Category: Health Tips

Perfection Fitness Studio – Best Gym Alternatives

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The Perfection Fitness Team: Bottom – Karen, and owner, Melissa. Top – Marissa, Sherwin, Jason, Codean, & Jessica.

I have had a personal trainer twice in my lifetime, both from 24 hour fitness.  One I hired after my cervical fusion (neck surgery) to act as continued physical therapy.  The other time was 6 months before my wedding.  I, like many other brides, wanted to be in the best shape of my life and look incredible in my wedding photos.  Both times I thought the training experience was o.k.  But, six months with a 24 Hour Fitness trainer was 5 months too long. I used the trainer for motivation, rather than results.

A friend of mine and her husband have been clients at Perfection Fitness for quite some time.  My friend initially started training there for their expertise on post baby body revamping and continued through another pregnancy.  Her husband went to bulk up and help with a neck injury.  After seeing their results, two of their family members have started training there as well.  Positive reviews and visible results from each one.

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen the beginning, middle and end of each person and their progress is pretty incredible.  Even during my friend’s third pregnancy she was fit and healthy.  We went out one night after her baby shower and a man stopped her to tell her how wonderful she looked.  I know she is beautiful, but I think the fact that she was incredibly fit and 9 months pregnant made her stand out even more.

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I needed to have Perfection Fitness in my gym alternatives series.  If you are like me and have only experienced the 24 Hour fitness trainers, you need to give private training a try.  It’s a whole new world.  I’m not trying to knock the corporate gym trainers, but there is something different about the personal attention and knowledge of the Perfection Team.

In 2004 Melissa Maher opened Perfection Fitness to make a difference in people’s lives.  She grew up watching close family members struggle with extreme health conditions, including cancer.  She knew that many of these conditions could be prevented by diet and exercise and committed her life to helping herself and others beat the odds.

Ten years later, Perfection is going strong and our community continues to benefit from her passion. Not only does Melissa help clients through her studio, she also teaches workshops, heads a Relay for Life Team, partners with our local Healthy RC News and was a trainer to a contestant on Extreme Makeover:  Weight Loss Edition.

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Owner & Trainer, Melissa Maher.

Each of the six trainers at the studio brings an educational background in their field, including a Masters in Kinesiology.  They are all experts and it shows in their training style and client results.  To read about what each trainer brings to the table, click here.

From the moment you walk into Perfection you know customer service is their number one priority.  From the fresh flowers to the fruit infused water, to the smiling helpful faces everywhere and complimentary towels.

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When I trained with Jason at Perfection I was the only client there, which is a typical experience.  He gave me a tour of the space and then sat down with me to address my needs and goals.  With a regular client he would take measurements and do an initial weigh in.  This information is used to create meal plans and decide which exercises will help clients reach their goal.


Not only do I work out regularly, but I push myself pretty hard.  I worked out with Jason for an hour, and could not walk for 5 days afterwards.  I had what is called a workout hangover.  I loved it.  Since I work out regularly my body has been in a plateau for quite some time, not changing.  In that one session with Jason he broke the plateau and my body reacted by changing.  My sore muscles proved it.

Thank God Melissa, invited me back two days later for an hour of the Ultimate Stretch, PNF stretching.  What is PNF stretching?  Ashley Black, a fasciologist, describes it this way, “PNF causes the brain to go ‘I don’t want that muscle to tear’ and sends a message to let the muscle relax a little more than it would normally”.   Stretching is essential to not injuring your body when you work out, but PNF takes it one step further.  You feel a release that regular stretching doesn’t do.

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Enjoying my ultimate stretch with Melissa.

At Perfection they offer PNF stretching to their regular clients, but you can also go in and have an hour-long PNF session just like receiving a massage.  Even if you don’t feel you need a personal trainer, you should go to Perfection for their PNF stretching.  After the workout hangover Jason created, I needed that stretch badly.  After the stretch my body would have yelled “hallelujah!” if it could.

