Finding Balance

balance food.jpeg

As I reflect on a weekend I just spent with clients and friends in North Carolina I remember why I do what I do..... being a personal trainer you are a role model for health and fitness but many times you become a friend. 

The Honest Truth

While hanging out with friends this weekend we talked about how tough it can be to maintain your health and fitness. I shared with them that it isn't always easy for trainers either. One thing that I have always told my clients is that you need to have balance.  But everybody needs variety as well.  I tell my clients to not be too hard on themselves.  If getting fit and staying fit were easy everyone would be healthy and fit.

Recently, I have had a scare with my health and truth be told, it's not over. But this is the first time in my entire life that I've had to think about what could happen if I didn't stay healthy and take care of myself.  

What Do You Control?

There are some things that are out of our control and there are some things that are in our control. One of the things we can control is our diet and our choice to workout.  No, it's not easy. It takes work

Find Balance

But sometimes, like this weekend for me, you have to give yourself a break and enjoy a cinnamon roll or some wine or some chips.  I have had all of the above in the last 30 days celebrating my 50th birthday.  And yes, I will admit it,  I do feel a little bad. And yes I'm going to get back on the bandwagon, but reflecting back on all of it I think I needed to give myself a break.  I needed to not be constantly thinking about my weight, what I eat, what I drink or how I look.

Be Kind To Yourself

That's not why people love me. They love me for me and that hasn't changed. I have so enjoyed getting to know my clients and I have become really good friends with many of them. I am real when I am with them. I am never fake.  I believe is why my clients still come to me. They don't want to get yelled at when they make a mistake and eat something unhealthy. They don't want to get yelled at or feel bad about themselves if they've gained a few pounds. Because I am honest with them they know I understand taking some time off, adding variety and adding a little balance.

Too Much Of A Good Thing

We all have those times when we need to let our hair down.  Now, don't get me wrong, we should keep it all in check and not get out-of-control.  We have all worked hard to stay fit and healthy and don't want to lose that.  But remember, balance is the key. Too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing. 

Something's Got To Give

Have you ever been told you couldn't, shouldn't or can't do something? Or have you heard this?....It's impossible, no one succeeds doing that, you'll never make anything of yourself doing that? Why would you want to do that? 

I'm sure you've read or heard plenty of positive literature stating that you should not listen to those people. Stay away from the nay sayers. Avoid negative people, etc. 

Well, it can be hard at times. I'm 49 years old for only a few more weeks and I'm telling you that you can do just about anything you want to do. It truly depends on how badly you want it, what you're willing to do and just as importantly, what you are willing to give up in order to get it. Yes, I said what are you willing to give up! In order to get something that you really want, something has to give. Whether it's time, money, vacation, sleep or food. 

When I was about 24 years old I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that my neck injury was so bad and because it would be chronic I should give up being a personal trainer. He actually told me to find a new profession! Can you believe that? I understand that maybe at some level he was trying to help, however that was never an option for me. I have suffered through a lot of pain, chiropractors, PTs, masseurs and the best.......pilates workouts.

In other words, I did what it took to get past the debilitating pain and made a profession for myself. I am a Fitness professional. I teach pilates every day, I instruct clients on how to exercise correctly and make it fun at the same time. I train trainers to do what I do. It's a lifestyle and a profession. Imagine if I had listened to what that surgeon said. Maybe I would've found something else to do, but it wouldn't have been my passion. I'm glad I have faith and an inner strength that guided me to stick with it.

Have you ever had someone tell you you couldn't do something that you ultimately achieved? Please share it with me. 

Getting Healthy After Injury

Getting healthy after an injury or illness is not an easy then to do. It’s hard enough to find time to workout on a regular basis, let alone trying to fit in rehab on top of that. That’s where a knowledgeable personal trainer comes in handy.

Once a client has been released from rehab/PT, it is incredibly important to find a trainer that can understand the contraindications that come with the injury and how to progress the client correctly. The last thing someone wants to do is spend all of that time rehabbing to then get hurt working out by themselves or even with a trainer.

