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  • 10 Signs You're Watching Too Much Television

    By Erin Whitehead, for SparkPeople

    Many people claim that they don't have time to work out or cook healthy meals, yet they do find the time to park themselves in front of the TV. In fact, the average American watches 31.5 hours of TV per week, according to a 2010 Nielsen report. That's almost as many hours as most of us spend working! That's a lot of hours that could be spent shopping for and preparing nutritious meals, hitting the gym or even taking up a new hobby.

    If you think your loyalty to your favorite TV shows could be interfering with your life-or your pursuit of health-then read on.

    10 Signs You're Watching Too Much TV
    1. You've turned into a hermit. If you can't commit to a night out with your friends because you don't want to miss the latest episode of your favorite show-or even one of your top 10 favorite shows-you may have an addiction to TV. Hanging out with friends can combat loneliness and put you in a better mood.
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  • 6 Ways to Maintain Your Mental Flexibility

    By Megan Coatley, for SparkPeople

    When you first start making room for healthy habits in your busy life, being a stickler can be beneficial-
    setting a workout schedule, planning your meals in advance, saying no to things that get in the way of your goals. Without giving yourself some rules-and being a little inflexible-at the beginning, you'll be likely to fall off the wagon much more quickly.

    But as you build your habits, you'll eventually discover that things don't always go according to your plan. There will undoubtedly be road bumps (an unexpectedly long work day), detours (your favorite body sculpting class gets cancelled) and setbacks (birthday cake!). If you rigidly follow your plan instead of being a little flexible once in a while, you could do more harm than good.

    Experts in behavior science view mental flexibility not as a personality trait or a state of mind, but as a set of behaviors that can be changed. Everyone is flexible about some things and inflexible about others.

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  • Stop Dieting and Start Living!

    By Dean Anderson, for SparkPeople

    You've heard it so many times that you probably say it in your sleep. "Diets don't work; if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to make a lifestyle change."

    But what does a lifestyle change look or feel like, and how do you know when you've made one? The way some people talk about it, you'd think there's some sort of mystical wisdom you get when you "make the change" that tells you when and what to eat, and how to stop worrying about the number on the scale. Does this mean you'll finally stop craving chocolate and start liking tofu?

    The basic difference between a diet mentality and a lifestyle mentality is simply a matter of perspective. Having the right perspective may not make tofu taste better than chocolate, but it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to achieving your goals, avoiding unnecessary suffering along the way, and hanging onto your achievements over the long
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  • 5 Foods I Never Feed My Children

    By Jen Mueller, for SparkPeople

    One of my biggest priorities as a mom is providing my kids with a healthy diet. Sometimes I'm met with success (they love vegetables), but other times it's a little more difficult ("Eww! What is this?!?"). I try to expose them to a wide variety of healthy foods, so that eating this way becomes a normal part of the rest of their lives. My kids are 6, 4 and 1, and even though I control most of what they eat at this age, I still shake my head at some of the food that's served when I'm not around. My kindergartner can't go to a Girl Scout meeting, sporting event or even morning snack at school without adults serving her junk food. So when I'm given the opportunity to bring something, I see it as a chance to show kids that healthy food can taste good.

    Sometimes I get flak from other parents (including my own) because I don't let my kids order whatever they want at a restaurant or limit the foods I bring into our home. I don't think I'm denying my children the

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  • 7 Hidden Signs of Overtraining

    By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople

    When it comes to healthy habits, you can have too much of a good thing. Fiber is good for you, but too much fiber is
    a major diet no-no (if you've done it, you know what I'm talking about). Even too much sleep can backfire and hurt your health. And exercise is no exception.

    In fact, trading evenings on the couch for marathon calorie-burning or muscle-pumping workouts day after day--without adequate rest--is a surefire way to burn out, hurt your performance and even get yourself injured. While everyone is different and no certain amount of exercise is automatically ''too much,'' it's recommended that you take one to two rest days a week, especially if you're working out at a really high intensity or with heavy weights. In general, exercising for up to 90 minutes (at a moderate intensity), most days of the week is reasonable and healthy, but you should take into account your fitness level, health status and how your body responds.

