gym called Body Theory, and there’s a class called “Drench.” You are literally drenched by the time you finish it! It’s an hour and a half of pure cardio and weights, which is fantastic and I’m obsessed with. In NY, I do at Westchester MMA a heavy bag fit class, which is everything from jumping rope to a lot of boot camp exercises. But then you tape up your hands—you do wraps—put your boxing gloves on and you fight a heavy bag, one of those big six-foot bags. You do combinations of that—kicks and punches. I like to mix it up.

So staying fit as a busy mother on four, killing it on Broadway…that must be really tough. How do you keep up with fitness and healthy food on-the-go?

You make time for it. Sometimes, you can’t. If you cant make it to the gym, try to get on a treadmill. If you cant get into the gym or to a treadmill, try walking. Try to do something for at least (for me) 45 minutes to an hour in a day, just to feel energized, and feel like my body is woken up, that I’ve felt all the endorphins, then start my day. And I like to work out in the morning—I can’t do afternoon or evening workouts. I need to do it in the morning. Get it done, start my day, feel the adrenaline. But you have to make time. Same thing with food. You have to make an effort. My biggest tip is to not have anything that I don’t want to eat in my house. It’s one thing when you know there are cookies that are calling your name and you know that every time you walk by the cupboard, they’re there and you’re battling with yourself—should I open it, should I not, should I have one…you’re going to torture yourself. So don’t have them in your house. As soon as, if I get a basket or gift bag filled with something delicious that I know I don’t want to wipe out the entire thing, I’ll bring it to the cast and say, “Put it on the green room table, enjoy!” I’ll have one and walk out of the room so I don’t have to wrestle with should I or should I not. Because food is good! It’s easy to make healthy choices, too. Living in this country, there are so many opportunities for anything, anything online, for sure. I fast, I do juice cleanses maybe three times a year. I’ve done BluePrint for probably five years. But that’s always great to kind of reboot your system, especially if you feel sluggish or a bit toxic like after holidays—you just want to clean yourself out and start fresh.

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Run to Fund Boston on National Running Day (And Win A TIMEX Watch!)

Written on June 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm , by


Follow us @FitnessMagazine on Instagram and Twitter to find out where our runs take us on National Running Day! (Photo by Laura Doss)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

If you’re like many of us over here at FITNESS, you probably don’t need to be poked or prodded to lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement. Running is what gets many of us up in the morning to sweat; the thing that keeps us (relatively) sane during our hectic weeks. We do it because we want to—and on Wednesday, June 5th, we’ll celebrate National Running Day as we do most days: with running.

The running community is a tight-knit one (how else could anyone stay motivated to finish a 26.2-mile marathon?), but we’re not the only ones who are excited about tomorrow—Timex is in on the fun, too. The watch company launched its “I Am A Runner” campaign last month to celebrate runners of all levels and to provide a place for people to share their most inspirational and motivational reasons for why they run.

To get in on the conversation, tweet your tale or Instagram a picture with the campaign’s #IMARUNNER hashtag by June 5th. Your story will show up on Timex’s Facebook page, and they’ll donate $5 to One Fund Boston, a relief fund for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Bonus: You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win one of the 60 Timex Ironman watches the company is giving away!

To find out more about the “I Am A Runner” campaign, or to directly submit your photo or story, check out the Timex Sports Facebook page. We’ll be reading through the stories for an extra dose of inspiration ourselves, so start tagging those posts!

Now you tell us: How will you celebrate the sporty holiday?

Sheryl Crow Teams Up To Feed America + Chats About Her Upcoming Album

Written on May 24, 2013 at 9:08 am , by

Buy a vitamin, feed a friend. (Photo courtesy of Bayer One A Day Women’s)

You’ve heard her name for years, listened to her hit songs and likely watched her as a mentor on season 4 of The Voice. But when she’s not in the public eye, Sheryl Crow is volunteering at local food banks to help the 50 million Americans trying to make ends meet. For the second year, Crow teamed up with Feeding America and One A Day’s Nutrition Mission to fight hunger. We caught up with the busy star to find out how she eats healthy herself (while feeding her kids!) and how you can score a trip to NYC to hang with the music star.

