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  • 12 Ways to Save Big on Your Summer Vacation

    By Benjamin Roode, with Samantha Donohue, for BabyFit

    During these uncertain economic times, families are combing their budgets in search for extravagances or amenities they can cut.

    One large, traditional yearly expense--the summer vacation--seems an easy place to save big. After all, a week at the beach can buy a lot of bulk food and electricity! But instead of saving money by sacrificing your sanity, a few simple changes can keep that much-needed getaway within your reach.

    Stretch your summer vacation and make more memories by thinking beyond the standard week at an amusement park or on a cruise ship.

    Enact these cost-saving measures this summer to add coins to your pockets and snapshots to your scrapbook.

    1. Brown bag it: This is a big money saver. Planning your breakfasts and lunches and making them yourself can easily cut $5-$10 per person per day from your trip incidentals. For a family of four on a weeklong vacation, that's at least $140--or a couple of tanks of gas and
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  • 12 Guiltless Pizza Recipes

    By Melinda Hershey, for SparkPeople

    If you love pizza--but also love fitting into your pants--we've got you covered. Here are a dozen of our best pizza recipes. Each one is light, healthy and guilt-free. Have your pizza and eat it, too!

    Veggie-Packed Pizza
    This vegetarian recipe features a whole wheat crust, a bounty of sauteed vegetables and two cheeses (mozzarella and feta) for just 177 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving. You can easily adapt this recipe to include any of your favorite vegetables.

    Get this recipe and more here!

    Related links

    10 Easy Ways to Lighten Up Any Recipe

    10 Tips for a Healthier Weekend

    50 Easy Ways to Cut 100 Calories

    SparkPeople is the country's largest health and fitness website. Learn more--and get a free fitness and diet plan.

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  • Can You 'Cheat' on Your Diet and Still Lose Weight?

    By Becky Hand, for SparkPeople

    "Cheating" is the act of deceiving others or being dishonest. The word conjures up images of copying someone else's answers during an exam, fudging your taxes, or counting cards. Needless to say, these are not positive activities. But does the same negative connotation apply to a cheat meal (or day) for a person on a diet? Can "cheating" on one's diet be beneficial-even fun-or is it just setting the stage for dieting disaster?

    As a registered dietitian, I am often asked about cheat meals and cheat days. Usually the dieter seems to be asking the question out of desperation. He or she often mentions feeling obsessed and exhausted of counting calories. "I want to have a cheat day once a week where I can eat whatever I want without worrying about my calories," they often say. "But will this cheat day hurt my weight loss?" In other cases, people eat so "clean" (i.e. perfect) on their diets that they simply can't keep up with it day in and day out. They feel

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  • Rainy Days Become a Chance for Mom to Relax the Rules

    By Hillary Copsey, for SparkPeople

    In Florida, so afternoon thunderstorms are a daily part of summer.

    Some days, we need this break from all the running around in the heat. My boys stay busy with baseball and the sandbox, bikes and jump ropes. But other days, days when the clouds roll in early or we've been cooped up in a car running errands all morning, my boys need to burn off energy, not nap or sit in front of the television.

    So, I let go. I let go of my need to have the house tidy. I loosen up some of the house rules, the ones about not shouting or running. And I let my boys - and myself - get a little bit crazy.

    It usually starts innocently enough. I tell the boys to play fetch with the dog, but then that devolves into a game of chase through the kitchen. I could tell them no, but they're running so hard they gasp through their giggles. Everyone's happy and they're not hurting anything, just running laps around our dining room table, so it goes on until the dog and the boys

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  • Boost Your Body Image

    By Ellen G. Goldman, M.Ed., for SparkPeople

    On a recent trip to California, I went on a hike in Runyon Canyon, a park near my daughter's apartment. During my climb, I overheard two women chatting behind me. One was expressing concern regarding comments her teenage daughter had recently been making. It seemed that she was miserable about her body, feeling ''fat'' and ''ugly'' compared with her other friends. According to this woman, her daughter's weight was well within the healthy range, and she had ''quite a lovely figure.''

