Blog Posts by SparkPeople.com

  • America’s Top Trainer: Time to Reject 'Skinny' and Get Strong

    Nicole Nichols, center, is fitness expert at SparkPeople.com.
    By Bruce Corwin of SparkPeople
    As part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, SparkPeople's award-winning fitness expert, Nicole Nichols, is opening up about her own struggles with disordered eating.

    SparkPeople's fitness expert "Coach Nicole" is passionate about changing the image of "fit and healthy." Named America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch by the American Council on Exercise and Life Fitness in 2011, Nicole soon after celebrated the launch of her newest DVD, 28-Day Boot Camp. In addition to teaching Spinning and Pilates, she runs half-marathons, practices yoga weekly, and strength trains regularly. At 29, she's proud to be a role model for those aspiring to take control of their health-without letting the scale and fitness take control of them.

    What sets Nicole apart from many other fitness experts is her "real life, real people" attitude. She believes that the images we see every day of models, actors and personal trainers set an unattainable standard, one that she hopes she

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  • Celebrate Spring Early with a Heart-Healthy Pork Feast

    This meal is perfect for a Sunday supper.

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

    This meal reminds me of springtime, and it's light enough to fit into a heart-healthy diet. On the menu: Mustard Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Boiled Redskin Potatoes, and Radish Salad, served with Cucumber Sauce.

    Minutes to Prepare: 15

    Minutes to Cook: 30

    Number of Servings: 4

    Ingredients

    Pork:
    1 pound pork tenderloin, fat trimmed and silver skin removed
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    Sauce:
    1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
    1 tablespoon chopped shallot
    1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
    1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

    Potatoes:
    1 pound new red-skin potatoes, washed and scrubbed, sliced 1/4-inch thick

    Radish Salad:
    6 radishes, scrubbed and chopped into matchsticks
    5 ounces baby spinach, washed
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

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  • 5 Shortcuts to Sculpt Your Body Fast

    Learn how to sculpt your body fast.

    from SparkPeople

    I have a friend who can either build or fix just about anything-the guy is handy! I'm constantly amazed to see how he can take care of most any restoration or carpentry problem. Something that seems impossible is like putty in his hands, and he usually reminds me, as I am making a sloppy mess of things, to work smarter, not harder-a mantra that applies as much to our workout routines as it does to working around the house.

    We know that there are no shortcuts to getting fit and staying fit. Working out takes perseverance, consistency and well, work! But every once in a while, you should stop and ask yourself, "Am I working out smarter and not just harder?" After all, we don't want to waste one drop of hard-earned sweat in our pursuit of fitness. We want to get the most out of every workout, run, bike ride, or trip to the gym.

    Here are five ways to exercise smarter to get the results you want without spending more time in your sneakers.

    1. Tackle

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  • 10 Tips for Running with Your Dog

    Learn how to keep your best friend safe and happy during your runs.

    By Nancy Howard, Certified Running Coach, for SparkPeople

    As a runner it's nice to have a partner to run with, regardless if that partner runs on two legs or four legs. A dog can make a great running partner, not only can they help keep us motivated to run, but they can also provide us with a sense of security and companionship especially for those of us who must run in remote areas.

    But before you get too eager to put a leash on your four-legged friend, there are a few tips to consider prior to taking your first step out the door with your running buddy.

    1. Get medical clearance from your dog's vet

    Just like we need to get medical clearance for exercise, same is true for our pets. This is especially necessary if your pet has led a fairly sedentary lifestyle. While your dog may spend hours running around the backyard, it is not quite the same as running five, three or even one mile.

    2. Know which breeds are best for running

    Knowing which breeds are best

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  • The Best Fat-Burning Advice

    What does it take to really burn fat? We separate fact from fiction.

    By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert at SparkPeople

    Wouldn't it be great if all the fat-burning secrets you see in magazine ads and TV infomercials actually worked? If sauna suits, cellulite-shrinking creams, herbal wraps, and pills designed to "boost metabolism and melt fat away" did what they claim to, obesity would be a thing of the past.

    But they don't work. And neither do any of those exercise gadgets that promise to reduce the fat in your fill-in-the-blank problem area (i.e. belly, hips or thighs). That's just not how your body operates. You probably know by now that the only healthy way to lose fat (and keep it from finding you again) is to spend more energy on physical activity than you take in from food. That takes a combination of moderate calorie restriction and increased physical activity-a healthy lifestyle, not a crash weight loss program or other magic gimmick.

