Gain Control of Your Health: 6 things to start doing immediately- Ashley Poptodorova

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Hi Fitness friends and health buffs!
Alex and I wanted to provide you with our top 5 things that you can start doing immediately to gain control of your health. Remember, being healthy is so much more than just hitting the gym! It is about how you feed, nourish and care for your body. The overall “healthy lifestyle” is a must. These are simple tips that will help build a great foundation.

1) Drink Fresh Squeezed Lemon Water: Do this first thing in the am on an empty stomach. This is excellent for alkalizing your body, rehydrating and cleansing your system. It helps “wake” up your system gently before you start eating and drinking coffee.

2) Drink Raw Apple Cider Vinegar Daily: 1 tablespoon in 6-8 oz. of water. This can be done anytime throughout the day. You can also follow your lemon water with the ACV as well if that works best for you. The benefits of ACV are plentiful such as hydrating the body, helping to diminish hunger & curb cravings as well at it is great for digestion & gut health.

3) Start Juicing Daily: You do not need a fancy juicer or recipes. Simply juice a hydrating mix of lemon, celery and cucumber. We occasionally throw in a beet as well. This is wonderful for getting high quality nutrition to your cells. Make sure you are juicing organic produce as well!

4) Swap Sugar for Stevia: : Stevia is a plant based sweetener that doesn’t excite insulin the same way sugar does. A drop of stevia is 10 times sweeter than sugar so less is more! This will obviously help you in losing weight and feeling better but nixing sugar from your diet will add up well beyond any of that! You will find yourself with more energy, vigor and HEALTH in the long run!

5) Minimize Stress: We all have stress to some level. How you handle and process your stress can say a lot about your health. The more you stress the higher your risk of heart disease and other ailments. It is also a recipe for packing on fat. Try your best to stick to a schedule and minimize stressors in your life. These things will add up to major gains in your health dept.

6) Get your ZZZ’s: REST! This is an area that is often sacrificed in lieu of other things. We tend to think that we can cut down on our sleep in order to provide more hours in the day. The fact is, your body goes through very precise processes at night that help in building, repairing and replenishing. If you are not sleeping enough it will eventually cut down on your productivity in the long run as is a recipe for packing on fat as well.

Try these 6 simple tips for gaining control of your health! Living a healthy lifestyle is a process and journey that takes time. It does not happen overnight. Focus on these 6 things and build from there. You will be shocked at how quickly (and awesomely!!) your body responds.

Have questions? We welcome them. Leave your comment and Alex and I will gladly respond.

In health,
A&A

Practical Ways to Positively Change Your Daily Habits to Achieve Success

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Daily habits. We all have them. What do your daily habits say about you? Organized? Disorganized? Driven? Structured? Successful? Haphazard?
One thing I learned early on in my journey to getting healthy is that my DAILY ROUTINE had to improve. I had to selectively replace bad habits with healthy habits. I had to change my day to day routine to set myself up for success.

Alex & I have been so blessed to help hundreds and hundreds of people over the past decade. We quickly observed some things when speaking with people about their daily routines, lives and goals. Those who achieved long lasting success were those who were willing to make changes and adapt to their new way of living instead of trying to mold their “healthy lifestyle” into their current lifestyle (or daily routine).
You see, here is the truth of it, most people do not struggle because of “food” alone. Many times, it is their overall routine that needs some tweaking. With some minor adjustments and careful observations of your daily habits, success is possible!

Get ready, grab a pen and lets knock this out together. Take notes, make some observations of where you are and lets go through this step by step. At the end of each point I am going to challenge you with a question. Answer as boldly and truthfully as you can and lets start creating some POSITIVE CHANGE.

I am giving you some golden nuggets that Alex and I use when Coaching our team as well as our own personal experience in having to change our daily routine. These suggestions will help you gain perspective, properly set goals and inevitably enable you to create healthy, long lasting change.

1) Be REAL- Being real and open about your struggles, where you are and where you want to go is key. Basically, you can’t evoke positive change in your life unless you are willing to be honest with yourself and face the truth of it. I had to face MANY things when starting out on my journey. I had to face the fact that my life was swirling out of control. I was living with people who were unhealthy for my MIND and BODY. I was not living the life I knew I deserved. I was a rocking mess (putting it lightly) and my daily routines and habits were in no way conducive to me succeeding as my heart desired to succeed. I was extremely overweight, addicted to food (sweets particularly) and I never took care of my body. I had to BE REAL and face the reality of it. This is probably the most freeing and awesome step you can take because it truly allows you to move forward!
What do you need to be REAL about today? What are the areas you are struggling and desiring to create change in?

2) Be REAListic- now that you are open and have your struggles on the table, this is the next biggest step you can take. Be realistic! No dramatic change will happen overnight. We live in a FAST everything society. Fast food, fast life, convenience, quick this, quick that… it is not realistic to think that deep rooted changes will happen overnight. You will fall, you will have to get up. You will fail, you will have to try again. What matters is that you not give up. Being patient and realistic when setting your goals and creating changes in your daily habits matters.
How are you being unrealistic in setting your goals and trying to change your daily habits? What are you going to do differently to change these patterns?

