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Amanda's Secret to Losing Over 100 Pounds Wasn't a Diet

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/130-Pound-Weight-Loss-Story-37209787

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Our next Before & After story comes from Amanda Fraijo-Tobin, who blogs about life after losing 130 pounds on her blog Friday Love Song, which is part of our POPSUGAR Select Fitness network. Below, she shares how she lost the weight and how she keeps it off.

Amanda: Before

Growing up, I wasn’t severely overweight — sure, I had a pudgy stage, but a lot of people did! My weight wasn’t something I thought much about being a kid (as it shouldn’t be). My parents had good intentions, like most, but we certainly did not grow up eating very healthy. Snacks, soda, meals prepared without nutritional aspects considered. Soda became a very bad habit for me, especially as I got into my teens and didn’t have anyone stopping me from drinking so many.

Fast-forward to high school — like most high school girls, I thought I was fat. Even though, in retrospect, I clearly wasn’t. I didn’t let it consume my life, though I was a little on the chubby side (so I thought) and I was OK with that. Looking back, I think senior year is when the trouble began for me. Stress, changes in my life, poor eating, and not exercising (hello, gym-class-not-required-after-ninth-grade!) led me to pack on some weight. Again, I already felt like a “fat girl,” so I kept going with the mind-set of “This is me — this is who I am.” I was married young, had my first child at 20, and of course, packed on more weight. Divorced, remarried, and two more babies later — more weight.

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My weight wasn’t something I paid attention to. I never weighed myself. The only time anyone took my weight was maybe once or twice a year when I had a doctor’s visit — and even then, I didn’t think much about it. This is me — this is who I am . . .

Amanda: Before

My husband is a type 2 diabetic. He had already been on tons of medications for several years to control his blood sugar and other problems associated with the disease. He got to the point of having to add insulin injections to his enormous list of meds. His doctor kept urging him to consider weight-loss surgery, telling him that, if he lost some weight, there was a possibility he may be able to stop taking some of his medications. This seemed like a great solution to my husband — I, on the other hand, disagreed. I told him repeatedly, this wasn’t the solution. If you don’t break bad habits that got you to a certain point, you could not possibly make a real change.

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Insert light bulb moment. Pot calling kettle black. Even though it wasn’t something I monitored, I was surely at the heaviest point of my life. I was waking up to get my son to school and collapsing on the couch for a nap once he was off. I was having random pains in my foot. I felt gross. I knew I needed to start making changes. I needed to make changes for myself, but also for my husband, for my kids. I needed to be a better example. This wasn’t about vanity. This was about life, making a better life for myself and my family.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I had packed on the weight over the course of 10 years. I knew it was going to take some time to take it back off. I knew there would be times I would feel like quitting. But from the start, I adopted a “Today I will do what I can” kind of attitude. This went for exercise as well as eating habits. I knew all my bad eating habits were not going to disappear overnight. Slowly but surely, I made mental lists of things I was doing that were awful for my body and thought of ways to change them. Drink more water, read labels of items I was eating, etc. I had been having such severe pains in my heel that some days I could not even walk on it. Some days, I may not get through an entire workout like I wanted to — that’s OK. Today I will do what I can.

Amanda: After

I chose not to be vocal about my weight-loss journey from the start. I didn’t mention it to friends. My husband and my father were about the only people who knew what I was trying to accomplish. There were many days of whining on my part to my husband about aches and pains from making my body do things it wasn’t used to doing. I admit I have no idea for sure what my starting weight was. I have a general idea based on the last time I had been weighed at the doctors — but my journey began about six months, and what I’m guessing, may even be more pounds later. I did not start out with a goal weight in mind. I didn’t want one. I wanted to be healthier. Period. Healthy is not pounds on a scale. This is not a short fix; this is a change I will continue to make for the rest of my life.

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How Did I Do It?

This is common sense, things we have heard a million times again and again. Change the way you eat. Exercise. Repeat. It’s amazing to me when people want to know my “secret.” I have no secret. And I find it even funnier when people feel let down by my answer. There is no magic pill. I have not dieted. I have not counted calories. I knew from the start that was not the way I wanted to live my life. This is a lifestyle change. Know that it’s going to be challenging, but have faith that you can make the changes you want to.

Amanda: After

About two years later now and around 125 to 135 pounds down, here I am. Still chugging along. Still making it part of my life to make better decisions for my own as well as my family’s health. Honestly, I still feel a little silly writing this. I have had people tell me that they think I am an inspiration, which blows my mind. But I am here to tell you: if I can do this, you can do this. All it takes is a true commitment. Am I a superfit person? No, of course not. But every day, I strive to be a little better. I am a real person who did this. I am a mom to three children with a full-time job, a husband, two dogs, and a million other things going on. It takes work. It takes time. But you can do this. Start today, one small change at a time. This is me — this is who I am. Today I will do what I can. Will you?

Do you have an inspiring Before & After story to share? Message us on Facebook, and give us a few details about your journey. We might even profile you on the site, like Amanda!

