From dieting

This New 4,000 Mile Trail Will Let People Bike From Coast to Coast on One Seamless Path

Grab your helmet and set out for the great outdoors.

But instead of opting for a classic summer road trip, you’ll soon be able to try out something a little more challenging — like biking across the mainland United States.

And soon it’s going to be easier than ever. According to Lonely Planet, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has announced a cross-country, multi-use trail that will run across 12 states and Washington D.C., known as The Great American Rail Trail.

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Other countries have created similar pathways for bikers and hikers alike, such as The Grand Sentier de la Côte Bleue in Southern France and The Route of the Parks of Patagonia in Chile.

According to My Modern Met, the nearly 4,000-mile trail will begin in Washington, D.C., and end in Washington State, attaching to several gateway trails such as Capital Crescent Trail, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the Panhandle Trail, the Hennepin Canal Parkway, the Casper Rail Trail, and Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail.

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While the idea for this trail began 30 years ago, the RTC has spent the last 18 months researching 34,000 miles worth of pathways across the U.S., as well as collaborating with state agencies and local trail partners to create a comprehensive plan, Lonely Planet reported.

The project itself will take years to complete according to Keith Laughlin, RTC president, in a statement on the RTC website. At the moment, only 50 percent of the work is finished. However, the RTC plans to release full route information by Spring 2019.

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“The Great American Rail-Trail is a bold vision…The investment of time and resources necessary to complete this trail will be returned many times over as it takes its place among the country’s national treasures,” Laughlin said. “As we embark on the journey to complete the Great American Rail-Trail, we embark on the single greatest trail project in the history of the U.S.”

Once complete, the trail will be a completely “seamless” path for off-road bikers and hikers, Lonely Planet reported. It should “serve more than 50 million people within 50 miles of the route,” said the RTC. It’ll certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the U.S.

“The Great American Rail-Trail is a legacy. A national treasure. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create—together—an enduring gift to the nation that will bring joy for generations to come,” Laughlin added in his statement.

More information about the trail can be found on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

In the meantime, there are still plenty of national trail systems that people in the U.S. love to trek, including The Great Redwood Trail, created from a converted Northwestern Pacific Railroad, that is predicted to open in either the spring or summer of 2019, according to the Press Democrat.

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These ’10-Year Challenge’ Fitness Transformations Prove Everyone Starts Somewhere

If you love a transformation, then you hit the motherlode over the past few days. Thanks to the viral “10-year challenge” (sometimes referred to as the “How hard did aging hit you?” challenge-harsh), everyone’s posting a 2019 photo alongside one from 10 years ago to their social media. Some are funny (Amy Schumer), some are inspirational (Sophia Amoruso), and some suggest it’s possible to just opt out of aging. (Reese Witherspoon, just how?)

We’re partial to health and fitness transformations, and the challenge has sparked many, accompanied by reflections that go far deeper than weight loss or muscle tone. Here are some dramatic before-and-afters that you need to see.

RELATED: 9 Body Positive 10-Year Challenge Posts That Will Leave You Feeling Inspired

Transformations aren’t just about weight loss.

Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness looks way different from her 2009 self, but the changes go beyond the physical, she explained. “What a difference 10 years can make,” she wrote in her caption. “Needless to say a lot has changed, but the most important change for me… my confidence. And that’s about a lot more than just the weight loss. It’s growth. It’s learning to love yourself inside and out from the start, not when you reach a goal.”

RELATED: Here’s How Instagram Fitness Star Katie Dunlop Finally Quit Yo-Yo Dieting—and Totally Transformed Her Body

It’s never too late to start.

In her transformation photo, trainer Natalie Jill pointed out that she’s “not just another ‘fitness girl'” in that she didn’t take up fitness until the age of 39, which is considered late according to society’s standards. In her earlier photo, she was “a divorced single mom, broke, overweight,” who had come on some hard times, but in the second she’s smiling from the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers

RELATED: Natalie Jill’s 7-Minute Bodyweight Workout for Core, Glutes, & Arms

Fitness journeys aren’t linear.

Trainer Brittne Babe posted two photos 10 years apart, noting that working toward a fitness goal is a learning experience. “My journey is continuous and went from weight loss, to weight gain, to less muscle, to now more muscle mass,” she explained. “I began genetically thin and throughout my teenage years, my diet was horrible, which led to unhealthy habits and poor dieting. Once I identified who I no longer wanted to be, my health and fitness journey began.” Now, she’s starting to understand her body more, but still has ups and downs, she explained.

