Three Recent Studies to Shape Your Health Perspective

Our views of fitness and health are constantly evolving as we find new and more effective ways to get fit and stay healthy. Many times we are guided by the science that comes out in the fields of nutrition and exercise physiology in order to make more informed decisions. Here are three very recent studies that should help shape your health perspectives by enabling you to live healthier and smarter.

Study #1: Exercise Doesn’t Have to Be a Marathon

Get this; you don’t have to exercise for a long duration multiple days of the week in order to experience the amazing health benefits of exercise. In fact, you don’t even have to vigorously exercise for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended 75 minutes a week to see amazing benefits.

Recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology a study was published that indicated that short burst of exercise, multiple times a week (even totaling fewer than 60 minutes a week) on a persistent basis is just as effective in improving your health than long duration exercise!  For instance, just by habitually running in general you have an overall 30% less risk of mortality. But it was also found that people who ran less than 60 minutes a week received the SAME health benefits as people who ran 3 times more over the course of a week. It all came down to doing it persistently; running on a persistent basis for 6 years or more was the largest factor. Now you literally have no more excuses of “not having enough time to exercise”, this study tells us that there is basically always enough time to get the benefits of exercise!

Study #2: Keep the Bad Foods You Love in Your Diet

How many times have you heard fitness or health professionals say that you have to quit eating those high caloric foods no matter how much you love them? While moderating the consumption of these foods is a good idea, cutting them out cold turkey usually leads to overeating later on which is never sustainable.

A recent study from Vanderbilt University tells the opposite actually. The study found that in order to train your brain and convince yourself to eat healthier you must keep these foods you love. The study found that the individuals that were best able to convince themselves to eat healthier were there ones that kept these “vice” foods in their diet. While they did keep them in their diet they actually started to eat less while increasing the portions of healthier foods. So when it comes to keeping the foods you love in your diet, if they are unhealthy make sure as with all things nutrition to eat them in moderation while also increasing the consumption of healthier foods!

Study #3: Your Workout Doesn’t Have to Be Complex

Literally all of the workout routines out there nowadays seem to be getting more and more complex. From pyramid sets to complex resting intervals, whatever happened to the traditional strength training routine? Sometimes the old saying “Keep It Simple Stupid” (KISS) really works and it very well may be the case when it comes to increasing your strength.

A very recent study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that a simple workout routine performed at a high-intensity was just as effective as a complex workout (with intricate resting periods and order of exercise) in building strength. The researchers claimed that when it comes to adding complexity to your workout like varying resting intervals that was up to the user’s discretion because as long as you perform the workout at a high-intensity you will still see results!


Science can teach us many things but is not always the final word. Science and research are great at guiding us on the right path to make things easier for us when it comes to fitness and health but it really all comes down to what works for you and your own personal preference. Use these three recent studies to help guide you on your path to a healthier you!

SEE ALSO:  Strength Training to Combat Osteoporosis

For more at-home fitness, nutritional tips, and recipes visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!

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Rec-League Summer Sports Safety

Adult recreation league sports are a great, fun way to get a little exercise while enjoying your friends. Every time I've played in a league I find it a nice break from my competitive sports days. And even though you may not feel the need to go all out to dive after a softball, chase a soccer ball or block a shot during a basketball game, you still run the risk of getting injured.

In adults, injuries typically come from overuse. As adults, are bodies aren't quite as limber as they were when we were kids. And, previous years as a competitive athlete may mean you have more wear and tear on your joints than some of your sedentary friends. Also, excess body weight can take a toll on your joints. Combine excess weight with athletics and you will definitely stress your knees, back and other joints.

So, how can you stay limber and lower your risk of injury?  

1) Keep trying to lose excess body fat (rec-league sports are a great start!) In addition to putting you at risk for a variety of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, being overweight or obese stresses your joints. In fact, those who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions joints). Osteoarthritis can cause painful, stiff joints and limit your activity.

2) Talk to your physical therapist or physician about glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.  They may be right for you, and can help make an active lifestyle more comfortable on your joints.

3) Warm up. Dynamic warm-ups (as opposed to just sitting and stretching) help get your body ready for activity.

4) Wear the right equipment, safety gear, clothes and shoes that fit properly. Also make sure you are wearing the right type of shoes for the sport you are playing.

5) Cool down to get your heart rate down gradually when you are finished.

6) Build up your exercise routine or training gradually. And, if you are in pain, stop.

If you have nagging injuries, consider going to a physical therapist that specializes in sports and can help you correct muscle imbalances, areas you are tight, poor bio mechanics and more. Poor movement patterns can increase your risk of developing an acute or chronic overuse injury. And finally, see an orthopedist if you are hurt. “Toughing it out,” can lead to a bigger problem than you started with. For more information about preventing and treating injuries, click here

SEE ALSO:  Concentrating on Long-Term Joint Health

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The Joint Health Equation, Equal Parts Exercise and Nutrition

Its pretty well known that low impact and resistance strengthening exercise is critical to joint health, whether you're in preventive/maintenance mode, or actively working on joints already in distress.  Activities like swimming, yoga, walking and other low-impact resistance exercises are regularly recommended.  But did you know that while exercise is essential to healthy bones and joints, its only half of the equation?

Great nutrition, quality food and sometimes additional supplementation make up the other, equally critical part of keeping joints and bones in good working order.    

There are important nutrients that contribute to keeping your joints healthy.  Minerals such as copper, calcium and mangenese, naturally occurring quercitin, omega-3s, vitamins D, C, and E all contribute on a structural and cellular level to keeping joint tissues strong, flexible and healthy.

Look to the following foods (among others) to increase your intake of these joint-focused nutrients:

Wild Salmon - good source of Omega 3s and Vitamin D

Apples - Unpeeled, quercitin concentrates strongest under the skin and is essential to the formation of collagen in joints

Black Beans - Loaded with mangenese and a full panel of amino acids 

Kale - Healthy bone go-to vegetable, supplies calcium, copper and mangenese, which activates enzymes needed for tissue repair

Broccoli - An alphabet soup of important vitamins and calcium

Ginger - possible anti-inflammatory properties has more in-depth information about these foods and their links to good joint health.