You’ve teamed up again with One A Day for the Nutrition Mission. What keeps you coming back?

I just think it’s such a good program and the last I heard, there are nearly 50 million people in America challenged by food insecurity. With this mission, everyone gets meals three times a day. It seems like the work is never done, and this is just a great, easy way to be a part of helping your community. You just buy a multivatimin, which many people already take, and two meals are donated with each purchase. And if you have a story about volunteering at a local food bank, you can share it at nutritionmission.com for the chance to win a grant for your area, plus a trip to NYC to come hang out with me.

So do you have any fave spots in NYC you might take the winner to then?

When my kids are with me we almost always go to the Museum of Natural History. And Central Park, of course.

So how else can people get involved with the Nutrition Mission?

I think that volunteering at a local food bank is always helpful and very eye-opening. It leaves its mark when you see the kinds of people that come in. It’s not necessarily just homeless people. Oftentimes it’s a mom who has three or four kids, and she works but just can’t make ends meet. One of the problems that we see with food insecurity is that people don’t talk about it; they’re embarrassed. One day I went to school with my little boy, who’s in Pre-K, and we had to go do a morning program. By 9am I was like, “Where’s the snack?” These kids who are affected by food insecurity walk in and haven’t had a good morning meal and by 9 or 10 they really need something. And out of the 50 million people who are affected, 16 million are kids. It’s a problem we can all help with.

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Angelina Jolie’s Brave Decision for Her Health

Written on May 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm , by

Photo by Peter Ardito

In a brave, must-read editorial for The New York Times, Angelina Jolie reveals that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year to reduce her risk of breast cancer. Jolie explains that it was her mother, who died of breast cancer at 56, who motivated her to take charge of her health. The actress, director and humanitarian explains that she is a carrier of a “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which puts her at an estimated 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer .

Jolie hopes that sharing her story will encourage others to be proactive about their own health:

“I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

…For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”

We here at FITNESS applaud Jolie’s decision to take preventative measures against cancer and to use her celebrity to encourage other women to do the same. We’ve been inspired by other women who also chose to have preemptive mastectomies: our marketing manager, Kristin Guinan, who underwent the same procedure at age  27, and marathoner, soldier and mom Margaret Smith who decided to forgo reconstructive surgery after her mastectomy.

Early detection and action are important, and it is up to us to take control. In Angelina Jolie’s words: “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

Resources for Your Healthy Breasts:

 Read Angelina Jolie’s full op-ed here.

Getting Younger Women Involved: How to Walk for Breast Cancer Research

Written on May 10, 2013 at 9:24 am , by

Don pink and help fight breast cancer. (Photo courtesy of Susan G. Komen 3-Day)

Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern

Sadly, chances are most of us know someone who’s been affected by breast cancer. Many of us know about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk program to help raise funds in the fight against the deadly disease. But a new campaign has come to town for the younger women looking to get involved—Young Women Walking (YW2)—and we’re ready to don our hottest pink hues in support.

Designed for women between the ages of 16 and 23, YW2 lets participants experience one day of the Komen 3-Day walk. While the 3-Day walk has women cover 60 miles in three days and raise $2,300, the YW2 contingent will clock 20 miles and raise $750.  Sounds like a great way to dip your toes into the water, right?

Here’s what we really love:  While spending the day alongside their elders, the YW2 girls learn breast cancer facts and discuss action steps necessary to reduce their own risk.  Forget the clichés: knowledge is power.

Oh, and don’t forget about the after party!  After completing a day on their feet, walkers celebrate with a pink (of course!) party and enjoy well-earned foot massages, inspirational speakers and a dance party.

Interested? Visit their website for more information, or to find an event near you.

