I think we'll all admit to not being our best selves after the sugar crash from eating an enormous bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs! You don't need to be a nutritionist to know that!
But did you know that there are food that can actually help to boost your mood? I could ramble on about it, but instead I'm just going to share this article from Livestrong.com, "12 Foods That Can Improve Your Mood"
Take a minute to read the article, share the infographic, and have a happy, healthy Monday!
I saw something a while back that I thought was so clever - it was a list of the alphabet, and next to each letter was a specific exercise you did.
Well, I tried it...and I hated it! I didn't read through each exercise before I started, and I realized while doing it that it was the same 5 exercises over and over. So, it worked out that name workout was maybe 3 exercises over and over! Blah! Boring!!! Seriously, I can't handle that. I crave variety! I loved the idea still though, I just knew I'd need to create my own version of this workout!
I picked some awesome and difficult moves, some of which require free weights, but can easily be done without weights, or subbed for something else - when in doubt, just do jumping jacks or burpees! And if you're not sure what something is, just wing it!
Because I do get bored and need variety, sometimes I workout to a name that isn't mine at all! Hahaha, yes, I know that maybe sounds semi-psychotic! Seriously though, I'll pick a character I played in a show, a friend or family member, or a favourite character from a t.v. show or movie!
Working out should be fun, so have fun! Pick a name (maybe start with your own!), and go for it! I only do my first and last name because that's 19 exercises! If I added my middle name I'd be up to 27 moves! And because I am generally doing this "spell your name" workout name when I'm a little strapped for time, I just do my first and last name, and push as hard as I can. I've also done the whole alphabet, just for "fun"! : )
Hello! Happy Monday!
Our weekend was good, and really busy, and very tiring, but also wonderful!!! I hope your weekend was lovely!
I was contacted by an amazing gym called My Fitness Boutique in London, England about sharing a HIIT infographic that they've created.
If you know me at all, you know I fully believe in and stand by the idea and principals of HIIT training. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and basically it means instead of hours of cardio, you cram intense "bursts" of work into a smaller workout time. This method of working out has been around for quite a few years. I first started doing it about 7 years ago after my mother in law mentioned these "burst" workouts to me. The idea of a quick (but difficult) workout really appealed to me, as I was home with 3 young children, and hadn't the time, or space, to money, or equipment to do hours of cardio!
So, I'll pass this post onto the folks at My Fitness Boutique, and I hope you enjoy the awesome infographic they've created to help you understand HIIT, and why it's so amazing!!!
HIIT For Beginners
We now live in a world where people like things to be done fast.
We might order an occasional takeaway if we don’t have time to cook and we fully expect it to arrive at our door within 30 minutes. We expect a smartphone to be able to load a webpage within a few seconds. We expect to obtain score updates from a big game almost immediately through Twitter or a series of live scores apps.
When it comes to exercise, we all want it to be effective and to visibly lose fat and/or gain muscle as a result, but some of us aren’t prepared to hang around for those results to take hold. If you want a fast track to a better body without taking the type of shortcut that will ultimately do more harm than good, then High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is perfect for you!
Indeed, as this infographic we've create at My Fitness Boutique shows, an increasing number of people are embracing the efficient and effective practice of HIIT workouts. There are numerous studies to show that high intensity workouts can often be much more effective than steady state cardio, so not only are you achieving quicker fitness results, but you’re also getting better fitness results.
In that case, HIIT seems to be all sweetness and light, but the process tends to be gruelling. Keep in mind the words ‘high intensity’! HIIT works faster, but it also requires you to work out faster and harder than ever before.
You may find that you don’t have the stamina for high intensity exercises, but the mistake many people make is to try and achieve too much too soon. Instead of drastically altering your fitness routine, impose changes and targets gradually so that the goals are realistic and you’re still succeeding in adding intensity to your workouts.
If you’re prepared to endure the severity of HIIT workouts for a quicker, more effective route to your fitness goals, then take a look at the infographic below for some high intensity exercise ideas!
Thanks My Fitness Boutique for wanting to educate and encourage people on their journey to being healthy & fit!
Being a better, healthier version of yourself doesn't have to take hours from your day. Honestly, taking 10 minutes a day to workout can have tremendous benefits to your body and mind! Even if your goal isn't to become muscular, or even to loose any fat, just working out or getting some form of exercise is making you better! It shows some discipline, motivation, and that you are willing to take some time for yourself!
