Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Well Together Challenge: The End

It has been a fun month working with Nancy from FitMamaEats and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare on this Well Together Challenge.

I took Nancy's challenge of working on some Zumba routines to a whole new level by including my children! I was very happy when I signed on to this project to get the December assignment. I (and I do believe, most people) am notorious for finding excuses not to work out when the holiday season hits... "I have cooking to do. I have shopping to do. I have gifts to wrap. I need to clean my house for guests. I have a cookie swap to attend..."... etc, etc., etc...

So working with Nancy and feeling accountable to complete a project really kept me motivated. And come on, this is the time of the year where we need to work the hardest at staying fit and healthy. So many temptations, so many treats, so very many yummy distractions. At work, at parties, at friends houses...

So this partnership with Nancy helped me stay on track. It was fun to try something new. That's important. You need to try new things on your path to wellness. You can't just go run on a treadmill and decide that you hate working out. Your path may include fun exercise like Zumba; it may include solitary exercise like hiking. You could fall in love with circuit training... or yoga... or hula hooping...

But you never know until you try. There are just so many different ways to stay active, to stay healthy and fit... find yours.

On another note, I also tried another of Nancy's recipes and I loved it! She has a recipe for Pancake Truffles that looked like a great alternative to the same boring pancakes I am forced to make my girls at least 2-3 times per week... and they were a hit! (Thankfully!)

They took me no time to make and I really enjoyed them. The surprise of the gooey banana inside and the treat of the crunchy almonds outside were just the right mix. Of course, the girls sopped on the syrup just like they do their regular pancakes, but all 3 still enjoyed them and I will definitely be making them again.

And so that is it. The end. This completes my journey with Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and FitMamaEats. I have certainly enjoyed it, learned a thing or two and hopefully teaching Nancy something about hoopin for fun (and exercise!)

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well Together Challenge, Week Three: Staying Happy

Welcome to week three of my project with Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and Nancy from FitMamaEats. As I stated in week one, these posts are a way to start a conversation about how people can stay active, happy and healthy. I thought this was the perfect time of year to concentrate on the "happy" part of this little experiment. As Nancy pointed out in her post about curing winter blahs, winters here in New England can be hard on our health... in more ways than one.

A lot of people struggle with the many stresses of the holiday season. Many suffer from some sort of seasonal mood swings. It is a notorious time of the year for people who have suffered losses to really grapple with stress management.

I have many different ways that I combat the stress that can overwhelm some during these short December days.

1. Of course exercise is more pertinent now than ever. As the Mayo Clinic points out, "exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries." So, I will continue on my endeavor to Zumba my tushy away whether rain, shine, snow, sleet or dark of night!

 2. MUSIC! This is my personal absolute favorite mood-enhancing, stress reliever I practice. I have certain Pandora stations that I have queued up ready to make me move... dance... hum... and generally... smile. Music just boosts moods. Period.

3. Get fresh air. As I mentioned in week #2, we have some great weather here for December. And we have taken advantage of every moment. But even if it were not unseasonably warm, we would still be hiking, snowshoeing, sledding... anything to get out, get fresh air, get sunshine and get the blood pumping. Take a moment away from high stress shopping, family feuds, anxiety-ridden travel and take a walk!

4. Get rest. Trust me, I know all too well... you have kids, jobs, cards to send, gifts to buy, cookies to bake, homes to clean... but it can all be done with a much better attitude if you simply get the sleep you need. Make sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Day after day of short-changed sleep completely destroys your overall mood. It is just not healthy.

5. One of my person favorites... Connect!!! Take time out to meet with a friend and unwind. No excuses. Find the time! You need to vent... to decompress. Whether over a coffee or a beer, you need that companionship, that human interaction. My last connection was a beer with a friend at 9 o'clock on a Thursday night since that was the ONLY time I was free. (Okay, okay... that definitely cut into the theory of #4 since I only got 5 hours of sleep that night before getting up for work the next morning... I haven't got this all mastered, ok??) How good do you feel after just one hour of laughing... sharing... commiserating with a friend? Those are the relationships that most often fall away as we nurture our families, but we need them for our sanity. We need them even more during times like these where we are stressed, overwhelmed.

Do you have any ideas on ways to decompress during this time of year?

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Well Together Challenge: Week Two

It's officially week two of my project with Nancy of FitMamaEats and Harvad Pilgrim Health Care. This week I tried one of Nancy's healthy recipes for my girls: Crunchy Chicken Tenders. I altered her recipe slightly by leaving out the brown sugar and using Panko crumbs rather than the frosted flakes (also meaning less sugar.) This is such a healthy alternative to fast food nuggets... and it only took me 5 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes for them to cook.

Nancy has a great archive with many healthy recipes to try. Not only are they healthful, but they are a wonderful combinations of many different flavors and simple ingredients.

This week, I was going to try to get a video of myself and my adorable 4-year-old working our Zumba videos, but yesterday brought us 50 degree weather and I could not bring myself to be trapped inside exercising. Instead, we went for a 3 mile hike and enjoyed the last fleeting moments of this gorgeous, unseasonly New England heat wave.

When Acadia and I reached the end of the trail (at 1.5 miles) we came across a lady just coming into that end of the trail. I was looking at the trailhead sign trying to figure out how far we walked when she piped up, "This goes all the way to Second Street."

"Oh, I know, we just came from that side."

"You did???" She looked down at Acadia. "And now you are going to make her walk all the way back?"

"Well... yes." Make her? She is an able bodied 4-year old child who loves when we go on 'adventures' in the woods and would probably walk 5 miles if I was willing. I have a feeling if more families made their children play outside and partake in outdoor activities, we would far fewer obese children. Nancy has a great post on some screen free activities that you can do with your children.

But, I digress, we did not end up doing Zumba... that video will have to wait for next week (unless, of course, this amazing weather continues here!) However, even Nancy points out that cross training is important in any exercise routine to decrease chance for injury.

Please check out Nancy's post this week to see how far she has come with her hula hooping. She even found a new take on hooping for exercise.

I’ve partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.