And if you want to do further research on other supplements thought to promote good joint health, take a further look into these ingredients. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) and the Mayo Clinic websites both have search functions for easy research.

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Collagen
  • Aloe
  • Tart Cherry Extract or Concentrate

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements likely have the most scientific studies behind their use to promote joint health.  But as we know, everyone's body different, and you never know what may work best for you!

SEE ALSO: Concentrating on Long-Term Joint Health

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Have You Considered Probiotics Yet?

Probiotics are one of nature’s super foods. These tiny microorganisms found in foods such as yogurt, sour cream, and sauerkraut can truly help us in so many ways. By simply consuming probiotics with a high CFU (colony forming units; shoot for at least 109 CFU) on a regular basis, you can possibly help prevent asthma/skin reactions to allergies, treat/repair stomach ulcers, and prevent the flu and the common cold! Let’s break down these benefits of consuming probiotics in more detail:

Helps Prevent Allergies

One common cause of asthma is food allergies ~ probiotics have been found, in some studies, to be able to calm the inflammation associated with these foods reactions. This helps to prevent and reduce the symptoms of asthma such as coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. Probiotics are able to do this because they help ramp up and regulate our immune systems reactions to allergens in general, therefore reducing some of the symptoms of asthma.

Another common symptom of allergies is skin reactions or eczema (this often occurs more in infants and toddlers). One study looked at the effect of probiotics on eczema by having pregnant mothers regularly consume probiotics. The infants (from birth to 3 months old) of the mothers who consumed probiotics compared to a placebo group were half as likely to have eczema.

Helps Treat and Repair Stomach Ulcers

Research has found that probiotics may be more effective than traditional antibiotics at treating stomach ulcers induced by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Research has illustrated that the long-term consumption of probiotics can actually help reduce ulcers caused by H. pylori and in fact reverse some damage (this research was conducted on mice). Even if you don’t have ulcers, the regular consumption of probiotics can help maintain a healthy intestinal and digestive health.

Helps Prevent and Reduce Colds and Flu

Besides the fact that probiotics can help increase the health of our digestive system, they can also help prevent and reduce the effects of other common illnesses like colds and flu. Probiotics can help boost our immune system so much that it allows our body to fight off these kinds of attacks and also contributes to our ability to recover from these illnesses more quickly!


All-in-all probiotics should be a welcome addition to your diet. They can provide you with a plethora of benefits from improving your intestinal health to helping your immune system fight off the common cold! One thing to make sure when choosing a probiotic is that it contains multiple strains of clinically tested bacteria and that it has a 109 CFU count. Whether you get your probiotic fix from yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, or a supplement it’s amazing what a tiny microorganism can do!

SEE ALSO: Why You Need a Healthy Balance of Intestinal Bacteria and  6 Secrets to Better Digestive Health

For more at-home fitness, workouts, and nutritional tips visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness. 

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The Healthy Way to Road Trip This Summer

Last summer I decided I would drive 20 hours round trip for vacation. And because I try was trying to make each part of my drive as short as possible, I made 2 brief stops during each 10-hour drive. As a dietitian I had plenty of healthy snacks with me but there are two things I neglected – moving my body and better posture while driving. As a result I ended up at a rest stop in one of the Carolinas bending over to stretch my back, hamstrings and butt muscles that seemed to be stuck in a sitting position. Needless to say I’m better prepared this year after finding a few solutions to a more comfortable drive: 

Better Posture

When I get lazy, I slump. So, I have to remind myself to sit up straight or wear an intelliskin, which prompts me to maintain better posture. Also, it helps to make sure I’m close enough to the steering wheel so I’m not reaching and so my shoulders are square against the back of my seat, my head is against the head rest and the creases at the back of my knees are not flesh with the end of the seat (this may cut off blood flow). For more information on sitting posture (including pictures), click here. Also, if your car seat doesn't adjust to meet your needs, consider checking out removable back supports, butt cushions and neck supports to make it more comfortable.

Food & Drinks

Staying well hydrated will make you feel better, ensure you can focus and concentrate, keep your body from overheating and make you get up every few hours to go to the bathroom (and therefore, walk around). How do you know if you are well hydrated? You should need to use the bathroom every few hours (at least) and your urine color should look like dilute lemonade (though some medications, B vitamins and supplements may make urine bright yellow, so if this is the case, just ensure that you are producing a good quantity of urine). Caffeine is okay and will not dehydrate you but keep it to a minimum – you shouldn't need to constantly sip on caffeine in order to stay awake.

I keep snacks with me when I travel and I like having smaller meals (or mini meals) every few hours rather than big meals that can make me tired. I love snacking on:

  • Apples (though a little messy), bananas, grapes
  • Baby carrots
  • Protein bars
  • Nuts (un-shelled of course)
  • Cheese sticks or mini cheese snacks (if individually pre-packaged these can be left un-refrigerated for hours)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches

More Breaks

And finally, this year I’ll take more breaks. Sitting all day makes my body stiff. Not to mention sitting for hours is hazardous to your health

SEE ALSO:  Staying Cool this Summer While Exercising

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The Art and Practice of Staying Active

Calling it an art may be an overstatement, but staying active every single day can be hard! I’m constantly telling my clients that the main thing about getting the fitness and weight loss results they want is simply staying active (nutrition is a completely different subject which will be saved for another article). Apart from strength training at least 3 times a week, on the so called “off” days you need to stay active as well. 

It’s amazing how much staying active for 45 minutes on your off days will do to your weight loss goals because it is all about creating a caloric deficit every day. I’m not talking  about a 2000 caloric deficit everyday but just small steady deficits over the long run will result in sustainable weight loss and this can all be done be staying active along with proper nutrition aside.

