Hate to Wait? Skip the Line at Doctor + Squeeze in a Workout

This post is sponsored by MinuteClinic® , however all opinions, experiences and enthusiasm are my own.

minute clinic waiting room 2Waiting in line, I hate it. Just spent an hour on hold with the Department of Motor Vehicles and found out that there is a 3 month wait to get a “scheduled” behind the wheel driving test for my son . . . or we can come in and wait all day with no guarantees. Uh, that makes me want to scream and punch someone – I’m a busy working mom, who doesn’t have time to sit around in a waiting room all day. Same sentiments for the doctor’s office, I’m not a big fan of wasting my precious time reading stale magazines and digging through my purse for mints to fuel an hour plus wait.

When I have a simple medical need, like need a flu shot, allergy relief, or basic physical exam I’ve already been going to the MinuteClinic® that’s located in my neighborhood CVS for treatment. This is so much easier than trekking into downtown to see my primary caregiver (if I can even get lucky enough to score a same day appointment with him) and they take most insurances.  MinuteClinic® has always made it easy to just walk right in and get an appointment – sometimes there is no wait, other times it’s been a bit longer but not bad. But now, MinuteClinic® has come up with a genius solution that benefits everyone — a new digital tool from that allows me to view wait times at my local MinuteClinic® and hold a place in line from the convenience of my computer or smartphone.

cure for the common wait graphic minuteclinic

This means my “waiting room” isn’t the clinic; it can be wherever location I desire – a nearby coffee shop, the park, the grocery store. It totally appeals to my multi-tasking gene – Even if I don’t have other errands to do, knowing I have a spot in “line” allows me to linger at home just a little bit longer and knock off some work on my computer, in the garden, or routine household chores – or, better yet, score a little extra time in my yoga practice.

So, today, I checked in on the wait times of the two closest locations and reserved my spot at the one showing the shortest wait – it was only estimated at 30 minutes and honestly my drive time was going to use up 20 minute.  Thanks to this new appointment scheduling procedure, I determined I had 10 minutes “free” to knock out the easy-sounding (but actually sneaky-tough) body weight workout below. Heck, you could even do this 10 minute workout in an actual waiting room and use the chair for the step-ups.

You Got "Mad Ups" Body Weight Workout -- knock out these exercises in about 10 minutes and be done for the day!

So, I had might have headed off to my MinuteClinic® a little tired and sweaty. When I got there, I checking in on the touch-screen computer and saw that I just had a few more minutes of wait time. minute clinic waiting room 3

minute clinic waiting roomHowever, I hardly had time to peruse the huge display of greeting cards CVS had displayed right by the clinic sign-in area.

My check-up was awesome, the nurse practitioner was very friendly yet professional and did a thorough job – I learned my BMI and got all my vitals checked (she determined I’m healthy – haha)!  Additionally, I got the results of my blood work (cholesterol, blood glucose, etc.) right there in the exam room with her – at my primary caregiver I have to wait a week for the results!

This new sign-in tool is going to make my life so much easier; you need to give it a try! It’s the #CureForTheCommonWait

What would you do with your spare time if you weren’t waiting in andoctor’s office? What’s the longest “wait time” you’ve had for an appointment?  Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Fit, Flavorful, Fast Dinner Ideas – Ragu and My Funny Family

I have to admit, making long complicated recipes is NOT a family tradition. I do it sometimes, but not on typical nights when I am trying to fit in running, working out or watching the kids play their sports – you know, HAVING FUN!  Instead, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and let creativity reign, based on what I happen to have in the fridge, produce bin and pantry. So, I guess you could say dinner traditions in my family of five are rooted in being quick and easy yet fresh and flavorful – you’ll see this with the two RAGÚ pasta sauce recipes I’m sharing today (Eight-Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu and Low-Carb Chicken Club Zoodles).

Ragu pasta sauces are simmered in tradition and the perfect meal solution for my busy nights.

jen and dean college

Yeah, here we are in 1986 — the early Ragu days.

