4 Ways that Travelling the World Will Nourish Your Soul August 05 2016
Particularly in Western society, as we grow up and take on more and more responsibility like full time careers and families it gets easier and easier to tell ourselves we can’t afford to take the time out of our busy lives to travel, to see the world, to be carefree and experience new things. Our society teaches us that work comes first, and that personal time and enjoyment is reward for hard work. While these are good values to live by, it is important to remember to regularly nourish the soul, not just the body. Travel is something that everyone should value and experience, as much as we value our own physical health. It feeds the soul, and is good for the mind, body and spirit. Here are four solid reasons you should take the time to travel at some point in your life, and really experience all that other cultures and countries have to offer. Whether you take some time to explore the world on your own, or have your family in tow, make it happen!
- It broadens your perspective on life.
It’s hard to realize how much of a sheltered bubble we actually live in until we have properly stepped out of it. Placing yourself in new surroundings forces you to step out of your comfort zone, cross paths with people you normally wouldn’t, learn how other cultures live in comparison to yours, and most importantly that your way of life isn’t the only one! Living in North America, it can often feel like we’re the center of the universe, however there are so many other cultures out there that live quite differently based on cultural or religious values, or sometimes on the necessities of their climate and the state of their economy. While western society is generally considered one of the most advanced on a world scale, there is always more to learn from other cultures, and room for improvement in our own personal lives.
Contrastingly, sometimes viewing the poverty, struggles and corruption of third world countries is a necessary eye opener that makes us realize how blessed we are to live where we do and have the opportunity to live a comfortable, safe and healthy life. Basically, travelling both broadens our perspective on life and makes us more grateful for what we have.
- You will Learn about new cultural experiences, cuisines and traditions.
Now for the fun part- the cultural experience! As much as you might love the in and out burger and hitting the club on Saturday night, American cuisine and culture can be unhealthy and bland in comparison to the world of spice and flavor you will find abroad! Test your limits and try everything, you will no doubt discover new dishes and experiences that you never thought you’d be into! A cultured palette is a great thing to bring to the table (literally) on any date or business dinner as well, just saying. Plus, a girl or guy who can salsa? Talk about fire. Knowing about different types of foods, wines and cultural practices immediately makes you seem worldly and interesting, and gives you more to offer in any given relationship or conversation.
- You will learn a ton about yourself.
One majorly undervalued result of traveling is not the knowledge you bring back about the rest of the world, but how much you learn about yourself while exploring it. Testing your limits by putting yourself in unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) settings or scenarios, you will be forced to trust yourself and learn a lot about who you are, what you are capable of, and what your likes and dislikes are. You will also find yourself befriending people more easily, often people from different walks of life that you would never normally cross paths with, let alone befriend. Travelling forces us to put ourselves out there, it makes us more confident and outgoing, and above all it teaches us about self-reliance and courage.
- If offers an opportunity to meet likeminded people from different walks of life.
Some of the deepest, most influential relationships are born while travelling. The traveler has a certain mindset, a certain willingness to learn and expand one’s horizons, so those we meet on this path often teach us more than those we have known our entire lives. We are more open minded and accepting of people’s differences, which allows us to overlook things that would normally deter us from forging unexpected friendships. The bonds made while on the road are stronger, and being out of your regular routine and on a path of self-exploration together forms some of the deepest, most meaningful bonds.
So quit making excuses! Just pick up and go. Document every special moment. Enjoy it- the experience will make you feel more alive than ever, and the memories will last for a lifetime.
The Benefits of Walking- For the Non-Workout Buffs! October 21 2015
As you may have noticed, we talk a lot about living the “sweat life” and, being major sweat junkies ourselves, generally cater more to the fitness buffs in our blog topics. However, we do recognize that there are many people out there who don’t share the same affinity for the adrenaline rush of a good workout, or get the same therapeutic experience from strenuous exercise. Whichever category you fall into, it is important to understand the importance of basic exercise, and the body’s need for movement. You don’t have to kill yourself on the treadmill, but at a minimum you should be walking regularly to keep your joints and bones strong, your heart healthy, your muscles moving, and your energy level elevated.
Walking has many known benefits, both physical and mental. For instance, it’s gentle and easy on the joints, and therefore appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels. (It’s especially useful for those with arthritis and the elderly.) Whether you’re a gymaholic or a gymophobe, here are four major benefits of regular walking that you just can’t ignore!
