Sometimes I experiment in the kitchen … the ones that turn out great, I share with you. This stew uses a lot of spices great for digestion, plus some unusual ingredients from the garden. (Yes, I include some dandelion that was growing by the mint and it turned out tasty.)
Ideas & Inspiration for Your Path!
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You have some goals you want to reach.
Complete a 5K?
Feel more confident when you walk into that meeting?
Be able to lift your kids (without hurting your back)?
Be around for your kids when they have your grandkids?
Lose 20 pounds?
To reach those goals you have to change your habits.
And to change your habits you have to believe you can, right?
This past week I learned a powerful technique to changing your beliefs and I want to share it with you:
Whatever habit you are wanting to upgrade, write what you need to believe concerning it.
For example -
GOAL: Complete a 5K
HABIT: Run/walk 4 days each week according to training plan
BELIEF: Exercise is important to my life and I am able to stick with the training plan
BELIEF STACK: Write out 50 reasons that belief is true. Yes. 50.
The first 10 or so will be easy to write out…
“I have followed a walking program before.”
“My kids want to walk with me a couple of nights/week.”
“I like how I sleep better when I exercise.”
But the power comes when you have to dig deep to get all the way to 50 reasons. And sometimes you have to turn an excuse into a reason.
“My work is so busy that I don’t have time” becomes “I come up with creative solutions while I run, so I actually work faster.”
What goal and habit are you working on? Try Belief Stacking and let me know your results!
How do you create a culture of wellness when you are the only employee or have just a few people working for you?
Anytime you are working on “you” and not on your business, do you fear you are getting behind? “Yes” is a common answer, but the truth is different.
When you work on you — including your health — you will grow your business. This is not pleasant to think about, but you are not your most effective working from a hospital bed that you could have avoided.
The flip of that? In this video I share how I helped a business owner move from scared he wouldn’t have enough money on a monthly basis — to stable and growing because he changed ONE thing: how he took care of his health.
You can do it, too!
Does your workplace have a healthy breakroom and wellness culture?
It’s Employee Health and Fitness Month. Let’s create some fun and fitness in your workplace. This week the focus is on creating a culture of wellness in companies.
When you hear Mindful Eating what do you picture? A group of monks contemplating the grains of rice in front of them? Of course, it is not the other extreme of driving, yelling (in love) at your kids in the back seat to quit fighting, while eating the burger you picked up in the drive-thru.
Mindful Eating is not about having candlelight at every meal - but it is about the emotional environment you create.
Let’s go back to your high school biology class. (I know: moan, groan.) Remember the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems? Only one of these systems can be dominant at a time. When you are agitated, excited, upset, in crisis, angry, or stressed the sympathetic nervous system is kicking into gear. This means that the parasympathetic system is not able to function well. You may recall that the parasympathetic system controls your digestive system.
Uh, oh. We have a situation. The exciting movie you are watching with dinner, the argument you just had with your teenager, the mulling over what your co-worker did, the worrying about whether someone accepts you, or the report that is due at work tomorrow each keep you from digesting your food well. Even just looking at the picture above probably tenses your stomach.
Living in peace and joy is important anytime, but especially at mealtime! God wants you to be healthy. He knows that for you to digest your food well, which allows you to absorb the nutrients to “renew your youth,” you need to be joyful and peaceful when you eat.
This also includes allowing God to be the emotional lift that you need. Many of us (especially those of us who were chronic dieters) have trained ourselves to dull (or distract) negative emotions through eating. When you are angry or sad or bored, before you open the pantry out of habit, tell God what you are feeling. Ask Him to show you how to process your emotions. God will give you strength to tolerate the discomfort until it naturally passes, which it often does. He will give you wisdom to change the thoughts causing the emotions. He will show you answers to stressful situations. God will heal your heartache.
Now that you have the staples and spices you need to stock your pantry and you have the boxes/bins to organize them (Part One), it is time to invest part of a weekend cleaning out and organizing.
Why? It is so much easier to cook when you can get to everything you need quickly, without having to reach over other stuff or have things knock over.
So here’s your final step:
Clean out everything that is expired or that you know you will never use.
Then group items into your bins, leave a little space for new foods you may purchase, and LABEL so everyone knows where to put food.
When my husband saw this transforming, he said two things -
“This makes it look appealing to cook.” (So, I get more help in the kitchen.)
“Now I know where to put something back.” (Which means I don’t have to look for things later.)
