Health & Fitness

How To Survive March 2020 – Part 1

What a month this has been already! If you’re not out running around trying to find toilet paper (what’s all that about, anyway?) you’re doing what you can to keep the germs at bay while trying to keep your nerves in check.  If you’re not a natural introvert, like me, then this whole social distancing thing can take it’s toll, as well.

Being introverted, I spend a lot of time alone doing things I enjoy. One of those is finding things to do outdoors, whether it be a short hike, sitting on the patio with a glass of wine, or working in the yard. I’m at my most relaxed when I’m outside surrounded by nature and I find the fresh air, sunshine, and the sights & sounds to be so invigorating!

Another bonus – breathing in fresh air is good for your overall health. Not only does it reduce stress and help with food digestion but also strengthens your immune system! So if you’re stuck at home for the next few weeks and looking for something to do, grab your significant other, the kids, your dog, or just spend some quality time alone – outdoors. As frustrating and uncertain as things are right now they’re forcing us to slow down. Take advantage of this time you’ve been given and use it to decompress – things will be back to normal before you know it.


Simple & Festive Fruit Dessert Recipe

We all know it can be especially difficult during the holiday season to “stay the course” with our wellness goals when there’s high calorie treats everywhere you turn – at holiday parties, work, home, etc. I’ve also found that during the chaos it’s so much easier to just pick up a high calorie, pre-made item from the local bakery because things can get hectic and you’re time becomes limited.

I was thrilled when I ran across this simple and festive fruit dessert recipe with a sweet and tart flavor from Registered Dietician, Cindy Silver, MS, RDN, LDN.  It’s a healthier alternative when you’re asked to bring a dish to your next holiday gathering. Enjoy!

Apple Cranberry Crisp


Makes 6 servings


3 medium, 4 cups sliced
Apples, any kind, any color

1 cup
Cranberries, fresh

1 tablespoon
Lemon or lime juice, squeezed from fresh

¼ cup
Sugar, white granulated

½ teaspoon
Cinnamon, ground


2 tablespoons
Butter, unsalted

¼ cup
Whole wheat flour

¼ cup

¼ cup
Sugar, brown, not packed down

1. Preheat conventional oven to 375 degrees.

2. Wash apples and cranberries and then pat dry with a clean towel.

3. Cut apples in half. Cut in half again.

4. Peel apples and remove core and seeds. Slice into ¼ inch slices. Note: Get more fiber by not peeling the apples. Peel softens up when it’s cooked.

5. Mix together apple slices and cranberries then place into a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.

6. Squeeze lemon or lime juice all over the apples. Pick out seeds that fall in.

7. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over apples-cranberries. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of sugar.

8. In a separate small bowl, combine butter, flour, oats and brown sugar into the topping. With clean hands, crumble it into small crumbs.

9. Scatter topping evenly over apples-cranberries.

Bake 25 minutes.

195 Calories per serving

Check out her website for more delicious and healthy recipe ideas:

Happy Hour at the Barre

Pure Barre

Photo Credit: Front Porch (NE Denver)

In my quest to find ways to shake up my workout routine, I decided to give Pure Barre a try. Since I stopped teaching Zumba classes, I’ve been a regular participant in various HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), boot camp, and kickboxing classes. I really enjoyed and saw moderate results with those workouts, but after two recent injuries that resulted in a visit to an Orthopedic Specialist and subsequently the emergency room, I’ve been in search of a high intensity yet low impact workout that I’d enjoy and delivered results.

I’ll be completely honest, I had envisioned Barre classes to be something of a mediocre workout and too “easy” for my taste. After trying a Barre class that’s offered at our fitness facility at work, I quickly realized that it was quite the opposite. However, that class is only offered once per week and not always conducive to my schedule. So, when an ad for Pure Barre popped up in my news feed offering a complimentary Foundations class, I decided to give them a try.

So, what exactly is Pure Barre? Here’s the long and short of it taken directly from the company’s website:

Taught by our highly-trained teachers, Pure Barre features four group class formats that deliver an effective total body workout focused on low-impact, high intensity movements that lift and tone muscles to improve strength, agility, and flexibility for every body.

Pure Barre

Photo Credit: Pure Barre

The Pure Barre studio I visited is very clean and the staff is amazing! Everyone was so friendly and made me feel welcome as soon as I walked in. My instructor, Emily, was great and very attentive to everyone in her class. Pure Barre keeps their classes relatively small to ensure that their instructors can interact with each student – helping with their form and encouraging them along the way. As a Group Ex instructor, I pay close attention to these things and I can tell you this what sets apart the good instructors from the really great ones.

The Foundations class was a 50-minute introduction to the basic movements of Pure Barre and their techniques. I got a solid workout and even broke a sweat! It’s a challenging but effective workout that targets some of those smaller muscle groups that are often underused and underdeveloped. You know, the ones we forget about until that next day burn kicks in 😉

Contrary to popular belief, Pure Barre isn’t just for the ladies – it’s a challenging workout for men and women alike! The moves/techniques are a lot harder than they look and can help anyone, whether beginner or advanced, take their fitness game to the next level.

