The Top 10 Fittest States


Woman-running-320x240Where you live may affect your fitness levels. According to a recent Gallup poll, which interviewed more than 178,000 adults about their workout habits, Vermont and Hawaii have the fittest residents. The results showed that more than 65 percent of people in Vermont get at least 30 minutes of activity on three or more days each week. Hawaii followed closely behind with 62.2 percent of residents regularly working on their fitness. Did your state rank in the top 10? Here were the states whose residents logged the most gym time:

  1. Vermont 65.3%
  2. Hawaii 62.2%
  3. Montana 60.1%
  4. Alaska 60.1%
  5. Colorado 59.8%
  6. Oregon 58%
  7. Idaho 57.7%
  8. New Mexico 57.4%
  9. Nebraska 56.3%
  10. North Dakota 56%

Unfortunately not all states scored as high. The following states ranked on the low end:

  1. Delaware 46.5%
  2. West Virginia 47.1%
  3. Alabama 47.5%
  4. New Jersey 47.7%
  5. Rhode Island 48.2%
  6. Tennessee 49.2%
  7. New York 49.3%
  8. Ohio 49.3%
  9. Indiana 49.4%
  10. South Carolina 49.7%

Vermont also came out on top for another category: Residents were most likely to report that they eat their five servings of fruits and veggies on four or more days each week.

The bigger questions, though, is if these healthy habits rub off on others. Do you think living in a fit state inspires you to be more active? Or do you think the weather and climate play a big role?

By Mara Betsch

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JJ Blog 7 – Advice to Simona During the Holiday Season


So you are in a great place now and have really done well incorporating this into your life.  To keep it that way, especially through the holidays, make sure that you continue to weigh and measure weekly. That really helps keep you on the straight and narrow!  When you are going to a party, pick your shots.  Focus on filling up on the healthy food and giving yourself “three polite bites” of a treat.  My rule is that it has to be really, really worth it! And make sure you decide on 1 or 2 treats – 3 bites can quickly become a plateful if you aren’t careful.


You have naturally put a strategy in place that supports long-term success and that is trying new fitness activities.  I love that you sought out a new class to try.  It would be great to try something fun and new often -- even weekly, to keep mixing it up.  Even better is to make some new friends at these classes who are also into getting fit and who you will look forward to connecting with.

You can do the same with food – try a healthy cooking class, go exploring at Whole Foods or the local Farmer’s Market or cruise some websites for some new ideas. Remember to consistently get your protein in, in a recent study this was shown to be an important long-term weight maintenance strategy. 

You are a terrific role model for your kids. I loved the video about how your son is bringing you your supplements every day.  That is awesome and you will find that he is going to want to do what you are doing – taking supplements, eating healthy and moving – it will become his lifestyle just like it has become yours.

Studies have shown that people who regularly take supplements lower their risk of the major lifestyle diseases and get sick less often but that is obviously not something you notice day to day, it is more long term.  Think of taking your supplements like brushing your teeth, just something you do daily to stay healthy. 

Finally, take the opportunity over the holidays to find some new healthy recipes to makeover your old ones that you can bring to parties or serve to your family.  I am betting with your retrained taste buds you may even like them better and they will become the new ‘normal’ for your family!


JJ Blog 7 – Malia Cuts Dairy, Gluten and Soy

What can I say but Wow!  You are so coachable. You hit all of your goals because you gave 110% to the program. You did everything I asked and looked for ways to go beyond that.  I have no doubt that you will not only maintain your healthy lifestyle but continue to uplevel it because you have made it front and center and built your new life around it.


I love that you are setting what I like to call "stretch" goals – i.e. goals that inspire you to push yourself further and out of your comfort zone and that you are exploring new career opportunities that tie in your passions.  I am excited about the next chapter of your life.

I find that so many people do better when they pull dairy, gluten and soy out of their diet for at least 3 weeks and then re-challenge these foods to see how well they tolerate them.   You may find that you feel better keeping them out (I know I do and my skin is way better because of it - your skin looks amazing by the way!).

So at this point my only advice is to keep going for it. When I met you, you were still a bit fearful and you have stepped into being a strong confident woman ready to take on bigger challenges.   I have seen so often that the ultimate benefit of this program is increased confidence and you exude it!


