Top 3 exercises to feel the burn at the beach

Beach Exercise
One of my favorite ways to burn off the pizza, ice cream, and salt water taffy that are part of any summer trip to the shore is by splashing in the surf. Jumping the biggest waves definitely gets my heart rate up, and I love that I’m beating the heat at the same time!

What’s great about vacationing at the shore is that you can break out of your typical gym routine and stay active however the spirit moves you — like running on the beach, biking on the boardwalk, and playing spirited games of paddle ball.

If you’re like me and have answered the call of the Fudgy Wudgy man one too many times, try these 3 activities to help you tone up while you soak up the sun:

1. Get a bikini body, in your bikini
You don’t need fancy equipment to get a great full-body workout — a stretch of sand and a beach chair can do the trick. Try these 5 simple beach exercises, which use the sand’s natural resistance to help you tone and tighten various muscle groups. Do them solo, or make it a competition by challenging your friends and family. Master these exercises, and you can up your game by incorporating more beach gear, like towels and beach balls.

2. Wake up and salute the sun
Want to feel more energized and less guilty about eating too many boardwalk treats? Stake out your spot on the sand, and greet the day with a sun salutation pose. Many shore communities are offering group yoga sessions on the beach. Yoga provides amazing health benefits that can last long after your vacation. Check your favorite beach town’s events calendar for prices, locations, and times.

3. Go fly a kite
It sounds like child’s play, but flying a kite on the beach for just 30 minutes can help you burn up to 100 calories, and you can build core strength and balance by keeping your kite aloft. If you’re planning to be near Ocean City, New Jersey, on the Fourth of July, you can enter the town’s annual kite flying competition. Looking for more aerial action? Why not try kitesurfing, which combines wind and waves into one exhilarating workout? It’s been steadily gaining popularity at local shore points.

This summer, I’m planning to try a yoga class on the beach before I hit the waves. What’s one of your favorite ways to fit in a workout at the shore?


Mary Eileen O'Connor

I am a senior copywriter at IBX. For me, the key to personal health and wellness is having simple goals and sticking to them — whether it’s drinking more water, working in a few extra steps each day, or just making time to unplug once in a while. When I’m not busy wordsmithing, my favorite ways to unwind include enjoying local arts and culture, reading a good book, and watching TV cooking shows.

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Top 3: Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Fireworks
There’s no better place to celebrate America’s birthday than Philadelphia. Philly is jam-packed with things to do the week of Independence Day. Catch a baseball exhibit, whip up a festive dessert, and bring your entertainment outdoors with concerts, movies, parades, block parties, and more! This is what summer is all about.

1. Take me out to the ball game exhibit
The Phillies may play away on the Fourth, but you can still get your baseball fix at the Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Follow the history of baseball through the eyes of the immigrants and minority groups who made the game what it is today. Relive the stories of baseball greats like Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, and Ichiro Suzuki through game-worn uniforms, baseball cards, letters, stadium seats, films, and other displays.

2. Get creative with some Pinterest-worthy healthy treats
Headed to a cookout? Ditch the been-there-done-that flag cake and make a lighter, healthier version of the red, white, and blue with these festive 4th of July fruit skewers. They’re quick and easy and are a great way to incorporate fruit into your diet.

3. Join the fun at the Wawa Welcome America Celebration
Starting this Saturday, enjoy seven days of free activities and entertainment with the always-popular Wawa Welcome America Celebration. This can’t-miss series of events features an outdoor viewing of Frozen or Rocky, a performance by the Philly POPS!, block parties with food trucks galore, and more! And to balance out all those hot dogs and ice cream, there’s a children’s fitness event, Go 4th and Learn About Fitness, at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse on July 1st.

The week is topped off with fireworks and the largest free concert in America — the Philly 4th of July Jam — featuring Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Philly natives the Roots, and more. This is one concert you don’t want to miss!

Bonus: Show our soldiers you care
Don’t forget about those that make our freedom possible! Send a care package to a soldier overseas with Operation Shoebox, a non-profit organization that makes sure our troops get letters, treats, and a little taste of home when they’re serving.


Sarah B.

As a copywriter at IBX, I frequently write about health and wellness topics. I am passionate about reading, writing, and travel. Because I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like, I am always trying to stay active — whether that’s running, spinning, hiking, yoga, Pilates, or Barre. I also try to balance out dessert with fresh, in-season veggies from my local farmer’s market, and I love trying out new recipes.

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Top 3: 5K fun runs to make you forget you hate running

After running the Blue Cross Broad Street Run in May, I’ve made it my goal to run as many races as I can this summer to keep my momentum going. With races like Muckfest and the R.O.C Race — super fun, highly motivational, and benefiting a great cause — I’m off to a great start. But, I’m not even close to finished. Get in on the action with my top 3 fun-themed 5Ks of the summer.