Now you tell us: What’s the farthest you’ve walked in one day?

After The Boston Marathon Bombing: How You Can Help

Written on April 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm , by

One week ago, tragedy struck at the Boston Marathon finish line when two bombs exploded and changed the lives of thousands. Through the fear and grief though, is strength in numbers. The fitness community is a tough one, and people are coming out of the woodwork from every part of the world to lend a helping hand. Here, a few of our favorite initiatives:

100 percent of the proceeds from the Boston Strong necklace by Erica Sara Designs will go to The One Fund. (Photo courtesy of Erica Sara Designs)

Boston Strong Necklace, Erica Sara Designs

Featured in our March running guide, Erica Sara Designs delivers high-quality, personalized jewelry for every occasion, but the designer (ahem: Erica) behind the business loves to help those in need whenever she finds a few spare minutes. A runner herself, there’s no way she could sit back and watch the tragedy unfold without figuring out a way to help.

Enter the Boston Strong necklace. For the month of April, 100 percent of the proceeds made from the purchase of this necklace will go directly to The One Fund. Same goes for the Every Mile Counts necklace. Furthermore, The One Fund is now a part of ESD’s awareness program for April, so if you purchase a piece from the Awareness Collection, simply choose The One Fund as your choice of charity, and 20 percent of the net proceeds will be donated at the end of the month. Now’s the time to get that commemorative bling you’ve always wanted.

#BostonStrong<city>

A global event started by the blogger behind Pavement Runner, runners from around the world will unite with those in their city tonight to dedicate miles. More than 2,500 participants in 80 cities are already joining the movement, and you should too. The plan is simple: run 1 mile, 5 miles or 26.2 miles – however many you want – “to demonstrate love of the sport and most importantly love for the fallen and the wounded.”

Here in NYC? Meet captain Abby Bales from Run Stronger Every Day in Central Park at Tavern on the Green at 6:30p.m. There will be a walking and running group, and participants are asked to wear a race shirt, bib, or blue and yellow (Boston’s colors). There will also be T-shirts sold for $20, and all proceeds go to The One Fund.

To find out where your city will meet, click here.

Wrap it on your wrist and get moving. (Photo courtesy of Run Now)

Tribute Wristlets, Run Now

Awareness bracelets still catch eyes, and this one sporting Boston’s colors is sure to be an attention-grabber. All proceeds benefit The One Fund, and at $1.99 per wristlet, Run Now hopes to raise $1 million by National Running Day on June 5. Companies like Brooks, Map My Fitness and Run Rock ‘n’ Roll are all a part of the effort. After you buy a bracelet, tweet why running is so important to you using the hashtag #runnow.

Want more reason to keep running? Run Now is also pledging free race entries to 4,500 Boston Marathon participants who were diverted prior to reaching the finish line. Read more

Help Kids Stay Injury-Free by Snapping a Photo

Written on April 19, 2013 at 10:38 am , by

How tennis pro Sloane Stephens is helping kids stay in shape.

As you’ve seen from watching major sporting events (or if you’re like me and my physical therapist, on a personal level) sports injuries can range from mildly annoying to career-stopping, which is why we’re big on proper warm-ups, stretching and listening to your body. This April is National Youth Sports Safety Month and tennis pro Sloane Stephens has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson to promote the new Donate a Photo app and the organization Safe Kids Worldwide. With the free Donate a Photo app, all you have to do is share a photo and J&J will donate $1 to the charity of your choice.

Like any athlete, Stephens stresses the importance of staying injury-free, which is why she chose  to work with Safe Kids Worldwide. The organization helps teach kids, and their parents and coaches, how to protect against sports injuries at Safe Kids Sports Clinics. “Staying injury free is important to me and I want to help kids know what to do and stay preventative,” she said. The pro swears by proper warm-ups before training and icing after workouts to stay in top shape.