3)Reinvent – Oh, yes! The next exciting step! So many of us get trapped in a mundane day to day routine simply getting by that we end up in this vicious cycle. We end up unhappy and in no way driven. We find the pounds packing on and our lives just flying by with us barely keeping up. We look back and wonder where time went and what happened to us.
This my friends, is probably one of the most exciting steps. We have to get re-motivated! Reinventing yourself is thrilling! What do you love? What do you want out of life? What are your desires? Goals? Dreams? Hopes? Oh yes. Now, fill in the blanks. By the way, those are the questions for this step. Once you answer your questions it is time to fill in the blanks by doing those things that will bring you steps closer. Do not hold back here! There is no wrong answer. Remember, the bigger you dream, the bigger your life will be!

4) Roadmap – You’ve been real, you’ve faced the reality of your situation. You are being realistic with your goals and daily routine and know that it will not happen overnight. You have started the process of reinventing yourself. Now it is time to create your (VERY IMPORTANT!) roadmap. Most of you would not take a cross country trip without a map, that is, unless you do not care where you end up. Considering this journey you are on, a road map is key.
What are the steps you will take DAILY to end up at your long term goals, hopes and dreams? What needs to change and HOW are you going to go about it? Think about this. Do not rush this part.
Example: If you want to get healthy and adopt a healthy lifestyle do you need to walk more? Sleep more? How many hours per night? Do you need to cut down on your weekly social time to make more room for you? The more detailed you are, the quicker you will reach your destination if you follow it.
Now, consider this as well, when you are on a road trip you usually have your map within reach. DO the same for your life roadmap. Keep it close by where you can see it each day. Out of sight, out of mind.

5) Rejoice & reward in your success and pay it forward! I could not have done ANYTHING in my life thus far without The Lords guidance and love. I know this for a fact. I rejoiced in each short term and long term goal reached. I rejoiced as I created new daily routines. I shared my knowledge (and even turned it into a career… who would’ve thought!?) I rewarded myself (not with food!) but with things that would enable me to keep succeeding. Gym memberships, new shoes, healthy foods, workout clothes, books, exercise equipment. Whatever it is for you, it is. Just get out of the habit of rewarding yourself with food. This is a trap that can lead you back into old habits. Remember, out with the old and in with the new!

What are some ways you would like to pay it forward to others once you create a new healthy lifestyle? What are some rewards that you would envision once you reach your goals? Think BIG! Think BIG!

These are just some simple day to day thoughts & questions that will challenge you to truly create the life you deserve. I know you can do this! It is not always easy but it is certainly worth it.
Hands down the most difficult times of my life produced the greatest fruit and the most long lasting change.

Do not run from your struggles. Learn how to use them and embrace them to make you better. I know that may sound crazy to those of you who are just starting out but consider this, you just may be enduring your struggles to create the diamonds of your life. Something to think about.
Here is to YOU and creating those awesome daily habits that will help you SUCCEED!

In health,
Alex and Ashley Poptodorov

Everything I learned during my journey towards health – East Cobb Personal Trainer

Hello A+A Wellness friends and followers! 🙂

Where do I begin with such a post? I have learned so much in this past 10 years of my life it is incredible! I started my journey (as most of you know) at 208 pounds. I grew up with various types of abuse throughout my life and the final straw I believe was being entangled and trapped in a physically and verbally abusive relationship for 5 years. It was singlehandedly the worst (and best) thing to happen to me because the awful predicament I was trapped in forced me to take ACTION in my life! During this time I found pleasure and peace in nothing. The only thing I could (or could not now that I think of it) control was what I chose to put in my mouth.

I ate away my feelings. I found pleasure in nothing but food. I could not go out, couldn’t have friends, couldn’t even walk next door without calling my abuser to tell him where I was. Seeing my weakness and knowing I could not say NO, my abuser often made me cookies, bought ice cream and continued to try to keep me OVERWEIGHT (morbidly) and unhappy! Until the very end (even when I started pursuing health, he would make cookies and hold them in front of my face saying “You know you can’t say NO”).

Couple this horrible situation with a tremendous amount of emotional pain that I carried in my heart from “life” itself, left me completely spiraling out of control. I had not only allowed my physical self to go, I was denying that I had pain in my heart just festering inside of me and it was only a matter of time until it destroyed me.

I will never forget the day that I went to a local store (one of the few places I was “allowed” to go alone) and on the way in decided to weigh myself. The # that spit back at me stopped me in my tracks. My life flashed before me and I was left standing there in complete shock staring at the big bold “208”. What had I done to myself?

I remember clear as day making a decision in THAT MOMENT. I turned and walked out of the store and cried the entire way. I sat in my car for 30 minutes just bawling. Years of frustration, pain, emotional hurts, ANGER (LOTS!) just poured out of me. I put the keys in the ignition and started that little red car and beelined for home. I had NO earthly clue how I would do it! I had ZERO support or resources (and you could FORGET a gym membership!).

I was paralyzed with fear from my abuser who threatened to kill me (explicitly told me how) if I left and I knew that getting healthy was going to be a journey of which he absolutely would not support. I remember telling him that I was going to get healthy and there was nothing he could do to stop me. For me, it was about taking back control. I FELT SO OUT OF CONTROL.

What happened next was sheer desire, will and determination. With no tools, no gym membership and absolutely ZERO clue as to how, I decided to lose weight and get healthy. I made a CHOICE. I decided that I was much too tired of feeling the way I felt to continue to stay there. This leads me to my first point.

