Guest Blogger: Pilar Cobb, owner bFit Studio
Avoid Holiday Weight Gain, Look & Feel Fabulous By New Year’s!
It’s that time of the year – again. We know the drill: candy and cookies in the office; luncheons; holiday parties ramping up; goodies from friends and neighbors. After all, it is the holiday season! Break the cycle and start the new you TODAY!
Stop giving into the temptation of high calorie and sugary treats and discover how good it feels to be active, full of energy, and know that you CAN be in control no matter what time of year it is.
The biggest eating holidays of the year are approaching for many of us. Embrace healthy habits now that will help you avoid feeling guilty or unhappy about your choices going in to the New Year.
Here are 10 ways to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain and look & feel fabulous by New Year’s:
1. Get goal oriented.
Be specific! Write them down and make them SMART. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timeframe. Do you want to drop 10 pounds of fat? Exercise 3 days a week? Run a 5K? Fit back into your jeans? Can I do this in 6 weeks? Write it down and have it posted somewhere you will see it every day. A dry erase marker works great on a bathroom mirror!
2. Push “restart”.
Maybe your choices weren’t so great for a meal, or even for a day. That’s okay! Push “restart” and get back on track! No need to wait until the next Monday to get started. Forgive yourself and get back on track your very next meal.
3. Start small.
You don’t have to overhaul your entire exercise routine and diet all in one fell swoop. Those who create true lifestyle changes take small, healthy steps and keep pushing forward a little at a time. Even if it’s a 15 minute walk to start – it’s a start! Slow and steady wins the race!
4. Get balanced.
Take a good look at your diet and see if you are eating too much sugar or a little too much processed foods. One half of your plate should be colorful vegetables, one quarter of your plate should be complex carbs such as brown rice, and one quarter of your plate is lean protein. A great trick is to use a smaller plate!
5. Think ahead.
Studies show that morning exerciser stick with it longer and even reduce their motivation for food. Studies also show that those who bring their lunches rather than eating out are actually more productive than their counterparts. So, plan ahead! Think about any challenges you might have coming up during the week…..work parties, lunches out with friends. If you are attending a gathering bring a healthy side dish that you know you can enjoy at the meal. Eating out? Check out the menu online and decide what healthy choices you will have so once you arrive you already know what you will order when you arrive. Another trick: be the first to order at your table so you aren’t tempted to order what 3 of your friends or family just did.
6. Give it time.
Change takes time – you may or may not see the scale move too much in your first week & that’s ok! It takes time to change habits and to create new ones – you always hear new habits take about 30 days. Commit to at least a month, you can see real change with your new healthier habits! Again, slow and steady wins the race!
7. Get accountable.
Don’t keep your goals to yourself – share them with a friend, family member, personal trainer, and talk every week about them. Better yet, have a buddy join you on your journey. When you don’t feel sticking with it, remind yourself of your goals; feeling better, looking better, losing weight, keeping up with kids – whatever were those reasons were that got you started!
8. Drink water.
Most of us don’t realize how many calories we consume when we reach for something other than water. Designer coffees, energy drinks, alcohol, soda, even sweet tea can drive your calories way up with no nutritional value. Water helps remove toxins and will help with weight loss.
9. Don’t skip sleep.
It is a crucial element of healthy weight loss. It’s easy to reach for food when you are tired. It’s easy to look for comfort foods and make poor choices when you don’t get enough sleep. Your body is telling you it needs something…..not food, more sleep!
10. Forgive yourself.
Have a not-so-great day? Let it go! Forgive yourself and start again with the next meal. Don’t throw in the towel or punish yourself by not eating the rest of the day if you had a unhealthy lunch. You are worth it! Forgive the imperfection and make a better decision the next time. Small good choices now over time will create BIG changes!
If you are looking for a solid plan to help you get your eating habits and energy back on track, bFit Studio has over 50 plans to move you to a healthier, slimmer you! Need convenience? Try our 30 day plan nutritional cleansing and fat burning plan that has everything you need, give your body a break from the junk it doesn’t want and rediscover the energy you might be struggling to find!
