Melissa Rudy

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into the online content field in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.


Read More of Melissa's Blogs:

9 Ways to Sit Safely & Comfortably at Your Work Desk

You may have heard the phrase "sitting is the new smoking." Sure, that might seem a little extreme—after all, the impacts of smoking are a lot more blatant and widely broadcasted—but experts agree that too much extended chair time can add up to some undesirable, and uncomfortable, effects.

Posted 6/21/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 10 comments   13,240 views

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Spark Spotlight: Patty (POHOUSE99)

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

Posted 6/18/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 15 comments   3,213 views

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25 Hot-off-the-Grill Recipes for Carefree Outdoor Cooking

While there's no reason grilling can't be a year-round activity, there's just something about summer—balmy air, extended daylight, backyard BBQs—that has us reaching for the tongs and charcoal (or propane, depending on your grilling style) more often than usual. Whether you’re making a meal for the family or entertaining a large group of guests, grilling is a fun and easy way to prepare flavorful, healthy fare in the great outdoors. As an added bonus, the crumbs stay outside and there's no kitchen clean up!
 
If you’re searching for something beyond the same old burgers and brats, consider grabbing  some of these ideas and get grilling!

Posted 6/14/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 30 comments   50,311 views

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Spark Spotlight: Brenda (POGIRL17)

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

Posted 6/11/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 30 comments   10,016 views

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12 Health Signs You Should Never Ignore

In our mile-a-minute, super-stressed world, it's all too easy to dismiss symptoms or allow them to be drowned out by the noise of life—especially if there's an underlying fear or anxiety of seeing a doctor. For those on weight-loss journeys, ailments are often chalked up to a side effect of being overweight or obese, when they actually could have more serious implications. In many cases, medical red flags go unheeded until they ultimately result in a more serious or even life-threatening emergency. If you notice any of these health signs, take action right away—your life could depend on it.

Posted 6/6/2018  1:00:00 PM By: Melissa Rudy : 115 comments   34,177 views

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Spark Spotlight: Amber (BABYSTEPS2015)

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

Posted 6/4/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 31 comments   8,459 views

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15 Effective Exercises for Trimming & Strengthening Your Thighs

When standing naked in front of a mirror, each of us has that area (or areas) where our gaze naturally rests, as we silently ponder how to reduce, tone, strengthen or otherwise improve it. For some, it’s the belly or the butt. For others, it might be a "muffin top" or the flabby "bat wings" under the arms.
 
And for many, the top trouble spot is the thighs.

Posted 6/4/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 36 comments   26,741 views

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Should You Exercise Without Underwear?

Have you ever pulled on a pair of compression leggings, only to find your underwear uncomfortably bunched or twisted? Or worried that your panty lines might be visible to the person behind you in yoga class? Maybe you're just tired of stopping to make not-so-subtle adjustments during your run or walk. Whether it's due to comfort, aesthetics or ventilation, the "unmentionable" question may have crossed your mind at some point. And it's about to get, well, mentioned: Do you really need to wear underwear while working out, or is it ever okay to go commando?

Posted 5/31/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 75 comments   18,147 views

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Spark Spotlight: Nora (TROPICALCHANGE)

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

This Week's Spotlight: Nora H. (TROPICALCHANGE)
Age: 52
Location: Daytona Beach, FL
 

Nora's Small Success of the Week

Hitting 10,000 steps for the first time!

What's your overall goal? 

My overall goal is to weigh 130 pounds, but to do it with exercise and healthier eating habits--not my old habit of Cheetos with a soda.
 
How is SparkPeople helping you get there? 

SparkPeople is helping me by providing encouragement every day, whether it's for my little victories or my setbacks. It also helps me by logging everything I eat and do every day. 

What's your biggest challenge right now? 

My biggest challenge is that I am diabetic and it seems to take me longer to lose weight. This can be discouraging sometimes, but SparkPeople is there to pick me up. 

What advice do you have for someone who just joined SparkPeople? 

My advice would be to set a reasonable goal at first. Make sure to log all your food and exercises. If you fall off the diet horse for the day, just pick yourself up, dust off and start fresh the next day. We all have moments of weakness. 

Want to be the next small success we spotlight? Share your successes on the goal feed or in the comments below, and you might be the next person we contact!

Posted 5/28/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 50 comments   8,599 views

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Is Your Morning Coffee Affecting Your Weight?

Every day, all around the world, millions of people start their days with a cup (or two, or three…) of joe. Whether you prefer yours with cream and sugar, flavored or straight-up black, your coffee is probably more than just a good-tasting source of hydration. It's a morning pick-me-up, a quick energy boost, a source of comfort and, sometimes, a social beverage. In winter, it might be a way to warm up, and on hot days, iced coffee can be a refreshing cool down. There are even SparkTeams devoted to coffee lovers.
 
