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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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Why You Should Try to Be More Like Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross

Written on September 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm , by

Volleyball babes Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are making some seriously sharp spikes during this year’s AVP Beach Volleyball Tour. They’ve won every single tournament and only have one left: the season-ending championship Friday in California that runs through the weekend.

Before we continue, can we pause for a minute and stare at those abs?

So when the Olympic medalists decided to pop by the office to talk all things fitness, food and life, we came to the conclusion that they’re our ultimate spirit animals and should be yours, too. Here’s why:

They have insane sweat schedules. They begin training in January, hit the sand in March and play until October. For pre-season and in-season training, they practice five days a week for two hours each day, and then hit the gym five days a week. They’re big on diversifying their workouts, so Olympic lifting, sprint intervals, Pilates, beach workouts and more all make the roster. ”It’s hard for us to rest,” says Ross. “For me, I want to go and get better and train longer and train harder.”

They love food. There’s no surprise here that they have really clean diets (turkey, chicken, salmon, veggies, oatmeal, almond butter, salads, and eggs were all mentioned at the drop of a hat.), but splurging isn’t off limits. “I’m not afraid of a good hamburger,” says Jennings. “I don’t eat perfectly, absolutely, but I feel like every time I splurge—if I have Mexican or French fries with my burger—I definitely try to fix it with a green drink later or a salad to finish my meal.”

They know what they want, and they’re determined to get it. They’re going for the gold at the next Olympic Games in Rio, and they’re already training for it. We’re already setting reminders to mark our 2016 calendars.

They appreciate traveling. And they’ve done their fair share of it. “Paris and Barcelona are my two favorite places I’ve ever gone,” says Ross. “They just have so much character and so much history and so much culture. You could walk around and do nothing, and still be amazed by what you see.” While Jennings seconds that notion, she’s also a fan of Lake Tahoe and loves playing in Gstaad, Switzerland.

They love their families. Jennings and Ross are both married to volleyball players [Casey Jennings and Bradley Keenan, respectively], so you won’t find much of the “leave work at work” philosophy happening in these homes. But to boost their bond, Jennings and her husband work out together twice a week, and she hides her phone when she’s with her kids. “I want to get as much quality time as possible since they go to bed at 7:30,” she explains. Ross is also a fan of the hide-the-phone maneuver (writing this down now). “I usually stop responding to emails and working by dinnertime,” she says. “Dinner time is for relaxation and bonding. If I’m going super late in the gym, Brad will cook a healthy dinner and have it ready when I get home.” Now that’s what we find attractive in a guy.

Stay updated with the ladies’ progress in the tournament this weekend by visiting AVP’s website.

Photos courtesy of AVP

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What Jennifer Aniston’s Yoga Instructor Wants You to Practice Daily

Written on September 16, 2014 at 10:14 am , by

Written by Jacklyn Kouefati, editorial intern

It’s been over a year since yogis everywhere went crazy over Mandy Ingber’s book, Yogalosophy. After all, she’s the guru celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Kate Beckinsale turn to for fit-and-fierce advice, so naturally, we all wanted the tips she dishes to the stars. Now, Ingber has taken it a step farther and released a fitness app, so we can have access wherever, whenever.

While Yogalosophy isn’t the cheapest app you’ll find on iTunes, the $6.99 investment mirrors the book by providing a 28-day, step-by-step exercise routine, and you can move at your own pace by customizing which aspects of the app you want to use. Whether it’s developing your own workout routines, creating a photographic journal or whipping up the recipe of the day, the app provides tons of fitspo and a timeline to track your progress.

If there’s one tip Ingber wants you to take away, it’s this: While you’re tracking, journaling and posing, weave meditation into your schedule, even if it’s for just five minutes a day. “I think that it’s so important for all of us to remember that it’s just a day-to-day process and to just do our best each day. We don’t have to be perfect,” she says.

So when those imperfect urges do creep up (oh hey, sweet tooth), settle for a healthier version of sweet, like a smoothie, (Ingber loves to use tropical fruit and kale in her blends), or check out some of the other plant-based protein recipes she created with Silk. Happy posing!

Image courtesy of Seal Press

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Watch Gisele Bündchen’s New Under Armour Commercial

Written on September 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm , by

Under Armour has been featuring some seriously badass women in its “I Will What I Want” campaign. On the list so far: Misty Copeland, Lindsey Vonn, Sloane Stephens, Kelley O’Hara and Brianna Cope.

Each fab lady comes from a different athletic background, but they all have one thing in common: Among the obstacles and the criticism in their respective sports, they’ve worked VERY hard to get where they are now. And if there’s one person who knows criticism, it’s Gisele Bündchen.

