How to NOT Gain Weight During The Holidays


There is some good news about holiday weight gain. People don’t gain as much weight as we thought during the holidays.

According to National Institute of Health, throughout the six-week holiday season, the average person gains about a pound. I guess I am way above average. If you are like me, the holiday eating season can really take its toll. So here are a few ideas to keep yourself in check.
1. Maintaining your weight is a victory. Weigh yourself before Thanksgiving and continue to weigh yourself two to three times a week. Be sure to weigh yourself in the morning before you eat anything. If you see that scale creep, make adjustments along the way. Exercise more or eat a little less.


2. Don’t fast before the feast.  It might seem like a good idea to skip breakfast or lunch before heading off to that holiday dinner, but eating a few small meals throughout the day is a better way to go. If you show up famished, it will be more difficult to avoid eating too much. And when your little voice tells you that you can have a third piece of cheesecake because you skipped breakfast and lunch, things can get ugly.


3. Know what you want. Everyone has their favorites at Thanksgiving. I can probably eat my weight in stuffing and pie. But often times, the main meal isn’t served for a few hours, and there are plates and plates of appetizers to tempt. Most appetizers at my home are pretty generic items that can be found at any bar or party throughout the year. So on Thanksgiving, decide to eat only the things you get on Thanksgiving and step awaaaay from the things you can have anytime. If you need something to munch on before the bird arrives, go for the veggies.


4. Be the last in line. Holiday dinners can be an all-day event. The food is left out for a few hours for people to go back for more and more and more. When it comes time for the dessert tray to make its debut, be the last one to get your dessert. Enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea while everyone else grabs their goodies. If you are the last to get your dessert, by the time you finish your one and only treat, everyone else is going to be done with their dessert too, and will probably have moved on to something else like football, napping, or complaining about how full they are. It won’t be as convenient to go back for seconds. And make sure to choose your very favorite dessert. You know; the one that is totally worth the calories… your Auntie’s pumpkin pie, your grandma’s cookies, etc.



Keep Fit, Enjoy Flexibility and Fast Track Your Career in Fitness


Sick of working 9 till 5? Want to be your own boss? Enjoy working with people? You might not think that you can have it all but you really can.

A career in fitness is the answer to providing you with the lifestyle and financial satisfaction that you have always dreamed of. Fitness trainers and instructors work to help others achieve their fitness goals while enjoying a flexible and healthy way of life. But what exactly does a fitness instructor do? Well the opportunities are truly quite endless. Fitness trainers and instructors work with individuals or groups leading them in a range of physical exercises such as cardiovascular activities, strength building and stretching.


You’ll find fitness trainers and instructors in recreations centers, gyms, universities, studios, resorts, the list really goes on! Many people even choose to work for themselves, visiting clients in their home or in outdoor public settings. A career in fitness is available to anyone but one important first step is to ensure that you receive the proper training from a fitness school. The type of fitness school that will provide you with the skills and abilities you need to take your career to the next level.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from the years 2010 to 2020, employment of fitness trainers and instructors was predicted to increase by 24 percent. That’s an incredible growth and much more than the average for other professions. If you need more convincing the BLS stated that “As businesses and insurance organizations continue to recognize the benefits of health and fitness programs for their employees, incentives to join gyms or other fitness facilities will increase the need for workers in these areas.”


A career in fitness means that you can also work around other aspects of your life as many people in the field are able to choose flexible hours for both part-time and full-time employment.  Your job doesn’t control you, you control it! Plus when you’re at work instead of being trapped behind a desk you’re actually engaging in physical activity and experiencing the satisfaction of helping other to achieve their goals.


Since this all sounds great, you must be thinking but how can I get started?  Well as mentioned, the best way forward is to choose a fitness school that you can trust and enrol yourself in a course that will kick start your career in fitness. It’s very important to learn the ins and outs of the occupation, methods of instructing and leading people as well as the obvious; great exercise techniques and programs. A great way to choose a fitness school is to read through their testimonials, have a  look through their website and pick up the phone to talk to someone about your future aspirations.


