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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone with Your Fitness Routine January 21 2016

                     

Plateauing by definition is a force of nature that lessens the effectiveness of once effective measures over time. The plateau effect is a state that is experienced when the human body fails to respond to exercise that has proven effective in the past.” Have you plateaued physically and emotionally when it comes to your workout regimen? Whether we want to admit it or not, this eventually happens to all of us, which is why every so often it’s important to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Try something new! What have you got to lose? No harm has ever come from gaining new experiences or trying new things. One might argue that you could dislike something or have a negative experience and regret trying, but these lessons learned should be looked at as self-knowledge gained. Now you know!

                               

To give an example, if you’re a big weights buff, and you feel that you’ve hit your physical limit, maybe it’s time to start working some of the other areas of your body, like your core strength and balance. Unexpected forms of lower impact exercise like yoga and pilates that are often viewed by hardcore gym types as “softy sports” are actually really effective in strengthening the core, and building long, lean muscles. Even if this is a form of exercise you’d normally turn your nose up at, give it a try. You might just find you feel awesome after a few classes!

Here are a few popular forms of exercise classes available and their varying benefits. Why not try a few that you feel might suit your needs? Try to be open minded, and perhaps work on an area that you haven’t necessarily valued as much previously.

             

Yoga

As mentioned, yoga is great for building core strength, flexibility, balance and posture, and is amazing for stretching and elongating the muscles. A few other benefits are that it really helps to get you in tune with your body, establishing a strong mind-body connection. It is known to help regulate breathing as well, thus having therapeutic and calming effects for those that practice regularly.

                    

Pilates

Pilates has similar benefits to yoga, but uses machinery in its more advanced forms and can (depending on the type of yoga you are practicing) be a bit more intensive. Pilates also engages both the mind and body, builds amazing core strength, stretches and elongates the muscles, and helps to build flexibility and good posture.

                             

Zumba

Are you feeling a bit bored with your gym routine, or like you just can’t seem to get rid of that spare tire around your hips? Zumba is an awesome way to spice things up a bit, and drop some L-B’s! Zumba is an fun, upbeat combo of dance and exercise that is a great way to blow of some steam or relieve some stress! So much so that you won’t even realize how much of a workout you’re getting until you’re ready to drop from exhaustion! The Benefits? This form of exercise will dramatically improve your cardiovascular system, coordination, and with regular practice you will see rapid weight loss. (The average person burns up to 1000 calories in just one class!) By moving to the rhythm of the music, your body naturally tenses and flexes muscles all over, making Zumba a great way to tone up as well.

                            

Spinning

Spinning is fantastic as it really gives you autonomy over your workout. You are in a controlled environment and able to increase and decrease resistance, build and lower your heart rate, and train in intervals with the help of a professional teacher. As such, in this form of exercise it would be very difficult to plateau because you are constantly changing your routine and challenging yourself! The results? Amazingly toned legs and buttocks, improved heart rate and endurance, and a feeling of accomplishment (and adrenaline) at the end of every class!

            

Kettle Bell Classes

For all you weight lifters that don’t want to stray too far from home, this is a great option for something a little different that’s still in your arena. Kettle Bell training is a more of a full body workout than basic weight lifting, combining cardio and strength training. It also consists of more fluid movements, which avoids the monotony of isolated repetitions and is great for building flexibility and toning several muscles at once. The unique combo of strength training and cardio increases your metabolism exponentially and builds muscle while burning fat, which makes this method ideal for weight loss as well. Why spend hours at the gym doing separate cardio, strength training and stretching when you can squeeze it all into one class?

                                 

Swimming & Aqua Sports

Aquatic exercise is awesome for those looking for a full body workout, with little to now impact. Water exercises are deceivingly easy due to buoyancy and lack of resistance, yet swimming is one of the only sports that works almost every muscle in the body, building cardio strength, core strength, endurance, flexibility and muscle strength all at the same time. Due to the lack of stress on your joints and bones, this is also one of the lowest risk forms of exercise for injury. With regular practice, swimming also improves circulation and reduces your blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Water sports are a great option particularly for rehabilitating athletes or for those who have been hard on their bones, joints or muscles and are looking to stay fit without doing too much further damage.