1) You do not have to have it all together! Just take the step! If you can hire professionals great but if you cannot this is fine too! Do not allow this to be a crutch or excuse for staying where you are right now. This world is full of information online, websites, books, gyms. You CAN if you want too! I strongly believe that part of my journey was to not have the resources, just the sheer will. I found a way. Even though it was not optimal, it was a start and because of this start, I gained strength, confidence and COURAGE to face my abuser. When I say “getting healthy saved my life” I mean this very literally.

2)  I had to put down the cookies and stop buying the ice cream. I had to stop frequenting the places that caused trigger reactions in me. So many people mention “moderation” to me in the beginning of their journeys but for some, there is NO such thing! It takes overcoming these triggers and cravings sometimes before you add them back in. Take for instance an alcoholic, you won’t say ‘Just one beer a night’ or take a drug addict, you would not say “Just one hit per night” …. NO! They must abstain! The very same thing goes for food addiction. It is a serious thing.

I can honestly say that today, I have overcome food addiction but it took saying NO for a long time! Guess what else too? If I ate the conventional junk that I used to LIVE on, I would literally get sick! Seriously! Today, I enjoy grain free baking, clean eating and pure wholesome foods (and yes desserts) that feed and nourish my body.

3) Ask yourself the serious questions. When I faced my life and my health.. I had to be HONEST with myself, brutally honest. What had I done that contributed to where I was? How was I going to overcome it? What were my reasons for living? You better answer these and know these answers because they are the very things that will keep you going when you feel like you cannot! They will be your reserve when your gas tank is on E friends.

4) Stop believing the lies. Oh my goodness, to think of it makes me want to scream at shout! I was fed soooo many lies my entire life! I believed that I was not worth it, that I didn’t have what it took, that I was weak, unloved, unworthy… you name it! These were like little signs that just hung over my head (all day…. every day).  What are your signs? What are the lies that you are being told or that you are being told? It is time to confront these head on! You will never get healthy (emotionally or physically) if you do not. You have to get to the ROOT of the problem and the root for me wasn’t food. Food was an effect. What was the cause? I had to really dig deep and make some very serious changes in my life.

5) You better surround yourself with those who love, respect, encourage and build you up! My abuser was horrible and each day that I got healthier I got BOLDER until one day, I had the courage to face him and tell him that I was done with him!  I meant it too. Despite the threats of killing me and all. Heck, I even asked myself THAT question. Would I rather die than stay with him? When I answered YES, I knew I had to go. I was willing to flip the coin and I told him so. To this day, I can’t believe what a coward he was as he slithered, squirmed and begged me to stay.

6) Forgive yourself and forgive them: sometimes the hardest times we face with forgiveness are not for others but for ourselves! Allow yourself to forgive (whatever it is that is holding you back) or continually feeding the lies in your head. Forgive those who hurt you. Forgiveness is about YOU, not them. It sets YOU FREE. I had to go back and forgive many people in my life. People that I loved dearly, people who were supposed to love and protect me. That forgiveness what the very thing that started to allow God to penetrate my heart and bring healing.

Long story short, getting healthy gave me the courage to take my life back! It allowed me to open myself up for the GREAT things God had planned for me (and my goodness were they great!) like meeting the love of my life, Alex.

When I met Alex I was “broken”…. this is the best way I can describe myself. I opened myself up to loving and being loved again but I was terrified, scared and just a mess. I was malnourished in a BIG way and I was pretty depleted but remember, I did what I could, with what I had, right where I was at.

This is huge peeps! Sometimes we feel we need it “all together” to start. This is so false. After meeting Alex, I look back and know that God had this plan all along for A+A Wellness. He knew that our strengths and weaknesses were perfect for each other and that together, He (The Lord) would use them ALL to help others. He used my testimony and my struggles to relate to others (He will do this for you too!) and He used Alex’s knowledge to help people truly change.

Allow yourself to start fresh and anew. You have great things planned for you and you can do this. I think that my STRONG belief in others is because I lived through the worst of it and God brought me through. ONLY through Him ultimately did I achieve true health and healing. Today, my passion, joy, love for life and gifts are simply because I trusted Him and He gave me the best.

Allow the “best” of your life to be right now. Choose to be ALL that you were created to be and value your health. If I can end with anything, it is this. Health is not selfish. It is not about vanity. It is about quality of life, longevity, true vibrancy and giving your BEST to those you love. Do it because you care for those in your life.

I hope this helps. Just a few things I have learned along the way!

Hugs, health and tons of blessings.

Ashley

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Weight loss vs. Fat loss and why you WANT nice lean muscle- A+A Wellness, East Cobb & Roswell Personal Trainer and Nutrition Experts

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I am really excited about this post! It is time to clear up the misconceptions behind the “fear” of building muscle. This is something  I cover daily with our team and it is an article that I hope helps to shed some light. There is a big difference between weight loss and FAT loss. I will go in-depth on this as well.

One common concern I hear daily is women that tell me they do not want to “bulk” up. Fear not ladies, unless you are incorporating some additional things into your repertoire, this is not going to happen. Weight training is by far one of the best things you can do for your body for multiple reasons.

Lets first start by covering the WEIGHT LOSS vs. FAT LOSS difference.

Weight loss is simply wanting to lower your bodyweight, the sum weight of your body fat, muscles, organs and bones. Many people get caught up in the # on the scale but lose sight of the fact that they can be more FIT, toned and FIRM than ever by focusing on lowering their body fat % and building nice lean muscle.

