Ever since I was a young, curly-headed child, I have been a very reluctant fruit and vegetable eater. When my husband and I started growing vegetables in our garden last year, I slowly began to come around. While I’m still no fan of the okra my husband can’t live without, I’ve learned squash and zucchini can be quite delicious.

      

I have tried hard to work (non-fried) vegetables and (unsweetened) fruits into my diet, but I still have some improving to do. So, I made a vow to get one new fruit or vegetable every time we head to the grocery store and give it a go. I know I won’t like every fruit and vegetable I try. But there are so many strange fruits and veggies out there  (ex. kohlrabi) that I have never tasted, and that is simply inexcusable. In hopes that you too might rise to the challenge with me and incorporate new fruits and vegetables into your life, I thought I would share my vegetable-eating adventures with you.  I expect there will be plenty of weird colors, some messes and some strange looking dishes, but it will also be fun. You can learn from my mistakes and share your own suggestions, recipes and foibles by commenting as we go.

The first vegetable-victim? (Well, I think it is actually a fruit – but that isn’t alliterated.) AVOCADO!

According to WebMD: “Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.”

Yes, I am 23-years-old and have never had an avocado. I give you full permission to shake your head in shame at me.

I grabbed two avocados at the grocery store on our regularly scheduled bi-monthly grocery trip and tossed it in the fridge…where it sat for several days glaring at me, because I was too scared to try it. Finally I gave in, pulled them out and placed them on the cutting board.

 

 

Not knowing exactly what to do with them, I just took a knife to them. I quickly learned how easy the skin comes off, how strange the texture of an avocado is and that it was probably a good idea to look up how to cut an avocado correctly before proceeding. (See: How To Cut an Avocado). I followed the avocado cutting directions…

 

…and wound up with some strange-looking green avocado slices. Now I had to decide what to do with them. Since it was lunch time and I was already hungry, I followed some Pinterest suggestions, and made an avocado grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with one havarti cheese slice and one muenster cheese slice.

 

The verdict: If you have ever touched a slice of avocado, you already know that the texture is slightly mushy. Though texture is usually a big deal-breaker for me when it comes to food, the texture didn’t bother me at all. What surprised me about the avocado was how little taste it had. It isn’t nearly as scary as it looks! In fact, it was pretty delicious. Next time, I think I will add something else to the sandwich so it has a bit more punch. This recipe use peperoni and mozzarella cheese and this recipe uses goat cheese and spinach. You can check out even more avocado recipes by clicking here.

What do you think? Do you like avocados, hate them or are you still too scared to try them? What are your favorite avocado recipes? And what fruit or vegetable do you think I should try next?

 

 

Yep, it is almost Mother’s Day! We know you all are always-ahead-of-the-game kind of people, so we are certain you have not waited this long to do, make or buy something for the mothers in your lives! But just in case we were wrong… (or, you know, to plan ahead for next Mother’s Day, because you are just that awesome)… we have compiled a list of 10 things to do, make or buy to honor all the wonderful things the mothers we know do everyday.

 

1. Time with the family is one of the things mom’s say they most want for Mother’s Day. Get your mother a trip to do something fun that will also allow her to be active. Try a trip to Calloway Gardens to walk or bike around and enjoy nature. Other options include canoeing or kayaking with the family, a picnic and a day at a local state park or a fun-filled day on a zip line tour right here in Georgia.
2. If one activity just isn’t enough, do a twist on this “Date Night Jar” by giving mom a “Mom’s Night Jar.” Stuff the jar full of activities or treats to do with (or for) mom on the weekends – breakfast in bed, free babysitting so she can go out with friends, a trip to a local museum or a scheduled family game night at home.
3. If your mom is a fitness buff (or even just a beginner looking to stay fit and healthy), avoid too many chocolates and load her up with gear that will encourage her fitness goals instead. A pedometer is great to help mom’s who are on-the-go keep track of their steps. An Ipod or an iTunes gift card is great for mom’s who love to listen to music while they workout. A new set of sneakers or a heart rate monitor would be perfect for true running fanatics.
4. For the mom that is always busy and needs to slow down, consider a spa certificate for a facial or a massage. Managing stress is an important part of a healthy life, and nothing says stress-free like an afternoon at the spa. Scarlet’s Retreat Day Spa (off the McDonough square) is the favorite of Jeanie Thomas, a special mom and the co-owner of Innovations Fitness.
5. Bringing Mom breakfast in bed is a classic, but be sure to bring the mom in your life something healthy. For ideas and recipes check out this link (and this one too)!
6. If you have a mom who loves to sip on healthy hot tea in the morning or afternoon, make her a “tea wreath.” Not only is it cute and healthy, it is also handmade. Handmade gifts are one of the other things that research shows mothers most want for Mother’s Day.
7. If your mother likes to garden, consider giving her a set of herbs to put in the garden or window box. They are easy to care for and a great healthy addition to meals! If she is a true gardening pro, give her vegetable plants and gardening gear.
8. Is there something your mom has always wanted to do, but keeps putting off? Maybe it is as radical as skydiving. Maybe she has always dreamed of running a 5K or taking a self-defense class. Whatever it is, get her something that will help her achieve her goal.
9. Don’t forget about the soon-to-be mom’s in your life. This cute idea for a hospital survival kit is a nice gift to help moms-to-be have a healthy and comfortable (well, as comfortable as these things can be) delivery.
10. This last gift has little to do with health, but it is so darn fun that we can’t help but share it! Compile photos and mementos from all the years of great memories you have had with your mom and package them in cute envelopes by year. This blogger compiled 60 years worth of memories for her father’s birthday!  But the idea can be easily adjusted for Mother’s Day. (And did you see those envelopes the blogger put the memories in? They are so perfect that they make us want to jump for joy!)