It’s never too late to make a change and start living the life you always dreamed of. A career in fitness offers job satisfaction, flexibility and of course the perfect way to maintain your physical and mental health.



6 Creative Ways to Get Children Excited about Healthy Eating


Getting your children excited about eating healthy food is one of the major struggles of modern parenting. And it’s no surprise really, think about all the advertisements for junk food your children probably come across on a daily basis, think about all their friends at school munching away on sweets and chocolate during lunch!


It’s not hard to see why healthy food seems so unappealing to them! I mean, think back to when you were a child!  Chances are, you weren’t so keen on the green, healthy stuff either. But as parents, we strive to make our children as healthy as we possibly can, and the easiest way to do this, is to get them just as excited about healthy eating as you are.


There are several ways you can do this – and trust me, they’re not as complicated as you might have initially thought. You don’t have to disguise things or use trickery – you just have to be honest and use a little parenting magic. So here goes…


1.  Get your children to help cook

Getting your children involved in the cooking side of food means that they feel like creators – and they are excited to try eating what they just made with their own hands! Cooking a healthy pizza is a great place to start (and a great way to ease them in). Make some healthy dough and get some low-fat cheese, and them ask you child to choose which toppings they want on their pizza. Allow them one meat (wafer thin ham is always a good choice as it is practically water) and then top up with lots of healthy vegetable choices. It works like a charm! And because your children know the pizza was made by them – they feel less scared of or wary of the healthy food.


2.  Always eat dessert

This sounds like a funny way of making children healthier – but if you start introducing fun fruit into dessert then the children will feel excited about it. Don’t just stick to boring apples and pears – mix it up a little bit. Try pineapple, raspberry’s, strawberry’s, star fruit and grapes – and make fun shapes out of them. Your children won’t be able to resist. It’s also a common fact that most children will be more open to fruit than they will be to vegetables – so keep this in mind if you child is particularly stubborn.


3.  Grow the vegetables and fruit yourselves

If you have a garden or even a window ledge, then you can be growing the good stuff. Give your children the responsibility of growing them, watering them, planting them and picking them and they’ll start to really get excited about the end product. Make a big deal out of it too – and when the veg or fruit finally emerges – have a big family meal to celebrate the cooking of the freshly grown produce! You child will feel proud and excited!


4.  Do the shopping together

Get your child involved in the shopping and you’ll see their interest in fruit and veg completely improve. If you currently order your food online (whilst it is convenient) it’s ruining the interaction that your child should be having with food. Take them around the super market at least once a month to look at all the produce, and even let them pick and choose anything that catches their eye. They’ll not only feel valued – but they’ll be excited to share their choices with the rest of the family!


5.  Do a cooking competition

If you have multiple children then arrange a week of cooking competitions where the most healthy meal wins… This is a great way to not only getting them thinking healthily, but also to get them excited and encouraged to make things healthy too. Most children love having a friendly competition against their siblings, but if your child is an only child then don’t worry you can still do this one! Just have them compete against you instead! It’s a really fun way of getting them to actively think about what they’re eating in a fun way.


 6.  Get them to start a food blog

Getting your children blogging isn’t only a good idea because it means they’re writing on a regular basis – but it’s also really smart because it will encourage them to record what they eat and take note of it. You could make it a family project even – and you could see who has recorded the best meals that week!


About the Author:  Elle works for chefsknivesonline.com and loves encouraging families to not only eat well – but cook and prepare food properly!



Top 5 Tips to Reduce Exposure to Harmful Pesticides


Too often it seems that the easier, more beautiful or more delicious something is, the more dangerous it is for you.


Such is the unfortunate case with many of the shiny, colorful fruits and vegetables we choose at the grocery store in an effort to eat healthy – they are riddled with pesticides to prolong shelf life and keep insects from ruining their appearance. While no one wants to bite into an apple and eat half of a worm with it, nor find a six-legged family living in their head of lettuce, the side effects of heavy pesticide exposure are even more serious.