Pure-Barre Men

Photo Credit: Front Porch (NE Denver)

The Stratford Road location in Winston-Salem, NC has a variety of classes that are offered at various times throughout the day/week. Plus, you have the option of attending classes at the location at Reynolda Village, which is not only convenient but provides more flexibility if you have a busy schedule.

Bottom line – I loved it and I’m now a member! Check out their website to learn more plus sign up to take advantage of their introductory offer at a location near you:


That Was Fun Until It Wasn’t

For the past year I’ve had one foot in and one foot off the Paleo wagon. Let me just say it was nice enjoying some of the things I hadn’t had in almost two years… like cheese on my salad, plain ‘ole bread on my sandwich (the kind made WITH gluten that doesn’t fall apart on you 😂), french fries, and wine – just to name a few.

Well, all that fun stuff threw my thyroid out of whack and I’ve not felt “good” ever since. A couple weeks ago I decided to get my 💩 together and cleaned up my act. A solid two weeks in and I feel sooooo much better!

I’m not suggesting that you go Paleo or on some kind of restrictive diet – I eat this way due to food sensitivities and because my doctor suggested it. However, I am challenging you to try eliminating some things that could be holding you back from feeling your very best or reaching your health and wellness goals. Sugar is the 😈– the less you have in your diet the better, eat more fresh fruits and veggies instead of packaged food and trade that glass of wine for a vodka and tonic 😉 Little changes can make a big difference!

This vegan 🌱protein shake made with almond milk and blueberries is a delicious, healthy way to start the day and is packed with vitamins and minerals! Eating clean doesn’t have to be boring – just takes a little more thought and a few minutes of your day to plan / meal prep. Contrary to popular belief, it also doesn’t have to be expensive. If you cook in bulk and store your meals for the week in the fridge or freezer you ensure you always have a healthy meal on hand and save money on eating out.

The shake mix I use, Fit Food Lean, is available only at a registered practitioner’s office. However, I found this Naturade Vegan Shake at Lowes Foods and it’s also available at various online retailers. I buy this one when it’s not convenient for me to get by my doctor’s office – just as good and about the same price.



Team Shana Fundraiser Recap

Thank you to everyone that donated and/or came out to support Shana Sanders at the recent #TEAMSHANA fundraiser. The event was a huge success and we raised over $2,300 to help Shana with medical and living expenses! A special thanks goes out to all out sponsors including our Platinum Sponsors Camel City BBQ FactorySmitty’s NotesTwin City Fashion Week, and Ariel Perez Photography!  Click the link to watch highlight video from the event: Team Shana Highlight Video



Food, Fun & Fitness at Upcoming Fundraiser

Mark your calendars! I’ve teamed up with local fitness instructor, Jamilah Smith, and blogger, Chuck Price (aka Vintage Retroman) for a fundraiser to benefit a friend and co-worker that was recently diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. I’ll be co-teaching a 90-minute dance fitness class with Jamilah consisting of Top 40, Zumba and PiYo plus lots of cool raffle prizes! Chuck will host a retro video game trivia contest with a 50/50 cash prize for the winner! Plus, Camel City BBQ will be serving up their famous food and drinks for everyone to enjoy (not included in price of admission to fitness class or trivia contest). I hope you can join us for this fun event with proceeds going to a great cause!


Purchase Tickets


That Time I Accidentally Signed Up For A Boot Camp Class

Recently, they offered a class at my gym called “Buns and Guns”. Since I’ve been wanting more definition in my arms, abs and glutes, I quickly went to the front desk to sign up. This was a one hour class held twice per week for six weeks, led by a personal trainer. Other than verifying that none of the workouts would be held outside (cause I don’t do anything outside in this heat & humidity unless there’s a pool close by), the only other question I had was what the cost was to join.

The first couple of weeks were tough but manageable – pretty much what I had expected. There were five other ladies that had signed up with me so we became each others support system. However, when week three rolled around shit got real, lol! I thought maybe I’m just tired and that’s why this seems more difficult – it had been a busy week at work plus I was taking several other classes in addition to this one.

Week four rolled around and we were down to just four of us – we lost one person the first week and the other in week three. By this time, I had experienced an episode where I almost puked and another where I just laid on the floor thinking “what the hell have I got myself into”. I was so exhausted I couldn’t move and had to he helped up off the floor. I wanted to quit so many times but my pride and the fact that I paid $119 for this s*** kept me going.

The last week we were pushed to our limits. But something unexpected happened – although I dreaded what was in store for both nights, part of me was sad the class was coming to an end. I was so proud at how far I had come and the things I could do. For instance, when I started the class, I could barely do a push-up. I’ve always done modified push-ups but now I was doing traditional push-ups. One night in particular we did 80. Yes, 80. I was also doing burpees – not half burpees but standard burpees. I really, really hate burpees but I learned quickly not to say that out loud unless I wanted to earn a “bonus round”. Unfortunately for me, sarcasm also earns “bonus rounds”. Let’s just say I learned early on to keep my smart ass comments to myself.

