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Weight Loss

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:

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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: 

Find Your Inner Strength with John Rowley’s 52 Million Pound Challenge

Written on November 19, 2013 at 10:10 am , by

Tackle the holiday season head on with Rowley! (Photo courtesy of John Rowley’s 52 Million Pound Challenge)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With so many weight loss programs on the market today, it doesn’t take much get started. Keeping up with it and achieving long-term results, on the other hand, often times feels like a losing battle. National fitness expert and bestselling author John Rowley recognizes this struggle, attributing it to a lack of mental and emotional connection with physical goals. And he’s ready to do something about it.

Rowley recently launched his 52 Million Pound Challenge to help North America shrink its obesity rate from the inside out. In partnering with HabitForge, the program helps each participant pinpoint a healthy habit they want to develop and hold them accountable for 21 days, inspiring behavior change that can last a lifetime. Rather than having to remember to log data each day, the program emails you a habit reminder with a simple “yes” or “no” response to track your results. After successfully maintaining a habit for three weeks, users can tackle a new one. The challenge website is also stocked with a variety of informative posts from health, fitness and lifestyle experts to keep users actively engaged with the goals they are working to accomplish.

To track North America’s progress toward health and fitness, Rowley integrated interactive maps of the United States and Canada with state and province-specific obesity statistics in the challenge website. Clicking on each location also shares how many residents are signed up for the challenge and the area’s rank regarding its weight loss success.

To jump start the program, Rowley is hosting a 12-week challenge beginning the day after Thanksgiving, and anyone ages 18 and up who signs up before November 29 can compete!

The game is simple: Each participant submits before and after photos (or a certified note of body fat lost from a personal trainer or doctor if you’re uncomfortable with sharing photos), along with a 350-word essay or 3-minute video sharing his or her inspiring story via the challenge’s Facebook page. At the end of 12 weeks, the Facebook community will select the top 25 men and women, then the official judging panel will narrow it down to 10 men and women before Facebook users select the two grand champions. Each winner receives a trip for two to St. Thomas, along with other goodies—talk about motivation to give the whole weight loss thing another go!

Will you be helping Rowley help North America lose 52 million pounds?

More from FITNESS:

The Must-Visit Site For Weight-Loss, Workouts and More!

Written on October 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm , by

Snag a copy of Mitzi’s new book for over 50 easy-to-make clean eating recipes, learn how you can “Pin 10″ to achieve your goals and more! (Photo courtesy of Mitzi Dulan, RD)

True Life: I’m addicted to Pinterest. I mean, what’s not to love? From pinning my fave workouts and recipes (courtesy of FITNESS, duh!) to saving photos on how to spin summer dresses into fall-friendly ensembles, the site has the answer to anything and everything you need to know about.

So when I heard about registered dietician Mitzi Dulan’s new book The Pinterest Diet: How To Pin Your Way Thin, I couldn’t wait to gain her insight on how to pin it to win it, wellness-wise. Known as America’s Nutrition, Mitzi has 3.5-million followers, and after trying her Skinny One Pot Chicken Caprese Pasta (a recipe she created from Pinspiration, see below) I understand why. So tasty!

So how can you use the social media platform to improve your diet? Here are Mitzi’s top three tips:

Banish Boredom. Sick of that same old salad? Time to mix things up. “One of my Pinterest Diet rules is to make at least two new recipes a week,” Mitzi explains. Use the site to keep things fresh in the kitchen and at the gym.

Motivated to Move. Create a photo and quote-filled “Daily Inspiration Board” for a friendly eye-on-the-prize reminder. Toned tri’s, here you come!

Pin 10. Swap Facebook scrolling for Pinterest during downtime. Blocking off 10 minutes helps inspire you to live healthy, eat better and exercise,” she says.

Skinny One Pot Chicken Caprese Pasta(Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken breast, cooked and torn apart
  • 13 oz whole wheat linguini
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) no salt diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 3 large sprigs of basil, torn up
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed

Directions

Add pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil and cooked chicken to a large stock pot. Pour chicken broth over the top. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer on low for about 8-12 minutes, stirring often. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated or as desired. Top with fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, if desired.

Now you tell us: How do you use Pinterest for fitspiration?