    I hiked on and began thinking about body image. Why is it that so many people in America suffer from such poor body image? I have watched too many of my daughter's friends struggle, have met way too many women my own age who still express body dissatisfaction, and have even come across it with male clients over the years. These days, you can never be thin enough, muscular or toned enough, or beautiful enough. The effort and energy many are exerting to look

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  • Breaking Up with Your Personal Trainer

    By Leanne Beattie, for SparkPeople

    When to Break Up with Your Trainer
    How many times have you had to find a new hair stylist because your usual one just wasn't meeting your expectations any longer? The same problem can happen at the gym. Your relationship with your personal trainer can break down over time, just like any other type of relationship. Here are some possible signs that it might be time to part ways:

    • You're not seeing results. Your muscles get used to doing the same exercises all the time, so changing your program every few weeks is essential. If your trainer seems to be in a rut and you're not making progress, even with some program adjustments, it may be time to find a more challenging trainer.

    • Your trainer pushes you too hard. Being pushed past your physical limits all the time is dangerous. If your workout leaves you injured, perpetually sore, or overly exhausted, ask your trainer to modify the routine. If he or she won't or insists that your comfort isn't
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  • 10 Reasons You Eat when You're Not Actually Hungry

    By Erin Whitehead, for SparkPeople

    We've all done it, and sometimes we don't even realize when it's happening. Maybe you graze when you're bored, or reach your hand into the office candy jar each time you pass by. Perhaps when you're feeling sluggish in the afternoon, you head to the vending machine for a pick-me-up. All of these are opportunities to eat for reasons other than hunger. No matter why food calls your name, one thing rings true: We have all eaten something when we weren't truly hungry. While that's OK from time to time, too much eating without thinking can really hurt your weight management goals. And depending on what you eat, hurt your health, too.

    Take a look at these 10 situations that encourage you to eat when you're not hungry, plus tips to cope in a healthier way.

    To Cope
    Out of Boredom
    Because Other People Are Eating
    Because Food is There
    Because It's a Special Occasion
    Because You're Tired
    Because the Clock Says So
    Because It's Free (Or Cheap)

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  • Are Your Kids Making You Fat?

    By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople

    A recent Duke University study examined the link between marriage, kids, and obesity among 4,500 couples. The researchers found that for every child a woman has, her risk of becoming obese increases 7%. But women aren't alone-Dad's risk also increased (by 4%) for every child.

    Action Sparked: Sleepless nights, new schedules, work, school, doctor visits-all of these things affect your diet and exercise habits. Developing healthy habits before and during pregnancy will help you maintain them after your child is born. When you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it, and remember to take time for yourself. If you're not healthy, you can't be at your best, and that applies to parenting and raising healthy kids, too. Look for gyms that have childcare centers, opt for healthy frozen dinners over fast food when you're pressed for time, and divide tasks among all household members.

    Related links:

    8 Things to Think About
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  • Active Kids Do Better in School

    By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople

    A recent study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) investigated the link between physical activity in children and academic performance in school. Initially, researchers predicted that kids who took physical education (PE) during the school day would do better academically, since it helps reduce boredom and helps kids stay focused.

    The study, reported in ACSM's official journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, examined 214 children of middle school age. All students were randomly assigned to a PE class in either the first or second semester of the school year. Researchers collected information on each student's activity level in and outside of the PE class, and compared their level of activity to their grades in the subjects of math, science, world studies and English.

    Surprisingly, researchers found that being enrolled in PE (moderate activity for 30 minutes, 5 days per week) Read More »from Active Kids Do Better in School
  • How to Save Money on Groceries

    By SparkPeople

    Most people spend about 10% of their take-home money on food, but it's a misconception that you can't buy quality, healthy food on a tight budget.

    SparkPeople members contradict that myth by sharing the many ways they stay healthy and eat well for less.

    • "When I make my shopping list, I write things like 'dinner for 3 days' and then once in the store, I see what's on sale. Also, look in the short-dated section in the chill cabinets. I quite often get something for that night's dinner or to put away in the freezer."

    • "I have a co-worker who goes to the farm and buys a whole cow at one time, then pays a butcher to cut it up so she can deep-freeze it. Sometimes they go in on a cow with a friend since it gives you tons of meat at a lower price."

    • "I take a list. If it isn't on the list, it doesn't go into the cart. Period. No impulse items. I also bring my little calculator to be sure that I am getting the best deal on what I need.
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