Family Activities to Help You Stay Active Through Winter

The holidays are a time for family fun. While the kids are off school, take advantage of some of Atlanta's attractions. Here are four ideas that will bring family fun and keep you active!


Stone Mountain's Snow Mountain- Go to Snow Mountain to snow tube, build snowmen and much more. While you're there, you could also hike up Stone Mountain to get your dose of cardio and great views for the day!


Sawnee Mountain Preserve- This is a beautiful mountain in Cumming Ga that has great hiking paths. Might even be fun to bring a picnic to enjoy at the top!


Hiking Trails around Lake Lanier- Around Buford Dam, there are some pretty hiking trails with views of the lake and of the Dam. This would also be a great place to bring a picnic and enjoy quality time with family.


Sky Zone- Sky Zone is a trampoline park that will certainly get the kid's and adult's energy out! If the weather is too cold to be outside, this is a great option to be active, have fun, and workout without even realizing it!

Adrenaline Climbing Gym - Adults and children alike can experience the challenge, fun, and safety of indoor rock climbing. Simply walk-in and climb independently after a 15-minute belay orientation.

Your partner in wellness,

10 Minute AMRAP Workout

The goal of AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) workouts is get you moving and working hard even when you don't have a lot of time! Remember, even just 5 minutes of physical activity can provide you with numerous benefits! 

For the following workout: Set a timer for 10 minutes. Complete the exercises in the sequence that they are listed for as many rounds as you can. Rest as needed. 

Questions about this workout or need regressions/progressions? We can help! 

Your partner in wellness,

Assertiveness & Stress


Did you know assertiveness is actually a stress management tool? Really! It is a core communication skill and studies have found that weakness in the area of assertiveness leads to poor communication which in turn can increase stress levels. So what exactly does it mean to be assertive? It is defined as the ability express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others. 

As we enter into the holiday season loaded with holiday gatherings and events, try to practice a few of the suggestions below to strengthen your assertiveness skills and keep your stress levels in check.

Assess your style. Do you voice your opinions or remain silent? Do you say yes to additional work even when your plate is full? Are you quick to judge or blame? Understand your style before you begin making changes.
Use 'I' statements. Using "I" statements lets others know what you're thinking without sounding accusatory. For instance, say, "I disagree," rather than, "You're wrong."
Practice saying no. If you have a hard time turning down requests, try saying, "No, I can't do that now." Don't hesitate — be direct. If an explanation is appropriate, keep it brief.
Rehearse what you want to say. If it's challenging to say what you want or think, practice typical scenarios you encounter. Say what you want to say out loud. It may help to write it out first, too, so you can practice from a script. 
Use body language. Communication isn't just verbal. Act confident even if you aren't feeling it. Keep an upright posture, but lean forward a bit. Make regular eye contact. Maintain a neutral or positive facial expression. Don't wring your hands or use dramatic gestures. Practice assertive body language in front of a mirror.
Keep emotions in check. Conflict is hard for most people. Maybe you get angry or frustrated, or maybe you feel like crying. Although these feelings are normal, they can get in the way of resolving conflict. If you feel too emotional going into a situation, wait a bit if possible. Then work on remaining calm. Breathe slowly. Keep your voice even and firm.
Start small. At first, practice your new skills in situations that are low risk. For instance, try out your assertiveness on a spouse or friend before tackling a difficult situation at work. Evaluate yourself afterward and tweak your approach as necessary.

Your partner in wellness,

How to Achieve Your Goals, Even When it Seems too Hard

Do you coach with us? Maybe you are provided with coaching through your gym with your personal trainer? Maybe you are considering getting a wellness coach? Or maybe you are coaching yourself! Either way, here are some great tips to help you get the most out of your coaching sessions to achieve your goals.

  • Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). If you are unsure, or feel like you need to change your goals talk to us, your coaches, to make adjustments.
  • Find an accountability partner! This is a person that will encourage you to reach your goals, ask how your progress is going, and help you make choices that bring you closer to your goal.
  • Schedule and plan for your meals the same way you would for a big meeting at work.
  • Commit!
  • Don't lose sight of the finish line. What will reaching your goal bring you? How will you benefit from it every day? If you don't see benefits in your goals, change them! Otherwise, get excited about the rewards for your hard work.

