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Five fitness professionals share their menus

Only 8 percent of new year's resolutions succeed — take a cue from these folks



You smash cans of PBR on any given week night, take shots of dark liquor like it's your job and end your drunken evenings gorging on cheesy fries and fried mushrooms. Your saving grace is that your environmentally conscious ways have you riding your bike to and from work, and occasionally to pick up a last-minute six pack at Common Market. But 2013 will be different. You wrote it in your journal and therefore into existence.

Statistically speaking, though, you're probably already drowning your failed attempts with a triple-digit bar tab. While 45 percent of Americans make new year's resolutions, only 8 percent succeed. A hefty 38 percent of resolutions involves dieting of some sort, resulting in a surge of gym-goers in January and a bunch of unhappy campers counting calories and saying no to dessert. Only half of resolutions are kept past six months — no surprise there.

Commitment to a healthy lifestyle is what gets results. It always outlives any half-assed attempt at self-improvement. Do yourself a favor and peruse the menus of four local health and fitness professionals and maybe even try one at home. You just might get hooked.

Alicia Roskind, Owner/Instructor of Okra Yoga (www.okracharlotte.com)

Alicia Roskind of Okra Yoga - MEREDITH JONES

Alicia Roskind says she wanted two words to be associated with her yoga studio: "local" and "home." She found one that encompasses both. "After researching, I realized okra grew really well locally in Charlotte, and for Southerners, it's a home-cooked food," she says.

Speaking of home, Roskind spent much of her young adulthood far from one with parents who traveled often to Jamaica, spreading love and non-violence alongside reggae singers and humanitarians like Bob Marley. Her exposure to island lifestyle made a lasting impression on her own dietary decisions. "Rastafarians promote Ital living, which is vegan, pretty much," Roskind says. The goal of Ital is to increase "livity" or life energy. Thus, consuming dead animals or preservatives and additives is thought to work against this energy.

Though a vegetarian for two years, Roskind doesn't label her current diet. "I don't like to be so restricted to where I can't eat something — and I really like meat." Still, this yogi consumes a more plant-based diet, focusing on vegetables. "The staple that I have to have is raw juice from Viva Raw. I have one of the green juices every day and it changes my entire mood and how my body feels." But, like most, Roskind has a guilty pleasure: A chocolate croissant from Sunflour Baking Company or Sweet Lorraine's is a weakness she can always give in to.

Elle Palmer, program facilitator, 3 Weeks to Wellness (www.3weekstowellness.com)

Three years ago, Elle Palmer was a Standard American Diet (SAD) gal. "I was just consuming lots of fast food, lots of pre-made stuff, processed foods, soda," she admits. Then, she decided to try the Dr. McDougall 10-day live-in program in Santa Rosa, Calif. "I didn't do it intending to change. I agreed to go with my mom because it was in California, there was yoga and a pool."

Meanwhile, she did change. Radically. Today, most think of her as a super human, radiating health and energy. Founder of local support group 3 Weeks to Wellness, she leads others to a spiritual, mental and physical transition during a 21-day plant-based cleansing program that she follows year-round. Her personal diet consists of morning kale juice and plenty of "funky" salads — with lots of protein, like black beans and quinoa — throughout the day. But she warns that she should always be kept with "at least 100 yards away from Solstice french fries."

Matt Hooker, World Kettlebell Club Trainer

Matt Hooker is the epitome of active. Whether it's kettlebell training, circuit training, trail running or attaining his 200-hour yoga teaching certification, he's always on the go.

Hooker's method for fueling up is simple. "I eat around five different things: Sweet potatoes, chicken breasts, ground turkey, kale, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli and brown rice. [Well, ok, that's actually eight, but who's counting?] I always say I eat like a dog. I eat the same thing every day."

Part man, seemingly part robot, he says he enjoys eating but admits most of it is a "utilitarian thing." In 2013, Hooker says he wants to eat more saturated fats. Instead of more obvious dietary additions, like red meat, he plans to continue taking a shot of coconut oil every day.

Annie Vereen, owner/instructor AFV Exotic Arts (www.afvexoticarts.com)

Being suspended on a pole burns calories. So does exotic dance. One of Vereen's main objectives, whether dancing or teaching others how to dance, is to promote expression. "I always encourage people to be sensual in whatever they're doing ... Sometimes I'll bring food in so they can [experiment with sensuality] with eating. I always keep chocolate in my studio and a prop like fake grapes. I try to play with their senses."

But food is more important to the exotic dancer than just being utilized as a tool to practice sensuality. In fact, Vereen says she eats often and a lot to keep herself moving and shaking. "I usually say [to my students]: focus on lean protein and cut out processed foods." Her typical diet consists of a few staples, including organic chicken, omelets, greek yogurt and vegetables.

Chef Margo Page, personal chef (www.chefmargopage.com)

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, food and family was instilled upon Margo Page in her earliest memories, from foraging mushrooms to gardening and canning vegetables. Today, she keeps a vegan home but as a personal chef, she won't restrict herself from nibbling on a piece of quality cheese or tasting a piece of fish she's preparing for a client. Her passion for a more natural, less processed culinary route was inspired during a classical French class.

"There was all this butter and heavy cream and crazy stuff ... and I said to myself, 'There has to be another way. There has to be something better that's just as delicious' and it just happened." Page says she's constantly snacking and tasting on the go but always starts the day off with a raw smoothie or chia seed Kombucha.

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