Thursday, December 18, 2014

Let It Go

Hello, friends! How is your holiday season going??

Last month, I dared you to move on Thanksgiving, and I'm pleased to report I heeded my own advice.  First, I helped my mother in the kitchen with the chopping of manyyyyyy colorful veggies.  Later on, I was able to spend a decent amount of my holiday playing with my cousin's adorable two-year-old!  His energy was contagious and I found myself out of breath more than once just following him around.  I moved around, ate my vegetables, and enjoyed time with my family, so overall it was a happy and healthy holiday.

My Thanksgiving Day

The morning after Thanksgiving, I even went to my old favorite Spinning and yoga classes! It's always fun to visit and work out with my first and favorite instructors.

I've successfully continued easing back into exercise, but what about easing back into BLOGGING?  Hellooooo, please forgive me for my neglect!  Sure, I've checked in with a few fun dares (have you tried sunchokes yet??) and some cool events and products I've had the pleasure of trying out, but I've been too busy working my day job to post as frequently as I used to, and I miss it!! I really do.

So I'm going to start up again, with dares and with tidbits, with info and with --- anything!  I'm simply daring myself to blog more regularly once again, easing back in just like my fitness.

First, let's announce the winners from last month's cookbook giveaway!! Congratulations to Carolyn B. and Debra C.!  You'll each receive a copy of The Paleo Approach cookbook, signed by the author, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne.  Enjoy!!

Next, I want to indulge in a little bloggy #ThrowBackThursday to a few DARES that are relevant once again:

  • It's been a while since I shared with you my obsession with podcasts, but podcast-talk has recently slammed hard into the mainstream thanks to the new hit Serial.  It's different from my previous podcasts in that it's a continuous (true!) story told over time, week after week.  My friend LT got me hooked, and you will be too. if you're looking for a compelling listen, I dare you to check it out--just be sure to start from the beginning!

  • Winter's here, so it's the perfect time to curl up with a warm cup of bone broth.  If you want to know what's up with bone broth--what its nutritional and health benefits are, as well as how you can make it at home--check out this post on bone broth.
Dare You To...

Finally, let's talk about having healthy holidays:

My dare here for the next two-three weeks of holiday parties and meal gatherings is simple: don't stress.  Many people who are health-minded (as you likely are if you're here reading this) will drive themselves nuts by trying to stay "on track" during the holidays.  Eat this, don't eat that... setting unrealistic expectations and then kicking themselves afterwards.

If you're worried about overindulging or eating the "wrong" foods, please remember to forgive yourself and move on.  Stress causes chemical changes in the body that are just as, if not more, unhealthy as some of the foods you might feel badly about eating, so I dare you to let go of this stress!

This time of year should be a joyful time, and while food can be part of the fun and cheer, try focusing on surrounding yourselves with people you love and have a good time. If that means you eat one too many cookies or agree to eat a dish you'd usually steer clear of, then simply know that your decision was just that--a choice. You made a choice, and it's done; let's carry on and enjoy the rest of the party!

Cheers :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ease back into exercise

Health update: I'm finally well again! 

After over a month of pain, my cough has finally disappeared. My recovery makes me really glad I made the hard but healthy choice not to run the 10k in October--definitely the smart decision.  While I was sick, I intentionally stepped back exercise because my lungs couldn't handle it and I really wanted to get better.  There's little glory in coughing myself through a workout, no need to put additional stress on an already stressed body.

BUT, feeling well and ready to work out... how do I get back in?  

For me, it started with walking.  As I explained in my post about not running my 10k, even walking around the city was leaving me short of breath.  So, that's step one: Early in November, I began going on the treadmill on a slight incline, walking at 3.0 mph for 20 - 30 minutes.  Later, I increased to 3.5-4 mph and also added in yoga stretching to warm up my muscles again.

In the second week, I tried the elliptical to get my heart rate up a bit more.  I also did some at-home workouts using DVDs (mostly bodyweight and dumbell exercises).  Finally, I went back on the treadmill and tried to kick it up to a 6mph run.  It lasted a few minutes before my knee woke up and whined to me.  (If only I had a Zero Runner...)