FAT loss on the other hand is a very different thing. This is lower your body fat itself or the total amount of fat your body carries.  When you focus on FAT loss this mentality helps you to shift from focusing on the scale to focusing on overall HEALTH and body fat percentage.

Whats the difference?

There is a BIG difference. When you focus on weight loss alone this can vary greatly day-to-day depending on many things including water retention, proper elimination, food consumption etc.

Visually, you can have two people with the SAME weight but vastly different looks because one carries less body fat than the other. Let me show you this picture (which is one of my favorite examples) of a girl at two different weights. She had a higher body fat % at her lower weight and a lower body fat % at her higher weight. She looks more defined, fit and toned at a heavier weight and her clothes sizes are SMALLER all because she has nice lean muscle and a lower overall body fat %. You can actually SEE her abs at her higher weight vs. having a smoother pouch at her lower weight.  Check it out:

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Let me highlight this, if you have extreme fat loss that is needed or you are well above your “healthy” weight, you will still lose on the scale! It just may take a bit longer while your body goes through the necessary phase of “building muscle” and “burning fat”. This is crucial to understand. The key is to shift your mentality from being scale focused to being “body fat” focused.

There are numerous benefits besides toning up and looking great that muscle offers the body. Check out this great diagram and why FAT LOSS is where it’s at:

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The pure benefits of muscle are astounding yet when you are “weight loss” focused alone, you may miss out on them. Losing muscle has many negative effects on the body including decreased strength, poor performance, decreased fitness, MUCH less toned body, early aging, reduced immunity and more.

If you want to be firm and toned then you want to focus on FAT LOSS and building muscle. This will give your body the pleasing aesthetics you desire.

Remember this as well, MUSCLE occupies much less space than fat! Check out this picture below for example:

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The point of this article is to promote FAT LOSS plus nice lean muscle. After all, it is about so much more than just losing on the scale, it is about ultimate health and vitality.

Just focusing on the SCALE with no real idea of your body fat % or ratios is like aiming in the dark. Keep a proper perspective by knowing and understanding the many benefits of nice lean muscle as well as the benefits of fat loss. Alex and I strive to teach our team this very concept not just by focusing on the amount of weight they lose but instead by helping them to lower their overall body fat percentage. This is a win win for many reasons including those stated above. We do a 9 site body composition analysis once every 3-4 weeks to give them a real idea of what is happening with their bodies.

I hope this helps you to understand more about why you WANT muscle and helps to get you away from the scale dilemma. Weighing yourself each and every day (multiple times per day) will truly only mess with your head unless you have a real idea of what is going on with your body.

Do not be afraid to hit the gym and pick up those weights, ladies this goes for you too! I started my journey at 208 pounds and lost 80 pounds. Today, I will pick weight training over the treadmill any day. It does not mean there are not benefits to both but with weights you are building, shaping AND increasing your metabolism (thus burning MORE FAT!) for hours after an intense session.

If you are looking for further FAT LOSS, jump on and do some cardio after but do not be afraid of incorporating weight training into your daily routine.

Here is to a fit, strong, toned YOU!

For more information check us out at http://www.AandAWellness.com or connect with us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AandAWellness

 

Roswell, East Cobb Personal Training and Nutrition – A+A Wellness amazing updates, one year in Atlanta!

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Hi Guys!

We are so excited to be back to updating our blog on a regular basis. The past 12 months have been adventurous and AWESOME with growing our business in a new Community! Alex and I wanted to provide you with some of our exciting updates for the past year and what is going on with A+A Wellness.

We can’t begin to express the overwhelming support we have experienced here in Atlanta, it has been truly phenomenal! Alex and I are so blessed and truly excited to be using our gifts to serve others.
There is nothing that pays you back like the healthy lifestyle and coaching people to achieve this is soooo much fun!

Where do I begin? After running our well-known facility in Tampa for almost 8 years it was a whole new ball game to start a new chapter in our new community. What an adventure! We came to this big city (Phew, I thought Tampa was big!) and what an AWESOME city full of  rich history, culture and people. He and I really love it!

Alex and I wasted no time getting plugged in to our local Chamber and publications. We were so anxious to meet new people and get our message out! We decided that we would serve the East Cobb, Roswell, Vining’s/Smyrna, Marietta and Sandy Springs areas. We have exploded and it has truly been a blast! We train out of several facilities in the middle of these locations so it is very convenient for our team.

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The past year has been full of learning curves and new growth but underneath it all is a firm foundation of loving (and appreciating!) what we do! Alex is still in school for his N.D. Degree (Naturopathic Doctor) and we are really looking forward to him completing his degree. Nutrition is by FAR his God-given gift to help others. Our web-based coaching program has taken off and we are helping people all over the world including Hawaii and Dubai. We have some truly heartfelt and touching testimonies of people getting so healthy and reclaiming control of their lives through nutrition. As coaches, it is a powerful thing to witness and reaffirms what we are doing.

As many of you know, A+A Wellness offers so much for people looking to get healthy. We decided to focus our program on the overall “healthy lifestyle” coaching with a big emphasis on Nutrition. We started doing our educational shopping trips at our local Whole Foods and it took off! We are now offering FREE bi-weekly seminars at the store to educate the customers and our team. We really love Whole Foods (anyone who knows Alex and I knows this!) We are loving the regulars that show up to learn and share with us.