Pilar Cobb, NASM/ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Owner, bFit Studio
Photo Credit: graphicleftovers.com
Guest Post by C. Jonathan Brogdon, MS, Counseling Resident in the Sarah T. Butler Children’s Center at the Pastoral Institute
The holidays offer the perfect opportunities to teach manners to children
Holidays are a time filled with excitement. An atmosphere of community and camaraderie appears that seems forgotten over the rest of the year. What helps to create this atmosphere? One basic element is politeness … social etiquette … good, old-fashioned manners.
We see examples of good manners everywhere: welcoming people with a holiday greeting, saying “yes ma’am” and “no sir,” speaking up and smiling. We dust off good habits to say, “Will you please repeat that?” rather than, “Huh?” and to say, “Excuse me,” when passing people in a hurry. We even graciously accept that ugly sweater or other unwanted gift with a smile and a simple “thank you.” With this increase in our positive social interactions, the holidays offer the perfect opportunities to teach manners to children.
It is important for you as a parent or caregiver to remember that everything you do is watched! Children learn to navigate this world by the examples you provide. Knowing this, you can create opportunities for meaningful learning. For example, you can deliberately accentuate the key behaviors you’re modeling for your child. Say things like “thank you” and “yes sir” prominently when interacting with your young child or with others while in front of your child. And let older children see you writing thank-you notes for gifts or opening the door for others while shopping.
Supporting children’s efforts is vital. Compliment your children for the appropriate behaviors in which they engage. This helps to establish confidence and to identify behaviors that are acceptable.
As children mature, help them explore problem-solving techniques and emotional regulation. Younger children especially have difficulty regulating their emotions and solving problems effectively. These skills are valuable when a child has to handle a disappointment, like receiving clothing rather than the toy he wanted.
Establish Social Boundaries
Social boundaries help children learn that there are proper and improper behaviors that they can engage in toward others. While it might be cute when a young child sticks her finger in Grandma’s holiday cake, it’s important to take that moment to teach her that such a behavior is crossing a boundary and is inappropriate.
Encourage exploration and responsibility at home and out in public by giving your child interactive tasks to complete. Examples include asking him to give some money to individuals taking donations over the holidays or to read the recipe to you while cooking the holiday dinner. These moments of exploration help children practice and refine their skills.
Don’t forget to play with your children! Playtime provides an excellent opportunity to model and teach social skills such as sharing, taking turns, saying“please” and “thank you,” and being responsible with all the new toys. When you play, however, don’t forget that you are the adult. Engage in play that is at each child’s level, but do so as a loving adult who models and encourages proper social skills.
Manners Through the Ages
The holidays naturally provide a multitude of situations to practice social skills. Here is an age-appropriate list of skills to practice with your children.
Ages 2 to 4
Teach children basic social skill application.
Encourage them to look you and others in the eyes when talking. Teach them how and when to say: • “May I” and “please” when asking for something • “Thank you” when receiving • “You’re welcome” when being thanked • “Yes/no ma’am” and “yes/no sir” when answering an adult • “Hello” and “good-bye” when someone arrives and departs • “Excuse me” and “sorry” when disturbing others
Begin teaching table etiquette: • Mouth closed when eating • Not playing with food • Using table utensils
Teach the basics of sharing and cleaning up during and after play.
Ages 4 to 7
Remind your children to apply their social skills and provide more complex discussion of those skills.
Playing well with others • Sharing • Taking turns • Caring for their toys
Helping around the house • Cleaning up their rooms • Helping to set/clear the table at dinner
Communicating effectively • Introducing themselves to others • Not interrupting • Listening to instructions • Respectfully responding when spoken to
Ages 7 to 13
Encourage more self-driven application of their skills and exploration of their social environment.
Taking social initiative • Writing thank-you letters • Addressing guests at home graciously • Encouraging others • Helping someone who is in need (e.g. holding the door open for someone)
Improving social interaction • Respecting others’ privacy • Showing respect to others who are different • Showing good sportsmanship • Speaking clearly when on the phone • Respecting people who are busy and waiting for an appropriate moment to interrupt • Attempting to not disturb others when playing video games or listening to music
Taking social responsibility • Doing chores without being asked • Doing homework or telling parents about school projects (prior to the night before they’re due)
NOTE: This article first appeared in Valley Parent magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Photo Credit: Graphicleftovers.com
Guest Post by Lauren Mescon, JD, Rodan & Fields Independent Consultant
Drinking water daily therefore is a logical conclusion. Experts recommend that we drink about eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day, ideally starting with one glass first thing in the morning.
