I have recently learned of two local groups that are doing some pretty cool things to help women and children.
The talented team at my favorite salon are advocates for the movement against domestic violence. Every year, the Alma G. Davis Foundation hosts a red carpet gala that celebrates the lives of Domestic Violence Survivors.
At this “Dinner for Divas” 150+ women from shelters across the South are treated to a day of pampering and makeovers, and are surprised at the end to find they are the honored guests of the evening.
To help make this empowering evening a success, the Kristen James salon is collecting donations of gently used dresses, shoes, costume jewelry, and formal or business type attire which will be handed off to the Divas on their big day. All sizes and all styles are needed (including men’s wear, some Divas rock it that way).
This is a very special movement – I would like to help them and I hope you will join me. Donations should be dropped off at the Kristen James Hair Studio 3988 Atlanta Rd SE, Smyrna, GA 30080.
Learn more about the foundation on their website or social media.
The Princess Project is an assembly of princesses (local high school students) dedicated to putting smiles on the faces of children. They spread the magic of childhood to kids in need of a little cheer.
These talented local actors and singers brighten long days for kids in hospitals as they enjoy a visit from a real princess! Can you imagine the smiles they bring? The girls raise money by working birthday parties and events.
Please consider a donation to help these young ladies raise needed funds to support their effort and cover expenses. Mail your contribution to The Princess Project at 3105 Wynford Gables Marietta, GA 30064.
A GoFundMe account is also in the works – stay in the loop via their Facebook page.
Let’s get an important distinction clear right away: weekly meal prep and food prep are not the same thing.
Meal prep is preparing entire meals for the week in advance.
Food prep is preparing individual food items in advance, making it easy to grab a snack or throwing together an impromptu meal. If you haven’t yet mastered this skill, head over to my post about food prep right here.
Planning and executing a week’s worth of meals is hard work. Not gonna lie. Now, add the stipulation that the meals are healthy and easy to make, and you’re heading into migraine territory. Head… migraine… see what I did there? Throw in a few picky eaters or little kids and you very well might want to hang your head and cry.
Ah… fear not, grasshopper. Help is here.
The time and effort you put into planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will pay off big-time. You’ll have healthier meals, less stress, and less time wasted panicking over what to eat. And once you do it for a few weeks in a row, it will become a habit and be even easier to do. Booyah.
It’s imperative to keep healthy food on hand so you don’t fall into easy, bad-for-you foods. I have personal experience with consistent shopping and meal prep leading to fat loss, and a scattered, devil-may-care approach to meal planning leading to no loss (or even the dreaded fat gain). My exercise stays constant so i know it’s the food.
On prep day, Hard-boil your eggs, bake a batch of mini-omelettes or healthy muffins. Grill the huge package of chicken you got from Costco, roast some vegetables, and make double batches of brown rice or quinoa. Prepare your own tuna/chicken salad, so you can control the ingredients. Assemble these into containers for a healthy meal in a flash. When you’re done, you should have a collection that looks something like this:
Here is my plan from last week. You can find the recipes for all the starred* entries here on my website. The items that have double stars ** are from Sohailla Digsby, author of the awesome 52-Day Countdown.
If you’d like a copy of my meal plan sheet, with its handy shopping list sidebar, you can download it here.
If you just can’t abide the idea of making what’s planned for a specific day, or you’ve neglected to do the shopping, turn to your tried and true of stand-bys. Here’s a list of 12 easy meals that you should be able to pull together with ingredients from your pantry and stored whatever in your freezer.
Meal-planning can be whatever you make it to be. Perhaps rather than detailing out every breakfast, lunch and dinner, you just have 3-7 meals/ideas chosen with no days designated for them. You don’t need to limit yourself to a particular meal on a certain day. Start slowly, and give yourself some leeway – a little freedom can ease the transition from meal prep to full-blown meal planning.
In the end, meal-planning should not be something that we dread but something that we look upon as a tool for saving us time and money each month. And, as with everything in life, don’t let yourself get down if you drift from your plan or fall out of the habit of creating them. Just pick back up the next week and try again. There’s a perfect pep talk in Meal Prep for Newbies.
Sources for this article include Glowing Gazelles, Fit Mom Baltimore and Good Cheat Eats.
Does your job keep you chained to a desk? Want to get moving and feel better? Start a walking program with short distances, slow paces and flat surfaces; and gradually build up distance, speed and inclines. Focus on good posture, with head lifted and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally and breathe deeply.
