The Beauty and Power of Mother Nature on Display in Ohio's Waterfalls

Sustainability and Eco Friendly: the New Way to Shop for Footwear

By: Trish Mann

As consumers, we often make decisions with little thought to the overall impact on the environment and society, but as we become more socially conscious, we are becoming more aware of the consequences of our actions. Fortunately, many newer companies and established ones lead the way to help us all positively impact society and our planet.


As our social consciousness grows, our way of shopping is changing.

Reason for change

The Shoe Industry estimates that 20 billion shoes are produced every year, and about 300 million shoes end up in landfills. Many of these shoes can take up to 40 years to decompose, and rubber soles can take 80 years.


Sneakers alone create a substantial environmental footprint. A study at MIT reports that one pair of running shoes will generate an average of 30 pounds of carbon dioxide. That is equivalent to burning 15 pounds of coal from just one pair of sneakers.


As our social consciousness grows, our way of shopping is changing.

The world is changing, and people are learning to be more aware of how our choices affect not only others but also the environment and are now demanding businesses provide sustainable and eco-friendly items.


To be eco-friendly means respecting the environment and striving not to bring it harm. Sustainability refers to the social, economic, and environmental impact on our future well-being. Consumers want to know how a company treats its workers, its effect on society, and its use of recyclables and sustainable materials when making their buying decisions.

Making a difference

Traditional materials are quickly being replaced by renewables such as eucalyptus, merino wool, hemp, cotton, and vegan materials. But that is just one part of the equation. When designing footwear, eco-friendly companies also engage in buyback and repair programs.


The return of the shoe repair is a service Vivobarefoot offers called ReVivo. Their skilled craftspeople will recondition your shoes, extending their life, or you can send them in when you are done with them, and they will try to refurbish them and resell them to keep them out of the landfill.


Adidas and Parley have collaborated to develop shoes made from recycled ocean plastic trash while using low water and low energy. Their running shoe was rated #8 in Best Sustainable Running Shoes by Ecothes for 2022.


The products mentioned here are just a sampling of the ambitious companies making a conscious decision to make a difference in all of our futures.


Now the real question is, what will you choose?

It’s About Time

By: Elaine Kish

The cold, wet days of winter hung on much longer than we wanted this year. As the sunshine streams through the window today, I look out and see tulips that have finally pushed their way to the surface and the blossoms of a dogwood tree in full bloom. The grass is green and although better weather means that extra exercise of yard work, we gladly accept it just to be outdoors.

Bright sunshine changes your outlook on life, even though we continue to do the same day-to-day activities we did in months past. I see people getting outside for their normal evening walk in the neighborhood. They are eager to share a hello with neighbors they haven’t seen for a while.

Opening the windows to let some fresh air in, we’re starting to plan graduation parties, barbecues, picnics and summer sports. Can a warm, fun day on the lake or at the pool be far behind? I think not.

As I walk around my yard picking up the last of the tree branches courtesy of the spring storms and wind, and contemplating picking a bouquet of tulips to bring some spring inside the house, I say to myself, “It’s about time.”

Folk Artist and Nature Collide on This Enchanted Yet Serene Hike

Exposed sandstone ledges provided a canvas to an aspiring artist named Noble Stuart.

By: Trish Mann

Off a nondescript road in Hinkley, Ohio, lies a trail to take you to the almost mystical gift Noble Stewart left for future generations.

In the 1940s, Noble Stewart married 80-year-old Nettie Worden. Nettie was the sole survivor of her family, and upon her passing just a few years later, Noble, 63, ‌inherited the land named after its namesake, Hiram Worden.

After Nettie’s death, Noble spent many days in the property’s woods, composed of sandstone rock formations. Bricklayer, by trade with artist desires, Noble carved images into the sandstone of whatever was on his mind.

The many faces of Worden Ledges

The hike begins off the parking lot and takes you into the woods as a rocky path descends below the ledges. The natural surfaces and untouched scenery transport you back in time as you wind around the sandstone formations.

Soon your gaze will ‌make out the different images carved into the ledges as you discover a sphinx guarding the area.

Around another bend, you spy a detailed schooner carving or a Bible and cross.

The unique carvings appear randomly throughout the region and evoke a sense of mystery yet awe-inspiring.

Imagining the time and effort Noble Stewart took to create the depictions may leave you speechless. Not only are they unexpected, but some are also quite detailed, like the image of Ty Cobb and George Washington.


Worden ledges are a loop trail that is part of the Hinkley Reservation, and the woods connect to the Whipps ledges. It is a .07-mile trek and, with proper footwear, is suitable for kids.