These are just a few examples of some of the amazing other options there are to try outside of your regular gym routine! Grab a schedule next time you’re at the gym, or just look online to discovery many others that may end up being your new favourite thing! Sayonara, comfort zone.

                       


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!

               

Go Tobogganing.

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

Ingredients

Rolling Sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Cookie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • Preparation

    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.

    Nutrition

    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!


    Low Impact Exercise- Why Everyone from the Youngin’s to the Geezers are Doing it! November 20 2015

                         

    If you are a runner or an athlete, you have no doubt felt the effects that high impact exercise can have on your joints, muscles and bones after a while. This is why athletes have been making a real movement toward lower impact forms of exercise such as body weight training, swimming, spinning, and even yoga. Sports are hard enough on their joints, they don’t need to be putting extra strain on them off the field, court, ice- whatever it may be. Us every day folk could take a page out of this book too. There are many different forms of low impact exercise that are quite effective and easier on the bod! These types of exercises help prevent injuries associated with traditional, high impact exercise and equipment, and is great for all ages and fitness levels. It can also be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes. Most importantly- despite popular belief, it produces visible results the same way that more traditional, heavy duty exercise does. So put down the bench press and try a different approach. Your joints and bones will thank you, and you’ll be surprised at the results you see!

                          

    Body Strength Training

    It’s a common misconception that we have to push ourselves on strength building machines and lift heavy weights to build strength and muscle. It’s actually a much better workout to use your body weight and movement to build strength and muscle. Body strength training is a great combo of cardio and strength training, as opposed to weights which only target certain areas to build isolated strength. (Ex. Bicep curls, bench pressing, lat pull-downs, etc.) Another benefit is that because there is no machinery involved, you can transition more rapidly from one movement to another. Circuit training is a popular form of body strength training, which entails progressing through a series of movements such as lunges and knee lifts. This fluid range of motion not only helps with flexibility (allowing your joints to move more freely) but it builds core strength, helps with posture, back strength and endurance, and burns fat like crazy! You will also develop better balance through control and awareness of your body. The best part about this form of exercise is that there is lots of variety in the movements and exercises you can do. You can always switch it up which helps keep you motivated to push your boundaries and break plateaus. Oh, and it’s free and can be done anywhere, anytime… which leaves little room for excuses!

                        

    Swimming

    Swimming is often thought of as more of a leisure sport, when it actually works every muscle and offers quite an amazing full body workout! Because water is non-weight bearing, the workout often feels much easier as there is really no strain on the muscles. This is probably the lowest impact form of exercise, so it is particularly good for those already suffering from joint or bone issues, pregnant women, those in rehabilitation, or the elderly. However, it is an excellent alternative from anyone’s regular gym workout as it works both the upper and lower body all at once. Interestingly, as opposed to other forms of exercise, because those carrying a little extra weight tend to be more buoyant, this form of exercise will be less intense for the overweight and probably more intense for those with a lower BMI.

                                      

    Spinning

    This is where all the runners live- it’s the same intense workout, without the heavy pounding feet on the pavement. Spinning has a lot of the same physical benefits of running- it increases endurance, strengthens legs, and ups your cardio fitness. The difference is that it is done in a controlled environment, and it is low impact and a whole lot easier on your muscles and joints. This form of exercise is great for anyone craving that high intensity workout, but not the achy knees and ankles. It is particularly beneficial for athletes training off season in helping them stay fit, while taking it easy on their bodies that will no doubt take a beating during the next season.

                            

    Hot Yoga

    Love that heavy sweat you work up during a serious workout? Hot yoga is no joke, and no- it is not for sissies. While it’s not always the highest intensity workout, hot yoga is known for building incredible core strength and balance, and increasing flexibility and endurance. It also helps with toning and weight loss with regular practice. Being in a 90 plus degree hot room also helps you work up quite the lather, and sweating out all those toxins can be very cleansing and therapeutic! Another known benefit of yoga is that it has positive psychological effects, as it fosters a stronger mind-body connection. Yoga is also a low impact form of exercise that uses only bodyweight and movement to build strength and balance, and really stretches out the muscles. There are many different types of hot yoga, all at varying levels of intensity. (Bikram, Moksha, Vinyasa, the list goes on.) Be sure to check the class descriptions at your local hot studio to see which best suits your needs.