I hope you give HIIT a try if you've never tried it before, and share the message with your friends and family! Because sharing a simple, life-giving tip to others is a wonderful thing you can do!
Yes, well, you did read that title right!
I want to share with you today someone I've recently subscribed to on YouTube. I'd actually done one of his videos a long time ago, but wasn't hooked. It was a 20 minute jump rope video and it just wasn't my fav. I realize it's confusing to start a post about something I love by saying I didn't like it! But seriously, doesn't that happen?! You really are unsure (or strait up hate/dislike) something, and then you just give it a solid effort and then you realize how much you enjoy it!? Maybe it's just me, but it happens all the time!
Anyway, while looking on YouTube for a workout video, one of the other channels I subscribe to, BeFit, had a bunch of videos featuring this guy from the jump rope video. I was looking for a quick and hard workout, so I thought I'd give him a try again.
Well, turns out he's the freakin' best. Ok, I'll admit calling someone "the best" is pretty relative, but take my word for it - if you're looking for a workout to seriously kick your butt, and have a laugh, and feel like you're working out with your friend who happens to swear like a sailor, you will LOVE Mike!
Mike Donavanik is his name, and his shirt status in the intros to a lot of his workous? Non-exsistent. Why does this matter? It doesn't.
Except when your 8 year old daughter asks if he's wearing clothes at all and you need to explain he is....or you hope he is....but you can definitely reassure her that he wears clothes during the workout.
I wanetd to narrow down the videos and show you my favourite today, but basically ALL of his videos are my favourite!
He works you hard (especially if you try to keep pace with him!), and if you're slightly ADD when it comes to working out (like I am), you'll appreciate that he rarely repeats moves. I mean, yes, he does some times, but it's not the kind of workout where you do 4 moves, and then repeat that circuit of 4 moves 5 times! That makes my brain so upset! I like to kick-ass in a move and know that I won't have to do it again!
Anyway, here's one of my favourites! He even has his shirt on in the intro! : )
One of my favourite things about Mike's videos is seeing how hard he's working, and how difficult it is for him (even though he's super fit) and feeling like you're not alone in your torrent of sweat dripping down your face!
I hate feeling like I'm working SO HARD at a workout, and the pretty person leading the workout is still fresh and happy looking! I'm freakin' dying and they're just have beautiful rosy cheeks and are still smiling!
With Mike you'll get someone leading you through a workout who is super sweaty, swears, and make crazy faces.
I can relate to that!!!
Since the spring I've been struggling with getting back into better shape. The spring was very stressful for me, and I didn't workout as often or as hard as I wanted to, and my eating habits were getting pretty derailed.
So, the end of the summer and early fall I really buckled down and started eating better and trying to workout harder and smarter....but it seemed like nothing was changing.
I realized that my workouts, although they were tough, were not kicking me into gear like I needed them to. They were difficult, but not the leave me with a purple face, sweat everywhere, and a serious jello legs kind of difficult. I think when working out we know if we're giving our all, or just trying to do it so we can say we did. And that's what I was doing. I was doing good workouts, but not really pushing myself hard enough.
Then I started these workouts with Mike at the end of October, and I'm down 2 inches on my wasit, an inch on each leg, down 5lbs in total weight, my arms are getting definition again, and my stomach is getting flatter again. And I wore a pair of jeans. On purpose. : )
If you know me you know that I basically only ever wear leggings. I wear them because they're cozy, they go well with all my whacko sweaters I own, and they are forgiving for when the waist is growing or shrinking!
But, I wore jeans. And they fit great! They'd been hiding in my pant drawer since last winter, and I had tried to wear them once just before summer...and it was a little upsetting how they didn't fit well at all! So, to wear my fav jeans again, and feel comfortable in them was amazing! I literally put them on, and proclaimed, "I LOVE Mike!". My adoring husband just rolled his eyes at me. : )
This past weekend was my husbands work Christmas party. I had kinda sorta wanted to get a new dress for it, but I hate shopping. Seriously hate it. Anyway, after we spent many hours at the mall with me going "bleh", "meh", and "yuk!" to many dresses I finally found one I liked. I grabbed the size I thought I needed and headed to the changeroom to try it on, but ended up needing a store employee to bring me one 2 sizes smaller to try on instead! That's me wearing the dress in the photos above!
So, Mike, thanks for the new motivation, the new found love of working out, and for the new dress, 2 sizes smaller than I thought I would have been wearing!