All total, there are nine carvings at the ledges. Can you find them all?

For directions, visit Worden’s Ledges, Cleveland Metroparks.

All photos property of Trish Mann (author)

Why Every Successful Grower Turns to These Almanacs for Time Tested Advice?

By: Trish Mann

The Farmer’s Almanacs are still predicting the weather with astonishing accuracy.

For centuries, farmers and gardeners have looked to The Farmer’s Almanacs for guidance on everything from first frosts, fun facts, and household tips.


The (Old) Farmer’s Almanac


In 1792, the Farmer’s Almanac began under the editor of Robert B. Thomas. Almanacs have been around since the 15th century and are used to record and predict the weather, astronomical events, and tides. But this almanac found immediate success.


According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Robert Thomas employed his keen observation to develop a weather forecasting formula using a complicated series of natural cycles that produce results estimated to be around 80% accurate. Thomas’s secret formula is kept securely in a tin box at the Dublin, New Hampshire headquarters.


In 1846, Thomas retired but left enough astronomical material for predictions for several subsequent editions. Shortly after, in 1848, the word “Old” was inserted into the name to distinguish it from other almanacs.


The Farmer’s Almanac

The Farmer’s Almanac’s first editor was David Young, an astronomer, and mathematician. He developed a guide using sunspots, the tidal activity of the moon, and planet positions. According to The Farmer’s Almanac, they adjusted it slightly into a mathematical and astronomical formula. Only one person knows the exact calculations, and they go by the pseudonym Caleb Weatherbee.


More than just a weather predictor, The Farmer’s Almanac covers many topics such as horoscopes, conservation tips, and astronomy.


Past Meets Present

While both Almanacs are thriving today, they have not remained entrenched in the past.


The Old Farmer’s Almanac embraces technology and combines it with its time-tested formula from the past to predict the future.


The Farmer’s Almanac has moved into the 21st century and delivers three versions yet remains fully invested in the secret formula initially developed by its first editor, David Young.


Next time you need to know what the weather is going to do, turn off the tv and check out the Almanacs.

A Beginner's Guide to the Right Gear for Successful Backpacking
A Beginner's Guide to the Right Gear for Successful Backpacking

Tips for planning your hiking adventure

Are you an occasional day hiker, but want to take your trek to the next level and start backpacking, but you aren't sure what gear you need? After diligent research, we have composed a list of the basics needed to start your next exciting trek into nature. With the proper gear and planning, your only regret will be, "Why didn't I start backpacking sooner?"

By: Trish Mann

Are you  an occasional day hiker, but want to take your trek to the next level and start backpacking, but you aren’t ‌sure what gear you need?

After diligent research, we have composed a list of the basics needed to start your next exciting trek into nature. With the proper gear and planning, your only regret will be, “Why didn’t I start backpacking sooner?”


Your tent is more than a place to sleep, it also serves as shelter. The first thing to consider is size; how many people does it need to sleep and what is its weight? It should be lightweight, free standing, size appropriate and suitable for the weather you plan on hiking in. Clever Hiker provides a list of the best budget friendly tents available.


A proper fitting backpack is essential! Make sure it fits properly on your hips and shoulders, has adjustable straps and suits your frame. A good retailer will measure your back for fit.

Look for one with a breathable back panel and plenty of gear storage. For more in-depth information on getting the right backpack, check out

Sleeping Gear

When choosing your sleeping bag, consider temperature rating and insulation type. For the budget friendly, synthetic is less expensive than down. However, down lasts longer and provides more warmth. REI breaks down additional factors to consider when purchasing your bag.

A sleeping pad is key to a good night’s sleep. Choices are air, self inflating and closed cell form.


When choosing footwear, a proper fitting pair of quality hiking boots is crucial. Break them in before hitting the trails and make sure they are lightweight and waterproof.

Avoid cotton clothing, including socks. Cotton is highly absorbent, making it heavy. It is slow drying and once it is wet, it loses insulation properties. Synthetics and clothes with wicking material are the best choice. Remember to plan for swings in temperatures.


  • Watertight first aid kit
  • Compass/Safety app (see last week’s blog)
  • Headlamp with batteries
  • Water filter
  • Sunscreen/bug repellent
  • Matches
  • Rain Coat
  • Cooking gear/food
  • Firestarters

Do not neglect the details.

A backpacking trek is challenging, but with a little planning, it is a rewarding adventure.

Sleeping to the sounds of the nightlife and waking up to the sunrise, as the world comes alive around you is a magic few in this world get to experience. What are you waiting for?