One ingredient that is always on hand help me pull off a speedy supper is RAGÚ® Pasta Sauce. When I say I’m a fan, I mean it – I’ve been eating the RAGÚ® Traditional Sauce (and now Organic Traditional) for 30 years beginning when I first met my husband in college (It’s the only sauce we eat)! Who has time for homemade, really?!

I appreciate how RAGÚ® does all hard work, and when I pop open the jar it tastes just like grandmother’s secret recipe that had been simmering all day.  That’s because RAGÚ® has super high standards and uses no artificial anything or high fructose corn syrup – it’s slowly simmered to add layers of insane flavor, just like Assunta’s (the single-mom founder) original recipe from way back in 1937.

So, this first vegetable pasta recipe is seriously made in eight minutes – Egg & Zucchini Ragu. It’s my go-to meal solution when totally slammed but in need of a nutritious meal packed with protein and fresh veggies. By the way, did you now that a serving of Ragu pasta sauces is the equivalent of two servings of veggies?!

Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu

Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
  • 1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 to 4 eggs (depending on appetite)
  • Salt and Red Pepper flakes, to taste
  • Garnish – snipped basil

Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy.  Add pasta sauce and microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Heat olive oil in small skillet and cook eggs sunny side up, until yolks set to preferred consistency. Top eggs on pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with snipped basil. Serves 2.

Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles

My second under ten minute dinner fix (Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles) is a yummy use for nights when I have some slowcooker chicken already in the fridge (I make big, big batches at once) or have swung by the store for a rotisserie chicken.  I love to use zucchini in place of traditional noodles to keep the grains and carbs down – I like to eat a higher protein diet and prefer most of my carbs to come from fruits and veggies.

Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
  • 1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
  • 12 ounces shredded slow cooker or rotisserie chicken with skin removed
  • 4 slices par-cooked bacon
  • 1 ounce shredded cheese of choice

Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy.  Add pasta sauce and chicken and microwave for an additional 60 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Wrap bacon in paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or per package instructions. Sprinkle top of pasta with bacon and cheese before serving. Serves 2.

davis spoon balancing 2015I have another family dinner tradition to share – and it’s just being silly. With three now teenage boys, it can get pretty crazy and rowdy at the dinner table. More than one time, I’ve spewed water out my nose – the utensil balancing contests always crack me up.  We’ve been doing it for years, as you can see – youngest son holds the record number of spoons and forks balance.  Yes, we’re weird – but these are indelible (if insane) memories to enjoy along with the RAGÚ®  Pasta Sauce.

So, what are your favorite family dinner traditions – recipes or activities? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

5 Ways to Get Teens’ Taste Buds to Grow Up + Visa GC Giveaway

Even though my family eats (mostly) a healthy diet, I’ve been encouraging my teenagers to break their monotonous meal preferences and try new dishes with exciting flavors. As they move through high school and college there are so many diverse and cultural eating experiences that will be missed (along with a wider array of nutrients) if they are dead set on having turkey meatballs, plain brown rice and an undressed salad for dinner (an all-too-common menu). That’s why I was excited to hear how Birds Eye Veggies is on a mission to redefine the way we all eat our vegetables with their Birds Eye® Flavor Full line of bold and exciting veggies that can be enjoyed as a side dish or the main course!  Keep reading down to the end of the post for the Gift Card Giveaway.

Birds Eye Flavor Full Veggies - Buffalo Cauliflower

This got me to thinking. Can picky eating-children change, or do they just grow up into adults who are ultra finicky about their food? There are valid reasons why a young child may avoid certain foods at all costs — did someone say “temper tantrum”?!  Factors that contribute to a picky eater include all the legitimate sensory things you’d connect with food aversions like texture, temperature, taste and flavor. Picky eating is also encouraged by parental response as well as peer pressure when kids get a little older. Allergies, too, can play a welcomed defensive role in picky eating, a way your body tells you to say away from a certain harmful food – but I won’t get into that here.

