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Who’s Up for Some Skypercise?

Written on January 22, 2014 at 9:32 am , by

Pair up to slim down! Photo by iStockphoto.

Whether it’s with a bud or a personal trainer, we recommend pairing up to slim down! Photo by iStockphoto.

ICYMI: Our week 2 #GetFitParty Instagram challenge was to show us your pics of working out with a buddy. Studies have shown that working out with a partner improves weight-loss results, which could be because you push yourself harder, have more fun, and have the all-important accountability factor influencing you.

But if scheduling a workout sesh with a bud or even just getting to the gym creates a problem, we’ve got a stellar recommendation for you: Skypercise. Whether you’re partnering up with a pal to workout over the world wide web or enlisting a professional trainer to help you out virtually, it’s an excellent way to ditch the excuses so that you can stick to your resolutions.

Which is why we’re thrilled to offer a lucky reader a fabulous Skype prize package, courtesy of Skype!

One lucky FITNESS reader will score a $100 Skype gift card and two one-on-one sessions with Marc D. Thompson, a fitness trainer, personal coach, owner of Virtufit.net, and Skypercise pro. All you have to do is enter here by January 31, 2014. [Official Rules]

Good luck! Now get to work, #GetFitParty crowd!

Related Links:

Location #6: India

Written on January 13, 2014 at 9:55 am , by

Local indian girls share a laugh and bright smiles with Paige's team. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Local indian girls share a laugh and bright smiles with Paige’s team. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige climbed in India to support Apne Aap Women Worldwide, which works to combat sexual exploitation of women and girls. Help Paige raise $10,000 for Apne Aap on her Crowdrise page and don’t miss this bonus video from Louder Than 11 about the three million women currently trapped in prostitution

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By Paige Claassen

In our society, we strive towards a similar ideal. Whether that comes in the form of a high ranking, high paying job, a slender waist, or elegant clothes, the model women of magazines all look much the same. We’re praised for creating our own paths and for defining ourselves as individuals; but if we step too far outside the box, our motives might be questioned. I, for example, am currently traveling around the world to rock climb. I’m not earning a salary, I haven’t worn makeup or fixed my hair in months, and I don’t have a permanent home. The path I’m taking is not straight, it’s not predictable, and I don’t know what’s around the next bend.

I spent the month of December in India, and my goal was to climb the hardest route in India, called Ganesh and graded 5.14a. Unfortunately, the hot Indian sun beat down on Ganesh all day, making it nearly impossible to climb. I woke up at 5 a.m. each day to put in my attempts before the sun rose at 7 a.m. My day ended at 9 a.m., when I walked away from the cliff, dripping in sweat, hair disheveled, and frustrated with my efforts. This route lent itself better to a male’s strengths. The moves were long and powerful and I would need to channel all my strength and motivation to complete this climb.

A beautiful sunset and a monkey. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

A beautiful sunset and a monkey. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Meanwhile, India offered a few additional obstacles of its own. The small, dusty town I visited had a reputation for inflicting the dreaded traveller’s diarrhea on visiting foreigners (which I did not avoid). A high risk of malaria in the region also had me taking preventative medication, rumored to have a variety of unpleasant side effects. Oily food, few fresh fruits and vegetables, and no opportunities to run or cross train provided further fitness challenges.

But I had traveled all this way for one route, which was one of the best in the world. I knew I was capable. So with that determination, the matter was settled. I punched through the long moves that a girl isn’t supposed to be capable of doing. I finished the route, and I finished it before the boys. A little extra icing on the cake!

It's one big move after another, says Paige about Ganesh. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige Claassen becomes the first female to ever ascend Ganesh, the most difficult sport climb in India. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

I realized that my path, with all its turns and unknowns and new challenges each month, is a path of choices. Sure, India wasn’t the most comfortable month of travel, but it was a month I’ll never forget. The sites I saw, the people, and the colors each left their own special imprint in my mind and opened my eyes to a new world.

Paige got to know a few local Indian women while on her trip. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Paige got to know a few local Indian women while on her trip. Photo by Jon Glassberg (LT11).

