08/22/2013: Just a quick Thursday thought...

An Idea…

I just finished coaching the second session of Boot Camp at Woodward Academy where there is an incredible group of educators driven toward improving their health and fitness. I left Woodward and headed over to my favorite little coffee shop in Hapeville (http://www.dripatl.com/) to do some work and sip on an Americano. As I sat down to work, I started thinking about how we could turn good fitness, health, and nutrition practices into cultural change.

A health pyramid scheme is what has been going through my head…uh-oh…where is Smugs going with this?!?

Think about how a pyramid scheme works... one person gets a group of people to buy into some product and then that group goes out and gets other people to buy into the product and…this continues until a huge network of people are buying into and selling a product. The beauty in this is a large population of people have “bought into” a product or idea. The ugly in this is most pyramid schemes result in someone at the top getting wealthy by stomping on a large group of zombie-like worker bees that get drawn into the idea of quick, easy money and can’t get out because it doesn’t really exist. How is my plan different? My health pyramid-like scheme does not have a tangible product for sale, does not require financial buy-in, and does not require you to go around begging people to buy into some crappy product line. Instead, what if we used a pyramid-like scheme to ignite a cultural change toward better health, exercise, and eating by making a concerted effort to freely share healthy habits with others and encourage others to do the same.

Here's what is might look like…

I talk to my neighbor, coworker, friend, or unsuspecting stranger on MARTA and pass on some knowledge to him about exercise, treat him to some good food and the knowledge to identify good food, and encourage him to go for his yearly check up at the doctor's office. In return, he goes to the next neighbor's house and does the same thing I did with encouraging him to eat right, exercise and engage in other preventive health measures. As he is dropping some healthy living knowledge on the next neighbor, I haven't stopped spreading the good news of health and fitness to other people and continue encouraging them to go out and do the same…If we continue this process with each of us spreading the word, before you can say “Burpees, Burpees, Burpees!”, we’ll have a huge web of people out there growing our health pyramid. If everyone can just convince just one person to jump on the health train, think about how quickly we would see a cultural shift toward regular exercise, good eating and better health!

Thanks for reading and if you’re left thinking, “Smugs…you’re a dreamer, dude…what you are proposing will never work!” Well, you are probably right, but where would we be without ideas and dreams? I’m not ready to give up on this one! 

08/05/2013 - Special Guest: Jane G. Shares Some Inspiration!


Today’s post is the awesome story of how Jane Graham rediscovered her passion for healthy living and successfully transformed herself into “The Grahaminator”.


Jane Graham is a teacher in the Upper School English Department at Woodward Academy (College Park, GA.) Over the past 3 years, Jane has experienced amazing changes in her life by reclaiming her passion for exercise and healthy eating.  Read her story below and post your thoughts to comments.


Jane says…

In mid-October, 2010, I sat at my desk and stared at the e-mail that all Woodward Academy employees received which invited us to join boot camp. The first session had actually begun on October 1st, and even though I was tempted to join then, I had talked myself out of the opportunity by telling myself that I was too old and too out of shape to start an exercise program ever again. I allowed myself to question this opportunity with a great deal of self-doubt and negativity.  Isn’t everyone else in better shape than I am? How will I ever keep up? Why would I want to make myself vulnerable in front of my colleagues? How could I ever come even close to being a successful participant?  I was my own worst enemy. However, I could not get this second invitation out of my thoughts and somehow felt that it was some sort of sign for me at least to try. I stared at my computer screen for what seemed hours. After much trepidation, I sent a reply to Sam stating that I would like to join boot camp beginning on November 1st, 2010. Sam sent an immediate response welcoming me to the program. I showed up at 5:30 a.m. on November 1st, and my life changed.

When I began boot camp, I could not do a push-up or sit-up or complete most of the exercises. I even fell when we did the butterfly stretch at the end of the first session. By taking that initial step of just going, however, I had decided that I was not going to quit and that showing up and doing horribly was better than not showing up at all.  Sam knew just how far to push so that we did not injure ourselves or become discouraged. After a couple of weeks, I was hooked. I knew that at the very least that I had to try to get into shape and that becoming fit would take time and effort.  My family has a history of heart and health issues; I was falling into the genetic trap that I assumed was my destiny. I eventually adopted the attitude that it had taken me a long time to get so out of shape, so it was going to take a while to start seeing the results of my endeavors.  Surprisingly, however, I did not find it difficult to work out because I enjoyed feeling such a strong sense of accomplishment.  I have to admit that I was SO sore for weeks, but I enjoyed the bragging rights that came with the soreness. What I knew for sure was that I was addicted to boot camp!


