Category Archives: Reviews

Pilates and The Balanced Life Sisterhood

Pilates and The Balanced Life Sisterhood

17952978_865590493209_5858890779627771490_nAnyone who knows my workout routine knows that I love my Pilates.  I’ve tried yoga and even have a daughter who teaches it but prefer Pilates for two reasons:  you can talk to your neighbors during class and it focuses on core strength in plain English (no fancy names).   I started going to Lisa’s class at Ken Caryl Community Center about ten years ago and soon became a regular.   Most of my working out tends to be very active — running, swimming, biking, skiing, boot camp, weight lifting, etc. but surprisingly, I found that Pilates offers a great balance to all the pushing I do in very active sports and actually, helps me feel better and takes away a lot of the aches and pains.   After a few years of regular Pilates, I actually measured three quarters of an inch taller!

There are two types of Pilates:   on the reformer and on the mat.   I do Mat Pilates which is done on the floor using an exercise or yoga mat and employs controlled breathing during body weight resisted movement to build core strength.   A typical class lasts about 45-60 minutes.

After going back to work last year, I was unable to attend my regular class and could only manage to squeeze in a few evening classes a month.   I was excited to hear about an online option from a gal in my running group.  For a low monthly fee, Robin Long, a Pilates instructor based in Boulder (now Santa Barbara) teaches classes five days a week.    After hearing about her program, I immediately checked it out and signed up for a mere $9/month.    I love the flexibility of Robin’s program as well as her encouraging upbeat personality, shorter workouts designed for busy moms and women and well as the support offered by her online community known at the Balanced Life Sisterhood.


In addition to the daily workouts, Robin offers lots other cool things like:

  • Special live streamed workouts on Periscope
  • A monthly mission like getting organized, being mindful, setting goals, etc.
  • A weekly digest email
  • A new spa retreat in Santa Barbara
  • Facebook posts with personal updates
  • Special free programs like the 21 days challenge in February 2017
  • A blog
  • New healthy recipes each month.  Here’s a family favorite:

slow-cooker-chicken-tacos.pngSlow Cooker Chicken Tacos


  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, preferably organic
  • 15 ounces low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 14 ounces frozen corn, preferably organic, straight from freezer
  • 16 ounces mild store-bought salsa, preferably organic
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • Whole wheat tortillas (optional/we used corn to keep it gluten free)


Add all ingredients except the cilantro and tortillas to the slow cooker. Mix well.

Cook on low for approximately 8 hours undisturbed. Prior to serving, shred chicken, add cilantro and mix well.

Here’s another link to one of Robin’s YouTube workouts:

If you’re interested in trying Pilates, I encourage you to check out Robin’s free workouts available on her website or on YouTube.   I think registration for the Balanced Life Sisterhood will open up again in September 2017.   It so awesome to feel stronger with her 10-35 minute home workouts.  Let me know what you think!




Running on the East West Trail



Sweeping Views of the Snow-capped Front Range and Pike’s Peak

I am always amazed when I have the opportunity to try a new running trail  and today was such a day.    Shari Zimmerman, a member of my running club, knew about the East West Trail in Highlands Ranch from her son who lives nearby.   And several weeks ago, when she described the beautiful mountain views and the lovely hilly trail, our group was eager to check it out.   And today was the day!

The East West Trail is tucked in the stunning Back Country neighborhood just past Mountain Vista High School on Wild Cat Reserve Parkway.   It is a soft surface trail approximately 19.5 miles long stretching from Red Stone Park to Ridgegate Parkway with future connections to Lone Tree and Parker.   We carpooled the 20-30 minutes from our homes in Littleton and Lakewood and parked at Red Tail Park just off  2674 Pemberly Avenue.   When we arrived, the park full of school children and the sun was shining.   A another warm blue-sky Spring Colorado day!    By 8:05 am, the 10 of us had hit the trail.

dad clark trail map .JPG

We knew from Shari’s description that the trail was an uphill climb for almost a mile.   And she’s wasn’t kidding!   With a pounding heart, I jogged and walked up the steep grade in about 12 minutes and at the top, was greeted with a sweeping view of the snow capped Front Range and clear views of both Pike’s Peak to the south and Mount Evans to the West.   Wow!   Vistas like this just make me love Colorado and appreciate my good fortune to live here.   After catching my breath and reading some of the trail signs, my companions and I continued on the public trail for another 20 minutes and turned around.

Along the way, there were narrow dirt paths shooting off the main trail with signs warning nonresidents to stay off  the private property.   I wondered if my sister Pam’s ls.jpg residence in Highlands Ranch would qualify her (and her guests) to use these trails?   For today, we enjoyed the wide, well maintained public trail.    On the way back, most of us were able to run a bit faster. – a real treat!   After an hour on the trail, we met back at the parking lot and all headed to Pierre Michel French Bakery  for breakfast.   What a delight to enjoy French pastries, omelets, quiches and coffee at this lovely local restaurant!

After I got home and did a little more research, I was happy to find that there is a East-West Trail Half Marathon and 10k on June 10.   I will  have spend some more time training on that big hill before I register!



What is a Tower Garden?


I am a traditional get down and dirty gardener.   I love to putter around in the soil, plant seeds, breath in the fresh air, figure out watering systems, analyze new forms of fertilization, soil amendment and companion planting strategies.   Weeding, watering, moving straw bales, compost and trimming, visiting with other gardeners, making my rounds at the local garden shop, hauling buckets of flowers and heavy baskets of vegetables are all part of the joy of gardening for me.

That being said, I am interested in learning about gardening in any form.   My friend Deb Flom, a new distributor with Juice Plus, invited me to attend a presentation last night about The Tower Garden, a hydroponic garden system marketed by her company.   Judging by the large, enthusiastic crowd in attendance, The Tower Garden seems to be the rage among busy, non-gardeners who want to eat home grown organic produce without getting their hands dirty.

The speaker, a scientist and businessman who had spent his early career developing and managing hydroponic and aeroponic farming systems at The Land, a modern crop development marvel at Epcot in Orlando, FL, made a good case for eating locally produced organic food.   He presented several reasons to bypass the bother and grime of traditional gardening.   His arguments included the lack of time and gardening skill, lack of space, the unknown nutritional value of home grown vegetables due to depleted soils and the ability to shorten the maturity cycle of plants using hydroponics.

Although I came with an open mind, I admittedly have a preference for gardening the old fashioned way.   I am convinced of many benefits beyond the organic crops I harvest for my family.    Exercise, fresh air, relationships, problem solving, play time and learning for both children and adults, healing, thinking time, sunshine, sustainable living, diversity, happiness and yes, dirt are just a few.   I also came with a slight prejudice against The Tower Garden having heard of some difficulties my daughter’s roommate had had with her Tower Garden — problems that she had discussed with me in an attempt to solve them.

So with that in mind, I realized that although this system cannot meet the present gardening expectations and needs of a gardener like me, it is the right choice for the person who wants to grow food, simply and without the complication of growing food the traditional way.   There are many in this world who need simple solutions and The Tower Garden provides this.

IMG_4418[1]In that vein, I was quite surprised to see a friend who had gardened alongside me for years in my community garden. She retired several years ago citing time constraints and increasing family commitments.   Knowing Glenda as a person committed to healthy living,  I understand her choice to utilize The Tower Garden as a time saving way to grow organic vegetables for her family.   Talking about the options with her, I have a new found respect for this gardening possibility.