It’s great thinking time.
Another major benefit of walking is that it’s less strenuous than other forms of exercise, and therefore requires less attention, allowing us to focus on internal issues. Walking gives you a chance to think; it’s a time to solve problems, hatch brilliant ideas, think about your loved ones and relationships, and generally pay more attention to life. Unlike driving, walking really allows you to be in the moment and be more engaged with the outdoors and the world around you.
It Improves brain function and reduces stress.
Walking, particularly outdoors, is a great way to clear the head. It rejuvenates and refreshes you, and provides an opportunity to sort through your thoughts and deal with any anxieties you may be having. Walking lowers cortisol levels, reducing stress, and also improves circulation which allows more oxygen into the blood stream. This improves your focus, energy level, mood and overall productivity. If you’re starting to feel burnt out after sitting at your desk for a while, taking a quick walk is a great way to get your creative juices flowing!
It boosts the immune system and strengthens the heart and bones.
Regular walking has been proven to increase overall health on a long term basis. Particularly when done outside, walking allows us to soak up lots of vitamin D that can be difficult to get through food. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and boosts the immune system. Frequent walking also maintains healthy joints and keeps the bones and heart strong, preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.
It keeps you toned.
Though walking won’t have the same impact on your physical appearance as more intensive exercises like running or lifting weights, walking briskly on a regular basis will keep your metabolism working help you burn more calories, which is helpful in maintaining your weight. Power walking will also keep your legs and bum toned, and if you walk fast enough that you are using your arms for momentum, you may even notice more definition there, too!
The best part about walking is that it really doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes a day, but the more you walk the better! It’s all about finding opportunities. Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator, every time. Take a brisk stroll on your lunch break, or skip the subway and take the scenic route to work in the morning on foot. Your body (and mind) will thank you! What is your favourite time of day to get your walk on?
It’s so common when travelling to let all of your usual inhibitions and good habits go, and let the “vacation” mentality take over. If you’re someone who travels quite frequently, for work or otherwise, this “vacation mentality” can easily turn into your everyday regime if you’re not careful! There are ways to avoid this, it just takes a little mindfulness, and some preparation.
Just because you’re outside of your regular routine doesn’t mean you have an excuse to go for the junkiest item on the menu. It’s important to give yourself a little kick every time you are inclined to indulge, whether it’s at the airport or that fancy patisserie in the base of your hotel. Ask yourself before every meal- would I order this at home? If the answer is yes, then go for it. The goal isn’t to restrict yourself, only maintain your regular diet and habits to avoid weight fluctuations or falling under the weather due to a drastic change in your dietary régime.
Hydration is key always, but especially while travelling. Being on an airplane or stressfully racing through a busy airport is a draining and dehydrating experience. Being in a new city will also likely involve a lot of walking and a jam packed day of activities, and let’s face it hydration is often an afterthought. It’s important to compensate for all this extra movement with lots of water. Staying hydrated will keep you alert, looking fresh, and has also been proven to curb an appetite. Half the time we feel like snacking we are actually confusing our body’s response to dehydration with hunger!
Pack your Vitamins!
There’s no easier way to catch a cold or flu than to sit on a crowded airplane full of people from all walks of life, sharing re-circulated air for an entire flight. Yuck, I know. Kind of unavoidable though. The only answer is to equip yourself as much as possible by taking immune boosting vitamins and supplements before (and after) your flight. Echinacea is a wonderful herbal supplement that can be hugely helpful in preventing sickness. Vitamin C is an obvious second. Also, don’t neglect any other supplements you take on a regular basis. Make sure to pack them all for your trip! It may seem like extra weight, but especially if you are travelling frequently, falling off your vitamin schedule will only make your chances of crashing that much greater. It’s important to keep our bodies on a regular routine with vitamins, maintaining their levels on a daily basis for optimum health and performance. Travelling usually means foreign germs and less sleep, so vitamins are a huge saving grace in helping your body keep up.
Book a Hotel with a Gym.
As with your eating habits, it’s equally important to keep up your fitness regimen as much as possible while on the road. It’s all about maintenance. If you’re on a trip for pleasure, and doing a ton and walking and shopping, this will naturally compensate for the half hour or so you spend on the treadmill at home. However, if you’re spending your week with your butt in a chair at a conference, make sure to book a hotel with an accessible gym. This way there will be no excuse not to take a short half hour out of your morning, head down the elevator and sneak a quick sweat in.