3 Clever Apps to Make Your Time on the Trails Safe and Worry-Free.
3 Clever Apps to Make Your Time on the Trails Safe and Worry-Free.
Being prepared is more than grabbing your shoes and a water bottle and heading to the trailhead. There are unknown dangers that can come from others on the trails to the trail itself. A slippery spot can send a runner off course in seconds, or taking the wrong path can lead you into the unknown. Fortunately, technology is making the road safer, allowing you to do what you love with the freedom that comes from peace of mind. Depending on your needs, there is an app for everyone, from the walker to the overnight backpacker.

By: Trish Mann

Being prepared is more than grabbing your shoes and a water bottle and heading to the trailhead. There are unknown dangers that can come from others on the trails to the trail itself. A slippery spot can send a runner off course in seconds, or taking the wrong path can lead you into the unknown. Fortunately, technology is making the road safer, allowing you to do what you love with the freedom that comes from peace of mind. Depending on your needs, there is an app for everyone, from the walker to the overnight backpacker.

#1: Road iD

This app has GPS and accident alerts for up to three of your contacts. It provides a link to a map, and it has a patented stationary alert that notifies your contact if you stop moving for more than five minutes. It also has an SOS button to message contacts or dial 911.

A subscription to Road iD is $29.99 a month.

#2: Share My Run

The user sets a start notification and the planned distance to alert your contacts if you don’t arrive on time at the designated end site. It also allows followers to follow you with a real-time map location.

Share My Run offers a free version and a premium version for purchase.

#3: Run Buddy

This app provides a speed alert feature that monitors how fast or slow you are going, which can indicate trouble on the trail or, should you suddenly be quickly traveling, meaning you are in a car. It also has bright lights and alarm features.

The Run Buddy app is free to have “buddies,” or there is a yearly subscription of $9.99 or $.99 a month to activate an alert system.

Staying Safe is #1

Getting out in nature is vital to our lives. Now you can hit the trails and enjoy the peace of mind knowing technology and your family have your back no matter where the path may lead.

Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

Spring Out of Your Winter Doldrums With These 4 Exciting Events for April
Spring Out of Your Winter Doldrums With These 4 Exciting Events for April

By: Trish Mann

The weather is breaking, and it’s time to kick off those boots, lace up those shoes, and head outside for some fun in the sun activities this spring.

Spring is a time when the world awakens after a long winter slumber. Everywhere you look, there are signs of life as nature turns its faces towards the warming sun and feels the flood of new energy coursing through us.

April kicks off the outdoor activities, and here are four must-see events to get you shaking off the winter doldrums.

#1: Cincinnati Zoo Blooms

Cincinnati Zoo Blooms

April 1-30th at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Nicknamed Tulip Mania, the zoo boasts over one million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, other spring bulbs, and blooming trees and shrubs in a stunning display of color throughout the zoo.

#2: Wildflowers & Waterfalls Hike Hocking State Park

Wildflowers & Waterfalls Hike Hocking State Park

April 24, 2022 10am

Grab your hiking shoes and camera, then head to the entrance to Ash Cave for a guided hike. You will take in the majesty of Ohio’s spring wildflowers nestled among the intimate beauty of Hocking Hills while the guide takes you around the falls at Ash Cave. Look carefully, and you may see the red trillium and many other wildflowers along the trail.

#3: Geauga County Maple Festival 

Geauga County Maple Festival

April 21-24, 2022 Chardon Ohio

A celebration of everything, maple! Historic Chardon square provides a picturesque setting for rides, games, food, and entertainment. The festival includes maple candy carvings, pancake breakfasts, a pancake eating contest, and local sugar bushes providing tempting maple syrup tastings.

#4: Bellbrook Sugar Maple Festival

Bellbrook Sugar Maple Festival

April 22-24, 2022, downtown Bellbrook Ohio.

Not outdone by the county up north, Bellbrook celebrates maple syrup with arts and crafts, a parade, concessions, and a beer garden. One highlight you don’t want to miss is the boot-stomping beat of live music.

Wherever your feet may lead this spring, take time to enjoy the longer days and embrace the beauty of spring.

3 Sure-Fire Ways to Make Hiking With Your Toddler Successful and Fun!
3 Sure-Fire Ways to Make Hiking With Your Toddler Successful and Fun!
Taking the little one hiking can be stressful, but when you have the right accessories, your family will have a blast. Raising my kids to have a love for the outdoors is a priority we never left to chance. From the time they were babies, we headed to the trails every chance we got. But hiking with little ones poses some unique problems that are best addressed ahead of the trip. The following tips/items are what I found to be invaluable and I believe will make your next adventure the best it can be.

