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New Year’s Resolutions-friend or foe?

AFF

Asheville Family Fitness strong!

We’re back! After a much too long hiatus (Sam, we miss you), we’ve resuscitated our blog. And couldn’t be a better time! This is the time of year that many, possibly even you, decide to make positive change in their lives and get in shape. GO YOU! Don’t listen to the naysayers or statisticians that poo-poo the new years resolution-ers with balloon-popping data of drop out rates, unmet goals, and more inches to the waist-line. NO, you’re going to do it! And we’re going to help! Over the next 3 months we’re going to post

tips backed by research to help you stay focused & achieve your new year goals. Plus, were going to be posting and sharing exercises & videos on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AshevilleFamilyFitness) to help you avoid injury.

So, without further ado….

Here are some tips from experts that REALLY WORK:

  1. Set realistic, attainable goals. If you’re learning how to play the piano, you wouldn’t set Beethoven’s 5th as your goal would you? Of course not. There’s nothing wrong with setting an easily attainable goal. Once you meet it, you’ll give yourself the feeling of accomplishment & success, and that will help build your momentum. Now set another, more challenging goal…and so on. Just like taking a flight of stairs, tackle…1… at… a… time.
  2. Have a workout buddy or partner. Lots of research says that this is the #1 factor that consistent exercisers have in common. Got an old friend or co-worker you’ve been wanting to connect with? Call them up, chances are they’ve been thinking about getting in shape too (we all do at one point or another, don’t we?). Need to mend some holiday bridges with a sibling or family member? Great opportunity to hold out an olive branch.
  3. Food journal. Simply keeping track of exactly what you’re putting in your mouth and when creates HUGE changes in your diet-research proves it. Successful programs like Weight Watchers have been doing that for years, and continue to, so it must work. But you can start simple & do it yourself: there are lots of free ones on the internet and inexpensive ones elsewhere-Wal Mart even carries one. Then the stage is set for you to begin shedding that extra weight and improving the way you look AND (more importantly) feel.
  4. Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going. If you’re reading this, you probably have the motivation, but what you need to create is the habit. Don’t look short term (“I want to lose 30# for that party coming up”) but think long term (“I want to prevent my joints from wearing out.” or “I want to not only be around for, but be physically able to play and have fun with, my grand kids.”)

Implement these tips right away and they will add to your success in the new year, I promise!

Damon

Bust Out of Your Salad Rut with These 4 Original Recipes

Radish salad

The transition of seasonal change — even though it happens every year, four times — is always a bit… funky.

Not only are you swapping out your wardrobe, adjusting to the additional hours of daylight, and digging through your storage room for dust-covered box fans, but all of a sudden your well-oiled-machine of a mealtime routine goes to pieces. Who wants slow-cooker turkey chili when it’s 75 degrees outside?

It’s time to dust off the old salad spinner, y’all. And I’ve got four fancy-feeling salads that you’ll actually be excited to dig into.

Strawberry Fields

Serves: 1  Prep Time: 15 mintues

  • 3 leaves Lacinato kale, cut into ribbons
  • 4-5 Romaine leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 4 basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • Handful alfalfa or broccoli sprouts
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 strawberries, quartered
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1/4 C goat or cow feta crumbles
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper to taste

1. Arrange greens and sprouts in a large bowl and toss to combine.

2. Top with radish slices, berries, nuts and cheese, and drizzle vinegar and oil over everything. Season with lots of black pepper.

Spring Green Salad 

Serves: 1  Prep Time: 15 minutes

  • 2 handfuls mixed baby spinach & arugula
  • 3-4 dandelion greens, chopped
  • 2-3 romaine leaves, torn
  • Handful alfalfa sprouts
  • 5 strawberries, cut into fourths
  • 2 T goat cheese, crumbled
  • Small handful of chopped walnuts
  • Drizzle balsamic vinegar
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine greens, sprouts, and strawberries in a large bowl, toss to combine. Top with walnuts and goat cheese.

2. In a separate container, mix vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Take to work and dress salad just before serving.