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I think my favorite part of what I do is helping to train people and exercise them to health. Alex and I are such a great team because he works from the inside with nutrition and I work from the outside with exercise. The fact that I have been there helps too! I remember starting my journey at 208 pounds and feeling like I had so far to go! It is amazing how healthy eating and exercise have changed my life and how God blessed me with this testimony to help others. Being able to “relate” to what people are going through makes a big difference.

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We are in the process of trying to get our own Clean Eating (Food/Fitness/Faith) television show (one of my clients is a Producer for a fantastic local Atlanta station!) and our first show premiers tomorrow (6/5) at 6:30. SO exciting! It will be aired on AIB TV (Channel 5 Comcast or Channel 6 ATT U-Verse ATL local station) so if you can tune in, please do! You can also watch online at http://www.aibtv.com no matter where you live … Eastern standard time. Let us know what you think. Coming soon to a kitchen near you! Whole Foods has been kind enough to offer us filming at the store too, God is so cool. It is awesome what He can do when you just tune in and listen for His guidance.

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Our training is always a hit and we are really branching out with in home training, one to one training and small group training which has exploded! We were pleasantly surprised with the receptiveness in this area for our program. In home training especially! I load up my wellness wagon and bring the motivation to your door, LOL!

A+A Wellness is also now offering our Summer Boot camp sessions as well starting on June 28th! Every Saturday at 8:30 am so if you know someone (grab a group of friends!) who wants to have some FUN working out, invite them! We would love to see you there.

I think the biggest blessing has just been our amazing team of clients! Each and every one is working so hard to reach goals and they are so supportive of us and our program. It is very rewarding to help people PROVE to themselves that “they can” … I believe that sometimes life gets so busy we start to lose faith that we can really be healthy amidst raising a family, busy schedules and work demands. It is a joy to show people it CAN be done!

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Needless to say, this has been an adventurous year full of awesome things! Hard to believe Alex and I just came to ATL one year ago this month. SO much has happened and we are thankful for all of it.

Thank you for welcoming us and helping us to expand and grow in this fantastic city!! We love and appreciate you all!

 

In health,

Alex and Ashley Poptodorov

A+A Wellness

Healthy lifestyle coaching, Personal Training and Nutrition in East Cobb, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Marietta and Vinings/Smyrna

Check us out online at :

http://www.AandAWellness.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Cobb Personal Trainer- The importance of sleep

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Just like eating healthy and exercising daily, there are many other things that contribute to overall health and vitality. One of the most important is something that our society seems to put on the back burner: SLEEP!
I hope that by posting some facts and the “importance of sleep” it will cause you to get in bed just a little earlier tonight! :)

Lack of sleep is responsible for so many things such as a myriad of diseases, lack of energy, lack of interest in life, weight gain (YES! You read that right) and much more. So, it makes sense to read up and learn the importance of this valuable “time” in your life and start sleeping more.

So many of us spend our time rushing and trying to fill ALL of our minutes making up for “lost” time. As a fitness professional I have heard SO many times from parents how this vital time at night is sometimes “the only time” they get so instead of sleeping, they fill it with the things of the day. This can easily turn into a vicious cycle however leaving you stressed out, adrenally fatigued and a LOT LESS productive.

Your circadian rhythm has evolved over generations to align your physiology with your environment. This means that your “body clock” if you will, assumes that you will be asleep at night and awake during the day! ;) You must be careful not to confuse your body by not sleeping enough (or eating too late!!) because this can cause the many issues stated above… with the biggest being WEIGHT GAIN!

Your body goes through so many processes at night. Rebuilding, repairing and rejuvenating the body for the following day. If you cut your sleep short and inhibit these processes you will surely pay for it somewhere including but not limited to your waistline.
When your body is sleep deprived it decreases in the production of leptin and increases in the production of ghrelin.
Leptin is the hormone that tells you there is no need for food and ghrelin is the hormone that triggers hunger! Yes! You read it right here friends…. up at night? Watching TV too late and getting hungry for no reason? Well, there IS a reason! Your body needs to be resting and if you are noticing these signs and symptoms this is a key sign that your body needs to be in bed sleeping.

Lack of sleep is a HUGE reason why people put on so much weight. You see, life should be balanced friends. It is not healthy to stress out, rush around and then try to “get ahead” by cutting the only thing that really helps your body recover.

So, now that you know some of the effects of not sleeping.. I want to provide you with some practical things you can do to keep this precious time. My first suggestion is to take a small bit of time out of your weekend to prepare your “life” if you will. Your meals, your schedule and the family schedule if you are a parent. Much of what causes us to “rush” around can be solved by proper planning.

During the week, commit to only doing what was put on the schedule. Adding to your ever-growing to do list during the week is often a big culprit of eating up precious time. I am all for helping people and meeting but I always do my schedule in advance and I build in my time for 1) my family/friends 2) my work 3) my exercise in no particular order. The importance of sticking to the schedule will ultimately save your valuable time for sleep friends.

Pick a time in the evening when ALL televisions/laptops and other electronic distractions will be turned off. You must stick to this (I did it!) and trust me, it will take time but if you can get in the habit of this it will save you SO much valuable sleeping time.

Get your family involved by teaching them the importance of sleep and holding each other accountable. When you have the help of others it is ALWAYS easier.

Remember, YOU can always begin fresh! There is no way to be “fresher” in mind than getting those ZZZ’s! I hope this provides a little bit of insight as to the importance of sleep and I hope you start getting more of it!
Here is to a happy and healthy lifestyle for ALL of us!

