Healthy Living Getting Fit

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    You have big plans to go to the gym after work today. You arranged someone to be there to take care of the kids, you packed your gym bag, you piously said no to after-work drinks with your colleagues. Then 6 p.m. rolls around, and, well ... maybe the kids need help with their homework tonight after all. Or your boss is going out for drinks, maybe you should go along too. Or you’re exhausted after a long day, and didn’t you read somewhere that you’re more likely to get injured exercising when you’re tired?

    Chances are, you already know when you’re making excuses because you just don’t feel like working out. But are there actually times when it IS a good idea to skip the gym? Yes, there are -- and here’s the personal trainer take on what’s a valid excuse and what’s NOT.

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    I still remember the year I started putting on weight. I was in the fifth grade, and at the time, all the skinny girls wore Jordache jeans and Sergio Valentes, and I secretly hated them for it. Every time I attempted to squeeze into those jeans, I would struggle to zip them up and had to lie flat on my bed so I could button them. I then spent the day walking like I had a stick up my butt and I could hardly breathe. It was pure torture.  

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    Here's an idea so crazy it just might work: losing weight on your vacation. Usually vacation means you're suspending all the rules, eating what you want, and relaxing. Or maybe that's just me? I just got back from eating pretty much all of Paris -- and it was delicious! But I did a few things to offset the damage ... maybe. Anyway, let's be a little more ambitious than "not gaining weight" -- let's talk about actually using your vacation to drop a couple pounds. Think it's too lofty a goal? Here are a few surprising ways to lose weight on vacation that are worth trying.

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    Jessica Simpson has always had amazing legs, no matter what weight she’s been. She's also never afraid to show them off in everything from shorts to mini skirts. We've seen a lot of leg and we've ALWAYS wanted more.

    While genetics obviously plays a (large) part in her lean, shapely legs, she's also obviously spent a lot of time in the gym as well. Recently this mom of two has kicked (ha!) it up a notch with her diet and exercise. It’s definitely paid off. I wonder if we'll be seeing her in a short wedding dress for her upcoming ceremony with fiance Eric Johnson?

    If you want to know how Jessica sculpted her legs to look this good Check out these six fantastic moves that can help you sculpt your way lean, too. Maybe you'll be rocking your own Daisy Dukes soon enough.

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    How many times have you admired a celebrity who looks perfect three months after baby and been bitter? Maybe if I had a personal trainer, personal chef, and private gym, I could look like that, too! 

    Most of us don't have the money to spend on those luxuries. But that doesn't make it impossible.

    The fact is, Working out doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Check out these money-saving tips that will help you get fit like a star without breaking your "real person" bank.

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    You know that thing where you start working out a lot and you're all, "can't wait to see how skinny I get!" and instead you lose nothing at all? Or worse, even gain weight? Yeah, I hate that, too. Well, the usual explanation is that your new exercise routine has made you monstrously hungry and you're eating more than you were before. Dah, stupid exercise! Making us want to eat food. But wait -- don't blame all exercise. It turns out there's a specific kind of exercise that makes you snack more. And that exercise is ... the exercise you hate the most!

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    We've all experienced the feeling you get after a tough workout, when you can feel your muscles begin to tighten up, and you know that tomorrow -- or even worse, the day after -- you are going to be in a world of hurt. If you have time, what's the first thing you can think of to try to offset the pain? Stretching, right? Well, as it turns out, research shows that static stretching is not the best way to alleviate future soreness. Static stretching, for those who aren't familiar, is the kind where you hold a stretch position for 20 or 30 seconds. Active stretches, on the other hand, work to stretch out your muscles, while you're getting your blood flowing, which is the best way for your body to begin the repair process.

    So guess we'd better get started, right? In that spirit, check out these 8 active stretches that will make you feel fantastic after working out.


    Image via Giacomo Carena/Flickr

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    You know what I don't love? Bat wings. You know, that flabby hammock of skin that can hang down from your arm? You go to wave at someone and feel a breeze by your ear -- and it's your bat wings, flapping away. Darn you, bat wings! That is so not cool. And the worst of it is that they can show up on you regardless of your weight.

    To a certain degree, bat wings are just part of life. Over time you lose the elasticity in your skin and gravity takes over. However! A little toning in your triceps and deltoids can help minimize that unhappy overhang. So if you're looking to get your arms more tank-top-ready, here are 6 simple arm workouts that should get you into shape. "But I don't have any hand weights, and I don't have time to buy any, and I don't have time to go to the gym." You don't need any special equipment for these exercises, and you can do them just about anywhere!

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    I think my first son was around 18 months old when I realized I was still wearing maternity pants around the house on a regular basis. You know, just because they were soooo comfy. The scale confirmed it: the reason I was still clinging to my elastic waistbands was because I'd replaced the baby weight with the kind of extra poundage you get when you have a nightly double date with Ben & Jerry.

    I eventually embarked on a workout routine, changed my eating habits, and lost the pudge, but I've had to kick myself out of a weight-gaining cycle plenty of times since. Now that my kids are 8 and 6, they aren't nearly as much work as they used to be -- but man, parenthood sure seems to have its diet-sabotaging downsides. For example, here are the top 7 'mom excuses' I've been battling since I gave birth:

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    ONLY. You use this word every day, and it's innocuous -- until you use it to downplay your achievements. Saying "only" doesn't just take away from your hard work, you could be trivializing someone else's accomplishments. Here are some places the word only doesn't belong:

    I went running, but I only ran a mile.

    I do exercise, but only once a week.  

    I only have time for 20-minute workouts.

    So why does it matter how you talk about your workout -- whether you're talking to yourself or others?

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