3. To make this a bit more hearty, add some sliced turkey.

Fennel Apple Salad

Serves: 1  Prep Time: 15 minutes

  • 4 T fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/4 C chopped walnuts

1. Mix juices, oil, tarragon, mustard, and salt in a large bowl. Add salad ingredients and toss to coat.

Chard & Cherries Salad

Serves: 2  Prep time: 10 minutes

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, shredded (you can dice the stalks if you want, or save them for stock)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Big handful alfalfa sprouts
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • ½ a green apple, thinly sliced
  • ½ T nutritional yeast
  • Handful dry-roasted sunflower seeds
  • Handful dried cherries

Combine everything except the yeast & sunflower seeds in a big bowl and toss with dressing. Just before serving, sprinkle yeast & seeds.

For the dressing:

  • Equal parts apple cider vinegar & extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • Dash coconut nectar (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Mix it all together and enjoy. You might need to adjust the seasonings depending on how much liquid you use. This is best if you make it early and let it sit for a few days. It doesn’t need to go in the fridge.

Salad doesn’t have to be boring. You just need a little variety!

P.S. This will be my last blog post for AFF. The blog will stay live for several months to come, so you can access all of my previous posts forever and ever.

If you want to keep up with my writing, follow me on Medium.com, where I’m writing about insomnia, the power of silence, Prince, and… well, whatever the fork I want.

Peace out!

Samantha Pollack, Holistic Health Coach & owner of Insider Wellness
 
 
 
 

Samantha Pollack, Holistic Health Coach, Insider Wellness

I’ve been cooking for a long time.

My sister and I always had to help with dinner. (I was in charge of the salad.)

When I moved into my first apartment, I thought, “Crap! I don’t know how to cook anything. I’m gonna starve and/or eat Ramen noodles every day.”

My mom gave me a handwritten recipe book of all her family dinner staples. And you know what? I was halfway into my first batch of chicken picatta when I realized — I DO know how to cook. I’ve been learning for years.

Sneaky moms. 😉

Over the years, I’ve gotten better. Faster. And… lazier.

There are certain cooking-related tasks that are just a pain in the assss-paragus, if you know what I mean.

 

Here are my favorite, can’t-live-without-them, hacks for making cooking WAY more fun.

1. Not chopping onions. I decided a couple years ago, I would never chop an onion again. I cut them in half long ways, then slice into half moons. ALWAYS. If you need smaller pieces you just slice really really thin half moons.

2. Give your greens some air. You know how greens get all slimy and gross-smelling when they sit in the fridge for too long? It’s because they need to breathe. Poke a few holes in the plastic bag before storing in the fridge. The same works for sprouts.

3. Smash garlic in a dish towel. UGH. Peeling garlic is the worst. To save time (and get some crazy out of your system), wrap the entire clove in a dish towel, then bang the heck out of it against the counter. Open it up, and all the garlic will be separated from the peel. Save what you don’t need in a sealed container in the fridge. You’re welcome.

4. How to clean mushrooms the right way: Use a damp dish towel to gently wipe the dirt off each mushroom. Don’t run them under water; they’ll turn slimy. (Bonus tip: save the stems for chicken stock!)

5. The easiest chicken stock ever. Place a 3-4 pound chicken in your slow cooker, on a bed of celery, carrots, and onion (just rough cuts; no need to chop). Cook for 4-6 hours on low. Remove the chicken, carve, and eat, leaving the veggies, drippings, etc. in the pot. Return the carcass to the slow cooker, with 8 cups of water, some bonus vegetable scraps (like those mushroom stems), and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Cook on low for 8-12 hours. Cool, strain, and you’re done.

6. Speaking of chicken stock, add it to everything. If you have homemade stock on hand, add it to all your home-cooked dishes for a flavor boost. Add a splash to your stir fry. Steam your greens in it. Simmer beans with some onions and peppers for an easy weeknight meal. Cook your rice in half stock and half water. The applications are endless.

7. Only cook with wine you’d actually drink. Okay, so this isn’t really a hack, but wine is important. Don’t use weeks-old wine or $1.50 swill. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t put it in your food.