Heart Rate Rundown

If you've attended one of our Lunch n' Learns, you've heard us talk numerous times about your heart rate zones... rest, max, etc. But, if you've never attended one of our seminars before, here's a quick rundown.

First, you can find your heart rate on your wrist or the side of your neck. Place the tip of your first two fingers in one of these places and count your heart beat for ten seconds. Multiply that number by six and you have your heart rate!


Another good number to know is your resting heart rate. The most accurate resting heart rate is taken first thing in the morning before you get out of bed for three days in a row. On the third day, take the average of all three results. A normal range for resting heart rate is 60-100. For well-trained athletes it can be even lower. The lower the number, the more efficient your heart is and the better fit you are.

MAX Heart Rate = 220 - (your age). Now, what do you do with this number? If you are new to exercising, start off working at 50% of your MAX Heart Rate. Gradually challenge yourself at a higher and higher percentage. Working at 85% of your MAX Heart Rate

Another thing I want to touch on is Exercise Zones. Many people think that if they work in the "fat burn" zone, they will lose fat faster than working in the other zones. This is very misleading! It is true that when you work in this zone (60-70% MAX Heart Rate), you burn a higher percentage of fat calories. But when you work in more difficult zones, you burn more cumulative calories. Therefore, if you are working out in the Anaerobic Zone, you will still burn more fat calories (and overall calories) than if you were working in the Weight Control Zone. All this to say, PUSH YOURSELF!

Whole Food Alternatives to Protein/Meal Bars

“I, Amanda Cool and family, do eat protein/meal/granola bars on occasion.” I felt the need to get that out there before I begin encouraging whole food choices over processed protein bars.


No shame here people! I keep those on hand for occasions when I am running late or lack of planning has my schedule in a tizzy and I know I need to grab something and go or when I get home I’ll consume our entire kitchen.  I keep them for the days when I know I have to pick our kids up from school and run errands. If they don’t get a snack, they will be so “hangry” by the time we get home they won’t eat dinner. I know some of you parents out there know what I’m talking about. I would like to avoid that situation as often as I can.

For the most part, we eat whole foods instead of bars and other processed foods and because of that, the expensive box of Clif Bars in my pantry lasts much longer than just a few days and for that my wallet is thankful (as is my husband-the budget keeper).

A recent article I read summed this up perfectly,

“These bars aren't exactly the worst things to feed yourself or your kids, but at best they're a stop-gap approach that provide some macronutrients with no real nourishment. I think there are cheaper, easier, and healthier alternatives regardless of your time or budget...We should stop relying on processed foods and re-learn how to prepare and cook our own meals from basic ingredients.”

I’ve talked to many of you in coaching sessions about keeping those bars on hand for emergencies and trying to establish some other whole food snack alternatives in its place.

Yes, it will take some planning.

Yes, it will take some additional prep time in the morning or evening.

But, can I encourage you that that is ok?

We eat at minimum 3 meals a day (hopefully a snack or two between as well) every day, 356 days a year. That is over 1,000 meals in one year! Why wouldn’t we put the time and thought into something we do so frequently, and more importantly with something that has such an impact on our well-being?

First and foremost, ask yourself, “Do I really need something to eat?” In the busyness of life and the availability of convenience foods, it is so easy to lose connection with our body. Is your body really needing food or is something else making you think you need to eat (ie: stress)?

If you are actually hungry, the below image provides some great whole food snack options that are sure to satisfy. Choose an item from each column to make a well rounded snack with all 3 macronutrients (carb, protein, fat).

6 Meal Prep Tips to Help You Conquer the Week

We have all been there, we start the week with the best intentions to eat well & and stick to our health goals... and then life just happens. Chaos ensues and all the sudden you realize it's already 7PM on a Tuesday and you haven't even begun to think about what to make for dinner. You are starving, exhausted and the week is only getting started! (This is when a do-over button would be so helpful!)

By implementing even a few of the tips below before your week begins, you could throw together a nutritious and satisfying meal is less time than it would take to pick up take out or order delivery. Really! 