If you want to try some new workouts, head over to Mike's YouTube channel (MikeDFitness), and give them a whirl. Seriously, just doing one of his 10 minute workouts will leave you feeling whipped!
Can I also say though that my version of being fit doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be) your version. In October, while a friend was visiting, I told her I'd put on 15-lbs and had lost a lot of muscle and muscle definition during the spring and summer, and she was like, "what? For real? You weigh 15-lbs more than before?". She's not the kind of person to be nice just for the sake of it, and it reminded me that I am my biggest critic, and I need to be kinder to myself. For me though, I only care moderately what other people think of me and how I look. What I care about more is how I feel in my body, my clothes and how healthy I feel (getting good sleep, having lots of energy, stable moods, etc.).
So, that's it! I hope you check out Mike's videos, and I hope you had a good weekend and have a great week!
How was the weekend? Ours was fun & busy! After a very exciting soccer game on Friday (in which my dear wee Keziah scored her first goal!), we had some neighbours over for a campfire. Saturday we drove to visit friends in Haliburton. We don't get to see these friends nearly enough, so it was really good to catch up a little. Oh, some of that catching up happened at the hospital though, as the same dear wee Keziah attempted a back flip on a trampoline and may have fractured her elbow....whomp whomp. The results from the x-rays that night weren't conclusive (as can often be the case for kids and fractures), so yesterday we made another trip to a different hospital to see if we could get some answers. Well, we couldn't get any more answers, but the Dr.'s said based on her pain and mobility issues, they'd rather put a cast on it and play it safe. Although this really sucks for Keziah as far as cartwheels, monkey bars and general 6 year old shinanigans are concerned, I feel better knowing the arm is safe and healing, from whatever inconclusive thing happened! And she's a trooper though - she's had some teary moments wondering about whether she could go swimming or not, but other than that, she's admirably optimistic. Last night she went to soccer, and wanted to be in uniform to be supportive of the team, but because there was a storm warning, a lot of the kids on the team didn't show. So, she gladly stepped in (with me hovering like a helicopter parent in case she fell onto her arm!), and got her second ever goal! She was proud of herself! I was proud too - nothing's keeping that girl down!
Anywho, back to Sunday - after leaving our friends house bright and early we drove 2 hours to Belleville because my hubby was playing drums for the music team, and I was teaching Sunday School. Then, in the evening we all went to the cast party for The Music Man. The show turned out beautifully, and I am proud (so proud) of that hard working cast of 40 people (and understudies who had to step in with literally 10 minutes notice!!!), and we had a wonderful time eating, drinking, and chatting with the cast and crew.
So, that's it. Re-cap complete!
Today I want to share with you a fun, really different, and ironically hilarious workout I've discovered.
Now, I am a dancer, but I would not consider myself to be a good hip-hop dancer. I've taken hip-hop, I've choreographed hip-hop, but my kind of hip-hop is old school. I would describe my hip-hop style as "clean". Hip-hop now is a little sexier than I can manage, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying the workouts I've found from The Fitness Marshall.
He choreographs simple hip-hop routines to popular songs as workouts.
Remember I said "ironically hilarious"? It's because these routines are the "new" kind of hip-hop (read: sexy), and as already mentioned, I'm not qualified for that kind of dancing! So, when I do these, I sweat, but I also laugh a lot at how bad I am at the dances! : ) Remember though, laughter is great for your health, so I consider it a double-whammy.
On his YouTube channel he even has a "sweat set" that changes every week and consists of (usually) 12 videos equalling 35-40 minutes of dancing.
I was reluctant to try these at first because of my "old school" hip-hop dancing skills, but I find that these workouts get me moving in new ways, I really have to pay attention to the routine (instead of just mindlessly working out, which can happen sometimes), and the time literally flies by! And I honestly, honestly, honest-to-goodness don't know ANY of the songs (I am unapologetically out of touch with the current music scene), but that doesn't matter. I'm sure it helps because you know what's coming next in the music so you can know what's coming next in the choreo, but (let's be real) these songs aren't a freakin' concerto, they are bare bones (....a hem....boring...talentless...?), and are easy to
pick-up. Seriously though, these workouts/dances are a freakin' hoot.
Don't worry, I'm still here!
I have been excruciatingly negligent in posting anything, anywhere on this blog!!!
Truth is, life has been stressful lately, and I haven't had the time, or the ambition to write much of anything!