I believe that with the right opportunities and encouragement, most kids can join the adult world of eating as they move into their ‘tween, teens and early twenties. One reason is that as we age, taste buds dwindle away from an average of 10,000 working taste buds in small kids to only 5,000 in adults – simply put, things start tasting less intense and we naturally seek out more flavor. To support this, a 2005 study published in the Pediatrics journal reports that most children do not like bitter tastes (often found in vegetables), while adults do not find offense.

Birds Eye Flavor Full Vegetables

Always funny or philosophical, this kiddo says “Potatoes are the ‘gateway’ vegetable”

Another interesting study conducted in 2012 at the University of Copenhagen reported that when children move into their teens, they have a decreased interest in sugary tastes and a higher sophistication to distinguish between tastes – however, they are often more resistant to trying new foods than toddlers! This is why, we as parents, need to set a good example by eating a balanced diet filled with a variety of colorful, nutrient-dense whole foods.

Here are some tips to encourage the teenagers in your family to become veggie lovers and also try out other exciting new flavors. Of course, if your teen is not eating because of control issues, an eating disorder, real or perceived allergies or other concerning reasons, please see a medical professional as soon as possible.

5 ways to get your teen's taste buds grown up

  • Get teens cooking: Not only does teaching your older children how to prepare meals create self-sufficiency; it also creates a more adventurous attitude about eating as they master various skills.
  • Host international night: Once a month, prepare a meal that features cuisine from a different culture – for example, Indian, Korean, Thai, or Italian (no pizza!). To keep everyone happy, every family member gets to select one recipe to be included on the menu, but has to eat at least three bites of every other dish. Have them invite a friend over who may just announce “ooh, I love curry” – and suddenly your son or daughter will too!
  • Focus on vegetable variety: As teens lose their taste for sugar (allegedly it’s a real thing!), support their savory side with more and more vegetables. Look past buttered green beans and toward more exotic or bold tastes, like Buffalo Cauliflower! Filling up your plate with a rainbow of vegetables is the easiest and tastiest way to optimize health, in my opinion.
  • Educate and relate: Share online resources for healthy and clean eating with your children. Older kids are smart enough to understand that eating vegetables and a variety of foods is best, but are sneaky when it comes to actually eating what you serve – just think of all the Brussels sprouts “dropped” on the floor or yogurt and berry parfaits swapped for pink cupcakes at lunch. I always share the story of how I traded my celery, peanut butter and raisin “ants on a log” for Ding Dongs at lunch and quickly lost my get-up-and-go for gymnastics practice in the afternoon.
  • Role model without pushing: No one likes a pea pusher, and even worse so if it’s your own mother or father. With most teens, realize that the more you “strongly suggest” you eat your vegetables or try new dishes, the more likely they are to rebel by absolutely doing the opposite. They are teens, they will come around – just keep the message honest yet low-key, the most important thing you can do is be a role model for clean eating.

Birds Eye Flavor Full Veggies - Buffalo Cauliflower

As I hinted, I’ve been using Birds Eye Vegetables in my covert parental plan to encourage my teens to embrace new foods. The line of Birds Eye® Flavor Full vegetables transforms plain veggies with bold and on-trend flavors – it makes eating healthy side dishes so much fun. Plus, I love the convenience of the Steamfresh packaging – you just heat up in the microwave right in the bag. When my kids are making dinner, having one less dish to clean up is a major selling point! The unexpected but utterly delicious flavors include Buffalo Cauliflower, Ranch Broccoli, Sour Cream & Onion Potatoes, Teriyaki Broccoli, Barbecue Sweet Corn, Sweet Chili Carrots, Wasabi Peas and Fiesta Lime Corn.  Check here for a product locator.

Head over and get a $1.00 off coupon that is good for 30 days once downloaded (but must be used by 12/31/2015).

Win a $25 Visa Gift Card at TheFitFork.comEnter to win my giveaway for a $25 Visa Gift Card — you can spend it on vegetables for your teens, or whatever you please. Although I really hope you get some cauliflower and beets!

Follow the Rafflecopter app directions to enter now through Dec 9th.




