Philanthropy, Fashion, and Fitness: Gearing Up for GGG!

I am so excited to be walking the runway as a community model for Giving Goes Glam next month. I believe the foundation of every fashionable ensemble begins with fitness—a blended balance of physical and mental wellness.

Our inner strength shines through in everything we wear and how we interact with others, so when I began this fitness journey, I decided my goal would be increasing my confidence. I’m happy to report visiting the following fitness studios provided me with an opportunity to reach that goal a thousand times over!


Wicked Core:

Low Impact, Mega Sculpting

The Wicked Core studio is based on the large fitness method which combines strength-training, Pilates, and cardio. At the start of each class, each participant selects a mega-reformer machine for the 45-minute workout. Deb, our instructor, was a motivating machine! Throughout the entire class, she was our champion—cheerleading, checking each person’s form, and offering modified versions of each exercise.

I love that Wicked Core is a low impact, yet high-intensity program. The focus is to use slow and deliberate movements to lengthen and strengthen your muscles. You can feel the burn, irrefutable proof that you are challenging your body to change. At times, I even felt my muscles twitch (in a good way, lol!). In fact, one of the Wicked Core mottos is “Embrace the Shake!”

What is extremely unique about Wicked Core is the vast array of exercises that can be performed on the mega-reformer. A participant in my session shared that she had attended over 100 classes and found each to be unique and challenging. This is exciting news for me because my body easily adapts to workouts. It’s critical for me to change my routine if I am looking to trim down, firm up, or simply build my endurance.

What I Love About Wicked Core:

  • It’s beginner friendly! It takes no time at all learn to adjust to using the mega-reformer.
  • Wicked Core has two locations: Creekside and Spring Creek. Your membership includes access to both!
  • The Wicked Core App makes it easy to select the class that best suits your schedule.
  • The variety in exercises, instructors, as well as modifications to decrease/increase intensity = you and your body, will never get bored.



 Personal Goals, Group Support 

Located in the heart of The Woodlands, Orangetheory fitness studio seamlessly combines personalized coaching in a supportive group atmosphere. From the moment I booked my initial class, my personalizedprogram began—I received a call from my Coach Jessica welcoming me to the studio!  First timers are asked to arrive a few minutes prior tothe start of their first class for a complimentary program tutorial. Jessica created a workout program based on my fitness goals and taught me how to operate the three stations used in class: treadmills, rowing machines, and the weight room. While working out, my performance was trackedwith color-coded heart rate technology. Every participant’s first name and heart rate, and zone color appeared on a big TV screen in the fitness area– along with every other class participant. The colors correspond with your workout intensity as follows:

  • Blue zone: the living is easy
  • Green zone: trying but not dying
  • Orange zone: challenging and uncomfortable
  • Red zone: all-outmax!

The “theory” behind Orangetheory Fitness is that if you spend 12 collective minutes in orange or red zones during class, you’ll reach the threshold for an afterburn effect, where you “keep burning” additional calories for a day after the workout.

What I Love About Orangetheory:

  • The ability to create a personalized program based on specific fitness goals.
  • The Orangetheory heart rate monitor is a visual reminder to try your best.
  • The positivity from the trainer and class participants created a cohesive atmosphere. We’re all rooting for each other to make it to “orange”!
  • It’s fast and efficient–you get an amazingworkout done in an hour.


RIDE: Indoor Cycling

Sheer Excitement, Cycling Bliss

From the moment I walked through the door of RIDE, I felt like a member of their tribe.

The staff members and Ambassadors led the check-in process, greeting everyone by name and at times referencing a detail from the participant’s last studio visit. You immediately got the sense that they knew their people—and wanted you to become one of them!

Rideis a rhythm-based indoor cycling studio. Each class features a curated playlist with various beats per minute and aligns with the principles of high-intensityinterval training (HIIT) which trains different muscle groups and switches between fat burn, endurance, and metabolic conditioning. HIIT produces an “afterburn” effect – allowing your body to continue to burn calories after you have completed your workout.

There are a variety of classes on the weekly schedule to select from, including themed “rides” like Hip Hop Hump Day, Rodeo, Drake vs. Travis Scott, All The Feels Friday, and more.

Each participant must wear cycling shoes with either SPD or LOOK Delta cleats. If you are like me and do not own a pair, no worries, shoes are available to rent at the front desk. After check-in, each cyclist places their personal belongings in a locker and heads to the studio. Staff members are on-hand to help with making adjustments to your seat, handlebars, and to helpyou snap your shoes onto the pedals. I was also pleased to find that in advance each bike had been draped with clean towels and dumbbellsfor the arm workout. These may seem like small details, but I reallylike how they removed the guesswork and setup for locating all the extras. We were able to get straight to our workout. A+ client service!

My class was on a special day—my instructor Taryn’s birthday! Taryn was an amazinginstructor, andher love for spinwas infectious. I honestly did not think I would be able to pick up the skills required to have a dance party on the bike, especially in the first class. However, the music selection, instruction, and soft DJ style ambient lighting makeit easy for riders to feel the beat.

What I Love About RIDE:

  • Neither spin class experience or a sense of rhythm is required. Seriously, don’t be scared. As a matter of fact, Ride is a great way to learn those skills.
  • Great location in Hughes Landing! Easyparking and great places to hang out before or after class. (Yes, after class! There is a dedicated shower for use at the studio).
  • The sessions are so engaging and interactive; Ride does not feel like exercise; it’sjust fun. I could not believe I was in the studio for 45 minutes!
  • The company culture is amazing. The staff works as a cohesive unit, andother members are genuinely kind.