All you need to do is download the free app on your iPhone or Android, upload a photo (you can share up to one a day, every day) and a donation will be made. You can also view other shared photos at the Donate a Photo gallery and learn more about the campaign here.

 

More from FITNESS:

5 Running Injuries and How to Fix Them

A Sweet Way to Support Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Written on April 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm , by

The Michael J. Fox Foundation has given more than $304 million to Parkinson’s research so far. This is an easy (and cheap!) way to help them give more.

The next time you get the itch for a sweet treat, cave in for a good cause. In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month (FYI: One American is diagnosed every nine minutes), Magnolia Bakery has teamed up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation on a limited-edition cupcake, available online and sold in stores throughout April. For $1.75, you can support the MJFF and Parkinson’s disease research for new treatments and ultimately–a cure.

To purchase a cupcake, visit magnoliabakery.com or stop by a Magnolia Bakery near you. To learn more about the MJFF, visit michaeljfox.org.

More from FITNESS: A New Way to Get Inspired to Race This Spring

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SoulCycle on the High Line to Benefit Friends of the High Line!

Written on April 8, 2013 at 10:09 am , by

Spring has sprung! New York City is finally seeing some sunlight and warm temps this week—and what better way to celebrate than with SoulCycle and Friends of the High Line on Thursday night. If you’ve ever visited Manhattan, you know that one of the must-see stops on the tourist to-do list is checking out the new and improved High Line. Quick history lesson: Back in the mid-1800′s the High Line was a railway that ran on the lower west side of the city delivering meat, produce and raw goods throughout the Meatpacking District. But over time as trucking became the more widely used mode of transportation for manufacturers the High Line stopped running as frequently and was overcome by grass, weeds, shrubs and trees. During Manhattan’s reformative years of the 1990′s, many lobbied for the High Line to be demolished as it was becoming an overgrown sight for sore eyes. Thankfully, Friends of the High Line saw this 1-mile stretch as an opportunity for an unique urban project that could one day become a linear park—a walking greenway for locals to enjoy and hopefully add to the many charms of New York City.

SoulCycle on the High Line! (Photo courtesy of SoulCycle)

Friends of the High Line advocated for preservation of the land and in June 2011 the 1-mile redesign of the High Line as we know it today was complete. This Thursday, April 11, Soul Cycle and Friends of the High Line have teamed up for a once-in-a-lifetime event to honor this rare beauty in our bustling city. Tickets start at a hefty $500 but all proceeds will be donated back to the Friends of the High Line to help keep the park clean, plants beautiful, and continue the widespread free activities that go on throughout the year. The 6:30 PM class is taught by master instructors Laurie Cole and Stacey Griffith, so you’re in for a double treat.

I can’t remember what it was like before the High Line, when on nice days my husband and I would read the paper and drink coffee on the many lounge chairs Friends of the High Line have provided us. Or when I have visitors in town and the High Line isn’t the first stop on our must-see trip—it always is. Spots like the beautiful High Line in New York City are hidden gems and bring so much happiness to anyone who has an opportunity to visit.

For more info and to register for a bike, visit SoulCycle on the High Line to Benefit Friends of the High Line! See you there!

Stronger Girls Make A Stronger World

Written on April 3, 2013 at 9:06 am , by

As we fit gals know, there are few things more powerful than a good sweat. The adrenaline rush, tight-knit team camaraderie and sense of accomplishment athletics provide can turn any negative into a glowing positive. It is for this reason that we give the new bag brand Activyst a big thumbs up for their mission to support girls’ sports programs worldwide. With a belief that active girls are a catalyst for change, every sale makes a difference in their partner-focused funding. The adorable vibrant colored bags are made of durable, waterproof macen, a popular material used in the brand’s Nicaragua birthplace. Tote your sneaks, yoga mat and change of clothes in style, while giving girls the opportunity to blossom into strong, active women. Here’s to jocks supporting future exercise junkies!

To buy a bag of your own and learn more about using sports as the solution, check out Activyst’s website.

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