When word spread that the supermodel would be the next addition to the campaign, she received some serious backlash. And the way Under Armour—and Gisele—dealt with it is pure genius.

Check out the commercial. Gisele gets some cardio in with a major punching sesh. While she hits the punching bag, comments—both positive and negative—appear on the walls. The Brazilian beauty constantly receives contradictory feedback, but it clearly hasn’t slowed her down, as she’s currently the highest-paid model in the world. Oh, and she got 43 no’s at her first try at international fashion shows before hearing a “yes.” Now that’s inspiring.

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Jillian Michaels Dishes on Her New IMPACT Clothing Line, How to Stay Motivated and What’s on Her Playlist

Written on August 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm , by

Jillian Michaels is officially our idol. She won us over when we first met her as the tough-but-lovable trainer way back when on The Biggest Loser, continued to impress us with her ever-growing health and fitness empire, and now she’s completely blowing us away with her latest endeavor: a new activewear line IMPACT, available at Kmart. Not only is it cute and practical, but it’s completely affordable—the highest price comes in at $37 for a yoga tote! If these clothes help us work out even half as much as Jillian does (seriously, do you see those arms?), sign us up!

Why don’t you tell us about your line and why you decided to work specifically with Kmart?

Honestly, a cool, athletic apparel line is something that we’ve been trying to do at my company for about 8 years now. It’s been so hard to find a partner that is going to give my customer accessibility and affordability, and also really care about more than just a profit. I wanted a partner to care about whether these clothes are really performing, are they cool-looking, do they make the customer feel confident and empowered?  The Kmart people were like, “We really want you to do your thing and get involved.” So it’s a really good home for my brand.

What were the most important aspects to you when developing the apparel itself?

It really did have to have these three things equally: it needed to perform, it needed to look cute and it needed to be affordable. I’ve just grown very sensitive to the reality of women in poverty and there are so many women who are honestly one paycheck away from bankruptcy. So, I mean, to turn around and ask people to spend $100 on a pair of capris that you know is costing that retailer $5 to make, is disgusting. These women need to be healthy too, and they might only be able to afford one or two things so I need those things to last. They can’t wear those capris like twice and then wash them and then they’re see-through, they’re falling apart, they’ve lost their elasticity. So, I just really need my customer to be able to afford at least one or two pieces that will last. I’m just super sensitive to that right now.

What is your typical workout routine right now?

Personally, I like to mix it up. So we created a program called Body Shred, which is quite honestly my best offering. It’s a holistic workout because it hits every muscle in the body and it changes consistently. There are over 300 different exercises in the program’s repertoire so the trainer has the ability to create the program, so it has a format and a science and therefore the customer never adapts and plateaus. It hits on every fitness modality and, to me, that’s really important. So I train very much in that way. You know, I don’t just do yoga, I don’t just do endurance training or I won’t just do boot camp. I train with every modality; I hit my muscles at as many angles of push and pull as possible. I change my workout constantly because I think that’s best way to get in shape and the most functional in your life to prevent injury and to stay healthy. It’s critical that you constantly shift things. So if you are a person who loves yoga, try a CrossFit class. If you are a CrossFitter, I think you need to get out and do a yoga class. Just be sure to mix it up.

How do you motivate yourself on those days when you’re just not feeling like working out?

I really tell people that they need to establish a why in life. So for example ‘I want to be healthy…’ What does that mean to you? What does it look like in your life? You know, does it mean you’re running triathlons to bond with your 20-year-old son when you’re 50? Or does it mean that you’re 20 years old and you want to wear a two-piece instead of a one-piece at Spring Break? What does it mean to you? So you have to really establish and identify what health looks like as it manifests in your life and when you have that why to live for, it makes the how way more tolerable. You know, I don’t love chicken and broccoli, I don’t love working out at the gym – I really don’t love it – but then I think about when I am able to pick up my son and spin him around, or wear my skinny jeans, or wear that two-piece instead of that one-piece, all those things do matter to me and it pushes me. You know, in life, work with purpose is passion; work without purpose is punishment. So really establish a detailed and defined why and that’s going to be your lasting source of motivation to tolerate those things that quite honestly aren’t always pleasurable in the moment.

Current favorite workout song or playlist?

When it comes to music for working out, I like to listen to a lot of EDM, so Alesso, Avicii, Tiesto – they’re my favorite for pumping up and pushing myself. But, at the moment, just in general, I love Sia’s new album. I’m obsessed with her song ‘Fire Meet Gasoline,’ it’s like on repeat. She has a killer new album.

