My Summer Fitness Plan

Last Thursday was the last day of school for Reese, and on Friday we booked it up north for a couple of days of R&R in a 100+ year old lodge where we binge watched Anne With An E and puttered around looking at pretty stuff and eating banana splits and blueberry pie. So today starts the first full week of summer break. It was also the first day of my Summer Fitness Plan®. You see, a few weeks ago I approached my next door neighbor and good friend Catherine and asked if she’d like to work out with me three times a week in the wee hours of the morning before our kids were awake. She immediately said yes, and we both agreed that it was going to be amazing and awesome.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke up at 4:00, 4:50, and 5:00 (excitement) and then for real at 6:00 to begin our Summer Fitness Plan®. This is the gist: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we will meet in our shared driveway at 6:15 and run/walk a couple of miles. Then we will use the Aaptiv app I’ve told you about before to do a strength workout. This morning we did our workout at the park in the wet grass while being feasted on by our state bird, the mosquito. There was also a for real boot camp happening and I felt like we were acting out that scene in Bridesmaids. We decided next time we will throw down yoga mats in the driveway instead.

Catherine proclaimed that by the end of the summer we will be bosses in every sense of the word (she didn’t really say it this way but it’s what I inferred so…). The first day was a success, in my book.

A couple of notes: I was worried that I would bonk if I didn’t eat anything beforehand, so I choked down a half of a banana. It’s almost two hours later and I’m still not hungry, so maybe working out on an empty stomach will work for me. Read about the research here. Also, next time I will spritz myself with bug spray. Thirdly, I have to say that if I’m awake everyday at 6:00 anyway, I might as well be exercising instead of laying in bed reading Twitter and stressing about the state of affairs. Who needs all that cortisol? I’m still 100% going to read the news, but an hour away from it isn’t a bad thing. Lastly, I will also be playing golf quite a bit, walking the dog, and doing some yoga and/or barre, but I think the bulk of my actual structured exercise will be from this plan.

What are your fitness plans for the summer?  Please comment and tell me!

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Let’s Talk About Stress

Midweek Mashup

 

Let’s Talk About Stress

stress-emoji

Several of my friends and acquaintances have recently talked to me about how stressful and busy their January has been so far. And I agree with them. I’ve taken on a lot of new responsibilities, but also still have all the usual ones. It’s been a flurry of activity. The coziness and fun of the holidays is long gone, and here in the frozen north, we are now left with a lot of winter still to enjoy endure.

So, how do we not just cope, but thrive? That’s the key, isn’t it? We don’t want to just slog our way through our days.

If we are constantly stressed out, we will have too much cortisol, the “stress hormone”, pumping through our systems. This can lead to disruptions in sleep, metabolism, energy levels, blood sugar regulation and serotonin levels (which help keep our mood stable), amongst other maladies. However, cortisol isn’t the enemy. In fact, it’s a necessary hormone for a lot of reasons. It will give us a quick burst of energy in the event of an emergency (like running away from an attacker). It helps up our immunity and resistance to pain in acute situations. But it’s when we have constantly high levels of cortisol that our bodies do not function properly.

So how do we keep our stress levels in check? Here are some things I recommend:

  • Turn off the news. Now more than ever, it’s important to periodically turn off the 24 hour/day news channels full of constantly “Breaking News”. This goes for Twitter and other social media. Turn off your phone. Turn off talk radio. Turn off the t.v. It’s called a news fast, and I think it’s vital to our mental well being.
  • Exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean running full steam on the treadmill or doing extreme cardio classes. If your stress levels are really high, high-intensity exercise probably isn’t your best bet. Activities like yoga, barre, hiking outside and swimming might be better for the time being.
  • Rest. Give yourself some time off. Read a book, have a cup of tea, take a nap. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Seriously.
  • Get plenty of sunshine. Even in the dead of winter, getting outside and seeing the sun is important. Even on my most anxious of days, if I walk the dog in the fresh air and sunshine, I always feel better. Check out my post about the importance of getting outside here.
  • Magnesium. You can read the post on magnesium I wrote last year. (Never take a supplement or over the counter medication without approval from your practitioner). I take 200 mg of magnesium citrate each night before bed. It helps relax my muscles and my nervous system. Start small on dosing, as it can cause, ahem, loose stools.
  • Cut back on alcohol. I know. But it works.
  • Eat regularly. Skipped meals can cause blood sugar irregularities and contribute to excess cortisol. Make sure you keep your blood sugar in check by eating regularly.
  • Meditate. Check out my post on meditation here. I swear by it.
  • Give yourself a break. It sounds so superficial, but you *must* take time for yourself if you hope to have the energy to take care of everyone else in your life.  Whatever helps you feel calm and centered, do it on a regular basis.

