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This Gamer Stopped Playing With His Health and Became the ‘Get Fit Geek’

A little more than two years ago, at Comic Con in Kansas City, Scott Alvarez had his photo taken with Stephen Amell, the actor who plays Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow on the CW’s “Arrow.”

“He was there for one day, and I paid $ 50 to have my picture taken with him,” says Alvarez, who was 410 pounds at the time. “As I stood in line, I saw people moving through quickly and flashes going off every three seconds. I thought, ‘Is this going to be worth it?’”

When it was his turn, Stephen put his arm around him, they both smiled, the camera flashed and Alvarez walked away, thinking one thing: “That was freaking awesome.”

“I’ve never been starstruck before, and it was so cool to be that close to him,” says Alvarez. “Stephen uses his celebrity to help the causes that are near and dear to him. And, as a gay man, I can say he’s freaking hot, so that’s a draw as well.”

Shortly after it was taken, Alvarez received the picture — and immediately felt two very deep emotions. “The only thing I could see was how big I looked,” he says. “I hated having my picture taken, and anything that was taken was only of my face. That picture held great joy and incredible sadness because it was such a great moment, but it was also the first time I really saw myself and how big I’d gotten.”

While that picture spurred him to consider a big life change, Alvarez credits a health scare with getting him off the couch.


Every dreamer deserves support. Discover inspiring tips, tools and stories of dreamers like you to help kick-start your own dream pursuit.


In April 2015, Alvarez found himself in the emergency room with cellulitis on his leg, an infection of the skin and soft tissues beneath. The infection turned into massive blisters and forced him to spend a week in the hospital. Alvarez learned weight-related circulation issues — and hours spent playing “World of Warcraft” — had played a large part in his infection.

“I’ve always been a gamer/geek type person, but “World of Warcraft” was a complete time sink to me,” he says. “I’d lose whole weekends, Friday through Sunday, playing, and would only realize how much time had passed when I got hungry or had to go to the bathroom.”

After a second bout with cellulitis in July, Alvarez decided to put his love of electronics to work in a different direction. “I’m a gadget freak,” says the 44-year-old, whose blog, Get Fit Geek, tracks his weight-loss journey. “If I had to decide between food and water and the next cool gadget coming out, I’d seriously consider the next cool gadget.”

People think they have to walk five miles or do big stuff exercise-wise, not realizing that any movement burns a tremendous amount of calories.

He asked his husband, Shane, for an early birthday/Christmas present: an Apple watch, specifically for its color-coded move, stand and exercise rings that track daily movement patterns. “Everything clicked once I started to close those rings,” he says.

As a logistics team member for Target in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, Alvarez was eligible for reimbursement from Weight Watchers, so he started there. “It was great, but I was eating to a number; I didn’t feel like I made any behavioral changes,” he says. “I tried MyFitnessPal and loved it. Not only did it allow me to keep track of my calories in and out, but it taught me about portion size and macros. When you go from just eating food to learning about the calories and nutrients in those foods, it’s a total eye opener.”

For the exercise component, Alvarez went online and did research on couch-to-5K running plans. The more he read, however, the better he understood the importance of simply moving more.

“In the beginning, when I was 400 pounds, I didn’t realize how many calories I could burn by doing simple things like walking,” he says. “People think they have to walk five miles or do big stuff exercise-wise, not realizing that any movement burns a tremendous amount of calories. I could walk 30 minutes and burn 700 calories in the beginning, even though I was winded and dead tired. Now, I would have to run about an hour at a six- or seven-mile pace.”

A few months later — and 40 pounds lighter — Alvarez tried a spin class. “Totally kicked my ass, but I kept up with it,” he says. “I also found Heath, a coach who helped me add some strength training to complement all the cardio I was doing. After losing another 40 pounds, I decided to add swimming to my routine. Once I got under 300 pounds, I decided to try jogging. Those first 100 pounds were about figuring out what worked for me.”

Today, with hard work, dedication and nearly 600 consecutive days of logging into MyFitnessPal, Alvarez has lost 180 pounds. “My initial goal was to weigh 200 pounds by my 45th birthday in December 2017, and I’m now down to 216 pounds. I had a secondary goal to get below 17 percent body fat and I’m now below that,” he says. “I’m finding the fun in being with people who are also into fitness. I’ve done most of the work so far alone. Now that I’m at the finish line, I need to find friends who like to do the same things I do now.”

Speaking of finish lines, Alvarez completed a half marathon in Olathe, Kansas, this spring in just under 2 and a half hours and is now setting new goals, including doing half marathons on back-to-back weekends and a full marathon. Eventually, he wants to venture into triathlons and is even considering an Ironman-distance race.