Many trainers today have backgrounds in corrective exercise and post-rehab training. This is important to know. Clients want the trainer to be able to discuss his/her program with the Physical Therapist once they are released. It will save time, money and recovery. It will also increase the trust between the client and trainer, as well as bridge the gap between fitness and Physical Therapy.

I always recommend that clients do at least 5 sessions with a trainer before going off on their own. If the client wants to go to a gym or do the program at home, it is best for the trainer to know what equipment the client has access to. With today's technology you can always Facetime or Skype, if there isn’t enough time to actually see each other in person.

Just remember that it’s important to spend the time and money now so that you won’t have to spend it later! 

Is it better to look good or feel good?

I have worked with many trainers over the years and have heard them say to their clients "It's better to look good than feel good."

Every time I hear this saying, I cringe.

What price are you paying to look good?

Yes, it's true that typically when we look good, we feel good, however the question is what price is the price we are paying to look good?

I have always believed that we should feel good first. Eat healthy, exercise 5-7 times per week and get 8 hours of sleep. Taking things to extreme to the point where we can't socialize, can't eat anything on the menu and have no energy because we are not consuming enough calories is a bad combination.

I believe you need to be good to yourself.  Have fun while you are exercising so that you not only can do it for a lifetime but will want to do it for a lifetime. And I believe we should enjoy healthy foods that make you feel clean and lean. 

Looking good is great but not at the cost of feeling lousy. The combination of looking good and feeling good cannot be beat.

Three Nutrition Tips To Live By

We have been in the weight loss/ weight gain profession for over 10 years and the ideas presented here are not a ‘magic pill’. We will help you manage your nutritional intake, calorie burning, & fitness plan.

We are going to keep this simple, so here are three things that need to be accomplished...

Nutrition Tips

1. Plan of attack

Remember that making healthy food choices goes a long way in maintaining your fitness plan. Do not deprive yourself of the pies, cakes or whatever it is you most enjoy; just remember to have a small portion in combination with healthy foods. Portioning is important. Sometimes just a taste is satisfying.

2. Anticipate setbacks

Remember you cannot always be as strong as you would like all of the time. You need to anticipate this. Do not get down on yourself and give up if (or, more likely, when) you overindulge. Just know this may happen and get back to the plan of eating healthy and controlling your portions. If it is Monday, and you remember that Friday is a party, you may want to make an extra effort to eat healthy the whole week.

3. Maintaining progress

You do this by continuing your workouts. You may want to put more time in for cardio. That means if you usually bike three times a week for 30 minutes, you may want to increase the bike time to 40 minutes and add a fourth day. You can also add to that by parking farther away during shopping.

These are just a few simple things to think about. Remember, enjoyment not engorgement.

And remember when it comes to weight loss, or any other healthy endeavor, there is no other place to be but here at Active Body & Health.

Advice For Joint Pain - Get Moving

Doctors increasingly are recommending physical activity to help osteoarthritis patients, overturning the more traditional medical advice for people to take it easy to protect their joints.

The new treatment approach comes as osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease once considered a problem of old age, has begun showing up in more middle-aged and young adults as a result of obesity and sports injuries. Studies have shown that weight loss, combined with exercises aimed at improving joint function and building up muscles that support the joints, can significantly improve patients' health and quality of life compared with medication alone.

Read more here.

Top 10 Brain Foods for Children

Give your child’s brain a nutritional boost.

By Jeanie Lerche Davis, Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
WebMD Feature (courtesy of

Want your child to do better in school? Take a close look at diet. Certain "brain foods" may help boost a child's brain growth -- plus improve brain function, memory, and concentration.

In fact, the brain is a very hungry organ -- the first of the body's organs to absorb nutrients from the food we eat, explains Bethany Thayer, MS, RD, a Detroit nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

"Give the body junk food, and the brain is certainly going to suffer," she tells WebMD.

