Warm Up This Winter

I can’t say I’m a big fan of cold weather, but I accept it without much complaint. What choice do I have? While I wait for the milder temperatures of spring, I layer up and try to keep my same routines. Besides, there always good that can come with winter. For some, it might be the snow or beautiful scenery. For others, maybe it’s holiday traditions. For me, it’s an excuse to wear cute scarfs, hats, and gloves to brave the frigid climate.

In addition to the proper attire, I need motivation to stay active during the winter time. I like to invite others to activities, like bike rides and walks. Tracking activity with my Fitbit also helps me to remember to move more.

What can motivate you this winter season? Is there a race or sporting event coming up in spring you want to train for? How about rewarding yourself with a trip to the sauna when you complete 12 workouts or other activity-related goal?

Here are some tips to help you stay moving towards your fitness goals during the winter season. You’ll warm yourself up before you know it!

 

Safety First

With the shorter days, it is important to stay visible if you choose to be out in the late afternoon or at night. Always be aware of your surroundings and never assume everyone can see you. It will be easier to see and be seen if you use a flashlight and wear bright, reflective clothing or a headlamp. If you bike, remember to use both a headlight and taillight, as well as reflective stickers on the sides of your bike.


Embrace the Weather

As long as you have the proper equipment, such as insulating layers and water-proof shoes, you can still enjoy the great outdoors. If you live near hills or mountains, take advantage of the weather and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. If you are not near snow, try venturing out to hiking trails or parks. Don’t forget to be careful on slippery surfaces by wearing footwear with good traction.

 

Try Out New Moves

If you prefer to stay active inside, there are plenty of options. If you are a member of a fitness club, you can enjoy the workout equipment and classes offered. Why not try a new gym class, like hot yoga or martial arts class? Look to see if there are indoor tennis, basketball, soccer, rock climbing, or other sports facilities in your area.

 

Stay Home

There are also plenty of at-home workouts online or even create your own, no equipment required. Some squats, jumping jacks, and push-ups will get you breaking a sweat in no time. You can even perform exercises while watching TV or listening to a podcast or audiobook. Try to hit different muscle groups in the upper body, lower body, and core. You could also choose to invest in workout equipment, such as free weights or a cardio machine. Remember to stretch!

 

Have fun and stay warm this winter!

Harnessing the Power of Intention for a New Year’s Revolution

Walker Tracker would like to introduce you to Christa King the Founder of Fitlandia and 30 Days to Thriving. Christa has agreed to be a guest blogger and share some of her insights on being healthy in the New Year.  Thank you Christa!

 

You read the title right – a New Year’s Revolution v. a Resolution!

Throw out everything you grew up learning about going on a diet in the new year. We all know by now that quick-fixes and short-term diets don’t work. Yet there’s still something powerful about the intention of making a fresh start and recommitting to yourself that can’t be ignored.

The energy and spirit of resolutions can be married with sound lifestyle changes to make reaching your goals easier and sustainable for life. Let’s get your mind (and body) ready for a reset by understanding why diets fail and practical steps to making change last.

 

Diets FailWhy Diets Fail

Our Thought Patterns Are Powerful. Did you know that over 108M people in the US are currently on a diet, yet nearly 70% will fail at reaching or maintaining their goals? Why? It’s because willpower does not last. That all-powerful emotion has an expiration date and can’t be sustained. Once major stressors hit (job change, divorce, move, loss of a loved one, etc.), our primal brain kicks in to make us feel safe, taking us back to known pleasures in sugar, alcohol and refined carbs (and other things that fire up the pleasure center).

Over the years, we’ve carved some deep neural pathways to provide a temporary relief from uncomfortable. Without creating new thought patterns in response to stress, we will naturally fall back into an old pattern as our brain strives to make us feel grounded again.

