The Truth About Fitness Professionals

When you see a fitness professional, whether it is during your weekly Pilates class or at the grocery store, what are some assumptions you make about them?

Fitness professionals never cheat? Yeah, right!

I have heard several assumptions over my years as a fitness instructor.  I have heard that fitness and healthy eating comes easy to some.  I have had students assume that I never fall off the healthy eating wagon.  I have even heard people hint that I am always happy.

Clearly, no one is always happy and while there may be exceptions very few people eat healthy every day of their lives.  And let me tell you, although I have worked in fitness my whole life, fitness and healthy eating doesn’t come easy. Fitness and healthy eating takes commitment.  But even the most committed can fall off the wagon sometimes.

Happy Birthday to me!

For the past two months, I have celebrated my 50th birthday.  You heard that right, two months.  Instead of having one big birthday celebration, I found myself celebrating with friends and family at dinner parties and weekends in Ocean City, D.C. and North Carolina. 

My Favorite Cheat Foods

While many people like to believe that a cheat day for their fitness professional might be too much kale or a single cookie, I am here to tell you I did a great job of celebrating. When I have a cheat day or in this case a cheat month, wine is my choice. Sauvignon Blanc to be exact and maybe a little Rose or Prosecco and amazing margaritas at Mothers in OC too. My idea of eating unhealthy? Big fat greasy smash burgers and grilled potatoes, corn dip with tortilla chips, and red velvet cupcakes.  There’s more, but that’s the gist of it.  What do you think? Pretty good, huh?

Worth Every Minute

The extra calories and even the sluggishness I felt were worth every minute of the time I spent with friends and family.  But I knew I was going to have to commit to a clean eating program of my own as well as a change in my fitness routine. What I didn’t remember was just how bad my body would feel after eating so poorly and this feeling would mean getting back would take more commitment than ever.

Back On The Wagon

For the past week, I have been focusing on getting back on the wagon.  I have been focusing on clean eating and getting back to my regular fitness routine.  My fitness plan involves Pilates 5 days a week, TRX 2 days a week along with kettle bell exercises and plenty of stretching and cardio.  I have been able to add in the Pilates, TRX, kettlebells and stretching but I haven’t been able to get back into the cardio yet.  I will but I am learning to be kind to myself and ease back into things.

I am also back on the healthy eating bandwagon, eating whole foods and planning my meals to meet my nutritional goals.

Being a fitness professional does mean I must live a life of healthy eating and daily exercise but it doesn’t mean I am perfect.  It doesn’t mean I never eat a big juicy smash burger or a heavily iced cupcake.  It means I do it knowing I will have to come back to the lifestyle I have created for myself.


Be kind, compassionate, attentive, inclusive and eat a burger and cupcakes once in a while.

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.

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).

A World of Whole Grains

By Susan Singleton, founder of Healthy Life Consulting

Whole grains have been a central element of the human diet since the dawn of civilization, when we stopped hunting and gathering and settled into agrarian communities. Until very recently, people living in these communities, on all continents, had lean, strong bodies. In the Americas, corn was the staple grain, while rice predominated in India and Asia. In Africa, people had sorghum and millet. People in the Middle East enjoyed pita bread and couscous. In Europe, it was corn, millet, wheat, rice, pasta and dark breads. Even beer, produced by grain fermentation, was considered healthy. In Scotland, it was oats. In Russia, they had buckwheat or kasha. For generations, very few people eating grain-based diets were overweight.

People are gaining weight today because they eat too much chemicalized, artificial junk food. If Americans were eating bowls of freshly cooked whole grains and vegetables every day instead of processed junk food, people would not be getting fat. Whole grains are some of the best sources of nutritional support, containing high levels of dietary fiber and B vitamins. Because the body absorbs them slowly, grains provide long-lasting energy and help stabilize blood sugar.

Incorporating whole grains into your diet is simple but be sure to pay close attention to the ingredient list and nutritional facts on all packaged goods to ensure you’re buying quality grains. Look for products that list whole grains (whole wheat, whole grain barley, etc) as one of the first ingredients. To avoid confusion in the supermarket buy 100% whole grain products or purchase whole grains on their own and add them to dishes yourself to attain their goodness while adding texture, chewy crunch and a nutty flavor.

The number and variety of whole grains readily available continues to grow. While we’re accustomed and familiar with whole oats, brown rice and popcorn-areas of the world such as Africa, the Middle East and South America have been enjoying bountiful ancient and whole grains for centuries.

Bring some diversity to your table with these powerhouses in 2012.