It takes work.

As easy as it might look on Instagram, trainers aren’t born super-fit humans. “When people see me now, they have the misconception that I’ve always been this fit; assuming that I am gifted with some miraculous genetic predisposition,” trainer Adrianne Nina wrote in a post. “The image on the left is a young version of myself that was not health conscious and wasn’t aware of any reasoning to be. At that time, I had no vision of becoming who I am today. It was 7 years ago when I decided to make my health and fitness a priority. The contrast between the two is evidence of my ongoing efforts to be the best version of myself.”

You might look back and laugh.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, a complete badass who’s won the CrossFit games, pointed out that she started doing CrossFit with room for improvement. She poked fun at herself with hashtags like #rockingrunningshoestolift and #usedmostlymyfacemuscletolift. “It’s okay to look ugly, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to get frustrated and it’s okay to feel lonely…” she wrote, “it’s just not okay to give up!! And also never take yourself too seriously that you can’t look back and have a good laugh at your younger overachiever and oh so serious and intense self.”

RELATED: CrossFit’s Camille Leblanc-Bazinet: ‘I’m Glad I Don’t Have a Thigh Gap’ 

Love yourself at every step.

Anna Victoria of Fit Body shared her 10-year journey before the challenge was even a thing, so she came back with an 11-year transformation. Victoria explained that she adopted a more balanced lifestyle over the years, going from eating only fast food to the 80/20 eating style, avoiding the gym to working out, and from partying to enjoying wine occasionally. She also pointed out that shooting for fitness goals and being body positive aren’t mutually exclusive. “No matter how much I did or didn’t weigh, I never let it faze me and question my worth,” she wrote.

RELATED: There’s Only a 5-Pound Difference In These Two Photos of Fitness Influencer Anna Victoria From 11 Years Apart

Fitness can transform your mental health.

Massy Arias (@mankofit) credits exercise for helping her overcome a period when she was so depressed she would lock herself indoors. (And later helping her through postpartum depression.) She touched on that journey in a 10-year challenge photo. “I started working out and eating healthy as a way to cope with depression, lack of self-confidence and purpose in life,” she wrote. “It became my passion and my medicine. Today my passion has become my career.”

RELATED: Massy Arias Says Postpartum Depression Led Her to Lose All Connection With Her Body

You might feel completely changed.

Fitness model and bodybuilder Michelle Lewin posted an old bikini photo alongside one with “more boobies, more waist, and so much more wisdom.” Lewin has become one of the biggest fitness influencers in the world, but she says she lost a beauty competition 10 years ago because she “was the fullest girl,” she wrote.

RELATED: Fitness Model Michelle Lewin Attacked and Bitten by Wild Pigs in Bahamas

Don’t assume you’re not the “type” who exercises.

Within the last 10 years, Melissa Alcantara realized that assuming you’re not the “type” to try a certain workout will just keep holding you back. “23-year-old me learned a lesson or two (hundred) in these last 10 years,” she wrote. “The most important lesson of all was to never say ‘I’m not the type of person who’ what a crock lol.” Alcantara is the ultimate reminder that everyone starts somewhere. She got into weight training by learning from YouTube videos and now trains Kim Kardashian.

RELATED: Kim Kardashian’s Trainer Shares 6 Moves That Will Transform Your Legs and Butt

Self-image transformations can be just as dramatic.

10 years ago Julianne Hough was super fit-she was a pro on Dancing with the Stars after all-but her mentality has transformed. In the older photo, she sported “bleach blonde hair, fake tan, all the makeup, sequins galore.” Now, she’s less attached to trying to fit a mold. (She realized that no matter what you look like, you’ll never impress everyone…and do you really even want to?) “The past 10 years have been all about removing the idea of who I thought I was supposed to be, and uncovering the essence of who I am,” she wrote in her caption. “I’ve learned how to just be me. My natural, raw, unapologetic self.”

RELATED: Julianne Hough Talks Married Life, the Morning Routine That Gives Her Energy, and Her Struggle With Endometriosis

A small goal can spiral into something huge.

