Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Balancing a Busy Life with Health and Happiness

It is safe to say that sometimes our lives can get the better of us. We all have stressful jobs, kid’s extra-curricular activities, pets that need exercise, bills to pay, and trouble squeezing in time for the grocery store. It seems like there is never a second to breathe let alone think about our own health and fitness. It is easy to forget that if we are not healthy ourselves then the chances of being successful in any of these everyday tasks are slim to none.
In reference to the term “healthy”, it does not necessarily require six-pack abs or the ability to run a marathon. What it means is that you make time to get some form of movement daily- walking the kids to school, hitting the gym, trekking through the woods with your dog, or doing an at-home exercise routine. Anything is better than nothing and the beginning is always the most difficult. Once you find it is possible to fit in a simple thirty minute walk around the block it will become part of your routine.

The term “healthy” also refers to your level of nutrition; what you put into your body to fuel your day. Thinking about food consumption as a source of energy to help you power through your busy schedule makes it easier to make nutritious choices. Rather than falling for the “fast food is easier” trick, instead stop at a local Coop and build your own salad or wrap. This kind of locally grown, minimally processed fuel will keep you awake and energized much longer than a greasy burger made from undisclosed parts of an animal. Your body craves these nutrients to disperse to your muscles, your brain, and throughout your body to improve growth, repair and maintenance.

When you find yourself being conscientious about your food intake and fitness routine, you will find yourself ultimately happier. Endorphins will run wild and the stress will seem easier to manage.

Visit this website for advice on what to buy at the grocery store for family meal planning in advance, for last minute recipes, and for general nutrition tips.

Here is a list of a few low-impact exercises to get you started as an individual or as a family:
Swimming, walking, rowing, body-weight training, yoga, and light weight lifting

By Catherine Pearson, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, Aquatic Director, dog owner and happy life liver :0))

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Go3 Way to Live With Passion in 2015


"Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind body and soul into something as is possible."


Living with Passion
How will you use your passion, your gift?

How are you going to share it?

What’s your vision for 2015?

What are you aiming for?

It’s hard to create goals without values?

What are you moving towards?

What skills do you need to get there?

How will you grow?

How are you going to nourish yourself with your workouts and your mind?

The workouts prop us up but how will you train your thinking?

How do you want to feel?

Who do you want to be as a partner, parent, athlete?

What friends and family do you want to surround you?

Everything stems from self...


Thursday, January 8, 2015

10 Things You Can Do to Lead a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life in 2015

Thousands of books have been written telling us what to eat, how to exercise, and even where to live and work so that we can live longer. But recent research done by the International Council on Active Aging resulted in 10 basic tips that impact living a long, vital life.
Think Positively. Strive for many small successes in your endeavors. Stay away from negative thoughts, especially about your age. Thinking positively about getting older can add as much as 7.5 years to your life.

Turn Your Spark Into a Flame. If you have a passion, talent or hobby, nurture it. Grow it. And let that enthusiasm spill over into other areas of your life.

Keep Your Motor Running. Have goals and stay focused on them. Maintaining a high energy level is important. If you find that you are feeling lethargic it could be something physical or mental so see a doctor.

Eat a Balanced Diet. OK you knew this one was coming. Eating with common sense and keeping weight down are critical. Forget the fad diets. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cut back on sugar. You can do it!

Connect With People. Maintain an active social life. Go out with friends for coffee or a movie. Even better- volunteer. Research has shown that people who volunteer have higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction than people who don’t.

Don’t Stay Down. Everyone gets down at times, but if depression lasts more than 2 weeks it’s recommended that you see a doctor. But, as mentioned before, people who eat right, exercise, volunteer, and stay connected seem to bounce back sooner than those who don’t.

Exercise. Staying physically active fuels the body and the mind. It helps delay physical decline. Be realistic. Be consistent. Exercising with friends provides both connectivity and the physical exercise. Walking, group classes, tennis or anything that is done with a group of friends will help motivate you.

Keep Learning. Lifelong learning adds a dimension to life, whether just staying in touch with what is happening in the world or keeping the brain stimulated. Regardless of fitness levels anyone can start learning new things at any age. So why not start today?

Invest in YOU. Shift your expectations to yourself- then embark on new behaviors to realize your goals. This takes energy and effort, but consider it as an investment that will pay big dividends.