~Team A+A Wellness

East Cobb Personal Trainer- When is the best time to workout?

This is perhaps one of the most often asked questions at A+A Wellness. When is the BEST time to workout? This is a very valid question too and it involves a multi faceted approach to determine the best time for YOU.

Your body has something called its “Circadian Rhythm” which ultimately determines whether you will be an Early Bird or a Night Owl. Your bodies circadian rhythm is governed by the 24 hour pattern of the Earths rotation.
This rhythm can determine your bodies functions such as:

**Blood Pressure
**Body Temperature
**Hormone Levels
**Heart Rate

All of the above play a crucial role as to how “ready” your body is for exercise. The key is to first and foremost, listen to your body!
Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the most optimal time for you to exercise:

**Do you rise pretty easily in the morning or is it hard to wake up?
**Do you wake up feeling fresh?
**Do you tend to stay up late, watching tv, or do you tend to be in bed at a regular time?
**Do you feel more energized after work or tired and ready for bed?

After asking yourself these questions and answering them… take a look at your overall schedule. Do you have many demands after work? Picking up kids, soccer practice, dinner prep etc?
Be as honest as you can with yourself because finding your optimal time for fitness is KEY! If you end up trying a time that does not work or a time with which you have lots of distractions… you are more likely to fall off!
The key is to find a time that allows you to FULLY MAXIMIZE this time! :) This way, you reach your goals and develop a habit.

Planning ahead (PLAN!) is key. Each weekend, I write out my schedule for the week and I include my fitness time within each day. I also include my writing time and time for other appointments. It is CRUCIAL to understand that in the beginning you must be very diligent in writing out your schedule and literally including your time for EXERCISE just as you would a Doctors appointment. If you just “wing” it friends you are setting yourself up for failure, sadly. Randomness can come once you have DEVELOPED the habit for exercise. For instance, an athlete or avid exerciser may use “random” times or varied workouts to mix it up and break boredom. You don’t want to chance this in the beginning. Consistency is key.

If you are trying to develop consistency, research shows that working out in the morning is best and most likely to help you develop the habit. The morning also happens to be the time of day where we are least likely to be faced with distractions, late meetings etc.
If you are concerned with insomnia causing you to hit the SNOOZE button rethink your evening routine. Remember, you are creating new habits and this just may require you make adjustments elsewhere.

For instance, if you tend to stay up late watching television consider a different bedtime routine. Instead, read yourself to sleep and sip on soothing chamomile tea. All of these things will eventually help your body to fall asleep faster. You will wake rested and ready to hit that workout instead of sleeping in!

Setting yourself up for success ultimately requires planning. You have to plan your evenings and your day ahead of time. Creating the proper mindset is ultimately what will allow you to succeed.
For instance, you will never see me randomly planning my week. I plan every detail (except my weekends when I relax) such as my training hours, meeting hours, writing/blogging time and exercise!

It is often times noticed that people plan the family schedules, practices, etc and just “assume” they will be able to fit in their exercise time “somewhere”. If you have not yet developed the ROUTINE and HABIT of working out… chances are, you will miss your workout 90% of the time! Do not leave this to chance.

Are you not sure of your Circadian Rhythm or where you feel you would best fit in your fitness time? Consider working out morning, noon and night to see which feels best. Which one allowed you the MOST time with the LEAST distractions?
It is ok to allow time for trial and error friends. Remember, you are creating a VERY IMPORTANT habit and this may take some time. It is ok.

This is also another HUGE reason why hiring a fitness professional is key. We are able to help you find out which times work best and we also provide accountability during the most crucial time-the beginning! It is easy to give up sometimes if you don’t have an appointment so consider fitness professionals like Alex and I. We can help get you past the first hump of developing this habit. We can also see you well on your way to a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE! Info located in the “About Us” section.

We hope this blog helped you to better identify with what times work best for you to workout or at least a plan for finding out yourself!
Above all, set yourself up for success! YOU CAN DO IT! Believe that you can and set up your plan. If you need anything, we are here!

In health,
Alex and Ashley Poptodorov

 

Two incredible clean eating recipes- GRAIN FREE chocolate chip cookies and GRAIN FREE Pancakes!

Hi Guys!

I am really excited about these two recipes. Chocolate chip cookies and pancakes are a hit in almost every household. I knew that there had to be a healthier way of making them and there IS!  I have been tried and tested these recipes in our kitchen and they are a real hit among our family. Grain is not as healthy as the media cracks it up to be, in fact, it can be tied to numerous health issues. Here are two popular recipes that you can still enjoy GRAIN FREE!
 GRAIN FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE:

I would double this recipe if you are making for a larger group!!
It is DELICIOUS!

1 cup unsalted almond butter
1/3 cup RAW honey (quality of honey makes a difference!)
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy life Dairy free!)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients until smooth and creamy. Mix in coconut and chocolate chips

Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on ovens. Turn halfway through. Remove and let cool.
Eat and ENJOY!

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GRAIN FREE ALMOND BUTTER PANCAKES:

1/2 cup almond butter

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

2 whole eggs

1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of Pumpkin Spice (You can also use cinnamon if you prefer that)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

** In a medium bowl combine and mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Coat a pan lavishly with coconut oil spray ( I prefer to use stove top to make these)

Pour batter (I make medium size pancakes) so they are easier to flip! Wait about 3 min on one side and when edges are brown and bubbly, flip. I gently poke holes with a fork to tell when they are done.

