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New app lets users see what they’ll look like after losing weight

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For those looking for a visual incentive to stick with their weight loss plan, a new smartphone app may come in handy.

Called Visualize You, the app can process an image of a user at his or her goal weight by utilizing 3D model technology.

The target weight photo can be saved for future inspiration and shared on social media.

The app is available in the Apple App store and Google Play store.

Planet Fitness bans member who complained about transgender woman in locker room

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A Planet Fitness gym in Midland, Michigan, has banned a member after she complained to staff about a transgender woman using the locker room.

According to ABC News, Yvette Cormier, 48, said she spoke to a staff member at the front desk last weekend after she noticed someone "dressed like a man" in the women's locker room. 

Cormier said the person was wearing blush and a wig but looked "very manly."

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The staff member said, "Whatever gender you feel you are, that's the locker room you're allowed to go in," according to Cormier.

The staff member reportedly told Cormier that if she felt uncomfortable, she could wait until the transgender woman left the locker room. 

"I stood back and said, 'How about he waits until I'm done in the women's locker room? Or get a unisex bathroom,'" Cormier told ABC. "He asked if I would like to talk to the manager, and I said, 'I'm calling corporate.'"

The corporate office reaffirmed the company's gender-identity policy. Cormier said she told several other members about the incident, and the gym eventually revoked her membership.

"Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity," the company, which markets itself as a "judgment-free zone," said in a statement. "The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement, and as a result her membership was cancelled."

In an interview with WNEM-TV, Char Davenport, a professor and member of the area transgender community, praised Planet Fitness for its effort to be more inclusive. But she also stressed that many people don't understand transgender issues and may be caught off-guard in similar situations.

"Private showers and changing areas really would go a long way in resolving these issues," she said.

Super-fit mom accused of fat-shaming women with Instagram photo

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British mom Abby Pell says pictures of her fit body she posts to Instagram are meant for motivation and that getting in shape is 'about priorities.'  But critics say she is fat-shaming people everywhere after a picture she posted last year read: "I have a kid, a six pack, and no excuse."

The picture recently started making its way around the Internet after Pell came in 4th place at  a World Beauty Fitness & Fashion bodybuilding competition. Many of the comments left were negative in nature. One Instagram user wrote, "Exploiting your motherhood to show off is despicable and shameless," according to the Daily Mail.

The 33-year-old says she only meant to inspire others."I've been accused of adding to unnecessary pressure put on women and more specifically mums to lose weight," she writes. "I would like to clarify that this is not my objective whatsoever."

Pell – who goes by @superabs on Twitter and Instagram – tells People magazine she works out four to five times a week, concentrating on different body parts each time to achieve her figure. 

Despite the backlash, Pell says she's proud of her pictures and has no regrets.

A photo posted by ABBY PELL (@superabs) on Dec 3, 2014 at 2:06pm PST

Yoga could be as beneficial for the heart as walking, biking

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Good for the mind and good for the body: Scientists say doing yoga can improve your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and, most importantly, your heart. 

The health benefits of yoga have long been known, but a review of 37 previous studies claims it can be just as effective as biking and walking.

One lead researcher of the study, Paula Chu says, "This finding suggests that [people] who are physically limited in some way do not have to 'pound the pavement' in order to improve their cardiovascular risk profile."

The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and shows both healthy people and those with health risks saw similar benefits from yoga.  

Researchers believe yoga's health benefits might come from a reduction in stress. 

The American Heart Association says stress can lead to an increased heart disease risk, and high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It can also affect eating, drinking and smoking habits. 

Yoga is becoming more and more popular in the U.S. A 2012 study by Yoga Journal found about 20.4 million Americans practiced yoga nationwide, up from an estimated 15.8 million four years prior. 

And Women's Health points out there are plenty of different styles of yoga to choose from.

Still, even though the study looked at about 2,800 people, the researchers say not to draw any "definitive conclusions" from the study, mainly because there are so many different forms of yoga. The amount of practice needed for these health benefits to happen is also a factor. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

Must-read fitness, health, and happiness books for 2013

With the new school year in full swing, it’s time to bury our heads in the books. But we’re not here to assign you any nap-inducing texts — instead we’ve put together a list of 24 books that will keep you up and reading way past your bedtime. With plenty of pictures, humor, and hardcore science, these books tackle topics as varied as sex, nutrition, and endurance running. Check ’em out and put good old-fashioned learnin’ back in style.

It’s worth noting that there are tons of health and fitness books out there, and we had to be extremely choosy about which ones to include on this list. All the books here have come out in 2013, or are due to come out in 2014. The authors offer new and insightful takes on subjects in health, fitness, and happiness, and most are pretty influential on social media or on a personal website. Read on and don’t forget to let us know your favorites in the comments section!

