Elizabeth Lowry

I'm a member of SparkPeople's editorial team and I write, edit and manage the content you read. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy cooking for my family and friends, running, strength training, teaching weekly spin classes and playing outside with my kids. I also love a good challenge and recently found that in Barre class. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good indulgence once in a while--wine and chocolate are two of my favorite things. I am grateful to be here, helping our members reach their own healthy living goals.


Read More of Elizabeth's Blogs:

14 Things I Learned in 14 Years As a Spin Instructor

Fitness class can be a scary place. Let's face it, even watching one of those classes can be intimidating. Whether you walk past a boutique studio or find yourself staring through the glass at an aerobics class at your gym, the jumping, body contortions or the crazy amount of sweat can be enough to send you running the other direction.

Posted 6/13/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 30 comments   9,374 views

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Get 90 Days of Personalized Training and Nutrition: Join The Oxygen Challenge 4!

ďItís important that people learn to love themselves no matter what stage of their weight-loss journey theyíre in, that itís never too late to start, and that being healthy has no age or weight limit,Ē says 2017 Oxygen Challenge 3 participant Stacey A. Byrd.

We all know the importance of exercise and nutrition in the quest to live a fit and healthy lifestyle—but it's easier said than done. Knowing which exercises to do on any given day, what kind of meal plan you should follow or how to keep yourself accountable are all factors in making sure you not only start a plan, but also stick to it.

That's where The Oxygen Challenge 4 (OC4) comes in. For more than 20 years, Oxygen magazine has been at the forefront of womenís health and fitness. The Oxygen woman is strong, confident and healthy. She isnít training just for aesthetics—she wants to increase strength, endurance, performance and mobility to improve her overall wellness. Sound familiar? We thought so.

This marks the fourth year for the Oxygen Challenge series. Beginning July 15, 2018, participants will be guided through a 90-day fitness and nutrition program instructed by movement experts and coaches Jen Widerstrom from NBCís The Biggest Loser, and Karina Smirnoff from ABC's Dancing With the Stars. These women have a lifetime of experience with exercise, training, nutrition and competition, and are ready to share their extensive knowledge exclusively with you!

Coach Jenís program focuses on transformation, whether youíre beginning an exercise program from scratch, want to lose fat and inches or take your training to the next level. Coach Karinaís program combines yoga, self-defense and cardio with—of course—dance, creating a unique and exciting workout unlike anything youíve seen before. She breaks everything down into its simplest components so that anyone—dancer or not—can do the workouts and succeed. Both programs are well-rounded and progressive. Each month, you will grow and face new challenges, ultimately getting into the best shape of your life—all for less than $1 a day.

"I found a lot of healthy new options to mix in and break up the monotony while keeping my energy high," says 2016 Oxygen Challenge 2 participant Virginia Cooper from Bakersfield, California.

By signing up with coach Jen or coach Karina (or both!), you will receive instant access to three months of detailed video programming that includes step-by-step instructions to guide you through your workouts. Anyone at any fitness level can participate, and each coach offers modifications and intensifiers, enabling you to tailor the program to your own purposes.

In addition, OC4 includes a nutrition component, complete with grocery lists, preparation tips and detailed recipes crafted by your coaches which they themselves use to get healthy, strong and lean. They will take the guesswork out of meal planning, and will make getting in shape delicious and easy.

"I now eat to stay healthy and don't look at healthy eating as a diet. I am loving every moment of my life and loving the new me," says 2016 Oxygen Challenge 2 participant Michele Scheilbelhut from South Bend, Indiana.

By signing up youíll also gain exclusive access to a private Facebook group, a community of women just like yourselves who will sweat, laugh and transform right along with you! Accountability is an integral part of success, and this group can help get you through the rough patches and give you a push when needed.

OC4 is an all-encompassing training, nutrition and motivational program that gives you the tools you need to make lasting changes to your physique and your lifestyle. Coach Jen and coach Karina will be with you every step of the way, encouraging and educating you and helping you achieve your goals.

What to Expect

  • Exclusive training tips and exercise progressions/regressions
  • Comprehensive nutritional guidelines and discussions
  • More than 30 unique recipes
  • Weekly workout charts and breakdowns
  • A grocery list of all needed ingredients
  • Video blogs based on hot topics and participant queries
  • Motivational support
  • Much, much more!

