For those of us without a cottage to escape to every weekend, or kids old enough to head off to Summer Camp, those long summer months can be a bit of a daunting time. The heat, the long days with kids to entertain and keep busy... you know the story. Well, we know it’s easy to start running out of ideas so we’re here to help! Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy some quality time with your little ones, and we’ve got some great activities to try so that your whole family stays active, busy and happy together!
Okay, so this may involve a little drive if you are city folk, but it will be worth it! Get your beepers up at the crack of dawn and piled into the car, and take a trip out to the nearest lake! Though it’s not the most active of pastimes, fishing is calming, relaxing and rewarding, and allows you some quiet, quality time with your kids. Sitting together in a safe and serene setting and encouraging reflection and sharing will no doubt have a therapeutic effect for all of you. Plus, a little healthy competition is always good amongst siblings… who will catch the biggest fish?
Camp Out in the Back Yard
This one doesn’t involve any road trips! All you need is a tent or two, some sleeping bags, marshmallows and some kindling for the fire. This is a great intro to camping for young ones who aren’t quite ready to spend a full night in the real woods, and makes for really fun family bonding. Teach your kids to pitch a tent, build a fire, and any of the other skills they’ll need on a real camping trip. Then, show them some of the age old camping experiences, like s’mores and stories around the fire! An added bonus? This is a pretty inexpensive way to create an amazing memory for your family.
Plant a Garden
What better way to teach your kids about nurturing and caring for something than to have them plant a garden and see the plants through from seed to blossom? This is a fun way to bond with your kids, get them outdoors and moving around in the sunshine, and also to get them involved in a little housework without making it feel like a chore! Let them pick a few of their favourite things, whether its flowers and plants or a vegetable garden, and involve them in every step of the process from planting and caring for them to enjoying the (literal) fruits of their labour!
Have a Water Gun War
Want to really tire them out? Divide the family up into teams and have a water gun war! This is particularly great as the kids start to get a little older and have a ton of energy to burn! (If you’re opposed to water guns, you can always fill some balloons with water!) This activity will build team spirit, encourage family bonding and have them running around outdoors and getting a fantastic amount of cardio without even realizing it! Plus, once again, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Who’s got the best aim? Our bet’s on mom.
Go Paddle Boating
If you don’t have a cottage with a vast lake and a boat at your immediate disposal, paddle-boating is a great alternative. This activity gets you and the kids active out on the water, and can be done at the lake or even in your local park pond. Paddle boats are usually easy to find and available for rent, so why not try one out for the weekend? They’re also suitable for all ages and experience levels, so you can take the little ones too. Just don’t forget your lifejackets and whistles!
Now that you’re equipped with some fun ideas, we hope you have a blast trying some of these activities out with your kids this summer!
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!
5 Fun Holiday Activities to Try with Your Kids! December 08 2015
Though this time of year is supposed to be filled with festive fun for the whole family, most of us parents secretly start to dread those couple of weeks when the kids are off school and kicking around the house, the relatives are in from out of town, and private time seems like a distant memory. Well, why not make the most of it and plan some activities that will keep everyone, including yourself, active and busy? Here are a few fun activities that will help you stay healthy, provide some bonding time, and hopefully relieve some of that tinsel tension this holiday season!
Go Snow Shoeing.
While walking through knee deep snow in your not so waterproof winter wear might not seem appealing, snow shoes offer a fun way to experience the winter wonderland that awaits, while keeping your feet dry! If you have somewhere up north to visit, removed from the main roads and hustle-bustle of the city, this activity is particularly fun. The best part is, it’s a safe and easy way for family members of all ages and abilities to stay active, so you can take your toddler and grandma too!
You may not have done this since you were your kids’ age, but you’re never too old! Bundle up, grab a few toboggans (or rent some if you don’t own any) and find your biggest local hill to slide down! You will no doubt take a couple of spills but seeing your kids giggle as you tumble will be well worth it. They’ll love that you’re getting involved and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your inner child emerges. If you have really young ones, you can take them down with you on the same sled. This is a way to include them in an activity that they might otherwise be too young for. It’s also a great way to get your kids outdoors and breathing some fresh air rather than playing Nintendo in the basement for their entire winter break.
Have a Snowman Contest.
Divide the family in half, and have each side build their best snowman. The losing team clears the dishes after dinner! This can also work with snow forts and snow angels- take your pick!
Bake Some Christmas Cookies Together.
If you’re getting tired of the outdoor activities, get your kids involved in some baking. Find a healthy recipe for Christmas cookies of your choice, and give everyone a task. This is a great way to spend time together and also helps your kids learn to work as a team, and fine tune their baking skills of course! Here’s an awesome healthy cookie recipe from Eating Well to get you started!
Orange Spice Molasses Cookies
Makes: 40 cookies
Active Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
To prepare the rolling sugar: Pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow dish and set aside.
To prepare cookie dough: Grind oats in a blender until they look like a fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
Beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest and beat another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the ground oats. Scrape down the bowl; with the mixer on medium, slowly add whole-wheat flour. (The dough will be moderately sticky.)
Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough, roll into balls, then roll in the rolling sugar to coat. (If necessary, wet your fingers to help roll without sticking.) The zest will make the mixture slightly wet and it will clump; lightly brush off the excess so that just a thin coat is on the cookie. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the cookies in batches until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack.
Per cookie: 85 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 48 mg sodium; 77 mg potassium.
We hope this helps bring back some Christmas spirit, and that you and your family have some fun this holiday season!