We’ve all undoubtedly made dozens of new year’s health and fitness resolutions, with a genuine intention of following through, yet they always seem to fall by the wayside after a couple of weeks. Sure, life gets busy, but sometimes we also set unrealistic standards and expectations for ourselves that actually become intimidating and set us up for failure. Here are a few general rules to follow when making your resolutions that will make your goals more attainable, and therefore make you more likely to stick to them!
Set Realistic Goals
If you set out to work out 7 days a week from a 1 or even 0 day a week schedule, you’re inevitably going to burn out quickly. It’s important to set goals that are realistic, and that won’t seem so overwhelming that you’re tempted to give up. It helps to set a plan in motion to increase your exercise regimen gradually, making it less intimidating and more motivating. Start with 2-3 days a week, go with this for a couple of weeks, then increase your limits. This applies to your exercises as well, start slow and build your strength and endurance by pushing your threshold gradually. Remember it’s not a race, it’s a marathon!
The same rules apply to your diet- don’t try to cut everything out at once. Ease your way in so you don’t end up in a starve and binge cycle where you limit yourself so much that you overindulge every time you allow yourself. This is hard on the body and not effective for weight loss. Sugar and carbohydrates are common groups that come up on the “elimination list,” just make sure to maintain a balanced diet and match your efforts with regular exercise. It’s all about building a healthy, maintainable lifestyle. Starving yourself will only cause low energy, and less productive workouts as a result. You need your fuel! Just make sure it’s the right kind.
Sign up for Programs in Advance
Because the fitness world has figured out that the first couple of months of the New Year is probably the biggest time for people to try to find their inner health and fitness buff, there are hundreds of programs available to help get you on track come January. Signing up for a program in advance is a great way to give yourself a little nudge to follow through on your resolutions. Once you start going regularly, you will find yourself part of a like-minded community and thus more inspired to follow through and chase your end goal.
If you enjoy yoga, sign up for the 30 day challenge at your local studio. There is almost always one happening in January! If you’re looking to build some muscle at the gym, sign up for a few sessions with a trainer there. They’ll get you on the right track, and feeling more confident to continue on your own thereafter. These kinds of programs also make amazing Christmas gifts! If you have a close friend or family member that you know is looking to make some improvements to their health in the New Year, grab them a fitness package. They’ll thank you for it now, and then again later!
Don’t Keep Your Resolutions a Secret
Sharing your goals and resolutions with friends or family will also help you stick to them. Saying them out loud makes them real, and signifies a deeper commitment. Plus, once you’ve brought your best pal or your mom in on your secret, they won’t likely let you give up easily either. It’s nice to have someone else nudge you once and a while too, especially if you’re starting to feel uninspired.
Track Your Results
Whether it’s at the end of each workout, or the end of each week, take a moment to track down what you’ve accomplished that week. This will depend on what your goal is- eating healthy, losing weight, toning up, etc. Track down any headway you’ve made towards your goal, or any lapses. This will help you keep track of your progress, and not let any cheating slip through the cracks!
Be Patient and Persistent
Visible results are never immediate, however, the way you feel physically after upping your exercise regimen and improving your diet will improve almost immediately. If the endorphins aren’t enough to keep you motivated, remember that all things worth having take time, commitment and effort. Remember why you set your goals in the first place, you will achieve them eventually! In the meantime, you will enjoy feeling a lot more energized, healthy, and positive.
We hope these few pointers will help you stick to your resolutions this year, and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Back to Life, Back to Reality. How to Beat the Stress of September! September 09 2015
September always creeps up so quickly, doesn’t it? Back to school, back to work… back to reality. Just as we finally adjust to the gentle hum-drum of summer, fast-paced September comes around and hits you like a freight train… at least if you’re not prepared. Suddenly, you are required to keep track of an entire family’s increasingly busy schedules, while trying to kick it into high gear yourself whether it’s at work or at home.
Organization is the key to keeping calm, cool and collected during all the back to school / work madness. It may sound obvious, but if you decide to cut it close and start your prep just before school starts, you’ll find yourself in a frenzy. First, you’re going to figure out how many items the kids are missing (back to school supplies, knapsacks, clothes). Secondly, you’re going to realize you had signed them up for a ton of extra-curriculars, most of which overlap, which means you’ll either need to find help or arrange a carpool in the next two days, otherwise one of your kids will have to forfeit their activities. These are just a few examples of how poor organization can become a huge headache if you wait until the last minute to figure things out. Don’t learn the hard way! Here are a few easy ways to make sure you and your family stay on track this fall!