Starting with a glass of water with lemon first thing in the morning can get your metabolism started as dehydration can slow your metabolism and we all know what that means.
People often think of carbonated sodas as a substitute for water. It is not. Sugar free or sugar filled, they are questionable for your health. A 2006 study at Tufts University found that three colas a week over the course of 5 years can cause significant bone loss, as the phosphoric acid found in colas blocks calcium absorption in bones. So, think of it, bones support the structure of our skin, which means too much soda can also lead to saggy, droopy skin. Who wants that?
While the skincare we use is critical for healthy skin, protected from the sun and other environmental stressors, it is equally important that we take care of our skin from the inside too.
Drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly and eating a balanced, well rounded diet are all important for skin health. Getting enough sleep (minimum of 7 hours, preferably 8) and managing your stress also make a big difference.
So, as the holidays approach, start breaking the soda and sweet tea habit now, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep and don’t stress over what Santa might not bring you. Remember, it takes 37 muscles to frown and only 22 muscles to smile. So Smile, it makes you look better and conserves energy too.
Lauren Mescon, Independent Consultant
404.375.1636 | email@example.com
Guest post by Mandy Mangione, Licensed Esthetician, Southeast Regional MedSpa
Protect your skin during colder weather
There is nothing more important than maintaining healthy and youthful skin year round. After all, our skin is our largest organ and the most visual one we have. Keeping beautiful is a full time job especially in the winter when we tend to cover it up and lets be honest, just plain old forget about it!
Now for those of you who have ever contemplated Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasions, or Laser treatments, or a Hydrafacial package, winter is prime time. You are less likely to have long term exposure to the sun, therefore any treatment you choose to have will have maximum benefits.
Southeast Regional Med Spa and our group of certified Estheticians and our Laser Technician can provide free consultations and the best treatment recommended for you along with the proper skin care from Skinmedica or Revisions.
A relaxing massage paired together with an exfoliating scrub will provide a tranquil experience as well as luxuriously soft skin that can beat away those winter blues.
Now once you have pampered yourself at Southeast Regional Med Spa, you are going to need to protect your investment.
Here are three tips to protect your skin during the year’s harshest season:
Tip 1: First priority, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Without proper hydration internally and externally, you are at risk of premature aging, accelerated dryness, and you will lose the battle with those free radicals we are a war with everyday. It’s easy to forget to hydrate as often in the winter since we are not standing in our own puddles with 100 degree weather. Keeping a water bottle or tumbler with water close by at all times, and remember to drink even if you are not thirsty. Thirst is our brains way of telling us the onset of dehydration is near. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already one step behind.
Tip 2: Now, your home care routine will include cleansing twice a day, exfoliation at least twice a week and of course, moisturizer and your sunscreen in the morning.
Tip 3: Do not underestimate your sunscreen! Even if you are stepping out for a quick errand, the effects of the suns UVA/UVB rays are as potent if not more so in the winter. For those of you who will travel for the holidays to our colder, windier states, sunscreen will be the key to minimal damage.
As if chasing after our sweet little minions all day is not hard enough now you have to keep that up beautiful skin too. The good news is Southeast Regional Med Spa can make it quick, simple, and affordable for you. Come see us today.
Southeast Regional MedSpa 5669 Suite A Whitesville Rd Columbus, GA 31904
(706) 256-0929 Like us on Facebook for daily specials and giveaways!
Now that the time change has gone into effect, it’s a perfect opportunity to be reminded about the importance of good sleep. Children require 10-12 hours of sleep each night, and if your child uses a nightlight this research may be of even more interest to you.
A recent study by Ohio State University found that the color of the nightlight affected the mood of hamsters. The little critters who were exposed to blue or white light at night exhibited more depressive-like symptoms and depression-related changes in the brain than those exposed to red light.