According to livestrong.com, these toxic chemicals can cause learning disabilities, negatively affect the nervous system, weaken the immune system and may even be linked to breast cancer. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides and therefore decrease your risk of suffering from negative side effects.


1. Buy Organic

Some fruits and vegetables already have very low pesticide content and are safe to buy in the normal produce section, such as those included in the Clean 15. But many staples in our diets are members of the Dirty Dozen, the twelve types of produce with the highest pesticide content, and should only be eaten in organic form to reduce pesticide ingestion.


2. Grow Your Own

If buying organic seems difficult and expensive, why not cultivate your own produce? Not only does gardening provide a fun hobby and even exercise, it assures you that there are no pesticides in your food because you grew it yourself.  TLC has a great list of 66 different fruits and veggies you can grow at, or even in, your own home.


3. Eliminate Pests Without Using Pesticide

Chemicals are a convenient way to keep unwanted guests out of your home and garden and food, but you may be sacrificing your health in using them. Taking natural measures to keep your home clean and bug-free, such as following this helpful guide from grist.org, will help keep your home free of pests and pesticides.


4. Detoxify Your Diet

In addition to avoiding pesticides in your diet and your methods of pest control, you can counteract pesticides you may unknowingly ingest by eating foods that act as natural detoxifiers. Make sure you still purchase these items organic if they are part of the Dirty Dozen.


5. No Shoes In the House

Incorporating all of these safety measures into your lifestyle will greatly reduce your risk of exposure to harmful pesticides, but you can only control so much. You may not use pesticides and harmful chemicals on your lawn and garden, but anywhere else you go you can’t be sure what you’re stepping in.  Having a no-shoe rule in the house keeps toxic chemicals from being tracked in to your home and cultivates a cleaner, safer living space. This is especially important if you have small children or pets that crawl on (or eat things off of) the floor.


Author:  Emily Johnson



Top 10 Apps to Organize Your Life

Many people believe that they cannot survive without their smartphones. Do you have the most up-to-date apps for organizing and syncing your Smartphone and networks? Check our list.


Smart phones and tablets are essential business tools in today’s ever changing world. You need to be organized and ready to keep control of your fast paced life. Whether it’s Apple, Android or Windows, the tools you need are in the application market.


Thousands of these apps are available to you, but how do you know which one works best, is the easiest to use and most importantly, is the right one for you. We’re going to get you started in the right direction. Here are our Top 10 apps to organize your life:

► Catch Notes

My personal favorite note taking and thought capturing app makes it easy to create and file notes by typing, taking a picture or recording voice. It has reminders (big bonus) and has a unique feature called Streams that allows you and 1 or more friends to converse and exchange ideas privately. Everything backs up online so you never have to worry about losing your data.

► Google Maps

Definitely offers the best and most comprehensive maps on the web. You can get GPS guided walking, driving, cycling and public transportation routes from point A to point B in text or voice. It’s also tied into Google Places so finding restuarants, coffee houses, stores or points of interest can be done in one easy search.

► Astrid Tasks

This app is great for keeping track of repeating tasks and chores that you don’t want in your calendar. It comes with everything you need to stay on track with pop-up reminders, multiple alarm settings and a very easy interface.

► Barcode Scanner

Can’t find the price on an item in a store you’re shopping at? Easily scan the UPC code with your phone’s camera and instantly you will have the information pop up on your phone. It also reads barcodes such as QR Droid and Data Matrix. These can contain links to websites, contact information and more.

► Four Square

Helps you keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock deals. Whether you’re setting off on a trip around the world, coordinating a night out with friends, or trying to pick out the best dish at your local restaurant, foursquare is the perfect companion. It’s easy to use and can get addictive if you start focusing on scoring points and earning badges.

► Flixster

Okay maybe you are not going to use this one all the time, but when you want to find movie listings and read reviews there isn’t an easier app to use. With this app you can also buy tickets and DVDs online, and can be your best friend when discussing movie trivia.

► Google Calendars

I could go on forever about why I love the Google calendar…let’s just say your time management skills are about to get a turbo boost of efficiency. Check it out for yourself!