We Tried It: Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation

Written on October 29, 2013 at 10:09 am , by

All smiles during a sweatfest? That’s Michelle Bridges for you! (Photo courtesy of Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

Michelle Bridges means business. In addition to appearing on television and authoring eight health and fitness books, The Biggest Loser: Australia star trainer has helped people across the globe lose a collective 1.6 million pounds with her online weight loss program 12 Week Body Transformation. With the program’s United States launch approaching in January 2014, we just had to try this Aussie’s at-home workout. The FITNESS verdict? Two thumbs up.

We met up with Bridges during her recent visit to New York City for a fat-blasting, 30-minute interval-training session, and man did we break a sweat! Her one-step-at-a-time weight loss strategy resonated in her workout design, which broke the routine down into 5-minute intervals. Within each interval, we pushed through 10 different exercises for 30 seconds at a time, earning one minute of much-needed rest before starting again.

Incorporating cardio and total body strength-training moves, the workout utilized pure bodyweight training to target every single muscle. The intervals also alternated the dominant muscle groups every 30 seconds to keep the body strong and balanced. Bridges combined old-school moves in inventive ways, like plank jack pushups and reverse lunge front snap kicks. And as if burpees weren’t already challenging enough, she had us lift and hold alternating arms and legs during the plank portion. Oh yeah, we felt the burn.

Tough moves aside, the format of the workout made time fly by. With only a few repeating moves, the routine required constant focus and kept the body guessing. And as the body fatigued, it felt far easier to dedicate 100 percent effort to an exercise when we knew it was only for half a minute. The mini goal design not only feels more doable, but also achieves a more effective workout. As far as at-home workouts go, Michelle Bridges knows how to help you make the most of little time and persevere through the pain.

More from FITNESS:

Biggest Loser Champ Danni Allen Won More Than Weight Loss

Written on October 7, 2013 at 9:46 am , by

Look at her go! Danni kicked major asphalt in Chicago this past July. (Photo courtesy of Danni Allen)

Written by editorial intern Gabriella Rello

Danni Allen proves it’s not so bad to be a loser. The season 14 winner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser shed an incredible 121 pounds during her 12-week stay on the show and gained something much greater in the process: a bright future.  “It was about winning a life that I never knew I could possibly have,” Allen says. A new life that includes half-marathons, triathlons and daily 10Ks. What’s next for the Loser-alum? Running her first 26.2 before her 26th birthday! We caught up with the speedy long-distance runner and chatted training. Here’s what she had to say:

What was your biggest motivation to lose weight?

The biggest thing for me was when my dad got sick in February of last year. He was actually rushed to the hospital and I get the call that no daughter wants to hear that says, “Bring the whole family in.” In my head, I was like, “If I keep following in his footsteps, that is going to be me at 50.” A miracle happened and he’s okay, but that was my “Aha” moment that I needed to change.

You’re running in the Chicago Marathon on October 13–was this always a long-term goal of yours?

Goodness, no! Before The Biggest Loser I thought running was stupid. I was like, “Who would do this? My knees hurt, my legs hurt; I can’t breathe!” When I got on the show, I knew I needed a goal beyond the finale. I told myself, “If you find something you love, then continue with it.” Running was one of the first things I found I loved, so I really wanted to follow through. In past seasons they’ve always run marathons. Our season didn’t get to because we were so short. I felt short-changed! I’m running with St. Jude now. It was really fun to start doing that.

How are you training for the race?

I’ve had to be pretty strict with it. It’s all about getting your miles in. If you talk to anyone who’s training for a marathon, they have one long run a week. My trainer wanted me to learn how to run on dead legs, so whatever my long run is, I’m running half of it the day before. On Sunday I ran 20 miles, so on Saturday I ran 10. I have an awesome running partner, too, and we turn our long runs into our gossip time. We won’t talk all week and then we’ll get it all out on the road. She’s turning 40 next year and her goal was to run a marathon before her birthday. Mine was to run my 26 at 26.

How do you get yourself excited for races?

I have two pump up songs: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys and “My Songs Knows What You Did In The Dark” by Fall Out Boy. I just get into it and my head starts banging.

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Wake Up, Fuel Up: 5 Ways to Build a Better Breakfast

Written on September 24, 2013 at 11:07 am , by

Forget the breakfast bars and baked goods! They’ll just spike your blood sugar, leaving you ravenous well before noon. (Photo by Laura Doss)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it’s the first thing to go when a busy morning schedule gets the best of us. Unfortunately, those spared minutes do not provide the metabolism-revving, energy-boosting and cholesterol-lowering benefits of a well-balanced breakfast. We touched base with Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It and New York-based nutrition expert to get her top tips on fueling up before running out the door each morning. The most important meal of the day just got easier, tastier and a whole lot faster!