But have you considered how the caffeine in your daily java habit might be affecting your weight? A single 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams of caffeine. That means four cups is roughly equivalent to the "safe" daily amount for healthy adults, which is 400 milligrams. Even if your cuppa is calorie-free, could the caffeine be wreaking havoc on your weight without you realizing it?

Posted 5/28/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 60 comments   17,449 views

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How Ditching Sugar and Sticking with SparkPeople Turned Karen's Life Around

Healing and recovery are tough for someone at a healthy weight, but for someone who is close to 300 pounds, it's even more difficult. Karen discovered this in the fall of 2010, when she was in an accident that left her in a wheelchair with two broken legs.
 
Her "a-ha" moment came in the doctor's office shortly after the accident, when her physician looked at Karen's chart, looked her in the eye and said, "You do know that you are obese, right? That means your recovery won't be easy."
 
She was determined to prove him wrong.

Posted 5/24/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 50 comments   14,137 views

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Spark Spotlight: Sue (SOUTHTXXRNNR)

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

This Week's Spotlight: Sue Robinson (SOUTHTXXRNNR)
Age: 51
Location: Corpus Christi
 

Sue's Small Success of the Week

Trying Zumba for the first time!

What's your overall goal? 

Having gone from 262 pounds to my current weight of 144, my overall goal is to tone and firm my body and build strength in order to make an easier transition to maintenance. 
 
How is SparkPeople helping you get there? 

SparkPeople helps me be aware of what I am eating, and the support and ideas I get from the community are invaluable on this journey. 

What's your biggest challenge right now? 

My biggest challenge right now is the same thing that has been my biggest challenge from the beginning: FOOD!

What advice do you have for someone who just joined SparkPeople? 

Reach out to the community that is available on SparkPeople. For me, tracking everything I eat is the most important key to success, but the support, advice and knowledge of others on the same journey is a very close second.

Want to be the next small success we spotlight? Share your successes on the goal feed or in the comments below, and you might be the next person we contact!

Posted 5/21/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 21 comments   7,324 views

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10 Chain Restaurants with Diet-Friendly Options

When you're trying to lose or maintain weight, it seems like "restaurant" becomes a four-letter word. When taken out of your kitchen (aka meal-prep headquarters)—with no measuring cup, food scale or nutrition chart in sight—it's as if you've been thrust into a food free-for-all, with no control over portion size, calorie count or fat content. But while you might not be able to actually prep your meals at a restaurant, you can do a little research beforehand to find smart menu options that won't undo all of your hard work.
 
Although these 10 restaurants certainly feature some unhealthy indulgences on their menus, they all offer at least a few sensible choices to keep you on track toward your goals.
 

Panera

Location: Throughout the United States

Toby Amidor, registered dietitian and author of “The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook,” recommends Panera to her clients as a good source of healthy food choices. Between soups, salads, sandwiches and broth bowls, the menu selections are wholesome and the calories are within reason. "I also recently lost about five pounds, and it’s so refreshing to be able to dine out and be able to select a meal that I know won’t sabotage my weight loss efforts," Amidor says.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Jason's Deli

Location: Throughout the United States (28 states)
 
Jason's Deli got our attention by being one of the first quick-casual restaurants to remove trans fats from their menu. Since then, they’ve continued to impress by also removing MSG, high-fructose corn syrup and all artificial colors and flavors. This ensures that there's plenty of room for the good stuff—like real, whole, clean foods. In addition to their standard deli menu, Jason's also offers a vegetarian menu and one for gluten-sensitive customers. It's easy to see why they've garnered so many awards.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

LYFE Kitchen

Locations: 13 U.S. locations (California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas)
 
Since launching in 2011, LYFE Kitchen has offered "craveable classics with a contemporary twist." All of the items on its American cuisine menu are prepared with sustainable ingredients with plenty of low-calorie options, making LYFE a perfect breakfast, brunch or lunch destination for diet-conscious diners.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Noodles & Company

Locations: 500 locations throughout the United States
 
Originally founded in Colorado in 1995, this fast-casual restaurant has expanded to more than 500 locations in 39 states throughout the United States. All of the meals in their core menu are made fresh from real ingredients, with no artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors or colors. In addition to their namesake noodles, they offer hearty soups and fresh salads, with an abundance of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. They also have a separate menu that contains only foods with 500 calories or less.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

First Watch

Locations: Throughout the United States
 
The first meal of the day is an important choice when you're trying to lose or maintain weight, and First Watch helps to ensure that breakfast or brunch gets you off on a healthy start. Headquartered in Florida, First the original daytime café now has hundreds of franchises around the country. Although some of their menu items creep into high-calorie territory, there are plenty of options that won't endanger your diet.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Subway