    But what about some of the less outrageous claims and advice about fat burning that

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  • Study: Teens Don't Care About the Sun's Effects

    How can we get kids and teens to understand the importance of sun protection?
    By Jen Mueller of SparkPeople.com
    It's hard to explain to a 5- and 3-year old why it's important to coat their bodies in greasy sunscreen when we go outside. They can't quite understand the concept of cancer and skin damage, so sometimes it's a battle to get them covered. Especially when we're outside a lot in the summer, I use sunscreen as much as possible (although I do give them a little time without it just so they get their daily dose of Vitamin D). I also encourage them to wear hats because I don't think you can be too careful when it comes to the sun.

    When my kids ask "Why do we always have to put that stuff on?!?!", I just tell them their beautiful skin won't be so nice anymore if they don't. I hoping that by establishing these habits now, as they get older it will be second-nature to protect themselves from the sun before going outside. There is so much talk in the news these days about the harmful effects of the sun; you'd think everyone (especially young people) would be

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  • Pregnancy Exercise 101: Get the Answers to All Your Fitness Questions

    Exercise during pregnancy makes for a healthier mom and baby.

    By Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian, for SparkPeople

    Exercise during pregnancy is important. It has many benefits for mom and baby.

    Exercise can:

    • Improve muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness
    • Lead to a better appearance and posture
    • Lessen some of the discomforts of pregnancy
    • Strengthen the muscles needed for labor and delivery
    • Make you feel good, too

    The exercises you can do during pregnancy depend on your health and how active you were before you became pregnant. If you were not active before pregnancy, this is not the time to start an extremely strenuous exercise program. However, swimming, walking, or prenatal exercise classes are great places to get started. If you exercised before pregnancy, there is no reason you cannot continue, within reason.

    Before you begin any exercise program, discuss it with your healthcare provider. The two of you together can plan an exercise program that is consistent with your current level of

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  • Why I Love My Pregnant Body--and Why You Should Love Yours

    Some women dread growing bigger every day during pregnancy. Not me. I love my body during pregnancy!

    By Hillary Copsey for SparkPeople

    Some women have miserable pregnancies. They are sick. They are swollen. Their health--or their baby's--is compromised. If you are one of those women, feel free to call me names.

    Because I have wonderful pregnancies. I love being pregnant.

    I expected to hate pregnancy. The whole process is weird. Another being is growing inside you. Even now, I maintain my babies in utero are parasites--mine and therefore adorable and wonderful, but parasites, nonetheless. After I got married, I got pregnant because I wanted kids and, if I'm being honest, wanted to put pregnancy on my list of "Things I Have Done."

    Pregnancy also belongs on my list of "Things That Make Me Feel Good."

    Instead of throwing up for three months, I spent my first pregnancy just wanting to hug myself. I was inexplicably happy, even when smells brought on nausea. Through both my pregnancies, the changes in my body just amazed me. I feel beautiful as my waist

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  • The Secret to Perfectly Poached Eggs (No Strings Attached!)


    Learn the secret to perfect poached eggs.

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

    from "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"

    Chef Meg demonstrates how to poach an egg for a healthy, hearty breakfast.

    Poaching an egg is an easy technique once you learn how to properly do it. Many people are fearful of breaking the egg or ending up with soggy, runny eggs, but I have a few tips to help you become a pro at poached eggs.

    This healthy cooking technique requires no added fat, and it is fast enough for even a busy morning. (Worried about the cholesterol in this "perfect protein" food? Check out this article to see why eggs are excellent any time of day.)

    U.S. F.D.A. Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

    VIDEO: How to Poach an Egg.

    Some tips:

    • To keep eggs from getting too hard, the water should be about 180 degrees Fahrenheit--not
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  • Dinner in 30: Empty the Pantry (and Fridge) Stew

    A healthy, hearty dinner's on the table in less than time than it takes to order pizza.

    By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

    from "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"


    I love this stew because it can be made from your pantry and freezer. I always keep red potatoes, turkey sausage, and beans on hand. It's great for those nights when you just don't want to brave the cold to go to the supermarket.


    Minutes to Prepare: 10
    Minutes to Cook: 30
    Number of Servings: 8

    Nutritional Info

    Servings Per Recipe: 8
    Calories: 223.5
    Total Fat: 4.3 g
    Cholesterol: 15.3 mg
    Sodium: 410.9 mg
    Total Carbs: 35.0 g
    Dietary Fiber: 8.9 g
    Protein: 11.5 g

    Ingredients

    7 ounces light turkey kielbasa (half a package)
    1 small onion, about 3/4 cup, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 can (14.5 oz) no salt added diced tomatoes, drained but juice reserved
    1 quart Chef Meg's Chicken Stock
    4 red potatoes, quartered (about 2 cups)
    1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 cup carrots,

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