My experience at Perfection Fitness was what I had hoped for in the two training experiences I had previously.  There is an innate difference in the two.  I believe their experience and education has everything to do with it.  If you are looking for motivation, or to make a change, big or small in your physique, I would highly recommend visiting Perfection Fitness.

What it is:  A private personal training studio staffed with six fit and knowledgeable trainers.

What to bring:  Yourself.  This is an all-encompassing experience.  They have water, towels, butt kicking trainers and all the equipment you will need.

Where:  9125 Archibald Avenue, Suite D
              Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
              Phone: (909) 477-3000

When:  All private training sessions are by appointment only.  Some group classes are drop in, others you must RSVP for.  Please click here to find out more information.

What I love:  That every trainer is an expert in their field.  Your goal is their mission.  They will get you there through training, nutrition, stretching and will help you eliminate mental road blocks.  Even if private training isn’t in your budget, their group training is another option. Their groups are not the large standard gym class sizes either.  You still receive personal attention with this option.

Bonus:  Mention this blog post and you will receive two complimentary training sessions!  Click here or call Melissa at (909) 477-3000 to schedule.

Disclosure:  I was not compensated for any portion of this post.  I was given one free training session and one free stretch session to gain information for this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.




Top 12 Tips to Eating Healthy on a Budget

Most of the country has been hit by this snow covering arctic freeze.  California has been the extreme exception to this weather.  In contrast, we have been hit with a recording breaking drought.  So bad that experts are predicting our food costs to increase by 10 – 15% for the next year to year and a half.

Unfortunately not only does this effect California, but the rest of the nation as well.  Our sunshine state produces many of the crops that the rest of the country enjoys year round.

For anyone that made a resolution at the beginning of the year to eat healthier this may concern you.  For those of you that have made it a lifestyle to eat healthy, like myself, this could put a huge dent in your grocery budget.

Fortunately with some small adjustments to the way you shop you can still maintain your budget.  You can even afford organics.

I keep my grocery bill within $90 – $120 for a family of 4, every week.  I buy a lot of organics, but not exclusively.  I have 2 growing boys that eat like wolves, a husband that needs to feel satiated, and I like all of us to eat clean foods 80% of the time.

You must be asking yourself at this point how on earth I accomplish that trick?

Here are my 12 tips that I use every week to keep my family healthy and on budget.

bigstock-Meal-Plan-31027910#1  Plan, plan, plan!

  • Plan meals weekly for you and your family; breakfast, snack, lunch, snack & dinner.  Plan all seven days.  Mark days that you will eat leftovers and go out for dinner too.
  • Use your grocery stores weekly ad to make money saving menus.
  • Make a grocery list using your weekly menu.
  • Do not buy anything that is not on your list.
  • Use ingredients multiple times in your menu.

#2  Buy Generic Products

  • Especially organic ones.
  • Benefits:  they cost less, have the same nutrients, and taste the same.

#3  Buy Only Items on sale

  • Use the weekly store ads to build weekly menu.
  • Use sales to stock up when possible
  • Even though a sale is 10/$10 you do not have to buy 10 items, most of the time.
  • Look at the unit price to verify the sale item is the cheapest.

#4  Buy in Bulk

  • Especially if the bulk item is on sale
  • Items can be frozen if they are not going to be used within 5 days of purchase.

#5  Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables

  • They are usually half the price of fresh
  • Have longer shelf life
  • Saves you time, if they are already washed and cut
  • Nutrient dense.  If they are frozen when picked they contain more nutrients than fresh.
  • Less waste = More money saved!

#6  Buy Whavocadosole Foods

  • Shop the perimeter of the store, avoid the aisles.
  • Unprocessed foods are cheaper and more nutritious.
  • Gives you complete control over ingredients.  Processed foods have dangerous levels of sodium, added chemicals to preserve the food and maintain color.
  • Avoid anything that comes from a box 90% of the time.

#7  Buy Calorie Dense Foods

  • Eating calorie dense food leads to eating less because you feel full.
  • Examples:  Avocados, beans, peanut butter, brown rice, oats and dried fruits.
  • Watch portions, in excess they can add unwanted weight.