Pack Healthy Snacks.
Before you head out to your hectic day in an exciting new city, wherever it may lead you, make sure to toss a healthy snack into your purse. Bring a pack of individually packaged almonds, or some protein filled granola bars. Having these handy will make the “don’t indulge” factor a whole lot easier. It’s a lot harder to say no to the baked ziti when you “didn’t have time” to eat all day. Keep your blood sugar levels stable by snacking regularly, and you’ll find it a lot easier to make healthy choices when you finally see a real meal.
Do you have any more tricks for keeping up your health routine on the road? We’d love to hear your input!
Morning Workouts- Early Bird Gets the Worm. September 24 2015
As a non-morning person, I have traditionally struggled to find the motivation to leap out of bed and get my disoriented, grumpy self to the gym. The snooze button and I have become close friends, despite my better attempts to pretend it doesn’t exist. After giving it a chance, however, I’ve started to see the benefits of getting my exercise in at the beginning of my day, as opposed to near the end. Here are the top 6 reasons that starting my day with a workout has officially turned me into a morning person!
It starts your day on a positive note.
Starting your day with exercise gives you a sense of accomplishment that you will carry with you throughout the day. Beginning on a healthy tip inspires you to keep this momentum throughout your day, swaying you toward the salad bar on your lunch break, or giving you a little extra nudge toward taking the stairs over the crowded escalator.
It elevates your mood and productivity.
As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde so eloquently put it- “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on our overall mood and stress levels. Starting your day with exercise will release endorphins, improving your mood throughout the day. Naturally, starting the day energized and alert with a positive mindset will increase your productivity.
It boosts your metabolism.
Often, for those of us too sluggish to give up that extra hour of sleep in the morning to get our bodies moving, our digestive systems tend to be a bit more sluggish. I often didn’t feel an appetite in the morning, and would end up skipping this essential meal and waiting for lunch. Getting your body moving first thing is a great way to work up your appetite for the day’s most important meal. Exercise boosts metabolism, so by getting it in earlier on, you will burn more calories throughout the day. (Especially high cardio or interval training exercises.) Eating a healthy breakfast is also key in getting your digestive system moving and kick-starting your metabolism for the day.
It’s the best time to build muscle.
Our hormones are elevated first thing in the morning, and drop progressively throughout the day. Testosterone, for example, is at its peak level in the morning, and is an essential hormone in building muscle. (Hello, abs!) With proper sleep, the morning is also when our bodies have the most energy and thus the most potential for a productive workout. Also, sweating regularly is great for the skin. Who needs makeup with that post workout glow?
It’s just you and your thoughts... and maybe a few others.
The gym in the morning is a far different vibe than it is after work hours. The snarling guy waiting to use your machine, the girl hogging the mat- these un-pleasantries are far less likely to be an issue in the wee hours of the day. The morning shift at the gym is a much more peaceful, serene experience. You will find yourself far less distracted or intimidated, and have a chance to really escape and experience the therapeutic aspect of exercise. Even if you’re not a gym rat and you prefer to jog outdoors or hit an early yoga class, these spaces will also likely feel much more calm and private earlier on in the day.
It improves your family & social life.
Getting your workout out of the way first thing in the morning is a great way to make sure it actually happens! There are so many distractions that can arise throughout the day- a last minute work assignment, a friend’s get together, a sick child, etc. Hitting the gym before you start your day checks off that box, leaving more flexibility for other priorities throughout your day, such as spending quality time with family and friends.
So before you turn your nose up at the early morning keeners and hit that snooze button, give the morning workout a shot. It might take you a little while to adjust to the new routine, but once you start feeling the positive impact it has on your life, you won’t regret it!
Staying Fit as a Busy Working Parent May 22 2015
It's really easy to find excuses not to exercise when you're a parent of young ones working a full-time job. Life gets BUSY. But would you ever deem it excusable to neglect looking after your child for these same reasons? Didn't think so. The first step in the right direction is to start viewing fitness as a necessary part of taking care of yourself. You wouldn't skip a basic necessity of caring for your child, like food, education, or sleep, because you were too busy, would you? So why should your own body get the shaft? I'm not suggesting that every mother or father should make it a priority to resemble a fitness model or have "abs of steel," just that you incorporate fitness as a regular part of your routine to maintain your mental and physical well being. Trust me- your family will thank you for it!