The findings suggest that exposing the brain to brighter light in the sleeping hours could result in negative effects on health. You may even consider changing the bathroom nightlight to a red bulb. “Light at night may result in parts of the brain regulating mood receiving signals during time of the day when they shouldn’t,” Tracy Bedrosian, a co-author of the study, suggested. “This may be why light at night seems to be linked to depression in some people.”
Now that the kids are a bit more willing to go to bed as it turns darker earlier, it is important that parents look after their brain health, even during sleep. Camp Academia has experienced much success with children who have sleep issues. Brainjogging each and every day can improve academic, athletic and emotional health and well-being! Just 5-7 minutes twice a day is all it takes to improve a child’s brain effectiveness!
For more information, please call Camp Academia at 706.884.4492 or click here to visit their website.
Submitted by Camp Academia, Home of Brainjogging®
The Science of Smarter Thinking!
Dr. Sandra Bond, founder and leader of the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas, studies ways to get the most out of our brains – this applies to your children, too! She describes ways to increase the blood flow to our brain’s command center, the Frontal Lobe, which acts as the CEO of our brain. Check out these interesting strategies for improving function of your child’s BRAIN POWER:
1. Brain Power of ONE – Be Single-Minded! Think of one thing – focus on ONE THING – no distractions – for a designated period of time. Play “I Spy” with your child – focusing on that one thing, asking yes/no questions to determine the specific object. Is it bigger than a loaf of bread? Do we use it every day? Am I able to pick it up?
2. Brain Power of TWO – Determine the TWO most important things that will make the most difference to your day! Spend your time doing those! “When you’re hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits!” Work with your child to make a TO DO list; help him determine what is most important. Once you have determined that together, your child can break down the task into smaller parts. Provide positive feedback or a small reward for accomplishing those two items on the list.
3. Brain Power of DEEP – This is the most transformative, because it requires the MOST EFFORT. It means taking in information from all sources, and blending it with the knowledge that’s already in there – and synthesize! Work with your child as he learns new information at school. Ask, “What do you ALREADY know about this topic? What do you need to find out?” This will help draw on prior knowledge and build bridges to the next block of knowledge.
4. Brain Power of LESS – Reduce the amount of information. Big data freezes our brain. Teach your child how to do a “Brain Dump” – get all unnecessary items onto paper, into a phone, or saved on a computer document – what is taking up brain space that can be cleared before studying or homework time.
5. Brain Power of INNOVATIVE THINKING – Our brain is wired to be inspired! It dislikes the status quo or automatic pilot. Think outside the box! Make available creative materials for your child as he works on his homework. A standing table, a white board, big chart paper, markers, and crayons will help provide OPTIONS for creative ways to think about his work.
And finally, EAT & SLEEP & MOVE YOUR FEET!
If you do these POWERFUL strategies, you will have a stronger, smarter, snazzier brain!
To learn more about increasing your child’s learning ability, contact Camp Academia for a consultation. We offer programs for increasing the learning capacity in those with learning disorders. We are located at 1507 Vernon Road in LaGrange. Call 706.884.4492 or click here to visit our website.
Guest Blog by Brandi Payne, Owner Neat Home Solutions LLC
It’s no secret. Working moms know it’s a challenge to manage the demands of career, family and home. It’s another thing altogether to be a self-employed, working mom operating a successful business out of a home office that’s being shared by the whole family!
Charlotte Bowman, owner of Muscogee Moms, invited me to help organize her family’s shared home office – which is also the base of Muscogee Moms’ daily operations. We talked about how they use the space, her work schedule, and what she needs to accomplish while the kids are at school. Charlotte, her husband, and their two boys all have desks and computers in the room and the guys like to play video games, draw pictures and watch movies there.
We needed to create a simple system to allow Charlotte to prioritize her work and maintain her files to keep everything running smoothly. To do this, we focused on winnowing down the clutter, maximizing the available space, categorizing the paperwork, and creating landing zones to keep mail, paperwork, and current projects sorted.
The family plans to empty and remove their four-drawer file cabinet very soon and upgrade to smaller more efficient wireless printer. For these reasons, we did not utilize the large file cabinet and we donated the older printer to make room for the new one. To make the office more functional, we concentrated on specific areas, tackled a hot spot, prioritized the to-do list and ‘customized’ a file box. We didn’t need to buy any supplies to get organized… we re-used and re-purposed everything Charlotte already had on hand.