5 Tips for Staying Active

Three Strikes and You’re Out 

Many people need to log their activities in order to fulfill their fitness obligations. If you are one of them get a blank calendar and for everyday you stay active (weight training session or 45+ minutes of activity) place a big black “X” in that box and for everyday you skip place a big red “X” in that box. As with baseball you never want to get three large strikes. If you do get 3 strikes it will motivate you to get active the next day!

Get Someone or Something Involved 

You know how it is easier to do things when others are going along as well? Well get a partner and go for hikes, swims, walks, or jogs together. Or if you got a pup just lying around doing nothing, leash him/her up and take them for a walk or a run. You will both get the benefits of being outside and enjoying each other’s company!

Be Spontaneous 

Only walking for your activity can get boring, make sure to change it up and keep it fresh. Try swimming laps or rock climbing or even kayaking to get a different experience and keep things unique. Boredom and being mundane can lead to days of sitting on the couch instead of being active.

Book It 

Listening to nature as you walk is a great way to pass the time but can be boring for many people. One great way to overcome this is by listening to audio books while you are staying active. It’s amazing how fast times goes when you are deep within an audio book and completely hooked; you won’t even realize you have been walking for 60 minutes instead of your typical 45!

Change Your Outlook 

Losing weight and fitting into last year’s swimsuit are some good goals don’t get me wrong, but sometimes they seem too far away therefore causing us to not truly give it our best every day. What does skipping today have to do with fitting into that dress next summer (that mentality is rampant)? One way is to change your outlook and rephrase your short term goals. Try staying active and working up a sweat just to feel better after you are done. There is nothing better than that endorphin rush you get after a good workout. Workout to feel better today as well as to lose that weight in total 5 months down the road!


It really can be difficult to stay active every single day, but that is the key to weight loss (along with nutrition) and sustainable weight loss at that! Implement these 5 tips in order to be a healthier you! Plus, who wouldn't want that endorphin rush after listening to a great audio book while walking your dog on an amazing summer evening?

SEE ALSO: Good Health and Good Habits go Hand in Hand

Need more tips for staying active and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet? Visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!

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Are You Making Sense of Supplements? Let Us Help!

In some ways medicine seems so advanced. In other ways, medical science is still in the beginning stages of discovering the big picture of how our body uses nutrients and how they all interact in our bodies. There are so many little components and processes that haven’t been completely explored, and many that cannot be directly observed.

Nothing works in isolation in our body. Identifying all of the processes one antioxidant or nutrient is part of or responsible for is an incredibly difficult task. 

Add to that the physiological differences in every unique human body and we are left making healthy decisions using general guidelines and recommendations rather than hard numbers.

To figure out what levels of any nutrient, dietary supplement or food may be best for you given your health status, activity level, current dietary intake and goals, it is important to sit down with a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in your area of need or type of goal. If you want to lose weight, go to someone who specializes in this, if you have Type 1 diabetes and you are an athlete, go to a RD who works with diabetic athletes.


There really is no substitute for a thorough analysis, including laboratory tests of existing nutrient levels that can then be integrated into a specific diet and supplement plan to get you on the right track to a balanced, nutrient-rich body.


Following the general guidelines is a good place to start, if you don’t feel a full nutrient-by-nutrient workup is in order. Recommended Daily Intake values for common vitamins and minerals are in most retail brands. 


Be sure to check the brand out thoroughly though, so you know you've picked a quality brand that uses quality ingredients.


As always, the type of supplement you choose should depend on personal preference and compliance – what will you continue to take on a regular basis. Because, after all, if you don’t continue taking it regularly, there’s really no point in buying it to begin with!  


If you are tired of swallowing yet another pill, try taking liquid supplements instead.  It does make taking your essential supplements each day a little easier, and the quality of ingredients tends to be higher grade in order to make them work well in liquid form.  They’re easy to mix into protein shakes, morning smoothies, or to take as a straight shot!


SEE ALSO:  Three Easy Ways to Get the Best Ingredients For a Healthier Lifestyle

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The Endless Possibilities of Planks - Why You Should Love Them Too!








In days past, the go-to exercise for the abdominal muscles was sit-ups which then turned into the crunch. Over the last couple of years the newest abdominal go-to exercise, or fad as you might call it, is the plank. The plank involves holding yourself in a push-up position (or resting on your elbows) for a predetermined period of time while keeping your body as straight as possible during this time.

For an easier or modified position, you can rest your knees on the ground while in the plank position to make them easier for beginners. The main point is to have your midsection off the ground and straight as possible. How can this be so effective you might ask?

Why Planks Work

Holding yourself in a static (isometric exercise) for an extended period of time can help strengthen the core muscles. The plank position really helps the body work on your stabilizing muscles and this is exactly what the core muscles are mainly used for; stabilizing the spine (keeping it from moving) and therefore your posture. Why planks work so great at doing this is because they make you hold that position/posture for an extended period of time.

While crunches and sit-ups really only hit the abs, a plank will work the entire core form your lower back muscles to your obliques. This makes it a really a great core exercise and this of course has caused its rapid increase in popularity!

The Planks Endless Possibilities

When it comes to performing the plank exercise there is literally an endless variety of possibilities. You can basically be your own plank master! One common alternative to the normal plank include the side plank which helps strengthen a different part of your core, lower back, and the deep inner abdominal muscles.  To perform the exercise rest on one elbow while your feet are laying sideways on the floor and hold your midsection off the ground by contracting the core (see below).






          Other alternatives involve raising one leg up at a time to exercise the glutes and also work on your stability as well! Finally you can also bring one knee at a time up to your side or elbow during the plank to tax the abdominals even more!

Integrate Planks!

Do not be scared to throw the plank into your exercise program! The modified version is a great way to help build your core strength. Start by trying to perform a modified plank for 20 seconds and progress from there each day. You can progress by 5 second at a time until you reach 1 minute or until you are ready to move up to a normal plank. Planks can be one of the best core exercises you can possibly do and having a strong core can really increase your quality of life! Start strengthening your core with the plank today! 