This seems to be the time of year for deep-organizing house projects. It is too cold or rainy to be outside, or even open the windows, so everyone is cleaning out closets and junk drawers. I challenge you to makeover your pantry this weekend - it is one adventure that will help you eat healthier the rest of the year.
To really deep-organize your pantry for healthy meals, I teach a simple six step process. You’ll need parts of two weekends, so I’ll walk you through this in a two-part series.
This weekend focus on Steps One - Five. Next weekend is Step Six.
Step One: Review your menus for a Powerful Plate. Do you have enough combinations of vegetable, protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates? What ingredients do you need to stock up on?
Step Two: Purchase the foods you need for a Powerful Plate and order any specialty items so they will arrive by next weekend.
Step Three: Look through the food in your pantry. Begin to organize it in your mind. What goes with what? For example, “protein powder” for me could go with protein snacks (since I use it as a shake) or with breakfast/oatmeal (since I use protein powder in my oatmeal every morning).
Step Four: Take measurements. Both of the shelf space and of any items that you are going to group and crate together. For example, if you usually keep 20 cans of fruit, vegetables, and tomato sauce in stock, measure how wide a bin you will need to store them.
Step Five: Decide on the supplies you need and then go shop. Shelf liner? Plastic bins? Wood crates? Glass jars? Shelving unit pull-out for a deep pantry?
Step Six - next weekend is clean out and organize.
Eliminating the hassle of expired ingredients - or simply not having healthy options on hand - will make these two weekends worth your effort. Turn on some music, get the family involved … whatever it takes to make it fun and make it happen.
Celebrating National Heart Health Month … let’s talk about 10 ways to improve your heart health and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Step number one: When was your last annual check up with your doctor? If it has been over a year, stop reading this and call to set up your appointment. Getting your baseline “blood work” (blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) and talking with your doctor about your heart health is foundational.
While you are waiting for the appointment day, start walking 20 minutes a day for 3 days a week. In a 2001 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association even “1 hour of walking per week predicted lower risk” of heart disease.
3. Got that baseline walking as a habit? Then let’s build up the walking to 20 minutes to an hour on 5 days per week. This will lower your risk even more.
4. Trouble fitting in the extra walking? No worries. Your heart doesn’t care how it gets worked, it just wants to get worked. Try cleaning house at a brisk pace or washing your car by hand or push mowing your lawn. Or try these other ideas.
5. Needing some family time? Playing tag and throwing Frisbees can get your heart pumping. (Especially if you are like me - walking to get it when I don’t catch it.)
6. Smoking? Exercise can help you kick the habit. Seek the help you need to stop.
7. An apple a day … or oatmeal … or beans … or nuts/seeds … or even avocados. These are all rich in the type of fiber that helps to lower “bad” cholesterol.
8. Laugh. A. Lot. It is great to help reduce blood pressure…which relates to #9.
9. Stress less. What are your stress triggers? How do you relieve stress? Stress comes at us all, so have a plan.
10. Strength train. Once you have your walking or other heart-pumping exercise in habit, add some strength training to increase your “good” cholesterol. Even two strength training sessions per week will help your heart health.
Questions? Let me know.
I admit. I never thought I’d like immersion blenders (after a bad experience years ago). Now? It’s fun seeing what can be pureed.
This recipe has topped my list, because once it is made we eat it as soup, pasta sauce, or as a chicken sauce. Spicy - but not too spicy. Rich - but fresh and light. If you prefer chilled soups, this is probably not going to be a favorite. But who wants chilled soup in January, anyway?
Oh what a treat of a recipe this is. I use fresh tarragon grown in a pot, but you can use dried instead. If you don’t have fresh figs, then dried might do. Or berries - if you serve it over a salad instead of leeks. (I’ve never tried berries with steamed leeks, but it doesn’t sound appealing.)
Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, 1 cup
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Fresh tarragon and parsley (a couple of tbsp minced each, to taste). A tiny bit of rosemary too, if you like.
Fresh figs, quartered
Served over steamed rice or cauliflower rice, with steamed leeks
I trimmed back a rosemary bush and had to come up with several ways to use a ton of rosemary.
Of course, my favorite way is #9!
It is my favorite time of year. Not just because of time with family and friends - but because the sweet potatoes have cured and are ready to eat!