  1. Prep a grain.   Having a whole grain already cooked makes throwing lunch or dinner together SO much easier and faster. Barley, farro, quinoa, brown rice and couscous are all great whole grain options that will hold up well in the fridge for the week.
  2. Noodle a zucchini!   Never tried this before? Challenge yourself to something new. We promise you won't regret it. "Zoodles" are an easy replacement to pasta when you are looking to add more veggies to your day or just keep your carb intake in check. Toss them with your favorite pasta sauce or with a simple mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. 
  3. Prep a protein.  Cook up a pain of lean ground turkey, grill some chicken breasts or cook an entire chicken in the crock pot! Pull out the protein you need for your recipe from the fridge, add it to your recipe and voila! Dinner is ready is less than no time!
  4. Roast a head of broccoli.  You actually can roast any vegetable that suits your fancy.  We like broccoli because it is easy to add to almost any recipe and the texture holds up nicely through the week. 
  5. Hard boil eggs.   A delicious protein that will keep in the fridge for the week, can be added so more recipes than I can think of but are also quite tasty all alone. Munch on one for a midday snack, slice one up and throw it on toast, chop it in half and add it to your salad—the possibilities are endless.
  6. Cook a pot of lentils or beans.  They’re high in fiber and protein, they don’t perish easily, and their mild flavor makes them a great ingredient addition to a lot of recipes. 

Strengthen Your Core with Planks!

 
Planks are great for strengthening your core muscles. Your core includes the front and back of your midsection...not just the six pack abs that I know all of you have. ;) A plank is a static exercise that is performed on your forearms and toes.


Plank Instructions

  1. Lie down on your stomach.
  2. Lift your body off the ground so that you are supported by your forearms and toes.
  3. Make sure that your head and neck are in a neutral position and that your shoulders, hips and feet are in a line.
  4. Maintain deep breathing while focusing on engaging your stomach muscles by drawing your bellybutton towards your back.
  5. Challenge yourself to see how long you can hold it! Incorporating planks into your daily routine or workouts can improve posture, decrease/prevent back pain, and increase strength!
  6. Refer to the Website attached below for a more detailed guide to planks as well as a free 30 day plank challenge!

30-Day Plank Challenge

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No Mayo Tuna Salad

This quite possibly might be the most random recipe I have posted. Here's my thought- it's the beginning of a new year which means everyone is trying to eat lighter/healthier and trying to eat out less. This salad is a perfect lunch to pack for the office or even an easy dinner on those nights when no one feels like cooking. Tuna is a cheap, healthy protein that (in moderation) can be a great addition to a healthy balanced diet.

Two confessions:

  1. The thought of mayo sometimes makes me gag which is why this is a mayo-LESS tuna salad.
  2. My obsession with sriracha first started with my first pregnancy and has just gotten worse since then. I put it on anything and everything and this tasty tuna salad is no exception.

Low cal, high protein, healthy fats and a hint of heat (all with a side of vegetables). Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 2 tbsp plain greek yogurt (more or less depending on how creamy you want it)
  • 1/2 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • salt & pepper
  • sriracha sauce to taste
  • 2 cups of lettuce, chopped

Directions

  1. Drain liquid from tuna.
  2. Mix all ingredients except lettuce.
  3. Top bed of lettuce with tuna mix. Add more sriracha if desired.

Sweet Kale and Quinoa Salad

This easy salad came together during our amazing family beach week in Emerald Isle. With my sisters and I all still nursing babies at the time, our lunches needed to pack a good nutritional punch after spending the earlier part of the day chasing after kids on the beach. The base of this quick and easy salad is the Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad Kit by Eat Smart. We bought it at Costco for the week because of how large the bag was, but I have also seen it at Publix and Kroger in a much smaller packaging.

Ingredients

(serves two)

  • Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad Kit (1 smaller bag or 2 servings from the larger bulk sized bag)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced (we used a rotisserie chicken)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all salad bag ingredients. 
  2. Stir in chicken and warm quinoa.
  3. Top with tomato. Season with salt & pepper.

Done!

Pumpkin Granola

It's fall y'all... let the pumpkin recipes commence! This granola was adapted from my original granola recipe. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil  
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup  
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin  
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice  
  • 1 tsp cinnamon  
  • 1/2 tsp ginger  
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats  
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds  

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together except for the chia seeds. 
  3. Stir in oil, maple syrup and pumpkin puree and blend well. 
  4. Spread granola out on a baking pan lined with tin foil or parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes (stirring half way through) depending on your oven. 