We began by clearing floor space to open up the room’s traffic flow. We moved boxes of computer hardware to another room to be sorted later. We picked up bags and file boxes and moved them off the floor and out of the doorway until we could create a permanent home for them.
Having clutter on the floor visually alters the way you perceive a space, making a large open room look and feel cramped before you even step inside. Floor clutter also poses a dangerous tripping hazard.
Charlotte keeps files in lightweight containers so they’re easy to grab but they were scattered across her workspace. We sorted through each container, discarding old files, labeling new files, and filing away stray papers. We re-used her existing containers and grouped the remaining files by category. For example, contract files are in one box, advertising files in another.
Tailor your filing system to your personal style. Use labels that trigger your memory and you’ll be more likely to follow through and file your important papers – and much more likely to find them when you need them! Before you toss paperwork, shred anything that contains your social security number or account numbers.
We even ‘customized’ a plastic file box to make it work for us, i.e., we broke the plastic lid off the box to make it more functional – Hey, there’s no rule that says you can’t!
Work Zone Visibility
Charlotte has built-in bookcases beside her desk and only the lower shelves needed our attention. To free up eye-level space by her desk, we moved several stacks of books to an out of the way shelf. Our newly sorted file boxes found their permanent home on the most accessible bottom shelf, allowing us to keep all the files together in one space.
This gave us room to spread out the paper trays and opened space for a new ‘temporary drop zone’. Charlotte can use this open drop zone for anything she’s working on or as a place to drop her purse at the end of the day. We also created a home for her laptop bag on the shelf and hung her work bag on a door knob.
HOT SPOT: A Heaping Inbox
As we worked our way through the office, we put all the ‘to-do’ paperwork and unopened mail into Charlotte’s inbox. Before we knew it, the stack was a foot tall and ready to topple over! We opened and dealt with the mail first, and guess what… most of it went right in the trash.
The best tip I can offer for incoming mail: Don’t lay it down! When you bring mail inside, go straight to a trash can, sort the mail immediately and toss everything you can. Create a place for bills and things that need immediate action. Visit CatalogChoice.org https://www.catalogchoice.org/ to opt out of receiving catalogs and junk mail.
We prioritized Charlotte’s paperwork into special projects and basic categories. Everything related to Mom’s Choice Awards or Kid’s Camp went into their respective pile, and we used a 1-2-3 system to sort the rest: 1 – Do it now. 2 – Do it soon. 3 – Do it later.
Once the papers were grouped, each of Charlotte’s paper trays became home to a 1-2-3 category. We also created a ‘Financial’ category for receipts and statements to be processed and filed. We also designated a space for each of the large projects on the bookcase.
Did I mention Charlotte makes notes? Lots of notes? We all do! Mom’s and business owners are supposed to remember everything right! We gathered several partially filled notepads and stacks of sticky notes into a category 3 file we designated ‘Homework’.
Charlotte uses a plastic storage cart to hold office supplies. We cleaned out the drawers, discarded used up items and donated unused items. We sorted the remaining supplies by type and re-stocked the drawers according to usage and accessibility.
How did we do it? We merged multiple packs of binder clips into a single container. We grouped multiple boxes of staples in a drawer and small electronics in another. My favorite change: Putting loose sheet protectors into a 3-ring binder, along with page dividers and colored folders. Now Charlotte can grab the binder and get what she needs. No more chasing slippery sheet protectors around!
Storage Zone: Business and Family Combined
The family is using a rack for overflow storage in the office. It holds computer hardware, items for business events, permanent business and personal records, promotional materials and stationary. We combined note cards and promotional materials into smaller boxes, and moved plastic containers and shipping supplies together to create a clean visual line.
As we worked our way through the office, we gathered and removed any items that didn’t belong in the room. Lego’s and kid’s books were moved to the boy’s rooms and school papers went to the kitchen where the boys do homework. All the other sneaky little items that crept into the office over time were put away in the rooms where they belonged. At the kid’s desks, we sorted papers and artwork, made room for a DVD movie case and cleaned out the desk drawers.
