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Feel-Good Fitness: Workout and Give Back During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Written on October 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm , by

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. You—yes, you—can make a difference. (Photo credit: Denise Crew)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern 

Bring on the pink! National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is finally here, flaunting more proud ribbons, charitable events and philanthropic products than ever before (don’t forget to check out our fave product picks!). If you’re struggling to decide how you’d like to give back this month, pick a program that aligns with your passions, too. Here are three ways to get your sweat on and support thousands of women as they brave the breast cancer battle. Now that’s a win, win.

  1. Xtend Barre is hosting Plié for Pink on October 19 and 20 at its participating studios. Donate $30 to take this 75-minute barre bootcamp that really works your legs, glutes and core. Proceeds go to Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization that focuses on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
  2. Real Pilates NYC challenges you to a Mat-a-Thon with pro instructor Regina Arras at its Tribeca studio on October 23. This 75-minute Pilates mat class puts your endurance to the test with 20 rounds of hardcore sculpting moves. Sign up with a $50 donation and see how long you can last. If you make it to the end, your donation is capped at $50. If you tap out early, your donation amount will increase depending on how many rounds you completed. All proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Game on!
  3. If Pilates isn’t for you, get your groove on at your local Zumba studio. The third-annual Party in Pink Zumbathons are held worldwide throughout the month with 75 percent of the event ticket fees going directly toward preventative research, a grant managed by Susan G. Komen.

For an added bonus, wear the FitBit Pink Flex Wristband ($99) during these workouts to track your crazy calorie burn. Throughout the month, FitBit will contribute $10 from every Pink Flex wristband sold to the American Cancer Society. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and sport your pink power!

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Actor Taye Diggs Dishes on His New Children’s Book, Staying Fit as a Family and ‘Baggage Claim’

Written on October 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm , by

Taye Diggs not only pens children’s books, he helps kiddos get their hands on them, too! (Photo courtesy of Kellogg’s)

You watched him heat up the small screen as Dr. Sam Bennett on Private Practice, and now you can catch him in his latest romantic comedy, Baggage Claim, as part of a star-studded cast (you’ll see the likes of Paula Patton, aka wife to one-half of the VMA twerking fiasco, Tia Mowry and Adam Brody). But what really fires up Taye Diggs happens behind-the scenes, in a place much closer to home – the school systems. Fun fact: Diggs is also the children’s book author of “Chocolate Me,”and he’s teamed up with Kellogg’s and Scholastic to get more reading material in kids’ hands.

With a four-year-old of his own, it seems like just the right time for Diggs to get involved. “I grew up reading a ridiculous amount when I was a kid, and now I read to my kid three or four times a day,” he told us during a visit to the FITNESS offices. “Childhood literacy is very important. Two-thirds of every family in poverty doesn’t have books, so we’re just trying to get everybody involved and put an end to that.”

How, exactly, can we help then? In one of two ways:

  1. Buy any Kellogg’s product, and visit kelloggsfreebook.com to enter the Great Starts, Great Stories codes you’ll find on the inside flap of the box. For each code entered, Kellogg’s will send you a free book that you can keep or donate. Up to 200,000 books will go to schools, homes and communities.
  2. Participate in the Frosted Mini Wheats Mini Missions program, and earn free scholastic books and the chance to win a sweepstakes for books and grants for your community.

We’ve all heard of Kellogg’s, and the company does a lot to give back, clearly. But when it comes right down to it, we wanted to know: out of all the cereal brands, why partner with this one? “It was what we grew up on,” Diggs says. “For my family, it was like a weekend delicacy. My father would mix up the different cereals – a lot of the time it would be Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes because it had a little less sugar.” And as far as eating as a family goes, there’s zero negotiation for the actor. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact a simple meal could have until I had Walker,” he says. “But now that’s a time, either as a family or just daddy-son time, that you don’t get during any other time of the day. For us, we talk about dreams or nightmares he had the night before, or what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. We can check in with each other. Not to mention, that’s when he’s the most cute. When he wakes up.” Cue a round of aww’s, please!