Have Fun. People who live long generally have a life that is filled with joy and laughter. So figure out what you need to do to have a good time. Ride a bike. Learn a new language. Take up Zumba or square dancing. 

You may have to step out of your comfort zone, but 2015 could be the best year of your life.

by Rich Synnott, Upper Valley Aquatic Center Executive Director

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Recipe for Workout Success with Katherine Tremblay

By Dena Testa Bray
Upper Valley Aquatic Center Member and Gathering Flavors Blogger

When I was asked if I would consider writing a post for the UVAC blog, I didn't hesitate. 

For quite some time now, I have been meaning to write about my experiences at Upper Valley Aquatic Center, in particular my work with Katherine Tremblay. I joined UVAC shortly after it opened to swim. While I knew the facility had a lot more to offer beyond the pool, I was at a point in my life when I was tired of going to gyms and attending fitness classes. An aerobics class fanatic in the 80's (what can I say...we all were doing it after seeing Flashdance), I craved the quiet and meditative aspects of swimming laps on my own. But, things had to change when I was diagnosed with osteoporosis last fall and my physician recommended I add more weight-bearing exercise to my exercise routine. I decided it was finally time to use my free training session and I met with Katherine.

Katherine is unlike any fitness instructor I have known. Don't get me wrong. I have met and worked with many wonderful and talented people over the years. What is unique about Katherine is the dynamic combination of expertise and optimism she brings to her work. She's a spitfire. She's grounded. She's taught me to believe in my own strength and to take the fear out of trying new things. She and I worked one-on-one for 4 months, then I 'graduated' to taking her fitness classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. They are hard. They are challenging. They are fun. They are full of camaraderie and laughter. Invariably, I leave her classes a better person than when I walk in and I bring her enthusiasm with me throughout my day.

Katherine and I also share a love of cooking and eating well. We often exchange recipes and new ideas on ways to prepare healthful meals. This recipe for Winter Greens Salad with Tahini and Lime Dressing is one I know Katherine would love. Rich and nutritious kale leaves are massaged with a dressing of tahini and lime then tossed with dried fruits and honey roasted peanuts. The salad is delicious on its own, but can be made a part of a full meal when served with a hot soup such as Spicy Sweet Potato Soup and Pinto Bean Soup with Parsnips and Beef. You can find these and other seasonal recipes on on my blog,
GatheringFlavors (

Winter Greens Salad with Kale Tahini and Lime from Gathering Flavors

Servings: 4 to 6


For the dressing:
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup rice wine vinegar or Chinese rice wine
juice of one whole lime
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:
1 large bunch winter greens, such as kale, swiss chard or spinach
1 cup slivered dried fruits, such as apricots, dates and golden raisins
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts


Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a small jar. Place the lid on tightly. Shake
until all the ingredients are combined.

To make the salad, tear the leaves of the greens off their stems. Rinse to remove any excess dirt. Shake off excess water but do not dry completely. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. (You should have about 4 cups of greens.)

Pour about half of the tahini dressing onto the greens. Using your hands, massage the
dressing into the leaves so they are fully coated. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for at least
one hour. This will give the dressing time to soak into the leaves and tenderize them.
Place the slivered dried fruit and honey roasted peanuts on top of the dressed greens. Toss
everything to combine. Taste. Add more dressing, salt and freshly ground black pepper, as


1. This is a basic recipe for this salad. The key ingredients are the winter greens and tahini
dressing. The possibilities for additions to this salad are endless. Here are some ideas.
(Quantities will vary depending on how hearty a salad you would like to prepare. In general,
about ½ cup additions per person is a good rule of thumb):

* A chopped apple, walnuts and raisins
* Slivers of roasted chicken, cashews and dried cranberries
* Grated cheddar cheese, dried apples and slivered almonds
* Bean sprouts, chunks of firm tofu and sesame seeds
* Roasted root vegetables cut into bite sized pieces
* Croutons, shaved Parmesan, a bit of lemon or lime zest

2. Tahini is a sauce made primarily of pureed sesame seeds. It can be found in most grocery stores in the foreign food sections or near other nut butters. You can substitute a creamy peanut butter in the dressing, if you like.

