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the biggest loser

Stamp Your Way to Heart Health

Written on February 14, 2012 at 9:51 am , by

Photo courtesy of USPS

Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern

It’s Valentine’s Day and we all know what that means—a day filled with flowers, cards and showing others just how much you care for them. But remember, you need to show yourself a little love too! February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association has released a one-of-a-kind Heart Health Forever Stamp to remind you how to be heart-healthy.

In addition to a new design, the stamps also come with heart-health prevention tips. Each sheet includes suggestions for how to eat well, manage stress, fit in exercise and successfully deal with health screenings.

“Prevention is the key to eliminating heart attacks and strokes,” U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D said at a recent press event. “We are giving Americans information and tools to make healthier choices to prevent tobacco use, access healthy food and find enjoyable ways to get regular exercise.”

There are 50 million of the 45-cent stamps available nationwide for sale in sheets of 20. Purchases can be made at most post offices, or at usps.com/shop.

And don’t forget to tune into weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser tonight: Benjamin and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe have teamed up with the popular show to help spread the word about these heart-helpful stamps. A new “Watch it. Write it. Win it,” 11-week sweepstakes launches during the show and amazing prizes are up for grabs: an all-expense paid trip to the Biggest Loser Ranch, four weeks of Biggest Loser-prepared meals delivered straight to your door, or two tickets (plus airfare!) to the show’s season 13 finale. All viewers have to do is send letters of encouragement to their favorite The Biggest Loser contestant(s). The more you send, the better the odds of winning—as long as they arrive separately and addressed to one contestant at a time, one letter guarantees one entry and there is no submission limit. Time to put your writing skills to the test!

For more information about the sweepstakes, visit usps.com/biggestloser.

More from FITNESS:

Jillian Michaels’ Top 5 Snack Picks

Written on January 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm , by

Grab-and-go snacks are key for this busy TV trainer. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Southam)

Don’t you ever wish you could take a peek in the pantry or gym of the fitness and diet pros you see on TV to see if they really practice what they preach? We do too! That’s why we asked Jillian Michaels, celebrity personal trainer, author, motivational expert and soon-to-be mom(!), to share her top snack picks that keep her energy high on even the busiest of days.

“These snacks are quick, easy and they all taste good. Plus they’re preservative-free, contain no trans fats, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners,” Michaels says.

  1. Hummus and veggie sticks.“This is an incredibly healthy snack that’s filling and tasty,” she says. The protein from the chickpeas in the hummus and the fiber from the veggies will keep you satisfied.
  2. One hard-boiled egg and one piece of fruit. This combo offers an ideal proportion of healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates.
  3. Barbecue or sweet potato popchips. “A serving of popchips is packed with flavor and a great savory, salty crunch,” Michaels raves, and the 100-calorie bags are handy for on-the-go eating.
  4. Ciao Bella sorbet. Perfect “for when your sweet tooth kicks in,” she says, and it’s all-natural.
  5. 22 Days Protein Bars. “These bars taste amazing! Mocha Mantra is my favorite flavor,” Michaels explains. She loves that they use hemp protein, “which is great for you.”

More from FITNESS:

The Biggest Loser Season 12 Finale Sneak Peek: Tips from Past Winners and Contestants

Written on December 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm , by

Chef Devin Alexander prepared an amazing spread.

Guest post by Lara McGlashan, freelance writer

Though it was 45 degrees outside, the atmosphere inside the home of Chef Devin Alexander was warm and inviting, as more than 40 guests gathered over a healthy meal on the top floor of her southern California home. But these weren’t just any guests: these were Biggest Loser veterans!

With cast members in attendance from seasons 2 through 11, the camaraderie at Devin’s was palpable as she hosted the pre-finale dinner for season 12. Raucous laughter, insider stories and endless ribbing charged the evening with festive fun, as Devin served up a delicious meal featuring Jenny-O turkey, plenty of salad and greens, and some of her delectable brownie bites.

As they ate the delicious food and sipped Zevia soft drinks (and perhaps a glass of wine here and there—but who’s telling?) the group bonded over war stories and successes. Though many were meeting for the first time, somehow their collective journeys had already made them family.