Mud Run

1. Save the day with this 5K
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a super hero convention with sneakers! The Super Run is your chance to be a real-life hero. This 5K raises money to grant wishes to those in need. Runners dress as their favorite super hero and get cool swag like a cape (!), an “I’m Super” temporary tattoo, and an awareness bracelet. There’s even a 1K walk for non-runners who still want to participate.

The Super Run
Race day: June 21, 2014
Place: Philadelphia Navy Yard
Benefits: The Wish Upon a Hero Foundation

2. And all the girlies say…it’s Pretty Fly for a 5K!
Break out your flannel shirts and Blossom hats! The Pretty Fly for a 5K is all that and a bag of chips! With this 90s-themed race, you get your very own fanny pack filled with childhood favorites like slap bracelets, Handi-Snacks, Pop Rocks, and a CapriSun. Plus, you get to jam to your favorite 90s tunes along the entire course! If you’re not into running it, you can always dance it with one of these super hot dance moves. And if you’re not into 90s, then talk to the hand, because the face don’t understand!

Pretty Fly for a 5K
Race day: July 12, 2014
Place: Philadelphia Art Museum area
Benefits: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

3. Will run for Crab Fries
The way I see it, this is probably the best 5K you’ll run all summer. With the Chickie’s and Pete’s 5K Boardwalk Run, you A) get to run on the very first boardwalk ever built, and B) wind up the race with your very own cup of free Crab Fries. This one is especially convenient if you’re already at the shore during that weekend. If you’re not a runner, that’s OK! You can walk the race, too.

Chickie’s and Pete’s 5K Boardwalk Run
Race day: August 23, 2014
Place: Atlantic City Boardwalk
Benefits: Autism New Jersey

What’s the craziest 5K you’ve ever run?



I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Top 3: DIY summer activities for kids

Kids gardening
School’s out for summer! As a kid, I spent summer days running around with friends, swimming at the neighborhood pool, riding my bike until dusk, and catching fireflies. Want to save your couch bound kids (or nieces, nephews, whoever) from overdosing on TV and video games? Try my top 3 DIY outside and on the move activities.

1. No pool? No problem! Create a water world in your own backyard
Let the kids cool off with a mom- (or dad-) made water park. Make a human carwash from PVC pipes and pool noodles, or a giant water bed from plastic drop cloth and duct tape. Here are a few water activity ideas you and your kids can create and enjoy together. And if you’re short on time, there’s always a good old-fashioned water balloon fight.

2. Try a little “healthy” competition
Schedule a weekly family game night, but swap out typical board games for outdoor versions that get kids moving. “Lawn” versions of Twister, Scrabble, and Jenga are easy to create, and outdoor games like the bean bag toss are always a hit. And if your kids are really into video games, try creating a life-sized Angry Birds game, complete with green pig balloons and cardboard boxes. Here are some other games that are easy to create and fun for the whole family.

3. Give green thumbs the green light
Gardening teaches responsibility and patience. Plus, it’s another great excuse to spend time outside. Encouraging kids to grow their favorite fruits and veggies adds valuable lessons about nutrition to the mix (exercise, nutrition, and learning, it’s like good parenting on steroids). If you live in an area without a lot of space for a garden, you can grow plants in a container or flower box, as long as there are holes for the roots to breathe. Get a full list of tips for gardening with your kids.

You’ve seen my ideas for summer fun; but, how will you keep your kids busy (and active) this summer?



I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Top 3: Ditch the shore for more in Philly

Art MuseumLike birds flying south for the winter, Philadelphians flock to the shore for Memorial Day Weekend. But for those of you sticking around town, like me, there’s still plenty to do.

Here are our top 3 things to do in Philly during Memorial Day Weekend.

1. Fall in “Love” with fashion and art
As a lifelong Philadelphian, I sometimes forget there’s a world of art and culture at the top of the Art Museum steps (Sorry, Rocky!). If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s a good time to check out Runway of Love, featuring the skinny, body-conscious fashions by the late American designer, Patrick Kelly. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest in the country with over 200,000 paintings, prints, and drawings. So, there’s bound to be something that strikes your fancy — even if fashion isn’t your thing.

You can make a day of it and walk down the Parkway to the Barnes Foundation, home to Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings by famous artists like Renoir and Picasso.