-Perisha Burnham

Perisha has lived in The Woodlands with her husband and two children for five years. She has a passion for community service and enjoys volunteering with several local charities and organizations. Perisha will be representing the Junior League of The Woodlands on April 5, 2019, as a community model for Giving Goes Glam

Destination 30A- A Woodlander’s Guide to the Emerald Coast

If you live in Texas or really anywhere in the South, you have probably seen the iconic round blue and yellow “30A” sticker adorning cars. Many know exactly what it stands for and some may wonder what this place called “30A” is all about and why it has a strong enough following for people to slap a sticker on their car to showcase their love for it.

30A is a 19.1 mile stretch of beach communities along the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle, arguably the most beautiful span of beaches in the U.S. The pristine blue and green waters rival the Caribbean and the pure white sand is like no other in the world. The iconic 30A is a gem in its own right and offers unique and quaint communities throughout. Each one of these communities stand alone with their own distinct personalities, yet will always share one common denominator, the magical blue and green waters that fade into the white powder sand.

Many potential 30A visitors are overwhelmed by the decisions to make before booking their trip due to the numerous options including how to get there, where to stay, what to eat and what to do. Good news! I have some great insight to help you make your 30A experience memorable enough to slap a sticker on your car when you leave!

How to Get There…

If you choose to fly, 30A is a quick 1.5-hour flight from Houston to Panama City.  Once in Panama City, you have a 30-minute drive to 30A. The airport is small and easy to navigate. There are plenty of Ubers and rental cars available at Panama City Airport.

If you decide to make the 9.5-hour drive to 30A from The Woodlands, you know that a few stops will be necessary. However, they don’t have to be painful. Most rentals along 30A are from Saturday to Saturday which means the traffic coming and going during the peak season is a sure thing, especially as you get closer to your destination. So for most of you renting during that period, this information can make your trip just a bit easier.

Leave early and make it to Baton Rouge for an early lunch. There is a great spot just off the interstate, rightfully named City Pork (Hollydale location). Call ahead and order lunch to go. They offer easy lunches that meet Louisiana flavor standards, trust me, I’m from New Orleans, and I approve. They will conveniently package it for you to take on the road.

Once you arrive in Mobile, you are guaranteed to feel the “beach traffic.”The mobile tunnel is a dreaded landmark for many seasoned beachgoers. It is slow moving and can add up to an hour to your trip if you get there at the wrong time. Avoid rush hour and try to plan your trip to arrive in Mobile as early as possible. If you choose to split the trip, I suggest staying overnight in Mobile at The Battle House Hotel and doing a quick tour of the U.S.S Alabama in the morning (you can’t check in to your beach house until 4 pm anyway). The battleship deserves a walkthrough. We took our kids to this museum last year, and our kids still talk about it today and bonus, our kids can’t ask what that ship is all about every single time we pass it.

The upside…once you get through Mobile you are only 2.5 hours from your happy place! To ease the last leg of the trip, Texas’ beloved destination/gas station, Buc-ee’s is in your future as they just opened their first out of state MASSIVE establishment about 30 miles east of Mobile so HOLD IT!

And before you know it, there it is…the highly anticipated exit 85! The last leg of your trip! You are only 30 minutes away from your vacation. Your kids are hungry, and you are thirsty. Don’t bother with the grocery stores on Saturday because everyone else is. We order pizzas from Pizza by the Sea (there are several locations) and pick it up on our way in town. You’re welcome!

So now you know how to get there. The other big question is, “where am I staying?” While 30A offers endless options that are sure to provide everyone with their “perfect spot,”it is helpful to be well versed on your options.

A Few of the Popular 30A Communities

Watercolor Beach

This resort planned community is ideal for the active lifestyle. Here you can take advantage of the miles of walking and biking trails that preserve the nature and beauty of the woods. Western Lake, the county’s largest natural dune lake calls Watercolor it’s home offering stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Additionally, there are several beautiful wooden footbridges that crossover Western Lake and are a photographer’s dream come true! Watercolor also offers a children’s summer camp, five community pools, a lazy river and a beachfront beach club that is currently under renovation and is slated to be complete this summer. Be sure to stop at Fish Out Of Water for an ocean view lunch or dinner and make sure you order the warm pimento cheese!

Grayton Beach

The local vibe is alive and well in this eclectic community. Here, the locals will welcome you with open arms, sandy feet, and a cold beverage! This beach allows permitted vehicles to drive right on the beach adding to its laid back attitude. A coastal dune lake borders one side of this town offering the chance to jump on a paddle board and cruise through the still waters that often connect to the Gulf of Mexico. Off the beaten path, you can enjoy the unique Shops at Grayton Beach. Stop in for breakfast at Black Bear and treat yourself to a piece of art from one of the local galleries. Grayton is home to Chiringo, a fun and festive beach bar and restaurant that has been known to turn into an energetic nightlife scene. On rainy days, grab the kids and head to Shards for a fun glass art project that you can take home as a souvenir.

Blue Mountain Beach

Considered one of the less-developed communities on 30A, Blue Mountain Beach still attracts many visitors for this very reason. This area happens to have the highest elevation along Florida’s Gulf Coast, allowing breathtaking views. The famous Blue Mountain Creamery is a must for an afternoon treat.  Grab dinner at Stinky’s Fish Camp for the perfect family-friendly night out. If there is a wait, head over to Stinky’s bait shop for a drink and live music to pass the time. You can’t leave Blue Mountain without visiting the ultra-popular Justin Gaffrey art gallery. Here you will discover the vast mediums Justin uses to express his vision. His work is truly unparalleled.


