MFMC Volume 2: Gather. Eat. Stay Awhile.

Hey Y’all,

I love that greeting. Thanks for checking back in for Volume 2 of the Merge Fitness Mom Chronicles. This week highlights a recipe - I’m not kidding when I say these are the BEST shrimp tacos EVER. We happened upon this recipe rather innocently. I literally googled, “best shrimp taco recipe” and BAM - POOF - SHAZOW. It appeared! Thank you to @delish.com and @LenaAbraham for posting this recipe.

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We’ve made these pretty much as written with two exceptions. First, we make homemade tortillas. I wanted to try my hand at it once and they turned out to be pretty easy AND DELICIOUS. Second, we use a local brand of “hot” sauce called Hank Sauce (our favorite is the herb infused). The flavor of it is awesome and when Hank’s started selling at our local grocery store…no lie, we bought all the bottles. Thanks @HankSauce in Sea Isle City, NJ for creating such great sauces!

These tacos hit all the right notes for a fantastic summertime grilling meal. They’re incredibly fresh tasting with the raw cabbage and avocado slaw and lime dressing, they’ve got great spice marinated into the shrimp (read: sub out chicken or white fish if you’re not a shrimp fan) from cumin and garlic and by grilling the protein, the whole dish remains light but still completely filling.

Some of the recipes I consider posting may not be the easiest or the quickest, but I guarantee they will deliver on flavor and satisfaction. I love saving a recipe like this for a weekend when I know we have a day at home and can make the various parts throughout the day and then bring it all together when we’re ready to eat. Make these tacos straight as is written or color outside the lines, there’s no real wrong answer. I love how cooking invites adventure in that way.

This makes me think of another aspect of cooking that I love - how it brings people together. Making memories (and sometimes delicious messes) with your clan, your crew, your girl pals, your guy pals, your “fam” (and there are all kinds) around a table, a kitchen island, a crate in the garage, a fire pit - WHATEVER that gets you eyeball to eyeball with them - isn’t that part of what life’s all about?

A few popular word signs nowadays for kitchens are the ones that say, “Gather” and “Eat” and “Stay Awhile.” So here’s the amazing recipe, go make it this weekend. Gather those you love for dinner, Eat together, laugh, drink and Stay Awhile!

Best Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Tacos

Fail to plan; plan to fail

Hey Everyone,

I wanted to write and encourage each of you to give 5-10 minutes today thinking about what your week needs to look like in order to move forward towards your health and fitness goals. Do you need to schedule some early morning workouts or cardio sessions? If you have opportunity, can you carve out some time during your workday for a quick walk outside? Maybe the weekends are where you need to dedicate some time to exercise…the point is to give it thought and schedule it out. We are more likely to stay committed to the plan we have in place for our success if we can envision what it takes to get there each week!

The same principle can be applied to meal preparation and planning. Nate and I figure out on sundays what our lunches and dinners will look like for the week and then do one big shopping trip for as many of the groceries as we are able to purchase in advance. This cuts down on last minute dinner planning that could lead to take out or other less-than-ideal choices and allows us to plan for meals that are wholesome and healthy. Sunday just happens to be the day that works best for our family. Take some time today to consider how a little food preparation and planning could help you take healthier steps when it comes to your nutrition. Small steps taken now will pay BIG dividends later!

Let’s start this week with positive momentum in the right direction! You CAN do this! Not sure how to implement a plan that works for you? Ask me how today!

Have a GREAT week!

MFMC Volume 1: A call to do life WELL

Hi Everyone,

It has been some time since I last blogged. Since then, I’ve had a baby! She’s a doll. I’d say the transition into motherhood has been made kicking and screaming (more from me, not darling child) but as time passes, as it so sneakily does, I’m recognizing more and more the amazingly precious joy she is and just how much I’m growing myself. As is with most things in life…it’s a process.

A validating and motivating conversation I had this morning reminded me I’m in a phase of life where “getting it all done” is nearly impossible. There’s just not enough time or enough of me. There’s only so much I can do within a day and I have to focus on priorities and doing what I am able to the best of my ability.

And accept that THAT IS OK. Hmm, therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? We justify beating ourselves into the ground for not doing it ALL and doing it PERFECTLY. Whose meter stick are we measuring ourselves up against anyways?