► Seesmic

If you love social media and want to be up on everything that’s going on at Facebook, Twitter and Linked In… this app will consolidate all three into one simple format. It can handle multiple accounts such as a FB personal and business page, plus several Twitter accounts. A great app for your Smartphone and even better on the computer!

► Lose It

One of the best free weight loss apps we have found. Good set up makes it easy to set goals, track food, exercise, calories in/out and follow progress. The calorie counting is done for you and all you have to do is input your food from a vast library or (one of the best features) scan the barcode of a package where it is instantly added to your list. Many of our clients support each other through the app and it has pushed many to achieve their goals.

► Drop Box

Everyone is talking about the Cloud. Well here it is. This Cloud and you can store, transfer, send and move files of all types without using thumb drives or valuable hard drive space. It’s all stored on line.




How to organize your thoughts…into action!

I think all of us have had one or two of these  ideas per month. More often than not they fall to the wayside because we simply can’t get it organized quickly and life’s priorities take over. Trying to start and manage projects can be daunting because the task seems bigger than us. You have the ability to succeed; you just need the tools and technique of Mind Mapping that is going to change everything for you.



The beauty of Mind Mapping is that it translates from your brain to paper in the exact way you think and requires a very small learning curve. It will help you organize your thoughts into cohesive patterns and aid you in discussion, time management, long-range planning and productivity.

The five essential characteristics of a Mind Map:

  • The main idea, subject or focus is crystallized in a central image.
  • The main themes radiate from the central image as ‘branches’.
  • The branches comprise a key image or key word drawn or printed on its associated line.
  • Topics of lesser importance are represented as ‘twigs’ of the relevant branch.
  • The branches form a connected nodal structure.


Read the Theory behind Mind Mapping and see Mind Mapping Samples”  So pull out those scraps of paper, cocktail napkins, pictures and start Mind Mapping them into a clear vision. Check out our list of the “10 Best Apps to help Organize” for more tools and hints.



5 Daily Get Fit Tips… No Gym Required (Part 2.)


Do you really need the danish, chocolate chip cookie, or bite-size candy bar someone brought into the office today?   The favorite retort is, “No, but I want it!” Ask yourself, in that moment, what do you want for your health? Will this help you meet your personal goals? I’m not saying never eat sweets, I’m saying practice self-control.


  • Standing heel lifts are easy do almost anywhere.  Washing dishes at the sink: before you begin the chore, hold the edge of the sink, (not the soapy area), keep your feet at least hip distance apart and rise up onto your toes as high as you can.  Do 10.  Do the dishes and do 10 more.  Waiting in a line:  do some heel lifts while holding onto your shopping cart or only lift halfway up onto your toes and do as many as you can while waiting.  It also helps to make the line move faster.


  • Posture…  Do you work standing all day? Try this.  Imagine you have two hard cover books on your head if you draw your navel toward your spine and draw your shoulder blades toward the floor, and look forward as you walk you will begin improving posture right away.  Or do you sit all day in a chair? Try this.           Sit all the way back into your chair so your back is touching the chair back, feet flat on the floor, draw your navel in toward your spine and sit tall. Now place your hands on the bottom of the back of the chair seat (if your arms are a bit short to reach then grab the bottom of the back of the chair)  and stretch the crown of your head toward the ceiling.  Count to 10 by saying 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand and so on.  Reach everything upward while your hands hold firm to stretch you in opposite directions.

  • Head tilts are great to pass the time and get fit while you are waiting for that download or defrag to finish.  Maybe you are watching a movie or at a sporting event for your child.  Sit or stand up straight, like when you worked on posture.     Tilt your head toward your shoulder with your ear lining up with your shoulder reach your finger tips to the floor on both sides.  Use only the strength of your neck muscles to press the ear to the shoulder (Caution: Do Not Pull on Your Head).  For a bit more intensity tilt your chin toward your chest and back to your shoulder, slowly.  Did you feel that?!  Repeat 3 on each side holding for a count of 10 seconds.  Alternate sides one a time in case the download finishes sooner than expected you will get a stretch on both sides.

