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Weight Loss

Oprah’s Trainer Reveals Sleepy Success Secrets

Written on May 21, 2012 at 9:21 am , by

Greene wants you to get your beauty sleep! (Photo courtesy of Reggie Casagrande)

We know you’re a busy girl with a lot of things to cross off that to-do list. When you’re crunched for time, what’s the first health factor that gets short-changed? Sleep. But Bob Greene, famously known as Oprah’s trainer, wants you to pause before deciding to skip out on those z’s. After all, they may be the key to your weight loss success. Greene chatted with us to explain why sleep is so important, then let us in on how Oprah’s slimming down these days.

What are the important concepts expressed in your book, 20 Years Younger?

The book is a strong exercise program geared toward anti-aging. I’ve never been a fan of “diets”—that’s perceived as a temporary way of eating. I’m about a lifestyle change. Here I explain that when you get a solid amount of exercise, be mindful of what you put in your body nutrition-wise, take care of your skin and get enough sleep, you’re going to be so much happier.

Out of those four things, what do you see sacrificed most?

Sleep is most ignored by people, but it’s tied to everything.

How so?

Sleep is so much more important than we ever give credit. When you’re not getting adequate sleep, and most people aren’t, it increases your risk of virtually every known ailment. It’s the easiest thing to fix, so you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to do that.

But what’s the big deal if you miss some beauty sleep?

If you’re not sleeping, the hormone that’s responsible for laying down belly fat spikes, so it’s intimately tied to weight gain. If you don’t want it to spike and protect your body from being more prone to multiple diseases, then you need sleep.

Keep reading to find out all about Greene’s experience training Oprah!

Read more

Fit Blogger We Love: Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen

Written on April 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm , by

Gretchen loves treats, healthy or not! It's all about moderation.

Remember the oldie-but-goodie film, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?” That was a great flick. So we can’t help but smile every time we type Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen into our search bar, waiting to hop onto Gretchen’s blog and catch up on her weight loss journey. From the fun, witty adventures to the serious, self-reflective posts, she knows how to entertain us while keeping it real. We wanted to find out more about this blogger’s  must-haves, so we went straight to the source. Read on to find out what keeps her motivated and what indulgences she still struggles with today.

My favorite way to work out: With variety! When I first started to get healthy, I tried to force myself into long distance running because I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to be “healthy.” Turns out, I don’t really like running! So while I recognize the need for cardio for my overall weight loss and fitness goals, I’m much better at maintaining a regular workout schedule if there’s a lot of variety involved. Now I switch it up between short runs, weight training and fun classes, like Zumba!

My fave fit snack: In between meals, I’m a huge fan of the peanut butter/almond butter and celery or apple slices combo. You get a little sugar to energize you, a little fiber to keep you full and some delicious, filling healthy fats to stave off hunger. Win-win-win!

My biggest indulgence: As much as I love to cook, I also tend to eat out a lot. I’m a huge foodie and love trying new restaurants, and it’s difficult for me to pass up the pastas, steaks and creamy, dreamy dishes when I do. I’m really working on finding the balance in eating out without always overindulging because I don’t believe you should have to completely give up something you love in the name of health.

5 things I can’t live without: My family (we’re super close), sushi (it’s my favorite!), my iPhone (how did we exist before smart phones?), Harry Potter (confession: I am a huge nerd), and my two amazing miniature schnauzers, Harry and Daxter.

My motivation comes from: My blog, funnily enough! I weighed 246 when I started it, but didn’t have any kind of “Eureka!” moment where I saw a photo or someone said something that made me decide to change my life and get healthy. I simply said, “I want to start a weight loss blog.” A year and a half and 60 pounds later, it’s my blog that keeps me going. Having that accountability that writing every day provides, as well as the amazing support of my readers, has really been the key to making it all stick this time around.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email us at blog@fitnessmagazine.com

Hot Topic Tuesday: Would You Buy Your Valentine a Healthy Gift?

Written on February 7, 2012 at 10:31 am , by

Will you wrap candy hearts or a heart-smart gift? (Photo by Peter Ardito)

Love is in the air and the hunt is on for the perfect gift for your Valentine. Whether it’s for someone you’re newly dating or your spouse of many years, a good present can mean a lot. You’ll also never live down a bad present, so it’s important to get it right!

If your honey is trying to lose a few lbs, you may be thinking that a gym membership or a few workout DVDs would make for a perfect gift. Unfortunately, recipients might read this gesture as “honey, I think you need to spend more time on the treadmill” or “I love you, but I don’t love your love handles.”