By: Trish Mann

Taking the little one hiking can be stressful, but when you have the right accessories, your family will have a blast.

Raising my kids to have a love for the outdoors is a priority we never left to chance. From the time they were babies, we headed to the trails every chance we got.

But hiking with little ones poses some unique problems that are best addressed ahead of the trip.

The following tips/items are what I found to be invaluable and I believe will make your next adventure the best it can be.

#1 Stroller

Invest in a good-quality all-terrain stroller.

If you plan on hitting the trails, especially if they are hilly or uneven, you will want something lightweight and easy to handle.

Many use jogging strollers which are better than the traditional stroller, but the all-terrain provides better tires and suspension. Look for a swivel front wheel for uneven terrain but locks in for flat surfaces.

#2 Child Carrier Backpack

This is a must-have for active parents.

For infants, a carrier that holds the baby in the front is the right choice. Once they can sit up without help they can transition to a backpack.

A quality backpack offers a free range of motion while keeping the child safe. You won’t worry about little legs getting tired or wandering off. They adjust for comfort and have multiple places to hold items like a water bottle.

The freedom and security make this a worthwhile investment.

#3 Snacks

There is nothing worse than a hungry child.

Remember to bring water bottles and snacks for your child. Pouches are a great choice. Choose protein over sugar and take more than you will need.

A little preparation makes the difference

Family time is valuable, help it be the best it can be with a little help from these tips.

Ramps: a Delicious and Healthy Wild Plant Hiding Out in the Forest Floor
This header showcases the title for the Compass Ohio blog post for 3.21.22. "Ramps: a Delicious and Healthy Wild Plant Hiding Out in the Forest Floor"
This image shows the vegetable, Ramps. A Delicious and Healthy Wild Plant Hiding Out in the Forest Floor

By: Trish Mann

Spring is the time of year when foragers head to the dense forests of Northeast America in search of ramps, also known as wild leeks. As the weather warms the soil in late March or April, depending on the climate, you will see vibrant emerald green leaves pushing through rich organic soil towards the light.


The taste of wild ramps is similar to both garlic and onion and provides a potent taste that makes a great addition to salads, stews, soups, and stir-fries, just to name a few. Chefs love them for their versatility. The entire plant is edible and can be eaten raw, baked, pickled, sauteed, or roasted.


But there are even more reasons to love ramps. They have an incredibly high nutritional content. 


  • Rich in nutrients: Vitamin K1, Provitamin A carotenoids, Vitamin C, and Manganese


  • Contain small amounts of fiber, copper, vitamin B6, iron, and folate.


  • High in antioxidants.


  • They are believed to reduce inflammation and heart disease.


  • Low in calories.


  • Contain cancer-fighting compounds


  • Great for gut health: soluble fiber, including prebiotics


The plants are ready to harvest when their leaves reach 6 to 8 inches. Gently dig up a clump, removing some bulbs, but be careful to leave some to allow for them to propagate for the coming years.


If you are looking for some delicious ways to cook using ramps, Food & Wine offers 16 tempting recipes by chefs that are sure to get your mouth watering.


If you do not want to trek into the forest, The Village of Peninsula is hosting RAMP GRAB-N-GO on April 23, April 30, and May 7, 2022. Vendors will be selling prepared foods such as ramps, sauces, and more. You can also purchase freshly harvested ramps.


If this is your first time foraging for ramps, YouTube has a great video on How to Find and Identify Wilds Leeks (Ramps) to help make your trek successful.

How to Make Your Time on the Trails Safe for You and Your Dog
How to Make Your Time on the Trails Safe for You and Your Dog

By: Trish Mann

It has been a long, cold winter, and everyone is clamoring to get outside and hit the trails, including your furry companion.


Hiking with your dog is not just excellent exercise for both of you, but it also provides a fantastic chance to bond with them. But along with the fun comes responsibility, and you will want to make sure your buddy is safe and enjoys the time with you.


Here are a few tips to make your hike a maximum success.


  • Ensure the trails allow pets: Although many parks allow dogs when properly leashed, make sure they are permitted before heading out. The website Bringfido provides a reference for parks across the country for one-hour walks up to overnight hikes. If they do not have information for the place you are visiting, a quick check online of your park’s website will often provide the information needed.


  • Vaccines: Be sure your pup is up to date on all vaccines, flea, tick, and heartworm medicine. You never know what you may come across on the trails.


  • Proper dog handling: Your dog should be well socialized, behave appropriately, and be handled with a strong leash. You should train your dog to not growl or pull before heading out into public spaces.