Growing bodies need many types of nutrients -- but these 10 superfoods will help kids get the most from school.

1. Brain Food: Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon are an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA -- both essential for brain growth and function, says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a Los Angeles nutritionist and ADA spokeswoman.

In fact, recent research has also shown that people who get more of these fatty acids in their diet have sharper minds and do better at mental skills tests.

While tuna is also a source of omega-3s, it's not a rich source like salmon, Giancoli tells WebMD."Tuna is definitely a good source of lean protein, but because it's so lean it's not very high in omega-3s like canned salmon is," Giancoli tells WebMD. Also, albacore "white" tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna, so the EPA advises eating no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna weekly.

Eat more salmon: Instead of tuna sandwiches, make salmon salad for sandwiches -- canned salmon mixed with reduced-fat mayo or non-fat plain yogurt, raisins, chopped celery, and carrots (plus a little Dijon mustard if your child likes the taste). Serve on whole-grain bread -- which is also a brain food.

Soup idea: Add canned salmon to creamy broccoli soup -- plus frozen chopped broccoli for extra nutrition and soft texture. Boxed soups make this an easy meal, and are generally low in fat and calories, Giancoli says. Look for organic boxed soups in the health food section.

Make salmon patties -- using 14 oz. canned salmon, 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained), 1/2 onion (finely chopped), 2 garlic cloves (pressed), 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste. Combine ingredients. Mix well. Form into small balls. Heat olive oil in pan, flatten spinach balls with spatula. Cook over medium heat. Serve over brown rice (instant or frozen).

2. Brain Food: Eggs

Eggs are well-known as a great protein source -- but the egg yolks are also packed with choline, which helps memory development.

Eat more eggs: Send your child off to school with a grab-and-go breakfast egg burrito. Try breakfast for dinner one night a week -- scrambled eggs and toast. Make your own egg McMuffin at home: just put a fried egg on top of a toasted English muffin, topped with a slice of low-fat cheese.

3. Brain Food: Peanut Butter

"Peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects nervous membranes -- plus thiamin to help the brain and nervous system use glucose for energy," says Giancoli. Eat more peanut butter: For a twist on an old favorite, make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Dip apple slices in peanut butter. Or, top off your favorite salad with a handful of peanuts.

4. Brain Food: Whole Grains

The brain needs a constant supply of glucose -- and whole grains provide that in spades. The fiber helps regulate the release of glucose into the body, Giancoli explains. "Whole grains also have B-vitamins, which nourish a healthy nervous system."

Eat more whole grains: It's easy to find more whole grain cereals these days (make sure a whole grain is the first ingredient listed). But also think outside the box -- and try whole wheat couscous for dinner with cranberries, or low-fat popcorn for a fun snack, she suggests. Whole-grain bread is a must for sandwiches. Switch to whole-grain tortillas and chips for quesadillas, wraps, and snacks.

5. Brain Food: Oats/Oatmeal

Oats are one of the most familiar hot cereals for kids and a very nutritious “grain for the brain,” says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, LD/N, a St. Petersburg, Fla. consultant and ADA spokeswoman. "Oats provide excellent energy or fuel for the brain that kids need first thing in the morning."

Loaded with fiber, oats keep a child’s brain fed all morning at school. Oats also are good sources of vitamin E, B-vitamins, potassium and zinc -- which make our bodies and brains function at full capacity. Eat more oats: Top hot oatmeal with pretty much anything -- applesauce and cinnamon, dried fruit and soy milk, sliced almonds and a drizzle of honey, fresh banana and a dash of nutmeg with skim milk, Krieger suggests.

Cooking: Throw a handful of dry oats into a smoothie to make it thick -- or into pancake, muffin, waffle or a granola bar recipe. Here’s a simple snack kids can make: 1 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup dry oats, 1/2 cup dry milk powder. Mix it up with your hands -- then put a tablespoon between 2 apple or pear slices for a fun and different sandwich!