Experts recommend that you walk a minimum of 30 minutes each day, but that can be three 10-minute walks each day, or hour-long walks two to three times per week.
To fit more walking into your schedule, you have to be ready to walk when the opportunity presents itself. Keep shoes in your car, walk around the field during the kids soccer practice, and invite friends to walk with you before you head off to the coffee shop.
Remember, every little bit counts. So, throw on your comfy clothes and sneakers and head out for a brisk walk in the fresh air. Your body and mind will thank you! These, and more great tips, can be found at Bonne Santé.
If you’re looking for people to hang out with, my local club may be for you. We hike, bike & jog around town – and we grab a cuppa joe or a bite to eat while we’re at it. Living that active lifestyle is way more fun when you do things with friends! Learn more about the Actively Social Club.
Ever felt pain in your lower back when you stood up after sitting for awhile? How about pain in just one of your hips? Or the not-funny-at-all pain in your actual butt, making it hurt to walk? It might be caused by constriction of the piriformis muscle.
I can hear you thinking, “A pair-of-whatsis?” Okay, school’s in: The piriformis is a small, flat muscle underneath the gluteus maximus, connecting the bottom of your spine to the top of your femur. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down into the legs. Your piriformis lays on top of the sciatic nerve, and is perfectly located to quite literally get on your (sciatic) nerve.
Sciatica: it ain’t just for your granny. It’s for gym buffs and fitness class junkies, too.
I used to think sciatica was a specific malady, but recently learned that it’s a broad term for any condition in which the sciatic nerve is pinched in some way. While herniated discs are known to often cause sciatica, piriformis syndrome is less well-known.
Numbness, tingling, and/or severe pain can occur if the piriformis puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can manifest itself as a dull ache or as shooting pains in the back, hip, buttocks, and legs.
If the piriformis muscle tightens, gets pulled, becomes inflamed, or spasms, you will know because it will hurt to stand up after prolonged sitting.
The location of the piriformis makes it a difficult muscle to target, though target it we must, if we want relief. Effective piriformis stretches can help restore muscle function and relieve that persistent, annoying, and sometimes debilitating pain in the butt.
Use the following chart to guide you through the top 5 piriformis stretches.
More advanced stretches, and more details about piriformis syndrome are on this web page, complete with video how-to’s. This yoga site and this chiropractic site have in-depth analysis and self-diagnosing tips.
We had some crazy weather last week. Some parts of our beautiful state got snowed on, all of us wrapped up in snuggie blankets, only to switch them out a few days later for tank tops and flip-flops. Egads. It made my head spin. And what often happens when the temperature swoops up and dives down like that? Seasonal colds, you betcha.
Just when we’re out of the woods of flu season, cases of the common cold become more likely.
The influenza virus, which causes flu season to occur in the winter, has a structure that allows it to replicate and spread best when air is cold and dry.
The viruses that typically cause the common cold replicate more easily in cool, but not too cold weather. They cause outbreaks more frequently in the early to late spring and early to late fall.
Need more drama? In the spring, seasonal sniffing can also come from another culprit: allergies.
It’s not uncommon for people to lament, “I’ve been sick for weeks” when they really don’t have a cold at all, their allergies are flaring up.
Those who know they have allergies need to take particular care in the spring. Not only can pollen spark miserable seasonal symptoms, but also allergies leave you more likely to catch a cold virus because your immune system is already under attack, and taxed with handling all the various pollens.
I have friends who swear by home remedies and all-natural supplements to prevent and combat colds. But unfortunately, echinacea, zinc, and vitamins E and C have not been shown to help prevent the common cold in clinical trials.
What can help? Washing your hands. The cold virus can live on human skin for at least two hours, so keep your hands clean and away from your face.
To dodge seasonal sickness, follow the same “healthy lifestyle” advice that keeps you healthy year-round: exercise, sleep, eat well, and keep stress in check. Keep plugging away at the stuff you already know works. Have a happy, sneeze-free Spring. 🙂
Complete article, with references, can be found on the Weather Channel.
My friend Wanda is an amazing cook, She is famous in my circle of friends for being the one to get me to enjoy kale (which is a good thing, because one can handle only so much romaine lettuce before one goes bonkers).
But today’s offering is not a cool crisp salad, oh no. Today is cold and blustery – the winds whipping thru my jacket remind me of my Michigan years. My thoughts return to a warm, spicy, delicious chli that Wanda prepared on a long weekend trip to a cozy cabin last month. It’s out-of-this-world, upper echelon comfort food. Here’s the recipe, share the love!