#8  Buy Cheap Protein

  • Buy ground turkey, pork, chicken breasts/thighs & turkey bacon in bulk when on sale.
  • Buy packs of chicken with skin on and remove skin yourself.  Huge savings!
  • Beans, mushrooms, eggs, nuts and tofu are good money saving replacements for meat.
  • Look for discounted items to expire.  Freeze them immediately if not using that day.  There are some very expensive cuts of meat that can be purchased for up to 90% off in this section!

#9  Buy in Season Fruits & Vegetables

  • In season items are cheaper and taste better.
  • Winter – Root Vegetables
  • Fall – Apples & squash
  • Summer – Berries & Cucumbers
  • Spring – Artichokes & asparagus
  • Freeze any fruits and vegetables you haven’t used by the end of the week.
  • Look for resident farmers market assistance programs.  In my city, Rancho Cucamonga, there is a program for families with children 5 years and younger, or pregnant women.  Participants receive $50 to spend at the local farmers markets each month.  Follow this link to sign up.

unit price#10  Max Out Your Discounts

  • Get the store card for your supermarket and know how to use it.
  • Clip coupons.  You can find them at online or in your Sunday paper.
  • Check the unit price for the best deal.  Least expensive isn’t always the smartest buy.
  • Walmart will price match.  Bring the competitors ad with you and be prepared to let the clerk know which products you are price matching before she/he rings them up.
  • Sign up on product websites to receive their coupons via email.

#11 Be Drink Smart

  • Stop buying bottled water.  Buy a Brita pitcher.
  • Make your own coffee.  One year of Starbucks will cost the average person $790 (not daily).  One year of daily Keurig coffee consumption is $156.52 a person.
  • Stop drinking costly, body harming sodas.

#12  Grow Your Own Food

  • Much more cost efficient than purchasing fresh or frozen in the store.
  • The taste is unbeatable.
  • More cost effective way to consume organics.
  • Even in a small yard you can plant in raised beds or containers.

So, there you go, that is how I eat healthy on a budget.

Yes, it will take you some time to put together your menus and list.  Before you know it this will become second nature.  You will slowly evolve into a healthy, money saving machine.

I will testify that it is worth the time it takes to do this every week.  It actually becomes addicting.  I look forward to seeing what I saved at the bottom of my receipt every week.

Can’t see yourself doing this, but would love healthy balanced menus and/or meals to be made for you?  If so, click here.

Do you have a tip you would like to share?  If so, leave it in the comment section below.

The case of the smelly kitchen

Have you missed me?  Wondered where I went?  This should clear things up.

I notoriously have an extremely sensitive nose.  When food is involved my super smeller is a great asset.  When bad smells are involved it is a curse, usually.  In this case it was a blessing.

Four weeks ago, on a normal summer morning I stumbled into my kitchen half awake.  As I made my way to the Keurig, I noticed a distinct, awful smell.  After a quick check on the usual smelly suspects, I spent the day searching for the ghostly smell.  I took out the trash and washed the trash can.  I bleached the sink.  I cleaned out the fridge.  The smell still held firm to it’s position in my culinary domain.  Not only did it hold on, a couple of days went by and it got worse.  Much, much worse.

My gut instinct told me we needed to look behind the dishwasher.  Easier said than done.  The people before us had remodeled the kitchen, but did so in an extremely strange fashion. One of their decisions was to not put tile under the dishwasher or cabinets.  Instead they are below floor level about an inch and a half.   Due to this there was no pulling the dishwasher out without pulling the counter top off.  Thinking that the smell was only the dishwasher we were not willing to create that much damage.

With my husband curiously watching me, I removed the bottom face plate of the dishwasher.  Immediately the smell grew ten times worse, and we saw the inch of standing water.  That oh (fill in the blank) look crossed our faces.  The husband quickly grabbed a flash light and revealed mold growing on the back wall.  Not the most exciting thing to find in your kitchen.

We had no idea the controlled chaos this revelation would create.  In the past few weeks we have had an abatement company remove half of our kitchen cabinets and a large portion of the back wall, 4 feet high.  The removal had to be done in a controlled environment due to asbestos being present in the joint compounds of the wall.