But reading and eating a morning meal together aren’t the only things the star does with his son. They get their sweat on together, too (which begins to explain that, um, enviable physique). “I’m trying to gently massage the importance of staying healthy and in shape. He likes looking at big muscles, so I use that as a bribe. I’ll say, ‘If you want those, you have to eat your protein, eat your vegetables, do a couple push-ups and stretch out.’” When he’s not, er, bribing the boy, they’re doing fun activities together, like running and soccer. And on top of that, Diggs manages to fit in his own workouts – think basketball, tennis and weight lifting – to stay in tip-top shape for his acting gigs. Maybe we’ll see him as an athlete in his next role? “Someone asked my son what I did for a living, and he said, ‘He changes into shorts and he plays basketball!’ Because I always go from the gym to work, so he rarely hears me say I’m going to work. It was pretty funny.”

Sounds like Diggs is a pro at leading by example. For more of his tips on getting active with your own kiddos, watch this:

More from FITNESS:

Your Age-by-Age Fit Family Guide

Food for Kids: 3 Mistakes Even Fit Moms Make

How to Start Running with Your Kids

Join Jillian Michaels’ First-Ever DietBet Weight Loss Challenge

Written on September 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm , by

Only $30 to get coached by this top trainer? Yes, please! (Photo by Justin Stephens)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Jillian Michaels is at it again. The health and fitness expert, who’s known for her tough coaching on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, her toned body in her workout DVDs and inspiring outlook on life in her books, is taking on a new challenge. Tomorrow, Michaels’ first DietBet game launches, motivating participants all over the world to lose weight with the support of social media.

The Jillian Michaels DietBet will host a motivating community for anyone looking to improve their health. Each participant begins by placing $30 in the pot and submits a photo of themselves on their scales to DietBet’s referees (don’t worry, the pic is totally confidential). On Tuesday, September 24, the four-week countdown begins for each participant to lose 4 percent of their body weight. Everyone who completes the goal splits the pot evenly, pocketing some hard-earned cash. With 5,472+ players currently signed up, and the pot up to $164160, the game ought to be a fun one.

Using social media as a weight loss tool helps users compete with one another, and support and encourage one another’s goals simultaneously. Plus, each participant will receive nutrition advice, workout information and motivational tips from Michaels herself throughout the four weeks to help them succeed. “It’s the first of its kind, so not only is it one of a kind, it’s revolutionary,” says Michaels. “The concept makes weight loss fun, motivating and challenging! What could be cooler?” The financial incentive doesn’t hurt either.

Like with many of her other fitness projects, Michaels approaches this new challenge with loads of enthusiasm and little fear. “I just love being a part of something new. I don’t really have concerns,” says Michaels.” People bet $30 on themselves to succeed. If they lose 4 percent in 4 weeks, they get it all back and way more. The worst-case scenario is you spend 30 bucks to have me coach you to lose weight for a month. The best case is you lose the weight and make money doing it.”

Today is the last day to sign up for the Jillian Michaels’ DietBet. What are you waiting for?

More of Jillian:

Jillian Michaels’ Bodyshred Circuit Workout

Jillian Michaels’ Get-Pumped Workout Playlist

Jillian Michaels’ Top 5 Snack Picks

The First Lady Wants You to Drink Up

Written on September 23, 2013 at 10:34 am , by

Drink more water for your skin, your health and your waist. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Not to be pessimistic, but when it comes to Americans, our glasses are half-empty these days–literally. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day and 7 percent drink no water at all. That’s why earlier this month FLOTUS Michelle Obama launched her Drink Up initiative to get people drinking more water and less of the sugary stuff. To get some tips on how to increase your water intake we chatted with Dr. Jenna Bell, RD. Follow her tips below and follow in the FLOTUS’ adequately hydrated footsteps:

  • Jazz it up: Not one to drink boring old tap water? Try a water enhancer like Stur, sweetened with stevia, so there’s no added calories or sugar. The coloring from each flavor comes from vegetable juice and you can control how much want in your glass with a simple squeeze.
  • Do as Diane Sawyer does: “She puts a glass of water by her bed and drinks it every morning when she wakes up, so now I do too,” says Bell. “If you’re going to take advice from anyone, take it from her because it’s clearly working!”
  • Carry a water bottle: This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it is the easiest way to keep drinking as the day goes on. Buy a reusable bottle like S’well, who is partnering with Drink Up with a limited edition bottle that gives 10 percent of proceeds back to the foundation.
  • Start meals with water: “A study in 2010 out of Virginia Tech looked at whether or not drinking water before a meal effects what we eat and weight loss. They found that two glasses of water before a meal helped shed weight and made participants eat less because water fills up your stomach,” says Bell.
  • Order water every time you order a beverage: Coffee? Get water. Wine? Get water. Not only will you stay hydrated, you’ll probably fend off a hangover in the process.

Now tell us: What tricks do you use to drink more water?

Kara DioGuardi Takes Charge of Her Health—For the Long Run

Written on September 20, 2013 at 11:09 am , by

“Being proactive can be lifesaving,” Kara said, urging women to consult with their doctors about being tested. (Photo courtesy of Stephen J. Finfer)

Songwriter, producer and Warner Brothers exec Kara DioGuardi was living in Manhattan playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical Chicago when she saw a life-changing (and arguably life-saving) news report. It was WABC-TV New York’s Stacy Sager’s story that struck a familiar chord with Kara, as the journalist discussed her breast and ovarian cancer family history and the proactive test that determines carriers of the hereditary gene mutation. (The same exam Angelina Jolie made headlines with back in Maywhich positive results led to her preventative double mastectomy.)

“I tested positive for BRCA2which meant I had up to an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer, and a 40 percent chance of ovarian cancerand subsequently underwent a complete laporoscopic hysterectomy last December [2012] to reduce my likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer by fifty percent,” Kara recently told us. In January, the former American Idol judge plans to further lower her risk by having a prophylactic mastectomy.

“I feel great,” she says. “I had a great doctor and support system who mentally and physically prepared me for the surgery. I urge anyone with breast or ovarian cancer in their families (mother or father’s side) to get tested. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power.”

Now a healthy mom of eight-month-old Greyson (she and husband Mike McCuddy turned to surrogacy following five years of fertility issues), Kara is back in the swing of things teaching for a second year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, running her publishing company, Arthouse, and finding new talent for her Warner Brothers affiliated record label.

Her best sweat secret to finding fit time between all of the juggling? “I recently started P90X and if I hadn’t, I am not sure I would be able to lift my big boy as easily,” she reveals. “I love it because it has taught me exercises I can do anywhere at anytimeeven getting 20 minutes in a day is enough!”

Check out that pretty start line full of supporters! (Photo courtesy of Angela Daves)

Besides following Tony Horton’s regimen (and her upper body workout of a son), Kara is now gearing up for the inaugural Run for Her New York Walk on October 27 in support of ovarian cancer research. Lucky for us East Coasters, the popular Los Angeles walk’s growth sparked the organization of this year’s New York City event to continue raising funds for advancing medical discoveries and treatments, alongside awareness of the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

“This event is very important to me as it brings the ongoing battle of ovarian cancer to the forefront,” Kara says. “I will run in honor of my mother, Carol DioGuardi, who died of ovarian cancer at 58. She was not given the option of genetic testing. It may have saved her life. Although running has never been my strong suit, I plan on completing the 5K for all those women out there who have been affected by this insidious disease.”

Sign up now (early registration costs only $35!) to join Kara at the Hudson River Park and support the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. West Coast gals, be sure to get moving for the cause in L.A. November 10.