In just over 3 hours, we collected two full bags of trash, a couple empty boxes, and a bag of donations. We streamlined the home office to make the work/family division easier for Charlotte, while making the overall space functional for the family.
Most importantly, whether she’s working on family business or Muscogee Moms’ business, Charlotte can still connect and interact with her family and the guys can always hang out with mom.
Visit www.NeatHomeSolutions.com if you’d like to learn more about working with a professional organizer.
2013 Choice Awards contest
We have tallied the nominations and have determined the top 5 finalists in each category. (A few categories have fewer than 5 due to fewer nominations.) Where possible, we have included a link for each finalist. Prior to voting, please click on the link for any business which you may be unfamiliar. One of our goals with this contest is to showcase hidden gems in the area. So please learn more about them, then click the pink button below to vote for your favorite in each category.
Voters will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Wal-Mart gift card, compliments of LaGrange Moms!
The top three (3) businesses in each category to receive the highest number of online votes will be determined as Mom’s Choice Winner, Runner-Up and Honorable Mention, respectively.
If your business is a finalist, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how you can “rock the vote!”
August 5, 2013 – Nomination process begins
August 31, 2013 ~ Nomination process ends
October 7, 2013 ~ Voting begins
November 23, 2013 ~ Voting ends
January 6, 2014 ~ Winners to be announced here on our website
How will this summer’s rain affect fall color? That’s the question only Mother Nature can answer. Despite the soggy summer, Georgia could still see vibrant autumn color if the rain stays away, days are sunny and warm, and nights are cool but not freezing.
Whether leaves are fiery red or mellow gold, Georgia’s mountains will still be a popular getaway this autumn. To help leaf peepers find the best spots to visit, Georgia’s State Parks offer an online “Leaf Watch” travel planner. Regular updates will keep travelers posted on how fall color is progressing across Georgia’s Blue Ridge. The website is filled with top trails and overlooks, mountain cabins and campsites, fall events, and safe hiking tips.
Whether hiking around a lake or simply driving country roads, travelers can check Leaf Watch 2013 for expert advice on leaf watching. A link to Georgia Forestry Commission’s website will highlight regular blog posts and photos from foresters. Shutterbugs are even encouraged to post their favorite shots to the Georgia State Parks Facebook page for a chance to win prizes.
Typically, northern Georgia peaks in late October; however, color can be seen as early as September and as late as mid-November. Some parks in southern Georgia put on a pretty display during late autumn as well, particularly those with cypress trees and tea-colored lakes such as George L. Smith State Park.
“Fall is a great time to get outdoors and explore our beautiful state,” said Georgia State Park Director Becky Kelley. “We have short nature trails that are good for children, as well as longer trails that are perfect for a workout. We even have roadside overlooks, making it easy to enjoy the view from your car.”
State officials recently announced Georgia’s top 15 state parks for leaf watching, which includes Amicalola Falls, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Don Carter, F.D. Roosevelt, Fort Mountain, Hard Labor Creek, Moccasin Creek, James H. Sloppy Floyd, Red Top Mountain, Smithgall Woods, Sweetwater Creek, Tallulah Gorge, Unicoi and Vogel. For quieter getaways, visitors may want to explore parks further south, which can offer vibrant color as well.
Georgia’s State Parks offer a variety of accommodations where leaf peepers can stay right in the heart of autumn scenery. Rates range from around $22 for modern campsites with hot showers to around $150 for fully equipped cabins. “Glamping” yurts are usually $70, with new ones at Cloudland Canyon and Tugaloo state parks. Park rangers advise guests to make reservations as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for the most sought-after accommodations to be reserved 13 months in advance, and many campgrounds fill up early on weekends. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-864-7275 or at GeorgiaStateParks.org/reservations.
Top 15 Georgia State Parks for Fall Color
Amicalola Falls State Park – Dawsonville
Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall. The falls can be enjoyed from both easy and difficult trails. A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views. There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top. For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase. Amicalola Falls gets very busy on pretty October weekends. Pumpkin farms and apple orchards are nearby.
Black Rock Mountain State Park – Clayton
At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park. Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike. For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. If driving Hwy. 441 north to the park, you can also stop by Tallulah Gorge State Park and quirky Goats on the Roof.