If you could give one piece of health/fitness advice to our readers a whole what would it be?

Live the life you want, not the life you think you should. I think when you follow that advice it all works out. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

Check out Jillian’s full line at Kmart.com and if you need a crank in your calorie burn, get ready to sweat with Jillian. FITNESS readers can access week 1 and 2 of her Shred program for FREE, courtesy of FitFusion. But no procrastinating—you’ve only got two weeks!

Week One:

Week Two:

Photo courtesy of Sara Jaye Weiss

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How Access Hollywood Correspondent Liz Hernandez Stays Fit Off Set

Written on August 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Fit and fabulous? Check. TV personality Liz Hernandez embodies both of these qualities, and her rockin’ bod and flair for fashion are just two of the reasons we love tuning into Access Hollywood. Besides becoming one of the first Latina correspondent on NBC’s entertainment news program in 2014, this California native also sets a great example as a strong woman who knows what she wants and fights for it. After sitting down for a one-on-one chat with Hernandez, we should also probably mention that she’s totally down-to-earth, witty and bubbly. Yes, we know; swoon.

Being on TV and always in the spotlight, how does it affect your mindset about working out and staying fit?

I have never let myself fall into the trap of like, “Oh, I’ve got to look this certain way.” I’ve always been pretty healthy and kept myself in good condition. But, there’s never a worse feeling than when you’ve gone out the night before, you didn’t eat right and you get to set and they have  this little skirt for you. You are like “Oh, God! I don’t want to go out there!” So, I have noticed that on the mornings when I wake up, workout and get to set, it’s like, I have energy, my body feels strong and I am projecting that. It’s just a positive reinforcement.

Are there any exercise routines you’re totally obsessed with?

I try to go to the gym no less than 4 days a week. I used to be like, “Cardio! Cardio! Cardio!” But then I was retrained to just get my heart rate up for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Then I do weight training, where I go grab free weights and I do jumping jacks with the weights, squats, lunges, abs…just so my full body is getting a workout. I try to do as much as I can with free weights because essentially you are burning calories while building your muscles.

What’s your diet like these days?

I am really strict during the week. I am very big on getting 30 grams of protein in the morning just to fill me up. That’s what really works for me and it usually holds me over for 2-3 hours before I have something like a bran muffin with fruit. I’ve also strayed away from all dairy products and red meat.

Any go-to snacks?

I am going to be totally embarrassing, but I have the same breakfast every day. I am a huge fan of thinkThin bars. They have 20 grams of protein in them! I have a white chocolate thinkThin bar every single morning without fail. They are low sugar and high in protein. I also keep my house stocked with fruit. Cantaloupe is my favorite.

Guilty-Pleasure foods?

I loved—loved, as in past tense—ice cream. Now that I’ve given up dairy, I use these little ice cube trays and pour juice into them. I pour white grape juice and add in real fruit. So when I have an after-dinner craving, I’ll have one of those and it cuts the sugar craving.

With your extremely busy schedule, how do you manage to do it all?

You know, it’s all balance. One of the things I really practice is thinking about my mind, body and spirit. It’s totally my mantra. In the mornings, before I even go to the gym or do anything, I have a gratitude journal and I write five things that I am grateful for. It’s a reminder for when my day goes haywire that it could always be worse.

Photo by Emilio Sanchez

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Girl Power: Becky Hammon and the San Antonio Spurs Makes History for the NBA

Written on August 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm , by

She’s 5′ 6″, 37, and is carving some serious pathways down the basketball court—and with more than just her skillful plays as a pro b-baller.

Becky Hammon, the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars point guard, will serve as the San Antonio Spurs’ new assistant coach when she retires to the sidelines this month, making her the first paid, full-time female assistant in the NBA. Yeah. Kind of a big deal.

She recently announced that her role won’t be any different than the other assistants’ roles, and she’ll work directly with Coach Gregg Popovich to guide the team that just won the 2014 NBA Finals—amazing, much? And even though Popovich says she was hired for what any coach SHOULD be hired for—skills—we hope this means more just-as-qualified women will start popping up in male-dominated fields.

But basketball fan or not, your eyes better be averting to the sidelines this fall. ‘Cause this girl is shattering all sorts of glass ceilings. Watch Hammon’s full press conference here.

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Stacy Keibler is Reportedly Going to Eat Her Placenta…Should You?

Written on July 30, 2014 at 9:54 am , by

Yet another celebrity is taking a seat with January Jones and Tamera Mowry on the eat-your-own-placenta bandwagon: Stacy Keibler. And because she’s had one of the healthiest pregnancies out of all our fave celeb mamas, it’s difficult to question the former pro wrestler’s decision to have her placenta encapsulated, no matter how, um, disgusting it sounds.