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5 Ways to Make Gift Wrapping Less Stressful + Empty Roll Workout

Wrapping presents this holiday season doesn’t need to be stressful. In fact, it can be fun!  I recently visited my local Hallmark Gold Crown store to pick up some wrapping paper. I was so impressed by both the selection of gorgeous designs and also the heavy quality of the paper – plus the grid marks on back are nice for geometry-challenged folks like myself.

Hallmark Wrapping PaperSome people are truly artists when it comes to gift wrapping and others just aren’t – I probably fall into the “aren’t” category, but I actually like real wrapping and not just sticking stuff in a gift bag.

Although, I have to say that wrapping bulky items can be a little challenging – that’s why I like to make paper bows to “wrap” the larger holiday gifts at my house. Usually, I leave a little box wrapped up with scavenger hunt clues leading the recipient up to the hiding place – it’s so fun!

5 Ways to Keep Gift Wrapping Stress Fress

Here are some ways to make gift wrapping less stressful:

  • Have all your supplies on hand: I always keep a plentiful stash of scissors, tape, gift cards, pens, tissue paper, ribbon and of course, wrapping paper from Hallmark Gold Crown.
  • Don’t worry about perfection: You may see the little folding flaws or unmatched ends on your gift, but most recipients won’t care – if they even notice at all. Instead, it’s the time and thought you’ve put into thinking of them that will make the biggest impression! For example, I know my teen boys can’t wrap gifts well, but I appreciate that they make the effort and don’t pass the duty on to someone else!
  • Get creative: There is no rule that says the entire gift has to be wrapped or that there is only one way to get the job done. If gifts are huge, make a little scavenger hunt game as I mentioned . . . or if gifts are very small, wrap them up in a large box to throw off your recipient!
  • There is more than one way to make a bow: While silks and satins are lovely, it’s also fun to make a bow out of wrapping paper. My sister-in-law is a pro at this and she showed me how to take paper scraps and make pompoms, bows, fans, feathers and more – search Pinterest!
  • Get in the right frame of mind: Put on holiday music, make hot chocolate, turn on the holiday lights, make it an EVENT!

May I suggest a little workout to help get you in the right frame of mind for wrapping presents?  Breaking a sweat always lowers my stress level and when I have less to fret over, everything seems more fun – like gift wrapping.  This workout might seem a little silly (who couldn’t use a smile this time of year) but it’s actually based on some mobility workouts I do with a basic PVC pipe — you really need to try the workout, I’d hate for you to pull a muscle while wrapping presents!  Ideally, use an empty roll so you don’t mess up your nice, new paper — or not!

Wrapping Paper Roll Workout - TheFitFork.com

Also, while I was in Hallmark Gold Crown, I was surprised to find so many gift items that would make the family and friends in my life smile.  In the past, I have thought of Hallmark as a greeting card and wrapping paper store — but, WOW, they have everything from grab-and-go gifts to jewelry, home décor, kid’s items (I saw Star Wars and Peanuts gifts galore)!  I picked up a few bars of wonderfully scented soap from the Crafters & Co. Line – the soaps are packaged in the prettiest paper (hey, they almost don’t need wrapping, how’s that for stress-busting) and the scent made my car smell dreamy on the way home.  These  little luxuries are quite affordable and just perfect for teacher, neighbor, work Secret Santa and hostess gifts!

Crafters & Co Soap - Hallmark Gold Crown

So, do you like wrapping gifts or look at the process as a chore? What’s the weirdest shaped thing you’ve ever wrapped up?  What’s your go-to teacher or neighbor gift? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

Orange Chicken Love + $25 Giveaway to Panda Express

Orange. Chicken. Love. #OrangeChickenLove. Do I have your attention? If you’ve never eaten at Panda Express, you really need to try it out ASAP.  Panda Express has been a tried-and-true, busy-day meal option for my family – and with so many delicious menu items, there is always something everyone – even my pickiest eaters.  While the healthy mama in me appreciates that a “side” option is steamed veggies instead of fried rice or noodles, the universal, hands-down family favorite classic Chinese dish is the Orange Chicken.