Share
Take part in The Oxygen Challenge 4 and share your milestones with your fellow†@OxygenMagazine†sisters by using #OxyChallenge, #TeamJennifer and #TeamKarina when detailing your 90-day journey.

Sign Up Now!

Posted 6/8/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 0 comments   18,636 views

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Stay Fit on the Road With These 14 Packable Fitness Items

Travel and summer go together like feet in flip-flops. Exploring new towns and cities, taking in the sights and smells, tasting unique foods and otherwise soaking in a new culture are all reasons people love to travel. But after a few days of all that eating and exploring, you might be feeling rather bloated and blah thanks to all the late-night drinks, foreign fare and lack of physical activity.
 
While it's good to take breaks now and then from your exercise routine and diet, there is no reason you can't partake in a healthy lifestyle while traveling. There are many fitness items that can be packed in your suitcase without taking up too much room, allowing you to keep up with your exercise routine even when you're on the go.
  
Packable Gear You Can't Resist (starting at $10.95)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Fitting nice and tidily in a small, black carrying bag, these five resistance bands are 100 percent latex, heavy duty and great for taking along to your next destination. With a range of resistance levels, you'll be able to use these Fit Simplify bands for all sorts of workouts—from strength-building days to light recovery sessions. Plus, they are great to use when you want to stretch out after a workout or help ease tight muscles. The bands also come with access to a 41-page e-book, an online video workout guide and a lifetime guarantee. 
 
Fit in Great Cardio ($8.99)


Photo courtesy of 
Amazon. 
 
321 STRONG really outdid themselves with their aluminum jump rope that comes in its own carrying case, making it perfect for packing. The rope itself is over 11 feet long and can be easily cut to fit any height. The ends of the braided steel wire come with vinyl end caps, so you don't have to worry about scraping yourself. The six-inch handles are also padded, ensuring a firm hold on every jump. Pick up this essential piece of equipment so you can always get in a great cardio workout wherever your adventures take you.
  
Namaste Anywhere ($49.99)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

With baggage fees being what they are, you want to make sure you are traveling as lightly as possible. You'd also like a nice, clean, trustworthy surface on which to practice yoga, Pilates or other bodyweight exercises, though. Enter the Plyopic travel yoga mat. Ultralight at only 2.4 pounds, grippy and able to fold up to the size of a magazine, this travel mat is also eco-friendly. Not only is the rubber sustainably harvested, but for every mat purchased, Plyopic will plant a tree. Who says you can't have it all?
 
Keep Your Suitcase Fresh (starting at $6.99)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
These odor-eliminating and moisture-absorbing pouches from SmellWell will not only keep your suitcase smelling fresh (so no need to worry about putting stinky gym shoes or workout clothes back in your bag), but also prevents bacterial growth. You can reuse the two bags around the clock for up to four months. Non-toxic and all-natural, bad odors are replaced with a fresh scent in just a few hours.  
 
Leggings That Take You From Travel to Trail ($79)


Photo courtesy of Athleta. 
 
When you're traveling, you want to pack light, and that's where these tights from Athleta can do double duty. Comfortable enough to wear in transit, yet flexible enough to take to the gym, these leggings are fitted, flattering and fabulous. Equipped with leg pockets big enough to keep your smartphone or other necessities close by while you attempt to get lost in the next town over, these leggings also come in petite, tall and plus sizes for every body type. Made with a wicking Pilayo material, a wide waistband and a fully adjustable, never-ending drawstring, we think you'll want to buy a few pairs.
 
Seek Coverage from Germs ($39.99)


Photo courtesy of Leus. 

Even if you don't have room in your suitcase to take an entire yoga mat with you on your travels, at least make room for these fun yoga-mat-sized towels from Leus that can act as a barrier between you and the hundreds of others that have come before you in the hotel's gym. Made of suede microfiber and with an antimicrobial coating, these mats are also absorbent and slip-resistant.
 
Water-Free Shower ($9.99)

Photo courtesy of goodwipes.
 
When you find your flight delayed for the third time with no boarding schedule in sight, it might be time to take matters into your own hands and try out some mall-walking, yoga or other bodyweight exercise routines you can do at the airport. When you finally do depart though, you don't want to offend your neighbor with your sweaty stench. Freshen up after any workout or hike with body wipes from goodwipes, a company that specializes in biodegradable, easy-to-use shower wipes you can pull out anywhere you find yourself needing a shower without an actual shower available. Wipe away sweat, smells and other unpleasantness with these refreshing and cooling towelettes that contain tea tree oil, peppermint, ginseng and aloe. Please note, they are to be throw in the trash, not the toilet.
 