    So, next time you hit the gym, will you think twice about picking up the barbells? Ask a trainer to show you some body strength training exercises, you won’t regret it when you’re old and nimble!

     

     

     

     

     


    5 Simple Tricks to Help Maintain Self-Control During the Holiday Party Circuit! November 05 2015

                

    While we look forward to this festive time of year, filled with social events, seasonal cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres, the health conscious part of us also often dreads it; it’s kind of a love-hate relationship! The weight gain, the bloating and puffy eyes from lack of sleep and alcohol consumption- it all accompanies the fun times with friends and seasonal celebrations. Well, fear no more. There is no reason we can’t enjoy these festivities, and even indulge here and there, the trick is doing everything in moderation. Try these few simple tricks this season and you’re guaranteed to see (and feel) the difference!

                     

    Pick and Choose.

    This applies to both the parties you attend as well as the treats you allow yourself. Don’t feel that you have to accept every single invitation you are extended. Pick and choose those that are important to you- close friends or family, important business colleagues, etc. By hand-picking a few, you will inevitably be on your game, more present and alert, and most importantly you will enjoy yourself more as you won’t be worn down from a long string of monotonous events and sleepless nights.

                    

    Set parameters.

    Like in an exercise regimen or diet plan, having a plan is key. Make a mental commitment to yourself before attending the party of how many drinks you will consume throughout the evening, how many hors d’oeuvres you are allowed to sample, and how late you will stay. This number will vary depending on what party it is (i.e. your best friends Christmas bash on Friday night vs. your boss’s elegant cocktail party on a Wednesday) how much you have eaten that day (is this dinner?) and so on. Be sure to consider how many parties you are attending that week also, and try to stay balanced.

                   

    Eat a proper lunch.

    It is often said that we should “eat like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a peasant for dinner.” Calories consumed earlier in the day have more time to be burned off. Don’t starve yourself all day because you know you’re going to be eating tons of delicious treats and drinking lots at your party that evening. This is a dangerous mentality that can be detrimental to your ability to maintain your balance, as not only will you have little to no self-control and binge on the wrong things, but you will also get much more drunk if you don’t eat all day, resulting in an awful hangover the next day. Eat a generous, healthy lunch with lots of protein to keep you going for the rest of the day. This will give you a good base and keep you satisfied so you don’t make the wrong decisions later on (including being the drunkest person at the party)!

                     

    Eat a small healthy snack just before you leave.

    Even if you’ve had a decent lunch and aren’t particularly hungry, force yourself to have a quick hit of protein and a veg before heading out to the party. (A couple of lean cold cuts and some cut up pepper or cucumber is a personal quick and easy favourite.) This type of snack is low in calories and will curb your appetite enough that you will be able to exercise self-discipline when hundreds of deliciously cheesy and breaded hors d’oeuvres are being paraded under your nose.

                     

    Apply the Rinse cycle

    When there are trays of free cocktails being circulated every few minutes, it’s easy to lose track and forget to hydrate. It’s important that you make a point of chasing every drink with a glass of water. This is what we call “the rinse cycle.” The rinse cycle has several benefits, such as decreasing your level of intoxication, keeping you hydrated, and reducing hangovers. Don’t quit once you leave the party though, that full glass of water before bed is the most key part of kicking that looming hangover to the curb!


    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?

     

     

     


    5 Important Attributes of a Successful Entrepreneur- Do You Have What it Takes? October 13 2015

               

    In a world where full time jobs are less and less common and contract work is becoming the norm, Entrepreneurialism is becoming a much more common and desirable venture. While we’d all like to think we have the next billion dollar idea, there is a lot more that goes in to becoming a successful entrepreneur than just a dream. There are a few essential characteristics one must possess in order to be a truly successful entrepreneur.

    Confidence

                           

    In order to attempt any business venture, let alone one that involves a significant amount of risk, financial investment and commitment, you must be a confident person. You must be confident in yourself and your ability to succeed before even thinking of taking on such an endeavor. Once you have mastered your own self-confidence, parlay this into confidence in the product or service you are offering. Make sure you have complete faith in your company and its potential for success. If you take your time and do the proper research to that point that you feel 100% confident backing up all of your claims, you will be ready to take your first leap toward success. If you are truly confident, you will project this to your customers, which will naturally increase their confidence in your credibility. While risk taking is inevitable, it is also important to remain somewhat conservative and level headed in your investments. Basically- don’t bite off more than you can chew, no matter how sure you are of your product. If this is not your strong suit, be sure to have an expert on your team advising you in this department.