JJ's Feedback Blog: Angela Loses 20 Pounds



Congratulations, Angela! Losing 20 pounds is fantastic, but what is even more fantastic are the long-term lifestyle shifts you have made:

  1. You have made sleep a priority.
  2. You have gotten on an exercise regimen.
  3. You have gone from a D- diet to a B+!

These will serve you well for the years to come. I want to help you shift gears here, because maintaining the weight you have lost requires some different strategies than losing it initially does. First,  I would first encourage you to set another goal for the next 10-20 pounds. I would also encourage to you to think of two other non-weight loss goals that you would like to accomplish – it could be related to dating, your career, hobbies, whatever you dream about. Put it on paper and work towards making it a reality now that you see what is possible!

You mentioned you weren’t sure how you were going to do now that the accountability and support will be gone. As you have discovered, these are powerful tools in the weight loss journey, and I would encourage you to keep them in your arsenal. There are some great sites including PEERTrainer and DailyBurn where you can join a community and continue to get educated and supported. Both of these sites offer free support and education.

Try increasing your workouts to 5 times a week, which will serve you better in the long run. The easiest way to do this is to make your workouts a social experience and get some friends to work out with you or join a class, like CrossFit, where the members and coaches hold you accountable if you don’t show up.

Make sure you continue to go for the A-/B+ on your diet and include clean, lean protein and non-starchy veggies in your meals. I am thrilled you love the GNC Fiber; fiber really is one of my secret weapons for any weight loss program. Along with eating a high fiber diet, I recommend supplementing with additional fiber. Besides keeping you regular, it also helps you feel fuller longer, and certain types of fiber feed the good bacteria in your gut. Both of these reasons make it a powerful weight loss tool. I would also recommend staying on the GNC fish oil and the Women’s Ultra Mega for the long haul. I believe a good comprehensive multivitamin/mineral formula AND fish oil are essentials in most people’s nutritional maintenance plans. I also recommend using their shake (add the fiber product in) to replace a meal each day. This has been shown to not only help with weight loss but also to support long-term weight control when you use it as part of your structured weight management program. And keep the weekly weigh-in habit going – this is critical for helping you stay on track! Congratulations for making such significant changes. I am proud of you!

More Transformation Diaries:

Angela's Fitness and Nutrion Plan

Watch: Angela's Story

Photo Source (upper right): DCL

JJ's Feedback Blog: Malia Continues to Set New Goals



Malia, I love that you are already thinking of your next goal. There has been a lot of attention recently on long-term weight management, largely because so few people are successful with it. Research shows that the best weight loss strategies are different than successful long-term weight maintenance strategies. Making this shift is critical so that weight loss never becomes a "hobby".

You have already done one of the key ones, which is continuing to set new goals -- I like to think of it as "heightening your ambition" (grabbed that term from my own coach, Brendon Burchard). I love that you are already planning your trip next year for the Himalayas. This gives you something to train for. Having a great local group to work out with lets you add some fun new activities into the mix (yoga, cross fit, etc).

The second strategy is making sure you get in protein at each meal -- this has helped get you where you are, so keep it up. If you are traveling, bring along your shake and a magic bullet blender or shaker cup. I also bring nuts, jerky, little packets of almond butter, and aseptic-packed wild salmon and apples.


Besides your Himalayas goal, it is a great time to set a new group of goals now that you have blown through the first ones. Consider things like fitness goals (i.e. pull-ups?), body composition or a business goal that you wouldn't have had the self confidence to go for earlier.

I would love to see what your diet looks like now. I would like you to continue to find things that you like to eat that are healthy so this is easy for you to stay committed to for the long haul.

I look forward to hearing about your hike up Mt. Whitney! I know you’ll rock it!

More on Malia's Story:

Track Malia's Progress

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JJ's Feedback Blog: Simona Finally Finds Balance

Simona-still-512x342They key word that jumped out at me from your video is BALANCE! I am so impressed by how you have managed to balance going back to work full-time, managing your household, cooking healthy meals, raising two kids and fitting in your workouts. It’s truly a feat that we tend to overlook – being a working Mother is the hardest job out there. You are a fantastic role model.