 

To the loving mom’s who raise us, to the surrogate mom’s who care for us when our mothers are absent or have passed-away and to the mother’s to be, THANK YOU for all you do! You are strong, intelligent and beautiful, and we love working with you and alongside you everyday!

 

Weight Training for Women

Weight Lifting For Women – Yes You Can!

Strength Training, AKA weight lifting or body building, is the key training element missing in most women’s health and fitness regimes. Strength training comes in at a close second place in an individual’s complete fitness program right after nutrition. After an individual has a solid grasp on a sound nutritional program then strength training should be introduced next.

When you think of lifting weights are you immediately turned off? Many women have preconceived notions of weight lifting. They think of a dark, dank cinder blocked room in the back of the gym with no A/C, sweaty guys walking around with huge delts and small heads kissing their biceps after each set. Other women are afraid that the “muscle heads” will be checking them out the whole time making it a very uncomfortable situation. I have spent ample time in the weight room. Neither of the before mentioned scenarios are true.

In fact, most of the guys there are more interested in their own reflections than you. Many of them will even hold some admiration for you because you are making the step from cardio queen to a higher more evolved fitness connoisseur. You see these guys know and respect the secret benefits of strength training that many women avoid.

All jokes aside, lifting weights has far too many physical and mental advantages than to be pushed to the wayside. Cardio definitely has an important place in any fitness program. Heart health and fat loss are two major advantages of participating in cardiovascular activity on a regular basis. But please, do not put cardio in the place of an efficient weight training regimen. Weight training is the key element to reshaping your body. You can in essence, create the body of your dreams through lifting weights or body building.

One of the foremost advantages of lifting weights is the positive effect it has on one’s self-concept. Self-concept is a term used to describe what a person perceives and/or feels about themselves. Now, when you begin a fitness program or try to take steps to be healthier you; you must believe that you are worth the time that this process takes. Lifting weights will make you feel stronger. Feeling stronger will lend itself to more feelings of empowerment. When a person feels empowered, they will continue to do the activity that produces these feelings: improving how they feel about themselves; creating a higher sense of self-worth. When a person feels that what they do matters and they think well of themselves; they can create happy outcomes in their lives. So, and improved self-concept not only helps that individual but, everyone that individual is in contact with.

Now, you will not only feel stronger but, you will be stronger. Weight lifting breaks down the muscle fibers and during the recovery phase is when the muscle builds and repairs, increasing the size and strength of your muscle fibers. More muscle fiber means more shapely body. Muscles are the engines of our bodies. More muscles fibers also means your body burns more calories per day or activity than before as refereed to as and increased resting metabolic rate. So, strength training turns you body into a fat zapping super hero.

Not only will you be stronger; you will improve your overall physical appearance. More muscle and less fat on your frame will give you more energy and longevity to get through your day efficiently. Non training adults will experience a 5 percent reduction in their metabolic rate every decade of their life. ( ACE personal training Manual 2002) This natural decrease in a person’s metabolism is why their body fat percentage increases. Weight training can help delay their increase in body fat by preserving and/or increasing that person’s muscle mass keeping their metabolic rate high.

Other benefits of weight training are increased bone density, increased ability of the body to metabolize glucose, decreasing the amount of time food is digested, decreases resting blood pressure, improves blood lipid levels, and eases arthritis pain. Hence, you are never too old to start a sensible weight training program. As with any program you start, start slowly. Research the topic thoroughly. Find out who you need to go to and what you need to do to maximize your time in the gym. Make sure your goals are realistic and fit into your schedule. Start small. But, once you start I suspect you will fall in love with this sport as I have.