Cloudland Canyon State Park – Near Chattanooga
One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging hiking trails. A favorite hike takes you down a long, steep staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls. (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.) The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon. New yurts are located off this trail.
Don Carter State Park – Lake Lanier
Georgia’s newest state park opened this summer on Lake Lanier, protecting a beautiful hardwood forest and many miles of shoreline. If you have a boat, this would be a great park to enjoy fall color from the water. A 1.5-mile paved (and quite hilly) trail is open to bikes and foot traffic. Another 2-mile trail is open to hikers only.
F. D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain
Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta. The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail. For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a lifesize bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and great views of the forested valley. Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.
Fort Mountain State Park – Chatsworth
This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s pretty, green lake. For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail. Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore, and horseback rides are available as well. Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks that are worth stopping for.
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge
Kayak tours of this park’s lake let you enjoy autumn color from a different perspective. Sign up for a ranger-led paddle or rent a canoe to explore on your own. Mountain bikers can explore 10 miles of trails ranging from beginner to experienced. This park is easily reached from I-20 exit 105.
James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville
This park near Rome is a good choice for families with young children. An easy walk circles a fishing lake, and kids enjoy feeding fish from the boardwalk. Older children will like the Marble Mine Trail which leads to a small waterfall with a pretty blue-green tint. Serious hikers can explore the nearby 330-mile Pinhoti Trail.
Moccasin Creek State Park – Lake Burton
Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake. Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower. Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.
Red Top Mountain State Park – Lake Allatoona
Just 40 minutes north of Atlanta you’ll find a variety of trails with nice fall color. The easy, flat 4-mile Iron Hill Loop is open to bikes and foot traffic, offering great views of the lake and forest. Another good choice for lake views is the 5.5-mile Homestead Trail. Families with young children will like the paved walking path behind the park office. Be sure to explore the log cabin and blacksmith shed.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen
Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls. A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees. This park is near many wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.
Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs
Just west of Atlanta you’ll find 9 miles of hiking trails, a beautiful creek and small lake. For an easy walk, take the popular 1-mile Red Trail which follows the creek to the ruins of an old mill. For more of a workout, continue past the mill to the Blue Trail, where you’ll climb steep bluffs for outstanding creek views. Sign up for a guided hike to learn more about this park’s Civil War history.
Tallulah Gorge State Park – Near Clayton
Tallulah is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails. Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom. During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.” Be sure to see the park’s film because it includes heart-racing footage of kayakers and news clips from Wallenda’s famous tightrope walk across the gorge.
Unicoi State Park – Helen
Avoid Oktoberfest crowds in Helen by hiking a pretty 3-mile trail which leads from the park into town. You can enjoy lunch and window shopping before hiking back to the trailhead. Mountain bikers can zip past fall color on the park’s challenging 7.5-mile bike loop. If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. (To avoid having to hike back, leave a second car at the falls.)
Vogel State Park – Blairsville
The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake. For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall. The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.
The twenty-third annual Chili Cook Off is just around the corner on October 26!
This community event is being sponsored again this year by the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority and historically draws over 1500 people to LaFayette Square in Downtown LaGrange . It is a fun, family friendly event and is a great way for local groups to raise funds and increase public awareness about their charities and causes.
Members of the community will purchase a $5.00 ticket for the chance to sample a variety of chili and cast a vote for their favorite. Professional chefs will also be judging the chili to select the Best Overall Chili winner. The first place winner will receive a cash prize of $200.00, second place earning a $100.00 prize. There is also the opportunity for cook off participants to earn prize money for the Best Decorated Booth and the People’s Choice award for Best Chili. All Cook Off entrants will earn some money just by participating, as the proceeds from the ticket sales will be equally divided among them, after the event expenses have been covered.
The Downtown LaGrange Development Authority has opened the event up to local groups and nonprofit organizations in the community that need to raise funds for their cause.
There are twenty five openings in the competition and the DLDA welcomes applications from other local groups such as Booster clubs and travelling sports clubs that are interested in participating in this LaGrange fall tradition. Through the years, many local organizations have found that the Chili Cook Off also serves as a great team building opportunity for them as they plan and work the event together.
For more information, please contact Barbie Watts at 706-298-4534 or email her at email@example.com