8. Sharpen your knives at Ace hardware. Okay — those “sharpening sticks” that come with most knife sets? They’re actually called honers, and their job is to keep your knives true — as in, not crooked. To get them sharpened, let the professionals do it. Your local hardware store will do it for about $7 a knife. You’ll have to live without said knife for a few days though, so plan ahead.

9. No-peel applesauce. Most people don’t make their own applesauce because of all that peeling. Well, you can skip that step. Check out the recipe here.

10. How to separate leafy greens from their stalks: Hold the bottom of the stalk in your right hand. Grip the stem with your left hand, just above the right. In one quick movement, pull the entire stem, hard, with your right hand. The leaf should stay in your left hand, and the stem will remain in your right. This works best with curly kale and other firm greens, but it’ll work for all of them.

11. Frozen vegetables. Vegetables are frozen at peak freshness, so you’re not skimping on flavor or nutrition by going frozen. I always have a couple bags of broccoli, green beans, butternut squash, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Just stick to plain old veggies (none of these weird flavor explosions), and you’re good. Great on busy weeknights.

12. Blend your smoothies for a really long time. When you make a smoothie, does that smooth, creamy texture seem to elude you in favor of blueberry skins and tiny pieces of spinach that stick in your teeth? Blend your smoothie for at least one full minute, sometimes two, to eliminate even the tiniest chunks.

13. Clean your coffee pot with lemons, ice cubes, and salt. This is an old trick from the restaurant industry, and nothing works better. Cut a lemon in half. Squeeze the juice into your coffee pot, and throw the lemon halves in there too. Add ice cubes and kosher salt, and swirl around until the stain goes away. Then rinse really well, so your coffee doesn’t taste like a lemon drop. This will also work on tea stains or dingy soup pots.

Got some kitchen hacks of your own? Don’t be stingy — share!

Soda!

Now that you have an arsenal of soda alternatives, you’re well on your way to ditching it forever (just in time for summer)!

If that doesn’t sound so exciting to you, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

This four-week plan will wean you off gently and easily. It’s designed to minimize cravings and withdrawal, and if you stick to it, you could be soda-free in four short weeks!

WEEK ONE

We’ll start by cutting your soda intake by a third (roughly). You can do this in one of two ways:

  • Drop a serving completely (I’d start from the end of the day and work your way up), or…
  • Consume about 1/3 smaller serving each time.

Do this by diluting your soda with seltzer, or simply enjoying a smaller amount.

Also, before you consume each serving of soda, drink at least 8 ounces of water FIRST.

WEEK TWO

Reduce your intake by another third. Apply the same methods as week one.

If you’re only consuming one serving of soda a day, you can probably shorten this whole process by a week, or even two. You can only wean yourself so far until you run out of soda. 🙂

Continue to have your 8+ ounces of water before each serving of soda. And this week, add one glass of water to your overall intake.

WEEK THREE

Wherever you are, reduce your soda intake by half.

If you’re still consuming enough soda that diluting it makes sense, go for it.

Otherwise, you’re probably at the point where a 50% reduction equals dropping one of your servings completely.

If you’re already down to one serving per day, don’t reduce the soda itself; but do drop a day, so you’re only having it every other day.

Add a second additional glass of water to your day as well. The best way to ensure you’re consuming enough water is to start each day with a pint glass of water, before you do or drink anything else.

(And yup, still drinking water before soda. You may find that after the water, you no longer want the soda as much.)

WEEK FOUR

Here’s where we rip the band-aid off, y’all.

If you’re already down to every other day, switch to every two days. (Or, if you’re ready, try to go completely soda-free, treating your go-to soda beverage as just that — a special treat.)

Implement two — or three, or even four, if you’re ready — soda-free days this week. Have as many soda alternatives as you need to, but stay away from the hard stuff.

If, with the recent water additions, you’re still consuming less than 8 glasses of water a day, add one more glass to your day.

BEYOND

Continue to drink water first thing in the morning, and whenever you have a craving. Especially if you decide to give into that craving — drink water first.

Because soda is so addictive, it’s really easier to just institute a never-ever-drink-it policy. It’s pretty painless to maintain. Even at barbecues and restaurants, there’s always an alternative. Iced tea, seltzer, etc. Not hard to come by.