FITNESS snagged a few choice sound bites from the festivities:

  • Austin from season 11 has a serious girlfriend and a steady job working for a radio station in the Los Angeles area. His pick for the winner of season 12? Antone. “Because he’s young and funny, like me!”
  • Seth and Pete from season 2 looked incredible, have kept off all their weight and are living healthy lifestyles. “Next time FITNESS needs a cover model, you know who to call,” joked Seth, making a muscle.
  • Don and Dan Evans, the twin brothers from season 11, looked fit and trim, and joked and finished each others’ sentences as they enjoyed their meal. Rat bastards? We think not.
  • Tara from season 7 related that she completed her Ironman in Hawaii and is gearing up to do another one in Lake Placid in the spring. Her pick for the winner: John.
  • Jerry and Estella Hayes from season 7 came early and stayed late and looked every bit the fit couple that they were and still are! “We used to be the oldest success stories from Biggest Loser—until this season!” laughed Jerry.

Dan and Don are still as close as they appeared on the show last season.

As dinner wound down, Frado from season 10 put his booming baritone to use to corral everyone together to take a group photo. “He just has to hear himself talk, doesn’t he?” laughed Hannah Ward who was there with her sister Olivia, the winner of season 11 (Hannah was runner up). The powerhouse pair revealed that they have recently signed with an agency.

“We were getting all kinds of offers and we had no idea what to do with them!” said Hannah. “We needed someone to field them for us.”

“Yeah, they’re always too busy to see me,” joked Austin. “They text me when they fly into town, only to tell me they have a meeting and can’t have lunch, then fly out again. They’re so LA!”

As the evening wound down, everyone hugged and exchanged digits, Facebook addresses and emails. Tonight they will sit in the audience and watch as season 12 comes to a close, remembering what it was like when they were up there and welcoming a whole new generation into their family.

For the latest scoop from the sisters who appeared on the FITNESS September 2011 cover, click below.

Read more

Stay Fit (and Sane) All Holiday Season with Alison Sweeney

Written on December 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm , by

Alison Sweeney (with her adorable kids) knows how to balance fun and fashion! (Photo by Andrew Southam)

She has two kids, two jobs, one lofty fitness goal and a crazy holiday schedule ahead…how does Alison Sweeney do it? The host of The Biggest Loser and star of Days of Our Lives, who is currently training for the L.A. Marathon in March has a few tricks to keep her life organized, manageable and healthy all at the same time. We recently spoke with Sweeney to snag some secrets and learn more about her relationship with Bob, Jillian, and this season’s two new trainers, Dolvett Quince and Anna Kournikova.

How do you stay fit during the holidays?

It’s really important to find a workout that you can do with no excuses. [See below for Sweeney's at-home exercise routine!] And I keep track of my nutrition. With so many treats around, it’s really easy to just pop brownies without thinking about it! You may not even be hungry. I also eat before going to parties so I’m less tempted when I get there and am satisfied with a smaller amount of the treats.

Do you and your family have any seasonal traditions?

We shop for gifts and pick out a tree together. When I was young, my parents always took me skiing in the winter, which was really festive since I grew up in L.A. It was so fun and exhausting—you’re basically burning calories all day long! Now, when I’m skiing with my family, I take a picture at the top of the mountain and email it to my dad. I thank him daily for instilling this love of activity at an early age.

So you mentioned that you shop and travel—as a busy working mom of two, how do you stay connected and keep track of your to-buy lists and events this month?

There are so many distractions during the holidays, so I try to use technology to keep my family together. I use my Windows phone, which syncs with my computer, to keep track of my calendar and get photos texted to me. It’s really family-oriented and you don’t need a manual to understand it!

To learn about Sweeney’s 2012 resolutions and get the scoop about the future of The Biggest Loser, keep reading.

Read more

Fit Links: Cost-Saving Grocery Tips and Biggest Loser Insider News

Written on September 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm , by

Shop smart and save cash. (Photo by Jody Kivort)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Hear More From The Biggest Loser’s Olivia & Hannah

Written on August 16, 2011 at 10:02 am , by

FITNESS September 2011 cover models, Olivia & Hannah

FITNESS September 2011 cover models, Olivia & Hannah. (Photo by Cheyenne Ellis)

When I interviewed Olivia and Hannah for September’s cover story (the issue hits newsstands today), I had no idea how inspirational these girls truly were! They had enough advice to fill our entire magazine. Here’s just a few things I learned from my favorite purple team:

Taking care of yourself is taking care of others.