    Creativity & Resourcefulness

                                   

    Part of being confident is being willing to break traditional conventions and defy existing “rules” or normality's. Entrepreneurs are innovators, so you have to be willing and able to think outside the box. Having a strong vision is the most important first step in starting your business. It’s about seeing an opportunity where others haven’t, and figuring out how to put together the resources to make it happen. Not everyone has a creative mind, so many feel that by just thinking up a great idea they are ahead of the game. However, it’s what you do with this idea, and how you execute your plan that defines you as an entrepreneur. You need to be the type of person that is willing to put in the work and do the research to figure out the best route to take to achieve your goals, not just take a stab in the dark. No one has all the knowledge from the get go. It is important, though, to know how to find it. Don’t be afraid to seek out resources who will fill those knowledge gaps and better your chance of success.

    Passion and Persistence

                    

    If you aren’t passionate about your product, you might as well forget it now. Sure, money can be a great motivator, but if you don’t see immediate financial reward you’ll be likely to give up early. However, endeavors driven by a deep passion within are often those that persevere. Unfortunately, it’s more often than not a long road to success for entrepreneurs, filled with failure and constant trial and error. As such, resilience is one of the most crucial characteristics for an entrepreneur. You must have a thick skin and a sense of determination, and be willing to dust yourself off and try again… and again if necessary. It is this passion and confidence in your vision that will get your through the lulls and bumps along the road that can get disheartening. If you believe wholeheartedly in your passion and are 100% mentally committed, you will be more likely to dig deeper to find a solution to any problems that arise.

    Open-Mindedness and Adaptability

                                  

    The state of the world and the marketplace today is in flux. Just as you get comfortable with a new software, program or process, it advances. Any successful business recognizes the importance of staying ahead of the curve, and makes it a priority to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment. This also entails being able to identify times when internal changes are necessary. Being open-minded is essential in order for these changes to occur. It is important not to let your business become too personal to you. A business owner must be flexible and progressive for the betterment of the brand. This means being open to constructive criticism, and making necessary adaptations based on market demands or changing tastes. While it’s important to stay true to your vision, the finished product often looks entirely different than the starting idea. Be open to these modifications, and see them not as a personal attack on your beloved concept but a form of evolution. This should transfer to your staff as well. While you are the brains behind the operation, it is important to surround yourself with talented people so that your business is strong in every department. Value your team and their opinions, and be open to new ideas from all angles. This open-mindedness is what makes a true innovator.

    Conscientiousness

                                       

    Above all, the successful entrepreneur is self-driven and motivated. They are the people that get up early every morning and start their day, no matter what’s on tap. You have to make your passion a priority every day, not just when it’s convenient, and be willing to work overtime to make sure you achieve success. There will always be obstacles and distractions, but it’s the people that don’t let these things throw them off track that have what it takes to be a successful business owner. Entrepreneurs have a natural drive and ambition, a killer work ethic, and a natural sense of urgency that comes from within.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Travelling Lots this Season? 5 Easy Tips to Help You Stay Healthy on the Road! October 05 2015

                    

    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.

    Don’t indulge.

              

    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.

    Hydrate.

                                 

    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!

     

     

     

     

     


    The Do's and Don'ts of Prenatal Exercise! September 16 2015

                         

    Hey active lady, is your pregnancy making you feel nervous about exercising? Well fear no more! While it’s important to change your exercise regimen slightly, avoiding high impact activities like gymnastics or dance, there are several types of classes and exercises that are not only safe during pregnancy, but beneficial to your changing body. For the longest time, doctors were advising pregnant women to take it as easy as possible during pregnancy. They were seen as these fragile creatures who could miscarry at the slightest strain. Well this is oh so false. Being inactive during pregnancy has actually been linked to excessive weight gain and a reduction in strength and flexibility which, let me tell you, is not helpful during labour. A little weight gain is to be expected, so all you fitness buffs- let it happen. Embrace your changing body, nourish it, and exercise regularly so you feel better about yourself physically and emotionally. Below are a few safe and reliable forms of exercise to try out during your pregnancy.   