Spinach & Barley Soup

It is 8:30am and still only 67 degrees outside. Not only that, but last night we made our first soup of the season! The anticipation of everything fall has to offer makes me giddy, without fail, every year. One of my favorite things about it? Soups, stews and chili's! Essentially anything you can "set & forget". A parents best friend, am I right? Whether you work or not, kids can run a muck on our schedule. Many days we find ourselves at 5pm, realizing it is FIVE PM, and I have yet to begin on dinner... and I love to cook! All this to say, I get it. 

This is a recipe I adopted from one I found when we were first married in the Cooking Light Magazine and has become a winter soup staple for us. It is so hearty and so fresh.  I also love how adaptable it can be to whatever vegetables you have in your kitchen so feel free to swap things out for veggies you already have or whats in season and just follow the recipe based on type of produce (i.e. leafy green, root vegetable, etc.). 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup raw barley, rinsed
  • 1 potato peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 32 oz low sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 1 package fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  • In a small sauce pan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil then add barley.  Bring water back to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until barley is chewy and has absorbed all water (about 45 minutes). 
  • In a large pot, combine the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in chicken, spinach, parsley, garlic powder, oregano and pepper and salt. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. 
  • Stir in cooked barley.
  • Garnish with shaved parmesan and serve.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutrition Facts:

1 1/2 cups equals 271 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 20 g protein.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Skillet

A weekly staple in our house because of our toddler. It is one of the quickest dinners I make with very little effort and he actually eats it as is (I know... it's shocking). I adapted it from a recipe I found a while back on Pinterest from Primavera Kitchen. The last time I made this I was doing Arbonne's 30 Day Healthy Living Program so I omitted the cheese to avoid dairy and still found it to be delicious and satisfying (for those of you who avoid dairy).

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 onion chopped 
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 chicken bullion cube*
  • 1/4 cup water*
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

*If I have chick broth or stock in the kitchen I will use 1/4 cup of that instead of the water and bullion cube listed above. 

Directions  

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add ground turkey and brown (about 10 minutes or so).
  3. Add onions, green pepper and garlic. Saute until onions and peppers are soft.
  4. Add the sweet potato, chili pepper, cumin, & parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add liquid & bullion cube (or stock, just water etc.) stir and cover until sweet potatoes are tender.
  6. Option 1 (from Primavera Kitchen): While the sweet potato is cooking pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. When the sweet potato is tender, add shredded mozzarella cheese and bring the skillet to the oven to melt the cheese. When the cheese melts, remove from the oven and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
  7. Option 2 (I like to call this my "get dinner on the table asap" option): Once sweet potatoes are tender and cooked, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cover until cheese has melted. Garnish if you'd like with fresh parsley & enjoy!

Leftovers: Breakfast Burrito Bar

We couldn't live without eating leftovers in our house. Mainly because I lack the ability to cook for less than an army of people (I attribute that to my Italian genes and embrace it) but also because the idea of cooking a new meal every single night of the week with two kids under the age of two and both my husband and I working is just not realistic for us. Thankfully, we all like eggs (insert praise hands emoji here) so we have some sort of egg dish weekly. 

This burrito bar is nothing new, just a suggestion of what you could do with all those random fruits, vegetables and other leftovers hanging out in your fridge.  My toddler loves meals like this because he can pick and choose what he would like on his plate and I love it because there is no wrong choice. Anything that makes meal time easier is a win in my book.

There aren't exact measurements or directions for this "recipe" if you can even call it that. My biggest suggestion is to try to keep your portions healthy.  Wanting to load up on fruit (carbohydrates)? You could omit the tortilla (also a carbohydrate) and make an egg burrito bowl instead.  A salad would be delicious with this as well! 

Burrito "recipe":

Start with a serving of eggs, top with a few pieces of steak as shown [or chicken or beans if you have them].

1 serving of cheese (1 oz)

1 serving of avocado 

go nuts with the veggies! (Ex: tomatoes, herbs, onions, broccoli, cucumber, spinach, etc.)

If you don't keep an eye on portion size, this is one of those meals that could be healthy or extremely high in calories.  We don't want to over indulge but we also don't want to completely restrict ourselves.  Healthy balance is key. Our body is a temple that has been created to love and serve! 

Nourish to live. Live to love. 