SEE ALSO:  Get Physical For Free! Body Weight Exercises for Top Fitness

GUEST BLOGGER: JOSH ANDERSON  Josh is a fitness professional who runs Always Active Athletics where he provides sustainable at-home fitness and nutritional tips to help you get in the best shape of your life! 

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Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Financial Impact

Third post in series - Is it different being an older athlete?  Let’s talk finances.

Committment to any sport has a financial impact.

Even if you are a marathon runner; which some might think is not as expensive as skiing or buying a skeleton sled and perhaps that is true.   That being said, we all have new technology in the shoes, new biomechanics data and increasingly better all-around nutrition and supplement information and maintenance medical.  All of these buckets have costs that add up.

All to say, no matter the sport, it can be costly.  Gear, supplements, entry fees and travel (luggage fees too) are just a couple of the financial commitments we make all the time. 

So how does being an older athlete and finances play or not play so well together? 

Let’s start with gear.  Most gear is now marketed to “improve performance,” whether right or wrong. An older athlete will not waste time or money working their way up the gear cost chain.  Make sense?  First, financially we often decide, buy the best to start; but we also do not have time to waste on a potentially inferior product. The more expensive product might wear out faster or require more money to maintain, yet we make that choice.  Learning curve be damned!  Buy the best, go all in!   But wait, what if there is a shared budget?

An older athlete in competitive sports is often married or in a relationship.  Money for equipment, hamstring rollers, home weights, muscle creams, and medical physical therapy all cost.  This is money that is taken away from other household or family commitments. 

A younger athlete may not have this issue.   Specifically, they are not the ones making the difficult financial choice to reallocate funds that may impact the family.   Parents make the choice and perhaps the most awesome part of this is the child does not have any guilt over the decision or otherwise emotional gyrations to go through.

Consequently, for an older athlete in a marriage with or without children; the financial impact is not insular.  

When we spend money on our gear or an extra massage, chiropractic, doctor visits or travel, then we are or can be perceived as taking away from the family.   College funds, retirement funds for the family, even family vacation time can be sacrificed. 

These are non-trivial choices that in a gritty way do not stop with financial impact; there is also an emotional struggle of selfishness and sometimes resentment from your partner.  We also spend time on our given sport that would otherwise be allocated to a partner or the family.   Training takes time, but so does research for equipment or the sport in general.

There is also the food issue.  Increasingly and even for myself the supplement world is changing fast and nutrition can arguably be one of the best competitive advantages an athlete can have so, “If you are what you eat” then spending money on special food or supplements to maintain muscle is a financial hit to perhaps the food budget.    Supplements can easily cost upward of $300 a month that is $3600/year.    At the end of the day, as an older athlete making a choice to buy the months’ supply of protein powder or fresh salmon can have ripple effects because we are trading financial priorities and almost always there is a sacrifice by someone or taking from another bucket.  Even if you are single your choices are often directly impacting the nest egg of your retirement. 

These important financial choices can affect an athlete physiologically and emotionally, and depending on the strength of support at home, performance can be easily impacted.   

At the end of the day – there is a measurable financial price to being an older athlete! A younger athlete can skip merrily through the day, in new high tech gear, sucking down all the protein shakes they want, while holding the refrigerator door open and not worrying about the electric bill, the 401K or staying up to wipe down their sled after training (to keep it from rusting) in -10 degrees in the middle of the night, then cook and get the calories back in you and try to make sure the snow is out of the wheel wells before it freezes to your chains delaying your next 6:00 AM training session …… because that is what parents are for.

SEE ALSO:  Is There Anything Different About Being An "Older" Athlete?

Anna Prata is an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice. 

P/S Prata is 50 Years of age!



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The Awful Art of Comparison

"Comparison is the death of joy." ~ Mark Twain

In my last blog article, I wrote about being happy.  I think this Mark Twain quote is one of the most important things I've ever read, because it's incredibly true.  And particularly in the weight loss surgery community, it's almost impossible to not compare yourself with someone else.  Have I lost as much weight as everyone else in the same amount of time?  Why don't I look as thin as her/him. Etc, etc.  I know that if you are a weight loss surgery post-op, you know this all too well.

When I started participating in the community, I watched YouTube videos religiously.  I looked for women who were around the same build and height as me and tracked their progress so I could get an idea of how things would go for me.  I'd watch to see how much they lost, how their skin and hair changed, and much weight they'd lose each week.  That's a natural thing that we all do.  The surgery brings so many unknown variables, it was a way to see what the possibilities were.  But it was also something I became a slave to, all too easily.

As I got further out, I realized that maintaining was difficult.  I gained some of the weight back, but then stabilized.  Still, I would check in on other post-ops on YouTube and Facebook and beat myself up that I wasn't doing as well as them.   I finally got to a point where my body felt good - 165 lbs.  

That was my happy place.  

I stayed there for a few years too, and I stopped obsessing about how I was doing versus someone else.  

I got rid of my scale.  

I felt free.

Now at 42, I'm in my third year of perimenopause and on medication.  That, combined with some bad eating choices has brought on a 12 lb gain.  I knew it was time for me to get myself focused again.  

I brought the scale back out.  

I bought more veggies and lean proteins.  

I started paying attention again.  

But the one thing that I absolutely refuse to allow myself to do is compare myself to others.  I am unique.  My body is unique, it is mine and mine alone.  I refuse to allow comparison on my life, and so far, I've done well.  I'm down 5 lbs, but that's been a struggle.   What I find, though, is that the less I obsess, the less I compare, the less I beat myself up about a gain, the better I do at managing my weight.  I am focusing on what's right, what's positive, and what's working IS working.  I have seven more lbs to lose, which will likely be easier than the first five now that it's summer and I'm eating less and swimming more.  

Don't let comparison be the thief of your joy.  Don't compare yourself to anyone else.  YOU are unique.  YOU are YOU, and no one else.

SEE ALSO: Additions and Subtractions to Your Diet After Weight Loss Surgery

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Be An Active Traveler - Exercise and Vacation Do Mix!