Locations: Throughout the United States
 
This quick and convenient deli chain has become synonymous with healthy eating. While not everything on their menu is perfectly healthy, it's true that there are plenty of low-fat, low-calorie options—as long as you don't add extra ingredients that aren't on the nutrition fact sheet. Keep in mind that their calorie counts don't include items like condiments, extra meat or extra cheese.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Chick-fil-A

Locations: Throughout the United States
 
As a general rule, fast food has no place in a nutritious, calorie-controlled eating plan—but there are a few exceptions that serve up healthy options in a hurry. While it's best to steer clear of their original (aka fried) chicken sandwich and waffle fries, there are plenty of diet-friendly choices on their menu.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Bob Evans

Locations: Throughout the United States

Although much of the items at this homestyle restaurant are a bit heavy on the calories and fat content, they do offer some lighter fare that will keep your goals in check. Plus, the "Savor Size" section features their standard favorites in more sensible portions.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Applebee's

Locations: Throughout the United States

You might assume that a trip to Applebee's means your diet is doomed, but the chain restaurant offers more than just heavy, fattening foods. The key is to avoid supersized portions and to steer clear of anything described as battered, breaded or fried.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices

Outback Steakhouse

Locations: Throughout the United States

Who says you can't enjoy dinner at a steakhouse without sending your calorie intake skyrocketing? While the Bloomin' Onion and Aussie Cheese Fries should be avoided at all costs, this popular Australian chain also offers some healthier options that won't send your goals down under. They even have a menu dedicated to dishes under 600 calories.
 
Diet-Friendly Choices
What are your favorite "safe restaurants" where you know you can find plenty of healthy options? Share your smart selections in the comments!

Posted 5/16/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 118 comments   611,961 views

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Spark Spotlight: Melissa "Milly" (MILLYMAE1)

At SparkPeople, we love helping people accomplish big goals—but we believe it's equally important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Each week in the Spark Spotlight, we'll check in with a featured member about his or her proudest moments, biggest challenges and advice for others on living, thinking and feeling healthier. We hope these quick snapshots will help motivate you to keep moving steadily toward your own goals, week by week.

This Week's Spotlight: Melissa "Milly" Jones (MILLYMAE1)
Age: 45
Location: Webb City, Missouri
 

Milly's Small Success of the Week

Losing 15 pounds!

What's your overall goal? 

My overall goal is to reach a weight of 175 pounds. While still technically overweight at 175 pounds, I think I wold be able to maintain this weight easier than 155. At my heaviest, I weighed 243 pounds. I am currently at 213. 
 
How is SparkPeople helping you get there? 

SparkPeople is helping by making me accountable for my food choices, my exercise and even my attitude. I use the Nutrition Tracker every day and see when I make bad choices, and see how they affect my health and attitude later on. I track my exercise as a way to motivate myself to move.

What's your biggest challenge right now? 

My biggest challenge is my health. I have fibromyalgia, GERD, high cholesterol and several other health issues that seem to conspire together to keep me from exercising. My doctors tell me to keep active, and I have been doing better since my GERD diagnosis in 2017. I will be having surgery soon that will help my GERD, but I have been told that I still need to lose the weight or I run the risk of more health problems. 

What advice do you have for someone who just joined SparkPeople? 

Track your food and exercise. Know what portions are. These two are important, because you never realize how much you're really eating until you see it on the screen. And to see that your portions are larger than you believe is an eye opener. I would also advise them to ask for help. Get a buddy. You shouldn't try to lose weight by yourself. You need friends, family and Sparkbuddies! 

Want to be the next small success we spotlight? Share your successes on the goal feed or in the comments below, and you might be the next person we contact!

Posted 5/14/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 28 comments   9,186 views

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50 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance

With our email inboxes living in our pockets, colleagues and clients clamoring for instant answers and competitive workplaces judging employees based on the length of their workdays or the size of their project lists, the archetypal 9-to-5 workday has become all but a distant memory. For working parents, the struggle to juggle family obligations and professional duties can often seem futile. In the never-ending quest to impress the boss and pad the paycheck, personal passions and hobbies tend to get shoved to the back burner. Lopsided priorities—say, logging 12-hour workdays while sacrificing exercise, recreation and relationships—can even lead to weight gain, poor health and depression.
 
Is it really possible to achieve that elusive "work-life balance?" Although life isn't a pie that can be neatly bisected into perfectly equal segments, there are some steps you can take to make sure you're not filling up on too much of a work slice and that you're leaving enough room for other, more important pieces of the pie.

Posted 5/11/2018  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 38 comments   16,414 views

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