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11 Celebs on Why Photoshopping Seriously Needs to Stop

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Vocal powerhouse Meghan Trainor is known for her hit songs about self-love and female empowerment, so when she realized last week that producers had digitally whittled her waist in her new music video “Me Too,” she pulled it from the Internet immediately. The next day, Trainor’s video was re-released, un-retouched. “The real #metoo video is finally up! Missed that bass,” she wrote in a caption of an Instagram post that showed side-by-side pics of her photoshopped body and her natural curves.

Trainor isn’t the only star outraged by the incessant photoshopping that makes it that much tougher for women to feel joyful and proud in their own skin. Here, 10 more celebrities vent how they really feel about digital nips and tucks.

RELATED: Chrissy Teigen Shares Her Honest Makeup-Free Selfie

On the importance of being honest

If any magazines want to guarantee they’ll let my stomach roll show and my reddened cheek make an appearance, I am your girl Friday. Anything that will let me be honest with you. But moreover, I want to be honest with me. This body is the only one I have. I love it for what it’s given me. I hate it for what it’s denied me. And now, without further ado, I want to be able to pick my own thigh out of a lineup.”
—Lena Dunham, Lenny Letter, March 2016

On being “enough” just the way you are

“I was very taken aback and very uncomfortable about looking at an image that I did not recognize as myself…. That is not OK with me because that echoes that little girl who thought, ‘I wasn’t enough.’ I know that I’m enough. So don’t make me feel like I’m not enough by changing me to fit some idea of what you think I’m supposed to look like. What I look like is OK.”
—Kerry Washington on her Adweek cover, Oprah Women’s Network Super Soul Sessions, April 2016

On models photoshopping themselves

“It’s gotten to the point where they’re not smoothing their skin anymore, they’re actually changing the shape of their body. Nobody can compare to that when you’re fixing yourself so much. It’s so unfair…. It started with Botox and everything, of course, but now it’s just grown into this photoshop phenomenon—and I’ve seen these women in person—they are not like that. Please know that. I’ve shot in barely anything with them, and it’s just amazing what people do to tweak themselves.”
—Chrissy Teigen, The Meredith Vieira Show, April 2015

On creating unrealistic ideals

“Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19 year old hips and torso quite manipulated. These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have. Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love. So I took it upon myself to release the real pic (right side) and I love it.”
—Zendaya, Instagram, October 2015

RELATED: The Powerful Message Behind This Fitness Blogger’s Photoshopped Selfie

On baring it all

“For someone who’s had body image issues since they were a child, I went from hating every inch of my body to showing every inch of my body to the entire world and without touching up anything… A lot of times I get frustrated because people will, without my consent, Photoshop my body and it doesn’t look like my own body. Like, no no no, my thighs are bigger than that, can you put them back to the way they were? I’ve literally done that before where I’m like, ‘No, put my legs back on me. Those aren’t my legs.’”
—Demi Lovato on her nude and unretouched photo shoot for Vanity FairE! News, October 2015

On accepting your “flaws”

—Lorde, Twitter, March 2014

On the impact of media

“The media plays such a big role in how women measure themselves against other women, so I can be in a position where I can say beauty comes from within, we’re not all perfect, and the covers of magazines are of course retouched. We do not look like that… I have wrinkles here, which are very evident, and I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, ‘You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please can you change it back?’ I’d rather be the woman they’re saying ‘She’s looking older’ about than ‘She’s looking stoned.'”
—Kate Winslet, Harper’s Bazaar, July 2009

On body pride

—Amy Schumer, Twitter, April 2015

RELATEDThe Most Powerful Body-Positive Celeb Selfies We’ve Ever Seen

On being unique

“I love that feeling of, you know, we are women, we are so different, our imperfections are what make us unique and beautiful.”
—Gisele Bundchen on her makeup-free campaign for BLK DNM, Fashionista, May 2013

On how extreme editing can get

Saw this floating around…hope it’s not the poster. Our faces in this were from 4 years ago…and we all look ridiculous. Way too much photo shop. We all have flaws. No one looks like this. It’s not attractive.”
—Ashley Benson, Instagram, December 2013

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7 Things to Know Before You Donate Blood

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The summer’s no vacation for blood banks, and this one has been especially hard: Just after the fourth of July, the American Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations. This time of year, “blood donors are typically out of town and unable to give," explains Justin Kreuter, MD, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center in Rochester, Minnesota; or they may not be eligible to donate after traveling to certain areas outside the United States. “It really hits us in the summer months,” Dr. Kreuter says. Your community needs your help now; here’s what you should know about pitching in.