“It was the most amazing experience of my life,” he says of his first half marathon. “I was never the athletic kid growing up, but having my family there to cheer me on was … the one and only time I have cried during this entire journey. And it was only partially because I hurt so bad from running 13.1 miles.”

At this year’s Comic Con, Alvarez was back in line to have this picture taken with Amell once again. This time, however, he was 179 pounds lighter.

“I brought the picture we’d taken together in 2015, held it up and flexed when they snapped the shot,” he says. “I was getting ready to walk away when Stephen told me to hold on and gave me a big bear hug. He said, ‘You’re incredible. I’m so proud of you.’”

Written by Danny Bonvissuto, a lover of words, writing for a living, independent bookstores, chips, salsa and queso, sunshine, jeans, tank tops and running — but only if ’80s rock is involved. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Food Network Magazine, HGTV, WebMD and Plate magazine.

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6 Amazing Sites for Streaming Yoga Classes

Finding the perfect fitness class can turn you into Goldilocks. You need the right location, the right class, the right instructor, the right time … It’s not that you’re being picky — the more convenient the location and the more you like the class, the more likely you are to keep going.

This is where streaming and on-demand classes can be just right. There are a slew of sites and apps today, and, for the price of one class (or less!), you can get a month’s subscription to try a wide range of workouts, teachers and levels — all from the comfort of home. Even better, it’s a great workout option when it’s so sweltering that going outside is like stepping on the sun.

These sites can be particularly great for yoga, because beginners can try various styles and more experienced yogis can challenge themselves to take harder classes or focus on a goal, like nailing an arm balance or building strength.

Whether you have never done downward facing dog or you can do sun salutations with your eyes closed, check out these six sites to discover the yoga that speaks to you:  

1. YOGAGLO
$ 18/month

Boasting more than 4,000 classes and world-famous instructors such as Elena Brower, Jason Crandell, Tiffany Cruikshank and Kathryn Budig, YogaGlo is bound to have something for everyone. Each day the site gives you recommended classes based on those you’ve already taken. Or you can search by duration (5–120 minutes), 11 styles, five levels, specific body parts and focuses and teachers. Once you find a class you like, roll out your mat or add it to your list to watch later. The videos are actual recorded classes, so it’s almost like you’re there with everyone else — instructors may even give time to play with inversions near the wall or break down a pose during class.

Be sure to check out: Programs, which are focused around a goal like stress relief, strength or flexibility and vary from 1–3 weeks. You select the days and times you want to do each class and receive email reminders to help you commit.

2. YOGAIA
$ 19.99/month

Yogaia’s library of classes is built off of its live videos, so it’s almost like having a private session. Since there isn’t a search function for recorded classes, the best way to find your class is to check out the collections: de-stress, abs, beginners, energize, workshops, for busy yogis and advanced. You can search live classes by time length and level, but not by style of yoga. Know that the company is Finnish, so don’t be surprised that many of the instructors have European accents.

Be sure to check out: Live streaming classes. If you choose, you can have your webcam on for the chance of a shoutout during class!

3. YOGATODAY
$ 15/month

The backdrops for YogaToday’s videos make every video worth watching. Most are filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so the instructor is often in a field with trees or mountains behind them. There is another person practicing alongside the instructor, who guides you both. Classes on this site have the fewest options to sort from on this list, with eight instructors, six styles, eight focuses and seven target areas. You can also find videos breaking down individual poses as well as challenges, which are videos grouped by themes including beginners, athletes, energy balancing and weight loss.

Be sure to check out: The meditation videos. Some guide you through seated meditations, others offer meditations with a gentle sequence to follow, perfect if you find it hard to sit still.


READ MORE > 5 STREAMING WORKOUT CLASSES TO TRY AT HOME


4. YOGADOWNLOAD
$ 18/month unlimited

If you like options, YogaDownload is for you. Pick from 22 styles, a slew of teachers, durations of less than 5 minutes and up to 80, four levels, four intensities and a range of focuses — from waking up to cardio to specific body parts to peak poses. You can add a video to your favorites, wish list or calendar, and also make notes, but the best thing is members can rate videos, which makes picking a class easier. Some instructors teach solo, some have demonstrators and some even use music.

Be sure to check out: The charity classes — 100% of sales from those classes go to the Give Back Yoga Foundation, which helps certified teachers share yoga therapy with underserved populations.

5. YOGA INTERNATIONAL
$ 14.99/month

Classes on this site range from 5 minutes to 90, with 20 different styles. However, there are only three level options, and the only way to learn more about a class is to click through, which can be time-consuming to find the one you want to take at that moment. While you may not recognize as many teachers’ names, they are all certified and you’ll find that you don’t need to be a “celebrity” to be a good instructor. You can also watch workshops, which range from one video to series of videos on advanced yoga techniques, healthy eating, pain relief and more.