Slide Your Way Through a Workout ($10)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Targeting your core is hard enough, but even harder when you're far away from your home or gym. These lightweight, flat, packable core sliders from Elite Sportz provide the perfect solution. The double-sided discs will slide on any surface and can be used by sliding your hands or feet away from your body using a variety of bodyweight exercises to strengthen your core, legs or arms.
 
Take Your Workouts to the Beach ($39.95)


Photo courtesy of Parasheet. 
 
If you're a get-up-and-go kind of traveler, then you don't want to mess with much equipment. Simply pack this beach blanket by Parasheet into small bag with water, sunscreen and other necessities, grab your sneakers and head out to the nearest beach. Whether you swim out, spend some time surfing or pull out a stand-up paddleboard, rest assured that your sand-secured blanket will be waiting for you when you're ready to lay back and enjoy the sound of waves crashing at the end of your active day.
 
Travel Train With a TRX ($99.95)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Suspension training is made for on-the-go workouts. Perfect for both indoor and outdoor workouts, the TRX helps you train your body by using suspension straps in conjunction with your own bodyweight for a full-body workout you can complete in as little as 15 minutes. Weighing in at only one pound and able to be set up in one minute, consider this kit your travel go-to.
 
Get Swole With Sand or Water Bags (starting at $19.95)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
  
Iron Core Athletics' genius travel bags allow you to lift weight while lightening your travel load. Made of industrial vinyl, these cylindrical bags are leakproof and can be filled with either sand or water to increase their weight up to 20 or 15 pounds each, respectively.
 
Recovery on the Road ($22.50)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you're impervious to pain and soreness. Give your muscles the relief they crave with this mini roller recovery set from JAXJOX. The grippy roller can be used to release any muscle tension, while the massage balls can help roll out specific pressure points anywhere your body needs a little TLC.
 
Wobble Your Way to a Strong Core ($12.90)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Pack this portable wobble cushion flat, then inflate when you reach your destination for a core blast you won't soon forget. Great for working on your balance or abdominals when used with exercises such as lunges, crunches or pushups. As a bonus, it can add a little extra cushion to your plane or car seat, challenging you to keep your core engaged while you travel.
 
Bring a Workout in a Bag (starting at $9.99)


Photo courtesy of 
Amazon. 
 
Keep up with your speed and agility training or just work up a good sweat with this Yes4All speed agility ladder. The rungs are made of durable plastic and can be adjusted for different lengths and levels. When you're done with your workout you can fold it, pack it back in its carrying case and take to your next destination.
 
What kind of gear do you like to take with you when you travel?

We hope you love these products a much as we do! SparkPeople may collect a small percentage of revenue from links on this page. Prices subject to change.

Posted 6/7/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 32 comments   7,079 views

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16 Wardrobe Staples Guaranteed to Keep You Cool on Hot Days

If you could graph your exercise motivation during the summer months, we imagine it would look something like this: As the temperature rises, your motivation plummets. But there's no reason you can't buck the trend and get outside for some exercise, no matter what the thermostat says.
 
In addition to taking extra precautions when exercising in the hot weather (such as aiming to exercise in a cooler time of day, making sure you bring along plenty of water and stopping if you feel faint or light-headed), there is a great selection of clothing and accessory items that can help to keep you cool and motivated so you can hit the great outdoors without overheating.

Warm-Weather Workout Wear for Women
 

Two-in-One Tank (starting at $7.92)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

This versatile tank from Danskin Now is a sleeveless, V-neck tank that leaves plenty of room for freedom and flexibility during workouts. The built-in bra provides extra support, while Dri-More technology coupled with mesh accents help you stay cool and dry when your workout heats up.

Go With the Flow (starting at $18.99)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

This sleeveless tank from Cestyle has a loose, flowy fit and a longer length for worry-free workouts. Available in 10 colors and five sizes, this tank will become your go-to on hot days.
 
Built-in Sun Protection (starting at $15.95)
 

Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Stay protected from the sun's harmful rays all day long with this T-shirt that features built-in SPF. Made from fabric recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, Vapor Apparel's shirt is made with 100 percent microfiber, plus SPF 50+ UV protection built right into the material. You'll also love how lightweight and breathable this moisture-wicking shirt is.