We’ve already heard about this arguably gag-worthy trend that’s gaining more popularity (placenta recipes are a thing), but even though many new moms swear they’re healthier and happier—many claim it keeps postpartum depression at bay—and more energized because of it, there aren’t any studies that prove there is actually a benefit to eating your own placenta post-childbirth.

“There’s a lot of folklore surrounding the practice, but there is not a lot of hard medical or scientific data in favor of or against it,” says Jennifer Ashton, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member. ”There are a lot of misconceptions about what its value is nutritionally. The placenta is the conduit for supplying oxygen, blood and nutrients to the fetus. But I think what most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t do that all by itself. It does that because it extracts those nutrients from the mother.”

So why is this still trending? Some of it is cultural, but a lot of it is anecdotal, says Lauren Streicher, M.D. “Someone will say, ‘After my first pregnancy I had terrible postpartum depression and then the second time I ate placenta pills and I had none.’ But statistically we know that first pregnancies are far more likely to have postpartum depression than second pregnancies,” she says. “Was it the placenta pills or was it just your second pregnancy? Who knows? The only way to know is to test that in 10,000 people and see if there’s a real difference.”

But just because there isn’t yet research behind it doesn’t mean the benefits—and risks—don’t exist. ”It’s a trend just like anything else, and some of those trends turn out out be based to something good and some don’t,” says Ashton. “I think that people need to realize that there’s risk verses benefit to everything.”

We want to hear from you: Would you (or have you) eat your own placenta knowing that no research has yet been done on its risks or benefits? Or are you more of a “wait and see” kind of gal?

Photo by Diane Bondareff

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Why You Need to See—And Read—”Wild”

Written on July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm , by

It’s been more than a year since Cheryl Strayed released her gripping memoir, Wild, about her solo 1,100-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail. The book is a New York Times bestseller for a reason, so if you haven’t read it yet, do it now. Strayed’s  tale is gripping, and the honest look at herself as a person throughout her painful hike (literally painful—the speed at which she loses toenails makes me cringe) is refreshing. So when I found out Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses, would star in the film adaptation, I may have shrieked with joy.

The movie doesn’t hit theaters until December 5, but the official trailer has just been released. Watch:

Now, everyone knows the film version is rarely as good as the book, but I honestly think those working in film are stepping up their game. And while Witherspoon has a lot to live up to, I think she can handle it. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) fortunately doesn’t make us sit through two straight hours of a girl lugging a 50-pound pack through the woods, but rather bounces back to the story of why the heck this woman decided to go it alone. And believe me, that’s a twisted story you want to know about. I’ve only seen the trailer and I already see a myriad of awards in Reese’s future.

But more importantly, go see Wild because in a world of men in hardcore, badass lead roles (I’m looking at you, Captain Phillips), there’s now a strong (albeit unlikable) female in the mix doing something physically—not to mention mentally and emotionally—trying. For me, it serves as a little reminder that I don’t have to follow the crowd, and I can conquer a crazy-hard trail, and all that that comes with, just as well as any man.

But you tell me: have you read the book? Did you love it or hate it? And either way, will you see the movie? 

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Music Monday: Making Music with The Roots

Written on July 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm , by

You watch ‘em rock the stage regularly on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but The Roots are known for a particular type of instrumentation that I’m, well, obsessed with. And that’s using quirky, unorthodox instruments to create awesome, YouTube-breaking music. Two of my faves: singing “Your Body” with X-tina and this Brady Bunch styling of “We Can’t Stop.” So it was no surprise when they teamed up with Kellogg’s at their Recharge Bar in Times Square and performed rockin’ tunes using tons of breakfast equipment—I’m talking bowls, spoons, the works. Now if only I could be that musical with my cereal bowl in the morning…

Of course, The Roots do play on regular instruments once in a while, which they’re using to create their new album. What can we expect when it drops? “It’s another concept album, and we’re showing the life of the common man,” says Questlove. “Hip-hop often celebrates the plight of the winner, those who are living the good life. But sometimes that’s misleading, and 99 percent of the people out here are living regular lives. This is their story.”

That said, I can only imagine how many will end up on my workout playlist (um, all of them). But until I can get my hands on those tracks, I’ll have to substitute this playlist. It’s what The Roots are jamming out to this summer themselves, while they squeeze in workouts on their European tour. I’ll just imagine that I’m in the same awesome locales they are.

Photo courtesy of Edelman

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