Keep smiling and lifting,

Monica Borel

What Is A Personal Trainer

By Jan Nicholas

Imagine stepping into the gym for the first time in your life. There are so many machines and gadgets. What do you do first? Is this one safe? Are you using it right? There are so many questions to ask about trying to get physically fit as well. How much should you push yourself? How much is too much?

A personal trainer is someone who steps in and will coach you through your weight loss regime. What is it that a personal trainer does exactly?

Finding Out What A Personal Trainer Does Is Step Number One
Whenever I want to find out what it is that a personal trainer does, I simply visit the website or look at an advertisement of another personal trainer. From one location that is located in California, I have found the following list to be exactly what a personal trainer does.

Coaching workouts that intensify gradually at different stages
Working to increase improvement function of the body from walking and running, etc.

Keeping a client up to date on nutrition

Practices safe stretching and exercise techniques

Helps to increase muscle tone and metabolism in the body

Minimize the possibility of injury

Increase the client’s self-confidence and put good ‘stress’ to encourage

Eliminate laziness and excuses from stopping the client from getting what they want

What is it that Clients Ask When Looking for a Personal Trainer?
One that I have found says that finding the best personal trainer is to simply ask a lot of questions. If you ask questions of your personal trainer and he or she does not know the answer or doesn’t give an answer you are particularly happy with, a client should simply walk away.

If you are looking to become a personal trainer, expect to hear questions. What is your background? How long have you been doing this? How are you involved in the industry? Do you stay competitive in the industry? What is the education level that you have? Did you get certified in a weekend or are you university educated? Are you continuing to educate yourself on the latest health techniques? Insurance? CPR? First Aid?

If you are able to answer these questions to a client, you’ll be much more likely to sign a client. Above all, personal trainer will make a customer state his or her reasonable goals and set a plan to reach those goal in a healthy and constructive learning environment that will let the client keep the regime for years to come, even if they stop using the personal trainer.

What is it That Separates a Good Personal Trainer from a Bad One?
Like when you shop for anything else, there are good trainers and there are bad personal trainers, but what is the difference?
A good personal trainer would tell you that you should shop around and find the right trainer for you. A lot of corporate gym trainers have sales quotas, do you really think they’re primary interest is your health? Most of them have minimal training and are more of a sales person than a trainer.

If you are looking to become a personal trainer, what is it you should do first? Try to take course on exercise, fitness and health. If you also stay involved personally in the body building industry, you’re also staying on top of the competition. Commitment is the key; you have to be committed, as your clients certainly will not be. They will want to quit and give excuses. You can’t let them.

Above all, a personal trainer really cares about the client. You can’t simply treat them like another paycheck. A customer has personal goals and needs and is asking you to help them along a path they can’t walk on their own. What a personal trainer is, is not a salesman or a drill sergeant, a personal trainer is a coach, a mentor and a partner on a road to a goal.

Healthy Families

Top Tips For a Healthy Family

By Irsan Komarga

Well, how can you be sure you have a healthy family? How do you know if you have provided enough for your family to ensure good health and safety all the time? You may be having doubts at times as to whether or not you are secure enough in keeping a healthy family.

In today’s busy society and struggling economy, we rarely see our family members everyday at home as we may have different schedules and concerns. You are lucky enough if you can have dinner together as a family for twice or thrice a week. But you could actually change things slowly and get them adapt to it and rather love it in different ways.

Set a rule about fast foods. A healthy family must never dwell on eating fast food as you can actually have a healthy meal at home and enjoy quality time together with the whole family. Let them get started by designing a weekly plan of cooking together. Assign each one a task in the kitchen on a particular day and let each one enjoy what he/she is doing by asking about each other’s concerns and let the conversation flow spontaneously through dinner. You may not be able to do this daily but you can actually design this plan to make it work even bi-weekly to ensure they are not only eating healthy meals but also keeping up a healthy family relationship.

Develop the interest of engaging into an independent hobby. Each member must have its own and start by showing them a hobby that is fruitful for the whole family like sewing or painting for healthy family interactions.

Live green. Talk to your family about the importance of caring for the environment to live healthy. Show them how to recycle household materials not only to save money but to ensure a healthy family life.

Engage in exercise plans for the whole family to enjoy or any other activity that will let the whole family do things together to promote fitness for your family’s health.

You also need to teach your kids the importance of self-defense. You can enroll them in classes of this kind so they may be aware and ready in cases where they may encounter a suspicious stranger and other bad guys. A healthy family is a secure family so remind them about not giving their trust fully to other people other than family members.

These top tips for great activities require greater flexibility and motherly talent to get everyone participate and perform well in all your activities for a healthy family life. Just be reminded always that a healthy family is a family that shares time together through good and tough times so set a day to let each one speak out whenever you feel resistance in each of your planned activities and rules so you can balance everything well for a happy and a totally healthy family.