A few years ago when we started our garden we were somewhat intimidated by the mass of vines and not knowing how potatoes would be found under the soil. How deep would they be? How far would runners go? What are the ways to get them out? Just pull or get rid of the vines first?
Before you watch the video of the steps we took, here are a few other tips:
Dig what you cut that day. We had sweet potatoes in three beds. We cut down only the beds we could harvest that day because all of the experts say potatoes will rot in ground if the vines are cut off and left for days. We’ve not tested it. We just go with it.
For the size bed we have in the video (4X8 feet) it took about 6 hours for two adults to cut, dig, set up to cure, and clean up the mess.
Curing? Directions say “warm” place and then after 2-3 weeks to cool storage. We’ve never created an ideal environment for curing. We just lay them out, not touching each other, on cardboard in the garage. If it is September, it might be warm. If it is October, it is cool, especially on the garage floor. But they’ve always cured beautifully over 3 weeks.
While growing up I suspected I had developed an unhealthy relationship with food – and sometimes even exercise. But it was years later at a work potluck Christmas party that I knew I absolutely had a problem and had to change.
Everyone else was at the buffet ooh-ing and ah-ing over different dishes colleagues brought.
I was in the bathroom terrified.
“If I eat that _____ I’ll have to workout extra tomorrow. Who knows how many grams of ____ it has.”
“I want to try ____ but if I do I’ll probably not be able to stop eating it. I’ll lose control.”
“I’ll be good and just have the veggies I brought. If I break my diet I’ll be bad.”
I realized I was the only one, apparently, who did not feel she could enjoy the food, the people, or the party and I stayed as far away from the table as possible. Why? I thought something was inherently wrong with me.
Truth? By that party I had spent almost 20 years fine-tuning my “diet mentality,” through the various diet and exercise rules I “learned.”
And I wanted freedom. Desperately.
I wanted to exercise just because it felt amazing and made me strong and healthy. Not because it burned calories I’d eaten the day before.
I wanted to eat a balanced meal because it was satisfying.
I wanted to enjoy a cookie without fear of eating five.
I wanted to go to a party and enjoy it all.
I didn’t even know that was possible. All I could fathom was maybe not being consumed with worrying about every morsel, gram, or repercussion after a party.
Thankfully, that part of me is a distant memory, because …
I found my path to THRIVE.
Did you see?
I released a brand new course where I’m going to share with you the mindset, principles, techniques, tools and skills practiced by people who find – and follow – their unique path to health, wellness, and a Thriving Life.
It’s called …
While there are so many health benefits to this way of life, the most surprising benefit has nothing to do typical health-parameters.
It has to do with relationships and accomplishing other goals.
Let me explain. Envision that same work party where I locked myself away in the bathroom. If my mind had been free from food-fear, I would have been mingling with colleagues and enjoying getting to know their families, enriching my relationships.
And when my mental and emotional space is not cluttered with how many calories I eat or burn or how much I do this or that, my mind is free to be creative and pursue dreams. Plus, there is way less stress.
Here are six reasons why you need to learn your path to THRIVE.
#1 – You stop outsourcing your emotional health to food or over-exercise
You can learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger.
Food was created to bring you pleasure, but it is not what heals hurts or brings peace.
Exercise has many ways that it lifts your mood, but there is a point of using exercise to escape struggles vs. helping you overcome them.
When you sit with discomfort and find what actually fills you emotionally, your strength of self grows. Your confidence to live and handle difficult situations increases.
#2 – You have mental space to pursue your dreams
This one is huge.
When your mind is cluttered with searching for the next diet or exercise program, or finding recipes that fit the new fad, or shopping for the latest exercise gear you cannot focus on what really matters most to you in life.
It may even go deeper. If you are staying focused on analyzing food / exercise to avoid dealing with something else, it is time to move forward.
If you are hiding your best self behind counting this or that, trying to control every bite or workout, it is time to open the curtain and step out on your stage.
#3 – You have increased physical energy
You sleep well, you wake up with energy, and it stays consistent throughout the day so you can accomplish your goals and still enjoy family and friends at the end of the day.
#4 – Your ability to enforce boundaries, with yourself and others, improves
Food police? Exercise drill sergeant? No more. Either from others or yourself.
You confidently handle critics.
You also are able to tell yourself “no” when a choice does not value you.
#5 – You have more fun and are more fun to be around
When your excitement comes from discussing the latest fad exercise or diet, it is a boring life.