This cozy community is picture perfect. The quaint cottages wrapped with white picket fences, cobblestone streets, and unique storefronts give you the feeling you are walking through a movie set, and you are! The famous Truman Show starring Jim Carrey was filmed here and released in 1998. Seaside offers a surreal environment that has its visitors coming back for more year after year. From the movies under the stars to the unique book store (Sundog Books) and the town grocery (Modica Market), one can’t help but be drawn to this town. Breakfast at Great Southern Cafe and dinner on the rooftop deck at Bud & Alley’s is a must!


Alys Beach

Here, the brilliant-white homes and villas are what allows Alys to hold the bragging rights as being the most striking community along 30A. A stroll down this iconic stretch flanked with tropical palms will stay with you forever. Lunch at Georges is always a good idea. Finish off your evening poolside at one of the most beautiful outdoor restaurants in the area, Caliza with luxurious cabanas and where coastal cuisine is taken very seriously. Alys Beach has high standards, and it shows.


Rosemary Beach

Flickering lanterns and wood planked pathways guide you through this charming community. Rosemary offers one of the larger shopping experiences on 30A including the popular hidden Lantern Bookstore, Willow Clothing, and Patchouliesto name a few and of course, the obligatory visit to the Sugar Shack will be on your daily agenda. New to this area is Pescado that offers highly sought after seats on their deck with breathtaking views. Be sure to plan ahead to partake in this unforgettable experience as reservations are almost always necessary and it is an adult only establishment.


Wanting more?


30A truly is a way of “vacation” life, and for some, it’s a way of “real” life. If you decide you want a piece of this paradise to call your own, the local realtors are as warm and welcoming as the beaches that drew you here. Stop by The Beach Group and ask for James Watts. His team is the best in the area and can help you find your happy place.

Other 30A “Must Do’s”

Take a surf lesson with Austin Magee at Austin Magee Surf School in Seaside.

Hike through the Point Washington State Forest.

Visit Eden State Park and Plantation.

Charter a deep sea fishing trip off of Grayton Beach.

Take a paddleboard yoga class at the Boathouse in Watercolor.

Visit one of the many Farmers Markets.

Book a trip during Songwriters Festival, Seeing Red Wine Festival and Watercolor’s Christmas festival.

Grab a blanket and head to the beach for the sunset…look for the green flash.

Rent bikes and explore the towns around you.

I hope this helps to make your 30A experience an unforgettable one that will keep you going back for more and when you go, you will understand why most people can’t say they have only visited 30A once.   There is a reason why my family and 3.5 million visitors call 30A their vacation spot every year…go find out for yourself!


Courtesy Christine Mitchell Photography

Nicole Murphy

Owner, Mersea Watercolor

Nicole Murphy has lived in The Woodlands with her husband and two children for 14 years. She is passionate about giving back to several local charities where she is highly involved. Nicole enjoys traveling to her beach home in watercolor Florida with her husband, children, and friends.

Getting Fit for GGG – Amy Torres

The second installment in our Getting Fit For GGG series features community model and Interfaith of The Woodlands exceptional volunteer, Amy Torres. Amy and her husband Tony, and their three children moved to The Woodlands four years ago from Kansas City, Missouri. Amy jumped right in, getting involved at Interfaith and making a positive impact, serving as a chair of Giving Goes Glam on two separate occasions.
Here are the highlights from the fitness programs that Amy sampled on her quest to Get Fit for GGG:

Pure Barre

I started my fitness trials at the Classic Barre class at Pure Barre centrally located in Hughes Landing. I loved it. As a physical therapist, I know the importance of building the “foundation” muscles: abs, upper back, lower back and glute muscles. Although most exercises involved my full body, Pure Barre concentrated on the primary foundation muscle groups. I left there definitely sore but feeling longer and leaner.

Favorite Benefits:

  • Any fitness level can participate; always a way to increase the challenge or modify to make easier depending on one’s ability
  • I liked how they break down the class into stages: warm up, arms, thighs, glutes, abs, and stretch
  • The instructor walks around correcting technique to maximize workout and minimize injuries -was exhausted but felt longer abs, and leaner when I left


Next on my fitness circuit was the 30:30 class at DEFINE. The class included 30 minutes of spin and 30 minutes of barre. What a workout! The spin portion was not your typical spin class: The instructor, Gelena “G”, incorporated abs, arms and back exercises, which I thought was a nice addition. Just when I thought my lungs and legs couldn’t take anymore, we moved directly into barre work. The instructor was intentional about incorporating full-body exercises throughout and correcting my posture and alignment when I wasn’t doing something correctly. I was sweaty and exhausted at the end but I LOVE it, and I will definitely be back! I decided to stay for a yoga class after, and it was exactly what my tired muscles needed. Although we did heat the muscles up again, I was feeling so stretched out afterward that I was no longer sore.

Favorite Benefits:

  • I love that Define has a variety of different types of classes so you can change up your routine to avoid overuse and workout boredom
  • The instructor not only gave verbal but physical corrections by correcting alignment to decrease injury and maximize benefits
  • They have fantastic merchandise for purchase for both men and women. Great place to get gifts!

REACH Stretch Studio

My final fitness experience was with REACH Stretch Studio. I went in with a stiff neck from sleeping wrong and tight hamstrings from a tennis match the day before. My therapist took me through a quick evaluation and then got right to work. The stretches consisted of multiple repetitions of differing positions from my ankles to neck – always pushing to the point just before the discomfort point. I left feeling much looser and with less overall body pain. This therapy would be highly beneficial for anyone, including those who sit most of the day for work or for a competitive athlete.