Back to this mornings’ conversation. It was a gentle but very needed reminder of what’s most important. And so, moving forward, as I evaluate how to best use the resources I have to grow and promote Merge Fitness, I invite you to join me on this journey to discovering how to do life WELL with what you have, where you are, with those around you…and learning to lovingly accept yourself in the process.

Plan on being surprised each time I post - it could revolve around a recipe I made over the weekend that was DIVINE, it could be about understanding an aspect of fitness, ie: stretching and why it’s CRUCIAL to your health and the how to’s/how not to’s, it could get all touchy feely and delve into things we don’t often say out loud but think about often like the beating I referred to earlier…why do we think that is ok?? Or, it could be none of that and perhaps just a hysterical story from our life as first time parents.

Who knows. Sky’s the limit! I welcome suggestions.

Welcome to the Merge Fitness Mom Chronicles. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Post-Thanksgiving Leftovers soup

#TastyTuesday So now the big meal is over and you open your fridge and see the leftovers. I’m all for reheating and going for round #2 when it comes to leftovers. But I also know there’s a small segment of the population who want nothing to do with leftovers (what is wrong with you people?!?!? :-P). So here’s a meet in the middle - use leftovers to recreate a new dish! Making turkey soup using leftover turkey meat, roasted root veggies (or fresh veggies if you and your guests gobbled up all the roasted veggies the day before because they were so amazing) and whatever other fun ideas you can come up with for yummy soup. Here’s a recipe that takes a bit of a spicy-mexican twist. It calls for chicken bouillon cubes, but to control the sodium you could just as easily use low sodium broth instead or…even better…make your own broth from the turkey carcass! MergeFitness #Imthankfulforsoup #Leftoversallday #AdaptiveFitness

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/skinny-turkey-vegetable-soup/

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Yogurt and Apricot Pie with Crunchy Granola Crust

#TastyTuesday Ok, so let’s be real folks. Holiday meals are not typically the time when people think of making dishes that fall on the healthier end of the spectrum, I get it. However, when on the journey towards better health and fitness, it is a great idea to consider ways to incorporate foods or recipes that are lower in calories and higher in nutrients in even one or two of your holiday dishes so as not to diminish all the hard work you’ve been doing and the progress you’ve been making. I’m sorry (no I’m not), but there is NO FOOD worth that. Here’s a great example of a non-traditional sweet treat that won’t have you regretting every bite. #MergeFitness #FitnessoverFood #FitnessforALLabilities

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/yogurt-and-apricot-pie-with-crunchy-granola-crust

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Root Vegetable Roast

#TastyTuesday As we continue to dip into cooler and cooler temperatures, one of my favorite ways to eat veggies is by roasting them and for a number of tasty yet practical reasons. #1 - having the oven on helps warms my house! “Brrr, I’m so cold!” said no one when opening the door to a 400 degree oven. #2 - Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it is so true. Don’t knock a veggie until you’ve tried it roasted - seriously elevates it to a whole ‘nother level of deliciousness. #3 - it’s easy! Chop up some veggies, toss with either olive oil and S/P or a pan sauce such as the one featured in this recipe and BOOM -somewhere in the vicinity of 20-40 minutes you’ve got a yummy side dish (or main course) that required very little effort on your part but looks impressive to your guests. How can you go wrong with any of that?!? #MergeFitness #LovetoRoast #InclusiveTrainers #veggiesareyourfriend

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/root-vegetable-pan-roast-with-chestnuts-and-apples

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Healthy Potato Gratin

#TastyTuesday So for the month of November I thought we’d go in the direction Thanksgiving recipes that have a healthy element but without sacrificing on flavor. I came across this recipe first because it looks gorgeous, second because I was intrigued that it uses NO cream, which is often thought to be essential to a gratin. Instead, this recipe utilizes an herbed broth reduction, sweetened by sauteed shallots. Give this pretty plate a try for your Thanksgiving table this year! #MergeFitness #Nocreamforme #Prettyfood #FitnessforALLabilities

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/healthy-potato-gratin-with-herbs