- 1 lb. fresh ground turkey
- 5-8 chicken andouille sausages*
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- whole onion, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 15 oz. can pinto beans
- 1 15 oz, can northern beans
- 1 15 oz. can diced tomatos
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
- 1 jar Jardines® roasted chipotle sauce*
- cooked sweet potatoes, halved
- Brown the ground turkey, onions and peppers in a deep skillet.
- Add thinly sliced Andouille sausage (about 8 long sausages) and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Saute until meats are browned and veggies have wilted,
- Stir in remaining ingredients. Let simmer until flavors marry beautifully – 30 to 60 minutes.
- Serve over half a cooked sweet potato. Enjoy!
*Wanda notes that the chicken Andouille sausage and the chipotle sauce are key to achieving the zesty piquant flavor of this chili. She favors sausage by Amylu®, available at Costco and Whole Foods. Tailor the amount you put in to how meaty you want your chili to be.
Searching my Food Network app for some inspiration, I saw a show called Bootcamp Brunch, devoted to a healthy-yet-indulgent spread. In the show, a personal trainer led a group of friends through an outdoor workout before they all settled down to refuel. It’s like they made that episode just for me! Celebrity foodie Valerie Bertinelli made a salad, muffins, frittata and a smoothie along with a devine open-faced sandwich featuring avocado and heirloom tomatoes. It’s a perfect brunch menu!
Feeling inspired by that fancy sandwich, I found a few other scrumptious examples of simple and fancy versions of toast with avocado spreads. Of course, I prefer the fancy ones. Here are my faves.
Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs & Prosciutto
Make a healthy version of a drive-thru breakfast sandwich at home with fiber-rich avocados and poached eggs. Jazz up your morning meal!
- 1/2 avocado, mashed
- 2 slices bread, toasted
- 2 eggs, poached
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 4 leaves butter lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1. In a pot of boiling water, add a Tbsp of vinegar and gently swirl the water in one direction. Carefully drop the eggs one at a time and poach for 2-4 minutes or until desired doneness.
2. Meanwhile cut the avocados in half, remove stones and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork and squeeze in fresh lemon or lime juice and salt and pepper.
3. Smear toast with avocado, and top with lettuce, tomatoes, prosciutto and the poached egg. Top with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve immediately.
This lovely gem of a breakfast bite, as well as other yummy versions by food columnist Bonnie Mo, can be found here.
Avocado Open-Faced Sandwich
- 1 small shallot, sliced
- 2 tablespoons sea salt flakes
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 6 slices sourdough bread, toasted
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 2 to 3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 2 tablespoons salted sunflower seeds
- Valerie’s ricotta mixture
- For the ricotta mixture: Add the ricotta, capers, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt and some pepper to a bowl. Set aside and allow the flavors to meld.
- For the layers: Add the shallots to a bowl, cover with ice water and soak for 10 minutes prior to using.
- Add the sea salt and lemon zest to a bowl and combine with your fingers.
- To build: Top each slice of bread with some of the ricotta mixture, 2 slices avocado, 3 slices tomato and some shallots, sunflower seeds and lemon salt to finish. Cut diagonally.
The recipe for the ricotta mixture, along with the rest of the Bootcamp Brunch menu, can be found at Food Network.
Cool and creamy chicken salad gets a little exotic with the addition of antioxidant-rich curry powder, crisp vegetables, sweet apples and crunchy cashews. This is a fabulous meal-prep recipes! When cooking the chicken, make extra for an easy protein addition to any meal during the week. Pressed for time? Use rotisserie chicken from your grocery store’s deli.
- ½ cup mayonnaise (Stacie’s favorite is Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo) or plain yogurt
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- ½ lime, juiced
- 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro (optional)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
- 1 small apple, diced
- 1 medium celery rib, finely diced
- 3 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced
- ¼ cup cashews, roughly chopped
- For topping: Green onions, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots (optional)
- In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, curry powder, lime juice, cilantro and salt.
- Next add the cooked chicken, diced apple, celery, and onions and mix until well combined.
- Fold in the cashews.
- Serve in a lettuce wrap, on a bed of greens, or on cucumber slices. Top with green onions, shredded cabbage, shredded carrots or additional cashews if desired.
