Overhauling your life is not the easiest way to get healthy.  Just like going into the gym after a long hiatus and going all out, having huge lofty goals will be way too much, way too soon.  However, if you can live by a few simple healthy mantras, you can start making a habit out of living better for yourself and stick to it.  Here is a list of some of my favorites, grab a couple that work for you and become a champion of simple healthy living.

1. Adding extra movement to your day.  Staying active is always high on my list.  Get a pedometer and strive for 10,000 steps a day.  Shoot, if you see that you get 3,000 on average and the pedometer pushes you to get 6,o00, NICE!  (But seriously, strive for 10k :-)

2. Drinking water.  Feel better, look better, have your body perform better.

3. Smile.  Hey, it’s contagious, who couldn’t use a little positivity!

4. Don’t diet.  Healthy individuals know that a short term diet to reduce your weight is just that; short term.  Eating clean is a lifetime endeavor.

5. Sleep.  Aim for 7-8 hours of good sleep to help your body recover.  Sleep debt isn’t recovered from one good night, make this a habit and feel better! By the way, having trouble getting to sleep? The more active you are the more your body is going to want to sleep.

6. Prep food.   With healthy food made ahead of time, how can you lose?

Find your new simple healthy habit and feel better about how you feel better!

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(Istock)

Let’s be honest, you’ve made New Year’s Resolutions before and the track record of keeping them is pretty low.  Some good ones have even lasted into May, and you’ve been proud of others for their optimism if not for their brevity.  Take these good memories of creating fresh starts and don’t give up on a grand tradition. It is time to update the old style of a year long promise to a more doable, quality assurance type of resolution :).

Every January is a perfect time to help create a new beginning.  Everyone loves a fresh start and you get a built-in one every year! You are such a lucky soul!!  This year, I desperately want you to have that unbelievable feeling of accomplishing your goal and to do this I want you to follow these steps.

1. Make a short but honest list of things you want to be different this year.  They may be about your health or even about quality time with your family.

2. Take that short list and find the 1 thing that you truly want beyond all the rest.  That ONE thing will be your resolution for the year.

3. Now, take out your smart phone and start creating short term reminders to keep you on track.  This first will be created one month in, the second in April, the third in July, the fourth in October and the last one will be on the last day of the year.

4.  As each of these reminders pop up throughout the year, take it as a moment to realize how far you’ve come and a gentle push to keep going and strive on.  Very important here is not to be disgruntled if you have fallen off the wagon.  Don’t be negative, just get back to being a better you!  This isn’t me telling you what to change, this is you creating your own set of goals!

If you don’t want to change a thing about your wonderful self, then congratulations, you did it :)!  However, if you see your future self as a more complete and complicated person, give yourself an important 30 minutes this New Year and create that resolution.  Good Luck and I’ll see you in 2015.

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For many years, like everyone else I’m sure, I bought bundles of socks that were inexpensive and seemed absolutely fine for what I needed.  They were sometimes thicker for winter and thinner for my tighter shoes but always easy to find and easy on my purse.  The true focus of my foot care at that time was the quality of my shoes which I replaced just about 4 times a year, I could always tell when they were about shot when my shins and feet started to really ache.  Then about 6 years ago while training for a marathon, I had a friend introduce me to Smart Wool socks.  In the words of my teenager, OMG!   This is the exact point in time when I realized that any old sock is NOT a SmartWool sock.  I can’t lie, I am a stickler to this variety, and not just the brand but the no show kind with light cushion (not that ultra light cushion stuff, WAY too thin!)

Simply put, from personal experience, this is how these socks have changed the health of my feet.

  1. My feet and shins do not hurt as quickly which has let me run better
  2. The cushy feeling in my socks makes every pair of my shoes feel even better
  3. I don’t have any more blisters from running! This really may trump all the other good things since I started wearing these socks.  No more blisters, bunion yes, blisters no :).
  4. Shopping for me is super easy for major celebrations…buy me more socks!
  5. My feet stay dryer due to the breath-ability of wool.

I know they are expensive per pair, coming in at around $17, yikes! That is why my husband buys them for my birthday! … and Christmas, New Years, St. Patrick’s, Summer Solstice, Halloween…

Bottom line, as with all the things in my life that require a healthier version of the more popular, they are worth it to me because they keep me healthier and happier.  I challenge you to a better pair of socks and happier feet too, you will thank yourself and curse yourself for doing this.  You may never be the same again!

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This list of 10 must have fitness gifts for your healthy friends is perfect to help spread the healthy holiday cheer. Also, when I say friends, I mean you!  Keep in mind, I’m not just spouting brands, I use these items every day to stay healthy and active and this time of the year is the perfect opportunity to slip them into someone’s list of gifts to get you! Or, if you want to, for that special someone on your list.  Pictured here are all mine, so I hope you don’t mind that they are extremely used :).

1.  Fuel Band: This activity tracker from Nike has good durability and a pretty fun display. It is also harder to acquire the numbers so it makes it more of a challenge!

2.  Veggetti: This gadget turns vegetables into strings of delicious spaghetti.  Pasta is very low on my list of foods that I eat but high on my list of delicious foods. This great tool creates the best of both health and taste!

3.  Bosu Ball: A staple in my workouts with myself and my clients, it can double the number of moves you can perform plus get your core involved in almost anything you can come up with.

4.  Tabata Timer: Easily found as an app for smart phones, it creates great workouts in short timespans. When I have to smoosh my workout into my busy day, this timer is what I use to make it count!

5.  Jump Rope: Completely portable and the one thing I take absolutely everywhere to get me moving!  (Seriously, everywhere)

6.  Sport Watch: This watch does not need to be complicated, it just needs a clock and a stopwatch. From interval training to making sure I hit my mile times, I use it every day.

7.  Good Running Shoes: Find your style and most importantly, your comfort. Having a good pair of shoes saves so much pain in your feet and legs. Do not skimp!

8.  Ninja Food Processor: Chopped kale and homemade hummus. ‘Nuf said

9.  Ipod shuffle: When I’m working out, music is key. I need something quick and easy, not something with a touch screen. There’s wonderful things to be said for good ‘ol fashioned tactile controls.

10.  Smart Wool Socks: This is a non-guilty pleasure, I don’t wear any other type of sock. Along with good shoes, these never create blisters, wick sweat away, are super comfy and keep my feet warm and dry.

Make sure to put all these on your gift list and just in case, keep a checklist so you know what to grab when January comes around.  Happy Healthy-ing!!!

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veggie day
(oprea personal fitness)

My husband and I truly enjoy days when the weather is nice for walking through the city. We usually start on one end of Nashville and take in small bites of our favorite vegetable plates as we stroll through the streets catching up with each other, laughing and discussing where we would love to end up next. We have found a couple staples that we always hit, starting with coffee of course, and enjoy trying to find what will be our next go-to restaurant by trying some great new dishes. We found some great places with very different takes on classic fall and winter dishes that you may not have considered . You may not live in Nashville but your city has gems just waiting for you to discover them!

Bongo Java: Root Vegetable Taco – We hit up Belmont Blvd for three corn tortillas piled high with roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips and onion. The avocado really helps make the dish as well. There is a nice touch of sweetness and the cumin comes through nicely.
- Don’t forget about great local coffee shops, they have some amazing options.

Adele’s: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon – The smoky bacon is a tasty pairing as the only meat addition to our list. Big pieces of fresh garlic was a good surprise and it all has a nice red pepper kick with great rosemary pieces on top.
- Brussels sprouts need you to give them another try!

Kayne Prime: Black Kale – The kale is finely chopped with a sweet touch from the currants, light citrus taste and a really balanced light salad. One of our favorites after we tried kale at a bunch of places!
- When making your own kale add some water to your dressing, the leaves drink up liquids

Frothy Monkey: Carmelized Onion Tart – A decidedly different way to get your veggies in but was sweet and delicious. A true surprise on our hunt where we even had root vegetables in our coffee with their Sweet Potato Latte!
- We love being wowed by a new place, find your own surprises!

The Farm House: The Farm Plate – A rotating dish of seasonal veggies, ours contained sweet potatoes, pumpkin and roasted cauliflower just to name a few. It was colorful, warming and hearty plate of veggies. Not to mention the service was welcoming as well.
- This could be our new favorite place; good people, food and atmosphere is something you should strive to create!

Lastly, these pictures do no justice.  That bottom right one looks like mush, but was tasty! :-)

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I want you to bring the dessert to Thanksgiving this year! However, put a yummy twist on the fall classic, pumpkin pie. With this recipe you can impress your friends and family and at the same time create a dessert that will significantly lower your guilt over eating a sweet treat.

The desserts at any get together can be very heavy and yet incredibly tempting. That’s why this great and delicious alternative will steal the show without destroying the hard work you’ve been putting in to get yourself healthy!
To make the homemade crust, you’re actually going to use graham crackers. It creates a nice crunch without adding too much sugar.

Crust:
• Process about 11 full graham crackers in your mixer
• Spoon in 3.5 tablespoons of melted Smart Balance butter and process this whole mix
• Press firmly onto the sides and bottom of a 9” pie pan
This crust requires no baking so go ahead straight to the filling!

Filling:
• 1 15-oz. can of 100% pumpkin
• ½ cup light coconut milk
• ¼ cup honey
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites

Process all these ingredients together until well blended and pour on top of the crust. Then bake on 350° for 35-45 minutes. You’re looking for a crispy shell and fully cooked middle. Once pulled out of the oven, chill in the fridge for at least a couple hours for the filling to fully solidify.

Now enjoy this delicious, and most important, better-for-you pumpkin pie having only 14 grams of sugar per slice compared to a traditional slice at 25 grams!! Way to go you, you don’t have to run nearly as far to burn this dessert off ;-) ! Now the important part is not to eat the whole pie, this truly destroys the fact that you made each slice a bit healthier. Seriously, don’t eat the whole thing, please.

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Recently we attended a seminar talking about how to prevent cancer by altering the way you live. Most of the advice had to do with what you put in your body to keep it healthy and was incredibly interesting. There was one snippet that I found intriguing and that I had heard quite a few times before; the benefits of apple cider vinegar. Being both very simple to add into your diet and greatly beneficial to your health made it a perfect topic to talk about. 1 -2 tablespoons mixed with water each day have these benefits:

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