  • Proper identification: If your dog should get away from you, be sure they are wearing proper identification that lists your contact information.


  • Know your dog’s activity level: If this is your companion’s first adventure, or it has been a while since you last went out, take it slow. Try one hour, and see how they handle it. Gradually increase their experience. You can make a proper determination for the next time.
  • Food and Water: Always carry more water than you think is necessary and give frequent breaks to rehydrate both of you. If your dog’s enthusiasm level appears lacking, a small snack can give them a much-needed energy boost. If your friend is showing signs of dehydration, a bandana soaked in water and tied loosely around its neck can help cool them. Treats are also good to have on hand.


  • Proper attire: If you are hiking in cold temperatures, booties and a jacket can make your pet more comfortable. The booties can also help protect the paws from frostbite and cuts. If hiking at night, reflective gear is a must-have.


  • Leave no trace: Just as with humans, it is important to remove any waste your dog may incur. Bring along extra poop bags and make sure you carry them out of the park with you or dispose of them in any provided trash containers. Do not leave alongside the path for someone else to handle. They are part of a pet owner’s responsibility.


As a dog owner, it is up to you to take proper care when hitting the trails with your pet. You want it to be a rewarding and safe experience for both of you and something you will look forward to doing time and time again.

The Beauty and Power of Mother Nature on Display in Ohio's Waterfalls

By: Trish Mann


Spring has returned, and it is time to get back outside and enjoy the beauty often only afforded this time of year. Winter releases its icy grip as melting snow, and spring rains combine to create magnificent waterfalls throughout the region as the temperatures rise.  

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or someone who prefers easy terrain, there is a waterfall for you.

Hocking Hills is home to many spectacular waterfalls. Big Spring Hollow Falls is the tallest in the state with a drop of 120’, and Cedar Falls is most majestic. It is a half-mile hike along a stream surrounded by hemlocks and boulders. Other falls in the area include Ash Cave Falls and Whispering Falls, among others.

Northeast Ohio also boasts some fantastic falls. The Cuyahoga National Park alone has over 100 falls, most in the northern portion. However, not all are mapped out or available by trail. Bridal Veil Falls is about a quarter-mile walk from your car, while the popular Brandywine Falls is accessible from a scenic route or a shorter path leading you to steps to the falls. Blue Hen Falls offers something for everyone. You can take a short half-mile walk to it, or you can be more adventurous and take either an eight or four-mile round-trip hike too. 

The southwestern part of the state is home to many scenic falls. Charleston Falls is an impressive waterfall at over 40’ and is in the 416-acre Charleston Falls Preserve. Indian Run Falls in Dublin was once home to the Wyandot tribe, and there is an observation platform, bridge, and scenic trails around the falls.

While the falls are breathtaking, nature offers beauty at every step. Spring is a perfect time to see wildflowers reaching for the warm sun, and wildlife is peeking around every rock and tree. Keep your eyes peeled, and you never know what you may see. 

This spring, be sure to wear appropriate footwear and clothing. A 60-degree day can be drastically colder on the trails, and there may be icy patches and slick surfaces. A walking stick, waterproof footwear, and layering will make your adventure more enjoyable.  

How-to Guide on Quality Running Shoes for Your Track and Field Superstar

By: Trish Mann

Schools everywhere are preparing for an exciting season of track and field. But before anyone hits the course, it is essential to have safe, quality running gear so your son or daughter can put their best foot forward.

When shopping for running shoes, remember not all footwear is the same, and what worked last year may not work this time. It is easy to get swayed by all the mad, exciting patterns when shopping, a twisted ankle or banged-up knee won’t look good no matter how cool the shoes look. But getting a proper fit is more than just trying on a pair of shoes. It is also about safety. 

A trained salesperson looks at the person’s gait and running biometrics by studying how they walk, run, and land on their feet. They also check where the runner puts their weight on impact and if they roll inward or outward. This information reveals which of the three types of support: neutral, stability or motion-control will provide the best option for safety and success for your athlete.

Each style poses various requirements for support and cushioning and requires someone skilled at making these assessments. Someone who lands on the outside of their heels can transfer weight to the inner edge instead of the ball of the foot. We know this as overpronation, and another runner may land on their heel and roll inward. 

Improperly fitting shoes can cause pain or injuries to the knees, hips, back, and feet. When you select well-fitting, quality running shoes, you will help keep your child in the race.


By Kimberly Wagler, BA, CPT

Have you ever wanted to start (and stick with) a fitness program? Have you ever wondered if you were even physically capable of participating in one? Have you ever felt like you just don’t have the motivation or drive to make fitness a part of your life? You, certainly, aren’t alone.