Eligibility is always changing, and Zika’s a concern this year

The Red Cross maintains an alphabetical list of eligibility criteria for potential donors—from acupuncture (thumbs up) to Zika (thumbs down)—and can give you the latest information on whether or not you’re good to give. There have been no reported cases of Zika transmission via blood transfusion so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but there’s a strong possibility that the virus can be transmitted that way. “What we’re doing now, per the FDA, is deferring [donors who may have been exposed to Zika] for 28 days, which is twice the known period of infectivity,” Dr. Kreuter says. Because Zika can be transmitted by sexual contact (via semen) as well, women with male partners who have visited Zika-affected areas are deferred for three additional months.

RELATED: 4 Unexpected Benefits of Donating Blood

The FDA regulates donor blood just as aggressively as it regulates drugs

“It takes a lot of money to do the infectious-disease testing that we do [on donor blood], and when we create blood products out of the donation, that’s done to the same standards as any drug manufactured in this country. The FDA holds us to those same standards, so it’s a very high level of quality and also resources that are invested,” Dr. Kreuter explains. “These tests and high standards are what’s keeping the blood supply safe, so that if my wife or one of my daughters needs a blood transfusion, I can feel assured that I can just sit at their bedside and hold their hand rather than worry about what that might result [in] for them later down the road.”  

You’ll get a mini-physical before you donate

The flip side of donor blood screening (which ensures that it’s safe for the eventual recipient) is confirming the donor’s health (which ensures that the blood draw won’t have a negative effect on them). “We check blood pressure and pulse, we do a pinprick to check red blood cells to make sure they’re safe—we don’t want to make our donors iron deficient,” Dr. Kreuter says. He makes no specific suggestions about what you eat and drink prior to donation; just be sure you have breakfast and lunch under your belt, and take it easy on caffeine. “We all live on our daily espressos and whatnot, but we see donors who show up and haven’t eaten [meals] and they’ve only been drinking coffee, and they’re quite dehydrated. When you donate you’re losing circulating fluid, so the water that you drink before and after your donation is important.”

RELATED: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

You’ll hardly feel a thing—seriously

The needles used to collect blood are a bit larger than those you’d encounter when, say, receiving a flu shot, but the so-called ‘small pinch’ you feel at insertion is, truly, no big deal. “What we feel [at the start of a blood draw] is just on the surface of our skin. These needles have silicone on them, they’re made to glide and be quite comfortable. After that initial stick, you’re not going to feel anything,” Dr. Kreuter says. If needles give you the shivers, look away for the quarter-second in which yours is placed; then ask a staffer to cover up the insertion site for you. Since the "tough" part is already over, you can lie back and spend the next eight to 10 minutes zoning out.

It’s okay to have a cookie after you donate

“What’s healthy is to keep a balanced diet as you go forward in the day [after your donation],” Dr. Kreuter says. “We tend to stock our canteen area with things like water and juice and then salty snacks, because salt helps you retain a little more of the [water] volume that you’ve lost through donation. The cookies are there because [they’re] something the donor culture has grown up in—maybe not the healthiest option, but certainly an expectation. Believe it or not, I have meetings about cookies. I’ve seen shirts before that say ‘I donate for the cookies.’” Bottom line: Rewarding yourself with a treat isn’t going to do any harm, provided that you indulge in moderation.

Your blood could save patients who haven’t even entered the world yet

Though many of us are reminded of the importance of blood donation when tragedies happen, much of what we give does the quiet work of saving people who’ll never show up on the news. Since the need for blood doesn’t go away, the best way to save lives is to contribute regularly. “At Mayo, about 15% to 20% of our blood is going to trauma patients and being used in our ER; a lot of our blood gets used supporting patients through life-saving cardiac or cancer surgeries. Cancer patients [also need blood]—chemotherapy knocks down their ability to make their own red blood cells and platelets—and folks who have medical conditions like autoimmune diseases also need transfusions.”

Donations flow to delivery rooms, too: “If anemia is significant enough in utero we transfuse during pregnancy and sometimes immediately after delivery,” Dr. Kreuter explains. “A lot of kids need blood in the first couple of minutes of life. Sometimes with newborn babies an emergency platelet transfusion in the first few moments of life is absolutely necessary; in their situation the newborn brain is so delicate and fragile that having these platelets immediately available is the name of the game in order to prevent bleeding into their brains, which results in long-term disabilities.”

Note that platelets have a shelf life of just five days, while whole blood can be stored for up to six weeks. The immediate need for platelets—and platelet donors—is constant.

RELATED: 6 Iron-Rich Food Combos—No Meat Required

Donating your voice is vital, too

Those "Be nice to me, I gave blood today!" stickers aren’t merely a cute (and justified) humblebrag: They’re also a benevolent form of peer pressure, not unlike the "I voted" stickers we earn and wear on election days. “Hearing about blood donation from a friend or colleague is very motivating in getting [potential first-timers] to think about taking that next step,” Dr. Kreuter says. “Our donor population [in Rochester] has an older average age, and we’re trying to reach out to the younger generation to start having the same blood donation habits.”

Think about it this way: Taking your kids to see you strengthen your community’s heartbeat at a blood center is just as important as bringing them with you to the voting booth. Donate visibly, donate vocally, and donate as often as you can.

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