Panda Express Orange Chicken - TheFitFork.com

PAnda Express Orange Chicken Love - TheFitFork.comYup, The Orange Chicken love is strong with the three hungry teen boys and he-man in my house, and I have to personally admit, the recipe is definitely chopstick lickin’ good. Inspired by flavors and culinary style of the Hunan Province in South Central China, Panda’s Original Orange Chicken is prepared with crispy boneless chicken bites, and wok tossed with Panda’s secret sweet and spicy orange sauce – it’s Panda’s most beloved dish.

There are so many other dishes to try out at this quick-stop restaurant, you’ll never get bored – some of my other favorites are the chicken and green beans and the broccoli and beef. Plus, as an athlete who is mindful about what she eats, I appreciate that Panda Express puts all the calorie counts right on the menu so you can make an informed choice. For example, the Orange Chicken isn’t one of the lightest, lowest-fat options – but I crave it, so I pair it up with the steamed veggies. It’s all about balance.

Panda Express - TheFitFork.com

I love how you can get steam veggies as a side at Panda Express, rather than fried rice or noodles.

Panda Express Orange Chicken Food TruckIf you’re in one of the lucky cities, you can get your fix on the Orange Chicken Love Truck Tour – it just came through Austin last weekend at the UT vs. Rice game. Head over to OrangeChickenLove.com to get the Panda Express Food Truck stop schedule and shop for orange chicken swag (seriously some cute stuff)!



Panda Express Fortune Cookie - TheFitFork.comSo, let’s talk fortune cookies. The irony of fortune cookies is they aren’t even eaten in China, historians say they were actually invented in Japan and popularized in America. More than three billion are gobbled up a year, that’s a lot of predictions.  What’s the funniest or most spot-on message you’ve ever cracked open a cookie to find?  Please share in the comments! Win a $25 Panda Express Gift Card at TheFitFork.comHow about finding “There is such a thing as a free lunch.” That would be awesome, and it may come  true if you enter my giveaway for a $25 gift card to Panda Express. However, I hope you’ll understand if the message doesn’t actually arrive in a fortune cookie! Oh, and please get you some Orange Chicken Love whether you win or not!  To enter, please follow the Rafflecopter instructions below:
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How To Fight Off Fall Allergies with Yoga & More

How to Fight off Fall Season AllergiesIf you like to run, workout and enjoy the outdoors, or even just want to relax inside without itchy eyes and incessant sneezing, seasonal fall allergies can be a more-than-pesky problem. Fall is the worst season for allergies sufferers; there are more allergy triggers than any other time of the year. Typically, weed pollens (like the 17 varieties of ragweed) and mold spores peak in the autumn months as do other irritants like dust mites. Ewww.

Don’t let fall allergies kick you in the butt without fighting back. Allergy relief comes in many forms, and usually a multi-faceted approach is what works best. There are many over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines that can help reduce symptoms (I head to MinuteClinic inside CVS Pharmacy to take care of this). Some even say that eating locally-sourced honey and natural remedies can help you build up your defenses.

How to Fight Fall Allergies so You can Run

Don’t let seasonal fall allergies keep you off the running trails.

Practical tips can help reduce allergies, as well. For example, don’t leave windows open during the day and avoid the use of a window fan – both will fast track unwanted pollens and mold spores into your home.  Remember to clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens you come into contact with daily. Shake out bedding and wash it often and don’t go to sleep after being outdoors without washing your hair (allergens get trapped in there).

Practicing yoga can also be a good way to help alleviate allergies and boost your overall immune system. Plus, spending even just 10 or 15 minutes a day practicing yoga can reduce overall stress and create a calming effect which, in turn, makes it easier to deal with seasonal fall allergies. Today, I’m sharing Four Yoga Poses to Alleviate Fall Allergies to help you start feeling less clobbered and optimize your overall health. Remember, yoga isn’t a cure-all, although it can aid in your overall allergy-fighting plan. Please seek medical attention for serious allergy symptoms, if you have a fever or think you could have the flu.

Four Yoga Poses to Alleviate Fall Allergies

Downward Facing Dog along with other more advanced inversions can help to release drained mucus trapped in nasal passages. However, experts suggest remaining upside down no longer than one minute.