  • Beautiful new studio, centrally located in The Woodlands
  • A knowledgeable therapist who personalized my session based on my individual needs
  • The appointment was quick- 30min sessions; therefore not hard to fit into my busy day
  • The after stretch hydration drink was an excellent way to finish

Amy Torres is a community model for the 2019 Giving Goes Glam Fashion Show and Luncheon. She will walk the runway on April 5, 2019, on behalf of Interfaith of The Woodlands. As a licensed physical therapist and active volunteer, she loves a good workout! She lives locally with her husband of 20 years, Tony and their three children. 


Sustainable Fitness, Attainable Goals

Now that the new year has arrived many of us are falling in line with the goal and intention setting that litters our social media feeds.  From diet to fitness, it’s easy to get caught up in picture-perfect ideals – aiming to mold our bodies, and maybe even our lifestyles, to look like the highlights of an influencer’s Instagram story.

There’s nothing wrong with having aspirations and goals.  They’re necessary for personal development and growth, but following a plan that isn’t a fit for your needs can lead to burnout, discouragement, and the abandonment of your pursuits.  The last thing you want to do when embarking on a fitness journey is set yourself up to feel further behind than you did when you first began.

The Woodlands is saturated with gyms large and small, boutique fitness studios, groups and clubs that all have their own way of helping you achieve your goals.  When it comes to deciding where you’re going to spend your time and energy here are some things to consider:


This one gets overlooked, but it’s a critical half of the equation for success:  whether it’s a motivating and encouraging instructor or trainer, a friendly and knowledgeable front desk person, a fellow client, or a combination of all three, whom you surround yourself with has a big impact on your ability to see a goal through to the finish line.  If the instructor’s style of motivating doesn’t suit you, or you don’t feel confident coming forward with a question about your membership, or the participants in your class or fellow gym attendees create an environment that makes you feel belittled rather than inspired, it might be time to reconsider where you’re putting your effort.

Find a community that encourages, motivates, inspires, and challenges you to pursue your physical goals.  That type of positive energy will work its way into other aspects of your life and ultimately make getting to the gym or studio not just something you want to do, but something you feel like you need to as well.

Method + Results

There might be a few hundred ways to get your heart rate up, tone your muscles, and increase your flexibility.  Discover something that works for you in all three categories and you’ll be in your best shape in no time.  When trying out different fitness methods in the pursuit of building a sustainable fitness routine ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can I see myself doing this 3-5 times a week without getting bored or overly fatigued?

  2. Do others who work out here just do this, or do they incorporate other methods into their lifestyle?

  3. If I dedicate myself to this method for the long-term, am I going to achieve the results that I’m after?

If the answers to these questions work well into your overall picture of what you’re trying to achieve for your lifestyle, it’s likely that the fitness method you are choosing is one that you will be able to stick to.  The results you garner will be more than enough to keep you motivated, and you’ll feel a good return for the time, energy, and resources you invest.

My hope for you in 2019 is that you discover a supportive environment that inspires you to achieve your goals, and sets you up for a level of success that will follow you for the rest of your life.

Gelena Scally- Gelena “G” Scally has lived in The Woodlands for five years where she owns and operates boutique fitness studio DEFINE: The Woodlands. She is passionate about connecting with her community by helping them achieve their health and fitness goals.

Crew in The Woodlands

Long known as the domain of male Ivy Leaguers, the sport of rowing has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years as training programs and facilities have become more widely accessible. You’ve probably seen the boats gliding across Lake Woodlands: long, skinny things with two, four, sometimes eight rowers pulling lengthy oars in unison so gracefully, it looks easy.

It is not easy. Rowing at the competitive level is described as a footrace that begins with a 500-meter sprint, settles into running as fast as you possibly can for 1,500 meters, and finishes with another 500-meter sprint.

Enthusiasts praise rowing for the full-body benefits. Back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, shoulders, biceps, lungs—they all get a workout. Balance, core stability, body strength and cardio endurance are the much-desired benefits. Not to mention the camaraderie of a team, Saturday regattas, and the possibility of a lifelong pursuit.

The Woodlands Rowing Club was first on the scene in 1989. Jim and Dee Hotop took over as directors after moving to The Woodlands in 2011. Dee suggests the only true requirement for potential rowers is the ability to swim. Though rowers are trained to stay in the boat, on occasion swimming is necessitated.

“We’re proud of our all-ages, all-levels program. There’s a place for everyone at The Woodlands Rowing Club,” Dee Hotop says. They should be proud! The club is 29-years-strong and still growing its recreational, competitive, and masters programs. Rosters for TWRC off-campus PE programs for CISD students and summer camps are also increasing. For rowers wanting to compete, Hotop stresses, “We don’t turn anyone away. We’re always looking for new talent. Always looking to grow our teams.”

It’s a commitment, for sure. Junior teams practice year-round, five days a week, with regattas some Saturdays. The results, however, cannot be ignored. TWRC has produced collegiate rowers for the likes of University of Texas, University of Massachusetts and West Point.

“Still, we’re very careful with our athletes. We want them happy and healthy,” she stresses. “It’s how we help them reach their goals. That’s our purpose. If we win races and acquire scholarships in the process, that’s great, but we help our members and students in so many other ways, too.” Ways like tenacity, confidence, teamwork—and fun.

Parati Competitive Rowing is the newest rowing club in The Woodlands. Mike and Jan Rosman established Parati in 2012 as a highly competitive, juniors-only club. In just six years, this club has qualified a staggering 39 boats to compete at the US Rowing Youth National Championship, including two bronze medal wins in 2018. After all, their motto is “paratus enin vitae,” which is Greek for ‘prepared for life.”