However, when you have recent adventures or a book you read or a funny family gathering or ____ to talk about, conversations have life in them.
You meet up with people, confident as you accept yourself and others, with less judgement.
Social situations around food are no longer stressful.
You have the physical fitness to enjoy the adventures you want.
#6 – You feel successful, because you are successful
When you learn what works for your body and your lifestyle, and you have the tools and techniques to stick with it, you reach your goals.
You feel successful along the journey because you are living what you value.
#7 – This is a bonus reason because I just had, an hour ago, a conversation with a client and this reason came up – so I added it:
You become a leader and influencer for good in those around you.
This client was waiting on the inspiration to make changes to come from his circle of family and friends. I challenged him “Think about who you want to be. Do you want to be the person who waits to be led or do you want to lead? Do you want to be influenced or do you want to influence?” I challenge you, too. When you find your path to Thrive, you will inspire others to do the same.
This is what finding your path to THRIVE brings you. It is one of the most amazing adventures you’ll ever go on.
As crazy as this may sound, I want you to take a moment to imagine this:
Imagine a world where you *really* ignored the voices saying that there is only one way to live healthy and you have to conform to that only-one-way?
How would you live?
What would your relationship with food, with others, with yourself be like?
How would you move?
What would you experience?
Yes, it takes practice, but you can become a person who is unphased by what other people or the media say about how you should live your health.
But, it doesn’t just stop there.
· Waking up refreshed with energy, excited about the day.
· Sticking with new healthy habits, as they come easier for you.
· Not worrying about “lifestyle diseases” – maybe even with a decrease in meds.
· Enjoying peace in your relationship with food, not scared of it.
· Discovering new physical activities that enhance all of your life.
· Savoring meals, without guilt and shame.
· Enjoying life – whether big adventures or intimate family time – free of physical, emotional, or social limitations.
Would you believe it’s possible?
It is . . . and the “how” is your being a Path Finder: finding your path to Thrive.
What are the traits of a Path Finder? I’ve identified 7 qualities of a Path Finder –
#1 – PRACTICE Mindset
#2 – PRINCIPLES Lifestyle
#3 – PERSONALITY Focus
#4 – True PLEASURE Awareness
#5 – PEOPLE and Resource Seeker
#6 – PRESENT
#7 – POSITIVE POSITION
Do you embody these 7 traits of a Path Finder?
POP QUIZ TIME
Have you ever …
A) Decided to skip exercise because there wasn’t time for “all” of it?
B) Felt frustration because you tried and failed a program?
C) Been unable to stop the food police from telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat?
D) Beaten yourself up because of something (or how much) you ate?
E) Told yourself “What’s the point?” about a new healthy habit you tried?
F) Felt unable to relax as you multi-tasked a meal, or even a walk in nature?
G) Missed an important experience with your mind elsewhere?
Did you say “yes” to any of the questions?
You are not alone.
At one time or another, we have all been there, done that, thought that.
Please DO NOT beat yourself up.
It is because of the lies we are taught by well-meaning family/friends and by the media.
Fortunately, it is never too late to discover and embrace the truth.
Here are some basic ways to begin to understand the 7 qualities of a Path Finder:
#1 – PRACTICE Mindset
Experimenting with ways of eating and moving, with a lot of compassion for yourself.
#2 – PRINCIPLES Lifestyle
Learning the principles (not rigid rules) of healthy living, based on research – adapting them as life situations change.
#3 – PERSONALITY Focus
Discovering what is fun for your personality, your preferences, your needs.
#4 – True PLEASURE Awareness
Knowing that false-pleasure never really satisfies, choosing what actually satisfies you.
#5 – PEOPLE and Resource Seeker
Finding out what is stopping you from achieving your goals and then finding the people and resources that will help you.
#6 – PRESENT
Embracing where you are and experiencing the present moment
#7 – POSITIVE POSITION
Believing that you can do it, consuming only messages that reinforce your beliefs and dreams, and focusing on your reasons.
Learning and practicing these 7 qualities will change your life for the better. I promise.
How much do you desire to Find Your own Path to Thrive?
I hope a lot (because it changes everything!)
Let’s keep this discussion going.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
So, since this is a picture plus words, how many does that equal?
Seriously, this is a powerful visual I’ve used to illustrate the impact of self-care.
I don’t like the term “anti-aging” because it somehow implies aging is a bad thing. It is not only not a bad thing, it is an inevitable thing you’ve done a few seconds of since opening this post and reading it.