Work Out in Comfort (starting at $17.95)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

Featuring a looser, flattering fit, this technical shirt for women is made of lightweight, stretchy fabric that wicks away moisture to keep you cool and dry during hot runs, hikes or workouts. The tagless feature keeps the shirt from having any unaccounted-for annoyances. Choose from a variety of colors and sizes up to 3X.  

Mesh Shorts (starting at $10.75)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

These adidas workout shorts have an elastic waist for comfort and come in five sizes. Made of a breathable material, they're great for everything from a jog around the neighborhood to a pick-up game of soccer. At this low price, you can buy more than one pair so you can stretch out the time between laundry days!

Functional and Feminine Skort (starting at $45)



Photo courtesy of 
Amazon. 
 
It might seem strange at first to work out in a skort, but we promise you, once you try it, you'll love it. Skorts are a nice, cool option for those long, hot workouts outside, and this one by Kosher Casual is knee-length so you don't have to worry about bending over to tie your shoe and revealing too much. The shorts under the skirt won't ride up and the handy zipper pocket in the back is great for carrying a few necessities with you.

Keep Sweat and Hair at Bay ($15.99)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

These workout headbands are a popular accessory to keep the hair out of your face and sweat out of your eyes on a hot summer day. A non-slip backing guarantees that it will stay put for your whole workout, no matter what. Available in a variety of colors and patterns, buy a bunch to complement any workout attire.

Cool Duds for Sweaty Dudes


Sun's Out, Guns Out (starting at $4.50)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

This sleeveless men's tee from Champion is made with ring-spun cotton for extra softness against your skin and an athletic cut for more comfort during your workout Choose from a variety of colors and sizes, all at a great price.

Keep Dry With a Tech T-Shirt (starting at $18.12)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

This fitted men’s T-shirt from Nike is a staple of any workout wardrobe. Lightweight with an athletic structure and a mesh panel down the back, this versatile shirt with Dri-FIT Technology will wick away sweat for those days when the sun is especially harsh. 

Shorts With Storage (starting at $14.99)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

These 11-inch men's athletic shorts from Soffe come with side pockets for convenient storage of keys, phone and other necessities. Peppered with many holes thanks to the mesh fabric, you'll be able to feel the cool breeze throughout your hot workout. The internal drawstring also allows for easy size adjustments.

Athletic Shorts That Withstand the Heat (starting at $14.88)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

These budget-friendly 9-inch Nike shorts come in 12 shades of blue, black and gray. Mesh panels on the sides, Dri-FIT material and a built-in liner keep you cool, comfortable and dry. If you're looking for a longer short that won't break the bank, this is it.

Hot-Weather Accessories for Everyone
 

Keep the Sun Out of Your Eyes (starting at $16.02)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

This running hat from Under Armour is lightweight, well-ventilated and protective against the sun's harsh rays. It's low-profile look and four-way stretch help it fit comfortably to your head, while the reflective logo works to increase your visibility when you're out in the dawn or dusk.

Stay Cool With a Visor ($13.46)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

This popular visor from adidas comes in four neutral colors for anyone who swears by a more monochromatic look. Lightweight with an elastic band on the back, it will help reduce glare and keep sweat out of your eyes without trapping in heat. Climacool mesh panels help control air flow while wicking away moisture.
 
Get Sleeved (starting at $19.21)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 

For those days when you'd rather not mess with sunblock on your arms, these sun sleeves from Outdoor Research are your free pass to skip the SPF. Slip on these sleeves with SPF 50+ plus wicking and quick-dry technology and stay cool, dry and sunburn-free.  
 
Stay Cool and Hydrated (starting at $44.95)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Although these Hydro Flask water bottles are a little on the pricey side, they make up for it with double-walled, vacuum-insulated TempShield insulation, which ensures your cold water will stay cold for up to 24 hours. Drink right from the easy-access wide mouth or use the straw cap for drinks on the move. The Powder Coat on the outside of the bottle prevents condensation and provides a no-slip grip.
 
Cool Off in a Snap ($11.97)


Photo courtesy of Amazon. 
 
Whether you're recovering from a hot workout or find yourself in the sun-soaked bleachers at your daughter's softball game, these cooling towels from Chill Pal are a must-have. Simply soak in water, wring out and give it a "snap" to activate its evaporative technology that keeps the towel cool. If it starts to warm, simply repeat the process—as many times as needed!

What kind of gear do you use to stay cool and comfortable in the heat?