                       

    BARRE

    One main factor to remember when looking for new types of exercise during your pregnancy is that your center of gravity will shift. It’s important to partake in activities that don’t require a lot of impact, (such as jumping) or balance (such as gymnastics, trampoline, fast paced forms of dance, etc.). There are lower impact dance classes, like Barre, for instance, that can be a safe alternative. Barre is great because you’ve got something to hold on to, which reduces your risk of falling. Just try and sit out the big turns and jumps if you can, as your balance won’t be what it used to for a while. 

                          

    YOGA & PILATES

    Yoga is certainly the most popular and probably one of the most holistically beneficial forms of exercise to practice during pregnancy. With its focus on stretching the body, strengthening the core, and relaxing the mind, yoga is amazing for preparing the body and mind for childbirth. It’s a great way to stay calm and deal with any anxieties or stresses you may be feeling about your pregnancy or anything else. It also trains you to control your breathing as you learn to synchronize it with your movements, which is a huge asset in labour. A stress-free pregnancy is a healthy pregnancy!

                             

    Similarly to yoga, Pilates focuses on elongating the muscles and strengthening the core. As long as you don’t strain yourself by pushing your body beyond your limits, it is also a safe form of exercise during pregnancy. As in any exercise, it is important to take certain precautions when practicing yoga or pilates. For instance, as you progress to the second and third trimester, avoid inversions and positions that involve lying on your back. This can put extra pressure on your blood vessels and cause your blood pressure to drop. Most importantly- don’t do hot yoga! Extreme overheating and dehydration can have negative effects not only on you but the fetus as well, and can contribute to premature labour.

                         

    SWIMMING

    Swimming is a perfect form of exercise for pregnant women, and probably the safest as it’s literally zero impact! There’s no risk of injury, and the buoyancy of the water also makes you feel lighter and thus the exercises less straining, even though you are working several muscles and burning a ton of calories. Aside from just swimming laps for cardio, there are a ton of aqua aerobics classes you can take to build strength and endurance in the water.

                          

    SPINNING

    Spinning can be a great way to get some exercise while pregnant, as it requires no impact and allows you to have complete control over the level of intensity to which you push yourself. As in any form of exercise, it is important to avoid overheating and dehydration, and to listen to your body and be aware of signs of over exertion like dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

    Basically, don’t shy away from exercising during your pregnancy. As long as you are in tune with your body and take the necessary precautions, exercise is a necessary factor in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a smooth childbirth. It also has positive effects on your mental well-being, reducing stress and anxiety. Keeping your health and fitness at a normal level during your pregnancy will increase your strength during labour, and will also make it an easier transition to your pre-baby self after giving birth!


    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.

                            

    Physical Organization

    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.

                                               

    Fitness

    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!

                                               

    Time Management

    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

    In Life:
    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.

                         
    In Parenting:
    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.  
                                   
    In Relationships:
    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!


    The Importance of a Healthy Body Image in Young Children July 08 2015

             

    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.


    The Importance of Movement for Kids- Teaching Self-Regulation June 16 2015

    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

    There are so many things we do on a daily basis that burn extra energy or consume unnecessary amounts of natural resources. These habits have become such an ingrained part of our daily routines that we often don't even know we're doing it anymore. As we continue to suck up what's left of our earth's precious (and limited) resources, it is especially important that we give the next generation all of the tools and awareness they will need to live the most sustainable and efficient lifestyle possible. With your kids, start with the basics. There's no point in trying to explain the benefits of eco-friendly paint and appliances. Try by first explaining the big picture to them. Find a way to best articulate to them that the earth's natural resources (which we rely on for human life) like water, fresh air, wood, and oil, are somewhat finite. We, however, are not. Our population continues to grow, and without controlled consumption, we will soon burn through these precious resources. 
                    
    The cars we drive every day, and the chemicals emitted by factories and plants are polluting our fresh air. Carelessly long showers and pollution of our lakes are depleting our dangerously low fresh water supply. Some countries, like Ethiopia, Jamaica and Trinidad, don't even have regular access to fresh drinking water! Show your kids pictures like the one above of the people in Ethiopia bringing dirty water from the river to be boiled and decontaminated.  Explain to them that oil has been over consumed for years to create gas that fuels our air polluting automobiles, causing a real depletion in our oil reserves beneath the earth as well. This has been the reason for the recent development of alternative energy sources, like electric cars and solar power. Encourage them to make wise choices going forward and as they grow up, to always choose the more eco-friendly option. Make them understand that if everyone takes these small steps to save the earth, together they will make a big difference for the future. Here are a few easy steps to take at home to get them started. 
    1. Teeth Brushing.
                               