And unlike some more “extreme” dietary changes, like going gluten-free or dairy-free, kicking soda is a widely accepted positive change for your health. Meaning: lots of people are doing it, and your peers and loved ones will have an easier time supporting you.

And remember, ANY reduction in your soda intake is good.

Because it’s not about being perfect.

It’s about feeling better, all the time.

 

7 Things You Can Drink Instead of Soda — And Love

Iced Tea

If you drink soda on a regular basis, count yourself lucky — you are officially in possession of the most accessible, most bang-for-your buck, most inexpensive lifestyle change I know of.

Cutting back on your soda intake (and yes, diet soda counts here*) makes a massive impact on weight loss. It’s a one-two punch: cutting down a huge source of sugar, plus upping your hydration levels.

That combination leads to long-term benefits like:

  • Reduction in joint and muscle pain
  • Better mental clarity and cognitive function
  • Reduced food cravings
  • Appetite regulation

And even better news? You’ll start to see most of these changes within the first week of cutting back your soda intake.

*Attention diet soda guzzlers: The artificial sweeteners used in diet soda are one of the top contributors to sugar cravings. Which lead to increased consumption of things like baked goods and alcohol. Which leads to weight gain, and the opposite of all those bullet points you see above.

But giving up soda is no small feat. Both diet and regular sodas are formulated to be addictive, so you’re probably addicted to it. Plus, if your tastebuds are accustomed to that level of saccharine sweetness, everything else is going to taste super boring.

Try these 7 alternatives to soda to help you step down.

1. Cut your soda with seltzer water. This is the same approach I use for people who need to wean themselves off juice – start cutting it with increasing amounts of water. With soda, you can do this by adding seltzer water. Start with a 2:1 ratio of soda: seltzer. After a few days, go to 50/50. Gradually increase the amount of seltzer until you reach a 1:3 ratio.

2. Ginger beer. A great step-down from soda, because it still tastes more or less like ginger ale. Most ginger beers are sweetened with natural sugars (make sure to find one that is), but it has a greater proportion of ginger. This is my favorite ingredient for mocktails (see below).

3. Mock-mojito. In a tall glass, muddle together 3 basil leaves, 2 mint leaves, and a lime wedge. Pour in ginger beer to about the halfway mark, and fill the glass with ice. Give it a little stir, and finish with a splash of seltzer. Drink with a straw to avoid a mouthful of basil leaves.

4. Herbal tea spritzers. Brew an extra-strong batch of herbal tea. My favorites are chamomile, peppermint, and relax-y type blends. You could also use the fruity flavors and/or sweeten with a bit of honey if you like. Chill in the fridge. To make a spritzer, pour about 1/2 – 3/4 a glass of tea over ice, then finish with seltzer and a wedge of lemon.

5. Apple cider vinegar cocktail. Apple cider vinegar will directly help curb your soda cravings, because it alkalizes your body and satisfies that need for sweet. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a glass of sparkling water. Sweeten with honey if you prefer, and garnish with a lemon wedge. It’ll take you a couple days to get used to the taste, but once you do, you’ll start craving this as much as soda.

6. Flavored seltzer waters. (Noticing a theme here? We’re keeping the fizz.) I know from experience that die-hard soda fans kind of hate these drinks. But I have to include them, because there are so many flavors now, and they’re just such a better option. Keep trying different kinds until you find one you like.

7. Kombucha. This fermented, fizzy beverage has all the sweetness of soda, without all the crap. It’s so IN right now; you’ll find endless flavors to choose from at your local health food store. Plus you’ll get a hefty dose of probiotics, which aid digestion, support your immune system, and help curb cravings.

We get it — that afternoon craving for something cold and fizzy is powerful stuff. And nothing satisfies like an ice-cold can of Coke. (That used to be my preference, back when I was “using.”)

We’re not wagging fingers or waving the shame card in your face. We just want you to feel better! And we know (’cause it’s our job) that cutting back on your soda intake will have a direct, almost immediate impact on that.

Give one or two (or all) of these alternatives a try for ONE WEEK and see how you feel. And let us know about it!