Over the years, I’ve learned the strategies our clients use to get them on their health journey, in addition to what keeps them going. Take a look at the 4 traits we’ve seen in common with our most successful clients. Followed in order, these simple steps can not only help you get started, but also make fitness a part of your lifestyle.

They started. Quit getting ready to get ready.

This sounds simple, but it’s often the most difficult first step. Most of us procrastinate because we keep “getting ready to get ready.” Why? Because the fear of what could potentially go wrong keeps us from taking action and finally gaining control of our health and wellness. Or, we put off starting because we don’t know how to start or what exercises to do.

On the other hand, successful people take action. They just start. Imagine the endorphin rush of achieving your goals. Feeling confident, healthy, and in control. Realizing you accomplished what you always knew you were capable of. This doesn’t need to be a fantasy. In fact, these are real-life results from our clients. People just like you. Feeling good, getting stronger, and still motivated for more.

But the only way to get there, the first (most important) step, is committing. Just getting started. Remember, you are the hero of the story. And just like any great story, it cannot begin until the hero takes action. So, act!

They’re consistent. Especially when it’s hard, and life seems too busy.

Now that you have committed, it’s time to be consistent. Life is busy. There is always something to take up your time. These priorities matter, but so does your health. It is difficult to succeed without planning.

Failure to plan is planning to fail, and that is why the most successful people plan ahead.

By scheduling workouts ahead of time, busy schedules become more manageable. I’ve found that, for most people, creating a schedule you can maintain week to week works best. That way, it becomes a part of your life and identity.

Getting an accountability partner can also help with consistency if they are someone you respect and will help you overcome excuses.

They follow a plan. What does success look like? What’s realistic?

You’ve started, and now you’ve committed to being consistent. The next step is to follow a proven path to success. Without a plan, it’s easy to get frustrated and off track. Getting “in shape” can be vague and structureless.

You can seek out professional help for this if you aren’t confident in your ability to create a plan. There are plenty of options these days. From simple at-home programs, to in-depth training programs at your local gym, you can absolutely find the best plan for your goals and your life!

For those who are uncomfortable asking for help or not confident in being able to talk to a fitness professional, follow these points to create your own plan.

  • Figure out what you like. What kind of activity do you enjoy the most?  If you don’t enjoy exercising, you most likely won’t continue doing it. Finding the type of movement you enjoy is key. For instance, if you are a former athlete, you may want to pick up your sport again. If you are an extreme introvert that enjoys movies, maybe it’s hopping on a cardio machine while you watch your favorite flick.
  • Start slow. Going crazy in your first session can cause so much soreness that you might not be willing to try it again.  If you are a former basketball player, don’t sign up for an intense league right away. Start by shooting around and doing some light drill work. Work your way up to being able to recreationally play, and then join the league when your body feels ready.
  • Set SMALL goals. Giving yourself achievable goals to hit each week is much more optimal than throwing out a 50-pound weight loss goal that just overwhelms your efforts. This is why programs like Couch to 5k are so successful. They focus solely on what needs to be done for that week.

They measure their success. And not just by using the scale.

The people who have gotten stronger, leaner, and healthier understand that weight alone is not an adequate measuring stick. Results and continued success happen when you understand what your body is made of and what it can do. Weight alone is an incomplete picture. It’s a number that represents everything in your body.

It is important to break your fitness down into meaningful data such as conditioning, strength, lean muscle, and fat mass. These individual factors are key to understanding your health, but more importantly, it gives you a direction and strategy to get you where you want to be.

Purposeful and consistent measurement of the right metrics is how the most successful people move forward with confidence. They know what they are doing is providing them with the best results possible.

Here are some great ways to measure your fitness level. Start by doing these movements, and complete them again every one to three months to measure your progress.

  • 1 mile test:  How fast can you complete a mile? This can be done on a bike, walking, running, swimming, etc.
  • Farmer carry: Time yourself to see how long you can walk at a comfortable pace while holding dumbbells. Make sure you are carrying the weight by your sides with one weight in each hand. You can use buckets filled with water if you don’t have access to dumbbells at home.
  • Pushups: How many can you do? Remember to use good form and not cheat yourself with half reps. If you need to modify, you can start on your knees or elevate your upper body by placing your hands on a chair or countertop.
  • Pull-ups or hold for time:  How many full-rep pull ups can you do? It is very difficult to do full pull-ups, so if you aren’t comfortable doing them, try to get yourself into a pull-up position with assistance. Time yourself to see how long you can hang.
  • Squats: The best option for this is to be able to hold a heavy weight and see how many squats you can do.
  • Body composition scans:  Inbody, Bod Pod, and Hydrostatic Weighing are the most accurate and accessible ways to get your body composition tested in our area. Typically, home scales aren’t going to be as accurate, but if that is all you have access to, then by all means use them.

