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Life Lessons From Golf Great Annika Sorenstam

Written on May 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm , by

Today, Annika passes along her pointers to golfers of all levels. (Photo courtesy of Annika Academy)

She’s the only woman to ever break 60 in a golf round (I’d be pumped if that was my score after nine holes—not 18!). She challenged fellow golf pro Fred Funk to a bet about hitting the longest drive—and won—forcing him to wear a skirt for a hole (“we still laugh about it today,” she says).

But what is making Annika Sorenstam most professionally proud today? The ANNIKA Foundation and The ANNIKA Academy, groups she founded to introduce young golfers to the game and pass along advice to current players. We spoke with Sorenstam last week to learn more about these programs and what she’s been up to since she officially retired from the sport in 2008.

How did you get your start with golf?

My parents introduced me and we lived five minutes away from a course. I played all kinds of sports as a kid, so golf wasn’t my sole passion at the time. My love for it grew from there, though.

When you first hit the pro circuit, you were a lot shier than you are today. How did you overcome this?

As an amateur, this affected my game [Editor's Note: Sorenstam has admitted that, as a junior, she delibertely placed second in some tournaments to avoid giving a victory speech.], but when I won the U.S. Open in 1995, I learned quickly. I knew I needed to communicate and interview better if I wanted to inspire others and be a leader. I do feel very comfortable with who I am and what I am trying to say now. I keep in mind that I’m talking passionately about things I know, and have the facts to back it up. It’s all about trusting your abilities.

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Girl Power: Baring It All With a Sports Bra Challenge

Written on August 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm , by

Samantha (right) smiles and spins right before the big reveal. (Photo courtesy of SoulCycle)

Samantha, right, smiles and spins right before the big reveal. (Photo courtesy of SoulCycle)

I admit it: One of my biggest fears has always been working out in only a sports bra. Even in the locker room, I often head to a private bathroom before hitting the showers, or I throw a towel around me as quickly as possible. There’s just something intimidating about letting everything remain open to the public, free to be judged. Because no matter how hard you work, sometimes insecurity creeps in and clouds your mind.

Turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way. Jenny Gaither, a rockin’ spin instructor at SoulCycle, voiced the very same fears. To overcome this mental obstacle, she announced that she would host a Sports Bra Challenge in which all riders would wear only their sports bra for the duration of her spin class on Friday.

I was sold the second I heard about it. What better way to overcome my fear than to do it with a big group of ladies working their butts off (literally) in a sweaty spin class? Oh yeah, by enlisting the help of Biggest Loser season 11 winner Olivia Ward and her sister, runner-up Hannah Curlee. The two jumped on board immediately, blogging and tweeting about it all over the Internet. Talk about inspiration!

How did the class turn out? Continue reading for all of the details.

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Boost Your Swimsuit Confidence

Written on July 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm , by

Swimsuit Cover Up Girl

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Summer might be in full-swing, but we know how daunting bathing suit season can still be. Follow these easy ideas so that you can feel more comfortable baring it all on the beach:

  1. Shop for the bathing suit that fits your body well. Swimsuit technology has dramatically improved, allowing you to accentuate your most likable features and minimize those you are the most self-conscious about. There are loads of two-piece suits available which let you purchase a different size for your top and bottom. If you are lucky enough to have a bathing suit specialty shop in your area, skip the department store and head there. The sales personnel will be well trained in helping you find the best fitting and most pleasing suit.
  2. Buy a suit you love, not just one you think makes you “look thinner.” Rather than black, pick a color or pattern that makes you happy, and shows off your eyes and skin color.
  3. Choose a cover-up that fits beautifully. Hiding behind a big tank will make you feel frumpy and actually make you look larger. There are wonderful wraps, swim skirts and dresses that you will enjoy wearing.
  4. Have fun with accessories. Purchase fabulous sunglasses and a colorful floppy hat to shield you from the sun’s rays. These will draw attention to your face, not your body. If you love fun jewelry, don’t be afraid to wear it to the beach or pool. Inexpensive colorful, waterproof watches are all over the stores these days.
  5. Pay attention to your grooming. A great summer haircut, manicures, pedicures, leg waxing, faux tans, and waterproof make-up will make you feel better and put together.

Don’t let worries of how you look in a swimsuit spoil your summer fun. We are at our best when we are engaged in experiences that make us happy. Feel the warmth of the sun (but don’t forget your sunscreen!), bask in the coolness of the ocean or pool, relax in the comfort of family and friends around you, and be grateful that the lazy days of summer have finally come around again!

Read more from Spark People’s Certified Wellness Coach, Ellen G. Goldman!

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Body Confidence Tips From Burlesque Stars

Written on April 12, 2011 at 10:32 am , by

Behind the Burly Q is available on DVD April 12.

Behind the Burly Q is available on DVD today.

Last year, Christina Aguilera and Cher showed us how your legs (and lungs—belt it, girls!) can get a spectacular workout on the burlesque stage. A new documentary is now highlighting the performance art and the real-life stars who wowed the crowds in the early-to-mid 1900s.

“All of the women we interviewed for the film were different shapes and sizes. But no matter what, they never once talked about their physicality, now or then, in the negative,” says Behind the Burly Q director Leslie Zemeckis. “Some were heavy, some were flat-chested, they varied in firmness. But they accepted their bodies and what they could do without worrying about losing weight or hiding a ‘defect.’”

We adore the old-world glamour that these women possess, so we asked a few of the former burlesque stars to share their beauty and confidence secrets. Keep these in mind when you’re having a bad body image day:

“I dress up everyday. I don’t wear jeans, not even to take out the trash! I put on my jewelry, lipstick and a nice outfit, even if I’m not going anywhere.”—Joan Arline, current burlesque performer

“Eat right, sleep at least eight hours each night when possible, don’t smoke and laugh a lot.”—Joni DiRando

  • FITNESS Takeaway: Include one of these “10 Healthiest Foods on the Planet” in your diet everyday this week. And of course bypass the cigarettes and become pals with your pillow!

“As you walk across the stage of life, always keep the rhythm in your step, a smile on your face and love of life in your heart.”—Lillian Kiernan Brown

  • FITNESS Takeaway: Create a mantra that your can repeat when life gets tough.

More from FITNESS: What we love about our bodies.