There are a few health-minded gifts that we wouldn’t mind unwrapping, like:

  • A spa gift card
  • Dinner for two at a nice restaurant with healthy options
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red wine

But just remember to watch your step if you opt for goodies that don’t say, “I love you just the way you are!” (And a final hint to guys out there: We love our Spanx, but we can take care of that investment on our own.)

Now tell us: Will you have health in mind during your Valentine’s Day shopping? What is the best gift you’ve ever received on February 14?

Hot Debate: Can You Be Fat AND Fit?

Written on December 2, 2011 at 11:28 am , by

overweight with dumbbells

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach, SparkPeople.com

Lori, a client of mine, recently called me angry, upset and discouraged. She had just returned from her yearly physical, which she had been eagerly anticipating.  Even though she hadn’t reached her weight-loss goal, Lori had made many lifestyle changes to promote good health:  She had begun exercising on a regular basis, made some subtle shifts in her dietary habits that made her feel better, and had even begun a weekly yoga/meditation class to manage stress.

The results of the physical demonstrated her efforts had been paying off.  Her blood pressure was in the normal level for the first time in years, her blood sugars had dropped, and her cholesterol profile had greatly improved. However, once the exam was complete and she was sitting with her physician in his office, rather than commenting on the improvements, he stated, “Lori, I was really hoping you would have dropped a lot more weight since our last visit.  If you don’t get serious about taking off the extra pounds, your risk of early disease will continue.  Have you tried dieting?”

There is a presumption that if an individual is overweight they are also unhealthy.  Research clearly supports that being overweight is a major health risk factor, contributing to an increase in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and many types of cancer.  So can we assume that if you are hauling around extra pounds that classify you as overweight, it will destine you to a future filled with illness and disease?

Not necessarily. An intense debate has emerged in the last few years amongst obesity researchers, asking the question, “Can people be overweight but still be healthy?”  Is the number on the scale the only thing that counts, or should we take other factors into consideration?  Scientists are now dueling over the relative importance of “fatness vs. fitness” when it comes to determining the health of an overweight individual.

A small but vocal group of researchers have been…

Read the entire column here…

And then tell us below: Are you or do you know someone who is overweight but in better health than a skinny person? What are your opinions on if an overweight person can be healthy?


More from SparkPeople:

The 10 Reasons to Drop 10

Waist-to-Hip Ratio Estimates Health Risk

Get a Free Fitness and Weight-Loss Plan

Fit Links: Olympic Tips and Pizza as a Vegetable?!

Written on November 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm , by

We sure classify pizza as a delicious treat, but should it be considered a vegetable? (Photo by Peter Krumhardt)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Mariah’s Big New Mom Makeover!

Written on November 14, 2011 at 9:40 am , by

Written by Alyssa Belanger, editorial intern

Mariah Carey recently dropped 30 pounds by revamping her lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Jenny)

Following in the footsteps of Madonna, Cher and Beyonce, a popular diet plan is now just known by its first name—Jenny—and teaming up with another big name: Mariah!

Last week, Carey, the best-selling female music artist of all time, announced her partnership with the diet program formerly known as Jenny Craig. In the past four months, the new mom of twins has lost 30 pounds (with the program—70 since she gave birth) and is feeling as proud of her body as ever.

During her pregnancy, Carey was uncomfortable with the extra weight she had put on. “I used to feel comfortable being naked—not in public, of course!—but with the weight I didn’t feel good being naked anymore,” she said at a press conference announcing the partnership. After her weight gain and before starting her health makeover, Carey wouldn’t even let hubby Nick Cannon see her bathing nude.

Today, Carey is back to her curvaceous, confident self! She admitted that losing the weight was not easy at first, due to adjusting to life as a mom and required time off from exercise, but thanks to her personal drive and some help from the people at Jenny, Carey says she was able to make simple lifestyle changes to get back to a healthy weight.

So, how is the mom of two keeping the weight off? In addition to following the Jenny program, Carey is enjoying spending time with her twins Monroe and Moroccan Scott in the pool.

More from FITNESS:

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

Fit Blogger We Love: Healthy Loser Gal

Written on June 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm , by

Jan at Healthy Loser Gal

Healthy Loser Gal's Jan radiates positive energy.

Jan at Healthy Loser Gal has a way of making her weight loss journey fun, and it’s this contagious enthusiasm that keeps us coming back. (She’s also one of our Twitter followers!) Here are some of her workout and motivation tips:

My favorite way to work out: I love to power walk long distances and push myself to walk further each week. When I’m walking by myself outside, my mood always changes for the better.  I find it a great time to think, set new goals for myself and be grateful for all I can now do!

Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: It’s difficult to decide on only one, so it is a tie between Blondie’s “Call Me” and Geri Halliwell’s “It’s Raining Men” from Bridget Jones’s Diary! *grin* I try very hard not to sing aloud when listening to them at the YMCA I attend!

My fitness mantra: Dream big. Believe. Work hard. Achieve! You CAN do this!

My “I Did It” moment: In March of 2009 when I started my fitness & weight-loss journey, I created a “Dream Board” with pictures of fitness goals that I would like to someday be able to achieve. One of the photos was of a fit woman on a beach, her shoulders on a stability ball, her hands holding 10 pound weights extended over her shoulders, her hips and core up and legs supporting her. She looked so strong and fit and I couldn’t imagine someday doing that move but I *wanted* to!

Some 14 months later I was working out on a Saturday morning with my trainer, Parker. He had me working on the ball, handed me weights and told me to pull my core and hips up and in and to slowly lift the weights overhead and then lower them again and then bring them back up and look into the mirror to my left. He’d seen the dream board picture and knew I was “there” before I did. I broke the pose and then broke into tears of happiness.  I did it! I then had to reenact the pose for my blog, of course!

My motivation comes from: Seeing people that I’ve gotten to know through Healthy Loser Gal blog and through Twitter and Facebook begin to believe in themselves and change their own lives after reading my story and how I’ve lost over 115 pounds. How? By staying optimistic, concentrating on five pounds at a time, counting calories and moving, moving, moving whenever and wherever I am able to!  It’s an incredible feeling to be paying forward the blessings I’ve received by taking off this weight and getting healthy so I’ll be living a longer, much happier life.

My gym bag must have: Chocolate low-fat milk to drink to 1) give myself a treat after a great workout and 2) to replenish my body after the workout! All good!

Shout-out: It’s Jan’s birthday today! Wish her a great one on Twitter, Facebook or her blog.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Tell us in the comments below.

Give Yourself a Reality Checkup

Written on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 am , by

check list of goals

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Perhaps the biggest reason that permanent weight loss is so difficult is that it is stressful—for your mind and your body. And when you’re stressed out, you just don’t function at your best, mentally, emotionally, or physically.

The best way to minimize the negative effects of these responses to your weight loss efforts is to minimize the degree to which your diet stresses you out.

5-Point Reality Checkup
The following reality checkup can help you determine whether your expectations and your attention-focusing habits are realistic, or if you need to work on them to stop unnecessary stress from hurting your weight loss efforts.

Decide whether you agree (True) or disagree (False) with each of the following five statements. At the end, you’ll find out if you’re guilty of the most common (but unrealistic) expectations associated with weight loss stress.

  1. True or False: Weight loss is all about the numbers. You lose weight when you eat fewer calories than you burn.
  2. True or False: Will power is the foundation of weight loss success. You have to force yourself to do the things you don’t like doing until you do like them or until you lose weight, whichever happens first.
  3. True or False: The best motivation for losing weight is being unhappy about your present weight and appearance.
  4. True or False: Being brutally honest with yourself about your problems, bad habits, and character flaws is the best way to overcome these problems.
  5. True or False: Your own body is your worst weight-loss enemy. To lose weight, you have to constantly fight cravings, urges, and desires that are biologically based.

Keep reading: Find out what’s true and what’s false…


More From Spark People:

6 Weight Loss Mistakes to Avoid

Pave the Way for Persistence

The Proven Weight-Loss Program That Isn’t a Diet

#1 Weight-Loss Secret: Be Nice to Yourself

Written on April 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm , by

The Self-Compassion Diet by Jean Fain

The Self-Compassion Diet by Jean Fain

Cutting yourself a little slack is the secret to big weight-loss, according to Jean Fain, a licensed psychotherapist and author of the recent book The Self-Compassion Diet. She explains:

How does self-compassion help with weight-loss?

Most weight-loss plans revolve around deprivation and neglect. You’re supposed to stick to the plan no matter what. If you’re starving, keep eating tiny portions. If you’re exhausted, keep moving—no pain, no gain. Going on vacation? Keep counting…calories, carbs, points. It’s not a very compassionate or effective approach, and it’s no fun.

What I’m saying: when you treat yourself with self-compassion, you’re more apt to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full; rest when you’re tired and move when you feel energized. When you do that, you lose weight naturally.

So what is self-compassion, exactly?

Most simply put, self-compassion is treating yourself like you’d treat a friend or a loved one—with care and concern.

My favorite definition comes from research psychologist Kristin Neff, Ph.D., who defines self-compassion as having three essential ingredients: mindful awareness, loving-kindness and common humanity.

(Learn more and test how self-compassionate you are with Kristin Neff’s quiz.) Read more