Interestingly, this made me think of Spinning and how much I used to enjoy it.  I had a great teacher until I moved, and I've been unable to find a class I love since.  Trying to get my heart pumping again, though, without shocking my joints, cycling seemed like a great solution.  Dusting off my spin shoes, I tried a few classes near me and immediately found a few teachers I enjoyed enough--if didn't love--and a few I did not.  After so long away from the bike, though, I must say I was happy to be back. After sitting around for so long, I loved the feeling of my heart soaring and then coming down again.  During the cold winter when I'm less inclined to head out for a run, I definitely see myself continuing to spin once a week or so.

This past week, I've done some Pilates and a strength class.  The class involved a lot of switching between exercises--bodyweight and dumbell--with three very short cardio intervals.  I was able to keep up and felt great after.  My legs were quite sore, but the good kind!  My back has felt amazing since I got a massage on my sister's birthday two weeks ago, so I don't want to do anything to upset it (like BODYPUMP, perhaps).  I'll probably continue doing bodyweight exercises (avoiding the barbell for now), yoga, and a bit of cycling; we'll see how it goes!

I'm still figuring out what my new routine will be, but easing back into fitness has finally gotten me to a place where I'm ready to decide and get moving! 

After illness or time off, how do you get back into fitness?  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MOVE this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends!

Thanksgiving is traditionally a day of food, family, and .... sitting around.  We sit watching the parade, we sit and catch up with relatives, we sit to watch football, we sit and eat dinner, we sit and digest, you get the picture. There's nothing wrong with taking time to relax and enjoy good company, but all this lying around can leave us feeling lethargic for days to come.

This Thanksgiving, I dare you to get up and MOVE!  

Maybe for you, that means getting in one awesome morning workout before the day begins--awesome!

Perhaps your family enjoys fulfilling a different Thanksgiving tradition of playing some backyard football.  Sounds great!

BUT there are many other ways to get moving throughout the day, too.  Here are a few ideas to try:
  • Get involved in the kitchen.  Often, holiday gatherings involve lots of home-cooked food. Whether you're the host and head chef or simply an invited guest, offer your assistance in the kitchen.  Cooking involves not only being on your feet and moving about the kitchen, but also keeps you active in simple tasks like chopping and dicing, or sometimes even more intensive movements like mashing potatoes or mixing dough.  Whatever it is, it's an improvement over lounging around!  Just be sure you don't overdo it on the taste tests :
Someone's got to peel and slice!

  • Not a sous chef? Be the server. As appetizers, meals, and desserts are served, be the one serving!  Between early crudite/dips to the final dessert, you'll be moving back and forth from the kitchen throughout the entirety afternoon/evening. 
  • Play with the kids.  Children are naturally active. They have so much energy, and they're not afraid to use it!  Whether they start up games on their own or need a bit of encouraging, you can get in a good amount of activity by playing with children.  Maybe it's a game of freeze-tag in the yard, maybe it's getting on your knees to follow around a crawling baby... maybe you play duck-duck-goose, clap through a few rounds of patty cake or slide, play with a Wii or Kinect, put on a magic show, or choreograph a dance routine...  Whatever it is, you'll probably find yourself moving around quite a bit!
  • Sign on for clean-up duty. So many dishes, so much to clean!  Again, this keeps you on your feet, keeps your hands moving, and sometimes involves a bit of elbow grease. 
  • Take movement breaks.  Set a timer on your phone/watch/timer and every hour or two, make a point of getting in just one or two minutes of physical activity.  It could be a brisk walk, some jumping jacks or burpees, a minute of squats, or a minute of pushups.  Do something to get your heart pumping and keep your muscles lookin' alive! 
  • Initiate a walk outside.  Whether before or after the main meal, invite others to join you on a walk!  It's nice to get some fresh air and stretch your legs, and others will likely be thankful for the idea and eager to join you. 
  • Plan active games. Backyard sports are one thing, but there are plenty of games to be played inside, too!  Choose a few games to offer up to the crowd: Charades and HeadsUp  are just two that come to mind, and I'm sure there are dozens more I'm not thinking of. What are your favorite active indoor games? 

How do YOU keep active during holiday festivities?

Remember, as always, to be grateful for your body and all it does for you. Continue to treat it well with nutritious food and smart activity.

Have a lovely holiday weekend!