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Baked Apples

#TastyTuesday There’s no denying it - I LOVE all things baked, roasted and toasty warm come this time of year. And to boot, there are certain smells that just send it all home, such as the aroma that comes from apples and cinnamon baking in the oven. Now, usually this happens when I’m whipping up something not so waistline friendly such as a pie or crisp, but this is a great alternative - Baked Apples! The portions are already easily defined (1/2 apple per) and you can limit the amount of “crisp” on top or substitute with healthier ingredients such as maple syrup for the sugar, or almond flour in place of the AP flour. Bottom line - your home will still smell of all things wonderfully Fall and your tummy and sweet tooth will be satisfied! #MergeFitness #FitnessforALLabilities #AnAppleaDay #IsitFinallyFall

(PS- I’ve also cooked my apples in a baking dish so the little buggers aren’t tempted to roll around and spill their goods on top!)

Credit to SkinnyTaste.com for this recipe: https://www.skinnytaste.com/delightfully-baked-apples/

For an extra flavor boost and splurge - enjoy this A la Mode!!

For an extra flavor boost and splurge - enjoy this A la Mode!!

Fitness Programming 101 - Part 2 of 3

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Programming 101

Part 2 of 3: Cardiopumonary Training

Ever wonder what is going through the mind of a trainer when they tell you they’ve got a “program” ready for you? Here’s a “behind-the-scenes” look at what goes into making an effective, comprehensive client program once a thorough initial assessment has been completed.

PART 2: Cardiopulmonary training - not just a random program on the treadmill! This component is essential to any program as the benefits of building cardiopulmonary endurance  are numerous and include: helping to decrease the risk of premature death- especially from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, reducing death of all causes, and increasing the likelihood of establishing healthy lifestyle choices (which also provide further benefits).

Below we’ve outlined some of the most elementary components of Merge Fitness’ cardiopulmonary program design and they are: the warm-up phase, the work phase, and the cool-down phase.


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The Warm-Up Phase:  To gradually transition your body from being at rest to the intended intensity of the work phase portion of the cardiopulmonary program. This time frame allows for the muscles to receive appropriate blood flow, often referred to as achieving “steady state”.

The Work Phase: To appropriately challenge the cardiopulmonary system (heart, lungs and systemic vessels) in order to achieve valuable, progressive and lasting adaptations. Components include: Intensity, Mode, Frequency and Time.

Intensity - we consider this element to represent two categories, 1) As a measurement of how hard the work is and, 2) the collection of variables that influence the former and can be manipulated based on goals and desired outcomes.

Intensity as a Measurement: Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE (Borg Scale), the talk test, heart rate zones.

Intensity as a Variable: incline, resistance, speed/pace, etc. Timing intervals can also influence intensity but will be reviewed under the component of “Time.”

Mode - the piece of equipment chosen to perform cardiopulmonary exercise: treadmill, row machine, recumbent bike, indoor/outdoor track surfaces, stair master, etc.

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Frequency - how often a given Cardiopulmonary workout is performed, generally is intertwined with length of duration of the individual workout as well as the intensity. Often a client's’ schedule and life demands can weigh in on frequency.

Time - The total duration of a given cardiopulmonary workout session. Also inclusive of timed intervals that may be prescribed to introduce a higher level of work intensities over shorter periods in an effort to advance a beginner, challenge a more seasoned exerciser, vary the metabolic system being emphasized, etc.


Client Goals: depending on the specific goal(s) a client has will determine the overarching emphasis of a program that the basic principles are wrapped around.

Weight Loss/ Change in Body Composition - Cardiopulmonary workouts provide the “biggest bang for your buck” in terms of caloric expenditure within a given period of time, as your metabolism remains at an elevated level throughout the workout (and even for a short time after!) which means more calories are burned in a single session as compared with the same time frame to perform a resistance training session which typically includes rest periods during which metabolism can be lowered. Let’s be clear in stating however, that Cardiopulmonary training goes hand-in-hand with Resistance training to promote optimal weight loss, as remember, increasing your lean mass will burn a greater number of calories within a 24-hour period. The two elements compliment and assist one another.

Improved Speed - for those who may participate in races or who’s greatest competitor is themselves, improving PR’s (personal records), min/mile pacing or efficiency, etc.

Increased Endurance - some clients have a goal of “just wanting to be able to run a mile” or “run around with my kids without losing my breath,” or even still - participating in a half-marathon, full marathon, etc. where being able to last longer (have greater endurance) is a must for finishing the event.