Cassey Ho may have a huge following devoted to her Pilates workouts, but that wasn’t always the case. Pop Pilates (the official pilates class of 24 Hour Fitness gyms developed by Ho) posted an Instagram with photos of Ho, one working out in her parents’ basement “doing #POPPilates before anyone even knew what it was,” and another of her leading 4,000 people through a workout. Ho previously revealed that her path to fitness wasn’t completely smooth. She didn’t speak with her father for a few years since he disapproved of her career choice.

RELATED: Cassey Ho Created a Timeline of “Ideal Body Types” to Illustrate the Ridiculousness of Beauty Standards

The struggle is worth it.

A decade ago Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese was just getting started in the fitness space-working with Mighty Mommies, according to her 10-year challenge post-but a lot has happened between now and then. “There was a move to another state (I lasted 5 weeks & moved back to LA with dom when he was 6 months old), there was a divorce, there were a lot of chances that didn’t work out in my career, friends made, friends lost, moving to different apartments, living paycheck to paycheck, long nights and longer days,” she wrote. “There was work and sacrifice. Was it worth it? Absa-frigen-lutely.”

RELATED: This Diet and Workout Plan Is Supposed to Help You Hit Your Goal Weight in 80 Days—but Is It Safe?

You’re already enough.

Over the span of 10 years, Heidi Kristoffer has gained weight and perspective. The creator of CrossFlowX posted photos of herself in handstands with a reflection on how she’s changed. In the earlier photos, she had a strong mind and was crushing it career-wise, but was constantly told she wasn’t enough, she wrote. Now, things are different, she writes on Instagram: “The woman in the other photos weighs more than she ever thought she would be okay with, and even so is willingly on camera in spandex daily. But, she is equal parts soft and strong, gets to share what she loves and be unapologetically herself every day, is the mama to three incredible tiny humans 3 and under, and understands that she is ENOUGH.” (P.S. You must watch this incredible timelapse video of Kristoffer doing yoga throughout her pregnancy.)

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This article originally appeared on Shape.com

This Gym Is Under Fire for Sending Its Members a Horrifying Body-Shaming Email

Twitter is currently roasting Anytime Fitness for a promotional email the gym sent to its members, Yahoo Lifestyle reports.

The email, which was sent from the gym’s Manchester, Connecticut location, encouraged members to “be comfortable in your skin.” The message, however, had the opposite effect on recipients—namely, former gym member Mora Reinka.

Reinka, who hasn’t gone to Anytime Fitness in two years, shared a photo of the email to her Twitter, saying how “horrified” she felt by its message. “I just don’t even know where to begin,” she wrote. And quite frankly, it’s easy to see why.

RELATED: This Man’s Breakup Letter to Planet Fitness Is Our New Favorite Way to Cancel a Membership

The email starts innocently enough, painting a picture of the “warm days ahead.”

“Shorts, bathing suits, flip flops. The smell of suntan lotion. And LOTS of pictures of you that will be posted online forever,” begins the message. Then it takes an unexpectedly dark turn. “[That means] LOTS of sucking in, side turns, skinny arm posts and god forbid, a side pic while sitting down.”

It doesn’t end there. The email then urges members to “take your hand, and grab the excess you have on your waist (front/back/sides.)”

RELATED: What Exactly Is the Mirror Workout—and Can It Help You Lose Weight?

“Can you pinch it? Or can you grab it?” the email continues. “Well, I want to call it what it is…FAT.” (Find out why America hates fat women.)

Reinka’s photo of the email quickly went viral. Now, people across the board are sharing how this kind of messaging is both disappointing and dangerous.

“Oh. My. It’s like an eating disorder sent out an email,” wrote one Twitter user.

A UK-based mental health awareness platform, Mental Health TV, tweeted: “This is very disappointing to see. Gyms need to have better awareness of eating disorders and other mental health issues relating to body image. This is not appropriate to send to anybody.”

RELATED:  Meghan Markle Has the Most Zen Fitness Routine

Another user shared her own “horrible” experience at an Anytime Fitness gym: “I quit their gym a few months ago and one time I was in the gym for 30 mins and when I left one of the fitness instructors said to me, ‘Where are you going? You’ve only been here for 20 minutes,'” she wrote.

Following the backlash, Anytime Fitness’ national media director, Mark Daly came forward with an official apology.

“That is not the sort of message that Anytime Fitness supports or encourages,” he said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. “In fact, it is the exact opposite of how we coach Anytime Fitness franchisees to communicate with potential members. We pride ourselves on being supportive and encouraging—never shaming.”