Your goal is not to prevent aging but to age well. I’ll go a step further. Your goal is to get to your 90+ year old self, look back with bright eyes in a strong body and say “Yes! That was the way to live.”
So, how do you create that strong life lived?
Here are the top ten tips from my two favorite age-well books:
Keep your arteries healthy. Not very glamorous sounding, I know. But this guards against heart attack, stroke, memory loss, vascular disease, and even some wrinkles. Markers to watch? Blood pressure and C-reactive protein (for inflammation). Actions to take? Exercise, eat several vegetable servings a day, and get your annual check up.
Pump up your immune system. Actions to take? Enjoy tomato sauces regularly, get your vitamin D, and see your dentist to prevent periodontal disease which increases inflammation in your body.
Avoid smoking. Actions to take? Simple. Either don’t start or get whatever help you need to stop.
Manage your stress. I literally mean your stress. What stresses your friends or spouse or neighbor may not stress you. And how you manage it may be different than their method, too. Actions to take? List what the major stressors are in your life and find ways to eliminate, work around, or re-frame them. Also, this month try at least one new way plus a “tried-and-true” to relieve your stress. (Hmmm…makes me want to break out my favorite old comedy, “Oscar”.)
Increase your circle of friends and deepen the relationships you have. Your social network is shown in numerous studies to not only increase life satisfaction, but lengthen your life as well.
Get it out. If you have experienced secret traumas in your life and you have not processed them yet, please seek counsel. The silence is killing you.
Manage your money. In both books this is directly or indirectly covered as a means to lower your stress and provide for your needs throughout your life.
Discover your purpose. Even if you haven’t found your “big calling” in life, focus on finding meaning in the everyday things you do and enjoy.
Find faith. In one study “the risk of dying over nearly three decades was 36 percent lower for frequent church attendees than for infrequent attendees.” In Emotional Longevity the author tells a powerful story of Maya Angelou’s faith for her son’s physical healing. The doctors said he would be paralyzed. She said “Thank God, my son will walk out of this hospital.” Three days later he moved his toes.
Live in positive emotions. Walk through negative ones. Sadness, grief, anxiety will come. Your ability to come through those and back into a positive place increases your “resiliency” and ability to age healthy.
Here’s to your 90 year old self, saying “Well done. Now watch this,” while you wink at your great grandkids.
(Books: Emotional Longevity by Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. and The Real Age Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.)
Science progresses and the old ideas we have lived by are built upon or changed. We go to school, learn, experiment, update the knowledge base, and then start over again, mentoring the next generation to do the same. That is an ideal.
Unfortunately, one area seems to have stopped with this textbook from 1916. Repackaged? Yes. New versions? Yes. But current long-term research no longer backs up what is taught in this book and through modern media versions.
The picture above is a 100+ year old chamber to measure the metabolic requirement of babies. The technology has progressed, but the science is principally the same. I have stayed overnight, for several research studies, in the metabolic chamber at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (In case you are wondering, it is a small room with a bed, desk, and window.) This technology measures how many calories a person burns during the time they are in the chamber.
This device measures the calorie content of food. Again, technology may look different 100 years ago, but the basic science is as today.
So, what is the problem? Calories burned. Calories eaten. Simple math, right?
That is what was assumed 100 years ago. I actually have nothing harsh to say about what they taught then. For then.
calories a day for a man to lose weight
calories a day for a woman to lose weight
They taught the latest information they had. However, the knowledge base has changed since then. Research shows (though seldom promoted by diet gurus) -
- restricting calories this low decreases muscle mass and metabolism
- counting (carbs, calories, fat, protein) distorts your relationship with food and creates food obsessions
- living with food rules increases binge eating
- dieting of all kinds decreases trust of yourself and food
- dieting fails long-term 90-98% of the time (a.k.a. you gain the weight back, usually plus some)
- food restrictions negatively impact relationships and mental health
So, what is a healthy way to eat?
- Listen to when your body tells you to eat.
- Learn what foods make you feel fantastic and energetic, and which ones don't.
- Give yourself unconditional permission to eat - even the foods that don't make you feel great. When you truly want them, eat them fully aware of the result and without any guilt.
- Savor the food you eat. Turn off the TV and put down the screen. (Hint: research also reveals that we eat 10% more when multi-tasking a meal.)
- Stop when you are no longer physically hungry.
