Shoveling Wisely, Save Your Back

Shoveling Wisely, Save Your Back by William Smith, MS, NSCA, CSCS, MEPD

Living in the Northeast we expect a certain level of snow, thus the dreaded shoveling and possibility of days of back pain and muscle soreness thereafter.  This past week ‘Snowmaggedon’ was predicted to pound the East Coast with snowfalls expected to reach historic levels not seen in years. Continue reading

Self-Assessment in the New Year

Self-Assessment in the New Year by William Smith, MS, NSCA, CSCS, MEPD

This past week I was bending over to pick up my 1 year old son and as I was doing this my back tightened up.  Nothing unusual about this by any stretch, yet the fact it began tightening up throughout the day struck me as odd.  This ‘pulling’ sensation got me thinking “why would this happen now?” Okay, to be honest, I haven’t been exercising regularly so that plays into, but my back?  Hasn’t been an issue in 10 years! Continue reading

Making Wiser Food Choices for the Whole Family

Making Wiser Food Choices from Combat Fat for Kids


Cutting down on fat and excess calories doesn’t always have to involve drastic changes. It’s about making smarter choices and practicing moderation, not deprivation. Making small, deliberate adjustments to old eating habits can yield positive results for your family. Here are some tips from Combat Fat for Kids‘ authors Jo Brielyn and James Villepigue to help you make those wiser choices: Continue reading

8 Foods that Help Fight Stress Naturally

8 Foods that Help Fight Stress Naturally by Jo Brielyn


We all have stress. No matter how relaxed we try to live, there’s no way to escape having a certain amount of it. Too much stress, however, can negatively impact our health as well as our relationships. How we handle and manage the stressors we face makes all the difference. One of the most powerful stress-fighting tools is learning how to manage it through the foods we eat. There are foods that actually have calming properties to help the body ward off stress more effectively.


Just to be clear, calming foods are not the same as comfort foods. There is a big difference between enjoying a food’s natural calming properties and using food to serve as a type of emotional anesthesia. Eating habits like that might give you a temporary calming effect, but it will wear off quickly leaving you only with the extra calories and often more frustration over your poor eating choices. Instead, choose foods like those listed below that contain specific nutrients proven to provide calming agents or that give a steady, reliable source of energy to pick you up when you’re feeling overwhelmed by stressful situations.


JO BRIELYN is an author and contributing writer for Get Fit Now and has currently completed 16 nonfiction books about health and wellness. Jo is the founder, writer, and editor of Creative Kids Ideas, a resource website that supplies parents, teachers, and family members with the tips and fun ideas to help build stronger, happier, and more creative kids. She is also the writer behind Jo is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a former youth leader. She resides in Central Florida with her husband and their two daughters. Jo is the co-author of Combat Fat for Kids.

4 Herbal Tea Recipes to Fight Cold and Flu

Are you looking for natural treatments for a cold, allergies, or the flu? These four herbal tea recipes courtesy of the Cooking Well: Healing Herbs book use the powerful healing agents of natural herbs to help fight cold, allergies, and flu and offer relief from the symptoms.


Cold and Flu Tea


1 ounce blackberry leaves

1 ounce elder flowers

1 ounce linden flowers

1 ounce peppermint leaves



Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 tablespoons of tea. Cover and let steep for ten minutes. Strain and drink.


Flu Ridding Tea


2 medium cloves fresh garlic

1 cup very warm water

1 teaspoon honey



Combine ingredients. Stir and drink.


Calm Stomach Tea


1/2 teaspoon dried ginger root

1/2 teaspoon clove blossoms

1 teaspoon chamomile flowers



Steep 2 tablespoons of tea mixture in a cup of boiling water. Cover ten minutes; strain and drink.


Bronchial Congestion Tea


1 1/2 ounces aniseed

1 ounce calendula flowers

3/4 ounce marshmallow root

1/3 ounce licorice root



Crush aniseeds and add to herbs. Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of mixture; cover and let steep 10 minutes before drinking.