We hope you love these products a much as we do! SparkPeople may collect a small percentage of revenue from links on this page. Prices subject to change.

Posted 5/29/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 47 comments   54,901 views

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Enhance Your Performance With These 15 Essential Running Items

Nearly 64 million people in the United States alone consider themselves runners or joggers, meaning if you're not a runner, chances are you at least know one. Whether it's the elusive "runner's high" or pushing your pace, there's just something about running that hooks people.

Though technically all you need is a pair of shoes and some pavement to run, the truth is, required running equipment can get more nuanced than that. What you choose to run in, what you want to carry and what you might need along the way all depends on your personal preferences and the distance you are running. 

Whether for yourself or for a friend, there are many products designed to help you run more comfortably, make the time pass more quickly, keep you fueled and help to prevent injuries so you can enjoy many more runs to come.

Posted 5/15/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 85 comments   22,972 views

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Living a Fit & Healthy Life Just Got Easier

Launching into a healthier lifestyle can be complicated. Where do you start? What do you need? Okay, what do you really need? What do other people like? What's the big deal with food scales? Do the perfect black leggings exist??

We want you to be able to get the most out of the products we've tried and tested, loved and hated, researched and purchased ourselves over the years. To make it easier to find all our shoppable blogs, we've moved them in all together in our brand new SHOP section. From a treadmill we love that is regularly used in our office gym to and a pasta strainer that helps with portion control, to black leggings we can't get enough of and motivational music that helps you go the extra mile, we have the insider information to find exactly what you've been looking for all along.

Posted 5/11/2018  2:00:00 PM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 44 comments   9,844 views

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Gear Up for Spring With These 12 Fitness Essentials

After the snow, sleet and icy temperatures of winter, we all want to jump at the chance to take our workout outdoors at the first sign of sun. Whether it's grabbing fresh air at a free outdoor yoga class in the park, jumping rope on your driveway or jogging with friends on a nearby trail, finding ways to exercise outside is an easy way to change up your winter routine after a few months cooped up inside with just your treadmill.

Taking your workout outside doesn't come without some requirements, though. Sun protection, on-the-go items and gear that's appropriate for sweat are all considerations for the outdoor enthusiast. In the spirit of embracing the changing of the season, these 12 fitness items are sure to help you make the most of the sunshine.

Posted 5/2/2018  5:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 62 comments   51,653 views

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10 Essential Core Exercises to Help You Tackle Everyday Activities

What do you think of when you hear the word "core"? Maybe an apple core, the center of the Earth, an essential part of a group? In our bodies, the core is the center of our skeletal system, the muscles that keep us upright, the trunk from which our branches extend. Our core is as essential to everyday living as the air we breathe and the food we eat.
 
Your core is made up of your midsection and all the muscles surrounding that area, including the front, back and sides. You engage your core to do almost everything—from getting out of bed or putting your toddler in his or her car seat to sneezing or walking down the street.
 
If your core is weak, all of these activities can suffer. To keep from injuring your back from something as simple as bending over to tie your shoes, it's important to keep your core muscles in good, working order. "A strong core is important to me because it allows me to be an active mom," NASM-certified personal trainer and coach Jen Karulf says. "Having five boys, I am constantly chasing, lifting and carrying little ones. A strong core is a necessity."
 
While there are many core-building exercises you can try, certified personal fitness trainers Cheryl Russo, Mark Westrich and Karulf demonstrate the 10 most common core exercises for all-around strengthening at every level. 

Posted 3/21/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 112 comments   138,570 views

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Annie G. lost 40 Pounds,* Feels "More Positive About Everything"

                                 
"I learned that if I want to successfully lose weight, I had to do it first and foremost for myself. As my weight ballooned, I felt worse than ever about myself." - Annie G.

I am a professional vocalist and it was during an audition that I realized my life needed a drastic change. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life, but when my grandmother passed away, my eating habits became completely out of control.

Her passing was the most significant loss that I'd ever experienced and I felt completely overwhelmed by grief. For the next six months, I coped by eating whenever and whatever I wanted. As my weight ballooned, I felt worse than ever about myself. I was making bad choices and eating fast food late at night, which caused me to sleep poorly. I had so little energy and was dragging myself through the day, rather than taking the time to enjoy anything or to focus on my work. The extra weight caused the arthritis in my knees to worsen and it was very painful walking longer distances, even standing in heels. My orthopedic doctor strongly urged me to lose weight.