Makes 4-6 servings
This recipe is dairy-free, paleo-friendly, gluten-free and can be made vegan-friendly by using a vegan mayo and garbanzo beans in place of the chicken. Full recipe, plus more yumminess can be found here.
Aerobic Health Inventory and Waivers of Liability
This pilaf is an excellent side dish to add to your Thanksgiving table. Winter squash contributes a rich, full flavor to a simple barley pilaf. A mixture of parsley, lemon zest and garlic gives the dish a lively finish. Thank the food writers at EatingWell for this one.
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash, (3/4-inch cubes) (see Tip)
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add broth, water and barley; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes.
- Add squash and continue to cook until the barley and squash are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10-15 minutes more.
- Add parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; mix gently.
Tip: To save time, use conveniently peeled and cubed butternut squash, available in many supermarkets in the fall and winter.
Serving size: 2/3 cup
Per serving: 175 calories; 2 g fat(0 g sat); 7 g fiber; 36 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars
Source recipe can be found here.
This elegant dish from EatingWell is perfect for entertaining. The pilaf melds the chewy texture of barley and wild rice with the richness of toasted pine nuts and the sweet-tart crunch of pomegranate seeds.
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup wild rice, rinsed
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 – Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add wild rice and barley; stir for a few seconds. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the wild rice and barley are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 45 to 50 minutes
2 – Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
3 – Add pomegranate seeds, lemon zest, parsley and the toasted pine nuts to the pilaf; fluff with a fork. Serve hot.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To reheat, place in a baking dish, add 1/4 cup water and cover. Microwave on High for 10 to 15 minutes or bake at 350°F or 25 to 30 minutes.
Serving size: 3/4 cup
Per serving: 225 calories; 8 g fat(1 g sat); 6 g fiber; 35 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 8 g sugars; 0 g added sugars
Source recipe can be found here.
I’m looking forward to a tag-team teaching event next week! Larry T Brown and I will teach a combination class where my kickboxers and his hiphoppers can mix, mingle, and share the fitness joy. You’ll use every muscle in your body to get your freak on, get your fight on, and get all your stress OUT.
Check out Larry’s energetic style:
Just $8 for 90 minutes of heart-thumping, booty-shaking, high-kicking shenanigans – you know you want to come! Do your friends a solid and bring them along.
Class is Thursday, Sep 22nd at 8pm, in a dance studio near Carrabba’s Restaurant in Smyrna. Get full details at Facebook:
Let us know you’re coming by clicking the above link to the event and “joining”. Feel free to share with friends who would enjoy!
I’m so excited for this fresh take on a old fave, and I hope to see you there!
Yoga has a way of calming the nervous system. Through deep breathing, long stretches and relaxing postures, yoga can help induce a good night’s sleep so you feel rested and ready for the day that lies ahead.
This simple yoga sequence is easy to do right before bed. Gather a pillow or two and find a wall with a little space around it. You may want to put on some soothing music, dim the lights and put on your cozy pajamas before you practice, as you will want to head straight to bed following the sequence.
Begin by sitting comfortably on the floor or on your bed.
Sounds weird, I know. But the benefits of alternate-nostril breathing include bringing balance to your prana, or life force, bringing a sense of calm and balance to the body. You become aware of your breathing in a new way, bringing your mind to focus on the present moment and away from distractions that might be causing restlessness or anxiety.
Bring your dominant hand up, place your thumb on the nearest nostril and close off the air. Take a breath in through the other nostril. Use your ring finger to close off the open nostril and lift the thumb from the first nostril and exhale. Inhale through that same open nostril, then close it off with the thumb and exhale on the other side. Repeat this technique, switching sides on the exhales for at least 10 rounds, breathing deeply with each inhale and exhale.
From your seated position, fold your legs so you are sitting on your knees with the tops of your feet underneath you. Bow forward until your forehead touches the ground. It’s a good idea to spread your knees to allow your upper body to deepen. If this is not a comfortable position, tuck a pillow between your hips and your calves, and also put a pillow under your forehead. Try to find a position that is comfortable. Your arms can stretch out in front with palms facing down or rest alongside the body with the palms facing up.
Stay here, breathing deeply for several minutes. Focus on your breath, paying attention to each inhale and each exhale. Noticing the length and the quality of each breath, try to keep your mind from wandering. Direct your breath to your middle and upper back as you inhale, and to your lower back and hips as you exhale.
Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Gently begin to lower both knees to the right side, aiming to keep your shoulders glued to the ground. Turn your gaze toward the left side.