  • Arm Stretches  can be done almost anywhere by bringing your R arm straight up over your head then reaching to your spine with the palm of your R hand.  With your L hand, grab the R elbow and gently pull it toward your head.  Gaze to the floor while active in the stretch.  Do not look up, but do not tuck your chin to your chest either, let it drop naturally.  Hold for a count of ten seconds while maintaining the pull and keeping your hand as straight onto your spine as you can.  If this stretch feels difficult don’t give up, just do the best you can taking a deep breath in and exhaling slowly while you count.  It will get better.  Repeat this on the Left.Do 3 sets counting to 10 until you can hold for a full 30 seconds on each side without letting go.

  • Spinal rotation stretches can be done while you wait in line, at home, at work, or at play.  Stand with your feet just hip distance apart (do not over exaggerate the stance).  Place your R hand at your R hip and your L hand on top of the R.  Keeping your chin level with your shoulder begin to look over your L shoulder while you hold your hips firmly so they do not move.  Take in a deep breath and as you begin to exhale it slowly keep your chin chasing your shoulder as the shoulder keeps rotating behind you.Remember your Pilates posture and reach upward through the crown of your head.  Draw your navel in and up as you stretch and enjoy the release of tension in your spine.  Repeat on the Left.

These are a few of the take away’s from class exercises I give my students.  It’s so important to create and maintain good habits in our lives because often life will get in our way.  It’s up to you to be proactive in your own health, so that you may give all to family, friends, & yes, your career too!


Budda said:    “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again” Begin Today!

Stacy Price-Darkis, CPI, BCES..    Studio 59 Pilate Fitness, LLC



5 Daily Get Fit Tips… No Gym Required (Part 1.)


You have a busy life, too many meetings, you have guests coming for dinner and you’ve got to get the house in order, the kids have sporting events or practices to go to….exactly how are you supposed to slow down and take time for you to stay fit and maybe live more stress free?

Do a few of these while you get all that done too!

  1. Do walking lunges down the hallway or if at work, walk by placing one foot directly in front of the other like walking on a tight rope.
  1. Take the stairs whenever possible. If at home and the laundry is up or down stairs then walk briskly. (Caution: be careful if you are carrying something) If you are like me, you have a number of loads to do, so moving at a brisk pace, pulling and holding your navel inward while stretching the crown of your head toward the ceiling, as you travel up and down stairs, will give not only your legs and belly some work, but those lungs too!
  1. Park further away from the mall or office entrance you are visiting, on purpose. It’s a bit cold out and that will make you pick up the pace and move…plus your car will likely get a few less dings parking away from other vehicles. And yes, there is a good excuse to shop, as the packages you now have to carry back to the car will help your arm strength. But be sure to use proper posture while carrying heavy bags.  Hold them close to your body and do not slouch downward, instead hold your navel inward and feel your ribs pull close together like a vest. Keep a bend in your arms and your shoulder away from your ear lobes. Use their power equally to carry heavy bags. It’s all about form!


[Also Read:  5 MORE Daily Get Fit Tips… No Gym Required (Part 2.) ]

  1. Put on some music upbeat and your favorite to move to. Do it while you prepare meals and when cleaning the house. Nothing wakes up your senses like awesome tunes. And anything that makes getting that bathroom clean faster is better.
  1. Believe in what you do, nothing big will happen without your effort. Keep your goals in mind. When at your desk, sit up straight in your office chair. Stretch your arms over your head lining your bicep’s up with your ears, and reach up to the ceiling with a deep inhale, then just exhale out as much as you can. Repeat 3 times.



Vacation? How your Health may be at Risk


 The movement to better our lives and the lives of our families by getting more exercise, improving the nutrition of our meals, and learning how to balance our hectic lives gains in popularity with each passing year. But the one aspect that still falls woefully short is giving ourselves – our bodies, our minds, and our spirits – the rest and respite we need for real health.



Study after study shows what we intuitively know is right – that vacations are necessary for our health, pure and simple. People who don’t take vacations, the studies show, are many times more likely to develop coronary disease, have heart attacks, develop diabetes, and have fitful sleeping patterns. Does this sound like good life management to you?