Anticipation and Planning
Part of good organization is being proactive rather than reactive. Think about what potential issues or curveballs could arise, and have a plan in place to deal with these should they occur. (Ex. look into your carpool situation long before the first week of school, set up emergency contacts, etc.) The same goes for work, don’t wait until the night before you head back from vacation to figure out what you’re behind on. Stay up to speed and constantly organize and prioritize when and how things will get done, even if you push them off until later.
Personally, I find that my external environment strongly influences my internal environment. As such, in order to feel organized and efficient, it is helpful to organize your belongings and make sure the house is in order. Try organizing your desk or stationery drawers, your room, your home office, whatever feels chaotic to you. Immediately you will feel more focused and in control of your life. Creating a monthly agenda or keeping a calendar in a main room of the house is a great way to keep everyone up to date with activities and ongoing events. Even if it's inevitably going to be a stressful day, at least you'll know it's coming!
Asking for help
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you’re the planner, create a foolproof agenda for your family, but then make sure everyone contributes to making sure it is followed. If you are working and your kids want to attend an extra-curricular, establish a relationship with someone that you can call in case you’re not able to drive that day, such as another child’s parents. Just make sure that the next time they’re in a pinch you do your best to return the favor.
Keeping up with your routine
Something we’ve touched on a few times; keeping a fairly regular, steady routine is helpful in staying organized. The minute you let go of your routine, it’s easier to skip or forget about your daily tasks, and this is how things begin to slip.
If you missed the boat this year and found yourself facing the headache of last minute organization, stop freaking out. It's never too late to put a plan in place to get you back on track. Don’t let the stresses of September take you down! Staying organized will give you the confidence to face the chaos head on.
Routine and Consistency- the Secret behind Health & Wealth August 24 2015
We have all felt the positive effects of a good week of routine- that feeling of accomplishment. Yet, we seem to fall off of it so easily. Somehow when a task or goal is put down on paper or into your calendar it becomes much more of a priority, whether you’re super task oriented or not. No one likes to feel that they’re neglecting their responsibilities, so if they’re written down in front of us we’re more likely to get them done. After a while, this routine starts to feel like second nature to us. Basically, by creating a daily routine for ourselves, we naturally become more motivated and task driven, and we’re more likely not to be swayed by tempting distractions if we’re dedicated to a routine. Creating a daily schedule for yourself can help improve your productivity in every area of your life.
Incorporating fitness into your daily routine is key, even if you’re not a huge workout buff. Maintaining a decent level of physical activity on a daily basis is essential not only for our long term health, but for our mental well-being and stimulation as well. Sitting behind a desk and being inactive all day can start to take its toll. Those who make time in their day for physical exercise tend to be more energetic, positive and productive. Make sure to jot this one down in your schedule. It doesn’t matter when or what you do, just make sure to be active at least once a day!
Routine forces you to manage your time as it takes planning. To create a routine, we are forced to sit down, consider our tasks the following day/week, and how we can fit these in with our other personal daily functions (such as the gym, meals, social and family events, etc.) After a while, you will have expert time management skills, and will benefit from this in other areas such as your work life or planning out your kids millions of sports practices and school events!
Eating & Sleeping
This area is so underrated. People totally underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep and a regular meal schedule. Sleep (or lack thereof) is directly linked to our mental function and our general productivity. Without a routine, we tend to let our bedtime creep later and later until we find ourselves trying to function on 4 or 5 hours sleep for an entire day at the office. Not only will you feel like crap, your work will suffer. Just get those 7 to 8 hours! Set a bed time and stick to it. That simple.
In terms of eating, so many people wait until they are starving before eating a meal. This is a huge mistake. You should constantly be grazing on small snacks to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your mind alert. There’s a reason they call it brain food! Setting a meal time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snack times can be helpful in staying regular. If you want to go the extra mile, plan out what you’ll eat for each meal, too! (This will also help you stick to healthier options and resist temptation.)
Routine for Kids
This is probably the most important area to stress. Creating a consistency for children, particularly around meal and bed times, is essential for their mental development and overall well-being. The younger years are the biggest learning years, they are essentially little sponges soaking up all the information they come across! It is crucial that we set them up for success by providing structure, regular meals and sleep schedules so that they can focus on learning and growing into the strong young adults we want them to be. Following a routine from a young age will also help them develop a good work ethic and a healthier, more balanced lifestyle as they grow up.