Students (grades 8–12) interested in rowing may take advantage of a free learn to row session at Parati. If hooked and ready to excel, they are invited to join a first-year novice team. JV and Varsity teams follow.

Jan doesn’t sugarcoat the commitment. “The training is rigorous: six days a week, forty-eight weeks a year; but that’s what it takes to develop world-class athletes.” Balance, however, is also key. “We’re together a lot, so we make it fun with lots of social activities and community service. Hard work is easier when you’re in the company of friends,” Jan stresses. “The whole development of our kids is our passion, our calling, our heart.”

That dedication is the bedrock on which collegiate rowers are built. Parati athletes have gone on to crew for the University of Texas, Duke, MIT, Boston University, Dartmouth, Villanova, Berkley and the Naval Academy, to name a few.

Both clubs gush over the contribution Woodforest Bank has made to their success. In 2017, Woodforest funded a boathouse at Northshore Park to be shared by The Woodlands Township, The Woodlands Rowing Club and Parati to store their equipment inside.

Rowing is a fulfilling sport that offers a full-body workout. Whether you’re looking to join a team or just do it on your own time, The Woodlands is a great place to discover a new passion.

Resolutions for Good Financial Planning

As we enter 2019, some may be left wondering “where has the time gone”? For many of us, taking stock of the previous year, vision planning, and goal setting for a new year is par for the course. The first of the year is when we tend to get serious about mapping out our physical health and fitness or becoming more involved with our communities and families. For those of you thinking about assessing your financial wellness, this article is for you! This topic can seem overwhelming and complicated, seeming like an intimidating goal to set in the new year, but we assure you, that is not the case.

When you find yourself at a point where life is kicking into high gear, i.e., your career is taking off, income is growing, children develop busy schedules; these competing priorities can really take a toll on you and your budget.

It’s the perfect time to make sure you are taking care of the basics that will take your finances to the next level. If you are examining your spending in the New Year or creating/re-setting your budget, follow this simple tip: The 20/60/20 Rule.  Allocate your income as such: 20% savings/investments, 60% essential expenses (housing, insurance, debt), and 20% discretionary expenses (entertainment, clothing, personal care). Any time you find it difficult to save the allocated 20%, your essential or discretionary spending may be off. The rule can be applied in most households, no matter your household income.

When considering goal-based investing, break your goals down to how much money you will need and when you will need it. This will allow for more strategic investing options. Goal-based investing also allows you to more closely monitor progress and adjust your approach as time goes on.

Short-term goals (1-2 years): Safety is important. You want to know your money is accessible when you need it. Such as an emergency fund or a medium-sized purchase.

Mid-term goals (2-10 years): Safety is important, but to reach these goals, you need your money to work a little harder and grow for you. Think: new furniture for the house, a new car, or a new home.

Long-term goals (10+ years): Growth is critical since these goals are often the most expensive and the most important. Starting now and leveraging the power of time to compound your money can help maximize growth. Most commonly funding college tuition or starting a business.

Retirement: Maximizing your savings is critical to ensure you can fund a retirement that may last more than 30 years. No matter how you envision your retirement, with a clear vision of your goals, you’ll be more likely to achieve them. From a saving perspective, your greatest tool is time. You’ve likely heard the phrase “save early and often”. What you probably haven’t heard is “diversify where you are saving”. A 401(k) and IRA, in our opinion, are staples in any retirement plan, but relying exclusively on them can leave you short if you look to retire prior to age 59 ½ or with too much taxable income in retirement. When saving for retirement, consider working to balance into Taxable, Tax-Deferred, Tax-Deductible, and Tax-Free accounts.

It’s time for a gut check: are you on track to achieve your goals? Even if you’ve been diligent about saving, it can be hard to measure your progress against specific goals, especially if you save mostly in one giant investment “bucket”, such as your 401(k) or a general savings account.

A good financial plan will map out all your goals and should show you not only how you are tracking to meet your goals, but also the options available to you if you are short on meeting them.

A solid financial plan should focus on protecting what you’ve built so far while also planning for the future. Lack of protection can put your entire plan at risk and you’ve worked too hard to get you and your family where they are today. Think about the goals you have. They likely require money, and most are funded by your income; the biggest asset you have in your working years. Here’s how you can help protect it:

Protect your Growing Paycheck: Having disability insurance coverage through your employer is a great start, but group plans may offer only a fraction of the benefit you need to protect your lifestyle. Evaluate your current coverage and consider closing any gaps with individual disability income insurance.

Revisit your Life Insurance: Review your coverage to make sure it is right for what you want it to protect. Work with a financial professional to help you understand what amount is appropriate for you and what type of life insurance best fits your needs.

Update your Estate Plan: Take time to review your beneficiaries, wills, trusts, and powers of attorney to make sure they’re still appropriate.  Especially if you have:

Married, had kids or accumulated significant assets

Divorced or become widowed

Become part of a blended family

Received an inheritance

Started a business

If stepping up your financial wellness is your New Year’s resolution, you have already won most of the battle. Financial planning is not just about sacrificing fun and money today so that you will have more later, but rather a holistic approach to balancing your need for future goals and your desire to “Spend Your Life Living”. Focus, surround yourself with a good team and be patient because the financial goals you set today will build and maintain your future financial wellness.