Without regular exercise, we eventually become low energy, burned out human beings (which can equal lacklustre parents and spouses!) Maintaining a regular fitness regimen keeps your metabolism going, your energy levels higher, and your mood elevated. This has obvious benefits for your relationships with your loved ones, and even your sex life. But who has the time or energy to hit the gym after a long day at work, then feeding, bathing and coaxing a bunch of rambunctious kids into bed? It's never going to be super convenient, but here are a few tricks you can use to find the time.
If you're married with young kids and both working full-time jobs, you're just going to have to accept that for the next few years, you will need to rotate the morning and evening shifts. No one loves waking up at 6am to hit the gym before heading to the office for a long day of work. However, once you get there and get going, it's surprising how exerted you feel going into your day. Getting those endorphins going first thing in the morning is a great way to start, hard as it is to get yourself there. This means your spouse takes the breakfast shift with the kids, gets them to school etc. and when you get home that night, you're on deck for dinner, bath, and bedtime while your spouse heads straight to the gym. You'll probably be ready for an early slumber yourself at that point, but it will feel well deserved. The next day, swap. Or, find a similar way to divide and conquer, allowing for balance of responsibility between you.
Single parent? Bite the bullet and hire a babysitter for an hour or two after work to do the dinner shift while you hit the gym. It's a worthwhile investment.
8 Minute Abs, Arms, Legs and Buns.
Are you a stay at home parent with no nanny or assistance? I get it- there's literally no time to hit the gym, at least not on a regular basis. This is where home workouts come in handy. I am going to let you in on a little secret of mine. I swear by these hilarious "8 minute workout" videos (below) that I found online a few years back. Judging by their attire, they must be from the 80's. It amazes me that they're still up but I'm not complaining! If you can get past the funny clothes and hairdos, these videos are super useful and get you toned up in no time. There's one for abs/core, one for arms, one for legs. 32 minutes and Ta Da! Full-body workout. When you put your kids down for a nap, grab your laptop and set up in a room with a little floor space to do your exercises. Not in the napping stage? Set up in a room within sight while they eat their lunch. Or better yet, create an arts and crafts activity (no sharp objects!) that will keep them busy for a half hour. These are only a few examples of the masses of online workout and yoga videos available online. Do some research and find a few that work for you!
Play With the Kids!
Don't underestimate the amount of cardio you actually get running after your little ones. As they get older, continue creating games that involve running, such as a family soccer or baseball game, capture the flag or even scavenger hunts. It keeps you AND your kids active and is a great bonding experience.
Limberness- The Silent Secret Behind a Killer Bod September 05 2014
Image Source: http://astoldbylaura.wordpress.com/category/college-life/page/2/
Ballerinas, Gymnasts, Cirque Du Soleil performers and Martial Arts experts are some of the most graceful, beautiful athletes to look at. What do they all have in common? They are extremely fit, strong and FLEXIBLE. While many workout devotees focus on improving their general level of fitness and strength, flexibility seems to have been the ugly step-child of our gym culture- underrated and often an after-thought.
In truth, the athletic performers that wow us the most had it figured out long ago. Flexibility is not only impressive, it is often what differentiates an average body from one that is super fab.
Flexibility can be termed as the ability of your joints and body parts to execute their full range of motion. In spite of common belief, flexibility is NOT genetic. Yes, some bodies are more naturally supple than others but all bodies have the capacity to achieve a fuller range of motion with the right practice. A focus on dynamic stretching (“stretching while moving”) and isometric stretching (or “engaging the muscle while stretching”) is a good place to start. These kinds of stretching increases core temperature, muscle temperature, elongates the muscles, and stimulates the nervous system all while yielding faster results.
- It will save you from injury- muscles lose their natural suppleness are prone to tears, aches, and pains. Over time, loss of flexibility could lead to permanent changes in posture and normal muscle function.
- It will help “tricking” – you’ll be able to take your yoga practice to the next level or really just impress the heck out of your friends and your kids at the park
- It adds a whole new dimension to your movement. Flexibility can’t be forced. It takes time and patience and teaches “Kinesthetic awareness” where your body is in space and time.
- It’s easy, fun, and impressive, so why not?