Part of that world is beautiful, but deep scars lay behind the beauty. Lead Now’s non-profit partner in India, Apne Aap, offered a glimpse into the struggles many women in India face.  Apne Aap says that “every year, nearly two million people are trafficked for sexual exploitation; of these, the vast majority are female, and half are aged 12-16.”  This is a statistic I can’t even begin to grasp, but I want to do what I can in reducing that figure so that other women can have the choices that I enjoy day to day. Join me by donating online at http://www.crowdrise.com/leadnowtourindia

To get involved and donate online to help combat sexual exploitation, visit Crowdrise.

Check back next month for a video and update about Paige’s next location. And stay tuned for the video of Paige’s time in India! FitnessMagazine.com, with thanks to Marmot and Louder Than 11, will have the first-look exclusive video .

10 Awesome Music Videos to Work Out To

Written on January 10, 2014 at 9:37 am , by

vevo playlist with fitness magazine

Check out FitnessMagazine’s #GetFitParty playlist on Vevo.com!

It’s a #GetFitParty all month long for our FITNESS followers and we’ve got the perfect motivation for your workouts this weekend: Hot music videos that are fun to sweat to!

Our Instagram challenge this week has been for you to show us your “workout view,” i.e. what you see while you exercise…and we noticed quite a lot of you are working out at home. We teamed up with Vevo, the world’s leading music video platform, to create this playlist of FITNESS editor-selected videos to watch while you’re planking, squatting, or just going nuts on the treadmill. Enjoy!

Watch the full playlist here: FITNESS Magazine on Vevo

Or cherry pick which one(s) you’d like to watch:

 

Cheer Up! How to Nix Holiday Stress and Diet Disasters

Written on December 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm , by

Keep those spirits bright! Co-author of Hijacked by Your Brain, Dr. Julian Ford has the de-stress dos and don’ts to keep you from overindulging during the holidays. (Photo courtesy of Sara Forrest)

‘Tis the season to be jolly—right? With last-minute presents to purchase, cookies to bake and traveling woes up the wazoo, the holidays can be just plain stressful. And when we’re stressed, we eat. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.

“We overeat because the alarm center in our brain hijacks the thinking center—it’s an ancient mechanism, built to protect us from danger when food was scarce,” says Dr. Julian Ford, professor of psychiatry and director of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine traumatic stress center. “It tells us we have to keep eating even if we know we shouldn’t or no longer feel hungry.”

The external “joyful” holiday pressures, in addition to those we put on ourselves, cause our noggin to go into over-drive, explains Ford. “It’s a perfect storm for putting our brain’s alarms on high alert, leading to a feeling of constant pressure, exhaustion and ultimately disappointment when we can’t duplicate the Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed wonderful life.”

Eating can be a break from the hullabaloo hassle, as well as a source of more stress. As we all know, indulging in our favorite sweets and savories can lead to a downward spiral and the residual guilt always outweighs the joy we get from that temporary fix. To make matters worse, colder temps play into these mental games, setting us up for a diet disaster. “Our bodies may need more calories to keep us warm in the cold weather,” says Ford. ”Eating more in the winter is also often a way to cope with feeling bored when cooped up inside or depressed with the long, dark nights and short days.”

So how can we stop all the stress? Follow Ford’s top tips to tackling holiday H-E-double hockey sticks and the overeating that seemingly comes with the territory:

Make Your List, Check It Twice. Write down all of the foods you enjoy—those that give you that warm and fuzzy feeling with every bite, says Ford. Include both naughty foods and nice options so that you have a complete menu of what hits your pleasure zone. Keep the “good” ones handy in times of trouble (a low-cal granola bar is the perfect munchie for those long, winding checkout lines!) and prioritize those items at your seasonal soirée.
Want vs. Need. When you find yourself about to eat as a reflex reaction, take a few seconds to get off auto pilot and focus your mind by asking yourself, “Is eating this, right at this moment, going to really satisfy me and give me a sense of personal control?” If the answer is no, don’t eat it. “Remember that it’s your choice, based on valuing yourself,” says Ford.
Silent Flight. What’s the best way to avoid temptation? Distraction. “Look for ways to free yourself from the holiday (and day-to-day) pressures and demands,” suggests Ford. Carve an hour out of your busy schedule to find your center in your fave yoga class or sweat it out with some cardio. “Besides burning calories and reducing the feeling of hunger, exercise can help focus our minds by providing the quiet time we all need to think carefully about the choices we’re making,” says Ford. It’s all about seeking enjoyment and having a sense of self control.