    You might already

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  • Do You Suffer from Diet Rage?

    By Mike Kramer, for SparkPeople

    After slowing down to an unexplained stop for the 147th time in the space of 2 miles, I decided that I hated the world. Surrounding me were an ocean of maddening brake lights, rain pelting the windshield and thousands of tons of steel and fiberglass flung around by a clueless pack of selfish morons who obviously didn't know the first thing about driving!!

    It was in serious danger of ruining my whole day.

    Is there anything more frustrating than being bogged down in traffic? Most all of us have been there before. That discouraged, fed up feeling that just makes us want to throw up our hands in surrender or lay them on the horn.

    Thankfully, I stopped muttering helplessly and started thinking instead. And I realized that I often witness another type of "road rage" - the frustration that builds on the road to weight loss: Diet Rage.

    Think about your dieting history. Does it give you the same feeling as an exasperating traffic jam? You never quite get where

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  • Is Dating Making You Fat?

    By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople

    Dating isn't easy. In the beginning stages, deciding what to wear, where to go, and whether you should or shouldn't kiss can be stressful. Then, once you start to get more serious, you have big decisions to make, such as whether to be exclusive, to live together, or to get married. With so much to think about, your healthy lifestyle is probably the last thing on your mind.

    Well, it shouldn't be. According to research from the journal Obesity, dating and cohabiting can lead to weight gain. The 2009 study looked at 1,293 dating, cohabiting and married romantic couples, and found that over five years, women who were dating put on an average of 15 pounds, and those living with a romantic partner gained 18 pounds. Men also have an increased risk of becoming obese as they stay in a relationship, but not nearly as much as women.

    Researchers say that when you find someone who you really like, you start spending
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  • The Secrets of Eating Right and Living Longer

    By Antigone Arthur, for SparkPeople

    Yes, it's possible to eat certain foods and boost your longevity. Often labeled "super foods," these foods have the ability to not only strengthen the immune system, but to also fight disease, and lower body fat and cholesterol.

    All of these health benefits can help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

    Some super foods contain substances called antioxidants and phytochemicals, which work together to fight disease and promote a long life.

    A majority of these foods work best when they're combined with a well-balanced diet.

    Common Super Foods For Boosting Longevity

    Certain types of fish, particularly fatty cuts of fish, contain healthy fats that help lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. These foods may also reduce depression. Salmon, trout, and mackerel are among the top choices. These fish contain valuable omega-3 fatty

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  • Become Your Own Best Motivator

    By Dean Anderson, for SparkPeople

    There are several kinds of motivation problems that people run into, and each requires a different set of strategies. Let's start here with a little quiz to find out which motivational problems you might be dealing with.

    Get out a small piece of paper to mark your answers to the following five questions. Respond to each statement with "True" if you think it applies to you more often than not or "False" if you think it doesn't apply most of the time. Next, indicate on a scale of 1-10, how big of a role you think the statement plays in your motivation problems. If you think it plays almost no role, give it a one. If you think it is by far the most important factor in your motivation problems, give it a 10.

    1. True or False: My motivation seems to depend on what the scale (or tape measure, fit of my clothes, etc.) says. I feel motivated when I see results, but unmotivated when I don't. SCORE (1-10): _____

    2. True or False: I feel like I am in a

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  • How Long Should You Really Rest Between Workouts?

    By Jen Mueller, for SparkPeople

    We always talk about the importance of rest when it comes to your exercise routine. Your body needs that time to recover, and your overall health and fitness level will benefit from non-exercise days. But how much rest is too much? Research from the University of Missouri at Columbia found that only two days of inactivity are enough to cause the size of fat cells to increase by 25%! Surprised? Although this research was done on animals, the same could be true for people.

    I've often heard that after 48 hours, your fitness level can start to decrease. That's one reason why it is important to stay regular with your workouts. I find that if I take too many rest days in a row, it's harder to get myself back to the gym (both physically and mentally). And when I do make it back, that same workout is usually a little more challenging than it was just 3 or 4 days before.

    Balance is essential. Too few rest days and you can end up overtraining and compromising

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