At this point, none of my clothes were fitting very well; I only had one audition dress that I could still wear and it barely fit. When I arrived at the audition, I changed into that dress. It was so tight that I could hardly zip it up. I was incredibly uncomfortable because I couldn't breathe very well (which is terrible for singing!), and I knew that my complete lack of confidence was very apparent. I was so distracted with feeling horrible about myself for gaining so much weight that I couldn't focus on my performance.   
 
"Jenny Craig fit well with my lifestyle. I could stay on the program, no matter how unpredictable my schedule was."  
 
I had tried many different diets on my own, but nothing worked for me. I don't have a lot of time to prepare and cook meals, so I needed a structured program that was easy to follow and did not require a lot of cooking on my part. Jenny Craig fit well with my lifestyle. I could stay on the program, no matter how unpredictable my schedule was. I also really liked having a weekly weigh-in and consultation. It held me accountable, so that I could face my fears and challenges about losing weight and get personalized advice and guidance. In the past, I would avoid the scale and lie to myself about my weight. Meeting with a compassionate, understanding and knowledgeable consultant proved to be a great asset in achieving my weight loss success.*

The Jenny Craig foods are delicious and gentle on my stomach. I often eat dinner late at night after returning from a rehearsal or performance. The Jenny Craig food fills me up without feeling uncomfortable so that I can sleep well. I am most hungry in the mornings. I always start the day with one of the shakes, an anytime bar, which supplies vitamins and a breakfast entrée. Starting my day with a good breakfast sets me up for a successful day.

"Life is better in absolutely every way since losing weight!"
 
Life is better in absolutely every way since losing weight! I feel better, look better and have so much more energy. When I was overweight, insecurity about how I looked constantly occupied my thoughts. When I eliminated that constant concern, I just felt more positive about everything. I enjoy shopping for clothes much more and I don't have to buy them with the purpose of hiding the way I look. I am much healthier than I used to be and my knees feel so much better as well!
 
I learned that if I want to successfully lose weight, I have to do it first and foremost for myself. I was ready to make the commitment, and even if I had setbacks, I stayed motivated, focused and kept trying. It wasn't easy by any means, but with determination, will power and sticking to the Jenny Craig plan, I lost 40 pounds!*
 
*Results not typical. Members following our program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs. per week. Member received promotional consideration.

Posted 2/8/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 42 comments   21,105 views

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The Power of Weight Loss and Positive Influence


"When you realize just how great you feel, you keep coming back," Erin says. "It works—I'm proof that it works."

After Erin gave birth to her son, her body changed in ways she didn't expect. Things were definitely different, but, she figured, she'd had a baby, she was in her 30s and she had hypothyroidism—that was just going to be the natural course of things.

Posted 2/5/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 27,869 views

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Amanda Lost 40 Pounds* and Gained Confidence



“I just want to be able to enjoy the moments that I have with my children and my family and not worry about the way that I look,” Amanda says.

Instead of looking at photos from her son's first birthday party with fondness, all Amanda could see was how overweight she looked. As someone who liked to do everything for herself, it was hard for Amanda to ask for help with her weight-loss efforts. Then, she discovered Jenny Craig.

Posted 1/31/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 26,041 views

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10 Challenging Chair Exercises

You should not have to join a fancy gym or spend loads of money on home fitness equipment in order to build lean body mass. Using simple at-home objects such as canned food, a towel or even a chair can be just as effective as using a dumbbell or a resistance band. Remember, the body does not know the difference between lifting a one-pound can of beans or a dumbbell. As long as you are overloading the muscles (even if that overload is from your own body weight) you will build muscle strength.

If you have limited mobility or are recovering from an injury, you don't have to sit still and do nothing. Consider exercising right from the comfort of your home in a seated position. Using a chair and a light set of dumbbells (or soup cans) can help challenge your back, shoulders, abs, biceps, triceps, glutes, quads and calves. One of the great things about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere you have access to a chair, whether at home or on the job. 

Posted 1/18/2018  11:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 114 comments   142,495 views

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Introducing Rapid Results by Jenny Craig

If we're being honest, I'm sure we'd all appreciate it if some things moved just a little bit faster. The workday, the line at the post office, the timer on the treadmill, highway traffic and, especially, your weight loss.

Losing weight can often be a tedious process measured in ounces lost and endless exercising that seems to lead nowhere. While no one has invented a magical pill that you can take to instantly shed weight, there are some diets that can help you safely shed pounds more quickly than others.