Injury Prevention - heavy emphasis in this category is placed on technique, functional movements and working through a full range of motion.


General Life Requirements: while there could literally be hundreds of items listed below, here’s some of our top picks.

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  • Occupation/ADL specific demands - what a client needs to get through the day. This can include: physical requirements for occupation and/or daily life, physical ability level, current/past medical history, etc.

  • Recreational/Hobby demands - what a client likes or would like to do that can be influenced by improved physical fitness. Accomplishing their first 5k or performing a hobby that previously was symptomatic (read “painful”) would fall in this category.

  • The “Nitty Gritty” demands - what a client possesses to initiate and continue successful performance of their program. For example, extrinsic/intrinsic motivation, external support, membership to a fitness facility, at home equipment, schedule/time, budget, etc.

Ok folks, there you have it! A sneak peak inside the brain of your trainer that hopefully shed some light on what goes into Cardiopulmonary training program design. We reviewed that a comprehensive, effective program includes such elements as: basic principles (the science), client goals (the wants), and general life requirements (the demands). Please check us out in the next blog post as we explore what the components of the warm up and cool down are made up of in: #FitnessFriday: Programming 101 - Part 3 of 3. We would love to read what you thought of today’s article and answer any questions you may have, feel free to comment below!


Sources: Bushman, B. A., Battista, R., Swan, P., L. R., & Thompson, W. R. (Eds.). (2014). American College of Sport's Medicine's resources for the personal trainer (4th ed.). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health. Chapter 15: Cardiopulmonary Training Programs.

Image Sources:

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Stuffed Butternut Squash

#TastyTuesday Ok, so let’s revisit the roasted squash from two weeks ago and take it up a few notches to either EPIC side dish or vegetarian main dish. This one definitely fits the bill on both accounts. And again, versatility and variety here is possible, you could just as easily put this into another hearty squash like the acorn squash or use a different whole grain if you really don’t prefer quinoa or switch up the green for something similar to kale such as collard greens or swiss chard. Plus c’mon…..it just looks SO PRETTY!!! As the old saying goes, “You eat with your eyes first” so make your food look as yummy as it tastes!! #MergeFitness #FallintoFlavor #InclusiveTrainers

Fall Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton

#TastyTuesday Yet another salad recipe…what’s wrong with that?!? I love the versatility and variety salads bring to the table and how easy it is to take advantage of seasonal produce. Here’s a salad featuring apples, walnuts and stilton cheese with what sounds to be a fantastic vinaigrette. Don’t like stilton? Leave it off or sub for something else, perhaps goat cheese as the article suggests. Vegetarian? Leave of the prosciutto or sub for a different protein, perhaps a hard boiled egg. Your options are virtually limited to your creativity! What’s your Fall salad go-to? #MergeFitness #GoGreen #FitnessforALLabilities

https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/fall-salad-with-apples-walnuts-stilton

Roasted Acorn Squash

#TastyTuesday I know today is supposed to top out at almost 80 degrees again, but I just can’t help myself. With the overcast skies, it just has me thinking of warm weather foods. The flavor, aromas and textures from various Fall squashes can be so familiar, comforting and hearty and as a bonus, squashes are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Before you say, “I don’t know how to cook a squash…” well here’s a recipe that is both easy AND flavorful. All you need is a knife, spoon, cutting board, oven, baking pan and a few simple ingredients. How easy is that? #MergeFitness #FitnessforALLAbilities #AcornSquash

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/classic-brown-sugar-roasted-acorn-squash

5 ingredients and 3 steps to a delicious healthy side dish!  Picture Credit: https://www.google.com/search?biw=1916&bih=967&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=Rdi8W8D0DKTI_Qait6uYCQ&q=classi+brown+sugar+roasted+acorn+squash&oq=classi+brown+sugar+roasted+acorn+squash&gs_l=img.3...11828.19257..19400...0.0..0.61.2085.39......1....1..gws-wiz-img.......0j0i67j0i10j0i19j0i5i30i19j0i8i30.CAHUTHwAqrA#imgrc=79yG6xzubkcanM:

5 ingredients and 3 steps to a delicious healthy side dish!