Top:  Jane in 2009 (right)

Bottom: Jane in 2013 (middle)


By January of 2011, people began making comments about the changes in my body. People started asking me what I was doing since I appeared to look lighter and fitter. Sam continued to give us positive reinforcement as we continued to get stronger. The die-hard boot campers congealed as a group and as friends. By the spring of 2011, I had to start buying new clothes; my daughter told me that my clothes were baggy enough to be pajamas. By my birthday in August of 2011, I weighed 40 pounds less than I did on my birthday in 2010, and I weighed 13 pounds less by my birthday in 2012. Between feeling better physically and finding camaraderie among the other boot campers, boot camp became an important part, in fact an integral part, to my newly found desire for self-improvement. 


I also changed my eating habits with the implementation of the exercise.  Sam made certain suggestions about the food that we put into our bodies, and I gleaned what to fit into my routine. I have not gone as strict as to remove all grains, but I try to limit grains and to eat only whole wheat when I do so. I have been eating more fruit and vegetables and limit sweets.  I am much more aware of what I eat each day.  I have started thinking of what types of food, like more protein, I need to eat in order to provide fuel to burn when I exercise.

I am also extremely excited about getting in running shape again. I have started running by tackling local 5k races. My time has improved over the past year. I ran the 2012 Tri-Cities Run in College Park with a time of around 36 minutes. When I ran the race in 2013, my time had improved to around 32:30; I also won my age group! In fact, I have claimed the prize in my age group (55-59) four times since December, 2012.  My immediate goals are to try to run a 5k in under 30 minutes and train to run a 10k with a decent time. My daughter and I have started signing up for races together. She is so proud of my accomplishments! Our ultimate goal would be for the two of us to train for and to complete a half marathon.  My husband is also very supportive and proud of what I have done; he has enjoyed our change in diet and has also begun a walking regimen. Boot camp has directly affected me while indirectly impacting my family.

Right:  Jane and daughter, Ashley, after crushing the Atlanta Hot Chocolate race in January 2013

I feel like a different person.  I am proud of my accomplishments and my dedication. I have more energy and more confidence.  I am now able to do sit-ups, real push-ups, the dreaded burpee, and to complete successfully the work-outs that Sam provides. I now exercise at least five days a week and have a better level of fitness than I ever thought I could achieve. Overall, I feel that I have succeeded in my now on-going quest for self-improvement. I am extremely grateful. So now I have only one question for myself- what was I thinking when I was so afraid to join boot camp?  Becoming a part of this program has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made for myself.


Jane - You inspire high school students everyday in your English classes and your dedication to improving your health, renewing your passion for running, and investing in your family serves as inspiration for us all! Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the great work!

07/31/2013 - Dinner Time!


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork served with Mustard Slaw and Stir Fry Broccoli

It's been awhile since I've written a blog post, but as it is the final day of July and summer is rapidly coming to an end, I thought I’d share a delicious and simple summer meal with you.  I prepared this one yesterday with little effort, but BIG flavor!


Pulled Pork

3-4 pound bone-in Pork Butt

2 cans El Pato sauce (7 ¾ oz per can)

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper


1 bag of cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage, carrots)

½ cup diced sweet onion

½ cup diced green pepper

2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard

2 tablespoons greek yogurt (substitute paleo mayonnaise if you don’t eat dairy)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon honey

pinch of salt and black pepper                                    


1 pound broccoli, chopped into florets

1 sweet onion, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

3 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon chili paste

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

pinch of salt and black pepper


Trim pork of excess fat, salt and pepper all sides and place into the slower cooker. Add the El Pato sauce to the slow cooker so the pork is covered. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 8-10 hours.  To prepare the slaw, add the slaw mix, onion, and green pepper to a bowl. Place the mustard, greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, and honey to a separate bowl and whisk together briskly to prepare the dressing for the slaw. Add the dressing to the slaw mix and mix together. Refrigerate until ready to serve and finish with some fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Heat a skillet or wok to medium-high heat and add the coconut oil until it melts. Toss in the broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and peppers and cook, tossing occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili paste, salt and pepper and continue cooking for 3-5 more minutes (I like the broccoli to be crunchy, so I don’t cook it for very long). When you are ready to serve the meal, remove the pork from the slow cooker and place it in a glass bowl. Shred the pork using a fork , plate the slaw and broccoli and you’re ready to roll!