- Trust that your body wants to be at a healthy weight and it will tell you what to do.
Next time you are tempted with "I'm going to try the new ABCXYD diet" (no, that is not a new diet - at least not one I've heard of), remember it is really not new.
It's just the newest flavor of the dieting that gained ground during the Victorian era. (That is a history lesson for another post.)
If you truly want to try the latest and greatest research has to offer, experiment with the list above. It is mindful-intuitive eating. And it works.
Making an infusion is similar to making tea. Once you know which herbs you want and if you are using fresh, frozen, or dried, the rest is easy.
For this example, I am using fresh Holy Basil from my garden. Holy Basil is an "adaptogen" - which helps the body adapt to stress.
Harvest the stems and leaves before flowers form, in early morning, just after the dew is off. That's the ideal. However, these I harvested at 5:45 a.m. because that is when I needed to make my infusion. Also, the tops had flowered, so I used them. Amount? Enough for 2+ tablespoons fresh per cup of water. (If using dried herbs, use 1+ tablespoon per cup of water.)
Rinse off any obvious dirt.
Strip the leaves and flowers to use. (Some people also use the stems.)
Place the herbs in either a mason jar or a french press. When I began making infusions I used a mason jar and then strained the herbs through a cheesecloth. If you are going to make infusions several days a week, invest in a french press to save you time.
Steep for 4 hours minimum. The longer the herb steeps (generally), the stronger the infusion. I either make my infusion at night and let it steep overnight to drink in the first few hours of the day, or begin steeping in the morning and drink during the afternoon.
Drink the infusion within a day or two, putting it in the refrigerator if over 12-24 hours. Or freeze the infusion in ice cube trays. This is especially useful for infusions you want to use as herbal remedies. For example, if you want sweet basil, chamomile, and mint to steep together for 4 hours to help with digestion or headaches, you don't want to wait 4 hours for relief. Having it made and frozen, you can pour boiling water over 2-3 cubes and have instant help.
If you have questions, or ways that you make infusions, I'd love to chat in the comments.
Families are pulled into so demands and distractions, and away from living healthy together. I've worked with several couples and families to improve their exercise and nutrition and I want to share the best ways I've found to help all ages get healthy together.
Your journey starts with questions:
- What are the personalities of your family members? Who is competitive? Who is high-energy? Who prefers solo or methodical activities? On the other hand, who gets bored easily or wants lots of people involved? While no one will get their liking every time, include each person's regularly.
- What are the strengths of each family member? Organized? Research-oriented? Creative? Curious? You'll want to use each person's strengths to get them excited about the activities. For example, who can research what supplies to take on a day-hike? Who can find three hiking trails to pick between? Who can pack sandwiches for after a hike? The answers should not all be "Mom."
- Is your goal to get everyone active and eating well for the moment or to stimulate a love of movement and good food for a lifetime? (I'm going to guess the latter, so my ideas below reflect a lifetime goal.)
Physical Activity ideas I have seen be fantastic for busy families:
- Walk and talk. This foundational activity is so important. Even just once a week, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, allows a free-flow of conversation and builds trust. My personal experience is from my mother and I walking when I was very young. By the time I hit my teenage years and needed a sounding-board, we were already in the habit of walking and talking.
- Jump-rope contests for the competitive ones. And talk about funny video/photo moments!
- Too cold out? Do what my friend, Devika Kumar (the owner of Hendersonville CycleBar) does with her daughter - turn on some funky music and have a dance-off.
- Martial arts. Most martial arts gyms have both adult and youth classes available. If there is traditional exercise equipment available, parents can lift weights/cycle while the kids are in class. Then the kids can do homework while the parents are taking class. It's not "together" - but it is a shared experience you can discuss.
- Water sports. Kayak. Canoe. Sail-boat. Stand-up paddleboard. Unless you live by the water, these are not daily activities. But they are great to add in the activity mix and fun motivation, learning skills together. "The reason we are doing X exercise is so we won't be sore when we paddleboard this summer."
- Cycling. Depending on your neighborhood your kids may ride bikes all summer, or you may take them to a park to ride. Simply get a bike for yourself and join them. And those squats you are doing during the winter will help you with that this summer.
- Gardening. Start small. (Containers or a 4'x4' raised bed.) This is a great way to introduce kids to how food is grown and get them away from the screen and into the sunshine.