The four traits listed above are tried and true methods to making fitness a lasting part of your lifestyle. If you’ve been wanting to improve your health journey, consider this your sign that it’s time to get moving. All you have to do is start.


By Courtney Wright, RDLD, CPT, CSN

Not sure where to get started on how to eat healthier? Ever feel trapped in the yes-no-maybe-why is nutrition advice so confusing? I get it…and I got you. The best nutrition advice will stand the test of time.

So, what exactly may that be? Simplicity. When in doubt, remember the basics. Here are five tips to add to your bucket list to start eating healthy.


Keep it simple

So, what exactly does this mean? Well, after browsing the web, you will soon have over ten tabs open on all the nutrition advice out there. You will also feel overwhelmed. If nutrition had a manual, there would only be one. There will always be someone out there promoting the latest craze with nutrition. Don’t believe it. If it seems too good to be true, it is.

My advice? Close the tabs and know there will never be one perfect diet. Keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, no eating after 7 pm, 1200 calorie deficit diets, etc. The best diet out there focuses on minimally processed foods, a lot of plants, and planning ahead. You can eliminate so many unhealthy choices by simply planning your menu for the next week.

Make your healthy food convenient

We live in a busy world. Time seems to run out very quickly. Sometimes it feels like we don’t have time to cook. I often tell clients to sit down on whatever day they have off (usually Sunday), and look at their upcoming schedule. Whatever days they are extra busy, put a “Q” (Quick dinner). on the menu.

Make these dinners 20 minutes or less. So yes, you still have to cook, but anyone can find 20 minutes to put something together. You can search “20-minute meals” online or opt for a quick salad, fish, pasta, or other quick dishes.

Another way to make healthy food more convenient is to do some snack prepping on your day off. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Washing off your fruit, cutting up some veggies, portioning out yogurt, or boiling some eggs. This encourages you to reach for a yogurt over junk food when you are hungry.

It’s okay to take a detour, but always come back

If you change your mindset, you can change your habits. Imagine a setback as a detour and not a dead end. We are all human and will not make perfect choices at each meal, every day, for the rest of our lives. Food is just food. It’s neither bad nor good, it simply provides us with nourishment or pleasure. It’s okay to have both.

A mixed green salad at lunch and an ice cream at night with your kids are both okay. We know that ice cream at each meal won’t make us feel physically well, and we know that salad at each meal is boring. Once you take the pressure off yourself for perfection, it creates more freedom in your food choices and less guilt in your mind.


Find enjoyment outside of food

When we begin a new journey to be healthy, sometimes we are hyper focused on food alone. This can get us into trouble when we have cravings for food that we really don’t want. We seem to eat out of default instead of an informed decision of actually wanting the food. Do you tend to crave junk food at night? Do you feel powerless at the 2 pm donuts in the board room at work? That’s totally normal, but ask yourself if you really want the food you are reaching for.

We tend to eat out of habit when we are bored or stressed. Find things to do that you’ve been wanting to do; listen to your favorite song, read a book, take a bath, journal, call a family member, etc. Once we focus our attention on activities outside of eating, processed food seems less appealing because we are finding pleasure outside of food.

Eat more plant based

Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. It doesn’t mean you cannot eat meat or dairy; it just means to eat less of it. Research has consistently shown that the Mediterranean (plant-based) diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. It’s important to note, this diet is not a fad, rather it’s a journey to eat healthier options for optimal health. Here is a sample menu of what a plant-based diet looks like.



  1. Wrap–Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with scrambled egg, black beans, peppers, onions, Monterey jack cheese, and a splash of hot sauce or salsa.
  2. Oats with walnuts or almonds, banana, and cinnamon.
  3. Whole-wheat English muffin topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices, and blueberries.



  1. Vegetarian pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, and mushroom; fresh strawberries for dessert.
  2. Greek salad–Chopped mixed greens with fresh tomato, Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, crumbled feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Whole-wheat pita on the side, fresh melon for dessert.
  3. Tomato basil soup, whole-grain crackers with tabbouleh, and an apple.



  1. Vegetarian chili with a spinach-orzo salad.
  2. Grilled vegetable kabobs with grilled tofu, and a quinoa and spinach salad.
  3. Whole-wheat pasta with white beans and peas, and a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

So, there you have it, five ways to get started to becoming healthier. Always remember that it’s progress in your heating habits, not perfection. Simplicity and consistency will always persevere.


