Travel Tuesday: 10 Reasons to Stay at Homewood Suites by Hilton

I can totally understand why Homewood Suites by Hilton’s tagline is “Be at Home”. I had not stayed in one before (I am not sure why that is), but I was so pleasantly surprised and wowed by the amenities, space and comfort of home during my trip to Charleston last week. I found that many travelers, who need an extended stay, choose Homewood Suites. Not only do they offer great value, a tremendous amount of space and fully equipped kitchens, there’s so much more. I thought I would share 10 reasons to choose Homewood Suites for your next travel stay.

1. Incredible spacious studio, one and two bedroom suites. The bathrooms and showers were huge, and the sheets were SO comfortable. I even asked if I could buy some :).

2. Each suite has fully equipped kitchens with microwave, full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, double burner, toaster, coffee maker and place settings and utensils for four people.

3. Complimentary grocery shopping service. How cool is that? I want to move in!

4. Complimentary daily full hot breakfast and evening dinner with drinks every Monday-Thursday. Healthy and gluten-free options are offered as well.

5. Complimentary high speed internet in all suites. There’s also a lodge and meeting rooms if you need some type of meeting or party space or even a spot to do your favorite workout video.

6. Swimming pool, grills and fitness center that is open 24 hours a day.

7. They have a 24-hour service convenience store and complementary laundry.

8. Great work space with a super comfortable desk chair (I wanted one).

9. The most friendly and passionate staff I have seen in a long time.

10. Because, honestly, you will feel just like you are at home.

Blueberry Muffins with Greek Yogurt

When my daughter, Leigh, was bored the other day, I said, “Let’s make some muffins”. We had an abundance of blueberries on hand and came up with this healthier version of Blueberry Muffins with Greek Yogurt. Leigh is 13 years old, and she made this entire recipe on her own. I photographed this picture, but I told her that she just may have a summer internship. Anyway, this is the first of several of her creations coming soon that she made under my (very little) direction. They do taste as good as they look. We started with a dozen, and the next morning there were only 3 left 🙂

Spicy Cumin Chicken with Strawberry Coulis

Yay, it’s strawberry season! Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits and so versatile in so many recipes such as this Spicy Chicken with Strawberry Coulis recipe from Driscoll’s Strawberries. The Strawberry Coulis is a chunky sauce made with strawberries, green onions and cilantro. It pairs so nicely with the coriander and cumin spiced chicken. This recipe can be made in only 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Frozen Pomarita (Pomegranate Margarita) for Cinco De Mayo

We are huge fans of pomegranate juice at my house. I like to put a splash in my water bottles, but the kids will drink it by itself. This recipe for Frozen Pomarita is perfect for Cinco De Mayo, or anytime this summer, when you want a cool, frozen cocktail beverage. I love that pomegranate juice has so many wonderful antioxidants and healthy properties helping prevent cardiovascular disease, prostate cancers, erectile disfunction, sports recovery problems and more. For more information and studies, see Pom Wonderful and check out their new lite flavors, such as blackberry lychee green tea, and Peach passion with up to 50% fewer calories.

Fitness Friday: 7 Reasons Why to Hire a Personal Trainer

Should you hire a personal trainer? l have so many friends who always ask if they should or shouldn’t, and I asked Matt Crane, owner of L.I.F.E. Fitness why anyone should hire or need a personal trainer Here’s what Matt had to say, “I’m not a fan of the title, “Personal Trainer.” Technically, I am one, but that is such a small part of what I do. “Coach, therapist, counselor, and friend are only a few of the titles that comes from being a “trainer.” I pride myself in improving and reshaping my clients quality of life while helping them live life to the fullest, full of purpose, meaning and with boldness. The name of my business, L.I.F.E, means Living in Fitness Everyday, and I have a passion to spread this message to as many people as I can.

1) Personal Trainers create safe, effective, and efficient training programs: First and foremost, your health and safety should be at the forefront of any exercise plan. I see it all too often. People get excited about working out and getting in shape and try to do it on their own, but commonly end up with frustration, feeling lost, or worse, injured. My clients go through an extensive initial assessment to identify areas of weakness/strength, fill out medical/past injury/background information, and complete a par-q (physical readiness questionnaire).  Taking all of these variables into account, I sit down with everyone and devise a customized plan designed specifically for the clients’ unique needs, goals, time constraints, and other influencing factors.  Once you have a plan in place, a trainer can ensure that you are getting maximum results out of the effort you are putting in.  By following a challenging, dynamic, and efficient training plan, you are ensured to constantly be evolving and overcoming plateaus when you reach them.

2) A trainer can provide guidance with your nutrition: Regardless of your goal, nutrition is by far the most important piece of a successful training program, easily being 75-80% of what will determine if you achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

3) A trainer helps you set REALISTIC and attainable goals: Many times people set goals for themselves that aren’t feasible.  When they fall short, they get disappointed, discouraged, and can lead to their quitting the program altogether.  A trainer, through experience and knowing your individual needs, can help you set, adjust, and track your progress through a number of different ways.  By setting realistic, attainable goals for yourself, you set yourself up for success by achieving small milestones that add up to big change.  I preach to my clients, “SMALL CHANGES, BIG RESULTS!”

4) A trainer provides accountability:  As with anything else we do in life, when you have someone you are accountable to, you are more likely to complete the task at hand.  Having that person there (that you have paid for), waiting for you to show up is a huge motivating factor for making it to the gym to get your workout in. Let’s face it, there never seems to be enough time in the day and we can always find an excuse NOT to do something, it is crucial to have that built in accountability.

5) A trainer provides guidance and knowledge beyond the gym:  The reality is that we only get to see our clients an average of 3 hours or so per week, so the overwhelming majority of your success depends on how prepared you are the other 165 hours during the week.  By having a trainer who helps you during those crucial hours outside of the gym, you are going to be much more likely to make the right choices.

6) A trainer provides motivation and encouragement:  In times of frustration, disappointment, or lack of will, a trainer will motivate you to keep pushing when you would otherwise give up.  Whether it be that extra pushup, that last 30 seconds of cardio, or simply receiving encouraging words via text or through a phone call, a trainer will encourage you to reach your full potential and not give up when you feel you’ve reached your limit.

7)  A trainer INSPIRES you: Having a trainer will inspire you to work toward your goals, reach heights you never thought possible, and ultimately be an inspiration for someone else.  We can ALL be better, and a trainer should inspire you to be the best YOU that YOU can be!  In doing so, you will begin to make a difference in others live as well.  I always teach my clients that they should give the gift they have been given and inspire others- a sort of “pay it forward” mentality.  You never know who is watching or who may be inspired by what you are doing with your life.  Be, live, and give inspiration!

Matt trains clients at Icon Performance. For more information, you can contact Matt at:

Website: www.lifefitnessbham.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/cranelifefitness

Email:  matt@lifefitnessbham.com