Vacations offer the perfect opportunities to take care of whatever ails you. For example, if you have a sedentary job, physical activity might be just what you need. Go to a resort that offers an active vacation, such as beach destinations where you can snorkel, swim, parasail, and dive. Have fun and get back into shape at the same time.
Many resorts offer tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball, and even such activities as softball and bocce ball tournaments. How about skiing? Shushing down a mountain slope is invigorating and gets you out into that embracing mountain air.


Maybe you are suffering from burnout and need pure relaxation. Try hidden getaways in mountain retreats such as the Great Smokey Mountains, the Catskills, or beautiful Lake Tahoe; or wonderful sand beaches where you can lay beside splashing waves (try Hawaii) or sway in a hammock (maybe Key Largo).


With these kinds of vacations the cares of your world are sure to melt away and you’ll feel relaxed and pampered.


If you need a real break from reality – head to California for fun at Disneyland, or to Orlando for Walt Disney World, Sea World, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At each of these theme parks your one and only job – is to have fun.


Although the best way to take a real break is to leave your Blackberry, lap top, and cell phone at home, a vacation of any kind is better than none at all. Follow through on your best intentions for positively managing your life, and include that vital vacation in your Lifestyle Management plans. Consider budget-friendly timeshare rentals as the way to afford the vacation you need.

About the Author:  Alice Perkins is a timeshare travel blogger for RedWeek.com, the largest online market place for timeshare rentals, where vacationers can find luxury accommodations for less than the cost of a typical hotel room.



Top 7 Healthy Living Tips for Students on a Budget


Achieving health and fitness goals can seem difficult for those living on a student’s limited budget. Meeting those goals can be accomplished by eating right and finding a way to work in a little exercise nearly every day, even if there isn’t money to join a gym.

Eating right

It’s no secret there is an obesity problem in America and a large part of it has to do with the fact most people don’t know the proper meal portions they should be eating. The fact that restaurant meals are often larger than necessary obviously doesn’t help. Being healthy isn’t just about cutting out the things people enjoy eating. The following tips should help make it easier to make better food choices.

  • Don’t skip breakfast– Eat a good meal within 30 minutes of getting out of bed. This will help kick start your metabolism and give it energy for the day. Oatmeal is an inexpensive, low calorie option that actually provides fuel over a longer period of time than most other breakfast foods.
  • Learn the right portions – Rather than heaping piles of food on a plate, divide the dish into sections – one for protein, one for vegetables and one for grains. It also helps to vary the meals and make a point of trying some new foods.
  • Snacks – Limit the amount of junk food in the dorm room or apartment and replace bags of chips with healthy snacks like fruit or small vegetables, such as carrot sticks. Fruit is water dense, which means eating it provides satiety with smaller amounts than other foods.


Staying in shape can be done without joining a health club and paying a costly monthly membership fee. With a little creative thinking it’s easy to exercise for free on a daily basis.
  • The body as equipment – Doing push-ups is a great way to build the muscles of the arms, chest and abdomen and use the weight of the body to do so. Sit ups or crunches also develop the abdominal muscles without the use of equipment. Jogging increases cardiovascular health and can be done outside around a track or the campus.
  • Sports – Get involved in intramural sports offered at the school or just go to the park and join in some pickup games. Playing sports uses a variety of muscles and often doesn’t feel like a workout routine.
  • Join with a friend– Working out is always more fun when there’s somebody urging another on to do their best. Relying on a friend can also prevent one member from quitting when the going gets tough.
  • Walk or bike –When possible, walk or ride a bike to class. This will provide a decent cardio workout without having to plan an extra session. For those that commute, park in a lot away from class and walk the rest of the way.
It doesn’t take a lot of money to reach fitness goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there are a number of easy ways to achieve good health without spending a lot of money for those willing to be creative.


About the Author: Christina Lloyd writes regularly for a site that has helpful tips about financial assistance for students, such as state school grants. She enjoys sharing her tips for living a healthy lifestyle on a tight budget.