Plow Pose helps to relieve the pressure of allergies by relaxing and opening up muscles at the base of the neck.

Bridge Pose helps to open the chest and lungs and improve breathing. Backbends and leaning backward over a large exercise ball are other alternatives.

Mindful Breathing helps to increase lung capacity, expel toxins and alleviate allergy-related congestion. Attention to deep, relaxed breathing also helps to relieve stress and create an overall calming effect.

minute clinicIf you’re going to include over-the-counter or prescription medications in your allergy-fighting arsenal, MinuteClinic is a convenient solution to get you feeling better quickly. This walk-in clinic located inside CVS Pharmacies has nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can give you a good look over and recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate.

RSVP here.

Do you have any allergy-fighting tips? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

This post is sponsored by MinuteClinic, however all opinions and yoga suggestions are my own.

Happy, Healthy Hive + Buzz on #Zarbees Vitamin Drink Mix

This is my hive. A husband of almost 25 years and three teenage boys – can you believe it?!Zarbee's Naturals - TheFitFork.com and her Hive

Even though my children aren’t babies anymore, their health and well-being (as well as my own) is still my number one priority. The busy schedules I help them juggle which includes academics, sports and music combined with my own overloaded agenda of work, athletic endeavors and domestic duties don’t allow for any downtime – let alone spare time for an of us being sick!

Zarbee's Naturals keeps me healthy and well and ready to workout!

Zarbee’s Naturals helps keep me healthy, well and ready to workout!

But, being so busy can make you sick, or at least leave you feeling fatigued and run down. Since I am mindful about the foods I offer my family and personally keep a primarily clean diet, it makes sense that I’ve always been wary of overusing over-the-counter medications. I’d rather take natural, preventative measures that rely on popping pills at every ache or sniffle.

Zarbee's Naturals - Find happiness in all that soothes.That’s why I was excited to discover Zarbee’s Naturals, a product line of delicious vitamin drink mixes created by Dr. Zak Zarbock. When Dr. Zarbock, a parent himself, couldn’t find effective, chemical-free solutions to keep the whole family healthy, he created his own products using handpicked natural, safe and wholesome ingredients. With Zarbee’s Naturals, it’s easy to find happiness in all that soothes!


Zarbee's Naturals

Zarbee’s Naturals come in six tasty, all-natural flavors, specially formulated proprietary blends sweetened with honey and other wholesome ingredients – there are no drugs or alcohol of any kind and all products are gluten-free. Depending on the blend, Zarbee’s Naturals can be mixed with hot or cold water and is safe to use daily to help meet any nutritional gaps in your diet.  You can find Zarbee’s Naturals exclusively at Target on the cough aisle – and now, through the end of September, their products are on sale for $4 off.

Zarbee's Naturals Antioxidant Blend with Honey

The Apple Spice flavored Zarbee’s Naturals Antioxidant Blend with Honey is so soothing before bed.

  • Antioxidant Support with Honey – Apple Spice: This high potency antioxidant formula contains essential vitamins, minerals and selenium and is sweetened with honey. Enjoy this blend hot.
  • Immune Support Drink Mix – Citrus Spice: This blend helps support a healthy immune system and features elderberry extract and dark honey. Packed with vitamins A, C, E, selenium and zinc, this mix is best served hot.
  • Invigorating Drink Mix – Lemon Ginger: Get a boost of energy with this blend featuring green tea, ginger, and guarana seed for natural alertness. Full of vitamins B2, B6 and B12, this mix can be enjoyed hot or cold.
  • Calming Drink Mix – Lemon Mint: Enjoy a bit of tranquility and calm with this blend brimming with chamomile and honey. Passion flower offers natural relaxation while the vitamin boost features A, C, D, E, and B-Complex. May be served hot or cold.
  • Multivitamin with Prebiotic – Orange: This blend helps to support a healthy digestive system and contains essential vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2 and more. Best served cold.
  • Multivitamin with Antioxidant – Mixed Berry: This antioxidant rich blend features 12 essential vitamins plus selenium to help support optimal health. Serve cold.