Posted 1/4/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 47,189 views

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Lose Weight for Good With Our 30-Day Secrets to Success Challenge!

Welcome to the 30-Day Secrets to Success Challenge sponsored by Jenny Craig! For the next 30 days, you'll receive a daily challenge that encourages you to integrate various weight-loss tips and tricks suggested by our members and healthy living experts. Learn simple ways you can change your eating and exercising habits to help you finally lose the weight and keep it off. We're so glad you are interested in trying out our challenge--we're very excited about it, and we hope you are, too.

Posted 12/28/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Elizabeth Lowry : 34,592 views

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7 Members Find Success With Meal Replacements



We asked our own SparkPeople members to try HMR's Healthy Solutions at Home program, which is a weight loss and lifestyle change program designed to help you lose weight quickly while learning new skills to help keep it. Below are the SparkPeople member responses after three weeks on the diet, with most participating in weekly phone coaching throughout.

Did you lose any weight? How much? (weight-loss results are self-reported)

"I lost 18 pounds in three weeks.* ** After nearly four weeks, I'm down 22."* ** — SparkPeople member M68499 (joined two weeks of coaching).

"Yes—7.2 pounds." — SparkPeople member MONICA2052 (joined three weeks of coaching).

"Yes, I have lost 5.5 pounds so far." — SparkPeople member GINGERB13 (joined three weeks of coaching).

"Yes—5.2 pounds." — SparkPeople member LINCOLN_FORD (joined three weeks of coaching).

"This is my third week on the program and I have lost 5 pounds." SparkPeople member LCMELOW (joined two weeks of coaching).

"At this time, I have lost 4.5 pounds." — SparkPeople member DGUAJAR

Yes—4 pounds." — GIBSONTV — SparkPeople member GIBSONTV (joined three weeks of coaching).

*Average weight loss for the Healthy Solutions at Home program with phone coaching is 23 lbs. at 12 weeks. Donnelly JE et al. Int J Obes 2007;31:1270-1276. Average weight loss without coaching is 13 lbs. at 12 weeks. Obes Clin Pract 2009:3:149-157

**Results not typical


What was the best part of the diet plan?

"Not having to figure out what to make to eat. As a single person, it's no fun to cook for myself and I get tired of eating leftovers." — DGUAJAR

"The best part is that meal preparation is very easy! The entrees and cereals are premeasured. You basically just heat and eat! Grocery shopping is a breeze too. I only have to shop for fruits and vegetables." — LCMELOW

"The fact that it is simple to follow." — MONICA2052

"The best part of the diet plan was that I always felt full and had no cravings. It also taught me to eat correctly and not skip meals." — LINCOLN_FORD

"The food tasted good." — GINGERB13

"The weekly phone meetings." — GIBSONTV

Compared to other diets you may have tried, was it an easy plan to follow?

"Yes, it was fairly easy. Only once did I have issues eating all the entrees, and that was when I was unexpectedly gone for far longer than I had planned. I had my fruits and veggies with me, but could not eat two entrees after 7 p.m. when I got home. I had an entree with me too, but no opportunity to eat it." — DGUAJAR

"This plan is easy to follow but very hard to stay 'in the box.' I like to chew my calories, so drinking the shakes three times per day just does not satisfy me the way a small portion of food would if the calories were comparable. One very easy thing to use is their app for tracking. The check boxes immediately show what you have left on the plan for the day and make it easy!" — LCMELOW

"Very easy. The food was delicious and you can add any fruits and veggies you want. They have a variety of recipes for the prepared meals they send you, so it isn't the same old thing." — LINCOLN_FORD

"Personally I think the diet is excellent—no calorie counting, just eat what you're told and the weight disappears. Extremely happy [and] we have much so more spending money [now] since we're not eating out." — M68499

How did you feel while on the plan? Were you more in control of your eating choices?

"I feel pretty good—not having the option to eat a lot of things besides fruits and vegetables made it easy to choose." — DGUAJAR

"I feel good! Yes, following the plan exactly puts me in control, but with my social life and with the Thanksgiving holiday, I chose not to follow the plan exactly. They recommended taking my food with me and eating it on Thanksgiving instead of the traditional holiday fare, but many times I meet friends at restaurants for lunch or dinner. I made the choice to eat salads and small portions instead of the HMR meals. I was able to lose weight during the week, so I felt like I made good choices." — LCMELOW

"I felt like I had tons of energy. The weekly coaching sessions gave positive feedback and kept me focused. With the variety of food options, I definitely was in more control." — LINCOLN_FORD

"I felt empowered. [With] family, once I told them I was on this program, [they] did not try to coerce me to eat their food." — MONICA205

Did you like the taste of the shakes and entrees?