Last winter, with the summer seemingly a million years away, you thought ahead and wanted to take action to get back in shape before the warmer weather arrived. You've done it and you have made huge strides in toning, weight, exercise capacity, and overall energy levels!

Now that summer is upon us, many of us are gearing up for extended summer vacations! We all definitely need that in order to rest and recharge our minds and bodies. If you are like me, you still would like to stay in somewhat of a rhythm when it comes to exercising and wouldn't mind getting in one or two workouts while on vacation. The first thing that usually comes to mind is staying active with outdoor activities like hiking or swimming, but you also have the option of the hotel’s complimentary gym.

We get to the hotel expecting big things but many times we find out that the gym is either dirty, rusty (tetanus anyone?), cramped, or we just don’t feel comfortable at all working out there so we pretty much abandon a traditional workout while on vacation.


One alternative is to pack along resistance bands on your trip. Resistance bands are great because they virtually take up no room in your luggage. This is a HUGE positive aspect of carrying resistance bands with you because you can stuff them anywhere with no adverse effect on premium luggage space .Not only do they not take up space, but they are also incredibly effective. You can get a quick, very effective workout right in your hotel room using resistance bands. Combine some great body weight exercises with a few resistance band exercises and you've got yourself a workout! 

Here are 5 resistance band exercises you can use to stick with your exercise rhythm even on vacation:


To perform the squat, place the band on the ground and place your feet on it where they are a little over shoulder width apart. Make sure the band is securely in place so it will not slip out. Grip the handles of the bands and hold them up by your shoulders (as if you were going to do a shoulder press) and perform your normal squat by leaning back like you are sitting in a chair. Lean far enough back to where your knee is over your toe and then return to the starting position.

Bicep Curl 

Place the band on the ground and step on it with your feet shoulder width apart. Grip the handles with your palms pointing out and perform a normal bicep curl. Bring the band up to you by contracting the bicep. To increase the difficulty spread your feet wider with more band between your feet.

Deltoid Front/Side Raise 

Place the band on the ground and step on it with your feet shoulder width apart. For the front raise: with your palms pointing down bring the handles up to eye level while keeping your arm straight (slight bend in the elbow). For the side raise: hold the handles down by your sides, palms facing in. Raise the handles up to shoulder level with your arms straight (elbows slightly bent).

Lat Row 

Secure the middle of the band around a bed post or chair. Kneel down on one knee far enough away so the band is already tight (use the other leg for balance). Grip a handle in each hand but bring one handle in towards your side right to under your pectoral by squeezing your lats (part of your back). Make sure to do both sides. To make it harder, start farther away from where the band is secured.

Tricep Kickback 

Secure the middle of the band around a bed post or chair. Like the previous exercise, kneel down on one knee far enough away so the band is already tight (use the other leg for balance). Hold both handles but kickback one handle by contracting your tricep (back of arm). Make sure to keep your elbow tucked into your side with your upper arm not moving. Your elbow will act like a fulcrum that your forearm and the resistance band handle rotate on!

Perform this routine (and include some bodyweight if you want) exercises for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions (or until fatigued) in order to get a great workout in your hotel room!

SEE ALSO: Get Physical For Free! Body Weight Exercises for Top Fitness

If you want more workouts and fitness tips that can be don’t at-home or on-the-go check out Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!

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What Are The Best Sources of B Vitamins?

What are the best sources of b vitamins?

Feeling drained and lacking energy? Analyze your B vitamin intake.  Together, the group of B vitamins commonly referred to as the B-Complex group work together to produce energy in cells throughout your body.  Fall short of getting enough, and you may feel a lack of energy.

Though B vitamins are prevalent in a variety of foods, you may not be getting what you need if you cut out certain food groups from your diet, if you are on a low-carb diet or don’t get enough variety in your diet.  There are also certain circumstances that deplete your body’s available B vitamins or that don’t allow for proper absorption, such as gastric bypass surgery, aging, alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine consumption and excessive stress.  Vegetarians and vegans typically do not get enough vitamin B12.  

A B-Complex supplement is a great idea if you know you fall into dietary, circumstantial or malabsorptive reasons that your body may not be getting enough B’s.

  • All B Vitamins – Fortified cereals.  Can’t go wrong here, just be sure to stay away from the sugary ones, most are good source of fiber too.
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) –  Necessary for energy production.  Chronic alcoholics are most likely to be deficient in thiamin.   Top food choices: grains (cereal, bread, etc.), pork, beef, rice, nuts.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), and Pantothenic Acid – Deficiencies for these three B’s are not very common in the U.S.  If you consume an adequate amount of protein (vegetarian or vegans may not), you are most likely getting enough B3.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – Like all B’s it helps to convert energy from the food you eat in to a usable form in your body, and it also contributes to red blood cell formation and is necessary to proper nervous system function.  A poor diet, some medications and conditions could cause a shortage of this vitamin.  Top Food Choices: chicken, pork, peanut butter, black beans, almonds.
  • Biotin – Important to skin, hair and nails, energy conversion from food and nervous system function. Pregnant women, malnourished people and those who have lost a large amount of weight quickly can all be affected by a deficiency.  Top Food Choices: cooked eggs, wheat germ, peanuts, cottage cheese, and whole-wheat bread.
  • Vitamin B12 – An outlier of the B vitamin group, B12 is the only one that can be stored in the body. Strict vegetarian/vegan diets run the risk of B12 deficiency since it can only be sourced from animal-based foods, as are those who have had certain kinds of gastric bypass surgery in which parts of the small intestine where B12 is absorbed have been removed.  Top Food Choices: liver, salmon, clams, trout, beef, yogurt, haddock, tuna, milk, and cheese.

What happens if you get B vitamins from food and from a supplement?  Can you get too much?

Because B vitamins are water soluble, what your body needs will be excreted, so there’s a low risk of getting too much. Look for a good liquid multivitamin or B-Complex supplement that contains at least 100% of the recommended daily intake for each vitamin. It’s the best way to insure you get all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy.  