By Judith Bratten

“Start slow, start with small steps, and make it fun!” advises Angela Lombardo about developing a healthy lifestyle. And she should know. The owner/manager of Fresh Twist, a plant-centric kitchen established in 2019 in Steubenville, Ohio, Lombardo learned about the value of eating fresh and nutritious foods through her own research and taking classes to become a certified health coach.

“When my daughter was about two, she was diagnosed with a health condition that would require frequent surgeries throughout her life,” Lombardo explains. “That’s what started my search and my interest in preventing lifestyle-related disease through diet. We needed the doctors, but I also knew we could help by changing our eating habits.”

The purpose of Fresh Twist is stated clearly on their menu: Our mission is to provide delicious plant-based food and nutrition education to promote health and wellness within our community. Our recipes provide a synergistic blend of complex carbohydrates, phytonutrients, antioxidants, plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats. Long words to describe dishes that not only feed the body but are also environmentally friendly.

“We make an effort to source our food organically, locally, and sustainably,” Lombardo adds. The more she learned, the more she realized that diet alone wasn’t the key to good health. And the more she learned, the more she wanted to share her knowledge and experience with others.

“But when I did, friends would say ‘I don’t know how to eat healthy’ or ‘I don’t know where to get these foods’ or ‘I don’t know how to cook this way.’ So that’s when we decided to open Fresh Twist, as a way to introduce and encourage people to try a new way of eating and living.”

The eatery is a small but bright space with an open kitchen where customers can order set menu items or create their own salads, bowls, flatbreads, or smoothies. The pandemic hit just as they were growing, but they were able to keep interest up with their take-out menus. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff also draws customers back.

The most popular items? The Taco Bowl, the Taco Salad, and the Buddha Bowl (warm rice, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, crispy chickpeas, carrots, cabbage, smashed avocado, peanuts, and scallions).

“We’ve had guys get our taco salad and swear they were eating meat – but we create our own meat substitutes with all natural ingredients and no preservatives or additives,” she notes proudly. “And our most popular smoothy is called Purple Rain with blueberries, banana, almond milk, and a peanut butter drizzle.”

Her final advice is to look at eating and living a healthier lifestyle as an adventure. “Trial and error,” Lombardo suggests. “Try new things. Don’t be hard on yourself. Add a few more vegetables to your diet. Drink a few more glasses of water. Spend more time in the produce section rather than among the shelves of processed foods. Aim for the goal of 80% whole foods. Everyone is different with different needs and tastes, so be willing to experiment.”

Take a ride to Steubenville and try Fresh Twist for yourself. Located at 2311 Sunset Blvd., you can check the website to help you start on your adventure.


By Breanne Bakan

Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been around the block a few times (pun intended), your first marathon can seem daunting. Covering 26.2 miles on foot is no small feat, and many people don’t know where to start to prepare for such a task.


I have put together a few easy tips to get you started on your marathon journey!

Find a Support System

Whether it’s a running partner, a run group, or an online community, having people to hold you accountable is important. They’ll help you get out the door on the days it seems impossible. Plus, there’s a good chance they will know things you don’t, so you’ll be able to ask questions and learn things.

Get the Right Gear

Running is great because you don’t need a lot of equipment to do it. But there are a few important things to keep in mind. Having the right shoes on your feet can make the miles seem easier and help prevent injury. Head to your nearest run specialty store to have your gait analyzed by a professional so you can get the right shoes for your feet. I also recommend investing in comfortable running clothes that fit you well and are designed for whatever elements you’ll be training in. If you’re running in the winter, make sure you have appropriate clothing to keep you warm.

Make a Training Plan

If you find a training group, you might be able to get a training plan from them. If not, you need to make sure you find one that is geared to your current fitness level and will provide you with the necessary training to complete your marathon. Thankfully, the internet has tons of resources on this and many different plans to choose from. You can even find coaches online to help guide you through this journey.

Practice Your Race Day

This doesn’t mean run the full race; it means do everything that you would do on a race day on some training runs. Need a new pair of shoes? Don’t debut those on marathon morning. Looking to try some new hydration or nutrition? Don’t break those out for the first time at mile 10 of the race.

Making sure that everything you need for your marathon works for you and your body is important to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for race day success.

Be Patient

Running a marathon isn’t easy, and neither is preparing for one. When you first start it might seem impossible that you’ll ever complete that 26.2 miles. The best thing you can do is to take each day one at a time. Focus on what you have to do that day and enjoy the journey. After all, this is supposed to be fun. Before you know it, you’ll have finished your first marathon!

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