More from FITNESS:

Ditch the Fitness Excuses: How I Hope America Moves Forward in A Nation of Obesity

Written on December 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm , by

Photo courtesy of Maria Kang

Photo courtesy of Maria Kang

Written by Maria Kang

I believe our emotions are what drive our successes or failures.

Motivation is an incredibly powerful emotion. It helps you challenge yourself and push through plateaus. This kind of energy can help us interpret messages in a positive light, envision possibilities, and then seek out those opportunities.

My “What’s Your Excuse?” poster evoked motivation in some, particularly the audience reading this right now. For others, it sparked shame—and outrage. Those people labeled me a bully and a fat-shamer, and suddenly I was at the core of controversy.

But when FitnessMagazine.com asked its audience what they thought of me, a large chunk of you said I was an inspiration. When Facebook banned me from its site and FitnessMagazine.com then interviewed me, you rallied on my side. You’ve defended me because of one common truth among us: We know our health is important.

So what do we do now?

We want to stop the obesity epidemic in America. We aren’t complacent—or at least don’t want to be. Whether we’re overweight or super fit, we know none of this is really about me, the messenger. It’s about the message.

The message is about balance, and yes, pushing past self-acceptance. It says that when we deprive ourselves from living a healthy life, we limit our ability to thrive.

As I’ve said numerous times over, it’s important to love yourself. But let’s challenge ourselves and the people around us. When something or someone refers to obesity as “normal,” challenge it! I’m not saying to shame or bully anyone, but we must focus on progress. On a daily basis we engage in a comfortable schedule, with comfortable people and comfortable habits. Instead, let’s focus on how there is always room for improvement.

The first step in discouraging complacency is to create a goal and go public with it. This goal may be to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans or to eat less processed foods. You need to write it down, set a deadline, and create daily steps in your life to hold you accountable. Accountability begins when you set up mental and physical enforcers that will push you to move out of your comfort zone – because let’s be honest, we are creatures of comfort. It’s only natural to gravitate toward what is easier rather than what is harder.

So let’s fight the complacency trend by making life harder. Here’s how:

Read more

Actress Tia Mowry’s Path to Healthy Living

Written on December 4, 2013 at 10:00 am , by

Tia Mowry puts her hands together for a flu-less holiday season and a healthy 2014. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for FluMist Quadrivalent)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Actress Tia Mowry (we know you’ve seen throwback show Sister, Sister) has quite a few projects on her plate. From the premier of her new television show, Instant Mom, on Nick at Nite to the postpartum products brand she is developing with twin sister Tamera, it was amazing she found the time to sit down for a chat with us! And one thing is for sure—despite her hectic schedule, her top two priorities remain in tact: her family and her health.

Despite marrying a man with a passion for health and wellness, Mowry wanted to discover it in her own way. Unfortunately, her journey began with a sudden diagnosis of endometriosis, an extremely painful infertility disorder. She quickly gained control of her health, though, and hasn’t slowed down since. “I wanted to have kids, so my doctor told me, ‘Tia, you’re going to have to change your diet,’” she says. After following the Body Ecology Diet for a full year, which focuses on alkalizing the body, Mowry became pregnant with her son Cree. “I’m now a believer that food can be medicine.”

Mowry also decided to try veganism earlier this year to help with other physical ailments – eczema, migraines and genetically high cholesterol – and she could not be happier with the decision. “What I like most about it is the emotional benefit that I get, realizing and understanding that I am doing the best that I can possibly do for my health,” she says. “I feel better, I have more energy, my eczema has disappeared, I no longer get migraines and my cholesterol levels are now fine.”