Olivia: “I like to micromanage everything and everyone and I think that stems from being the oldest of four kids. I’ve always liked taking care of everyone else and making sure my life and everyone else’s was going smoothly and as organized as can be. After years and years of being in the driver’s seat, I had forgotten about taking care of myself. It was too exhausting at the end of the day. Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, was the one thing that I used to treat myself. Like if I wanted ice cream, well I’m going to have ice cream because that’s what I want. In my mind, it didn’t matter because it didn’t affect anyone else, so I could be out of control and go off plan. But in reality, I wasn’t being the best sister, wife or friend I could be because I couldn’t get this under control.”

Believe that you CAN do.

Olivia: “I used to like being perfect and when I couldn’t be, and couldn’t fix something immediately, I’d get frustrated very easily. I think my past diets didn’t work for me because I’d always start and think of how far I have to go and get easily overwhelmed, so I’d quit before I’d even begun. I wasn’t allowing myself to change my thinking and believe in myself. This time around I realized it’s all about the small goals. I learned then the power of setting small, manageable goals and making one smart choice at a time. Now if I’m having doubts or wanting to quit a tough workout, I think ‘just go five minutes.’ Like when things get tough during a Spin class, I’ll tell myself ‘just get through this song and you’ll be okay’ and I am. Believing that you can do something will make you actually do it.”

There is no quick-fix to a healthy body.

Hannah: “I always wanted a quick fix for what I had done to my body for so many years, but I was looking at the end result instead of paying attention to the right now and what can be done today. I’ve learned weight-loss isn’t a program, because those come to an end, it’s a lifestyle that you have to choose to live little by little everyday.”

Want to know more about what it’s like after leaving the show? Here’s what the girls have to say in our Q&A: Read more

Take Your Lunges to the Next Level

Written on June 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm , by

C9's Cardio Tank (Photo courtesy of target.com)

Last week, I was lucky enough to join in a group training session with star trainer Brett Hoebel, who helped contestants on last season’s Biggest Loser ranch drop hundreds of pounds. And let me tell you, he knows how to make a person sweat!

The team from C9 by Champion, Target’s super-chic and affordable fitness wear line, organized the event and let a team of editors try Hoebel’s capoeira and kickbox fusion class. (Check out the cute tank I sported in class at left —can you believe it’s less than $15?)

At the end of the heart-pumping workout that included plenty of squats, jumping jacks, punches and kicks, Hoebel led us through a quick circuit that he promised would help shed pounds if you stick with it. The entire routine was effective, but I had a “light bulb moment” during the lunge section.

Your lower body should be in this position at the bottom of the lunge. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Your lower body should be in this position at the bottom of a lunge. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Lunges are normally one of my favorite exercises because they challenge the large muscle groups (in other words, they burn plenty of calories and increase your heart rate!) while strengthening your lower body. So I was pumped when Brett taught the class a few tricks to kick my go-to move up a bit. Try them today:

  • Level 1. Perform a traditional lunge: Step forward with one leg into a lunge position, keeping your front knee behind your toes, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Level 2. Space it out: Complete the same lunge motion, but do it while stepping over the width of a yoga mat (drop the front heel just past the front edge of the mat while keeping the back toe behind the back edge) and lightly tap your back knee on the mat at the bottom of the lunge. Try to step completely over the mat—doing so will ensure that you’re taking a large enough step. Bring foot back to start, switch legs and repeat.
  • Level 3. Lunge over an imaginary hill: Continue lunging over the yoga mat, but this time, imagine that you’re stepping over a small (approximately six inch) hill in the middle of the mat. This will force you to lift your foot up before gently lowering it down in front of the mat—increasing the leg burning powers. Tap your back knee, like in level two, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.

Make any of these variations harder: Hold one dumbbell in each hand.

Do the level that suits you for 30 seconds, take a 30 second break, and repeat three more times.

More from FITNESS: Looking for a fun do-anywhere workout? This routine’s for you: 8 Energy-Boosting, Muscle-Toning Moves.

The Biggest Loser Finale Tonight: Trainer Brett Hoebel’s Thoughts and Your Predictions!

Written on May 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm , by

The Biggest Loser trainer Brett Hoebel sounds off on the finale!

The Biggest Loser trainer Brett Hoebel sounds off on season 11 and the finale.

As you know, we’re big fans of The Biggest Loser here at FITNESS. The inspiration for our next challenging workout, the emotional breakthroughs by the contestants and the amazing trainers. . . we love it all!

We were lucky to sit down with one of this season’s new trainers, Brett Hoebel, just days before tonight’s finale to pick his brain about his fitness routine, the current season of The Biggest Loser and who he thinks will take home the $250,000 prize.