See where to get your next B-Vitamin Boost Here!

SEE ALSO:  B Vitamins Help Reduce the Affects of Stress

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Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Medical Impact

Hello one and all!  I am back with more gritty tales of being an older athlete.

Athletes get hurt, they always have....

We see this play out increasingly on TV.  As the demands for what it takes to be competitive get higher, so do the injuries.  TV and YouTube can replay for hours an ACL being blown or a bobsled crash.

Most of us all go to the doctor from the day we get hatched; but if you are an athlete, do you go more or less?  Does this change if you are an older athlete vs. a younger one?  Yes, it does, but perhaps not necessarily for the reason you are thinking.

Most people think if you are an athlete, you are healthier than the average bear and less likely go to the doctor which could in fact be true.  But times have changed and so has expectations from training, medical care and competitive athletic performance.  

One could suggest that these days, because an athlete pushes so hard, they need to go to the doctor more often.  All age groups do!!   Many of my friends with children who are athletes have no problem hitting the IRS tax deduction of the required 10% of adjusted gross income for the medical deduction.  Having children who are competitive athletes is expensive.

Training, medical care, competition metrics and supplements are changing insanely fast.

If this is the case for a younger athlete guess what happens to an older one?  Well, we are older and arguably wiser and hopefully smarter as a result; consequently, we actually DO go to all the PT appointments that the doctor prescribes after the ACL is torn and after the surgery.  Then of course we add the NMT (neuromuscular massage therapist, perhaps an acupuncturist, etc.) at the end of the day, you get the point. 

Older athletes may or may not get hurt more or heal slower but if the injury is the same for a 20 and a 50 year old, the older one will have more appointments, be more responsible about keeping them, may take longer to heal and will incur more costs.  

Now, what happens if an older athlete gets bad medical advice and is injured as a result?  This is the gritty topic that is potentially career ending and catastrophic.  I have had bad advice that caused an injury – I know many have.   You get hurt, you need help, you go to a doctor who says they can help but they do more damage and you are set back.  A bone is not set correctly or surgery is delayed creating a bigger issue.  As a competitive athlete, I see it a lot.  

But a younger athlete has time to take a year off.  Coaches and parents will insist.  When an older athlete gets hurt – we miss milestones that are expected and we do not have the luxury to take a season off to stay on the coach’s radar.  For an older athlete, we cannot afford to miss a season and come back later. 

Being a competitive athlete is full time work – you work to hit dictated milestones, to stay on the team, on everyone’s radar and to be competitive. “

If this has happened to you – you are not alone.    If a doctor advertises that he or she is an expert, first find out about their experience and ask others who have been treated by that person before you become the guinea pig.  Bad doctors will cost you greatly financially and emotionally and their mistakes can be career-ending.   

As always, any feedback, input or other blog suggestions that this inspires are most welcome. It is much more fun when we all play!  

Share your story! 

SEE ALSO:  Broken Bone Healing - How Can You Help Your Body Mend Broken Bones Faster?

Anna Prata is an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice. 

P/S Prata is 50 Years of age!

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Avocado Ice Cream!

Did you know an avocado is colloquially known as an alligator pear? For some reason, avocados have had a bad rap as being high in fat, and while they are in fact, high in fat, they contain the healthy monounsaturated fats that have anti-inflammatory properties. The avocado's high concentration of oleic acids have been shown to help lower our risk of heart disease and promote a healthy digestive tract. Avocados are high in fiber, which, in conjunction with the healthy fat, keeps you fuller longer. Everyone knows avocados as the star ingredient in guacamole, but avocadoes have a place at every meal-- ranging from baked eggs inside an avocado for breakfast to avocado soup for lunch or dinner to avocado ice cream for dessert. If you’re curious, check out this recipe, which my intern shared with me on a hot day. Delicious!

Avocado Ice Cream


·         2 cups avocado, mashed

·         1/2 cup fresh lime juice

·         1 teaspoon lime zest

·         1/2 cup agave nectar

·         1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor until well combined.

2. Freeze in an airtight container (preferably glass) for at least 2 to 4 hours before serving.

photo credit: jamieanne via photopin cc

SEE ALSO: Multivitamin Packed Carrot Cream Soda

Guest Blog Post by Iris Higgins, gluten-free cook book author and blogger of, hypnotherapist with master's degree in psychology plus a Women's Wellness Wizard.


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Healthy & Tasty Summer Snacks You and Your Kids Will Love

Getting your children to eat correctly and exercise daily can be quite a hard task in this modern, hectic world. Between tee-ball games and school, children aren’t always getting the best nutritional snacks. On top of that when they do have a day or two free they usually are spent inside relaxing on the couch.

Recent research has shown us that the fate of a child’s weight can be determined as early as 5 years old.

While of course this doesn't mean that all children who are obese at that age will remain so the rest of their lives (everyone is different), but it does point to the fact that instilling good nutritional and exercise habits at a very early age can help shape their mindset when it comes to healthy practices!

One of the hardest things (for people of all ages) to get under control is snacking. Especially as fast-paced as life is, making healthy snacks for your kids can be difficult! I’m going to show you two super easy snacks that are great for you and your children!

Savory Sweet Potato Fries

Kids love sweet potato fries because they are sweet, delicious and have a healthy dose of vitamin A! Make a batch of these for your kids today (they even reheat well for later snacking)!


1 large sweet potato
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

This may be the easiest recipe ever! All you have to do is:

  1. Wash the sweet potato and remove any bad areas.
  2. Cut the potato (skin and all) into fry shapes approximately 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick and wide; no need to worry about length. Just remember that the smaller you cut them the faster they will bake!
  3. Place all of your fries into a large container and add the remaining ingredients. After closing the container shake the mixture vigorously in order to evenly coat the fries (double check to make sure the lid is on securely)!
  4. Place all of the fries evenly on a large cookie sheet that has been sprayed with a non-stick coating. With the oven preheated to 400 degrees, bake the fries for 20 minutes (this should work for the fry size I described). You will know when they are done if you can easily cut them with a spatula!