Take the time to create a daily schedule for yourself. Write it down each night or at the beginning of the week to start out. Before you know it, you’ll be living and breathing your routine without a second thought, and living a much fuller, healthier and more productive life!
Hiring your Kids- Yay or Nay? August 06 2015
It's the age old question- should we hire our kids, or let them go it alone? Many parents are divided on this subject. On the one hand, in this economy, giving your kids a chance to gain valuable work experience from a young age can give them a real advantage. So many young adults fresh out of university without the connections or network needed to land a solid job are struggling to get even the most basic entry level positions. Sadly, this is now the nature of the work force. Often if you know someone, you'll get the job, even over another candidate with superior credentials. It may seem wrong, but it's a fact. With this in mind, my take on the subject would be yes, hire your kids. However, there is a fine line between helping them gain experience and get their foot in the door, and making things too easy for them. It's important to make the experience as authentic as possible, and beyond getting them the job, leaving them to their own devices. There are a few steps that should be taken should you decide to bring on your child as an employee, where possible.
Start Practising at a Young Age
It's crucial to help a child develop a healthy work ethic from a young age. By creating a chore system in which they do work for a monetary reward, (allowance) you can begin to establish a business relationship, and also get a lot more done around the house!
Start Them at the Bottom
There's no quicker way to give your kid an ego and unrealistic perspective than to hand them an intermediate or senior role that they haven't earned. (Not to mention a quick way to earn them the resentment and disrespect of their hard working coworkers.) Start your child at the most entry level position and let them work their way up through performance.
Have Them Work Under Someone Else
Allowing your children to work under someone else offers a more authentic experience. They will be more likely to try harder and thus be more productive. Your kids may respect you, but they know you are and will always be their parent. This doesn't set a good foundation for a employer/employee relationship. Once they are in the door, it is best to have as little involvement in their role as possible. It may end up that through good performance they work their way up to that level, but at that point they have earned the position. Obviously in smaller companies this may be difficult, but where possible it is best to keep your distance from the beginning.
Leave Work at the Office
Discussing business at every family dinner can get exhausting, create tension that can potentially damage relationships over time, and allow for negotiation to occur regarding your child's role or salary. It is important to stay in line with the "authentic experience" here and not allow these conversations outside of the workplace. They wouldn't be able to nag their boss about their job over dinner at most other jobs, so why should they be able to here?
Long story short, it can be beneficial for your kids to get their foot in the door in an otherwise tough workforce. If you're in a position to hire them yourself, go for it. The foot in the door, however, is the only assistance they should get. Let them take it from there! There is nothing more valuable than a good work ethic and healthy perspective on life, based on earning your achievements.
The Importance of Setting Goals July 27 2015
When talking about setting goals, it all really comes down to one main factor- motivation. With anything in life, it is human nature to let things slip or push them off if we don't have any real boundaries, structure, or targets to reach. Setting goals may seem simple, but this process is an essential factor in our success and productivity in all areas. Whether it's forcing ourselves to make it to the gym three times a week, stick to a healthy meal plan, or setting goals for our kids, it is crucial to put these targets in place for ourselves to make it easier to maintain momentum and motivation. An easy way to make sure you stay on top of this is to set aside an hour for yourself every Sunday to write out a list of weekly goals. Try to include one that relates to each compartment of your life, for instance one pertaining to health and fitness, one pertaining to parenting, one for your relationship(s), and of course those pertaining to your career or personal achievements.
Many people don't consider setting goals to do with parenting, but this is an area that we can really let slip if we don't set guidelines and PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try making a goal for each week that you yourself have to achieve, for instance "Do 3 different activities with the kids" as well as one for the kids, ex. "Help with the dishes every night" or "Get an A on an assignment." Implementing a star/sticker program can be a great incentive for kids to meet these goals as well. Create a board with each child's name on it, and place a sticker underneath for each achievement attained, working towards a grand prize after a certain number of goals have been met. It's great to train children to become achievement oriented from a young age, as it will set lifelong habits that will translate into a good work ethic later on. (Plus, you'll get a heck of a lot of chores done around the house!)