2. Take yourself out to the ballgame
My beloved Fightin’ Phils are taking on the Dodgers at home Memorial Day weekend. Bring your pup for “Bark in the Park” on Saturday night, or get your dog on at “Dollar Dog Night” on Monday. If you’re counting calories, check out the vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Here’s a list of park favorites and their calorie counts. *Hint: you may want to rethink the Schmitter.

3. Lighten up with a non-traditional BBQ
What’s Memorial Day Weekend without a traditional BBQ with friends and family? Add a twist (and make things easy on yourself) by making it pot luck; you provide the beverages and everyone brings a dish to share. If you’re looking for some healthier alternatives, here are 9 mouthwatering recipes to try. Every recipe on this list is less than 400 calories!

Have a great holiday weekend!

Bonus: Honor our veterans from Philadelphia
Let’s not forget what Memorial Day is all about. The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial will hold its annual ceremony honoring the 646 Philadelphians lost during the Vietnam War on Monday, May 26 at 12:30p.m. on Front and Spruce Streets. The Honorable Theresa Anne Tull, a Foreign Service Officer with extensive experience in Southeast Asia, will be the keynote speaker.



I'm a copywriter at IBX. I enjoy Philly sports and know everything there is to know about the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers. I'm always looking for new ways that I can reach my goal weight. Follow my posts to find out what has worked for me and how it can work for you!

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Can I get health insurance during the “special enrollment period?”

Special Enrollment Open enrollment for choosing a new health plan for 2014 is over, but you may still be able to get coverage if you’ve experienced certain events in your life. From April 1, 2014, to November 15, 2014, a special enrollment period will be available for individuals with a qualifying life event.

You may be eligible to enroll during the special enrollment period if you experience:

  • Loss of coverage: There are several scenarios where you may lose your current health coverage that would make you eligible for a special enrollment period to apply for coverage. For example, if you have health coverage through your job, and lose your job, you qualify for a special enrollment period and can apply for an individual or family plan. Or, if you have coverage through your spouse’s plan and you get divorced or your spouse passes away, you would also be eligible for a special enrollment period. You may also have a plan that is being discontinued due to the fact that the plan is non-compliant with the Affordable Care Act. In this scenario, you would also be eligible for a special enrollment period and can apply for coverage.
  • Birth or adoption of a baby: If you are uninsured or on a competitor’s plan and you have or adopt a baby, you qualify for a special enrollment period and can apply for coverage for you and your family.*
  • Recent move into a new coverage area: If you recently moved, say from California to Pennsylvania, you would qualify for a special enrollment period and could enroll in a new individual or family plan in Pennsylvania.
  • Marriage: If you are uninsured or on a competitor’s plan and you get married, you and your spouse would qualify for a special enrollment period and can apply for individual or family health coverage. *

*Keep in mind that special enrollment applies to prospective members only, so if you already have an Independence Blue Cross (IBC) health plan, and have a baby or get married, you can add your baby or spouse to your current IBC health plan under our normal policy change process.

There may be other unique situations where you can still apply for coverage during the special enrollment period, so if you believe you qualify, but do not see your life event listed above, please call us at 1-888-475-6206.

Enrollment time frame
If you experience one of the life events listed above, you have 60 days from your event date to apply for a new health plan. In some scenarios, you can submit your application early to prevent a gap in coverage. If you experience a loss of coverage, you have the option of applying up to 60 days prior to your loss of coverage. If you move into a new coverage area or get married, you can apply 30 days prior to your move or wedding.

If you do not qualify for a special enrollment period, your next opportunity to apply for coverage is the 2015 annual open enrollment period, which opens on November 15, 2014, for coverage beginning January 1, 2015.


Paula Sunshine

As Vice President of Consumer Sales and Marketing at Independence Blue Cross, Paula Sunshine is accountable for the Individual Under-65 market segment. In this capacity, she is directly responsible for developing and executing all direct-to-consumer marketing and sales capabilities. In addition, Ms. Sunshine is accountable for insuring the delivery of market-competitive products and pricing as well as operational readiness for the Consumer market.

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I finished.

I never thought I would say those two words. Yet here I am, three days later, still surprised that I can say, “I finished.”

Blue Cross Broad Street Run

After the race, rocking my Wonder Women “I am a Fighter” T-shirt!

Let’s rewind for a second. Back in January, I thought it would be a great idea to run the Blue Cross Broad Street Run (BCBSR) — despite the fact that I’ve never entered in any race before in my life. Not a fun run, 5k, 10k, or friendly race around the block. No. I chose the largest 10-miler in the country. In my infinite wisdom, I thought the BCBSR would be the perfect race for an out-of-shape, overweight girl to try her first time out of the gate. (And did I also mention how much I hate running?) I told myself it would help me in my eternal battle to lose weight and get healthy. I convinced myself that this was the best idea ever. So I signed up. I instantly felt butterflies in my stomach, and thought to myself, “What did I just do?”

