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The Meta Effect: Starting with One Small Change

I've partnered with Meta, a new line of wellness products by P&G, that is on a mission to encourage Americans to begin a journey of small steps towards better health. Last month, the brand initiated a year-long wellness partnership with the City of Memphis as well as a national sweepstakes hosted on the Meta Facebook page. Memphis has ranked among the unhealthiest cities in the past few years by Newsweek and the American College of Sports Medicine. But this home of the blues and delicious BBQ is also a community determined and ripe for change, and it is starting with the idea of taking small healthy steps, what they like to call the Meta Effect.

“Memphis has seen great revitalization in recent years, but we still need to work on making better health an attainable goal for everyone,” says Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. “I believe Memphis is a city of action and I know this community will rise to the challenge." 

Latreal Mitchell leading a cycling class with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr, and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Jr

In October, Meta hosted a kickoff event for the Memphis community that included an opportunity to meet Latreal “La” Mitchell, celebrity fitness trainer to brand spokesperson Michael Strahan, for fitness and nutrition advice as well as to join her in a fun, intense workout in a cycling studio. 

When I visited Meta's Facebook page for the sweepstakes, I read many inspiring changes people were making. To enter, they had to post an answer to the question, "What's one small step you've taken to be healthier?" Some people lost a few pounds; others lost more than 100 pounds, all with practical simple steps. Taking the stairs, walking every night after dinner, portioning dinner plates with 3/4 veggies then 1/4 lean protein, drinking water or herbal tea instead of soda. I especially loved one woman's comment that she just stopped making excuses!

You can enter the 2nd half of Meta's sweepstakes until December 21, 2014 if you answer the question, "What's one small way you stay healthy during the holidays?" Two 1st prize winners will receive a premium tablet, wearable fitness tracker, Meta products, and gift card for athletic apparel. The grand prize winner will get all of the above plus a 3-day 2-night stay in New York City, a personal training session with Latreal Mitchell in New York City, and tickets to a TV taping to see Michael Strahan live in action on his set.

How do I try to stay healthy during the next two months, which is my favorite time of year? I avoid all the goodies and sweet treats at the office, church and just about everywhere else, but on Thanksgiving and Christmas day I allow myself whatever I want. I believe that it's not the eating on those two holidays, but all the eating around those holidays that causes problems. If I attend parties between those holidays, I generally stick to the MyPlate guidelines of lots of veggies, lean protein and some starch. And it doesn't hurt to keep moving...climbing stairs, taking an extra Zumba class, holiday shopping at the mall—it all counts! 

Visit Meta's Facebook page to enter the Meta Sweepstakes and share your healthy tip. For official rules, click here

To enter a comment on the sweepstakes post on Meta’s Facebook page with a small step you've taken to be healthier this holiday, include the hashtag #MetaEffectSweeps and tag @MetaWellness1 to receive one (1) entry into that corresponding Entry Period’s random drawing.

Disclosure: I've partnered with P&G on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more information at MetaWellness.com.


Roasted Beet and Butternut Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

This fall the temperatures have been pretty mild. Usually I'm in full swing with baking and simmering by the end of October but so far I've used the crock pot only once and baked twice. When I saw a recipe on MyFitnessPal (who knew this site featured some great recipes?) for a Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad, I knew it would fit well for a mellow autumn day. Warm, roasted seasonal vegetables and a fall fruit atop refreshing salad greens. I've never roasted beets beforewow they were so delicious (just a little messy dealing with all the red beet juice when chopping it up). My only changes to the recipe were leaving out the raisins and orange zest, and changing the pecans to walnuts. I also used regular black chia seeds instead of white (the nutritional value is the same by the way).

Honestly, I wasn't expecting the salad to taste as amazing as it was. 

The crunch of the walnuts and chia seeds contrasted the soft roasted rich vegetables, and the maple cinnamon dressing was suprisingly light and not too sweet. The crispy pear complemented the flavors of the entire salad. Yum!

It was such a refreshing, satisfying salad with so many memorable flavors that I actually closed my eyes to better focus on them. Try out this salad if you're practicing mindful eating strategies: chewing slowly and thoroughly, noticing how the flavors blend and evolve the more you chew each bite, and feeling gratitude for such a wonderful meal.


New Shoes for the Zoo

The first time I visited the Franklin Park Zoo a few years ago I was impressed, and every time I return I'm equally entertained. I've been to big expansive zoos with a wide variety of animals, but Franklin Park has an excellent smaller collection of animals with exhibits that allow you to get really up close and personal! The animals also look very healthy and are not at all camera-shy as you'll see from the pics below. 

Boston-based New Balance gave us a big treat by sending along a pair of shoes for Jake and free tickets to the zoo. Geez, I didn't realize that tickets for three adults and one child are almost 70 bucks! We usually get on a wait list for discounted tickets from the library, so I was very grateful for this indulgence. New Balance is launching a super-cute collection of shoes for infants and preschoolers called Trip to the Zoo that comes in animal prints with easy hook-and-loop closures and a lightweight EVA midsole. Too bad Jake was too old for this line so we received the slightly more grown up New Balance 890v4s, which were perfect for him. He runs and jumps around like crazy, so he needs tough shoes with extra support and cushioning. 

I invited my parents who have moved into a senior housing complex nearby and are just starting to explore the city. It's hard to see them aging (my mom is almost 80) and moving much slower but I'm so glad they're here. Despite this, my busy schedule often interferes with spending quality time with them. When I asked if they wanted to go on this outing, they emailed back YES!! ANY TIME, ANY DAY. THANK YOU!!! It made me think of a dear 85-year-young patient of mine, Irving, who is sharp as a nail and funny as hell but trapped in a declining body and fights depression living among others who have succumbed to old age. He shared that when he was a younger adult, he and his siblings would brush off spending any time with their elderly parents; now he knows what that feels like. Irving took my hand and begged me to not do that to my parents.

How could I not want to spend time with this cutie couple? We all had a great time 💜

Wins for most entertaining: this camel was in squat position to pee for almost 2 minutes

Close-up view of a lion king whose deep vibrating roars could be heard clear across the park

Anaconda with an eye directly on Jake (shudder!)

Jake's instincts to bolt were on target; a few seconds later this annoyed mama gorilla banged her fists against the glass

His favorite spot since he was 3

Disclosure: I received a pair of New Balance kids sneakers and four tickets to the Franklin Park Zoo to help facilitate this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.