Food and Cooking

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von BremzenAs almost everyone knows, food is more than just sustenance. The smell of certain meals cooking takes us back to our childhood, making us feel comforted or scared. Food writer Anya von Bremzen grew up in the former U.S.S.R., where food had a special significance, representing everything she could and couldn’t have. In her latest book, she and her mother Larisa take on the tremendous project of cooking their way through their own history. Each dish — fish pie, Georgian stew, blini — represents a different time of their life, and with each recipe von Bremzen tells an equally captivating story about her memories from that period. — SL

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays by Ree DrummondEven city slickers can get plenty out of Drummond's frontier-themed cookbook. After meeting and marrying a rancher (yep, an honest-to-goodness person who wrangles cows), the author moved from L.A. to rural Oklahoma and learned to cook for a crowd. In her latest cookbook, Drummond covers 12 holidays, from New Year’s Eve to Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving, and all the traditional foods that go along with them. We’re talking glazed Easter Ham and caramel apples for Halloween, each recipe complete with step-by-step directions. Most of the recipes are hearty rather than healthy, with plenty of dishes that work well for a crowd. Best of all, perhaps, is Drummond's storytelling voice. At the same time warm, goofy, and competent, she comes across like a combination between your best friend and your favorite aunt. — SB

The Taste of America by Colman AndrewsWhat's so special about eating in America? Colman Andrews, a noted food writer and editor of The Daily Meal, explores distinctive foods made in the U.S. of A. in his new book. Taste of America features 250 hand-picked food items, from Blue Point oysters to Junior Mints. Andrews explains the cultural, regional, and culinary significance of each entry in the anthology, accompanied by beautiful illustrations. You'll never be curious about the provenance of beef jerky again! — SB

The Oh She Glows Cookbookby Angela LiddonFive years ago, Angela Liddon created her blog, Oh She Glows, as a platform to share how nourishing, plant-based meals that actually look and taste good helped her recover from an eating disorder. Now the enormously popular blog is killing it with hundreds of healthy recipes and drool-worthy pictures of hearty salads, homemade energy bars, and raw dessert bars. Due out early 2014, "The Oh She Glows Cookbook" is an extension of the blog with original breakfasts, snacks, entrees, and desserts. Most recipes are allergy friendly with many gluten-free and soy-free options. — NM

The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchen by Clotilde DusoulierJulia Child may have made mastering French cuisine accessible, but many of those meals centered on meat, fish, and poultry. "The French Market Cookbook" is all about shifting that focus to the fresh, colorful, seasonal produce France has to offer. Written by Paris-born food writer, Clotilde Dusoulier, this book includes 90 seasonal recipes — many of which are vegan — as well as 75 beautiful color photographs. From ratatouille to gnocchi, "The French Market Cookbook" goes to show, vegetables can be the main act of any meal. Check out Dusoulier’s accompanying blog, Chocolate and Zucchini, to continue the discussion about plant-based eating, food ethics, and food and the environment. — NM

Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook by Del SroufeThe adjectives “vegan,” “oil-free,” and “low-fat” don’t exactly conjure up images of mouthwatering cupcakes and ice cream. But Del Sroufe and his collaborators (including Isa Chandra Moskowitz) are here to prove that healthful, plant-based eating can be tasty, too. "Forks Over Knives" is actually a food movement that inspired a 2011documentary film, and the new cookbook is full of classic recipes from around the world for all three meals. There's breakfast quinoa with apple compote, grilled eggplant steaks, polenta pizza, and apricot fig squares. Best of all, there’s no slaving away in the kitchen or emptying our wallets: All the recipes are relatively easy and affordable to prepare. — SL

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm GladwellThe age-old tale of David and Goliath teaches us that underdogs can win. But it's not always as easy as throwing a stone. Malcom Gladwell, staff writer for the New Yorker and author of other bestselling psychology books, challenges modern perceptions of obstacles and setbacks. After he breaks down the story behind the giant and the shepherd boy, Gladwell asks the question: "When it comes down to the underdog versus the favorite, who really has the advantage, and why?" To tackle this topic, "David and Goliath" examines heavy topics from the minds of cancer researchers, murderers, and civil rights leaders to poor education, disability, and loss. — NM

Before Happiness by Shawn AchorSome people are blonde; some are brunette. Some people are happy; others are doomed to a lifetime of misery. Right? Wrong, at least according to Shawn Achor, a psychology researcher who’s written and spoken on cultivating happiness in the workplace. In his latest book, Achor talks about changing the way we perceive reality so that happiness actually becomes a legitimate possibility. It’s all about the small stuff — think keeping a daily gratitude journal or starting the workday by listing everyone’s successes. "Before Happiness" is not only an uplifting read — it’s also an impressively well-researched book that’s still a breeze to read. — SL

For a list of 24 must-read fitness, health, and happiness books for 2013, go to Greatist.com.

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