After all was said and done, I made it through and I’m better for it. I do see more definition in my arms, my core is much stronger and my glutes and hamstrings are more defined. I’m also able to lift heavier than I could when I first started. I still have work to do but I’m a lot closer to my goal than I was before I started the class. However, the best part about this class wasn’t the physical change but the mental. I pushed myself to my limits and did things I never thought possible. A large part of successfully completing this class simply came down to mind over matter. You will be surprised at what you’re capable of if you put your mind to it.

I’m also thankful for the new friendships I made. We encouraged and helped each other through a really tough six weeks and I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been if we hadn’t had each other there for motivation. Would I take the class again if I knew what I was signing up for? Believe it or not, the answer is yes.


30 Minute Circuit – Work Out Smarter Not Harder

Crunched for time? You can work your entire body and get a solid workout in less than 30 minutes just by doing 3 sets of 15-20 reps each of the following circuit style exercises.  For example, 15 kettlebell swings, 15 mountain climbers, 15 crunches and 15 bicycles. You can also add 15-20 reps of jumping jacks, jumping rope and/or squats to each set for more intensity. Repeat circuit two more times. The goal is to get your heart rate up while strengthening your muscles. You’ll want to move quickly through each exercise with little rest in between stations/exercises.

The mountain climbers are great for getting your heart rate up and engage almost every muscle group in your body; both crunches & bicycle crunches work your abdominals (bicycles also tone your thighs); kettlebell swings work everything from your core, to your shoulders, quads, hamstrings, back and your glutes.

Please forgive me because my form isn’t the best – I had just come out of a Buns & Guns class where I did 85+ burpees, jump squats, plank jump ins and jumping jacks. I honestly don’t know how I was still standing, lol!  I highly recommend working with a trainer before attempting kettlebell swings on your own if this is something you’ve never tried. Form is very important when working out with kettlebells in order to avoid injury and to get the most out of your workout. Here’s a link if you’re interested in purchasing a set of your own: Cast Iron Kettlebells

If you are new to exercise, I would recommend consulting your physician to make sure it’s safe to begin a new exercise regimen. It’s also worth your time to work with a trainer or take a class so you can learn to do each exercise correctly. Please feel free to message me with any questions!

























How Integrative Medicine Changed My Life

Recently I ran into one of the executives in my company that I hadn’t seen in over a year. I had referred his wife and daughter to the integrative health practice I go to in Winston-Salem about 2 years ago after he told me about some health issues they were having. He was ecstatic when he began telling me about how well they were doing and said they still make the 100+ mile trek to Winston-Salem every few months for their appointments! Then he thanked me profusely and said “Share your story with everyone who will listen.”

I enjoy sharing my experiences, providing advice, and offering words of encouragement in an effort to inspire others but sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a wall. Then random things like this happen and I realize that what I’m doing IS making a difference.

So, for those of you that don’t know my story, here it is:

For several years I had been experiencing debilitating body aches & pains (fibromyalgia), brain fog, depression, was sick all the time and couldn’t lose weight even though I was “eating healthy” and teaching Zumba classes 3-4 times per week. My doctors were perplexed and sent me for various MRI’s, CT scans, and EEG’s; I was even tested for Lupus and MS – all came back negative. One doctor even had the audacity to tell me that it was “all in my head” and referred me to a psychiatrist!!

Then one day I was on the phone at work with one of the doctors, was beyond frustrated and on the verge of losing my 💩 when a girl who had just started with our company overheard my conversation, shared her story with me and introduced me to integrative health. I like to think of this as divine intervention 🙏

I immediately made an appointment at Robinhood Integrative Health and it changed my life. They did a food sensitivity and thyroid test on my initial appointment and found that there were several foods that were causing severe inflammation (ie, the cause of all those aches, pains, sickness and depression) and diagnosed me with hypothyroidism – something that my primary care physician and an endocrinologist both missed.

Well, that was over three years ago and I feel and look better than I ever have. The saying “food is thy medicine” is  and I encourage you to consider visiting an integrative health specialist or trying a food elimination diet if you’ve experienced any of these health problems – you may be pleasantly surprised. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or would like more info.


A Quick & Easy Dinner Recipe…That Helps You Look Younger?

Looking for something to make for dinner tonight that’s quick, easy and may help you look younger?? The red bell pepper is an immunity-boosting superstar that contains roughly 60 percent more vitamin C–which triggers the production of white blood cells that fight off germs and bacteria–than its green counterpart. It may also keep you looking young: A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with diets high in vitamin C were less prone to wrinkles, possibly because the nutrient spurs the production of collagen. Enjoy! Bobby Deen’s Stuffed Red Peppers

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Bringin’ Booty Back

Want to know the secret to a nice 🍑? Good genes help but strength training and clean eating are key if you want to sculpt your booty.

I’ve included some links below to a few articles I found that provide examples and suggestions for exercises that will target the glutes, hamstrings and quads to help lift and tone your backside 😉

Some of my favorites are weighted lunges, jump squats, deadlifts and planks. For best results and for safety reasons, I recommend working with certified personal trainer or group exercise instructor. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.

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