We had multiple visits with cabinet companies, the insurance adjustor and a general contractor.  The process has had it’s moments of seamless orchestration and moments where I feel like I have just walked out of a tornado.  At this point I just want my kitchen back.

We wanted to remodel the kitchen eventually, but the timing isn’t the greatest.  But, when would it have been?

I have decided my attitude on this is one of gratitude.  I am grateful we have insurance.  I am grateful for wonderful friends taking care of us.  I am grateful that because of this I appreciate my modern conveniences on a new level.

As you have most likely assumed my cooking is very limited at this point.  Without a sink, counter, dishwasher, range or disposal it’s very hard to prep, cook or clean up a meal.

So, in the next couple months this blog will be taking some what of a detour.  I will still be posting recipes (cooking in some amazing kitchens of friends), but I will also be posting what to order at restaurants to stay on a healthy road. A lot of the recipes I post will be in the appliances I have available to me (crock pot, toaster oven, oven while it is still in tact).

Detours don’t have to mean derailment.  Two weeks before our kitchen fiasco my husband decided to jump on the healthy band wagon.  This could have been a huge blow to his new plan.  I am happy to say we are both still on target to reach our goals.   Even though we have eaten out a majority of our meals in the last 25 days.

Lesson to this story:  Regardless of your situation, if you have a goal in mind, you will get there.  If you want it bad enough, nothing will get in your way.  The lack of kitchen hasn’t hurt our waist lines.  The temptation of tons of options on a menu, or the lack of healthy prepped meals, are just small obstacles to over come.

I’ll also be posting periodic updates on the progress of our kitchen (with pictures).  Here is what it looks like currently and what it looked like before.

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FIT tip of the day 6.6.13

go top 10

I have had a lot of my readers ask me what a GMO is.  What they do and why they are bad.  I hope this snippet can shed some light on the issue.

ge·net·i·cal·ly modified organism

n. Abbr. GMO

An organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering.
(article snippet is from

*The term genetically modified food (also known as biotech or genetically engineered food) refers to crop plants that have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits, such as resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. Experts say this science, like any other, has no guarantees.

Risks include:

  • Introducing allergens and toxins to food
  • Accidental contamination between genetically modified and non-genetically modified foods
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Adversely changing the nutrient content of a crop
  • Creation of “super” weeds and other environmental risks

Benefits include:

  • Increased pest and disease resistance
  • Drought tolerance
  • Increased food supply*

None of the benefits listed affect our bodies.  All of the risks can cause serious consequences to our bodies.

Whether you choose to buy GMOs or not, you should at least know what they are. Sometimes we don’t have a choice.  Buying exclusively organic can be very expensive.  That is why I personally do not.  A majority of my purchases are, but I do have a budget to stick to.

Here is something to keep in mind, the more organic produce and products we buy, the more likely the price will come down.  Then we can all afford to have a choice.


*Information copied from*

9 Reasons to Drink Green Tea Everyday

green teaYes, this has been posted before.  I am re-blogging this gem of a tip for an excellent reason.  I am going to summer camp this weekend, and I am giving away matcha green tea with my business card.

Yes, you heard that correctly.  Not, my kids, but me, I am going to summer camp.  Specifically, a summer camp for food bloggers.  Complete with cabins, and bunk beds.  I am so excited!  Not only because I could use this as a recharge, as the school year ended a couple of days ago.  Also, I am walking into this camp as a sponge.  As Johnny #5 so eloquently stated, “Need input!”.

I am hoping to make this site even better by  attending.  So wish me luck as I head into the woods and learn all about the art of blogging.  Of course, I will be surrounded by other food bloggers, wine and great food.  I’ll also come home with a great bag of swag, so I guess I really don’t need luck.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy Memorial Day weekend!  Don’t forget to thank our service men and women, veterans or active military.  They are the reason, we get to read blogs and live out our dreams.  Thank you!

Now to the tips!