In the weeks that followed, I trained. I went to the gym and hit the treadmill hard. I did strength training and stretched often. I never went more than two days without going to the gym. Besides me having to tell my boyfriend, mainly because I live with him and needed him to drive me that day, I did not tell my family or many friends I was running the race. When a co-worker asked me why this was such a secret, I said, “What if I can’t finish? What if I fail? It will be bad enough if I disappoint myself, I don’t know if I can handle disappointing others, too.”

On the morning of the race, my boyfriend dropped me off at the starting line. He told me that I would finish this race and he would be waiting for me at the finish line. I went to the pink corral and sat by myself on the curb. My stomach was in knots and my mind was filled with self-doubt. I felt like I did not belong there and I just wanted to go home.

After a while, I looked around and saw all different kinds of runners, and the excitement was electric. The sidelines were packed with supporting spectators, cheering on their family members, friends, or even complete strangers. The mood was so upbeat and positive that it was hard for me not to be positive. It was then that I realized that I wished my mom was there cheering me on. I also made the decision that I would not quit no matter how much I wanted to. I would finish.

When the horn went off, I took off. I jogged, ran, and walked all 10 miles. I passed so many wonderful people along the way. People who I have never met were high-fiving, cheering, encouraging, and pushing me towards the Navy Yard. I even got a high five from Governor Ed Rendell.

When I entered the Navy Yard, I received a text message from my boyfriend. He told me that no matter how tired I was, I would run across that finish line. With that little boost of confidence, I picked up my pace and pushed my tired legs into a run and crossed the finish line. I could not believe it. I did it! I finished the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. I did not quit. I did not let any of the million excuses that flooded my head stop me. I finished. I proved to myself that I could do it.

I am so proud of myself for finishing, but I also know that next year I can do better. I have already signed up for a number of other races so I can get in better shape and crush my time next year. I don’t know if competing in the BCBSR has awaken the inner athlete in me, but it has made me realize that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I was.

So look out Blue Cross Broad Street Run 2015, I am coming for you! And this time, I am bringing a whole cheering section with me.



I am an internet communications coordinator at IBX. After years of struggling with my weight, I have recently made the commitment to lose the weight and keep it off for good. When I am not at the gym or resisting the urge to have just one Oreo, I can be found reading, sipping a non-fat latte at Starbucks or hanging out with family and friends. Keep checking back as I make my way to my goal weight!

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2014 Blue Cross Broad Street Run Infographic

BCBSR Infographic


IBX Insights Team

Health care delivery is in the midst of reform and rejuvenation — an exciting prospect, but one that can also cause confusion and questions. With IBX Insights we want to be your first line of member-focused information, helping you understand the new health care model, how it affects your quality and cost of care, and the opportunities available through IBX to improve your health. Join the conversation with IBX associates who work every day to make health care more accessible and transparent for you.

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Broad Street Beats: IBX is now
on Spotify!

Like you, we’re counting down the days until the best and biggest 10-miler in the country. The IBX running team is winding down weeks (or months) of cross-training, blisters, long runs, and sore Monday mornings — all for the chance to leap through that finish line.

Sometimes, in the final days before the run, the only way to go that extra mile — hopefully even that 10th mile — is the perfect soundtrack! As our gift to you, we present the official Blue Cross Broad Street Run Playlist, a collection of tunes recommended by IBX runners to help you push through these final training days. Check out our associates’ favorite picks on Spotify, or listen below! They’re specially selected for warming up, cooling down, and for that extra burst of energy in between.

Now That We Found Love by Heavy D & The Boyz
“Perfect song to run/dance (AKA prance) to! You’ll get a burst of energy at any point in your run.”
Kim-Thao Nguyen, Communications Services

Primary by The Cure
“When I feel like I can’t keep going, the drive of Primary (and the memory of how awesome I was in the 80s) pushes me through.”
Jen Tafe-Weindorfer, Communications Services

Run by Vampire Weekend
“Really, any song by Vampire Weekend is upbeat and great to run to, but this one actually tells me to run, so it’s a must for my playlist.”
Ashley Weyler, Communications Services

What I Like About You by the Romantics
“Was a song I loved in high school and listening to it makes me feel 16 again (which helps when this old body is trying to run).”
Kimberly Siejak, CBS Administration

queensGo With The Flow by Queens of the Stone Age
“This song has the perfect beat to keep me on pace. As soon as I hear the intro, I get back on pace and know I can finish the race strong.”
Sarah Matthews, Communications Services