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Celeb Trainer Harley Pasternak Keeps You Out of the Gym

Written on September 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm , by

In our transition into fall, we tend to work out a little less and eat a little more. Why? It’s simple, really: we’re not spending every weekend at the beach, when the idea of flashing a bikini often motivates us to be on top of our sweat schedules. But if heading into a humid gym to log miles on the treadmill or elliptical sounds less than appealing, celeb trainer Harley Pasternak has one word for you: Don’t. When he trains clients like Julianne Hough, Rihanna and Katy Perry, he gives them all one piece of equipment, and has an easy trick to staying out of the gym. Watch the video to steal his no-gym secrets, and watch yourself shimmy right back into those skinny jeans.

More from FITNESS:

Celeb Trainer Tips: Get Your Sexiest Body

Harley Pasternak on Losing Weight This Week

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How Long It Takes to Catch a Cold (Spoiler: Not Long At All!)

Written on August 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm , by

Whether you’re a mom who is getting ready for the influx of germs your child is about to bring home as they go back to school or are just stocking up on hand sanitizer for the office this fall, one thing is definite–cold season is creeping up on us. We got the chance to chat with NYC Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Anthony Jahn, MD on behalf of Ocean Saline Nasal Care on how to stay cold-free this season and were shocked at this scary stat he shared with us on how long it takes for you to catch a cold once you’ve been sneezed on, which is the primary way you catch a cold. Watch below:

 

 

So from the time someone sneezes on you, or even near you (sneeze droplets can travel much farther than you would think!) it only takes 15 minutes for that cold germ to travel from the front of your nose to the back of your throat. Dr. Jahn also said that the average cold lasts anywhere from seven to ten days – that’s a long time to be sick! You won’t show symptoms for about ten hours, meaning you could spread a cold to your friends or family and not even know it. Bummer.

To skip the sick days this year, use a saline solution like Ocean Saline Nasal Spray to keep your nose moist (and therefore clear of any germs), take vitamin C and zinc and most importantly, steer clear of any sneezy coworkers until their symptoms clear up. Here’s to a happy, healthy fall!

More from FITNESS: Sneaky Cold Culprits and How to Boost Your Immunity

 

Flowchart: Should You Work Out Today?

Written on August 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm , by

Should You Work Out Today Flowchart

How You Can Run One Million Miles to Fight Childhood Cancer

Written on August 13, 2013 at 10:44 am , by

 

It’s time to get moving for a cause! (Photo courtesy of Alex’s Lemonade Stand)

Written by Emily Mitamura, editorial intern

A million miles is a lot. It’s 38,000+ marathons. It’s two whole trips to the moon and back. But according to Jay Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and everyone else at the foundation, a million miles is “just how far parents of children with cancer would go to find a cure for their child.”

This September, Alex’s Lemonade Stand is proving that, and asking you to help. In honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, they’re enlisting runners and walkers to collectively log one million miles. Your mission: Sign up to be one of 10,000 participants who each pledge to walk 100 miles over the course of 30 days, and help raise awareness about a disease that affects 720 new children in the United States every single day.

To easily track your daily miles, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has teamed up with the free MapMyRun app. Participants who want to do their part solo will need to average 3 to 4 miles a day, but folks who need something more manageable can split the 100 miles among a group of friends or coworkers.

Need another reason to get involved? Let us provide some back story to the inspiring Philadelphia-based organization. Back in 2000, four-year-old Alexandra Scott set up a lemonade stand to single-handedly raise money and hopefully fund the cure for cancer that affected all children like her. And though the effort has been far from single-handed (if only because Alex wasn’t then tall enough to even reach the phone), the accomplishments that have and will continue to stem from a child’s simple wish are boundless. Alex raised over $1 million to fight the disease from which she passed away in August of 2004, and her friends and family continue on in her honor. Today, supporters all over the world have their own lemonade stands for Alex. Now, the Million Mile Run will help push the charity’s progress.