Zarbees Naturals College Care BoxI’m drinking Zarbee’s Naturals on a daily basis to help keep me well, rocking through my workouts and ready to take care of my family. When I’m feeling great, it’s just easier to keep my family feeling great! And, speaking of keeping a family feeling great – I’ve put together this care package to send to my oldest son who just left for college. I think the Invigorating blend will be great for all those study sessions and the Immune Support blend will keep his body’s defenses up during a naturally stressful transition time.  Remember to come back on September 10th to check out my follow up post about Zarbee’s Naturals and how awesome it is to shop at Target — first pump, thumbs up, agreed?!  #DrinkForYourself  #Zarbees  #madetomatter

Have you found ways to simplify or lower the stress of the family’s back-to-school schedule? Do you find your “hive” getting sick or catching colds easier during the fall season – what are your natural remedies?  Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

This post was sponsored by Zarbee’s Naturals via Sverve. However, all editorial content reflects my own honest opinion about the products.

Pre Season Tips for Student Athletes #HealthyStart

taking kids to the gym

I’ve always kept my boys ready for fall season sports by taking them to the gym during the summer.

School is starting in a few weeks and, in addition to academics, my family with three teen boys is gearing up for a jam-packed fall season of sports. For the last several years, my husband and I have been switching gym memberships in the summer to one that will allow children over 10 to come in and workout alongside their parents.  This has offered us a chance to keep everyone in decent shape during the hot, hot summers here where, out of necessity, spend too much time indoors in the air-conditioning reading and playing video games.

Remember to have children hydrate properly for sports played in hot weather.It’s not a good idea to let your child go from reduced activity in the summer to hard-core training in the late summer sun once school starts. While bodies do benefit from a little extra rest in the off-season, athletes who ignore working out in the summer will not only be huffing and puffing during sprints but are putting their bodies at risk for muscles strains, tendonitis and heat exhaustion or worse.  Experts say that most sports injuries that happen in the early weeks of a sports season are from a lack of pre-season training.

Here are some Pre Season Sports Tips I’ve put together to make sure that your student athlete (middle school, high school and college) is taking measures to have a safe and successful season.

Follow these pre season tips for student athletes to ensure a safe and successful sports career.

In addition to pre-season training, it’s also important to ensure your student athlete has been given a clean bill of health before stepping onto the playing field  — in fact, most school-sponsored teams and league sports required that parents bring in signed paperwork as proof that their child has had a recent physical. Even if your child’s sports organization doesn’t require a check-up, it’s still a good idea to be seen by a medical professional before the season start to review immunization records, discuss any health and safety concerns, and be proactive about any unexpected problems.

Stepping up to the start line at a fall cross country meet takes months of pre-season training.

On your mark, get set, go! Get ready for fall season sports with pre-season training and a physical.

MinuteClinic at CVS Pharmacy is a convenient way to take care of kids’ sports physicals without the hassle and wait time of trying to make a last-minute appointment with a pediatrician. No appointment is needed to see a medical professional – the young athlete is in and out quickly, seen by a qualified medical professional, and supplied with everything needed to ensure practice starts on day one (trust me, it’s so embarrassing to sit on the bench for the first week of school while mom gets the paperwork thing sorted out).

MinuteClinic can also get students current on their vaccines and immunizations. I figured my oldest son who is 18 years old and heading off to college later this month was long done with vaccinations – but I found out that most colleges now require meningitis and pertussis (whooping cough) shots before the first day of class.  Click on the links to find out your state’s requirements for meningitis and pertussis immunizations.

MinuteClinic is offering $10 off a sports physical from now until 9/7/15 and a FREE Johnson & Johnson coupon book with $29 worth of savings! Check the store locator to find the nearest MinuteClinic in your area.

What sports do your kids play . .. or what were your athletic endeavors as a child?  I was on the gymnastics team until 10th grade! Please share in the comments below – XOXO Jennifer 

I have received promotional consideration from MinuteClinic and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. All opinions are my own.