*Sponsored Content
Devin Greer and Andrew Snyder are Financial Advisors in The Woodlands. Both native Texans, they serve their clients and help them dream their best life, define it precisely, and deliver them into reality through a premier financial planning and wealth management experience.
This publication is not intended as legal or tax advice.  Financial Representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. All investments carry some level of risk including the potential loss of principal invested. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) and its subsidiaries. Devin Lacy Greer and Andrew Michael Snyder are Insurance Agents of NM and Registered Representatives of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (securities), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and member FINRA ( and SIPC (

Devin Greer
AR License: #11123192
Andrew Snyder
AR License: #8666816



Holiday Gift Guide 2018

We are so excited to announce with The Book The Woodlands Volume 3 our new 2018 Holiday Gift Guide!  It includes a wide array of options from local retailers right here in The Woodlands. Check out unique gift ideas in the Holiday Gift Guide in the current issue of The Book The Woodlands, and don’t forget to check out the Junior League Holiday Market next weekend for more Holiday finds!

Does Money Grow on Trees?

Transitioning from high school to the next chapter—whether that be college, trade school, work, etc.—requires the ability to be prepared academically, emotionally, physically and financially. As parents, we take eighteen years preparing our children for all of these things, and yet when graduation approaches, we wonder if we have done enough.

Regrettably, we tend to give little attention to educate our young adults about finances as they step into this next phase of life. While it is important to talk about money early on with our children, it is even more critical to have these conversations as they get ready to go out on their own.

As a mother of two children in college, I realized a number of years ago how seldom my own children handled physical money. With most of our financial systems now automated, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to teach the value of money when it seems to show up magically, with the click of a mouse or push of a button. While some high schools teach finance courses, few of them deal with day-to-day, practical concepts.

Most of our children now are very adept at using systems like debit cards, credit cards, Venmo and other electronic fund-transferring systems. However, they need to understand both how to budget for each week or month and the difference between spending and discretionary spending.

To start with, I recommend having your child write down all the items they spend money on each week and month. Next, help them become aware of additional expenses.

My son is just entering his senior year of college, and I have tried to help him build on this concept with each new school year. For example, I recently worked with him to create a detailed list of all expenses he will incur when he graduates from college and enters into the working world. He was amazed at how much the average person needs to spend each and every month.

Once you have identified the expenses, discuss which items are essential and which are discretionary. This may involve some interesting dialogue. Next, give your child actionable steps. I recommend making them personally responsible for paying a certain number or percentage of their own expenses. You may choose to give them money regularly to cover these expenses, or you may have them not only be responsible for knowing the cost of things, but also for paying with money they’ve earned themselves.

In either case, it is important for them to get in the habit of paying for things themselves—essential items first, discretionary items after. No matter the age of the child when you start this process, each year you can build on the number of expenses they are responsible for weekly and monthly.

I acknowledge that, as parents, it is often easier just to pay for all these items ourselves. However, as with all learning, it takes discipline and time. If you engage with and help your children practice, they will have a much better understanding of what things cost and how to pay for them—an understanding they’ll keep for the rest of their lives.

Kristin L. Young CRPC®
Private Wealth Advisor, Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

Kristin Young, along with her two children, has lived in The Woodlands for over 17 years. Her son and daughter are currently studying at Texas A&M University. As the owner of Kristin L. Young, an Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory practice, for over 25 years, she has dedicated time in her practice partnering with clients who are going through financial transitions. Having both her business and home here in The Woodlands, she is intrinsically involved in the community and loves to travel.

Detoxify Your Home

Helping a family member figure out why they had thyroid issues as a preteen led me to understand more about toxins and the effects they have on our bodies. Let’s face it: chemicals are everywhere! We use them to control unwanted pests, weeds, mold and mildew. It is in fabrics, dry cleaning solutions and carpeting. We find them in paints, plastics, cosmetics and even our food supply.

Children are at greater risk of exposure to chemicals for many reasons. Periods of rapid growth and development increase the influence that toxins have on their bodies. We have a filter that prevents harmful substances from passing from the bloodstream into the brain tissue, however, it works less effectively in children. The nervous system in children is very vulnerable since it is not completed until late childhood. Exposure during the rapid growth years can lead to the damage of brain structure and nerve function.

Once I educated myself on toxins, I began my quest to detoxify! I began removing toxic substance by making simple lifestyle changes to protect my family’s health.

Remember the saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, the same is true for the food you are eating. If you purchase beef or chicken that has a grain diet, then you are also eating that grain. We know grains and corn are two highly inflammatory foods. Studies show that inflammation increases your risk for cancer. I always recommend eating grass-fed animal protein, including eggs! If you purchase fruits and vegetables sprayed with chemicals, even after washing them, you will still get a dose of chemicals. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces a list that shows the 12 clean produce items and 15 dirtiest. Visit their website to find out more.

What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. Our skin is our largest organ. When you apply body products, the product is absorbed through your pores and creates an opportunity for toxins to enter the bloodstream. Think about all the products that you use on a daily basis, from the moment you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed. Toothpaste, mouthwash, body wash, face wash, shampoo, deodorant, soap, foundation, lipstick and more! According to the EWG, the average person uses over ten body products a day with over 126 ingredients being applied to the body. Always look for products that are free of parabens, phthalates, gluten and are as natural as possible. The app Think Dirty is a great resource; you can scan your current product and it will tell you on a scale from one to ten how toxic that product is and then offer you several cleaner replacement product suggestions.

So many cleaning products have chemicals in them that mimic estrogen in our bodies. These Xenoestrogens are endocrine disrupters, which means they disrupt our normal hormone function. These chemicals often bind to our hormone receptors and can be detrimental to our health. It is important to use cleaning products that are more natural and safer for our bodies.

I hope you will start your own quest to detoxify your home and bring healing to your family!