The musical I was working on had it's opening night last week, so that was very exciting...but leading up to it was becoming more and more stressful. I'm used to the "regular" stress of getting close to a show opening, but there was a lot of tension and conflict between members of the crew, and it was starting to wear on me.
I also have a good friend who has been really struggling with a lot, and, after many scary episodes, she has checked into rehab in Toronto for 6 weeks, leaving behind her husband and kids.
My life has also been interrupted by a new person who has boundary issues, and who doesn't understand that I prefer solitude and order in my day. I can (and do, a lot!) have my days interrupted, I can adjust to changes, I can adapt when I need to - but when the intrusions are everyday - I am just overwhelmed and exhausted.
And early in the new year we (my husband and I) were asked if we would want to cook at a summer camp. The decision was not a simple one at all, and caused me a lot of stress. There are so many parts of our lives that do not lend themselves to just picking up and being gone for a whole summer. Things like our gardens, large yard that needs mowing, horses, cat, dog, son with autism - and my aforementioned need for sameness and solitude!! We kept going back and forth about this decision, but finally (after sorting out some of the obstacles in the way), we said that we would be available to cook for camp. And by "we", I mean "me" because my husband still has a job he has to go to!
Speaking of jobs, money has been stressing us out lately as the money we have seems to be getting dumped into a sieve and pouring out and down the drain! For years we've been pretty good with money, but a few years ago (when we bought our house, really) we suddenly had a lot of things that needed being paid! I feel more stressed and pressured now about money than I did our first year of marriage when our gross income was around $13,000! Yes, I said gross income! And our rent then cost us $750, so didn't leave too much for anything else, but we figured it out, and I don't remember thinking "oh crap...how are we going to buy groceries?".
And in the last few months we have gone to a lot of funerals. And that just wears you down......
Anyway........I'm ranting and venting......and getting to the point......about stress!
I felt like I was getting sucked into the undercurrent of all the things life was hurling at us. Generally I can deal with stress because there will only be one or two things at once, and I can still find a way to cope. But this time? I was drowning.
So, I needed to really dig deep and figure out how I could let off some steam before I blew a gasket (or, blew more gaskets....I had already blown a few)! Here are some things I started doing to keep me going.
Tips for Dealing With Stress
It'll come as no surprise that this is my first tip.
If all you do is get out for a 10 minute walk, that will help! When you're stressed out, your body is reacting with chemicals that signal "fight or flight"! So, using up these hormones by way of physical activity can do a world of good for your stressed out mind and body!
And basically, when your stressed, there isn't (really) such a thing as "too much exercise". Just get moving, and get feeling better!
For me, I exercise everyday, but I tried adding more yoga, and when the weather was nice, taking a walk., and both helped. I also moved my workouts outside. Normally I would wait to start working out outside until it's really sunny and warm, but I decided that getting outside for the extra fresh air (even if it meant working out with a sweatshirt on) would be great. And it was.
This one was a zinger....but I realized the more stressed I felt, the more coffee I was downing in the morning, and the wine I was drinking in the evening. Whomp whomp.
Caffeine is stimulant, which when taken in excess causes a heightened level of stress. And alcohol, when consumed in larger quantities, is a depressant, which is obviously not helpful. Extra stressed all day, super depressed all night. That's a loose/loose!
So, for me, I cut out wine and tried drinking teas at night. It sounds like such a "bleh" switch, but there really are some great teas out there, and they can be delicious and soothing. I also cut my 3-4 cups of coffee (and the cup I use is really about 1 1/2 "normal" cups of coffee) to 1, and sometimes 2 cups. Once I cut back, I actually found that I often didn't even want more than the 1 cup.
Stress causes sleep to be interrupted, and lack of sleep causes stress....so you can see that this is a vicious cycle!
If you aren't getting sufficient sleep, your stress will persist. So, find a method to help you get the sleep you need. For me, it was melatonin.
Melatonin is "a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour "clock" that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin. When it is light, the production of melatonin drops. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening, or too little light during the day, can disrupt the body's normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles" (Source).
I find melatonin fascinating, and first started using it for my kids when I needed them to get to sleep, and have a good solid sleep. Then I recently asked myself, "why the heck aren't I taking it too?!?!"
So, when I realized that my stress was becoming worse because of my severely interrupted sleep, I decided to take some melatonin (I buy mine from Vitacost - see the link in the side bar!). Man, waking up after having a good nights sleep made me feel like a million bucks! All my stressful situations were still present, but I didn't wake up exhausted and dreading the day!