You should never feel actual pain. For the muscle/tendon stretches, a burning feeling lets you know that you’re doing it right. For joint stretches like the side split, etc., the feeling is odd. It’s uncomfortable, but not really painful. If a stretch ever genuinely hurts, then STOP! “No pain, no gain” does not apply to flexibility training.
Stretches to Improve Flexibility:
image source: http://www.sensational-yoga-poses.com/images/bennitasana-chest-stretch-3.jpg
Spine- back bends, twists
image source: http://www.yogacurious.com/blog/one-legged-seated-spinal-twist-ardha-matsyendrasana-yoga-pose/2013/12/
Torso- side bend
Legs- side splits, splits, pvc foam roller
image source: http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Do-Splits-3551904
image source: http://crossfitwaterloo.com/2013/09/18/crossfit-kids-underway-yoga-schedule/
The best part about stretching is that you can do it anywhere, any time. Try stretching while you watch TV. It keeps you from snacking and is great way to relax. Also, get your kids or spouse in on the action! Have them sit on your back, pull your arms, etc. to help deepen your stretch.
Remember, flexibility isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something that will be achieved by putting in the bare minimum. Two months of 10–20 minutes of solid stretching every day should make a noticeable difference. While, age, genetics, and how much you stretch, all play a role in determining how long it will take to achieve a particular goal, a reasonably fit person should take no more than 6 months or so to achieve a healthy to advanced level of flexibility.
5 Fun Poses You Didn't Know You Could Do With Your Kids! August 06 2014
No matter what you say, it’s what you do that counts. If you want your kids to be active- BE active. They will love their time with you and will develop good habits in spite of themselves. Monkey see, monkey do!!!
1) Leap Frog, Yoga Style!
Sit in splits position and stretch it out while your little beaper leaps across you. You may want to throw in a chair to leap off of to avoid and accidental be-headings.
2) The Crow Swing:
Good for Mom & Dad’s Arm Muscles, great for the little one’s flexibility. Not to mention one heck of a fun ride! Have your junior assume Crow’s position while you grasp his/her hands and lift. It might take a few tries to get air born- but they’ll love it once they do!
3) Back Bend & Crow Pose Combo-
Get into your best bridge and have your little tot perch on top of your tummy in Crow’s position. Tons of fun for flexibility, balance, and building trust!
4) Splits Lift:
Lift your little one up in splits position and see how long you BOTH can hold it!
5) Family Hand Stands:
Get inverted together, and see who can hold their stand the longest! Inversions are great for increasing blood circulation. Providing more oxygen and blood flow to the brain is thought to increase many mental functions like memory, concentration etc. J
(More info on the benefits of inversions here http://yoganonymous.com/10-benefits-of-yoga-inversions/)
Couples Workouts- More Sweat Leads to Better Sex! August 06 2014
Having trouble motivating your spouse to hit the gym? Go with him/her! There are amazing benefits to working out or playing sports together. It’s a known fact that exercise increases endorphins, which impact your overall mood. Fitness can be a great outlet for the release of stressors in your relationship, and a healthy, beneficial way to keep things exciting.
Sweating it out in unison can also be a great bonding experience, helping you to build trust and communication skills between you and your significant other. Who needs couples therapy?! More importantly, let’s face it- with your newly toned bods, increased endurance and all those pheromones flying around, you won’t have any more problems in the bedroom.
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
For some serious inspiration, check out this vid:
Image Sources: Pinterest
Sweat Therapy as a lost Art June 29 2014
Has the active community become too focused on visible results, and less about the joy of escapism and the natural high that exercise can bring you? The fitness world today seems to be so consumed with the body changing element of exercise that it’s become a completely result-driven, mundane series of robotic and strenuous exercises we push ourselves through on a daily basis to make our bodies look a certain way. People have stopped seeing their workout as a time to escape, think, and regroup, and instead find themselves eagerly anticipating the finish line.
Image via: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/61924563597131201/
Well get off the treadmill, I say- and go find something that you can get lost in. Stop pushing yourself, and start losing yourself. We’ve all felt the uplifting effects of a good sweat session- the endorphins, the release. Finding a sport or class you like is the key, something that you can connect with physically as well as mentally. The focus in your fitness regimen should always be to keep the body strong and healthy, and to feel energetic and balanced on a daily basis. Finding escape in sweating it out can be the best kind of therapy for your body and mind, so ditch your shrink, and go enjoy it!