By Sakina Davis

Dr. Sakina Davis established the Woodlands Wellness and Cosmetic Center in January 2005. She completed her residency at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida in Family Practice, and she trained under Dr. Steven Hotze of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Katy, TX. Dr. Davis is also the author of “Unlocking the Mysteries of PCOS,” written to help educate women on this common condition. As a wife and mother of two, she is passionate about helping others and giving back to the community. She has been involved with the Montgomery County Food Bank, Interfaith of the Woodlands, CASA Advocates for Children, and has also chaired the American Heart Association Luncheon.

Generations in The Woodlands

Despite its warm atmosphere as a community of interconnected neighbors, The Woodlands is still a relatively new town; established in 1974, it’s only now that we can describe residents as being multi-generational. Some are surprised at how much The Woodlands has grown in such a short time, but we all know why people want to move here.

In this special article, we will explore the lives of those who moved to The Woodlands in the middle of their careers, those who grew up here and are returning to raise their own families, and those who have just recently made this community their home. These unique individuals and families will describe their favorite parts of The Woodlands, how they have seen it change, how The Woodlands makes it possible for them to serve their neighbors and more.

Ross Flurry

Ross Flurry opened his own mortgage company after the economic crash of 2008. After a few years, he became interested in expanding his career, which meant a possible move in his future. In 2013 his friends invited him to visit their home in The Woodlands, and even though the Houston area was not on his radar, he knew his search was over. “It was a beautiful 75 degree Friday night in Market Street. I was in awe. . . . I looked at my buddy and said ‘Where are we?’ By Sunday of that weekend, I decided I was going to move my business to The Woodlands,” Flurry says.

Flurry took the leap of faith. Over five years later, he is not only the owner of a thriving, local mortgage company, but he also genuinely enjoys living in The Woodlands. As a resident within a luxury apartment building, Flurry is one of many young men and women who have made a home in pedestrian-friendly complexes where it feels more like a city than a suburb.

Favorite Hangout

Flurry: “Hughes Landing. . . . I fell in love with that, because for a mid-30s, single guy new to The Woodlands, it was the place to be. That’s what I do on a Friday night—frequent the restaurants I love, make connections, meet clients. I love that I can walk downstairs and walk back home.”


The Weekend

Flurry: “You can find me on Lake Woodlands. On a nice weekend, I am in a kayak for five hours getting some sun. I love to frequent basketball courts and jogging trails. I’ve never had amenities like that. . . . Another thing I love is that we are 45 minutes away from anything you could dream of in Houston. . . . Not every place has that.”

Giving Back

Flurry: “I am currently the VP on the Board of Interfaith Young Professionals which is approaching 130 members. I had always heard of Interfaith, but I didn’t know all that they offered. It wasn’t until Hurricane Harvey that I saw Interfaith—they blew me away with how much they did. I feel like it was a great opportunity to jump in. They all have servant hearts. I wish I had known about it years ago when I got here.”

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Flurry: “The Millennial movement in The Woodlands. The age range 25–44 has grown immensely. The idea used to be . . . you are young and single, what are you doing here in The Woodlands? It’s been a huge increase.”

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Flurry: “The opportunities are endless in this town. So many people want to see you succeed. If you continue to be involved, you have the leaders who brought this town up over the years—they are wanting to find the next generation of leaders. My favorite part of living here is how ambitious I have become, because there are so many opportunities.”


Parker & Michelle Kink

Parker and Michelle Kink grew up in The Woodlands, but they weren’t always sure they were going to end up here. After attending The University of Texas at Austin, Parker remained there to begin his career in real estate. Michelle attended Texas Tech University and became a teacher in Conroe ISD before also moving to Austin.

They were married in 2016 with no intention of moving back to The Woodlands. “We loved Austin and all it had to offer,” Parker says. But the couple decided the best option would be to move home to The Woodlands, where both families still reside, to follow an opportunity to work for the family business, The Kink Team.

The Kinks welcomed their first daughter, Abigail, into their family this April, and they are privileged to live near their parents and grandparents. “I was blessed to grow up around my grandparents and some extended family, and [I] know how special those relationships are,” Michelle says.

Favorite Hangout

Michelle: We’re foodies. We’re social people. Typically, date night is going to have a drink with friends. One thing we have enjoyed about The Woodlands is that there is so much more live music now.

Parker: We also love Sapporo, the Japanese restaurant. They have the best sushi. They take really good care of us. Corkscrew BBQ in Old Town Spring is another one we like, and there’s a couple great spots with live music.

The Weekend

Michelle: Parker is very athletic, and we both love to be active outside. It’s a good way to take a breather, to refresh.

Parker: I love going to the Sam Houston National Forest. Just to get out in nature. It’s only a 20-minute drive.

Michelle: The nature in [The] Woodlands is so gorgeous and established. Abby loves all the sounds and visual elements such as the birds chirping and trees canopying over the paths.

Giving Back

Parker: One of the reasons [we] got involved with Interfaith Young Professionals is getting plugged in with our age group. It’s a service group, not a networking group.

Michelle: Also, our family is close by. There is always something we need to do for family, whether it’s our grandmother or my sister.

Parker: Right. And for me, it’s my clients as well—[working] in their yard or helping them move something.

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Parker: It feels like less of a small suburb, and more like a bigger town. There’s much more diversity than there was 10 years ago.

Michelle: It’s an exciting time to be in The Woodlands. It’s transitioning to more of a city feel. . . . One thing that has stayed the same [is] the nature aspect—the trails everywhere, beautiful parks. It feels good to be outside.

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Michelle: My favorite thing about The Woodlands is that it’s a community tailor-made to raise a family! It has everything such as safety, nature, great schools, convenience, churches. . . . It’s a tight-knit community regardless of how fast the population is growing.