If you're not into melatonin, try drinking a "sleepy time" tea. Chamomile tea works wonderfully for sleeplessness. As does giving yourself some time before bed without any very bright lights on (remember your natural melatonin increases when it gets darker). Whether this means just turning off the computer, t.v. or cell phone half an hour before you plan to go to bed, or try taking a warm bath or reading a (non exciting!) book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you. Something else I found helpful was trying to aim to go to bed at roughly the same time each day. This helped my mind and body get used to a predictable bedtime routine, and made me feel like I had some control over something (which can feel empowering when life seems out of control!)
Get It Out
Whether by talking to someone, or writing it down in a journal, a great way to help beat some stress is to share it.
If you talk to someone about it, be sure it's someone who you can trust to not devalue what you're going through, Most times when we're stressed we just need someone to say, "that sucks! not, "Well, that's not so bad!". Am I right?
You also want to know that if you're stressed about someone, that the person you're talking to can be trusted to not gossip about it because that can make the stress even worse!
If you'd rather write it all down in a journal this can be therapeutic too. Writing it down can also help you pin-point some of the stressors (if they aren't obvious). Maybe write down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanism.
Lay Down & Be Quiet
This one can be hard, but try to find a few minutes a day to just be quiet. I honestly really enjoy the hill right outside of our barn. I walk there, and lay down and look up into the sky. It makes my worries feel small when I can be quiet.
Laying down really seems to make the quiet even better, so try to find a spot you can do that. Maybe you can go into a room and turn off all the lights and lay down. Or sit in your car and put the seat back and close your eyes. Don't let going to bed be the only time you've let your body lay down and be quiet. It feels really (surprisingly) calming to lay down for a few minutes when it's NOT bed time. Try it sometime!
Well, this last one is a little whacky, but just smile! I'm not even talking about when you're thinking of something pleasant, or when reading or watching someone wonderful - I'm talking about smiling RIGHT NOW! Seriously, if you're reading these words, just start smiling.
I've known for a long time that smiling can actually change the way we perceive a situation, and honestly never cared whether it was scientifically true or not because I knew that smiling helped me feel better! This article goes into detail and talks about how there is actual scientific proof that smiling can help us feel better!!!
I mean, it's free, you can do it anywhere, anytime, and it helps! Hello?!? This is a winner!
Truthfully, sometimes I'm grumpy or stressed, so I'll fake smile, and then I'll suddenly start laughing because I realize how crazy I must look! Hahaha, so, in those cases I'm clearly feeling better because now I'm laughing (at myself, but still, it's laughter!) : )
So, these are the methods I use to help me not feel like I'm all tangled up in mangled up knots (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, anyone???)
I hope that, if you're feeling stressed today, these tips I've shared helped you feel even a little bit better. Pick one or two you can do and see how you feel!
Sometimes I do a workout plan that lasts a month or more, but more often than not I end up trolling through YouTube looking for something I think looks like it'll be challenging and still fun. Well, this video met both of these requirements!
Sweaty Betty (a health & fitness brand) has a Get Fit 4 Free series on their YouTube channel, and I just loved this one from Body By Simone. It was enjoyable while kicking my butt! You can't beat that! : )
I thought I'd talk today about kids fitness! As a Mom, I want to make sure my kids are growing up strong, confident and in good health. Let's be honest, little kids (pre-school aged) are always moving, but as kids get into school, they can start to slow down! So, today I'm going to talk about school-aged kids and keeping them active.
I met a little girl recently who is only 6 years old, and is the average height of a 6 year old (about 3 1/2 ft), but weighs at least 25-30lbs more than "the average" 6 year old (I know "the average" weight can vary widely, but this particular child is obese). I honestly don't judge her (she's only 6!!!), or even her parents, but it makes my heart sad to think of the health issues she will likely have as she gets older. I can't say that she'll struggle with confidence or anything else because perhaps her parents are instilling in her a strong sense of self-worth, but in this day and age, where being thin is made out to be the most important thing, I can imagine she will have some mental obstacles to overcome.
Kids need to exercise to help build confidence, strength, and to lay the foundation to a healthy lifestyle. That's why in school, physical education is important in order to help kids not only achieve sharpness of the mind, but also an appropriate level of fitness. But, outside of school, how can we encourage our kids to stay active?
It's Me, Amy-Lyn!
Welcome to my