  • Quinoa-Quinoa is one of the most versatile grains and can easily be used in place of rice or couscous. These small seeds with a fluffly texture and mild flavor are high in protein and gluten-free. They come in a Yellow and Red variety.
  • Wheat Berries-This grain works well for those that can handle gluten. These whole kernels are a good source of fiber and iron. Contains Lignans, which are plant nutrients that may help reduce the risk of breast cancer. They have a chewy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. Use as a side dish or in cold grain salads. Also works well as a pilaf, breakfast cereal or in soups and stews.
  • Bulgur- Bulgur is parboiled wheat that is dried and ground to both a fine or medium grind. Most well known for the grain in the Middle Eastern salad tabbouleh. Good source of Manganese, essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Use as a meat substitute or add to pilafs, soups and baked goods.
  • Spelt-This ancient grain is sweeter and more digestible that regular wheat. Those with a gluten intolerance sometimes find this an acceptable alternative to wheat and it’s also higher in Manganese and B Vitamins. You will mostly find this in breads and pasta, but health food stores will often carry it as a whole grain.
  • Farro-Farro is quickly gaining popularity for its stellar nutritional profile. Lower in calories than Wheatberries and boasting twice the fiber of brown rice. Farro may help to stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol and stimulate the immune system. Boasting a complex, earthy flavor and creamy texture. Can be prepared risotto style. Use in soups, pastas and casseroles.
  • Amaranth-This tiny grain is higher in protein than most other grains and it’s a great source of Lysine, an amino acid that’s lacking in other grains and helps the body absorb calcium and also promotes tissue growth and repair. Amaranth contains no gluten and has a peppery flavor. Try it as a hot cereal or in baked goods, casseroles, pancakes and as a rice substitute
  • Millet-Millet is a delicate grain that is gluten-free and rich in Magnesium, Folic Acid, Calcium and Potassium. Contains gut-friendly probiotics It’s also a good source of disease-fighting antioxidants. Used as a staple in African and Indian diets. Use it in recipes that call for rice, in baked goods, formed into patties and cooked as a hot cereal. Freekeh-Freekeh kernels are harvested while young so Freekeh has a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than brown rice and up to four times the fiber. Use as a rice or pasta substitute or in soups and burger patties.
  • Kamut-A staple in Egypt. Kamut contains Selenium, an immune system-supporting trace mineral. Use it in flour form in baking or use the grain in pilaf-style dishes, salads, soups, stews and stir-frys.
  • Teff-Boasts bone-building Calcium. An Ethiopian grain used to make Injera-their signature flatbread. Slightly crunchy in texture with a rich brown color. Use in baked goods, soups and stews, hot cereal, polenta and porridge.

Storage Tip: Whole grains contain natural oils, so they can go rancid quickly. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, ideally a pantry or refrigerator, where they will last for 3-6 months.

Harvest Wheat Berry Salad


2 cups uncooked wheat berries
1 cup sunflower seed kernels
1 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup finely chopped parsley


1/3 cup ginger ale
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice

  • To prepare salad, place wheat berries in a bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Soak at least 1 hour. Rinse well.
  • Bring 7 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add wheat berries, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until thoroughly cooked, approximately 40 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  • Transfer wheat berries to a large bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients. *Prepare dressing by mixing all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk. Add to salad ingredients and mix well.

Watermelon by Sue Singleton, Healthy Living Consultant

Summer and watermelon are inseparable. Thankfully, watermelon is not only

delicious, it is extremely healthy as well. Watermelon does a lot more than

quench your thirst on a hot summer’s day.

Watermelon nutrition facts reveal this fruit as a jack of all trades; providing

healthy amounts of virtually all essential vitamins and minerals.

One of the main health benefits of watermelon is its status as a powerful

antioxidant, found in vitamins A and C, which helps to neutralize free radicals

that can lead to inflammation, general sickness and chronic illnesses-oftentimes

causing strokes and heart disease.

Some other great benefits of this easy to love fruit:

*Watermelon has a higher concentration of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or

vegetable-providing cancer fighting benefits.

*Watermelon is a fruit that is rich in Electrolytes, Sodium and Potassium that we

lose through our perspiration.

*Watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production. This

makes it an excellent alternative to high calorie, caffeine and sugar drenched

energy drinks that caused dehydration.

*With a water concentration topping 90%, it aids your metabolism. With its

healthy amount of fiber and protein, your body will work hard to simply process

the watermelon.

*Watermelon acts as a cooling agent to your body and helps to remove ammonia

from the body. It is effective in reducing your body temperature and blood


*The antioxidants found in watermelon help in reducing the severity of asthma.

*Watermelon protects against macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Wether you choose watermelons for their health benefits or simply for their good

flavor, they can be an excellent snack or summer dish.


Watermelon Mint Pop

  • • 1 Cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • •4.5 T minced ginger, divided
  • • 3 Tbs agave nectar
  • •1/2 t dried chili flakes
  • • ½ Cup filtered water
  • • 4 Cups cubed watermelon
  • • Seltzer or Soda Water
  • • Pinch sea salt


Make mint syrup. Place mint, 2 Tbs. minced ginger, agave, chili flakes, salt and

filtered water in a medium sized saucepan. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over

medium high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove

from heat while mint is still a vibrant green. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pour through

a strainer and discard solids.

Place remaining ginger and watermelon in a blender and puree until well

blended. Pour the mixture through a strainer(preferably lined with a double

layer of cheesecloth) and let stand for 15 minutes and let stand until all the liquid

has dripped through. Do not press the puree. It will make it cloudy.

Mix the mint syrup and watermelon-ginger juice in a sealed glass jar and chill in

the fridge. Mixture will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

To serve. Pour ½ Cup mixture into a tall glass, top with 6-8 ounces chilled

seltzer or soda water and stir.