Daly added that he has since spoken with the franchise owner of the Connecticut gym to express his disappointment. “He apologized…and promised not to send similar messages to anyone,” said Daly. “We will be re-training the owner of the gym to be supportive and encouraging in his messaging and his actions.”

RELATED: This 30-Day Arms Challenge Will Transform Your Upper Body In Just 4 Weeks

The man who sent the message, Shawn Pyron, apparently thought the message was funny. However, he told Yahoo Lifestyle that he now realizes body shaming is not a joke.

“I’m very sorry about the promotional message that I sent to Ms. Reinka and other former members of our gym,” he wrote in a statement. “It was poor attempt at using humor as a motivation for people to lead healthy lifestyles. I realize now that the message was not funny and that it offended many people. I’m truly sorry. I’ve learned from all of this and I will not repeat the mistake.”

We’ve said it before, and unfortunately, we’ll have to say it again: Body shaming is not the way to get people to achieve their weight loss goals. In fact, telling someone to focus on their “flaws” and inadequacies often has the opposite effect on their overall health.

Thankfully, body-positivity and self-love movements have gained incredible traction in recent years. But incidents like this prove there is still a lot of work to be done.

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This article originally appeared on Shape.com

Heat Stroke Vs. Heat Exhaustion—A Doctor Explains the Difference

Your body is like a thermostat: It’s constantly working to regulate your temperature, making sure you don’t get too hot or too cold. It usually does a pretty good job of staying as close to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit as possible (obviously way higher than the thermostat in your home), but on particularly hot and humid days, it’s possible that it could malfunction. 

When that number outside rises, your body has to work extra hard to maintain a healthy internal temperature, which can make it go a bit haywire, potentially resulting in heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat-related illnesses usually strike people who are doing physical activity outdoors, the elderly, and those on medications that increase their sensitivity to high temperatures. But you don’t have to be in a high risk category to suffer from these major summer health hazards. 

We asked a doctor to explain the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and how you can recognize the warning signs of each. 

RELATED: 13 Heat Exhaustion Symptoms to Look Out for This Summer

What is heat exhaustion? 

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body’s core temperature is less than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, but blood pressure is low and the heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently as usual, Peter Shearer, MD, emergency physician and chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, tells Health. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold skin, fast but weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, weakness, and fainting. “Your body is having a normal response to an abnormal situation,” Dr. Shearer says. 

If you think you might have heat exhaustion, move to a cool place, take off as many pieces of clothing as you can, put cool wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath, and sip water. “Many people with heat exhaustion don’t need to go to the hospital,” Dr. Shearer says. However, if you’re throwing up, your symptoms are getting worse, or your symptoms last more than an hour, get medical help. 

Heat exhaustion doesn’t necessarily lead to heat stroke, but if you don’t address your symptoms, it certainly could. 

RELATED: What Causes Dehydration? Here’s What You Need to Know

What is heat stroke? 

Heat stroke is a more severe form of heat illness. In fact, it’s a medical emergency. It occurs when your body temperature rises to a point (usually above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) where the central nervous system malfunctions and the body loses the ability to thermoregulate. In this case, “your body responds abnormally to an abnormal situation,” Dr. Shearer says. 

Symptoms to be aware of include hot and dry skin, fast and strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and loss of consciousness. 

Anyone experiencing heat stroke should get to a hospital right away. If not treated promptly, the extreme body temperature can cause cell death, resulting in permanent organ damage. 

Dr. Shearer says the body temperature needs to be lowered as quickly as possible, so until the person gets to the hospital, they should move to a cool place, remove clothing, sit by a fan, and apply cool cloths. Doctors may treat heat stroke by immersing the patient in cold water, using cooling blankets and ice packs, and administering IV fluids to rehydrate the body.

RELATED: 12 Reasons Why Dehydration Is Bad for Your Body

How can I prevent heat illness?

First things first, be sure to drink a lot of water when doing physical activity in the heat. If you notice your urine is a dark yellow or your muscles start to cramp, you need to be drinking more fluids, Dr. Shearer says. 

You should also wear loose and lightweight clothing, apply sunscreen generously (sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself), be aware of any medications you’re taking that increase your sensitivity to high temperatures, try to exercise in the morning or evening to avoid peak heat, and refrain from doing physical activity on the hottest days of summer. 

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