Happy Tips, staying up in winter.

Its getting towards the end of winter and the lack of light and time spent indoors starts to take its toll. Moods starting getting gloomy and sad being stuck inside coupled with the lack of sunshine. I know for me it tends to be subtle thing that creeps up on me and I realized I have a case of the winter blahs.
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So what can you do to alleviate this. You don’t always have the choice to get out into the sun this time of year. Clouds, snow, rain all that fun winter stuff can defeat your best efforts to perk your self up. So here’s what I do.

Exercise. I make sure I am moving whether it is lifting weights or Januaries Cardio Blast to help elevate my mood. I keep moving any way I can.

Meditation it helps keep me aware of my mood and evens me out when I start going
topsy turvy. 5 minutes a day of sitting and being still will make a big difference.

Vitamin D is hard to make the natural way during the winter. Supplementing it can help bring your mood up and is an easy fix.

Green Smoothies. There is something about them that perks me up if I am feeling blah. Plus its an easy way to get some more veg and fruit into your life.

That’s how I keep my mood up this time of year. What do you do?


Tips for Staying Healthy in the Winter

The holidays are over and its now January with its lack of light, some nice cold weather and a ton of wind. January is the anti month for getting outside and raw foods sound well cold and raw. It is the month that I struggle the most with getting my veg and fruit in. Here are my top tips for surviving January and staying healthy.
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Tip number one is for getting some veg and fruit in your diet via the green smoothie. They can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be. They always perk me up.

Tip two indulge in some cardio. I’ve pulled out my old school videos (yes, videos) and added in one long indoor cardio session. Gets the blood flowing and your mood will improve as you try and Hiphop along with Paula Abdul or get really old school with Kathy Smith. Kickboxing is another favorite of mine. Janice Saffell delivers a great workout.

Tip three soup. Soup is nourishing and comforting. You can veg it up, plus it hydrates. Make a nice broth based soup for dinner or lunch.

Tip four, don’t forget to drink your water too, winter heating dries you out. Winter in general can mean lower humidity levels and you don’t sweat as much. This makes it easy to ignore water.

And tip five is yoga tells us if we feel sluggish we need to get our energy moving. Try this simple exercise: Sit on the floor cross legged and than get up without using your arms if possible, sit back down, repeat this for one minute. You will give your systems an energy boost.

There they are my tips for staying healthy this month. What do you do to stay healthy?

Cold Weather Running

Holy fracking moly its been cold here. It was in the negatives for several days and everyone is cold and sick of the cold. Feeding horses in -20F temps is miserable. I keep thinking of the kid in “The Christmas Story” when he can’t put his arms down.
 photo huge-snow-suit.jpgIt is perfectly safe to get out there and exercise in the extreme cold. It is not going to harm your lungs or damage your body. There is a good chance you aren’t going hit any records in the extreme cold. Most people tend to do best between 36 and 52 Fahrenheit. When it is really cold out your body has to put more energy into staying warm which means less oxygen for your muscles.

I am no way opposed to running in winter. I’d rather be chilly than hot when running. But with the cold in the negatives I know that my running clothes collection does not have what I need to go out there and run safely. I’m good down to about 9F with some windchill but after that I’d need more specialized clothes than I already have.

Few things I have learned over the years are…

1. You probably need to take off a layer. It sounds wrong but you want to on the chilly side when starting your run. You will warm up.

2. Run short or for time. Cold and snowy makes for a slow run, get out and enjoy the scenery.

3. Kickboxing makes a really good substitute for running.

4. Get a grips make a big difference between no traction and some traction. I have had a pair of them for ages. I’m a on a dirt road and run on snow pack, they will help on ice, but I would walk the icy bits.

I know I am ready for some warmer weather about now, it would be nice to get back outside and enjoy it.

Lost your Exercise Mojo?

Sometimes you just lose your exercise mojo. For whatever reason you just do not want to exercise at all. Those favorite activities become a chore and just something to go through the motions with or skip it completely. It happens, sometimes the exercise mojo just goes away. So what do you do when that happens?
 photo 23520d60-2dde-4055-9acd-e5a6e88729e0.jpg1. Take a rest week. Do not exercise and if you have been eating at a deficit eat at maintenance for this week. Its about long term health, sometimes losing the mojo is a sign we need to rest.

