By Deanna Pizitz
Day No. 1
Mountain Brook Village on Foot
Start your day at MPower on Canterbury Road with a Megaformer Pilates Class at 9 a.m. Your first class is free, and I’d recommend this 50-minute challenge to get your blood flowing and heart pumping.
Midmorning Walk + Shop
Next cool down with a brisk walk around Mountain Brook Village. You should stop at my favorite active wear store Eleven Eleven Clothiers while you’re out.
Finish your walk at Brick and Tin, where you can refuel your body and get your fill of local and sustainable ingredients. You really can’t go wrong with any of the items here, but my favorite combination is the Butternut Squash Soup and the Autumn Vegetable Salad. If you are having a low-carb day, start with the Deviled Eggs & Pickles minus the saltine crackers and follow it with the Bluebird Salad. To make the salad the healthiest, swap the fried chicken for the roasted and order the dressing on the side. I would stay away from the grain salad unless you are heading home to take a nap. I am not sure what is in it but it puts me right to sleep.
Early Afternoon Walk
After you get done with your meal, head out and explore more village stores with an eye out for post-holiday sales. If you are over shopping head over to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and walk around. Camellias, hollies, orchids, pansies, tea olives, winter hazels, winter honeysuckles and wintersweets are all in bloom in January, and Asian magnolias, fringe flowers, Lenten roses, mahonias and quinces will follow in February. And there’s no fee to enter.
Late Afternoon Massage and More
After your walk, head across the street to The Grand Bohemian Spa for a massage at the Poseidon Spa. Call ahead (205-203-4740) to make a reservation for a Poseidon Signature Massage with customizable pressure and a choice of reflexology or aromatherapy ($120 for 50 minutes, $180 for 80 minutes), or a Relaxation Massage with therapeutic botanicals ($105 for 50 minutes, $165 for 80 minutes). After your massage take a shower and head to the Art Gallery to gaze at work by local artists. My favorite artist in there right now is Amy Crew, whose paintings create depth by working in thin layers using bold colors, earth tones, or a more monochromatic palette. Then head to their rooftop bar—research shows a glass of red wine may help prevent coronary artery disease after all. If it’s not too cold you can sit outside by the fire too.
Now that you’re relaxed, you can finish your evening with a healthy dinner from Habitat Feed and Social without leaving the Grand Bohemian. The menu changes due to the season, but I’d recommend starting with the Habitat Charcuterie & Regional Cheese, featuring stone fruit chutney, Habitat pickles, Baguette, Thomasville Tomme and Asher Blue, and then ordering the Pan Roasted Gulf Cobra, which comes with a healthy serving of veggies (warm freekah salad, mustard greens, baby turnips, pickled beets and a preserved lemon vinaigrette). Steer clear of the dessert – you do not want to undo all the good you’ve done. This is a great time to call it a day.
Day No. 2
Crestline Healthy Family Fun
After a slow morning at home, head to TriFusion right by Otey’s Tavern for Yogafusion class at 10 a.m. The class incorporates pilates and barre plus adds a series of abdominal toners to strengthen core muscles and lengthening stretches for a balanced strong body.
Grab the kids and head to Taco Mama. I love how fresh their ingredients are and that I can make my own burrito bowl with the healthiest items and still stay on track. My favorite is to build my own burrito bowl with barbacoa, pickled jalapenos, onions, avocado, pico de gallo, lots of lettuce, tomatoes and last the fresh salsa ranchera—no carbs included. Stay away from the chips – just don’t order them so you won’t be tempted. Another great option would be Mama’s Salad; I would leave off the croutons and add avocado for healthy fats. Stick with water to drink too. In fact if you will only change one thing in 2019, I would encourage you to drink more water.
Grab the kids and head to Crestline Park to burn off some of their energy or maybe even head over to Crestline Field to throw the football or Frisbee.
Healthy Dinner To-Go
Once you have worn out the kids, grab dinner for the family at Dinner. My absolute favorite item there is the Turkey Meatballs topped with house-made tomato sauce. My husband also loves the Panko Parmesan Chicken with its lemon caper sauce, but if you are watching those carbs, I would skip this. The pan-roasted Salmon is a great healthy choice too. You can’t go wrong with any of the sides except maybe skip the Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese and Twice Baked Potato. I like to add a salad with this and usually throw one together from my own refrigerator.
Movie Night In
Before leaving the village, stop by the Piggly Wiggly for a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn and maybe a dark chocolate bar to have a small piece of if you don’t choose to skip dessert. Once you get home, it’s time to stream or plug-in a movie for your family. My absolute favorite to watch, especially when my children were little, was The Chronicles of Narnia.
Day No. 3
Walking in the English Village Hills
Morning Walk with a View
English Village is one of my favorite places to walk. Park your car at the zoo and the follow this route: Head up Cahaba Road towards Key Circle, make a right on Argyle Road and loop around onto Stratford Road for a beautiful view of the city. Once you are back at Key Circle, head onto Aberdeen Road, and from there take a right onto Crest Road, where you’ll find another wonderful view of the city. Follow Crest back around to Aberdeen Road, and head down Lanark Road. Follow Lanark down towards Cahaba Road and take a right to head to Chez Lu Lu.
After you have gotten your appetite up, stop at Chez Lu Lu to break your fast. (I often coach clients in a form of intermittent fasting where you don’t eat until noon and then stop eating at 8 p.m. so your body uses the food it consumes more efficiently.) You really can’t go wrong with any of the salads or soups here. My favorite is the Lentil Soup and the Goat in the Orchard salad. If you are on a low carb day, steer clear of their wonderful bread, but if you aren’t try to limit yourself to two pieces dipped in olive oil so you don’t undo all of your good work.
You might want to do some shopping after lunch while you are in English Village or indulge in a haircut, massage, facial or manicure at Tonya Jones SalonSpa. And/or since you’re already parked at the Birmingham Zoo, why not go inside too? Even if you don’t have kids, it’s still fun to walk around and see the animals in action, especially the elephants.
Now, head home grab your shower relax for a bit. The best is yet to come. Then head back to the village for a night at Root to Tail. Their menu changes by season, I like to start with the Brussels Sprouts, roasted and served with smoked bacon, Parmesan and white balsamic gastrique, and then the Beet Salad with young greens, goat cheese, toasted cashews and a white balsamic vinaigrette. You can’t go wrong with the Grouper or the Roasted Chicken, even the Braised Beef Shank would be a good option. If you are watching your carbs after overindulging in the holidays, I would ask your waiter or waitress to leave off the grits or potatoes and ask for extra vegetables or the cauliflower rice.
What to Order
One thing I recommend to clients when I am coaching them with their health is to make sure they are being very mindful of what they are eating. Try to stay away from processed foods and eat real plant-based food. So if it has a mother (think eggs, chicken, beef, fish, etc.) or it is grown, then it is a good choice. We get off track eating out when we indulge in too much bread (just tell them not to even bring the bread basket), too much alcohol, and then dessert. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever have any of those things, but try to have a bite of dessert and maybe just one lighter cocktail (my choice is Tito’s and club soda with a lime). I believe you should do everything in moderation.
Deanna Pizitz blogs at Well & Worthy Life and runs health coaching programs. “I love working with clients on their health goals by helping them become the best version of themselves, and that looks different for everybody,” she says. Her group program is based in a Facebook group where she teaches nutrition and fitness strategies, and she also conducts one-on-one coaching. Learn more at wellandworthylife.com.