So get running. And jogging. And walking. Every step counts toward the goal, and getting involved could help save a life. Visit their website for more details on how to get started today.

Now You Tell Us: How do you support causes you’re passionate about?

Soccer Star Landon Donovan Shares His Skin-Saving Tips

Written on August 9, 2013 at 9:57 am , by

Landon looks better without the burn. Don’t you agree? (Photo courtesy of The Skin Cancer Foundation)

Landon Donovan, David Beckham and, of course, the soon-to-be Bachelor, Juan Pablo – soccer players have the sleek physique we love to look at. But one thing all that hard work in the sun is doing (besides giving them chiseled abs)? Wrecking their skin. So Donovan, one of the top pro players for the LA Galaxy, teamed up with The Skin Cancer Foundation to help spread the word and prevent the red (Seriously, his pose to the right is cute, but we prefer less color). After years of sweating on the field all day without protection, one close-to-home diagnosis became a critical wake-up call. Find out what it is, and how he suggests getting the special guy in your life to slather on the sunscreen without being a nag.

Tell us a little bit about why you got involved with this initiative.

A few years back, my dad developed skin cancer. That was a little bit of a wake-up call for me, considering being out in the sun is something I do every day. When it all happened, my girlfriend at the time asked me bluntly, “You wear sunscreen every day, right?” And I hadn’t been. My whole life I had been outside playing in the sun and I had neglected something so important. So after my dad’s diagnosis, I became someone on the team who wore sunscreen regularly. There are a lot of people who are not educated and if we can help even just a few, it’s worth it.

Recent statistics say that 70 percent of men don’t know what skin cancer signs to look for, and half don’t wear sunscreen. Why do you think that is?

It’s a macho thing, an unaware thing. I don’t think people fully understand the dangers. It’s one thing if you go out once a week and you’re in a little bit of sunshine. But for me and many of the people I know, we’re out in the sun playing soccer every day, and it’s constant. It only takes a couple minutes to apply sunscreen and it can save your life.   

Do the numbers surprise you?

On the surface, it’s a surprising number. But when I think about people I know and guys I play with, it’s not all that surprising. I think for the most part it’s an ignorance thing where people don’t really understand the danger involved. And for some people, I don’t know if it’s a lazy thing, or if they just really don’t think anything can happen to them. Like,  “Oh, I don’t need it, I’m not going to be outside that long.” It’s a lack of action, so bringing up awareness will hopefully move them so that next time they go outside, maybe they’ll spend two minutes and put sunscreen on.

As a soccer player, you have to be out on the field a lot. What’s your sunscreen regimen?

I put sunscreen on about a half hour before I go out. For people that sweat a lot, it’s necessary to find sunscreen that is water resistant because if you put it on too late, it’s dripping in your eyes and that doesn’t feel good. If I’m not going to be outside for a long time, then I at least put on a hat and sunglasses and make sure I’m covered so that I’m not exposing myself directly.

Do you have a favorite brand you find works really well while you’re out being active?

I’m pretty easy as far as that stuff goes, so as long as it doesn’t go in my eyes, I’m good. I prefer the spray, but it’s easier to get the lotion in the locker room. The spray is nice because you don’t get it on your hand and it’s not greasy. I don’t want it to be greasy.

How can women help the men in their lives get more educated about skin safety?

Continue to push it so that they understand. I don’t know, by nature, men are just not as concerned or aware. Women are a lot more nurturing, I think, and want to take care of people, and understand inherently the dangers involved. So use that and make them be informed. I know it can be difficult, but I think being really blunt and letting them know that you care about them and you don’t want to see something bad happen to them would work. There are plenty of stories about people who get skin cancer and it goes undetected and you can die from it. If men can see that that’s a real possibility, it might get them to stop and think about it. Just continue to nag them because in the end, that part doesn’t matter. Saving their life does.

To get a little more sunscreen 411, we checked in with Joshua Zeichner, M.D., spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation. More skin-saving advice: 

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