6. Brain Food: Berries

Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries. "In general, the more intense the color, the more nutrition in the berries," Krieger says. Berries boast high levels of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, which may help prevent cancer.

Studies have shown improved memory with the extracts of blueberries and strawberries. "But eat the real thing to get a more nutritious package," Krieger says. "The seeds from berries are also a good source of omega-3 fats.."

Eat more berries: Add berries to veggies that may need a flavor boost -- like sliced sweet cherries with broccoli or strawberries with green beans. Toss berries into a green salad. Add chopped berries to a jar of salsa for an excellent flavor surprise. More berry ideas: Add berries to yogurt, hot or cold cereal, or dips. For a light dessert, top a mound of berries with nonfat whipped topping, Krieger suggests

7. Brain Food: Beans

Beans are special because they have energy from protein and complex carbs -- and fiber -- plus lots of vitamins and minerals, Krieger says. "These are an excellent brain food since they keep a child's energy and thinking level at peak all afternoon if they enjoy them with lunch."

Kidney and pinto beans contain more omega 3 fatty acids than other beans -- specifically ALA, another of the omega-3’s important for brain growth and function, says Krieger.

Eat more beans: Sprinkle beans over salad and top with salsa. Mash vegetarian beans and spread on a tortilla. Mash or fill a pita pocket with beans -- and add shredded lettuce and low-fat cheese. Add beans to spaghetti sauce and salsa. Infants love mashed beans with applesauce!

8. Brain Food: Colorful Veggies

Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach -- vegetables with rich, deep color are the best sources of antioxidants that keep brain cells strong and healthy, Thayer says.?Eat more veggies: Try sweet potato fries: Cut up in wedges or sticks. Spray them with vegetable oil cooking spray and then bake them in the oven (400 degrees, 20 minutes or until they start to brown). Make pumpkin muffins: Mix 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin with a box of your favorite cake or muffin mix. Stir the two ingredients together and follow the directions. Baby carrots and tiny tomatoes fit nicely into lunch bags. Kids love spinach salads with lots of stuff in them -- like strawberries, mandarin oranges, sliced almonds. Another trick: Sneak all sorts of chopped veggies into spaghetti sauce, soups, and stews.

9. Brain Food: Milk & Yogurt

Dairy foods are packed with protein and B-vitamins -- essential for growth of brain tissue, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. "Milk and yogurt also provide a bigger punch with both protein and carbohydrates – the preferred source of energy for the brain," Thayer says. Recent research suggests that children and teens need 10 times more the recommended dose of vitamin D -- a vitamin that benefits the neuromuscular system and the overall life cycle of human cells. Eat more dairy: Low-fat milk over cereal -- and calcium- and vitamin D-fortified juices -- are easy ways to get these essential nutrients. Cheese sticks are great snacks.

Low-fat yogurt parfaits are also fun. In a tall glass, layer yogurt with berries (fresh, frozen, or dried) and chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts), Thayer suggests.

10. Brain Food: Lean Beef (or Meat Alternative)

Iron is an essential mineral that helps kids stay energized and concentrate at school. Lean beef is one of the best absorbed sources of iron. In fact, just 1 ounce per day has been shown to help the body absorb iron from other sources. Beef also contains zinc, which helps with memory.

For vegetarians, black bean and soy burgers are great iron-rich meatless options. Beans are an important source of nonheme iron -- a type of iron that needs vitamin C to be absorbed. Eat tomatoes, red bell pepper, orange juice, strawberries, and other "Cs" with beans to get the most iron.

For a burger-less source of iron -- try spinach. It's packed with nonheme iron, too.

Eat more iron: For dinner, grill kebobs with beef chunks and veggies. Or stir-fry a bit of beef with kids' favorite veggies. Grill black bean or soy burgers, then top with salsa or a tomato slice. Or, chow down on a spinach salad (with mandarin oranges and strawberries for vitamin C).