What would be awesome to share with the viewers is how the heck you do all of this - I know that you usually squeeze your workouts in after the kids go down at night and that you are thoughtful about your meal planning so that you have healthy leftovers for lunches and dinners. What would be great to see is what a real day looks like so others can model their days after it. Don't forget the big tasks you get done over the weekend that set you up for success during the week.

I know some of the things we had talked about are grocery shopping and doing food prep on the weekend, getting in bigger workouts on the weekends and SLEEP!





You are very close to your goal weight. I am betting you reach that goal in the next few months, without having to do much more than stay the course. This is because you have totally changed the way that you eat and made a commitment to get exercise multiple times a week (even if they are quick workouts).

I know you were resistant to some of the food changes at first and that you USED TO HAVE a "carb" tooth (and a bit of a sweet tooth), but you have really retrained your taste buds. You are proof that we can not only change our diets, but we can train ourselves to crave healthier foods over time.

I am excited to see photos from your reunion and would love to see some details on how you manage to do it all, so that others can model your success.

More on Simona's Story:

Watch Simona's Journey

Simona's Fitness and Nutrition Plan

JJ'S Feedback Blog: 6 Ways Angela Can Meet Her Diet Goals


Angela-still-284x212OK, Miss Angela: Time to stop wishing and hoping, and more importantly, time to draw out a plan and execute it.

Let’s start fresh and build on the success you have (fitting into a size 8 dress is a definite win! You look fabulous in your bridesmaid dress).

First off, how much weight exactly do you want to lose for your cousin’s wedding in Houston? And where do you want to be for your birthday? More importantly – what are you going to do to get there? Remember these 6 things that are critical to your success:

1. Set specific goals

2. Get your next dress and keep it out where you see it every day as a reminder that you are where you want to go.

3. Get back to journaling – write down everything that you eat and drink so that you are totally accountable. Ideally, add that protein shake back in for one meal a day as well.

4. Find a friend to do this with and check in daily. Hold each other accountable.

5. Get the exercise going 5 days a week! This is another great place to involve a friend.

6. Make sure you are weighing and measuring every week, no matter what.


Also I wanted to connect with you on one thing you said that was concerning to me – that you didn’t want to be deprived. Learn to love grilled salmon, grilled chicken breast, and sliced turkey. Have loads of non-starchy veggies, and make sure that the starchy carbs you eat are as whole and minimally processed as possible, like sweet potatoes or lentils. If you find healthier options to replace the foods that you crave, then this won’t be an issue. And if you equate these foods with the body you want, that will help reinforce your diet decisions.



More Transformation Diaries:

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Photo Source (upper right): DCL

JJ's Feedback Blog: Late-Night Eating Derails Ingrid's Diet

Ingrid-still-284x212Alrighty – I don’t know if I missed it, but I didn’t catch where your weight is now…. and I am dying to know!

Late-night eating will absolutely take you down. Getting in 12 hours between dinner and breakfast (eat 3 hours before bed and don’t accomplish this by going to bed later, please) helps get fasting insulin down so you can use fatty acids for fuel (a very good thing).

If you are eating a balanced diet, i.e. clean lean protein, healthy fats, loads of non-starchy veggies and slow carbs -- like apples, lentils or sweet potatoes -- then you should be able to go 4-6 hours without eating. Meaning you shouldn’t be hungry after dinner. Ask yourself: Am I hungry or am I bored? OR am I being triggered by visual cues set up to take me down?

Since you know what does it, this is easy – shut the TV off and go get in the bathtub with a good book (you can’t snack in the bathtub and last I checked there aren’t any commercials being played in there for junk food!) Also, drink a glass of water in the evening – a study out of the University of Chicago found that 100% of dieters shut down their midnight hunger pangs by drinking a glass of water.



If you are, in fact, hungry – then look back at your food journal for the day and see where you skimped. And, of course, up your fiber and your water to help improve satiety and reduce appetite.

Since you love the energy bars from GNC so much, here is one of my favorite little trick to help you handle your cravings if all else fails – cut the bars in to tiny little pieces and freeze them. Then you can pop a few, and satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your program.