3. Any extra dressing will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Bring it to room
temperature before using and shake to combine ingredients, if separated. If the dressing
becomes two thick, add a drop or two of water to loosen it up.

Dena Testa Bray may be reached by email at

Monday, November 17, 2014

Working out is hard work.

By John Grainger MS, CSCS
Fitness and Personal Training Director

As some of you know I am a baseball coach at Colby-Sawyer College and have coached at the American Legion level as well.  I have also done numerous lessons—both hitting and pitching—for youth baseball players in the upper valley.  I have been working with a great young man—we will say his name is Nick—who reminded me what it is like to have the drive and desire to make yourself better. 

I left Nick in September when he started playing soccer and we couldn’t make our schedules match up.  He had made some improvements but still had a long way to go.  I left him with a few things to work on—those things aren’t really important for this story.  Nick took those things to heart and worked hard—worked hard EVERY DAY—at improving his skills.  Last week I got to work with Nick again and was blown away at the progress he had made.   I asked him what he did and he said, “I come down here (his basement) everyday” to hit baseballs off a tee.   As I was driving away from his house it made me realize the connection between Nick’s continuous drive to get better and the work we do as personal trainers.

The people that have the most success—on the field, on the scale, or on the bench—are those that continuously strive for improvement.  The workouts you do in the gym alone aren’t enough—it is about sleep, nutrition, stress management, family, and everything else—and how to balance it all.  Nick’s improvement came from his willingness to put the time in to better himself.  It did help that he had me coaching him on how to do it right—he would not have improved if he was practicing the same bad habits over and over again.  The same thing goes for training.

Using a personal trainer to help you reach your own goals is a great step to success.  Whether it is one-on-one, with a friend, or in Shed and Shred, having the guidance of a trainer will help you reach your fitness goals.  If you really want to reach your goals, the hard work comes outside of the training sessions.  Having two training sessions a week with a trainer isn’t enough for most people—you need to eat right, sleep right, and manage stress.  That is where the hard work comes in.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Trick or Treat! Helpful Healthy Halloween Treat Ideas

By Katherine Tremblay BS, ACSM HFS & UVAC Personal Trainer

Carved orange stuffed with fruit 

Happy fall, Upper Valley Aquatic Center Members. Halloween is near! I'm sure you have seen loads of candy aisles at the local stores already, but did you know you can still treat your family and friends to yummy treats without heading into the tempting candy aisles? It's no trick!

Here are some not-so "health spooky" and yet tasty, fun treats to share with your little ones (and you!) this Halloween. 
Crackers, Nutella, Banana's, Dark Chocolate Chips, Jelly, Peanut Butter

Strawberries dunked in white chocolate


Carved Apples with peanut butter and jelly, bananas and dark chocolate chips
Join us at UVAC for our annual Halloween Costume Parade!
Friday, October 31
Happy Haunting!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get the Most From Your Workout: Don’t Compete

I had an interesting conversation with a new member who is recovering from an injury and has been pushing himself so that he can be ahead of the recovery curve. He had gone a bit too aggressively which resulted in a minor relapse. He then missed almost two weeks of working out. 

That got me to thinking about competition and how it is not always a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, we have a very competitive UVAC Swim Team and Masters Swim Program and I love watching them race.  But I’m not addressing those of you who are into competitive sports. I’m talking about exercisers who feel the need to compare themselves against the person who is working out next to them. And then feel that they are somehow in a competition. You know who you are if you are on the treadmill at 4 MPH and a person gets on next to you, running at 5MPH, so you increase your speed to 5MPH also. So instead of running your last mile at a good pace for yourself, you gasp for breath and max out at about 2/10’s of a mile. Then you shut the treadmill off and then pretend that your workout is over. I’m a competitive person. I’ve found myself in similar situations. But I have learned that if I try to “compete” with the guy next to me or put the pin in the weight stack the same as the woman who was ahead of me I am asking for trouble.

Comparing yourself with someone else not only can lead to injury, but more commonly it leads to a sense of frustration and discouragement that could prevent you from making yourself healthier and stronger. Just like in the old wild west where there was always a faster gunfighter, there will always be people who are stronger or faster. Use your competitive streak to compete with yourself. Push a little to improve your strength and stamina, but in your own time. There’s no rush.

By Rich Synnott, UVAC Executive Director