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Dads that cook give moms a much deserved break!

Cooking With Your Kids Promotes a Healthy Family Environment And May Make Them Less Likely To Abuse Drugs

From the moment you hold your child in your arms, no parent imagines their chid will grow up and abuse drugs. As parents, we try to provide a nurturing and loving environment, with boundaries and consequences. And one of the most available resources we have to promote a strong family bond is sometimes taken for granted, family mealtime. 

According to a report Family Matter: Substance Abuse and the American Family from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, parents can take some simple steps to preventing substance abuse and many revolve around family mealtime.

Mealtime can be as simple as microwaving a bowl of oatmeal to preparing an elaborate 5-course meal. In both scenarios, the environment is controlled: you, your child, conversation, quality time together, and cultivating life skills.

Does mealtime overwhelm you? If so, start small with the first meal of the day: breakfast. Children who eat breakfast are more likely to have a better memory and better test grades. Meal preparation can begin as early as 18-months. Encourage your child to gather fruit and yogurt from the refrigerator, cereal from the pantry, or a bowl from the drawer. Place a child-safe stool next to you and watch the delight in your child’s eyes as they contribute to mealtime preparation. Remember, when you make meal preparation achievable and age appropriate, you build confidence and increase your child’s self-esteem.

Have a toddler or preschooler at home? Ask him/her to help set the table, fill a water glass, prepare simple snacks like wash fruits and vegetables in a colander, spread hummus on a pita or prepare fruit kebabs. Drying dishes and sorting utensils are other fun activities for children to engage in, build their vocabulary, contribute to the home environment and help develop fundamental life skills. 

Struggle with a picky eater? Encourage children to chop vegetables, peel potatoes, crack eggs and prepare age appropriate meals like homemade pizza, taco station and meatballs (yes, kids love to get their hands dirty rolling the meatballs)! More likely than not, kids will have a feeling of accomplishment when they contribute to the family and are more likely to want to participate in family meals if they help prepare the foods.  For a healthier twist on meatballs, substitute lean ground chicken or lean ground turkey instead of ground beef.

Tired of making lunches? Teach your child how to prepare his/her lunch. Exposing children to healthy options in their environment will help them make healthy choices when away from home. Prepare lunch the night before (if appropriate) and avoid the morning rush! Remember, offer praises and words of affirmation on a job well done, even if there is a big mess when they finish. Be sure to hug your child when he/she contributes in a meaningful way.

A consistent mealtime preparation and ritual benefits the entire family. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “research consistently demonstrates that teens who eat dinner with their families frequently are at half the risk of substance abuse as teens who have family dinners infrequently.” Use this activity to spend quality time together, help build conversational and organizational skills, and promote a healthy lifestyle. Happy eating!

Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the website and fitness videos, which promote values important to moms: encouragement, support, positive thinking, and dedication. To learn more visit our website 

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Doing this for yourself can make your kids healthy, happy, and smart.

All parents want happiness and health for their children.  But how does a parent give that to a child?  Through paying so much attention to your kids’ needs that you don’t have any time for yourself?  Actually, research shows that one of the best ways to pass health and happiness on to your kids is to be healthy and happy yourself. 

But how can a person be healthy and happy?  Exercise is one of the keys to both.  We all know exercise leads to good health, but it also tends to make you happier as well.  Part of that has to do with endorphins that are released when you exercise, giving you a “natural high”.  But exercise in general has been linked to lower depression and increased levels of happiness. 

Guess what?  If you are happy, your kids are more likely to be happy as well.  In addition, research shows that your happiness is related to your efforts to mentally stimulate your child, the love and affection you express to your child, your positive interactions with your child, your being more supportive and less controlling of your child, your avoiding rejection of your child, and your increased communication with your child. 

Moreover, your children are more likely to be healthy and happy when they see you modeling health and happiness.  In fact, a study by researchers at Duke Medicine found that kids are more likely to eat healthy and be active when their moms model those behaviors themselves.  So like it or not, you are a role model for your children. 

There is, however, one more piece of surprising information: regular exercise may make your child smarter.  A study conducted by Michigan State University found that kids who were in the best physical shape outscored their peers on standardized tests and got better grades.  The study looked at all aspects of fitness, including flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, and body fat, suggesting that a well-rounded approach to fitness is also important. 

All parents should make sacrifices for their children, but taking that to the extreme of neglecting your own health and happiness only provides a role model of the very thing you don’t want for your children.  

More Information:  University Park mom of four, Niccole Maurici is co-founder of is dedicated to making moms the strongest they can be, both mentally and physically.  The staff researches issues important to moms and publishes unbiased research summaries at  We also produce fitness videos that are designed to help moms stay physically fit while keeping to their busy schedules.  For more information on finances, happiness, fitness, and parenting, visit   

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Free doctor safety video available on

To help prevent accidental injuries to children, has released a free video in which one of the country’s top emergency room physicians and one of the country’s top child trauma surgeons talk about their daily experience in the prevention and causes of accidental injury to children. 