The workouts he prefers with his bicoastal lifestyle. . . “I prefer spinning to running, but I love to run hills in Runyon Canyon. I do capoeira on Santa Monica Beach and spin at Up Dog when I’m in L.A. And in New York, I train at Arte Capoeira Center, Peak Performance and spin at Flywheel. My exercise routine must include the four components of my fitness toolbox: 1. movement (capoeira, martial arts, etc.), 2. strength, 3. intervals and 4. agility/core.”

His favorite memory from this season. . . “Seeing Justin on the mountaintop [in New Zealand] was one of the greatest moments for me. But it doesn’t stop there. Then I go to meet his family. You see that the contestants can have an impact on the world by walking their talk. The trainers help the contestants improve their health, then they help change someone else, who helps change other people. Each community is inspired by the contestant and the contestant’s family. The ripple effect of our work on the show is humbling! I tell them, ‘I saved your life, now go save another.’”

What he thinks about the remaining contestants. . . “It’s a very tough decision about Irene and Jay [the two contestants who viewers are voting on for the final spot in the top three]. We really saw Irene transform during the last few episodes. Jay was off campus for a while, but was brought back because of his work ethic. Does America want a female winner? I don’t have a preference, but am interested to see who comes out on top! All four have really hit their stride on their own at home.”

So that’s what Brett says, how about you?

More from FITNESS: 10 Tidbits of Weight-Loss Wisdom from The Biggest Loser

How Biggest Loser Season 10 Winner Patrick House Is Giving Back

Written on April 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm , by

Patrick finishes the highly esteemed Boston Marathon

Patrick finishes the highly esteemed Boston Marathon

I recently got a chance at the Cybex Arc Trainer launch to spend some one-on-one time with Patrick House, last season’s winner of The Biggest Loser.  As one of The Biggest Loser‘s number one fans (yes, I really am, there is no denying that), this was definitely right up my alley.

After winning The Biggest Loser Patrick went home to South Carolina and founded a co-ed boarding school program for overweight teens. At MindStream Academy kids learn how to follow a healthy lifestyle, get fit, and build better self-confidence. The students are given a unique experience, unlike the schedule that regular junior high and high school students follow. They’re given nutrition lessons (with hands on experiences like harvesting their own fresh food!) and engage in outdoor fitness programs, like yoga, throughout the day. To think that some schools across America have cut P.E. classes seems crazy to me, so I love that Patrick is making health and fitness a top priority with the help of his program. This is something I love as I really hope to one day be able to help teens in the same way that Patrick is able to with his program at MindStream. I don’t think kids these days are as involved in sports and eating right as they were back when I was young (video games, junk food, and technology may be to blame), so we really need to pass on the right habits to them now.

My goal for this summer is to give a helping hand wherever I can pay it forward all that I’ve learned–visiting South Carolina to check out Patrick’s camp is definitely on my must-do list! I think we all need to take some time out of our busy lives and help our youth build a better future for themselves—they are the leaders of tomorrow!

[Another Biggest Loser fan favorite, Tara Costa, is also doing her part to pay it forward with her  Inspire Change Foundation. Check it out!]

What are you guys doing to give back this summer?

P.S. Patrick ran in the Boston Marathon last Monday with a few of his other Biggest Loser buddies. I love how the contestants are like one big happy family!

Cool New Workout Machine: The Cybex Arc Trainer

Written on April 27, 2011 at 11:55 am , by

Say hello to the latest Biggest Loser Arc Trainer

I recently got to check out this cool new workout machine: the Biggest Loser Arc Trainer from Cybex. If you haven’t tried an Arc Trainer yet, it’s like an elliptical but with less impact on your knees (and you thought the elliptical was less impact on the knees than using the treadmill—well wait until you try this one). You’re also able to burn calories faster, with less perceived exertion, than any other cross trainer too. How so? Well on the Arc Trainer, you’re on a constant flow of movement since the way your feet and legs are moving is the same as that on an elliptical (AKA no pounding the pavement), except, there’s no bottom platform that your feet are sliding up and down on. You’re pretty much running in mid-air, while staying stationary. Pretty cool. It’s an easier way to get your heart rate up and maintain that speed for a longer time too. (Or you can achieve a higher calorie burn in less time than you would on an elliptical.) But, gym machines are like sports bras—we all have a preference to what feels most comfortable when getting our burn on. So if you haven’t tried an Arc Trainer yet, don’t be scared, hop on one the next time you’re at the gym and tell me what you think.

Have you tried this cool new machine yet? Leave a comment below with your own review!