Keep it up, Ingrid. I’m looking forward to hearing about your success next month!

More on Transformation Diaries:

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Ingrid's Fitness and Nutrition Plan

Photo Source (upper right): DCL

JJ's Feedback Blog: Simona's Lifestyle Changes



I love that you have shifted into the “lifestyle” mentality and then proven this by going off the journaling grid for a few weeks and maintaining your weight. That does show that you have retrained your taste buds and are making choices that can support your long-term healthy body composition and overall health.  You’ve come a long way from the way you used to eat, which was high in starchy, processed carbs with sugar on top.

I am going to encourage you to speak with your physician about going gluten free. Your physician can order tests to determine if you are indeed gluten intolerant. If that is the case, you may need to permanently remove gluten from your diet to avoid doing permanent damage to the lining of your intestines.

I am thrilled that you are incorporating a morning smoothie into your day. Greek style yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt so that is a great choice.  You can even find almond milk varieties that are fortified with protein (plain almond milk has about 1 g of protein). When you are selecting your milk at the grocery store, compare labels to find the almond milk with more protein. I love tossing in freshly ground flaxseed meal – it’s a great source of fiber and alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid can be used in the body to manufacture EPA and DHA

This is also a great time to try a "cleanse".   A cleanse can really mean anything from trading your soda for sparkling water to dumping foods to dumping a bunch of unhealthy foods for 1-3 weeks to get a restart and drop a few pounds while you are at it.

Here are my recommendations for you to follow for the next 7-21 days.  You can do them all (yes, please!) or choose a few, but whatever you do, be sure to journal it and ideally have a friend or two join you for the accountability and support.  

1.  Increase your water (and replace the soda, alcohol, coffee and juice with it)

2.  Dump the added sugar - find where it is hiding and get it gone (this goes for artificial sweeteners too!). Have berries or an apple instead

3.  Lose the processed foods

4.  Pump up the non starchy veggies - especially the deep green leafy ones - try adding a "green drink" as well 

5.  Up the fiber - seeds, nuts, berries, fruit, non starchy veggies and legumes are great sources

6.  Start the day with a smoothie 

7.  Make sure your protein choices are clean and lean like grass fed beef, wild fish and free range chicken

I am also glad to hear you are clearing out the clothes that no longer fit you. That is such an important thing to do. You want to make sure that as you lose the weight, you clear out the larger sizes so that you don’t have the option to regain any weight back!

Love to hear what is going on exercise wise! And update me on the gluten challenge.

For More Transformation Diaries:

Transformation Diaries

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About JJ Virgin

JJ's Feedback Blog: Restorative Yoga as a Next Step for Malia


You are right, in the real world, stuff happens that may knock you off your path for a short while.  The key word in that phrase was “short.”  If you want to be successful for the long haul it is all about getting back on track when this happens.

I find that the best thing to help get back on track is accountability and support.  So journaling is key here – and with where you are and the mental (and physical) challenge you are preparing for it would be great to expand your journaling into being introspective about where you are and how you are feeling and most importantly, what your big goals are for climbing Mt. Whitney and why those are important for you – i.e. the transformation that it will give you.

I would love to see you do something that will get you a little more into your headspace now too, like some restorative yoga.  You have done the physical work to prepare for this challenge, the real make or break of it will be more of what is going on between your ears.  I know you can do this, you have extraordinary mental toughness and tenacity and this challenge will just be the confirmation of that.

Glad to see you are back on the protein shakes.  It is critical to really focus on good fuel for the next 2 weeks as food is information, as you know, and we want to make sure that what you are giving your body is telling it to provide steady energy.

I also want to encourage you to focus on rest and recovery right now.  Again, I would love to see the restorative yoga, quiet focused journaling time AND sleep – 8-9 hours a night of quality sleep.  If I had to pick one thing for you right now that would be it.

Good luck and I can’t wait to hear of your success!

For More on Transformation Diaries:

Transformation Diaries

Malia's Plan

About JJ Virgin

JJ Virgin is one of the nation’s foremost fitness and nutrition experts, an accomplished public speaker and media personality. Her 25 years in the health and fitness industry have earned JJ recognition as the go-to weight loss expert who can unlock the door to lifelong weight management.









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