- Hiking. A classic family exercise. But with a few challenges to overcome. One family I took hiking had one child who was older and faster. The younger child, said she wanted hike the "tough trail" - and, as anticipated, half-way through started complaining. Watching for frogs, bugs, deer, and so forth proved the distraction she needed. Lesson? Even if a child says "let's do the big one" - stick to the easier trails first.
- Movement games. This idea goes against "traditional" exercise. I worked with a family whose father was a "go-hard-or-go-home" exerciser. The 10-ish year old girls were not. My goal was to create movement the girls enjoyed and memories that would encourage them to stay active all of their lives. Frisbee golf, roller-blading, tag games, and so on got them moving and sweating...at least with each other and with Mom.
What about healthy eating for busy families?
- One family decided to take one summer and deeply connect. Little to no electronics and gadgets and passive-entertainment. They spent their free time cooking from scratch, walking and playing games, and doing projects around the house. "Busy" did not allow them to do that during the school year, but for a few weeks during the summer they traded passive-busy for connection and healthy eating. Even now the mother says she keeps some of the cooking habits she taught herself that summer. (Side note: the family lost weight without trying.)
- A family I helped start eating healthy decided to divide the meal duties as follows: together they (or the mom/dad) decide the menu for the week and write it on the kitchen chalkboard; the parents order the food; the son (who wants opportunities to drive) picks up the food; the father and daughter have weekly connection time while pre-chopping the veggies for the week; the mom gets her creative outlet in cooking - without having to cut vegetables every day. Then the kids alternate nights cleaning the kitchen. The family discovered and used each person's strengths.
Three tips for the "busy-ness":
- As kids get older and want to hang out with friends, invite the friends to participate in the exercise or cooking. This means less time playing chauffeur.
- "Together" does not have to be "physically together" all of the time. If your goal as a family is to run/walk a 5K together, everyone can train during the week when their schedule allows, then train together on Saturday mornings.
- Sports-families (like my cousin's above) have a challenge. Perhaps one child is in baseball and basketball. Another in gymnastics and swimming. A third is hooked on video-games. What I've seen work beautifully is each year encouraging each child to select one sport, so there is more time for family activity. The video-games? You have to decide how you want to limit that. But while you are waiting on the baseball game to start, frisbee in the parking lot sounds like a lot more fun to me.
I don't mean take three lunches. (Though, if you can take a mid-morning snack, a lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack that's great. However, not all schools allow a place and time for snacks.)
Here's what I do mean: a reader asked for ideas for healthy lunch options for her son going back to school. My response: Powerful Plate, of course. A whole-sprouted-grain bread sandwich with chicken or turkey (no nitrates or junk), lots of cut veggies with hummus or peanut butter, and fruit. But a year of just that would get boring and the ice cream bin at school would become a very tempting substitute.
So, I reached out to some friends and got three great takes (hence the "Take Three") on Healthy School Lunches and Snacks. One of the coolest things I noticed -- there is a lot of overlap PLUS a lot of individualization, depending on likes/dislikes and personal schedules. Just the way it is supposed to be.
Enjoy (and personalize) their ideas --
"I do try to have fresh fruit in my kids' lunches, and buy lots of healthy protein bars for snacks- I'll mix a big salad and put it in separate containers for the week and add dressing the morning of and mix. I buy whole grain bread and make sandwiches and I do cheese and crackers a lot, string cheese, and peanut butter or ranch dressing and carrots. (My girl likes pb and my boy likes ranch) I also do yogurt a lot for snacks and lunches. And I actually feed my kids a full meal after school, because they both have sports until later in the evening. So after sports they will snack." Thanks for sharing...Christine Carter at TheMomCafe.com
"From Pinterest I make batches of healthy breakfast cookies. There's all kinds of recipes. And then I send one or two with each of my kids to eat when they get hungry. Could be snack time for my young ones or after school on the bus for the older ones. They decide. It's homemade, healthy, and tasty. They loved it!" Thanks for sharing...Lois Pearson at SunnysideWoman.com
"I provide my kids with healthy snacks to have during school time, and they only bring water to drink. I make their lunches so I know they're eating healthy. They have lunchmeat that qualifies for the heart check program, whole wheat bread, baked chips, yogurt or fruit." Thanks for sharing...Brenda Melendez at brendalovessharing.com
The other thing I noticed...all of these ideas work for adults, too. Prep ahead the salad, make the breakfast cookies, and toss in some yogurt and fruit.
Share what you do for healthy lunches.