02/20/2013: Restaurant Spotlight on Pit Boss BBQ (Hapeville, GA)


This week’s spotlight is on Pit Boss BBQ located on Virginia Avenue in Hapeville (near Hartsfield-Jackson), Decatur, and Marietta.  If you’re looking for a Paleo/Primal friendly meal, I highly recommend checking out Pit Boss BBQ.

Four friends (all of whom are very passionate about their Paleo lifestyle) and I sampled a few selections from the menu and collectively gave Pit Boss BBQ, ten thumbs up!  We ordered 3.5 pounds of Chopped Pork Barbeque, 30 Smoked Wings, a large order of Collards, a large order of Cole Slaw, and two bags of Pork Rinds (one HOT and one PIT BOSS flavored). We sat down to eat and slammed the delicious, smoky and spicy wings in less than 5 minutes and then worked our way into 3.5 pounds of chopped BBQ, Cole Slaw, Collards, and Pork Rinds. Over the span of the next 15 minutes we managed to demolish the pork and slaw, while making a huge dent in the two bags of Pork Rinds. The Collards, although tasty and cooked with bacon, were forgotten for a few moments amidst the piles of carnivorous awesome, but were quickly finished when we all went back for seconds. The Chopped Pork was succulent and smoky and paired perfectly with some hot sauce and slaw. In addition to the great food, the service was great – friendly, funny, and happy to help!  

I’ll be back to Pit Boss BBQ for Round 2 soon…who’s coming with me?

Check out their MENU and stop in soon for a tasty, carnivorous feast!

Restaurant Spotlight: Mediterranean Grill

Mediterranean Grill (Atlanta Area)


This week’s spotlight is on Mediterranean Grill located in Midtown, Decatur, and Marietta.  If you’re looking to eat a healthy, delicious meal for lunch or dinner, you need to check out the Mediterranean Grill. I frequent the Decatur Location (North Decatur Road at Clairmont near Emory) and the Midtown Location (across the street from Park Tavern on Monroe) and each time I have been very pleased with the service, the food, and the variety and flexibility of the menu options so I can always stick to my nutrition plan.

For lunch, the best deal in Atlanta is the “Business Lunch Special”. Packed with lots of protein (Shish Kabob, Kufta Kabob, and Gyro Meat), good carbohydrates (Greek Salad – remember…skip the pita and substitute the rice for double salad), and healthy fat (olive oil in the dressing) and priced at just $7.60, you’ll have trouble finding a better meal at a better price.  For you Paleo/Primal folks trying to stay on the tracks, remember to also tell them to hold the feta cheese.

FYI:  The “Business Lunch Special is available Monday – Friday from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

For dinner, I go for the Grilled Vegetable Entrée and add protein (I usually add the chicken or the gyro meat for my protein). The grilled vegetables are juicy, tasty and seasoned to perfection!  When ordering, skip the pita, substitute salad in place of the rice and if you’re trying to maintain a Paleo/Primal lifestyle, substitute the hummus for extra salad and hold the feta cheese.

Check out their MENU and stop in soon for a tasty, healthy, and reasonably priced meal!

02/11/2013 Quick Breakfast Idea



Struggling with finding variety for your daily breakfast meals? Here's a quick meal I try to whip up every 7-10 days to add variety. 

Take a handful of grassfed beef, season with some garlic (powder is fine), salt, and pepper and shape it into a patty. Start with a bed of raw spinach on a plate. Add a handful of chopped walnuts and some diced vidalia onions. Cook the burger on medium-high heat in a pan for 4 minutes each side. While the burger is cooking, whisk a pinch of salt and pepper with 2 TBSP of balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP of Olive Oil to prepare an easy, yet tasty dressing for your breakfast salad. Once the burger is cooked, place the burger on the bed of spinach, walnuts, and onions, drizzle with your dressing and enjoy!

Total preparation and cooking time is less than 15 minutes. The whole meal can be prepared while you are sipping your coffee.

Happy eating!