This serves two. If you are looking to make these for a larger group or family, you can simply double or triple the recipe.

***Instead of the typical pancake syrup I like to heat up some RAW honey and use this as my syrup instead. 🙂

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RECIPES- Stuffed peppers, scalloped potatoes and grain/peanut/gluten free chocolate chip cookies! YUM!

Hello fitness friends and nutrition enthusiasts!

I have to say, I am super excited about this blog post!! I prepared this delicious and savory meal and it took a total prep time of 15 minutes (for the dinner portion only!) This meal packs in flavor and taste without sacrificing health.

Each item has been carefully modified so that you can enjoy all of the flavor, taste and delightfulness without guilt! Not to mention, the dessert recipe for grain free/gluten-free/peanut free/GUILT FREE chocolate chip cookies is out of this world! Get ready and start making your shopping list… this will be a hit with the whole family!

Peppers-

(I always make enough for dinner and lunch the next day)

Sweet red organic peppers (or yellow, green) This recipe is based off of 3 peppers so modify accordingly if you will be making more.

****The yellow and red peppers are sweeter while the green pepper is not quite as sweet. Depending on your taste preference, this will determine which you go with.

1 pound of ground lean organic turkey

1/2 red onion

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 can of organic tomatoes (I like basil or mushroom in mine)

garlic, himalayan sea salt to season

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while you prep your items. In a skillet (I use COCONUT OIL!) on low heat cook turkey and mix in chopped onions, garlic, seasonings. Once turkey is pretty well done add in canned organic tomatoes and continue to cook a while longer.

Once this mixture is done, simply stuff peppers and I like to add a little tomato sauce on top of each one for moisture. Pop in oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes. I use a glass Pyrex dish and fill with 1/2 inch of water.

**Please note- cooking times vary depending on oven so please keep an eye and make sure you cook long enough or dont overcook. Take your oven mitt and gently squeeze pepper to see if it is done. If it is nice and soft you will be good to go! :)

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SCALLOPED POTATOES- I know!! Most people hear that and think… healthy?? No way! However, with some careful attention to detail you can easily make this delicious dish without sacrificing health.

This is all you need for this simple dish:

4-6 red potatoes (I prefer organic)

garlic powder and any seasonings (let your creative Chef flow!)

Himalayan sea salt

coconut oil for cooking (I prefer to cook with this on LOW heat)

Directions:

Slice red potatoes into thin/medium slices

Heat pan on low heat and put in a dab of coconut oil (teaspoon size or slightly more) to coat the pan. Add in potato slices and sprinkle garlic, Himalayan sea salt and any other seasonings you enjoy. Put top on and cook (LOW HEAT!) Mix and let potatoes get coverered with the oil and seasonings. It usually takes 5 minutes and they are good and ready!

I topped mine with a TINY BIT of RAW BUTTER (RAW BEING KEY!!) and they came out fantastic and made for the perfect addition to the Stuffed peppers.

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GRAIN FREE/GLUTEN FREE/PEANUT FREE/GUILT FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES… This one will be a HUGE hit with the family! Get your “inner chef” ready and enjoy this delectable dessert!

This recipe can be made with almond butter OR Sunbutter (I love Sunbutter, made from Sunflower seeds and used this as my choice!)

Simple, easy AND delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while you prepare the mixture! ;)

In a large bowl add the following:

1 cup of sunbutter

1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt

1/3 cup of RAW HONEY

1/2 cup of soy/dairy free chocolate chip chunks- I use Enjoy life brand!

1 organic free range egg (more nutrition!)

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (USE GMO FREE!!)

1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut flakes

In a large bowl mix all ingredients (adding chocolate chips and coconut last!)

Mix until nice and creamy. Add in chips and coconut and continue mixing until evenly distributed.

On a non stick cooking sheet add drops of mixture forming small/medium-sized cookies.

Cook for 12-15 minutes (depending on oven)

Once done remove and let cool. These hold their form VERY well once cooled but if you consume while still hot or warm they will be flakier.

I have to say these were delicious! I couldn’t believe they came out so great with no flour or anything extra. This is a great cookie that will satisfy any sweet craving without sacrificing your goals…!

Please try this dinner/dessert menu and let me know your thoughts. I love bringing good clean recipes to the blog!

ENJOY YOUR EVENING AND HAPPY DINING!

~Ashley Poptodorova

The dangers of ultra-highly processed foods and how to avoid them- Ashley Poptodorova

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Living a vibrant, healthy and balanced life in today’s world is tough enough. Combine this with the over abundance of highly processed foods and it is a recipe for utter disaster and destruction. This is a battle that myself as well as countless other fitness and nutrition professionals struggle to educate on. I am on a mission to spread the word on how HIGHLY ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS are killing us.. and our children. I deem this “HIGHLY ULTRA PROCESSED” because it is much worse than ULTRA PROCESSED. The foods that we are being sold on daily are DEAD foods that offer little if not ANY nutritional substance at all.
Sadly, the food companies are aggressively marketing to our children more than the adults and this is causing a problem FAR worse than can be imagined as our babies are being raised while still in diapers to become addicted to these HIGHLY ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS therefore NEVER having been raised with an ounce of education on what nutrition is. We are breeding a new generation of children that will continue to be sucked into this downward spiral of mass NUTRITIONAL DESTRUCTION which will leave many future generations to come to pay the price. The more we allow the media, the food companies, and the government to dictate what is done to our food and how it is marketed to us.. the more this problem will spiral out of control and the harder it will be to fix.
Never in our history have we had such high incidence of disease and debilitation and never has it been so widely accepted. The combination of our nutrient depleted food supply and our lifestyle habits provide the recipe for disaster. Many of our problems are stemming not only from our poisoned food supply but from our lifestyle trends and habits. We live in a world where we are judged by our productivity in respect to time. Who can do MORE MORE MORE in less time? If we do not perform we are threatened with the loss of our job or worse our technological advances are replacing our need for “humans” to do the job – leaving many without a means to make money. What does all of this amount to? STRESS!