Bubble Pop! by Hyuna
“Catchy song, with a great tempo. Lyrics in Korean will keep you from distraction!”
Michael Holmes, Creative Services

The Gauntlet by Dropkick Murphys
“This song is about overcoming adversity and standing up for your beliefs through solidarity, in the face of suppression and/or oppression… it’s got a pretty motivational message to get you up and running.”
Andrew Fisher, Premier Accounts

Hearts on Fire by John Cafferty
“It is the training montage song from Rocky 4. I like to save it towards the end of my workout for one last final push, thinking I’m Rocky running up the snow covered mountains of Russia.”
John Shermer, Provider Communications

Paper Planes by MIA
“The song keeps me running at a good pace. And when I’m hitting a wall it reminds me of the movie Slumdog Millionaire — so I just replay the movie in my head and try to forget my pain!”
Kathleen Conlon, Public Affairs

Black and Blue by Miike Snow
“It’s got perfect timing on the beats for running a good pace (and it’s catchy).”
David Manzolillo, Creative Services

Hyperparadise (Flume Remix) by Hermitude
“I’ve been really addicted to Hermitude. I stumbled on it via Pandora one day and it’s become one the best songs to hear on my longer runs.”
Heather Falck , Social Mission

Texas by Magic Man
“It’s a song that makes me forget I’m running an extra mile (or 1/3 of a mile).”
Josh Simon, Communications Services

I’m Not Your Hero by Tegan and Sarah
“The reflective lyrics about ‘see[ing] myself at the finish line,’ paired with the inspiring and upbeat tempo, always make me think about all that I’ve accomplished after a long run. It’s been known to get me a little choked up when the runner’s endorphins are high.”
Daina Havens, Worksite Wellness

Tenderness by General Public
“The beat on this song gives me energy.”
Melissa Matyas, Health Services Administrative

I Am the Doctor by Murray Gold & the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
“Do I really need to explain this one???”
Christian Annese, Electronic Communication Services

Let It Go by Idina Menzel
“Because as someone who has struggled with their weight, it is nice to let go of the ‘fat girl’ and embrace my inner athlete, no matter how slow I am.”
Toni –Marie Wise, Communications Services


Kim-Thao Nguyen

I'm an internet communications coordinator at IBX. I believe in a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle, and always find reasons to be active -- whether it's training for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, exploring Philly on my bike, or running to somewhere, anywhere, that has food.

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A Tale of Two Races: Running with purpose

Red Socks During last year’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run, many runners wore red socks as a symbol of solidarity and support of Boston and its marathoners after the tragic bombings near the Boylston Street finish line. We ran with purpose and pride. We ran along curbs and street corners filled by the cheering friends and fans that came out to encourage us to keep moving toward the finish line. We ran fearlessly. Despite the thousands of unique race numbers pinned to apparel worn by thousands of runners making their way south on Broad Street, we ran as one.

In good company
Two weeks following the 2013 Blue Cross Broad Street Run I qualified for the Boston Marathon. Spring became summer, then fall and then winter. I began a training plan for my first Boston Marathon…and it began to snow. If training for a marathon wasn’t enough of a challenge, the weather certainly was. There was any combination of snow/ice/cold/rain/wind through twelve consecutive weeks of my sixteen-week training plan.

Spring finally arrived and I was in the final weeks of training for Boston. I began to see people running here, there, on a bridge, on a path, in my way. I was more often in their way! Having the company of other runners on sidewalks, paths and trails throughout the city was uplifting. When I was running my longest training miles in preparation for the Boston Marathon, other runners were doing the same in preparation for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. We were all running.

Looking forward to the Blue Cross Broad Street Run
With the 2014 Boston Marathon now behind me, I look forward to joining the thousands lacing up to run the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. This year is different. Training for these two race distances has been different. I’ve put my hardest efforts into preparing for the Boston Marathon and I am so glad I did. The Boston Marathon was an amazing experience from start to finish. Running the race was physically challenging and the support and encouragement of the crowd was emotionally uplifting. I enjoyed every mile and moment. I am excited to keep the momentum going. I may not run a personal best at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run this year but I will have fun. The races are different but the thousands of runners will do what they do best and rally to the finish – in Boston and on Broad Street. I’m so fortunate for the ability to be a part of both.

What do you enjoy about training for a race? What motivates you through uncomfortable conditions or workouts? What’s your goal for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run?



I am a Foundation Program Analyst for the IBX Foundation. When I'm not writing about running, I'm usually outside running and exploring. My journey is possible because of my giant dog, my encouraging friends and family and many pairs of sneakers. Thanks for tuning in to my never-ending adventures on how I successfully navigate life as a runner.

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