"The shakes are very good, and most of the entrees are fine. Some I did not like, but that was personal preference and not the fault of the food." — DGUAJAR

"I'm impressed with the taste. Everything is good." — LCMELOW

"The shakes were delicious. [The] chicken enchiladas are my favorite. [My] second favorite is the chicken alfredo." — GINGERB13

"Yes they all tasted very good." — GIBSONTV

"The shakes are great. They are sweet and no big aftertaste. The vegetarian entrees vary in tastiness—the best vegetarian entree was the mushroom risotto." — MONICA2052

Was it helpful not having to count calories?

"It was very helpful." — DGUAJAR

"I haven't really counted calories; I was weighing my food, which seemed to be working. I was stuck at a plateau and HMR helped me get past that." — GINGERB13

"It was extremely helpful not to count calories while I am learning healthy eating habits." — LINCOLN_FORD

Did you feel full on the plan?

"Yes, for the most part, when I timed my meals properly." — DGUAJAR

"I feel very full. At times it is hard to get everything in that I need for the day because I feel so full." — LINCOLN_FORD

"I felt too full on the plan, [and] had a hard time eating all that was required." — GIBSONTV

"I did. I felt very little hunger. This was, perhaps, one of the most important things I learned on the program—the 'more is better' concept." — MONICA2052

Did you add fruits and veggies to make your meals even more filling?

"I have never in my life eaten so many fruits and vegetables. So yes, I have added fruits to the shakes and veggies to the entrees." — DGUAJAR

"Yes, I had to add fruits and veggies to try to stay full! The fresh fruits and veggies are my favorite part since they are the only freshly prepared part of the program." — LCMELOW

"I have always tried to add veggies to my meals. I usually had fruit as a snack or added to a shake." — GINGERB13

"Yes but it was hard to do it on top of all the other required foods and shakes." — GIBSONTV

"Yes, of course! Although there were no restrictions on which vegetables, I was careful with the starchier vegetables. I ate a lot of veggies and fruit. The 'more is better' concept is great!" — MONICA2052

Were you able to "stay in the box"/stay on the diet plan over the first three weeks?

"I have stayed 'in the box' every day except Thanksgiving. Even then, I chose my foods carefully and stayed away from the really high-calorie foods, and gained only half a pound." — DGUAJAR

"No, it's really hard for me to stay 'in the box.' I am able to follow the 3-2-5 daily guidelines most days. That is three shakes, two entrees and five servings of fruits and vegetables." — LCMELOW

"Yes, I even stayed on it on Thanksgiving Day. The pumpkin pie recipe was the best!" — MONICA2052

"The first couple of days were hard but like all things you get used to it. I find all the foods to be very good—can't get enough of the shakes, they're great." — M68499

Do you think you could continue on the plan for more weeks to reach your goal weight?

"Yes, I think I will continue." — GINGERB13"

"Maybe. The biggest issue I have is that there are only five vegetarian options for the entrees. And I only order four of them because the fifth one I really don't like. I don't think I can eat only four entrees repeatedly for the next six months or so." — MONICA2052

I plan to give it the whole nine weeks. Because I committed myself to this plan, I was able to resist a lot of high-calorie or high-sugar food when I hosted a gathering. I have stayed away from most situations where I might be tempted, but I am proud that last night I stood in front of a bowl of M&Ms and had no compulsion to eat a handful as I would have in the past." — DGUAJAR

HMR Weight Management is an intensive lifestyle program for long-term weight management thatís been offered in hospitals and medical centers for 34 years. Once available exclusively through these medical setting, HMR program is also now available for at home use. With HMR's simple, proven plan, you donít have to rely on willpower. You can eat as much of the planís foods, plus fruits and vegetables as you need to stay full—and still lose weight! Every time you use an HMR shake instead of a higher-calorie meal or snack, you can save calories and get closer to your goal.

For a limited time, get free shipping on your first order of any HMR food. Use code SPARKFREE at checkout.

Disclosure: The reviewer received HMR foods at a discounted price.

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