Mocha Latte Smoothie

This post is really just for my sister & brother in law. (kidding ;) ) But honestly, if we had enough ingredients, we would have this smoothie every single day we were at the beach earlier this summer.  Before the week ended, my brother-in-law had already ordered a bag of cacao nibs off of Amazon to be at their house when they got home, so if anything, maybe that will convince you that this smoothie is pretty much the bomb.  It tastes like a frappuchino... but healthier. 

There are 3 ways we incorporate this smoothie into our routine. 

1. As a meal replacement smoothie. I tend to do this quite often in the mornings because I am usually on the go from the moment I get up and barely finish my cup of coffee.  With this smoothie, I am able to have breakfast and get my coffee fix in all at once.

2. As a post-workout recovery shake. So, so refreshing and filling after a workout. There have been some studies done that say caffeine can help speed up muscle recovery post workout. But keep in mind, coffee is also dehydrating so we always drink plenty of water before and after having the smoothie to prevent it & to replenish fluids. Banana's helps replenish glycogen stores (what your body uses for energy) because it contains natural sugars (carbohydrates) and almond butter contains both protein (helps repair muscle tissue) and healthy fats (will help you stay full longer).

3. As a mid-day snack. Half the recipe, save half for another day or share with a friend. :) The full recipe is 417 calories which is fine for a meal but a little much for snack. Cut in half it comes in at 208 calories which is fine for a healthy snack. If you feel that is a little too high for your nutritional needs you could omit the almond milk and just use water and/or omit the cacao. 

Ingredients

  • 1 serving Chocolate Protein Powder (we are currently using Vega Chocolate and Greens but also like Arbonne Essentials) 
  • 1/2 Frozen or Fresh Banana
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter
  • 4 oz coffee 
  • 4oz-8oz Unsweetened Almond Milk (8oz if omitting coffee)
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh or frozen spinach 
  • 1 tbsp cacao nips or powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 1 cup ice
  • water as needed

Directions

1. Pour all liquids into blender. Top with spinach and cacao nibs. Blend.

2. While blender is running and once spinach has completely blended into the liquid, add banana, protein powder, almond butter & ice. 

3. Blend until smooth, adding more water or ice to reach desired consistency. Enjoy! If you are using this as a recovery smoothie, your muscles will thank you!!

Farm Fresh Salad

Hello from Emerald Isle beach my friends! The weather is gorgeous (although the heat index is through the roof) and we have having a great time celebrating my mom's almost 60th birthday!  

All the ingredients for this salad came from a local farm (or my sisters garden). Yum! It's delicious and fool proof! I eye balled measurements as I assembled so the list below is a close estimate.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 head of romaine or green lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped   
  • 1/2-3/4 cucumber, sliced 
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado  
  • pepper

Dressing:  

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp brags liquid aminos
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced 

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Pour dressing over salad and toss.  
  3. Add pepper to taste.  

Summer Balsamic Pasta

It's the first day of summer (and my dad's birthday!) so, to celebrate, we are serving up a super easy, super fresh Summer Balsamic Pasta dish. It reminds me slightly of my dad's summer sauce (to die for.. recipe coming one day), but with a touch of balsamic and with burrata mozzarella.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 box of penne pasta (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 burrata mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1 handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to box.
  • Drain and add back to pot or large bowl.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and gently stir.
  • Serve at room temperature or chilled. The longer the flavors sit and marinate the better! 

Spelt Salad

This isn't a recipe of mine but one I found from Cooking Light a few years back and absolutely loved it so much I wanted to share.  The mixture of fresh herbs with tangy lemon juice and the nuttiness of the spelt is a match made in heaven. I have also made this recipe with pearl couscous and it was delicious. At some point I want to try it with quinoa.  The flavors are really so versatile that I think it would be just as good.

Like I mentioned earlier, fresh herbs really make the dish so I wouldn't recommend using dried in their place. Sometimes I add a dash of Cayenne pepper for heat too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spelt (farro/wheat berries), rinsed or 1 cup of pearl couscous
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint  
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  • For spelt: Bring water and uncooked spelt to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender and liquid is absorbed.
  • Once spelt is cooked, add to a separate storage bowl. 
  • Add all remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
  • Serve at room temperature or chilled.  The longer the flavors can sit and marinate the better it will taste!