When it comes to working out, Mowry is all about doing what she loves, thanks to the advice she got after meeting yoga pro Tara Stiles. The routine that’s captured her heart? Dance cardio. “I was the type of person who would be out on the dance floor until the club closed, so I’m doing all types of dance cardio now,” says Mowry. “I’ve done Zumba, I’ve done Piloxing—which is boxing and Pilates at the same time—and I go to classes.” Oh, and she doesn’t look to the mirror for her workout motivation. “It’s not about what I look like; it’s about how I feel. When I focus on that, I actually find that I work out more,” she says. And cute workout clothes don’t hurt! She picks her outfit the night before for a little motivational push the following morning to get up and go have fun with her fitness.

This season Mowry teamed up with Flumist Quadrivalent, a nasal spray influenza vaccine option, to address another health issue she is passionate about now that she has little Cree to consider. “In the past, I did overlook flu vaccinations,” she says. “But after understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on an entire family, I started making it part of my annual routine. I want to protect my family.”

Mowry has experienced quite the journey to health and fitness, so maybe we should take a note or two from her book. “Changing your lifestyle takes time, so don’t get frustrated,” she suggests. “We have a lifetime to get this right, so don’t be too hard on yourself—it’s not beneficial. Start out slow and then build up your momentum and endurance. And just do what you love to do! I have seen a big change in my body since Tara gave me that advice.”

More from FITNESS:

Maria Kang Plays Defense Against the Haters (Again!) Post Facebook Ban

Written on November 27, 2013 at 11:22 am , by

No excuses mommy blogger Maria Kang got the Facebook boot this past weekend for more controversial comments. Do you think she’s in the wrong? (Photo courtesy of Maria Kang)

Maria Kang is just a mom—a mom gone viral, that is, when her ab-flaunting “What’s your excuse?” captioned photo sparked controversy and media scrutiny. Things had just died down for the Californian fitness enthusiast when she hit another nerve last week with a Facebook rant about plus-size women in lingerie.

Kang issued a warning about what she had to say, then vented her disapproval for those who encourage overweight women to be proud of their bodies. The mother of three urged her nearly 230,000 followers to change the mentality that’s sweeping the nation (sourcing multiple statistics), noting that she was not knocking those who are proud and heavy…but instead simply trying to empower healthy role models in society. Three hours later, Facebook removed her post and she was temporarily blocked from the site altogether.

“I think that everyone should love and accept their bodies,” Kang told FITNESS yesterday. “I don’t think that anyone can progress when they have a foundation of shame, so I didn’t want to seem like I was bashing them. No one should be ashamed of who they are. But there is a fine line that we’re walking, and that’s what I was talking about: When you say you love and accept yourself versus love and progress yourself.”

With two-thirds of our nation obese, $3 trillion being spent on health care, and childhood obesity on the rise, Kang believes there are multiple contributing factors tipping the scales, all in which stem from family. “Economically, it’s tougher to get good food when you’re poor,” she says. “Socially, if people around you are eating like crap and it’s normal, then it’s normalized. And culturally, if people are saying you’re okay being overweight, they keep on reinforcing this outlook.” The root of the problem, in her eyes, lies in leadership. “If the parents are healthy and they are healthy role models, then they can raise healthy kids. That’s just how it goes. It’s so simple but so hard when we live in such a blameful culture.”

So is she at fault for fat-shaming? Is the criticism warranted? According to Kang, she’s simply telling the truth and would never intend on hurting anyone’s feelings. “If you have excess body fat, especially around your midsection where your organs are, that’s not healthy for you,” she said in response to the recent backlash. “I think we should never shame anybody to lose weight. We should motivate them in a positive way, but when you say love and accept yourself, you’re creating not only a normalization, but a sedentary, complacent society.”

Although some have deemed Kang a pudge-loathing personal trainer, that’s not exactly the case. “I’m average…and nowhere near a size zero,” the former NASM-certified instructor said. She doesn’t work out for a living — her day job revolves around overseeing the ownership of two residential care homes for the elderly — but she loves volunteering her time to mommy exercise groups every Tuesday night. “I think your job is to be healthy if you’re a mom,” she added, a concept that provoked her founding of Fitness Without Borders, a community education and motivation non-profit.