    I myself am guilty of turning on the tap and letting it run as I scrub my pearly whites. (Something I've been trying to work on!) Encourage them to turn off the water after they've wet their toothbrush, and not to turn it back on until they're ready to rinse. 
    2. Lights
                             
    Create an incentive for them to ensure that lights are always turned off when they leave a room. Keep a quarter jar, and create a rule where anyone caught leaving a light on has to contribute a quarter (including mom and dad!). Once they've done this a few times, they'll be fed up with losing their allowance.
    3. Don't flush for number one. 
                             
    I know- kind of gross. But if there are only a few of you in the house, it's just family, right? It's a great way to reduce water consumption, as flushing and refilling the tank uses a great deal of water each time. You can obviously make an exception if you have guests over.
    4. No Aerosol cans!
                                          
    As they get older, encourage them to avoid aerosol deodorants, hairspray, room sprays, etc. These are huge pollutants (they contain harmful CFC's) and there is always an alternative.  
    5. Doors and Windows
                                                 
    Encourage the kids to keep the doors and windows shut in times of extreme cold or heat. This will reduce the need for your heating/ AC to kick into overdrive to compensate for the change in temperature. This can burn a ton of energy! (Not to mention rack up your hydro bill at the end of the month.) Perhaps implement the quarter jar rule for this one too? 
    In those milder in between months however, you may find that you can turn off your heating/ air conditioning system altogether, keeping windows open to maintain air circulation. This burns the least amount of energy!
    These are just a few ways to get your kids thinking about the environment and to create sustainable living habits from an early age.

    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. 

     Take Turns

    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!

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSby1UUhyts

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSby1UUhyts

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLIfN-31Bgs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnBhn7YSsnM

    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. 

     

    Image Sources: 

    Image 1-http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1026531/images/o-MOM-STRESS-WORKING-MOM-WORKING-MOMS-facebook.jpg

    Image 2-http://www.thehabitproject.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/stressed-out-parents.jpg

    Image 3-http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/11/03/1414973592839_Image_galleryImage_A_stock_photo_of_a_father.JPG

    Image 4-http://assets.babycenter.com/ims/2010/09sep/stk2010_09_iStock_000010562074Small_424x302.jpg?width=475

    Image 5-http://1.slimshortcut.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/mom-exercising-660x400.jpg

    Image 6-http://f.tqn.com/y/grandparents/1/S/Y/S/-/-/CaptureTheFlagHillStreetStudioBlendImages.jpg 

     


    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.”

     – Elle Woods, Legally Blonde.

     

     

     For some serious inspiration, check out this vid:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceEZD1X6fls

     

     Image Sources: Pinterest


    Sweat vs Starve June 29 2014

    As summer sets in and the bikinis come out, the whole fit vs. food debate is a particularly hot topic.   Well, the science is now showing what most gym-junkies have likely known for years- there really is no debate.  “As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.”  These new findings have given me a freeing new perspective on how to approach my own wellness.

          

    Image via: http://www.2ndwindexercise.com/diet-and-exercise-better-together/

     For years, I was dedicated gym bunny, obsessed with the “count” that is, how many calories did my workouts burn and could I push myself further, longer or faster to burn more.  Yet, I often found it really didn’t make a big difference to my overall bottom (ahem) line.  More recently, I’ve focused my energies on balance and fun.  I still exercise each day because I’m addicted to the endorphins and it makes me feel mentally and physically great… but I now try to focus on the types of classes, movement, etc. that I really enjoy.

                 

    Image via: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/22571/35-for-10-zumba-fitness-classes-for-mom

    This being said, I am more conscious of tracking what and how I eat, and I try to practice the 80/20 rule.  During the week I use a mobile app (myfitnesspal, livestrong, weightwatchers are all great) and generally try to stay carbohydrate and dairy free.  On the weekends, I enjoy myself.  This approach has left me less injured, happier and feeling my fittest ever.  So the jury is in for me- “the secret” really is a balance. Oh dear, could balance be my new obsession?