Be sure to check out: The articles on meditation, pranayama (breathwork), chakras and holistic health.


READ MORE > ON MY MAT: INSIDE THE MIND OF A YOGA TEACHER


6. GAIA
$ 9.95/month

Gaia allows you to pick from 17 different styles of yoga, including ashtanga, hatha, restorative, vinyasa and beginner. You can also select your level (beginner to advanced), length (15–60+ minutes) and a focus such as a body part or yoga for athletes, energy or sleep. In addition to classes, there are tutorials that break down specific poses or techniques, like jumping back from a seated position to chaturanga. Plus longer workshops help you learn the tricks to things like arm balances, inversions and backbends. And for those interested in taking a deeper dive into the other facets of yoga, beyond the physical asana, there are Yoga Talks videos. Gaia also boasts some of the top instructors such as Amy Ippoliti, Annie Carpenter, Dana Trixie Flynn and Seane Corn. However, it can feel a bit odd following the videos, because the instructor guides you via a voiceover — they aren’t actually speaking as they do the sequence.

Be sure to check out: Yoga at Work for quick sequences you can do to ease the tension of sitting at a computer for hours.

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Korean Chicken Rice Bowl | Recipe

Korean-Chicken-Rice-Bowl

Brown rice adds filling fiber, while marinated chicken brings tons of flavor and is served alongside gut-healthy, fermented kimchi. The simple sesame baby kale salad ensures you get your veggies. We call that a win-win.

Korean Chicken Rice Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochujung or other chili sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 10 ounces baby kale
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 cup kimchi

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring rice and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 40 minutes, remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine chicken, soy sauce, gochujung and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Toss to coat the chicken and set aside.

Set a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup water along with baby kale, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until kale is tender and wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold running water until cool. Squeeze small handfuls to remove as much liquid as possible from the kale. Transfer to a medium bowl and fluff apart with your fingers. Add half the green onion, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil and sesame seeds. Toss to combine and set aside.

Heat a large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray and add the chicken. Let cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until brown on the second side and cooked through, about 5 more minutes depending on thickness. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Divide rice between 4 serving bowls. Top each bowl with 1/4 kale salad and kimchi. Slice chicken and add to bowls. Garnish with remaining green onion and serve with additional chili sauce to taste.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 4 |  Serving Size: 1 bowl

Per serving: Calories: 425; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4g; Cholesterol: 98mg; Sodium: 591mg; Carbohydrate: 46g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 43g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 531mg; Iron: 9%; Vitamin A: 72%; Vitamin C: 103%; Calcium: 13%

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Refreshing, Low-Cal Granitas

When the temperature starts to climb, take your treats to a whole new level of “chill.” Remember when you were a kid, you could grab a sno-cone from the convenience store or ice cream truck? Think of granita as a shave ice or sno-cone with a sophisticated upgrade.

You don’t need special equipment to pull together a granita — and you probably already have the ingredients for these quick-and-easy treats in your kitchen. All you need is a sweet reason to enjoy a refreshing treat!

STRAWBERRY & ROSÉ GRANITA

Sweet strawberries and refreshing rosé come together in a crisp pairing that’s perfect for spring or summer. Don’t be tempted to add more wine to the recipe because your granita won’t freeze! Don’t have strawberries on hand? Use peaches or raspberries instead!

Strawberry-Rose-Granita

Ingredients

  • 1 pound hulled strawberries or raspberries, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 cup dry rosé
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of fine-grain sea salt

Directions

Combine strawberries, rosé, sugar and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch-square metal pan and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the surface of the mixture.

Place the pan on a level spot in the freezer and freeze for at least 12 hours and up to one day.

To serve, scrape the surface with a fork to break into slushy crystals. Serve in chilled glasses with strawberries, if desired.

The granita can be made three days ahead. Cover tightly with foil; keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings at 1/2 cup each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 73; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 3mg; Carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 10g; Protein: 1g

ESPRESSO GRANITA WITH WHIPPED COCONUT CREAM

Take your coffee break to a whole new level of chill. This recipe uses whipped coconut cream, but feel free to substitute regular whipping cream in the same proportion if you don’t mind dairy.

Espresso-Granita

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hot espresso or very strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chilled coconut cream or whipped cream
  • Bittersweet chocolate shavings

Directions

Stir espresso or coffee, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves.

Pour into a 9-by-9 metal baking pan. Freeze for 1 hour. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork. Cover; freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Using a fork, scrape granita vigorously to form icy flakes.

Beat cream and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl until peaks form. Divide granita among bowls or glasses. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.

The granita can be made three days ahead. Cover tightly with foil; keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings at 1/2 cup each.

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 112; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 18mg; Carbohydrate: 18g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugar: 18g; Protein: 0g

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