Parker: The best thing about The Woodlands is the people. It’s changed a lot since we were younger, but the original heart of working towards a society where everyone helps each other out really is the culture. It’s not perfect, like anywhere, but . . . you’ll find [people] looking to raise a God-centered, respectable family that’s open to helping where there’s need.

Amy & Randy Jones

When Randy and Amy Jones visited friends in a small suburb called The Woodlands, they were not intending on moving there. “When I grew up, this was just a place that had a golf tournament,” says Randy.

However, after they were married, Amy surprised Randy one day and told him she had put money towards a house in Alden Bridge. They only lived in The Woodlands two years before a job opportunity took them elsewhere, but Randy says, “We needed to find a way to get back to The Woodlands.” Amy has the same sentiment: “We loved it. We loved everything about it. We loved the church, our friends, the community.”

In order to move back to the community that they loved so much, Randy opened his own business in the north Houston area. Now, with four children ranging from 4th grade to college, they are a family thankful to raise kids in The Woodlands. As the Executive Assistant to Dr. Robb at the United Methodist Church since 2009, Amy considers it a joy to serve her church and the community of The Woodlands.

Favorite Hangout

Amy: My favorite thing to do is sit outside. So, if it has outdoor seating, I’ll go there every time. We love the Waterway, Market Street and Hughes Landing.

Randy: Yes, [we love] the fact that there are so many restaurants there. Hughes Landing—you can go and enjoy sitting outside.

The Weekend

Amy: Our weekends are centered around our kids and their activities and sports, lacrosse and football. And we go to church. We also try to get a few hours on the lake when it’s nice out. And then, back to the grocery store to prepare for the week!

Giving Back

Amy: [The] National Charity League and National Charity Round Table allow you to volunteer in many areas with your children. With Harvey, we were able to do a lot of volunteering as a family.

Randy: You can connect with others in your community for common good. That’s a lot of what this community is about. . . . The schools here encourage community service, so the kids are involved too.

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Randy: [It’s hard to believe that] all the development was planned in the beginning. . . . You just don’t have to leave The Woodlands. I look at it as a much more fun place to live now. I can’t think of a single negative.

Amy: The commercial development wasn’t there. Market street wasn’t even there. . . . Even though it’s grown, it’s still maintained the original plan that George Mitchell had. The trees are here, the bald eagle is flying around, the community is thriving, the schools are great, there is a religious place for everyone, there’s nightlife. The original intent of The Woodlands is still here.

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Randy and Amy: We love The Woodlands, because it is a loving and caring community. In our greatest highs and darkest lows, the people of The Woodlands are extraordinarily generous. . . . Whether it’s to celebrate a great accomplishment, mourn a family member or friend, band together for a great cause—the people of The Woodlands show up in an astounding way! . . . We go above and beyond to welcome others into our incredible community we call The Woodlands.

Barry & Fran Blanton

Barry and Fran Blanton have seen The Woodlands through much of its growth, having gone to Conroe High School when The Woodlands was simply land and trees. They remember The Last Bottom of the Lake Festival, a celebration of the upcoming filling up of Lake Woodlands, and the time when Greenspoint had the closest shopping mall.

“We lived here when there wasn’t a Woodlands at all,” Fran says. She has given back to the community for 20 years as a teacher in Conroe ISD, a school district that has seen continued expansion over the years. As for Barry, after having commuted to Houston for most of his career, he has now owned a local business in The Woodlands for several years. Barry and Fran feel blessed to have raised children, who are now grown, here in the Woodlands, and they have one granddaughter who lives nearby.

Favorite Hangout

Fran: We love to go to concerts at the Pavilion. We are five minutes away. We are home before most other people are out of traffic.

Barry: And dining out—we do a lot of that. Fran: You feel like Cheers around here. We know people at the restaurants, and even though it’s a pretty big place, it feels friendly.

The Weekend

Barry: We like to get up and run in the morning. We have been active in the running community and very active in a running club.

Fran: Our granddaughter plays soccer at Dynamo Dash, and we spend a lot of weekends either watching her play here or traveling to see her games. The park amenities are also great here, for kids and families.

Giving Back

Barry: We both volunteer a lot. . . . My primary charitable involvement is The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and its Light the Night Walk. My dad died of leukemia, and I’m a non-Hodgkin lymphoma survivor. We’ve had a family team since it’s been in The Woodlands.

Fran: [What makes The Woodlands great is] not only how many opportunities there are, but how many people are willing to help. . . . I work at a Title 1 school, and if a child or family has a need, I can make a few phone calls and teachers or friends will help.

Barry: We run an aid station for the IRONMAN, and it requires 120 people to staff it. People fight over volunteering for it. It’s not an easy job. We enjoy it.

Changes You’ve Seen Here

Barry: It’s way more diverse now than many years ago. And of course, the dining options are drastically different.

Fran: There are so many languages you will hear around The Woodlands. The growth—for instance, Conroe ISD has grown so much over the years. . . . There was nothing out there. . . . Now, I go back there, and it has exploded.

Barry: Hughes Landing is interesting. It’s brought a mix of residences with dining and shopping, as well as office buildings. The Glade Cultural Center is a neat museum and a nice cultural addition to the community.

Favorite Thing About The Woodlands

Fran: I don’t have to go far for anything. . . . It’s all 10 or 15 minutes away for me. But having Houston close by is fun.

Barry: My favorite thing is the sense of community. . . . I sit on some different boards; Leadership Montgomery County is one of my favorite organizations I have been involved with, and I was in the first one, which began in Conroe.

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