                       

    Image via: http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/what-is-a-balanced-nutrition/


    Finding Your Tribe- Why Community Matters to Long Term Health, Weight Loss and Motivation June 29 2014

                               

    Have you ever noticed how much harder it is to work out without your i-pod, or a friend? Fitness is all about community and connection- whether you feel comfortable at the gym, connect well with your yoga teacher, or enjoy the smoothie bar with your new Pilates buddies after class, there’s no question working out in the right environment, with the right people makes a difference to your performance level.

          

    Image via: http://fitnessforce.ca/2012/02/08/losing-motivation-for-exercise-4-ways-to-stay-on-track/

    I personally have gone to the same hot yoga class, at two different studios with two different teachers and had completely different experiences. Luckily, the negative one came second! It made me realize that fitness and motivation are completely tied to your mental and emotional state of being.  Don’t discount that little i-pod that never leaves your pocket either. I’ve noticed that when I forget my music, I find the same workout doubly as hard to complete, I’ll often even give up early! Music has been proven to increase endurance during exercise. It affects your overall mood- it can pump you up, or chill you out. Music helps you escape to that happy place where you can find your release and get the most out of your “sweat therapy,” as we like to call it.

                      

    Image via: http://fattymakeafunny.wordpress.com/

     

     When trying to find a fitness regimen that suits you, your comfort level and feeling of connection to the environment, activity, or teacher should be the first indicator as to whether this is something you should really pursue. Alternatively, if you must do an exercise that you don’t really enjoy, find a friend who motivates you and hit the gym with him/her. You’ll be surprised how much further you’ll push yourself with a little friendly competition. 

                        

    Image via: http://www.popsugar.com.au/fitness/photo-gallery/35008730/Working-out-friend-always-good-idea


    Weekend Warriors June 29 2014

    Image via: http://www.thezerosbeforetheone.com/the-night-before-thanksgiving/partying

    Today’s 20-somethings are living a polarized lifestyle. They party until dawn all weekend, binging on booze, drugs and junk food, and then starve themselves all week to get “healthy” while trying to mentally function at a 9-5 job. Sure, they’re young and resilient... but how long can they sustain this lifestyle before the damage to their bodies becomes irrevocable and they start to deteriorate?

    Image via: www.keeferfitness.com/tag/tired/

    I personally used to be one of these “Weekend Warriors.” Monday morning was the last thing on my mind, because I lived to party, everything else was secondary. I was drinking and partying and not hydrating myself properly. The next day I’d eat a bunch of crap to soak up all the poison I’d consumed the night before, and then nurse myself back into decent enough shape to repeat the crime the following night.

    Come Monday, I’d feel guilty for the amount of junk and toxins I’d consumed and convince myself it was time to get “back on track.” This meant living on smoothies and soup all week, skipping meals, and forcing my deprived body to work out every day after work. Sounds fun, right? Not for long. I began having tons of medical issues. I was exhausted and constantly ill, which affected my job, relationships, and every element of my life. My potassium levels were so low that it was life-threatening. I was iron-deficient, malnourished and had a bunch of other issues that I won’t bore you with. The doctor basically told me I had to make some drastic changes or else it could be fatal. That was definitely the wake-up call I needed.

    Image Via: http://www.allcoresociety.com/working-out/article-treadmill-vs-outdoor-running/

     

    I am now much more conscious of my health. I don’t party on a regular basis, and when I do it’s in moderation, mixed with a side of H2O! I also maintain a balanced diet to ensure I’m getting the nutrients I need to stay strong and healthy. My fitness regimen, well it’s a work in progress. The point is I’m still here, and I’ve never felt better. So, Weekend Warrior, if you’re reading this- you may be pulling it off for now, but long term you can’t sustain balance and good health in such a toxic lifestyle. 

    Image via: http://www.notquitelegal.com/2014/03/31/thrive-measuring-happiness/


    Sweat Therapy as a lost Art June 29 2014

                                

    Image: http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/fitboard/board/category/motivation/user/anbisel

    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! 

                  

    Image via:http://www.alfievente.com/acupuncturemassageforsportsinjuries