Picture Credit: https://www.google.com/search?biw=1916&bih=967&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=Rdi8W8D0DKTI_Qait6uYCQ&q=classi+brown+sugar+roasted+acorn+squash&oq=classi+brown+sugar+roasted+acorn+squash&gs_l=img.3...11828.19257..19400...0.0..0.61.2085.39......1....1..gws-wiz-img.......0j0i67j0i10j0i19j0i5i30i19j0i8i30.CAHUTHwAqrA#imgrc=79yG6xzubkcanM:

Apple Chips!

#TastyTuesday So last month we featured some TASTY Autumn-ish salads - this month we’re continuing with the Fall theme and running wild with APPLES which are just starting to come into season. It is always a good idea to try and take in the produce that is in season and if possible, by supporting local growers - chances are there are less chemicals involved in the growing process and the food is fresher because it has less distance to travel to get to you.

First Up - APPLE CHIPS…I mean, whoa. I’ve made these myself and let me tell you it quickly becomes a “I can’t have just one…” scenario. The recipe I’ve included does use sugar, but honestly, I didn’t use it before, the sweetness of the ripe apples is perfect. Sometimes it is better to let your food speak for itself! While these do take some time, it is super simple and a perfect option for those yard clean up days or Sunday afternoons on the couch watching football we have coming up.

We’d love to know what you think of these!!

https://bit.ly/2s68Yj7

I promise you will get addicted! But in a good…no GREAT way!

I promise you will get addicted! But in a good…no GREAT way!

Kale and Apple Salad

Fall may be here technically, but we’re still feeling the heat! Check out this tasty salad that can tickle your taste buds featuring produce that is just starting to make its debut this season! #MergeFitness #TastyTuesday #Fallsalads #FitnessforALLabilities

Read More

Programming 101 - Part 1 of 3

Ever wonder what is going through the mind of a trainer when they tell you they’ve got a “program” ready for you? Here’s a “behind-the-scenes” look at what goes into making an effective, comprehensive client program.

Read More

Warm Pear and Spinach Salad

Fall may be here technically, but we’re still feeling the heat! Check out this tasty salad that can tickle your taste buds featuring produce that is just starting to make its debut this season! #MergeFitness #TastyTuesday #Fallsalads #FitnessforALLabilities

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A bit of a rant on commericals

Hi Everyone,

Let's try this blog feature out and see how it goes! I've been seeing more and more commercials lately that are driving me crazy with subliminal messages that convey things like "You deserve this," or "You don't need to work that hard," "Let technology handle it." WHAT?!?

Why not encourage hard work to get the results or reach goals? Why not encourage recognition and rewards after good effort has put forth instead of "just because"? We have brains people, brilliant, creative, wonderful amazing minds at that! Let's use those instead of relying on technology so much!

Given the wide range of abilities in our clients, I can absolutely get on board with utilizing services and technologies that assist people in functioning more easily and efficiently in their world. My angst is not at all about how that can and should be used to help others. It is about the increasing tendency I see marketed towards attitudes of entitlement, downplaying initiative and drive, and reliance on technology versus self. 

If you have the cognitive ability to do the math in your head - GO FOR IT!

If you have the physical ability to vacuum your home - DO IT!

If you want that car, body, house, job (fill in the blank) - WORK FOR IT! It's not deserved just because you want it.

When we train our clients, they know pretty much from the start that achieving their goals is going to require hard work, consistency and dedication. It's earned. They use their minds to learn about exercise and how to do it right - technology not required. Nobody earned the fitness level they aspire to by wishing for it and then sitting on the couch with a bag of chips. Get moving! Whatever that looks like for you, just get moving. Not only will you discover that yes, you can achieve what you put your mind to, but boy oh boy, will it feel empowering when you get there! At Merge Fitness, we join you on that journey and celebrate with you every time you reach a goal - we even point out accomplishments you may not even have realized you achieved!

Let's reward honest effort, hard work, and using our brains until they hurt. Let's give high fives and big goofy smiles when we finally reach that goal we've been diligently chasing after. After all, you earned it!

Got the motive but not sure how to get started? Contact us today and we'll teach you how to use your mind and body to get going. 

MERGE FITNESS, LLC
FITNESS FOR ALL ABILITIES

ACCEPTED AS YOU ARE - CHALLENGED TO BECOME MORE

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