We live in a culture where being constantly busy and stressed is valued. Why is that? It’s silly. We’ll all wake up in our 80’s or 90’s (God willing) and wonder what the heck happened.

I’m constantly struggling with maintaining some sort of homeostasis, just like everyone else. Just because I have all these tools doesn’t mean I’ve mastered any of it. But it has helped me to identify where I can make some tweaks and changes. Maybe this post will help you too!

Is there something that works for you that I haven’t listed? Please leave a comment! And as always, please share this post if you liked it. You can also sign up to receive all my posts in your email inbox. How great is that?! Just click where it says “Follow Blog Via Email”.

 

 

Midweek Mashup

How are the first few days of fall treating you? I’m always so surprised by how quickly summer turns to fall here in the north. Thoughts turn to soups and roasts and brisk walks with the dog while bundled up.

Fall can bring about new stressors. Back-to-school, changing weather patterns, and a suddenly full calendar all seem to conspire to make us frazzled and frenzied. The impending holiday season will only make things more hectic, so now is a great time to check in with yourself and make any adjustments. I loved this article about how even the best nutrition can’t always counteract the inflammation that chronic stress creates. But don’t fret, there are so many ways to deal with stress. Mindful meditation is one of my favorite ways to quickly feel better. In fact, I have the Headspace app on my phone and use it regularly. Regular exercise is always a great bet. It releases endorphins that boost your mood.

And when all else fails, sometimes a hot bowl of comforting soup is just what you need.  Here’s one of our favorites, tried and true. This hearty lentil soup is full of flavor, has great nutrition, and is vegan. Sure, you can add some chicken if you’d like. Whatever makes you happy.

Stay tuned for this week’s Friday Cocktails!

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Chicken Apple Sausage and Sage Pasta

BBQ Chicken Spanish Style

Let’s Get  Out Of Here!

 

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

AHHH, Summer.  Those endless, lazy days when you have all the time in the world to cook and bake and harvest the vegetables you’ve lovingly grown in your backyard….

Vegetable_Cart_in_Guntur

HAHAHAHAHA.  Why do I always think this is what summer will be?  When it’s January and 20 below and I need something to help get me through those frigid dark days of winter, this is the image that sustains me. But, let’s be honest. It’s TOTAL BULLCRAP!

Summer is busy and frenetic and essentially consists of me shuttling my 11 year old to and fro. In Minnesota the weather is warm for only a short time, so we also cram as much outdoor activity as we can. Which means the house is messy and the chores don’t get done and there’s constantly flip flops and sunscreen scattered everywhere. And now for some inexplicable reason we have a problem with flies. Also, my tomatoes aren’t growing well and the dill never even came up and I can’t even get my geraniums to stay alive. But, you know, SUMMER. So anyway…families still need to eat.

That’s why I like these strategies for putting dinner on the table in a shorter amount of time.  Because everyone’s busy!

You now what else falls off during the summer?  My workouts. Sure, I golf a ton (I always walk and carry my bag, so there’s that). I’ve been getting to barre about once a week as well. But there’s no routine and it can’t be counted on. I’ve done this 7 Minute Workout by the New York Times in the past and love it. It’s challenging and works my whole body. It’s perfect for anywhere, including when you travel. Knock it out once a day and you’ll feel stronger in no time.

And finally, here is my all time favorite summer recipe for Caprese Pasta. I make it once a week and it’s so easy. When tomatoes and basil are in season, it is so fresh and delicious. Everyone likes it and it’s easy to throw together at the last minute.

Enjoy the rest of your week! As always, please leave a comment and share this post if you like what you read!