Guest blogger Alexa Lampasona, from the blog Active Tasty Life, (www.activetastylife.com, @ActiveTastyLife) gives us an inside look into what she learned at this week’s ACSM fitness conference—barefoot cardio.

When you decide to do a workout, the first thing you do is pull on a pair of shoes. But how about leaving the laces behind? WillPower & Grace method is a barefoot cardio workout designed to enhance your posture, balance and movement starting from the ground up. With 33 muscles in our feet, barefoot cardio challenges you to consciously think about putting your best foot forward. I attended the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health and Fitness Summit this past week, where I took a barefoot cardio class taught by founder Stacey Lei Krauss. Here, she shares her insight.

What inspired you to create the WillPower & Grace method?

I grew up as a modern dancer, and I frequently took group exercise classes barefoot, but I always wore shoes when I taught my own classes. One class I forgot my shoes, so I taught the class barefoot. A few of my students decided to take the class barefoot too, and I realized most people don’t know how to move their feet. I just heard a lot of foot slapping. So as a fitness professional, I used that as a teaching opportunity and created barefoot cardio.

Barefoot Cardio Q&A with Stacey Lei Krauss

You started teaching barefoot cardio more than 10 years ago, but why is it just now beginning to trend?

It was an uphill battle at first. But then the barefoot running book “Born to Run” came out, and now this movement is finally mainstream. There is no equipment involved, so it is cost-effective for people.

Why do we need to exercise our feet?

Our feet have both intrinsic muscles (deeper in the muscle tissue) that stabilize the body, and extrinsic muscles (that start in the lower leg and insert in the foot) that help us move. When your foot is in a shoe, your body uses primarily extrinsic muscles, so those intrinsic muscles don’t fire the way they should because they have added support and cushioning. When your feet slap down while walking, you lose range of motion and your joints don’t work properly.

Being barefoot creates a tactile sense to the workout. Why is that important?

As humans, we have primal senses. Just think of all the information we get from the skin when we touch it. Yet we never train our skin in a workout. Harnessing the tactile feelings brings about sensory integration and stimulates your skin. You learn to bring neural awareness to your feet.

Talk about how barefoot cardio creates mindfulness in your workout routine.

It’s a smart workout because we work in three planes of motion and there’s a sport psychology element to it. We teach you to use your body through the discipline of Pilates and the self awareness of yoga, but we also add a cardio element that many mind/body practices don’t have.

Benefits of Barefoot Cardio

  • Better balance, which gives you a wider base of support and better push-off
  • More efficient movement confidence
  • Reduced risk of injury by training from the ground up
  • Stabilized knees and hips
  • Increased flexibility

Krauss suggests doing the WillPower & Grace barefoot cardio method one to two times a week in addition to other activities like running or cycling. For athletes, she has noticed a decrease in knee and hip injuries. You can get started with workout videos. Let’s hope Atlanta picks up on the trend soon so more classes become available.

 

 

 

 

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We’re not perfect. That’s a scary thought to some, but let it comfort you—we’re not perfect because we don’t have to be. This goes for every area of life, but one of the areas it can be the most freeing is the area of your food choices. What we put in our bodies every day can either weigh us down (literally!) and make us sick, or it can help us get healthier and happier with every bite. If you are sticking with those “healthier and happier” food choices, you may still eat a few meals here and there that aren’t the best. Instead of beating yourself up about it, recognize that it’s okay not to be perfect—there’s a little wiggle room in everything.

Dr. Jamie Noll, co-author of The 95% Vegan Diet

Dr. Jamie Noll, co-author of The 95% Vegan Diet

This is the philosophy behind The 95% Vegan Diet. Co-written by Dr. Jamie Noll and her daughter Caitlin Herndon, this book is less of a strict diet and more of a lifestyle eating plan, and it includes the wiggle room you need to be successful. It’s not an all-or-nothing vegan diet plan. As the name states, if you follow the diet outlined in the book, you can still enjoy five percent of your calories from animal sources. The 95 percent approach gives you the flexibility to eat almost entirely plant-based without forcing you to give up your dash of real creamer in your morning coffee or the occasional cheese pizza with friends. That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?