Cooking Well: Healing Herbs offers recipes and information to help you uncover the beneficial properties of many of these herbs in easy-to-use recipes. Whether you’re looking to ease symptoms of a specific condition, seeking to energize or relax using herbs in tea, or just want to create tasty, healthy meals, Cooking Well: Healing Herbs is the perfect resource for learning to harness the powers of herbs.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking Well: Healing Herbs. ISBN: 978-1-57826-330-1 $11.00 (paperback). From Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.



Staying Fit Through the Decades

Staying Fit Through the Decades: A Guide to Fitness for Adults by William J. Smith, MS, MEPD, CSCS

For most people, aerobic or cardiovascular exercise tends to be the most approachable and convenient choice in their fitness program. However, exercises that emphasize stability, flexibility, movement/coordination, and proper postural alignment tend to be lower on the list.

As we age, our bodies undergo various changes. These physical transformations challenge us to find activities that enhance and stimulate our innate movement needs which are needed throughout our activities of daily living (ADLs), as well as providing us with a sense of physical fulfillment.


Ask yourself the following questions:


1. Stability: Can you stand on one leg for several seconds? Can you hold your own body weight off the ground (i.e. modified or regular pushup position)?

2. Flexibility: Do you have trouble with simple tasks, such as reaching behind a seat in the car to pick up a briefcase or bag? Can you look over your shoulder without turning your upper body?

3. Movement and Coordination: Walking, the most basic of human movements, requires proper coordination between opposite sides of the body. As we age, we begin to lose the ability to plantar flex (push forward using the calf muscles), which leads to posture deterioration, stride length decreases, and really tight calf/arch muscles! Feel your body as you walk and make mental notes.

4. Posture: Take a look at your posture in the mirror. Are the shoulders rolled forward? Hips rolled under the lower back? Noticeable decrease in calf muscle tone? All are factors that can be addressed with corrective exercise therapy.




The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has identified several criteria that are important to consider when beginning an exercise program. Here are some tips to help overcome common fitness obstacles:

Obstacle: Declining strength (i.e. muscles decrease in strength)

What you can do: Use your endurance. A recent study has shown that while muscle strength decreases with age, muscle endurance does not. You may benefit from working muscles longer – doing more repetitions – with lighter weights. Exercises that emphasize endurance, such as swimming, walking or biking, may be more enjoyable and beneficial for you than those that require great strength.


Obstacle: Arthritis or other conditions that make moving difficult

What you can do: You can, and should, still exercise. Ask your doctor or physical therapist how to use a cane, rollator (rolling walker) or other assistive device. These can be especially helpful if you’re recovering from a joint replacement, or a serious illness such as stroke or cancer.


Obstacle: A history of inactivity

What you can do: Get started on the path to fitness by using everyday activities as exercise. Recent studies have shown that “functional exercises,” those that mimic actual daily activities such as walking up stairs and getting in and out of chairs, are most effective for you.


Obstacle: Chronic pain and inflammation

What you can do: Choose low impact activities to keep moving and minimize pain. Experts believe that certain types of exercise can reduce joint stiffness, pain and inflammation associated with arthritic conditions that affect more than 40 million Americans. Activities such as walking, swimming and water-based exercise are generally effective and well tolerated.


Once you’ve identified your needs, choose the best type of fitness professional for your situation.

Next time you head to your local fitness facility, ask a fitness professional to assist you with the development of an exercise program. Active adults should bring up the following questions relating to their exercise program:


1. General Checklist of Questions to Ask your Fitness Trainer:

What certificates do you hold?

Educational background?

Is this a part-time job?

How long have you been a part of this organization?

What motivates you as a trainer?

Do you live what you teach?


2. Specific Fitness Program Questions to Ask your Fitness Trainer:

Are my special needs (Knee replacement, Arthritic Condition, Vertigo, etc) being taken into consideration?

Is the program multi-faceted (4-component model)?

Does this exercise program take into consideration my active interests (golf, bowling, etc)?

Is the same fitness trainer available to assist regularly? If not, how will my exercise program progress with another trainer?


By identifying strengths and weaknesses, and working with a fitness professional, you’ll be able to effectively adapt your fitness regiment through the years.



WILLIAM SMITH, MS, NSCA, CSCS, MEPD, completed his B.S. in exercise science at Western Michigan University followed by a master’s degree in education and a post-graduate program at Rutgers University. In 1993, Will began coaching triathletes and working with athletes and post-rehab clientele. He was a Division I Collegiate Strength Coach and has been competing in triathlons and marathons since 1998, recently finishing the Steelhead Half Ironman in Michigan in 5 hours and 22 minutes. Will founded Will Power and Fitness Associates and currently consults for fitness, healthcare, and wellness centers in New York and New Jersey. The Director of the Professional Development Institute, Will has also co-authored the definitive guide to triathlon training, Tri Power. He is also the author of several books in the popular Exercises For series including Exercises for Heart Health, Exercises for Back Pain, Exercises for Brain Health, and many others.

A Fun and Healthy Kid Creation Recipe to Make with Your Child!

The breakfast fruit wrap recipe listed below is from Combat Fat for Kids Kid Creation section. Older kids can make it by themselves or parents can make it with younger ones! Combat Fat for Kids is the ultimate guide to building a healthy lifestyle for the whole family and fighting childhood obesity. Complete with nutritious recipes and kid-themed exercises, the book has everything you need to get your family fit and establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.


Breakfast Fruit Wrap


1 tortilla, preferably whole wheat

2 teaspoons all-fruit strawberry preserves

2 tablespoons reduced-fat ricotta cheese

1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted



On a flat surface, spread strawberry preserves on tortilla. Top with ricotta cheese. Carefully top with sliced fruit and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Starting from one end, roll tightly. Wrap in foil for neater eating.

Note: As an alternative, try replacing the strawberry preserves and strawberries with apricot preserves and sliced fresh or canned, well-drained peaches.


Reprinted with permission from Combat Fat for Kids. ISBN: 978-1-57826-458-2, $9.99 (ebook). ISBN: 978-1-57826-396-7, $15.00 (paperback). New from Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.

Dining Out Smarter

When you’re planning meals for your family at home it is much easier to adhere to a healthy eating plan and monitor how well everyone is eating. Eating out at restaurants presents a new set of challenges, but it can still be done!

The book Combat Fat for Kids is the ultimate guide to building a healthy lifestyle for the whole family and fighting childhood obesity. Below are some helpful suggestions the authors offer to help you and the whole family make healthy eating choices while dining out:

1. Start the meal by ordering salads that are packed with vegetables for the whole family. It will help control hunger and help your family feel satisfied sooner.

2. If entrees are big, ask for an extra plate and split them with another family member. Remember, it’s not always necessary for your child to clean his plate as long as he has eaten a balanced and filling meal. It’s also fine to ask your waiter to box up some of the meal and take leftovers home with you.

3. Ask your waiter how the foods are prepared so that your family can make wise selections from the menu. There is nothing wrong with asking questions about whether or not the meal is deep-fried, grilled, or baked. Try to stick with meals that are blackened, grilled, broiled, baked, boiled, or stir-fried.

4. Understand that it’s acceptable to ask for sauce, gravy, and spreads to be left off from meals or placed on the side so that the amount can be monitored. The same principle applies when ordering salads. Asking for dressings or sauces on the side makes it easier to control portions. A little can go a long way with fatty or calorie-laden toppings.

5. Order menu items instead of the all-you-can-eat buffet. There is a much greater chance of overeating and losing sight of portion control when family members are loading their plates at the buffet and can make multiple trips to refill.

6. If your family splurges for dessert when dining out, try to order a fruit-based dessert or split the dessert into smaller portions. It’s not necessary to ban all desserts. Instead, simply reduce how often and how much of them your kids eats.

Reprinted with permission from Combat Fat for Kids. ISBN: 978-1-57826-458-2, $9.99 (ebook). ISBN: 978-1-57826-396-7, $15.00 (paperback). New from Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.