2. So you took the rest week and still don’t have any mojo. *raises hand* Dial it back. This is not the time to push your limits. Keep a minimum of activity going on formal or informal. I’m currently in a dial it back phase as my mojo is so fracking missing.

3. Do something different. Try a new class or exercise routine. If you love vinyasa yoga try relaxation yoga. That different thing might be more rest days if you already exercise consistently.

4.No judging or blaming yourself. Being stern with yourself is not going to help. Mojo loss is not the usual hemming and hawing about exercise, don’t yell at yourself. What would you tell a friend? I bet you would tell them to rest and dial it back.

5. Mojo loss is temporary. You will want to exercise again, don’t worry, it will come back. Not wanting to exercise at all means to me that my mind and body are trying to tell me something, especially when I finish a workout and still feel blah or tired.

When all exercise sounds awful listen to your body and mind. Taking some time to rest, de-load, or dial back is healthy and in the long run better than forcing yourself through mojo loss.

Surviving the Holidays

Surviving the holidays can seem like a collision course. We are thrown together more often and not always with the folks we want to be with. There is food everywhere calling our name, sometimes with an aunt or friend urging us to have a bit of this and that with a third helping on top. It gets stressful navigating that collision course.

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Here are my top tips for making it through.

1. Breathe! Inhale, exhale, repeat. Long deep breathing has saved me so many times.

2. Eat what you love not what you think you should. That means when Auntie Alice is trying to make you take a huge portion of something you hate, you say no. Life is too short to eat food you hate. Eating carrots when all you really want is stuffing makes for a sorry existence and over eating. Eat what you love.

3. Keep exercising. Your normal schedule might be too much but keep active. It just will make you feel better and kickboxing can be a great way to release stress after repeatedly denying Auntie Alice.

4. When all else fails laugh. A co-worker at my first job used to say “I have to laugh or I would cry.” That has stuck with me. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the situation.

What do you do to survive the holiday season?

How to Strain a Stock

Now that your stock is cooled you are ready to strain it. There are several ways to go about straining stock. If you want or need an extremely clear stock I suggest using a chinois. A chinois is a very fine sieve and will keep any bits out of your final product. I have only done that when I worked in a restaurant, at home I don’t care if there are some tiny particles in my stock.

Go grab your colander that you use for straining pasta and get a big bowl with a wide mouth. If you lack that you can use a smaller mouth bowl but your colander will also have to be smaller. Set your big bowl in the sink and put your colander in it. My counters are too high for me to pour the stock out, so my bowl goes in the sink. No one ones several quarts of stock everywhere because you lost control of the pot.

Now that you have done that you can start pouring I do about two quarts at a time. Get what you are going to store or freeze your stock in. I like ziplock bags. Take a measuring cup, scoop, and than pour into the bag. Decide how much stock you want in each bag. I do quarts and than some two cup bags. I lie the bags flat to freeze they stack well.

Not a lot of fat on top so no need for me to skim.
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The sink set up I use.
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Getting ready to scoop into bags
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Where I put my colander while scooping.
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Ready to go in the freezer.
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Tips for the Beginner Yogi

I love yoga.  When I started practicing yoga it was difficult to find books and videos.  One would head down to the local metaphysical bookstore because no one else had anything on yoga.  But I wanted to try yoga. So I tracked down a Sivananda Yoga book and eventually found the old Yoga Journal videos and bought all of them and they were expensive for a college student.  The University I went to had a class that I signed up for.  Susan Ann was my first yoga teacher, she glowed and was warm and welcoming.  She taught us a wide variety of styles so we could try them all.  She inspires me to this day.
Finishing up with a breathing meditation.

Getting started can often be the hardest part about adding in something to one’s life.  Here are some easy steps to get you started in your yoga practice.

1. Take classes and try a wide variety of styles and teachers. Let the teacher know you are new to yoga  and if you have any injuries.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2. Not all of your yoga sessions need to be long or hard.  If you are tired, sore, or rundown relaxation yoga will do more for you than a tough session.  
3. Practice at home. A home yoga practice allows you to deepen your knowledge and lets you work at your own pace.
4. Forget the full expression of an asana.  It is about the journey, not the destination which you may never get to. Work where you are that day and that moment.
5.  Don’t be afraid of meditation and chanting, it is designed to make you the best you can be.  

Namaste and Sat nam.