So, why so passionate about the obesity epidemic? Kang, a former bulimic, witnessed first-hand the debilitating repercussions of the medical condition with her own mother. “She’s 52 years-old and has so many health issues. I work with people who are overweight by choice. I think that’s the reason why people are so pissed off; I’m telling them that they have a choice when they really want to have an excuse.”

Is it a choice? We at FITNESS believe someone can be fat but fit, and you can’t tell what’s going on with a person’s body just by the way they look. Regardless, Kang certainly knows how to stir the pot, and one thing we can totally get behind is her belief that small steps in the right direction can lead to major gains, which doesn’t happen over night. According to Kang, you have to be uncomfortable with where you are to desire change. “It’s not an all or nothing thing,” she said. “You have to take it one step at a time.”

 More from FITNESS: 

Some Not-So-Fun Flu Facts So You Get Your Shot This Year

Written on October 30, 2013 at 9:50 am , by

Get your flu shot and dodge getting sick this winter. (Photo courtesy of Darren Braun)

We know, you barely have time to brush your hair in the morning let alone figure out when to get a flu shot. But these stats released from the Walgreens Flu Report might have you moving some things around on your schedule this year. Check out a few below:

  • Last year 11 million vacations were missed (bummer!), a big jump from 4.7 million in 2011.
  • U.S. employees missed, on average, three days of work from a flu-related illness in 2012-2013, up from just one day in 2010-2011.
  • 17 million holiday events were missed, compared to 4.7 million in 2011.
  • Hot date? Approximately 13.8 million dates or other occasions were canceled because of the flu–up from 5.1 million in 2011.

Talk about a buzzkill to your social life! And don’t put off your flu shot until November or later. Survey results show that 79 percent of Americans think it takes ten days or less for your body to build up its immunity after getting a flu shot, but it can actually take up to 14 days. Find a Walgreens pharmacy here to schedule your flu shot, because no one wants to bag an island getaway in the dead of winter.

More from FITNESS: How to Avoid Sneaky Cold Culprits

Snooze Better So You Can Work Harder With SHEEX

Written on October 18, 2013 at 11:26 am , by

“Many people look at working out as a chore. I look at it as a blessing,” says Michelle Marciniak (left) with Co-CEO Susan Walvius. (Photo courtesy of SHEEX)

I have always considered myself a “light sleeper.” The tiniest noise or change in room temperature has the ability to mess with my REM cycle, throwing me completely off course for days. Turns out I’m not alone, either. Forty-seven million adults in the United States alone suffer from sleep deprivation, so clearly we can all benefit from a few extra zzz’s, especially us athletes. We need it. That’s why when I met with the co-CEO of SHEEX, Michelle Marciniak, I was intrigued with the company’s devotion to improving sleep performance. From bedding like pillows, mattress toppers, comforters and duvet covers to now first-of-its-kind sleepwear (I’m obsessed with their nightie!), SHEEX brings the benefits of performance technology 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for enhanced comfort and an overall better shut-eye experience. I mean, their motto is “Sleep Better. Play Better.” That’s something we can get behind.

As I’m sure many of you know from experience, traditional cotton sheets and sleepwear trap heat. I mean, hello tossing and turning! “SHEEX changes this by allowing the right amount of body heat to easily and effectively radiate away from the body, while also wicking moisture to provide additional comfort and evaporative cooling effect,” Michelle explained. Translation? Silky-smooth body enveloping that transfers body heat two times more effectively than cotton, which allows the body to cool itself for faster, deeper sleep onset. Oh, and 50 percent better temperature fluctuation reduction. That’s why so many professional and amateur athletes (as well as The National Sleep Foundation) endorse SHEEX!

As a former University of Tennessee All-American collegiate (ahem, my UConn Huskies big rival), professional basketball player and former University of South Carolina coach, Michelle knows about fitness and moreover how quality sleep translates to giving it your all on the court. In 2007, she and Susan Walvius were coaching together and after a long day of teaching camp, were sitting in the gym, exhausted. “Being a former elite level athlete and fitness fanatic, I was wearing my favorite performance fabric athletic gear, which I frequently trained in for triathlons,” Michelle told us. “Susan was also wearing the same gear but made a different connection on that summer day.” While Michelle loved the fabric for its quick-dry, moisture-wicking features, Susan loved “the drape and feel of the fabric against her skin.” That’s when Susan said, “I would love to have bed sheets made out of this stuff.” Without blinking an eye, Michelle was in and SHEEX was born.