To increase comfort, place one pillow between the knees and one pillow under the right knee. Pause here and breathe, bringing your focus into your hips and lower back. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths and then switch sides.
Reclined Bound Angle
Still lying on your back, bring your feet to the ground with knees bent. Part your knees and bring the soles of your feet to touch. For extra support, place one pillow under each knee.
Let your shoulders and jaw relax and close your eyes. Bring one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly and think about breathing from the belly up on your inhale and from the chest down to the belly on your exhale. Keep your breaths long and smooth like gentle waves rolling in and out on the shore. Stay here fore 10 to 15 breaths.
Legs Up the Wall
A supported inversion, this pose helps get blood flowing back to the heart and sometimes causes so much relaxation you fall asleep right there. Bring a pillow under your hips for slight elevation. Scoot your hips as close to the wall as you can, then lie down and stretch your legs up the wall.
Before you settle into the pose, you might have to play with the distance between your hips and the wall. Find a comfortable distance you can hold for several minutes.
Bring your arms alongside your body and let your shoulders move away from your ears and down into the floor or bed. Drop your gaze toward your thighs and begin to focus on breathing deeply. Stay here for at least five minutes. To exit, remove the pillow from under your hips and roll to one side.
These yoga poses, combined with deep, mindful breathing will help bring your body and mind into a deeply relaxed state. Calming the mind and releasing tension will prepare the body for a good night’s rest.
See original article at ACE Fitness.
This edamame salad is bright, colorful and full of fresh flavor. It’s a perfect side dish to take to your next backyard barbeque. Easy-to-make and delicious, here’s how to impress the health food nerds in your social circle.You can thank the crew over at Clean Food Crush for this one.
1.5 lb frozen shelled organic edamame
3 cups frozen organic corn
2 diced red bell peppers
1 cup thin sliced green onion
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1⁄3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp prepared Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp avocado, or olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Prepare edamame to package directions. Drain thoroughly. Try to find organic edamame, which is usually non-GMO.
Combine salad ingredients in a large glass bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chopped veggies to dressing and toss to coat.
Refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.
See the original recipe here.
August is almost here, and you’ve been loving (or avoiding, as the case may be) the summer weather and activities. Are you happy with the fit of your clothes and your energy levels?
Maybe things aren’t exactly as they were back around Memorial Day —despite hitting your spin classes and drinking your green smoothies. What’s going on?
Let’s take a closer look at five typical summer behaviors to see if we can find the culprit that is getting in the way of maintaining your progress.
1. Eating too much “healthy” food.
Just because you just put in a solid 45 minutes on that bike does not mean you can treat yourself to a mango, berry and cocoa smoothie after every class. Similarly, gluten-free pizza is still pizza. Take a look at the “healthy” foods you are consuming as part of your daily diet and see if you can cut back and treat that gluten-free treat as a weekly or biweekly indulgence.
2. Eating too little.
Are you so committed to losing weight that you’re skipping meals or eating like a bird? Be careful here, as you don’t want to trick your body into thinking it’s in starvation mode. If your body isn’t getting enough calories, it will automatically protect itself by slowing down your metabolism and switch to fat-storage mode. The solution? Try to eat nutrient-dense whole foods every few hours throughout the day.
3. Drinking too much.
A few too many outdoor sunset happy hours may be sending your goals to the back-burner, while preventing your body from being a fat-burner. Calories from alcohol cannot be stored, so your body must prioritize getting rid of the drinks you consume and thus store whatever was currently being digested as fat. Also, not only is alcohol high in calories, it also reduces inhibitions and increases appetite. Meaning you’re more likely to snarf down some late-night cheese-fries and those will not help fuel your boot-camp class the next day.
4. Drinking too little.
Water, that is. Summer heat causes you to perspire and sweat and dehydrate. It is essential you keep a water stash going throughout the day. Remember, you may already be slightly dehydrated by the time you start to feel thirsty. And half the time you think you are hungry, it’s really your body telling you to replenish your fluids. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: Drink a large glass of water when you first wake up and before every meal to help keep your body properly hydrated.
5. Overdoing the summer barbecues.
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy barbecues—you just have to know how to navigate a summer soiree to make sure you’re having fun and staying on track. Steer clear of the processed hot dogs and greasy chips. Choose grilled meats instead and use condiments sparingly. Watch out for heavy sides like potato salads, and go nuts on the salad and grilled veggies, and opt for fruit for the dessert.
Original article from ACE Fitness.