Managing Breakfast Tips

Do you eat breakfast?  I do. There were years and years where my breakfast consisted of a big glass of juice and coffee.  Breakfast can be one of the meals we have the least time to prepare and consume while getting ready for our day.  There is a lot that goes on in the morning.

One thing I learned about breakfast is to have several items at hand that are easy.  I started out with pre-packaged oatmeal but it is really hard to find one that is not super sweet or that does not include apple cinnamon which I am not a fan of.  The apple tastes fake and weird to me even with organic brands.  Smoothies never keep me full so I tend not to have those as a breakfast.

So how do you make breakfast fast and healthy?  Here are a few of my top tips.

1. Big batches of grain porridge: Irish (steel cut) oats, rolled oats, barley, quinoa, multi-grain hot cereals. I freeze them in bags, I like to put two cups in a bag that is two days of brekkie.

2. Yogurt, fruit, and granola.  Simple and easy just make sure your yogurt and granola are not sugar bombs. I like this granola paired with unsweetened yogurt.  You could also use nuts if you are off grains.

3. Egg bakes they reheat well. Kalyn’s Kitchen has some great recipes for them.  I linked my favorite.

4. This is a more recent addition to my breakfast repertoire Chia seed pudding with fruit.  Make the night before to make it really easy.

5. Leftovers, soup, and other savoury foods.  Don’t limit yourself to what we think of as breakfast food.

Do you have other ways to make breakfast easy and fast?  Leave a comment if you do, I love new ideas!

5 Tips for Beginner Weight Lifters

The first time I started lifting weights it was a mess.  I’d pick out something from a magazine and not get any results.  Some would say lift heavy, while others said not to.  I biceped curled my way into sore and tight shoulders from bad form and too heavy weights, because something a magazine told me.  I look back and think, no wonder I stopped lifting.

My weight plates, all 184 pounds of them.
The second time I started,it turned out much better and the results kept me going. Now the desire to be strong fuels my desire to keep lifting.

1. Find a program that focuses on compound movements. Examples are shoulder press, lunges, squats, push ups, notice the distinct lack of tricep kickbacks.

2. Form is important.  If you can’t lift it without good form you need to lift less weight.  For the reboot of lifting I started with weights that were not heavy.  It did two things for me, it let me work with good form and built my confidence.

3.  Do not be afraid to work with weights that challenge you. Ladies you will not get bulky. I am pretty sure your purse, toddler, grocery bag is heavier than five pounds.  Why not be able to lift those items with ease and grace?

4.  Find flat shoes or if possible lift barefoot.  Ditching my cross trainers when lifting was one of the best lifting decisions I have made. Many people like Chuck Taylors for lifting shoes or minimal shoes.

5. Seek guidance.  Whether you video yourself lifting and have others critique you or hire a trainer. Find folks to help you with form and questions.  JP Fitness forms is a great resource for this or Fitocracy.

The Lunch Strategy

Today is one of those days where you stare out the window and watch the aspens fluttering in the breeze and wonder what the frell am I going to blog about.  I am having a distinct lack of blogspiration today. Part of me is just begging to skip blogging and go work out.

Today’s lunch turkey pot pie leftover from Father’s Day and some sticks.
Lunch for me is a difficult meal, it is in the middle of my day, I’m busy doing stuff and it just is a pain. If I could I would skip it I would.  But it usually comes after my workout and I am hungry, so I don’t.  A couple of years ago I started a lunch strategy after getting sick of getting to the fridge and everyone else had ate all the edible leftovers.  One should not have to cook at lunch time, reheating I can deal with, making a side of sauteed greens is sometimes doable.  Lunch and cooking forget that.

The Lunch Strategy

1. Make a big salad enough for two or three lunches.  I do the veg and add in what I am feeling that day.  Pine nuts are my current in thing.

2. Soup in the freezer.  2 cup packets they defrost easily and make a nice lunch.

3. Cook extra steak or chicken and freeze it.  This one has saved me so many times.  I freeze in portion sizes of about 3 to 4 ounces. It gets cut up and tossed into salads and soups.

4. Leftovers from last night’s dinner.  I’ve been known to stake my claim and write my name on tape and attach it to containers.

5. Sticks! Carrots and celery sticks make for a quick veg to pair with the protein lurking in the fridge.

What are your lunch strategies?