In Fitness & Nutrition:
This is also an area where it's definitely necessary to set some goals. We are all busy and life does get in the way. Sometimes it's just quicker to grab that cookie and latte on the fly instead of the egg-white omelette you'd planned to prepare for breakfast. Or to skip the gym because something more fun came up. Setting a weekly goal will help you focus and make sure you don't let yourself slip in this area. After all, our health is our most valuable and important possession, without which we could not succeed in all other areas of our lives. A meal plan is a great way to ensure that you stick to a healthy diet (at least most of the time, we're all human!) In your Sunday list of goals, include a weekly plan for at least 2 meals a day. If you work, packing a lunch is a great alternative to the tempting crap that the food courts offer. Once you are hungry, it's hard to use good judgement! Do a weekly grocery shop to ensure you have most of the necessary ingredients to make most of the meals on the plan. This will also create ann incentive to stick to it, as you've already committed. Just make sure to keep things interesting, giving yourself lots of (healthy) variety. For fitness, set some weekly goals that are realistic and attainable. If you like hot yoga, try to attend three classes that week. If you're a gym bunny, set a goal for number of visits to the treadmill.
With the busy hum drum of every day life, especially with young kids in your mix, relationships often start to take the back burner. Whether it's your marriage or even your relationship with your best pal, it's important to set a weekly reminder to pay attention to these important relationships so that you don't wake up one day and realize you barely know each other anymore. I find it helpful to designate one night a week for "date night" and another evening or lunch hour for seeing a friend (better yet, a group of friends so you can squeeze a few in at once!)
So take the time each week to put some targets in place. You'll feel great meeting them, and your life will inevitably be more fulfilled and successful as a result!
This subject may feel somewhat tired at this point, but I am glad to see the media beginning to focus more on the saturation of dieting and weight loss incentives and their negative impact on young children, particularly girls. With growing access to technology and various media outlets, children are being bombarded with messages about “losing weight fast” and seeing headlines like “get thin in just a week” on a daily basis. They are also being shown images of “the ideal body” that have been edited and manipulated, creating an unrealistic (and unhealthy) idea of what “normal” should look like. This is so common that they are growing up with the mentality that they should constantly be trying to lose weight, to be thinner, no matter their size or weight. Weight loss has gone from being a health requirement for the obese, to a common goal of the majority of the population, at least in Western society. It’s almost like a competition, who is the thinnest? Who has lost the most weight in the shortest amount of time? Exercise has become only about losing weight, as opposed to building strength, energy and endurance.
These negative messages impact all people, but children are the ones in the most danger as their bodies are still growing and developing and need proper nutrition to do so. They are also extremely impressionable, and are developing their habits and mentality towards their health and bodies that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Creating a positive body image in young people isn’t just about telling them that they are beautiful no matter what shape or size they are. Though this is important, there is more to it. Instilling a healthy body image entails focusing on the important factors, like health, nutrition and balance. There is a fine line between making sure they are conscious of their health and making good decisions when it comes to eating and staying active, and over focusing on these areas.
The best way to ensure that your kids maintain a healthy mentality toward eating and fitness is not to over- focus. Lead by example and provide them with healthy, balanced meals from an early age. Get them accustomed to eating this way without harping too much on the importance of it. This being said, don’t completely deny them of treats. This will only come back to haunt them later as they will likely have self-control issues when they are no longer restricted from these “forbidden fruits”. It’s all about balance and lifestyle. Treats are treats…simple as that. In terms of fitness, try to provide an active lifestyle for them. Don’t focus on the results of fitness, but the importance of staying active and involved in extra-curricular activities. Sports are a great way to keep them active, as they are social, fun and team based which builds trust and companionship. Companionship is a really key factor in my opinion. It’s healthy to have a little competition between peers, but competing with oneself can become obsessive and self-destructive, particularly when it comes to weight loss goals.
Long story short- sign your kids up for lots of activities! Encourage them to find an active sport that they love. Keep them well fed with a healthy attitude toward nutrition, and too busy to over-focus on things like being super thin or losing weight. If they remain healthy and happy, the physical results will come naturally.
As we discussed in our earlier post on “self-control,” Walter Mischel, the psychologist behind the famous “Marshmallow Test,” deduced that those who appear to have higher self-control from a young age are generally more successful, slimmer, and less susceptible to bad habits like drug and alcohol abuse. But can we train ourselves, and even our children, to exert this kind of self-control? The answer is yes.
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.
Early childhood experiences have been proven to shape our ability to learn, as well as our future mental and physical well-being. Intentional movement, such as Yoga, has a great impact on a child’s ability to maintain focus, remain calm, and filter sensory information. Practising Yoga at a young age, and accompanying these physical movements with other essential mental development tools, helps to build a child’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence and physical self-control. Also, Yoga teaches kids to respect the body’s cues and needs to move, and eventually feel confident and comfortable in their own bodies.
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!