Delicious Hummus

Hummus is amazingly healthy for you and tastes good as well! Not only do you get a good amount of fiber but also fat burning lignans in the tahini! Plus if you eat it with vegetables such as broccoli or carrots you kids will be getting extra nutrients and vitamins!


1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Cumin, salt, and pepper to meet your tastes

Literally all you have to do is blend it up in your food processor until it is a paste! Add more water or juice from the garbanzo beans to thin or add more garbanzo beans to thicken the paste! You can also try to add red peppers or dried tomatoes to change it up a bit!

Snacks like these are ideal for you and your children because they are quick and easy to make…plus incredibly healthy! 

SEE ALSO:  Tips for Eating Healthy when you Eat Out


For more at-home fitness, nutritional tips, and recipes visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness!

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Keep A Look Out For Nutrients That Protect Your Eyes

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun’s bright rays and safety goggles decrease the amount of dust, particles and harmful substances that could bother or hurt your eyes. Though both sunglasses and goggles are important, there’s more to eye health than just covering your eyes. Specific nutrients can help protect your eyes and vision from the inside out.

Bugs Bunny eats his carrots and you should too. Or consider sweet potatoes, beef liver, spinach, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, mango, black-eyed peas, apricots or broccoli. All are excellent sources of vitamin A. Most quality multivitamins will also have a daily serving of vitamin A if you have trouble getting enough in your diet.

Vitamin A is needed for normal vision and a deficiency can lead to dry eye syndrome and, over time, night blindness and blindness.

In addition to vitamin A, two other carotenoids (carotenoids are red, orange and yellow pigments) can help your eyes.

Lutein and zeaxanthin also protect your eyes from some of the harmful effects of the sun’s rays (blue light in particular).

They may also improve your vision when outside on bright sunny days by decreasing eye sensitivity and pain as well as glare from light exposure. And finally, these nutrients may help reduce a person’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach (high in lutein but low in zeaxanthin), orange bell pepper, egg yolks and corn.

Two other nutrients that are essential to eye health are the fatty acids EPA and DHA. 

Research shows that adults who consume higher intakes of EPA and DHA seem to have a lower risk of developing AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and those who already have AMD but eat plenty of fatty fish (like salmon) have a slower progression of AMD. 

Found in fatty fish, EPA and DHA help protect your eyes from chronic light exposure while also decreasing some of the symptoms associated with dry eyes. If you don’t eat fatty fish, consider a fish oil supplement since these two nutrients aren't found in other foods (unless they are fortified in which case the food may contain them in very small amounts).

SEE ALSO: Healthy Hair Skin and Nails the Natural Way


Journal of Nutrition 2008;138:1835-1839.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001;20:106-118.

Archives of Ophthalmology 2008;126(6):826-33.

Progress in Retinal and Eye Research 2011;30; 188-203.

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Clap Along Now!

Right now, my husband is in his office playing "Happy" by Pharrell Williams on his guitar.  This is very apropos as he is just a very happy person in general.  I know that I'm biased because he's my husband.

I find his ability to be happy about even the smallest things in life very inspiring.  I can't decide if that's a gift that's he was given at birth, or if he works diligently on being happy.  I think it might be a little of both.   By his own admission:

It's the very simple things in life that keep him incredibly happy:  our marriage, our dogs, swimming in our pool, sitting on our porch.   

I think most people would say that I'm a happy person as well, but I have to work a lot harder at it than he does.  I battle a chronic anxiety problem daily,which my husband cannot understand at all.  Most people who don't deal with chronic anxiety don't understand it.  This, I get.  If you haven't experienced it, you don't understand it.  In fact, I deal with it daily and don't fully understand it myself.  I just work incredibly hard to manage it.  I do tons of reading on the topic, and I regularly have appointments with my primary care doctor, my therapist, and my psychologist. I have no shame in telling you that, because:

Being proactive about your mental health is equally as important as your physical health.

I know so many people who struggle with being happy.  To them, it just seems like this elusive emotion that they don't get or worse, deserve.  When I see or hear my loved ones and friends struggle with this, it breaks my heart because everyone deserves to be happy.  The one thing that I've learned in life is that most (not all, but most) of what happens to you is a choice.  You can choose to be happy, or not.  Sometimes that can be an incredible struggle - to choose happiness despite what might seem like intense odds against you - but you can choose it.

The thing about choices is that even when you make bad ones (of which I've made many), you can learn from them.  

For instance, while I generally don't talk about my first marriage, I learned a great deal from that and I think the things I've learned make my marriage now very strong, and very happy.  I really try to apply those learning experiences to life now, while making choices to be happy in the present, now.

My husband finds joy in everything around him.  He's incredibly positive, and inspires me to find just as much joy in the small daily things as he does:

Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna d

SEE ALSO:  A Good Dose of Laugh Prescription for Your Health

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Risk Making a Change for your Health


“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”    ― James Bryant Conant

Ok, so how many of you would consider yourselves “risk-averse” with regard to your health?  Do you adopt “reasons” why you can’t do different things to improve your health?  Many of us do, and we all know change is difficult under the best of circumstances. 

Getting healthy and making positive changes takes a certain amount of risk too.

We worry that working out harder could open us up to injury, or signing up for a yoga class takes more time away from our friends and families.  There are multitudes of small healthy things we make reasons not to do, like:
+ buying fresh fruits and vegetables regularly,
+ incorporating vitamin and mineral supplements into a daily routine
+ taking a walk at lunchtime
+ seeing the doctor for a long overdue checkup. 
 = But they all add up over time to a healthier you!  

So take a risk…pick a few…commit to even one.   Get Creative and Get Motivated to Make Small Changes

The value to your health is definitely worth the risk of inconveniences like re-prioritizing a daily schedule, or adding an extra step to your morning routine to down much needed supplements like a daily multivitamin and a dose of calcium plus vitamin D3 .  
Dance on the wild side a little further and try a different dosage form like liquids to take your supplements. High quality liquid supplements are an easy way to adapt to taking what you need daily - put it all in a smoothie for breakfast as you rush out the door.

Stick your neck out there and do not let a little risk stand in the way of healthy progress.

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The Importance of Protein Variety - Great Protein Alternatives to Meat

We all need protein; that’s a given. From building muscles to daily physiological functions, it helps us survive. 

As with all things in nutrition, not only do we need protein in balance with other food groups, we also need to consume each of our sources of protein in moderation.

What I mean is this: you shouldn't only get your protein from meat, only from dairy, or only from legumes.

There are many other great protein alternatives out there that can fill you up and balance out your diet ~ variety is the spice, and health of life!


We all know the bad stink that beans have a reputation for, but don’t let that scare you away! In general, beans are one of the best sources of protein out there plus they are usually really cheap! They sure do pack a protein punch for their size. For instance, one cup of beans (most varieties) has about 15g of protein in it!  (not to mention the added fiber we all need)

Yogurt (dairy) 

All dairy in general really has a great deal of protein to offer, but most especially in the form of yogurt! Yogurt is simply delicious, can be used in lots of different recipes and food combinations, and has plenty of protein (plus the benefit of probiotics). One cup of plain yogurt made from skim milk has an incredible 14g of protein, and some Greek varieties have even more! Think about adding a cup of protein to your next smoothie!


Need an easy protein snack you can always take with you when you are on-the-go? Nuts make a great snack because they are delicious, convenient, have heart healthy fats, and have a great deal of protein. For instance, 1 cup of peanuts has 35g protein; 1 cup of almonds has 30g; 1 cup of walnuts has 30g. While you probably won’t eat an entire cup (they do have a higher caloric content) they still are an important alternative when it comes to protein!


Eggs are incredible and can honestly be a staple of everyone’s diet. By incorporating eggs into your morning routine not only are you ramping up your metabolism for the long day ahead but you are also getting a great dose of protein. 1 large hardboiled egg has 6g of protein.


I literally cannot say enough about vegetables! They really are what make a nutritional plan work because they have so much to offer. Besides nutrients and minerals (and a hundred other things) vegetables can be a great way to supplement your protein intake! For instance, a cup of most raw vegetables (kale, broccoli, cauliflower) contain 2-3g or protein. Considering you can eat a ton of vegetables for a low amount of calories, makes vegetables a great alternative protein source!


Keep your mind open when it comes to consuming protein. There are so many alternatives out there that you can achieve your daily recommendations with a well balanced diet. We didn't even mention whey or collagen protein sources that can also make for a great alternative. As with all things in nutrition, have a well balanced diet and consume everything in moderation!

SEE ALSO:  Cutting through Yogurt confusion - which type is right for you?

GUEST BLOGGER: JOSH ANDERSON  Josh is a fitness professional who runs Always Active Athletics where he provides sustainable at-home fitness and nutritional tips to help you get in the best shape of your life!

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Dancing for Cardio Exercise

I always wanted to be a runner.  It seems like this really popular club that everyone belongs to now:  mini-marathons, full marathons, holiday runs, etc. etc.  I see posts all over my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I always long to be part of that club.  To wear the cute athletic clothing, buy the running sneakers, get the gear...oh wait a second.  I don’t want to run, I just want to shop and wear cute athletic clothing!  I knew there was something wrong with that.

Here’s the problem:  I’ve tried running. I’ve tried jogging.  I’ve tried fast-walking.  I hate it.  I don’t just hate it:  I DESPISE IT.  

As a gastric bypass post-op who has never had any reconstructive surgery, running is not an easy task.  Before I even hit the pavement, I would have to strap myself in with several shapewear and compression garments.  When you have hanging skin, running is probably the least comfortable activity you could participate in, at least, it was for me.

Yet I knew that cardio exercise is super-important, so I had to find an alternative.  I found it in dancing.

I’ve loved to dance since I was just a little girl.  In middle school and high school, all of my friends belonged to the local dance company and got to dance in these big productions all year long.  As a young girl battling her weight and self-esteem, I never allowed myself to participate in any of those activities, even though that I knew as a musician, my sense of rhythm and movement was pretty good.  But as a post-op, I didn’t care what anyone thought, and I decided to dance.

When I was morbidly obese at 311 lbs, I went out one night with a friend to a local jazz club in Boston. They always had great music playing live downstairs, and swing dancing upstairs with a live band.  We decided to go upstairs one night and just sat and watched - it was AMAZING.  People of all shapes and sizes, in period-retro clothing and get-ups dancing to a live swing band.  I immediately fell in love and decided to take the dance lessons.  It felt like a club that I *could* belong to.  It felt musical to me.  I loved it.  

I went religiously every Saturday night, and now - years and many, many classes later - I can dance a variety of ballroom styles:  east coast swing, west coast swing, salsa, samba, rhumba, meringue, bachata, fox trot, and more.  

I love to get dressed up, go out to someplace really fun and social, and trick myself every time into getting the best form of cardio exercise that my body has ever gotten.  

Plus, the people at these clubs and dances are some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. It’s such a social type of dancing, and everyone is always welcome.  Even better, stronger dancers are always happy to jump in and help those just getting started.  It’s really the nicest community of folks that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

I’ve also tried Zumba and adult modern dance.  I love those classes too.  Thankfully, being a musician allows me the confidence to know that I won’t make a complete fool of myself rhythmically, and I’ll try almost every form of dancing at least once.  Zumba feels a lot like Latin dancing to me:  it’s challenging physically, but also very expressive and “adult” in a way.  I try to make those classes when I can, but I can also find some great free resources online.   

Interested in seeing if dancing is something YOU could do?  Check out these free resources online and you can practice right in the comfort of your own home AND get some great cardio exercise:



FREE YOUTUBE EAST COAST SWING DANCE LESSONS (easiest ballroom dance to first learn)


SEE ALSO: The Shape of Things to Come

Diva Taunia is a professional musician and music educator living in the Greater Los Angeles area.  She can be found at or

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