Accidents are the number one cause of death and injury among children and teens, and their prevention should be a priority for every parent. 

The video is presented in seven feeding-length segments.  “You can watch a segment while feeding your baby, so just set up in front of the computer, feed, and learn how to protect your child,” says mom of four and co-founder Niccole Maurici.  

“If your physicians could spend an hour with you talking about how to keep your child safe, this is what they would tell you,” says father of three and co-founder Tal Franklin, who conducted the interviews.  “This was a truly eye-opening experience.  These doctors are great at explaining not only the risks to our children but also the reason behind preventative measures.  And when you’re dealing with accidental injury to a child, the old saying about an ounce of prevention rings particularly true.”

“Although no environment can be entirely safe, it is important as parents to know what the risks are and what we can do to prevent injury to our children,” Franklin continued.  

“As you watch the video, you get struck by how heart-wrenching it is for these heroic physicians to see preventable traumatic injuries to children, and how they want to make sure that no parent or child has to go through that ever again,” Maurici added.  “I urge all parents to watch this video.”  

The video is available free of charge to every parent at:

Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the website and fitness videos. is dedicated to making moms the strongest they can be, both mentally and physically.  We produce fitness videos to help moms stay physically fit while keeping to their busy schedules, and at the same time through our be+positive™ messages promote values important to moms.  Our website serves as both a platform to sell our videos and as a public service to provide free resources to moms on all aspects of parenting. 

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Showing love has benefits like increased happiness!

All You Need Is Love
This famous Beatles song opens with a four-letter word, repeated 9 times:

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

If you haven’t sung it in a while, give it a try. How do you feel? Relaxed. Exhilarated. Energized. Happy. Singing releases the same endorphins that you experience when you exercise, laugh out loud, smile, or are open to love. Starting February 1 and for the entire month, let’s challenge ourselves as Moms to 28-days of love. Download the calendar and pin it to your favorite location for daily inspiration to encourage you to become the most loving and strongest mom you can be.  We all need positive affirmation and want to hear encouraging words.  But expressing love to others also has benefits, like increased happiness and improved self-esteem.  Being a mom is the world’s most rewarding and challenging job.  You are terrific, you are important and you are love. 

For the next 28 days, let’s make a point of showing love, so it becomes a habit all year long! Like us @ and follow us on for daily inspirational messages that promote acts of love.  Stay connected to learn about a special giveaway on February 28th!

Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the website and fitness videos, which promote values important to moms: encouragement, support, positive thinking, and dedication.  To learn more visit our website

Pin on Pinterest 30-minute workouts focus on compound exercises to help busy moms achieve the best results possible.

That is a frequently asked question and as a woman’s body ages, our midsection changes. Hormones are a leading cause of this change in our body and as we age, our metabolism slows down.

Several hormones can affect midsection weight gain, primarily: 1.) Cortisol “the stress hormone”, which is released when we go into survival mode and can trigger an increase in appetite; and 2.) Estrogen, the “female hormone”, decreases as women enter menopause and can lower their metabolic rate. Simply stated, metabolic rate is the rate of energy expenditure when the body is at rest.

So what can you do?

1. Reduce the release of cortisol.
√ Breathe deeply. This can help release toxins and tension, bring clarity, and relieve pain and emotional problems while delivering more oxygen to your muscles and organs.
√ Sing out loud. Endorphins and oxytocin are released when you sing out loud. These hormones give you feelings of pleasure and can alleviate anxiety and stress.
√ Eat well. Choose nutritionally balanced foods. Your plate should have lean protein, fruits and vegetables and a minimal amount of fats. Try and avoid processed foods.
√ Sleep more. Make an effort to get to bed earlier and manage your time better. Seven to eight hours of sleep is still the recommendation of doctors.

2. Boost your metabolism with these exercises. You can’t control your age, genetics or gender, but here are things you can control:
√ Perform muscle defining exercises. High reps and low weights are not going to give you a sculpted physique, nor will they build muscle that will burn fat. Proper form during each rep will allow the muscle to contract long enough (3-4 seconds) to achieve the best results possible.
√ Perform weight-bearing exercises to help preserve bone health and bone density, build lean muscle and burn fat even when you are sleeping.
√ Perform compound exercises to build muscle strength, burn fat and improve endurance. Multiple muscle groups and multiple joints work simultaneously to help build lean muscle and improve your body image.
√ Get moving as often as you can. Park a little further from the store, take the steps instead of the elevator, and play outside with your kids. Enough little changes can add up, particularly if you have added lean muscle and are therefore burning more calories no matter what you are doing.

Remember, muscles require more energy and burn more calories. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. And the more calories you burn, the less muffin top you will see in the mirror.

Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the 30-minute workouts designed for moms at any age and stage of life, which incorporate muscle defining, weight bearing and compound exercises to achieve the best results possible. To learn more visit  

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At our 30-minute training class, a mom asked, “What can I do to help get rid of belly fat?” That is a frequently asked question and as a woman’s body ages, our midsection changes. Hormones are a leading cause of this change in our body and as we age, our metabolism slows down. So what can you do? Watch our 30-minute workouts in action and read our MOMORANDUM™-Muffin Top to learn more.™ was co-founded by University Park mom, Niccole Maurici, current mom of four and former certified personal trainer. Commit to be fit and see your life change! 

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Sponsored by, which was co-founded by University Park mom of four Niccole Maurici.

Most runners will tell you that finishing a race requires as much mental preparation as it does physical preparation. is sponsoring a FREE training group to equip moms across the DFW area with the mental and physical strength needed to finish the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon on Sunday, March 22, 2015.

The training program will begin on Sunday, January 11, 2015 and consist of a 6-day/week, 11-week program to develop strength, flexibility, endurance and mentality to finish the race. There will be three days of running and three days of 30-minute workouts. Once a week, participants will receive a FREE 30-minute training class with Niccole.  The workouts will be used to cross train, strength train and build stamina.

The half-marathon training program is free. The race entrance fee is $115, the fitness videos are $109, plus tax, S&H (can be purchased here) and the race day t-shirt is $20. If you have already purchased a fitness video, please bring proof of purchase to your first FREE training class. is committed to making moms the strongest they can be, both mentally and physically.  If you are a mom, or know a mom that wants to finish the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon on March 22, 2015, email Niccole Maurici at Together, let’s commit to be fit and see our lives change!

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Insight from University Park Mom and Co-Founder of™ 

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top New Year’s Resolution for 2014 was to lose weight, and #5 was to stay fit and healthy.  And according to that same Journal, just 8% of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions.  Most people attribute this failure to a lack of will power, but I have a different theory: people have trouble keeping their New Year’s Resolutions because they don’t follow the right process for goal-setting. 

A resolution is really just a goal: a commitment to follow a path that will lead you to something you value.  People who set goals are more likely to achieve the things they want for themselves, and the mere process of setting a goal and trying to achieve it actually makes people happier, even if they do not reach their goals.  Of course, not achieving a goal can also result in a person experiencing a feeling of failure.  However, if you set the right kind of goals, you will be much more likely to succeed.  The problem is, many people do not understand how to set a proper goal.

Here are some tips for setting a proper goal. 

First, frame your goal in a positive light.  Everyone has things they want to change about themselves or that they think they can do better.  I know I do.  Avoid beating yourself up and think about your goal in terms of a positive change.  Second, think big picture about what you want to achieve, what habits you would like to form (and get rid of), and the actual concrete steps you can take to get there.  Third, understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish.  Set a time frame to accomplish a goal with achievable short-term goals to help you reach the long-term goal.  And be sure and reward yourself for reaching those short-term goals.  Fourth, make sure the goal is realistic and achievable.  Fifth, make sure your goal involves you alone.  Avoid setting goals that involve the actions of other people or things beyond your control.  Finally, write down your goals and tell them to others to increase accountability. 

Now let’s put those principles into action in a concrete way involving fitness. 

Let’s start with the wrong way to set a goal:  I want to lose weight.  Why?  Because I feel fat.  How?  I will diet.  Time frame?  10 pounds in two weeks.  Anything else?  Yes, while I’m at it I will also make my spouse lose weight, but if I tell him about it he’ll just get upset.  These goals are vague (what’s the diet plan?), negative (I feel fat), and probably unrealistic (too much weight too fast and whether your spouse loses weight is up to him, not you). 

Here’s the right way to set a goal.  Start with a positive by visualizing what you want to achieve.  This will help you on the second step, of thinking big picture.  Is “losing weight” really your goal?  Or is it to look and feel fit?  Most people if they thought about it would choose the second option.  Now, think about the habits that will get you there: exercise and diet.  While there are many fad diets, the fact is that with exercise, just eating sensibly will cause you to burn fat and look and feel better.  As for exercise, choose something you enjoy that gets you moving.  I also recommend adding strength training to the regimen because that builds lean muscle and muscle burns fat, even when you are sleeping!  Now figure out what you can realistically accomplish: strength train X times a week for Y minutes each time, combined with Y minutes of aerobic exercise X times a week.  Be realistic with your schedule and include associated time, like driving to and from a gym if that is where you choose to work out.  Think of a way to reward yourself if you keep your schedule that first week, and so on.  If you want to involve your spouse, resolve to do things you control, like asking him to exercise with you or presenting healthier choices for meals.  Then, write down your goal and tell people about it to increase your accountability. 

If you fall off the wagon, resolve to get back on.  Just make a plan and do what you can!  Follow these steps and I know you’ll be happy you made a resolution for this New Year!

Niccole Maurici is a University Park resident, full time mom of four and a former certified personal trainer.  She is the co-founder and creator of the™ website and fitness videos.™ 30-minute videos and be+positive™ messages help moms be the strongest they can be, both mentally and physically.