Self-regulation transfers the responsibility of learning and taking control of their behaviour back to the children. The goal is to create a certain mindfulness and self-awareness to the point that they will know how to recognize and manage emotional or stressful situations that would normally cause them act out. This mind- body connection can be helpful in many scenarios, such as pulling them out of a meltdown or focusing in a classroom. Yoga is also a great activity to do as a family, as it promotes calmness, balance and connection. There are tons of fun poses to try with your kids, too!
The Back Bend and 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!
Luckily, yoga is a very portable practice! For example, my family and I have recently started a new tradition of spending our summer holiday in Costa Rica. In addition to its natural beauty and the wide variety of amazing activities Costa Rica has to offer, the most precious and valuable experiences are, in my opinion, less obvious. I like to think of the whole experience as exercise for the mind and body. It is such a joy to practice yoga on the beach with my kids, with a beautiful view and calm ocean energy surrounding me. It’s also a great way to re-connect with your family, and with your-self.
Family Handstands: 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.
Article Source: http://www.kidsyogastories.com/how-kids-yoga-develops-self-regulation/
Teaching Your Kids About Sustainable Living June 11 2015
No Summer Camp? No Problem. 3 Great Ways to Keep your Kids Active & Entertained this Summer! May 28 2015
It's no secret that once kids reach the age of about ten or eleven, parents start counting the days from Christmas to the joyous weeks in which their children head off to the rural countryside and camp out under the care of a bunch of other overgrown children. However, it's also no secret that these "camps" are becoming more like resorts, and with growing luxuries there are growing costs.
If your kids are sticking around this summer, there are many fun ways you can ensure they have an amazing summer experience without having to send them away for 2 weeks or a month (and pay a hefty cost!) Not only will they have fun, but so will you! You just have to be willing to roll up your sleeves a bit.
1. Plan a Family Camping Trip
No matter where you are, camping is almost always an option. It's not the most appealing activity for some, but there are varying levels to which you can actually take this "roughing it" experience. The benefits of doing something like this as a family, even just for a couple of days, are plentiful. Firstly, you strip away all modern technologies and distractions. No more TV, video games, etc. Sure, they may bring their cell phones.... but they'll eventually die! You'll be amazed at how much more focused and engaged they are without all of these extras to busy their minds. Major bonding potential.
Secondly, they will learn basic survival skills that are quickly being lost on our rapidly advancing technologically dependent society. Kids rarely even know that it's possible to cook without a burner, or boil lake water clean. They'll learn how to pitch a tent, and how to survive a few days without google or a nearby grocery store. Want to go the extra mile? Do a portage! Build up those wiry muscles carrying the canoe from site to site. Here are some of the most notable campgrounds across Canada and the US:
Algonquin Park- Ontario
Bon Echo Provincial Park- Ontario
Aspen Beach Provincial Park- Alberta
Yosemite National Park- California
Olympic National Park- Washington
2. Family Game Night- Active Style
Remember when your parents used to force you to spend an entire night of your week sitting in the living room playing an excruciating game of monopoly so you could spend time "as a family?" This is so not what I am talking about. I'm talking about being the coolest parents on the block. How? By getting a whole bunch of families together for outdoor games and sports one night a week. It will take a bit of planning, but this helps as it ensures that everyone commits and follows through.
Here's how it works. Talk to a few other families (neighbors, friends, etc.) and see if they have an interest in setting up a family game night. Draw up a rough calendar of proposed weekly activities for the entire summer. It helps to involve other families as a) they can help contribute ideas for weekly games, and b) most games are more fun with more people! Also, it makes it more fun for the kids to have their friends around (sorry, mom and dad.) Try to ensure that the teams are divided up by family. This will help you spend time as a family, stay active, and is a great way to teach your kids to work as a team (and to see your family this way too!) Here are a few game ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Capture the Flag
Clue (murder mystery game)
Classic Carnival Contests (Potato sack jumping, wheelbarrow race, egg in the spoon race)
3. Rent (or Buy) Some Bikes!
Kids love exploring. Biking is a great way to explore new areas. There are so many biking trails available in the most beautiful settings. It's an easy way to travel and see a greater area as opposed to hiking on foot which can be slower and more draining. There are a ton of companies now which rent out bikes by the hour. (ex. Bike Share in Toronto, Citi Bike in NYC) If you're ready to make it more of a regular habit, you can get some great second hand bikes at an affordable cost, just be sure to do your research.
These are just a few of the ways to get creative and keep your kids active and entertained this summer. If you're willing to get a bit down and dirty, you'll be surprised how much fun you can all have together!
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/)