9 Reasons to Drink Green Tea Everyday

  • It’s an excellent source of antioxidants
  • It burns fat and enables you to exercise longer
  • It prolongs your life
  • It lowers stress and boosts brain power
  • It reduces high blood pressure
  • It helps to protect your liver from alcohol
  • It prevents tooth decay and cures bad breath
  • It helps to preserve and build bones
  • It boosts your immunity against illness

Fit Tip of the Day 3.29.2013

Coconut fats have special fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). It has been shown that breaking down these types of healthy fats in the liver leads to efficient burning of energy. One 2009 study found that women who consumed 30 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems.


Tips and tricks to have the body you want

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a magic wand we could wave and automatically lose the weight we want, and drop all health problems?  Of course it would be nice, but it is not reality.  If you are currently in unhealthy cycle of eating food that is not nutritious and not exercising it can be hard to break those habits.  My advice is to do it slowly.  Add in one new habit every week.  Master that habit, make it part of your everyday life, then add a new one in. For instance, an easy one to add would be to drink green tea twice a day.  The health benefits gained from drinking this green liquid outweighs the effort to make it twice a day.  When added into your daily routine, studies show your chances of getting cancer and heart disease become lower.  This is largely due to the high amounts of antioxidants in the tea. Green tea has also been know to boost our metabolism, without increasing your heart rate.  Even though green tea won’t help you drop a significant amount of weight, when added into a healthy regimen, it can most certainly help your cause.

More changes you can make are listed below:

  1. Remove all  processed foods from your home unless they are an organic product.  When you remove processed, chemical laden foods from your diet, your body wins.  Why?  Processed foods contain high amounts of salt, cancer causing preservatives like nitrates, and have little to no nutrients.  So in order to get any nutrients at all you need to eat more of the processed food.  When you eat food that is full of nutrients you don’t have to eat as much.  An obvious benefit of eating less is more weight lost.  Plus the nutrient laden food will give your body what it needs to heal or stay healthy.  If getting sick less and losing weight is something your interested in, don’t buy the chemical induced products.  Your body will thank you.
  2. Eat Green.  Green foods like spinach, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and asparagus are full of  vitamin C and other healthy inducing vitamins and minerals.  “Kale in particular also has bone-boosting vitamin K, vision- and immune-boosting vitamin A, and even anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.  Another potent cruciferous veggie, Brussels sprouts have vitamins A and C as well as birth-defect fighting folate and blood pressure-balancing potassium”.  Asparagus is full of fiber, and has a an amino acid called asparagine that cleans out all the bad stuff from our bodies.  Have you ever noticed that weird smell in your urine after eating the stalky green vegetable?  That is the asparagine letting you know it did it’s job.
  3. Eat Organic foods when possible.  Yes, I know, organic foods can be more expensive, but from personal experience, they are not always.  Vons, the store that I shop in, has their own store brand organic products.  I love them.  They are on sale a majority of the time, and can be cheaper than a non-organic.  If they aren’t they are usually only a few cents more than the non-organic version.  If you can’t commit to a full organic line up, staying away from the dirty dozen is a great way to start.  The dirty dozen refers to the foods with the most pesticide residue.  They are :  apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines (imported), grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries (domestic), and potatoes.   It is not proven that buying an organic apple versus a non organic is more nutritious.  But, I personally tout buying the organic version because of what you consume when eating non-organic.  Non-organic foods contain chemical pesticides.  Hormones and antibiotics are given to non-organic animals.  Plants can be genetically modified (a whole other post), and they are full of food additives (MSG, fats, food coloring, sugars, etc.).  If you are truly passionate about your health, the additions in non-organic foods will not help you achieve your goal.  At this point we aren’t even completely sure what those items can do to us over time.  I personally don’t want to find out.
  4. Eliminate carbohydrates from your dinner.  Unless you are training for a marathon or working out 7 days a week, chances are you don’t need the additional carbs.  Your body doesn’t have time to burn the extra carbohydrates from the time you eat dinner till it’s time to go to bed.  You should be able to consume enough during the earlier part of the day to sustain you.  I have a lot of recipes in this blog to help you achieve that.  Eat cauliflower rice instead of a traditional rice.  Make cauliflower mash potatoes with a turkey meat loaf.  Use zucchini noodles to make a lasagna.  Use spaghetti squash in place of your favorite pasta.  There are so many delicious substitutions you can make.  I always make my husband and I the non-carb version and add carbs in for our boys.  Children truly do need the carbs and it is not hard to make them a side of sweet potatoes fries or brown rice.
  5. Hydrate!  Would you drive your car without oil?  I hope not.  Same theory applies here.  Consider water the oil to your engine.  Your engine being your body.  Our bodies are made up of 60% water.  Without it your body will stall, then completely stop working.  Water takes all of the bad stuff like free radicals, and toxins out with the trash, so to speak.  It keeps all of your organs running like a well ‘oiled’ machine.  Plus, it keeps hunger at bay.  Most people confuse thirst for hunger.  Next time you feel your tummy grumbling, down a glass of water and wait.  The sensation to feed your face may dissipate.
  6. Be prepared.  Benjamin Franklin stated it best when he said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.  It means exactly what it says.  If you don’t plan what you are going to eat during the week and prepare,  it is going to be much harder to succeed.  I have two suggestions to keep you on track.  First,  prepare meals on Sunday for the week.  Chop all your veggies and protein, then separate all the ingredients into different bags or Tupperware.  Second, if you have the time  make your meals for the week on Sunday and freeze them, if possible.  If you don’t have the time to this, there are personal chefs that will do this for you.  Either way, prepare yourself.  Have snacks on hand, especially if you know you are not going to be at home.  If you make a plan and stick to it you are going to be successful.

Throw out the contents of your pantry and fridge! (I’m only half kidding)

Isn’t that what you are supposed to do if you want to lose weight?  Personally, I don’t think doing a tyrannical sweep of your pantry is going to solve your problem.  Why?  Wasting food, even though I don’t consider chips and cookies food, isn’t reality.  You probably worked hard to buy whatever you have.  So, if throwing it out in a fit of healthy rage isn’t in the cards, oh well.  BUT, if you are really serious about losing weight or becoming a healthier version of you, don’t buy it anymore.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  If it isn’t in the house, you won’t eat it.  You will transition into a healthier lifestyle and have a better chance of staying on track.  For some people the cold turkey method does work. If it doesn’t work for you, this approach will ease you in.

Weight loss is 80% of what you eat and only 20% based off of your workout.  If you are serious about making changes, make them permanent.  If you are looking for a ‘diet’, you will most definitely lose weight, but you will find it again and be right back to where you started.  Trust me, I’ve been there.  I would take the weight off with the latest trendy diet, then it would come back to haunt me when I discovered carbs again.  If you learn how food works, and what to eat, you can splurge occasionally.  You have to look at the indulgent foods as treats, not something you nourish yourself with.

So, what should you have  in your pantry and fridge?  Keeping the items below on hand, will help you change your eating habits.


Almond milk

Olive Oil mayo

String Cheese

Almond Butter

Smart Balance Butter

Ground Turkey or Pork

Chicken Thighs or Breasts


Dill Pickles

Low Sodium Chicken Broth

Parmesan Cheese (not in the green container)

Natural Bliss Creamer or Half n Half

Eggs (preferable organic)


Bell Peppers (any color)



Greek Yogurt

Turkey lunch meat (one without preservatives if possible)


Romain Lettuce





Grape Fruit


Natural Peanut Butter

Protein Powder

Low Carb whole wheat tortillas

Dark chocolate

A multivitamin

almonds, cashews, peanuts, not roasted

coconut milk

protein bars


brown rice

High Protein High Fiber multi-grain Cereal (that is actually what mine is called, by Eating Right)

Whole Grain Pasta or Barilla Plus Pastas

Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil

Sea Salt (fine)

Black Pepper Grinder

Green Tea bags

Whole Grain Bread or Whole Grain Extra Fiber Bread

Spices (they add flavor without fat)