What does stress cause us to do?
Among the many things it causes here are the TOP TWO that are creating our biggest issues:
Stress causes us to NOT care.. we end up being so preoccupied with other things that the LAST thing we think of is how to properly fuel our hungry bodies, much less those of our children. This “daily grind” if you will, leaves us open and susceptible to the cheap, nutrient depleted, HIGHLY ULTRA PROCESSED foods which are so colorfully marketed to us and our children… and ALL for under $5 … and so the cycle begins.

Secondly, stress causes us to overeat and become addicted to these foods that offer no nutritional value to our bodies. This is where disease forms. A combination of stress and nutrient depleted foods form inflammation in our bodies which are beat down day in and day out. We wake each day to repeat the cycle and we are raising our children with these very same habits (and many of YOU do not even know you are doing so!) It is all a part of the clever plan. Feed more, on less and keep people sick. As much as I hate to say it…. SICK people bring lots and lots of money.

Our children have a higher incidence of learning disabilities, behavioral disorders and diseases than ever before…!! Children with diabetes? In today’s world – this is becoming accepted. It needs to STOP!
Is it their fault? NO!
It is however, up to YOU to put a stop to this massive horrendous destruction by taking the time to look at your life. Are you so stressed out and overworked that you just don’t care anymore? So much so, that your children are running the home and NOT you?
I know this is bold but sadly, BOLD is the only way this is going to get the point across enough to start making a dent in this thing.

We are allowing our children to pick what they want to eat for dinner because we are too tired to think of cooking. Here starts the problem. I can guarantee you that if you are relying on a neighborhood restaurant to provide your children proper nutrition that there are VERY few who are able to do so! Much less the local fast food chains which are poisoning our kids! Again, ALL for under $5 a meal.
Cheap. Easy. Convenient. Marketed to “today’s Parent” … AHHHH!!!
Do you see this cycle? Are you starting to see how everything is so much more interconnected than we are being told?

Well, now that you know the problem.. how do you fix it?
I can tell you this. IT IS GOING TO BE AMONG ONE OF THE TOUGHEST BATTLES that you will face. Fixing a problem that some do not even recognize as a problem. For others, the problem will be transitioning you and your families from HIGHLY ULTRA PROCESSED foods to a balanced daily meal plan.
Here are some practical ways to start TODAY:

1) You must start with seeking balance in your life. That starts with shutting off your phones and laptops after work. I do know and understand that for some this will be ultimately difficult. At the very least, shut off your technology long enough to think of what and how you will prepare dinner for your family.

2) Set a goal that you will make a home cooked meal every night for dinner. Choose a nice lean protein, a vegetable and a healthy complex carb (no flours, white breads, cheap pastas or hamburger help your whaaaa?)

3) Sit down with your family and explain your new decision. Remember, YOU are the parent and your child needs YOU and relies on YOU for the information. Explain that you care for your family and want them to be their healthiest possible self. Together, come up with ideas on favorite foods and healthy ways you can prepare them.
Possibly have a family calendar during which each member gets to decide on the Meal .. if you child for example chooses “Mac and Cheese” it then becomes your job to research how to make this in a healthy way. Mac and Cheese is highly processed! However, YOU can find wonderful cheese alternatives and BROWN RICE pastas. Make your own!
Then – educate your family on how you did it!
(This teaches them that they can still enjoy regular favorites in a healthy way)

4) Start packing YOUR lunch and your children’s lunch. Better yet, have them choose what they would like every day and arrive at an agreement. If they are old enough, have them prepare the next days lunch with you (after dinner) now you have replaced TWO meals and you are teaching your children invaluable habits. Not to mention, you are creatively spending more time with your family. This is a rarity in today’s world.

5) Start to realize your role. Not only as a parent (if you are one) but realize that you must discipline and coach YOURSELF!! If you do not buy junk it will not be in your home tempting you. For those of you with kids, YOU hold the purse strings my friend. It takes YOU putting a stop to this vicious cycle by not stocking your pantry with JUNK.

6) Start to research and look at all of the wonderful food options out there! Find your local Nutrition Store (they have specialty chains) that offer lots of great seminars and stock the shelves with food options for almost every liking!
Spend a day there browsing the products, taking notes and getting creative in your recipe modifications.

Remember, every change starts with one person and that one person could be YOU if you take the time to face the obvious (and at times uncomfortable) truth.
Take it ONE day at a time and commit to not giving up.
Once you have achieved success I would love to hear from you (and want you to share with someone else!) It takes ALL of us working together.

For more information on the offerings of A+A Wellness please visit us at http://www.AandAWellness.com
Thank you for reading this and please show support for us and our mission by sharing this blog with those you love!
In health,
Alex and Ashley Poptodorov

http://www.AandAWellness.com