To help you implement a healthier eating strategy, Jamie and Caitlin hold regular workshops to introduce firsthand the deliciousness of vegan cooking, educate you about the proven, research-based benefits of a plant-based diet, and walk you through making your own mostly vegan diet plan. I had the pleasure of attending their first workshop on April 2 at JavaVino, and it was inspiring. 95 Percent Vegan DietBefore any discussion of dietary choices begins, the workshop started with a meal. Jamie and Caitlin had graciously prepared dish after dish of phenomenal vegan comfort food: macaroni and cheese, braised greens, pesto and mushroom pasta, bean dips, smoothies, muffins and scones. As the other workshoppers and I dug into our plates, the food proved to us all that vegan food can be satisfying, diverse, delicious, and definitely not just a plate of raw veggies.

After the meal, Jamie launched into her in-depth presentation on the science behind a plant-based diet, right down to the types of protein that your body needs and where you can get them. As a dietitian, doctor of pharmacy, and Certified Diabetes Educator, Jamie knows the value of research, so her presentation is full of research-based information about how diet impacts your health. By the end of the night, you will have covered the basics (for those of you wondering “What does ‘vegan’ even mean?”), the science behind this approach to healthy eating, and ways to implement changes in your own diet to achieve that 95 percent for optimal health. Plus, you’ll have a belly full of delicious food, your own copy of the book and a five-year workbook to take home to use as a tool in your healthy eating journey. To sign up for the next workshop, which takes place on Wednesday, April 9 and costs $129 per person, visit www.95percentvegan.com.

95 Percent Vegan Diet

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The FDA and other sources rate contamination of chemicals and pesticides in produce from highest to lowest. Among the highest are apples, peaches, bell peppers, celery, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, peas, spinach and potatoes. The lowest are broccoli, eggplant, cabbage, asparagus, banana, mango, avocado and onions.

But if you  have to choose between buying organic vegetables or organic animal products, the most important foods to purchase organically would be animal products first, then vegetable foods. organic eggsNon-organic meats will have up to five times more pesticides than non-organic vegetables, and butter can have up to 20 times more. Also, it is now common knowledge that non-organic dairy comes from cows treated with bovine growth hormones and antibiotics, all of which end up in their milk.

Furthermore, organic eggs from pastured chickens are far less likely to contain bacteria like salmonella, and the nutrients are significantly higher than in non-organic eggs.

Although buying organic foods can be costly, it is important to consider the payoff of good health versus a health care bill to treat the physical or mental dysfunctions that can result from eating contaminated foods for a lifetime.

- Marcia Williams, ND, CTN, MA

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Jessica Shops Pick of the Month

I discovered Frownies Skin Care years ago when I was looking for a natural, non-invasive anti-wrinkle treatment. Frownies are designed to reduce wrinkles on your forehead, crow’s feet, eye wrinkles and marionette lines. Frownies These wrinkle patches work by holding the skin smooth and flat overnight, allowing the skin to relax and not repeat the movements that cause creases. It’s a temporary fix that works, and priced less than $20 per box, worth a try. The only downside is they are not invisible.

Pick them up at Whole Foods, Steinmart or Bed, Bath and Beyond stores. www.frownies.com 

 

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Each year, more than 20,000 consumers with food allergies or gluten sensitivities gather at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo to sample food and products that meet their specialized gluten freeneeds. Sponsored by Earth Balance, GF Harvest, Nature’s Path Organic, Udi’s Gluten Free and many others, this event offers you the chance to explore new products and attend educational sessions to learn about your options. This year’s expo comes to the Cobb Galleria Center from May 17 to 18, and daily ticket prices range from $5 for kids to $20 for adults.

Details: Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA, (770) 955-8000, www.gfaexpo.com/locations/atlanta

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I made it! My 30 Days of Clean Eating have come to a close! I survived on clean foods for an entire month, and I really enjoyed it. It was not the hardest thing I have ever done, but there were challenges I had to overcome and lifestyle changes I had to make. There were times when I really just felt like eating a cupcake or Chik Fil-A, but I was able to resist! Surviving without added sugar or highly processed foods has left me feeling energetic and happy. I truly think that this way of eating could work for anyone looking to clean up their lives or even lose some unwanted pounds.

Eat Clean

Throughout my 30 days, I learned several lessons. Here are my top 5 lessons learned:

  1. Always be prepared. I can’t stress this enough. If it weren’t for my weekly meal planning sessions, trips the grocery store and farmers market and always having snack food with me, I am pretty sure I would not have made it through this experience. So my biggest piece of advice would be to plan your meals. Knowing what you are going to be cooking for lunch and dinner every day makes sticking to the clean eating plan so much easier. Meal planning is one aspect of clean eating I plan on sticking to.
  2. Fruit makes a great dessert. As I have said countless times before, I have a massive sweet tooth. Discovering what most people probably already know, that fruit makes a great dessert, was big deal for me. And switching from ice cream and Nutella to apple sauce and oranges has been great for my health and energy levels. So be sure to keep your fruit bowl stocked! With that said…
  3. Eating healthy = better sleep. I know this has to be because I stopped eating sugar before bed, but I have been falling asleep so much faster than normal during my 30 days. It used to take me forever to fall asleep; I would just toss and turn for at least an hour before falling asleep. Not anymore! This is probably my favorite benefit of my clean eating.
  4. Snacking is important and encouraged. With a clean eating diet, being a snacker is a positive thing. There is no shame in eating every couple of hours. In fact, it is good for you and your metabolism. And it keeps you full throughout the day so you are less likely to get so hungry you make some unhealthy eating decisions. You just have to make sure you are making smart decisions about what you are snacking on, like eating heart healthy nuts instead of salty potato chips.
  5. Finding foods you love that are healthy makes clean eating easy and fun. Experimenting with foods I don’t normally eat has been another fun part for this experience. There are some foods I have rediscovered and fallen in love with, like sweet potatoes and almonds. I even ate brussels sprouts a time or two, which was a surprise even to me! So if you are thinking about eating clean, make sure to find foods you love to eat so your lifestyle change is that much easier to maintain.

With all of those lessons learned, I really loved my 30 Days of Clean Eating! It is a way of eating and living that I plan on trying to keep up with as much as possible. I am thinking of doing something where I eat clean during the week and have a little wiggle room on the weekends. After all, no one is perfect, and enjoying a cupcake or a few french fries every once in a while is not the end of the world.

Thanks to those who followed along with me! I hope my journey helped to shed a little light on clean eating and maybe inspired a few of you to give it a try. Now I am going to treat myself to a glass of wine and something sweet, but it is back to eating clean tomorrow!

Thanks again!

Lizzy Stroud

 

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Dr. Christopher D. Killingsworth from Atlanta Aesthetics answers a reader’s question about breast lifts versus breast augmentations.

Christopher Killingsworth

Q: Do I need a breast lift or an augmentation?

A: If you want to achieve or restore the fullness in the upper part of the breast, then breast augmentation can be used to address this problem. Breast augmentation provides the fuller appearance many women ask for. Correction of breast ptosis, or sagging, can also be part of your breast enhancement goals. A breast lift can be used to restore shape and provide a more “uplifted” appearance.

Do you have questions for our doctors? If so, please email to editorial@bestselfatlanta.com. 

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When you select wine at a restaurant, do you find yourself pointing at the print instead of attempting to pronounce the foreign names? Do you pick your wines based simply on price, or maybe a vague notion that you like reds more than whites? It’s time to stop guessing and start having some fun with your drink order.   Wine

Pop the Cork- Ease into things with a social group like the d’Vine Wine Club at d’Vine Bar & Shop in Dunwoody. Members and non-members meet monthly to taste seven carefully selected wines and cheeses. In addition to the fun atmosphere, members receive discounts on bottles, so you can take them home and impress your friends with the information you’ve learned.

Vintage Education- For a more structured wine education, visit a place like Atlanta Wine School, which offers novice classes for those who want to begin with the basics. Their “For Beginners Only” class held at Vino Venue will teach you about key flavors of various wines, help you learn to distinguish and describe what you’re tasting, and will include seven fine wines along with cheeses, meats, nuts and crackers.

Master the Merlot- Once you’ve got the basics and have sampled a variety of wines, you can take your wine education to the next level by becoming one of the experts. Atlanta Wine School can help you become a Certified Specialist of Wine in their comprehensive course. Registration includes four seven-hour instruction days, a 300-page study guide from the Society of Wine Educators, and of course, plenty of tastings and activities to learn the subject matter firsthand. After completing these courses, or even after a few friendly wine group meetings, you’ll soon be able to select each sip with confidence.

Details: www.atlantawinebar.com, www.atlantawineschool.com

 

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Ladies, prepare for things to get a little messy! The Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run and Obstacle Course hits Lake Lanier Resort on Saturday, April 12. Perfect for women of all fitness levels, the Dirty Girl Mud Run encourages ladies to have a great time with their friends and let go of the everyday worries of life.

Since getting it’s start in 2011, the run has become the premier women’s only mud run event and is held in over 25 cities in the U.S. Dirty Girl events hope to inspire ladies to run, walk, climb, jump and laugh their way, hand in muddy hand, to an unabashed sense of accomplishment. They even let teenage girls in on the fun, the minimum age to participate is 14.

Dirty Girl Mud RunAnd if you are worried about the obstacle course aspect, don’t be. Dirty Girl assures it’s participants that all of the obstacles are manageable for most fitness levels. But if you simply do not want to do one, you don’t have to! The run is not about competing with other women, it is non-timed and strictly about bonding with your friends and having a great time. You can participate as an individual or as part of a team with all of your pals.

Dirty Girl is also about giving back. Dirty Girl events has partnered with Bright Pink, an organization whose mission is to encourage and educate women to understand the signs, symptoms and risk factors of breast and ovarian cancer. Together, Bright Pink and Dirty Girl focus on empowering women to lead healthier, happier lives. So far, Dirty Girl has donated over $400,000 to Bright Pink, and they hope to surpass that number this year. Not only does Dirty Girl raise money for Bright Pink, but they also support and encourage cancer survivors. At each Dirty Girl event, up to 300 complimentary registrations are available to cancer survivors.

The registration fee is $85 but rises to $100 on April 2, so register today!

Details: www.godirtygirl.com, www.brightpink.com 

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Last week, Best Self staffers attended the city of Smyrna’s Community Day of Action for Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon! The Day of Action included a city-wide tornado drill and a full scale exercise at Emory-Adventist Hospital. At noon Friday, the city activated its outdoor warning sirens to simulate the tornado warning. The city has strategically placed 10 sirens throughout the city to notify citizens of approaching severe weather threats. EAH also practiced the evacuation of patients due to damage from a tornado. Smyrna PrepareAthon!

This is Smyrna’s first community-wide test in their PrepareAthon! campaign, which was launched in September. It is part of the nationwide campaign, America’s PrepareAthon! which strives to increase emergency preparedness, increase understanding of disasters and to teach citizens how to be safe and mitigate damage in the face of a disaster.

This was also the first test for the City of Smyrna and Emory-Adventist Hospital’s Joint Emergency Operations Center. Located on the EAH campus, the JEOC was developed in the fall of 2013 to serve as a single point of command for disasters and emergency management for the city and the hospital.   During Friday’s drill the JEOC was staffed by EAH Incident Command, City of Smyrna Fire and Police departments, Cobb-Douglas Public Health, Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Metro Ambulance.

Smyrna is home to over 52,650 residents from all walks of life and Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon! aims to help them take steps towards personal preparedness, to increase their ability to survive a disaster and reduce economic devastation following a major crisis. According to a national survey conducted by FEMA in 2012, 54 percent of the U.S. population does not believe their community will experience a natural disaster. Only 39 percent have discussed a plan with their family members and almost 50 percent do not have supplies set aside in their home for use in a disaster.  Hopefully by making people aware of community alerts and warning systems, both the national and  Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon! can help change those numbers and teach people to be prepared in the case of an emergency, weather related or not. Smyrna PrepareAthon!

Not only is Smyrna one of two cities in Georgia with their own Emergency Management Agency, they are the first community in Georgia to launch a preparedness and emergency alert app for their residents. The app is currently available for Android users and will be available for ITunes users in April.

“The first step in being prepared is being informed,” said Smyrna Deputy Fire Chief Roy Acree. “By simply downloading this free App, the users will be notified of emergencies including severe weather.”

For more information about Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon!, visit www.readysmyrna.com.

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