1. Think outside of the box of cereal. An ideal breakfast is made up of three components: whole-grain carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. Mix and match some of your fave whole-grain, high-fiber cereals to customize your flavor—just read the label to keep sugar levels in check. If you have a thing for cereals that are a little too high, find another that is low in sugar (1-3 grams) and combine the two. Remember, watch portion sizes! Aim for 1 cup total, about the size of a tennis ball. For more dense cereals, like granola, shoot for a little less, as the cereal is more dense.

2. Don’t make having breakfast negotiable. As much as we may hate to admit it, breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast altogether leaves you feeling hungry and irritable, and possibly leads to overindulgence at lunchtime. Even nibbling on a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit is better than nothing—it sends the message to the brain that you have fuel to last you until the next meal. “If you have time to put on makeup, there’s time for breakfast,” says Bonnie. Have containers of yogurt, snack bags of chopped almonds and dry cereal and a bag of plastic spoons available for some grab-and-go goodness.

3. When making your lunch, toast a frozen whole grain waffle and add a smear of almond butter or cottage cheese topped with cinnamon for munching on-the-go. For those of us who squeeze in a workout before work, finding the right time to eat breakfast can be tricky. “Eat something on the light side about a half hour before working out,” she suggests. Try Greek yogurt or a smoothie for a quick, easy-to-digest meal that will keep you energized through your workout and the rest of your morning.

4. When you are able to (even if it’s only one day a week), take the time to make yourself a gourmet breakfast—perhaps an omelet stuffed with a medley of sautéed veggies and a whole grain muffin. You’re worth it and your body will thank you for the attention!

5. Don’t break the fast while multitasking! Yes, it’s better to have breakfast while posting something on Twitter than to ditch this meal altogether, but when possible, pay attention to the texture, temperature and taste of your meal. If you pay attention to what you’re eating you’ll not only appreciate those three T’s even more, but you’ll also feel more satisfied and be less likely to search for something else.

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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

These States Have the Greatest Weight Loss Success – Is Yours One of Them?

Written on August 21, 2013 at 10:15 am , by

Is your state moving enough? (Photo by Jeff Olson)

Written by Kristen Haney, editorial intern

Pat yourselves on the back, people of Boulder, CO, and get to stepping, residents of McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX. A recent study by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index, found that the Texan region was the most obese metro area in America and Boulder was the least. That’s all there is to it, right?

No so fast (or slow). The experts over at Jawbone knew that couldn’t be whole story, so they compiled data collected by Jawbone’s BodyMedia monitors, pulling actual stats from the thousands of users who track their weight-loss efforts with the popular armbands. This revealed a deeper insight into the nitty gritty details of dropping pounds, from each state’s activity level to its successful weight loss percentages, and the results were surprisingly different. So if you’re not living in either of the areas mentioned above, don’t sweat (or maybe do). Check out the states they see rockin’ it out:

Highest percentage of weight loss:

  1. Maine (11.2%)
  2. Nebraska (11%)
  3. Arkansas (10.8%)

Median calories burned by physical activity:

  1. Utah (659.9)
  2. Montana (644.3)
  3. Oregon (635.8)

Highest percentage of obesity:

  1. Indiana (59%)
  2. West Virginia (58.7%)
  3. Arkansas (58.6%)

More from FITNESS:

The Fittest Cities on Facebook, Did Your City Make the Cut?

Best Road Trip Ever: Active Vacations Across the Country

The State That Sleeps the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

100 Million Pounds Lost by MyFitnessPal Users

Written on July 18, 2013 at 10:52 am , by

Whenever we ask you about your favorite apps, MyFitnessPal is always a popular response. The company has been helping people get and/or stay in shape since 2005, and they hit a huge milestone this week: The MyFitnessPal users have lost a total of 100 million pounds over the years! That’s amazing! Check out the awesome infographic from MyFitnessPal for more fun stats.

BONUS: Scroll down to the bottom of this post to hear Mike Lee, the Co-Founder, tell his story about why he created the app. (Spoiler: It’s a cute love story!)

MyFItnessPal App Infographic

Infographic courtesy of MyFitnessPal.

 

BONUS: How MyFitnessPal Got Started Video: