Fitness Friday: How to Get Toned, Sexy Arms for Summer

Summer is here, and that means breaking out summer clothes such as sundresses, tank tops, and bathing suits. If your arms aren’t ready yet, New York City personal trainer, Hannah Davis, has a plan that will get you toned and tight in plenty of time. “The trick is that most women focus on single-joint exercises, like biceps curls, which work primarily one muscle. Doing complex moves recruits more muscle fibers and works your upper body to total fatigue, says Davis. That means you’ll burn more calories and shed arm fat faster, so your arms, shoulders, and upper back will be sleek in time for their big reveal.” See more for an easy great looking arm workout at Women’s Health.

Blueberry Pancakes for Mother’s Day

What a week… I can’t believe that a week ago I buried my mom, and tomorrow it’s Mother’s day. It’s been such a rough week, but I have so many of you to thank for the sweet messages, notes, emails, calls, flowers, comments, lunches, etc. I am trying to pick myself up every day and move forward, and this blog is one great way to push me to do that. I thought I would share a super simple recipe for Blueberry Pancakes for Mother’s Day or any day since my mom always loved Mother’s Day brunches and who doesn’t love pancakes and blueberries?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful, wonderful, giving moms out there. For those of you who still have a mom, give her a big hug today! All the best, Alison

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Fitness Friday: New “Strong & Sculpted” Canyon Ranch DVD & Giveaway

When I heard about the new “Canyon Ranch: Strong & Sculpted” DVD releasing this week, I was excited to check it out. This is a great concept of bringing the Canyon Ranch experience home with you. These three 20-minute workouts take healthy living to a new level for total-body transformation designed to work together to firm, tone, and invigorate your entire body. The workouts include a dynamic strength-training segment to build strong bones and long, lean muscle; a fluid, easy-to-follow yoga flow for more body sculpting and to improve balance and flexibility; and a powerful core segment to work the muscles of the abs and hips that are key to a powerful, smoothly functioning physique. With this program, you’ll chisel your muscles, focus your mind, and transform your body. For more information to purchase, see Acacia Lifestyles.

Check Out These Workout Options:

  • Core (20 min. plus 5 min. cool down) with Canyon Ranch fitness instructor Darcy McCue

  • Strength Training (20 min. plus 9 min. cool down) with Canyon Ranch fitness instructor Heather Schmidt

  • Yoga (20 min. plus 5 min. savasana) with Heather Schmidt

    Bonus Features:

·Take healthy living to a new level with three bonus segments featuring Canyon Ranch integrative health experts.

·Cooking with Super Foods: How to select and prepare foods that reduce inflammation with Canyon Ranch’s nutrition director and corporate chef (7 min.)

·Building Lean Muscle: What you need to know about muscle and how to build muscle through exercise with an exercise physiologist (3 min.)

·Healthy Joints: How to protect and strengthen your joints during exercise and in everyday life with an integrative medicine expert (4 min.)

·Booklet with recipes from the renowned chefs of Canyon Ranch

For a chance to win, leave a comment telling me why you would like this DVD. Do the following for more chances to win and leave me a comment telling me you did. Winner will be drawn on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 8 p.m CST.

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Two Ingredient Raspberry Popsicles

When I first saw “Sparkling Ice”at a friends house, my 3 kids begged me to buy it. After taking a look at the ingredients, I thought, “Why not give it a shot.” They loved all of the flavors, but it is also great to use in cocktails and even popsicle recipes. The Black Raspberry flavor was one of their favorites, and I love how easy it is to make Two Ingredient Raspberry Popsicles. Sparkling ICE is also a great alternative sport drink beverage for people of all ages. Sparkling ICE combines fresh spring water, natural fruit juices and vitamins and antioxidants to create tasty, lightly-carbonated refreshments in assorted thirst-quenching flavors. It’s a great alternative to soft drinks. It is caffeine-free, Kosher U and free of sodium and carbohydrates. For more information, see their Facebook page or website.

Sparkling ICE retails for $1.29, or $12-$15 for a 12 pack. Flavors include Coconut Pineapple, Lemon Lime, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Orange Mango, Pomegranate Berry, Pink Grapefruit, and Black Raspberry. Sparking ICE is available at retailers nationwide, including Kroger, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Publix, Winn Dixie, Amazon and more.

Quinoa Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

My oldest son, Alec, has been begging me to make homemade fried rice for a while. I decided to twist the basic recipe and make it with quinoa instead of rice. This Quinoa Chicken Fried Rice recipe is a hit for something new and different for your weeknight table, especially if you’re looking for something gluten-free, healthy and hearty. Feel free to substitute rice for the quinoa if you wish, but I love that quinoa is a gluten-free, nutty grain that is a complete protein which is high in fiber, low in calories and is high in iron, magnesium and calcium.

Travel Tuesday: Peninsula Spa in Chicago & Mother’s Day

If you’re traveling to Chicago this spring, or live there, take note of the The Peninsula Spa in the Peninsula Chicago. This spa, located on the top two floors in the Peninsula Chicago, offers a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit wellness. The Peninsula Spa introduces monthly specials this spring and summer to celebrate and rejuvenate by combining healthy cuisine, state of the art fitness techniques and all-natural beauty treatments in packages for men and women. Check out their Facebook Page.

This urban retreat offers a variety of signature treatments that uniquely layer European and Asian philosophies using all-natural products, a half-Olympic-length swimming pool surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows with city views, and a state-of-the-art fitness center with expertly trained personal trainers and advanced group fitness classes.  ESPA’s newest product line, which is proudly used at The Spa, offers updated formulas that average over 99% all-natural ingredients to ensure each product is as efficacious, luxurious and natural as possible.

Mother’s Day Promotion

Book a massage, facial or body treatment and receive:

50% off an additional treatment for your Mother or loved one

Available Mondays through Thursdays

Price: Treatments begin at US$ 160

Valid: May 1 through 31, 2012

Mother’s Day Gift Certificate Promotion

Purchase a Mankind Massage or Tension Relief Massage and receive:

A complimentary one-week membership to The Spa

A one-hour personal training session

Price: US$ 245 (valued at US$ 405)

Valid: May 1 through 31, 2012

No-Bake Date Nut Energy Bars

I am always looking for new, healthy snack ideas for the kids, and if I can come up with a no-bake recipe idea, then even better. My two boys love dried dates, so I thought this combination of dates, nuts and flaxseed would make a great healthy snack, dessert or breakfast idea. You’ll love these too. No-Bake Date Energy Bars are not only “no-bake”, they are also gluten-free and perfect for all of my friends following the Paleo Diet. They also make a great pre or post workout snack so enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from “The Dramatic Pancake”.

Fitness Friday: What is Corporate Yoga?

What is “Corporate Yoga”? Have you heard about it? I am so thrilled to feature an interview with my friend, Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Yoga. She is doing what she loves teaching yoga classes in major corporations. I find this trend and her entrepreneurial spirit so interesting, unique and inspiring. I couldn’t wait to share this story on my “Fitness Friday”.

 Why is Corporate Yoga So Important and beneficial?

Corporate Yoga brings not only a yoga class to the workplace, but also brings a healthy mindset and lifestyle. Yoga cultivates mindfulness, and when we are in a state of mindfulness, we become in tune with our bodies and our health. We also start to make healthier choices. Companies benefit when it’s not just an exercise class a few times a week, but when there is a shift in the corporate culture toward a healthier lifestyle. I strive to keep my classes engaging, challenging, and fun so the participants never know what to expect. I don’t think I’ve ever taught a class that is the same. This helps Corporate Yoga classes stay packed, and it keeps their employees coming back for more!

Why are more companies going this route?

Companies are beginning to see the benefits of providing Corporate Yoga. There are many benefits for both the employer and employees. From the employer standpoint, this could mean lower insurance premiums, less sick days, increased productivity, reduced staff turnover, more attractive to potential employees, increased job satisfaction and positive thinking. From the employee standpoint, the benefits are improved health and wellness, less stress, anxiety, and depression; improved memory, focus, weight loss, and increased mental alertness. Also, it’s a great way for employees to get to know each other and promote team building. The benefits just go on and on!

How did you get into the entrepreneurial business side of yoga?

About 4 years ago, I donated a few private yoga sessions for a school fundraiser. The person who bought the sessions referred a friend to me. The friend contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in coming to her office to teach a class. A few weeks later I was leading a packed class at her office in an empty board room. Soon after, one of the women in this class referred me to her friend at a law firm downtown.  Before I knew it,  I was traveling to the law firm and teaching a full class in an empty office. At this point, teaching yoga was my hobby and passion, not a career.  I was still working in sales  full-time but teaching a few corporate yoga classes on the side. A horrible work experience left me without a job unexpectedly.  I was forced to figure out something fast. During this very difficult time, a student referred me to her company to teach a yoga class.  Before I knew it, I was teaching all over town doing what I loved and what I am most passionate about. Sometimes it takes those really difficult situations to push us and motivate us in the path we were meant to follow. I feel so blessed to be in a career doing what I love, inspiring and helping others toward a healthier life!

How many corporate classes are you teaching on a weekly basis?

I travel all over Birmingham bringing yoga to large utility companies, financial companies, law firms, doctor offices, and dentist offices. All of the Corporate Yoga classes are paid for by the companies as a wellness benefit for their employees.  All you need to get started is a board room, empty office, or lobby. I offer morning, lunch-time, or afternoon Corporate Yoga classes, conference break yoga sessions, yoga parties, and private yoga.

Fitness Friday: The Power of Twist or Rotational Moves

I do a lot of twisting when I do abdominal workouts and strength training, but I don’t think I truly understood the power of “twisting exercises” and why rotational exercises are so valuable until now. “Twisting or throwing exercises engage more muscles, improve your balance, and build functional, real-world strength,” says Tony Gentilcore, a strength coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. “Plus, the rotation comes from the core, so you’ll gain power and carve flat abs while you’re at it.” That’s a pretty awesome bonus. Check out these moves below and do them as a circuit, going from one to the next without taking a break. Then rest 60 seconds. Do the circuit four times. These, and a few more, can be found and are courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine. Photo credit by Jeff Lipsky.

Move 1

Medicine-Ball Reverse Lunge and Shot Put

Stand 10 feet from a wall, holding a medicine ball at your chest. Step your right leg back and lower into a lunge, rotating your torso and bringing the ball to your right shoulder. Throw the ball at the wall, then push yourself back to start, catching the ball on the rebound. That’s one rep. Do five, then switch sides.

Move 2

Barbell Twist

lace a barbell on the floor in the corner of a room, and hold one end with both hands at eye level, feet hip-width apart. Rotate your hips, torso, and feet to the right and bend your knees to lower the bar, without bending your arms. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do five on each side.

Move 3

Rotational Cable Row

Adjust the cable station to its lowest setting and stand to the right of it (or use a resistance band), handle in your right hand, feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Pivot to the left, bending both knees and extending your right arm toward the pulley. Pull the handle across to your right hip as you rotate into a standing position. That’s one rep. Do 10, then switch sides.

My Top 4 Favorite Passover Desserts

I can’t believe Passover is right around the corner starting the evening of April 6th. I have had so many requests and emails about recipes I featured last year. Here are my top 3 favorite desserts. The first one is Passover Strawberry Bars (pictured above). All of these three Passover desserts are so easy to make, budget friendly, and they do not taste like your average Passover dessert. Trust me.

The Best Passover Brownies 

Classic Mandel Bread

No Bake Cookies