So how did the dynamic duo use their basketball knowledge in their entrepreneurial venture? “The key to being a successful entrepreneur is surrounding yourself with people who have the experience and expertise from the industry you are entering,” Michelle explained. Although they had witnessed firsthand the evolution of athletic wear fabric throughout their careers, they were not very familiar with the textile industry. “What Susan and I knew is to wake up every day and get better. You are never satisfied with your performance as an athlete or coach. The day you become satisfied is the day that you will get crushed by your competition,” she said.

There are characteristics that athletes have innately, according to Michelle. “Commitment to excellence and passion that you tend to tap into naturally when dealing with a life after your athletic career,” she said. “You learn to use your sports culture to pivot into a career outside of your comfort zone just by tapping into what you have already known your whole life: Accomplishing goals through a tenacious work ethic and drive.” Life as an entrepreneur is no different. Every day, they set out to be better – setting risks and committing themselves wholeheartedly no matter what challenge arises. “The days rise and fall on your shoulders. If you are not out selling your vision, no one else is.” Whoa, talk about tenacity…discipline…and sacrifice.

So what’s the most important thing you need to make it when starting your own company in this dog-eat-dog world? Guts. “Thick skin, as we said in our athletic worlds,” she confessed. “You have to be willing to listen and learn, yet have the uncanny ability to adjust on the fly, making critical, strategic decisions with the utmost confidence and humility.”

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Misty May-Treanor Keeps Her Eye On The Prize With New Partner

Written on October 14, 2013 at 9:50 am , by

Oh, you know. Misty kickin’ glass, per usual! (Photo courtesy of VSP Vision Care)

Gauging the speed, distance and spin of an opponent’s 60+ mph serve is crucial in the game of volleyball — especially when you’re three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor. That’s why she never messed around with her astigmatism and far sightedness. “Growing up, I always got an annual eye exam,” she told us as she kicked off VSP Vision Care’s five day-long free screenings in Atlanta, GA last week in honor of yesterday’s World Sight Day. “It’s important for people to maintain their eye health. Many people don’t have vision insurance for their eye care needs.” And by many people, around 210,000 Atlanta residents are currently without coverage.

Giving back by hosting the largest free eye care event in the U.S. during the controversy surrounding Obamacare and the current government is just one of the projects Misty has up her sleeve now that she’s retired from international competition. “This is one way that I can lend my voice to help others in the community,” she says. “I’m also coaching and trying to start a family.”  So what about playing the game? Of course she can’t keep herself off the court! “I still play for fun,” she says, spilling that her fit routine is focused more now on low-impact exercises with lighter weight training than she endured pre-Olympics. And don’t think that just because she’s not sporting those skimpy (but awesome) uni’s she has given up on staying strong with that killer muscle tone. Her current goal? “To burn as many calories as I can so that I can eat whatever I want at Thanksgiving,” she jokes.

With Sochi right around the corner, Misty looks forward to cheering on the good ol’ U.S. of A. “A lot of the winter sports are foreign to me,” she admits. “I didn’t grow up a skier or ever go to a luge competition, but they’re just as exciting to watch.” Her favorite to watch? Figure skating, although bobsled and hockey are close seconds. Don’t expect this decorated Olympian (she keeps her medals safe in their boxes in a “secret place”) to get sentimental, though. “I’ve gone through four Olympics and it’s nice to take a break from competition and be able to focus on other aspects of my life, which I think makes you a more well-rounded person,” Misty says.

For more information on the importance of annual eye exams, check out VSP Vision Care’s website. Be sure to talk to your local optometrist about early detection for vision problems and other potential chronic diseases linked to eye health, too.

More from FITNESS:
Hot Beach Body Secrets from Volleyball Players
Ditch Nasal Allergies With Volleyball Olympian Misty May-Treanor
Volleyball Pro Misty May-Treanor’s Fuel-Up Tips and Recipes