It’s in Your Gut. The other reason diets fail us is because we have unresolved gut dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria) sending messages to our brain to go get its preferred food source: sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, dairy, and fruit. This can generate intense cravings for these foods, making it incredibly challenging to avoid. In fact, most “diets” allow for fruit and so most people end up removing “bad” foods, only to find they’re loading up on bananas. The bottom line is that you must first starve the bad bacteria to reduce these unmanageable cravings.

There’s so much power in knowledge so just understanding that your unconscious thought patterns drive 90% of your behavior (that can be changed!) and that you can reduce sugar cravings through a thoughtful detox can go a very long way in setting you up for a successful lifestyle change.

 

The Four Cornerstones of Fitness

There is something so very exciting and powerful about entering a new year. The hope, determination, motivation, and inspiration around us can have a significant influence on our desire to change. So, take advantage of it, but do it the right way by harnessing the four, necessary components to making a permanent lifestyle change including:

Good Nutrition1. Good Nutrition. Ready to clear up that gut, get off processed and packaged foods and start feeling great? Proper nutrition is key and it starts with a whole foods diet. That means reducing and removing (as often as possible) any food with a label on it, and instead, adopting a practice of preparing your own meals. This will ensure there are no additives and preservatives that could be messing with your hormones, robbing your body of needed nutrients, or causing you to be addicted to certain foods. Take a break from sugar, refined carbs, and alcohol, as well to starve the bad bacteria and get your body back on track.

2. Daily Movement. We were meant to move! Make daily movement a part of your everyday routine. Unlike previous dieting myths, you do not have to follow the old “no pain, no gain” mentality. You cannot out train a poor diet so no amount of pushing yourself in the gym will give you permission to binge. Instead, look to exercise as support for your brain health, releasing endorphins, relieving stress, and boosting cognitive function. And for heart health, you don’t have to put in an hour at the gym each day. Even a regular routine of brisk walking can have terrific cardiovascular benefits. If you’re short on time and want to take your workout to the next level, try a 7-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout that you can do anywhere.

3. Positive Thinking. We are what we think. Take that in for a moment. We are, what we think. If you think you don’t have time to cook your own meals or get in exercise, guess what? You’re right. You must adopt healthy thought patterns to drive your behaviors. So, here’s what I want you to do… start catching your negative thoughts and immediately state it into a positive thought. For example, if you catch yourself saying, “Ugh, I hate exercising,” immediately restate it saying, “I absolutely love and look forward to daily movement.” You don’t have to believe it at first. BUT, I want you to attach an emotion to that new thought. Ask yourself how you would feel if you did believe it. Then repeat this practice and watch things start to shift like magic. Just try it for a week, catching yourself each time, restating it into a positive and attaching the good emotions to it. You’re creating a new neural pathway for your brain to follow and your desire and actions will follow!

Community4. Community Connection. Did you know that you’re three times more likely to reach your goals when you’re connected with a like-minded community? Harness this time of year, and find your tribe. Connect with people who you can gain and give motivation and inspiration to, as well as navigate challenges together. This is a powerful force to move you beyond the weight loss.

As you think about the New Year and your intentions for change, know this – you can reach the goals you desire. This is an incredibly powerful time to take the leap and harness the energy around you for change.

If you’re feeling unsure where to start or need an extra boost of support, you can join the next session of 30 Days to Thriving and get everything you need to start your journey of transformation off right.

 

Christa King, CEO & Founder of FitlandiaChrista King is the CEO & Founder of Fitlandia. You can learn more about Christa and 30 Days to Thriving via her website Fitlandia.

 

 

Please, share with us your ideas, revelations, and plans for your New Year’s Revolution!

Boost Your Mood This Winter

Tracking MoodAs the weather begins to change and the day turns to night earlier and earlier, many of us feel the effects of winter on both our mood and bodies. Here are a few things that I do each week to make myself feel refreshed and chill.

MusicListen to your favorite song.
We all have that one song that instantly makes us want to get up and dance, or even just gets a cheesy grin going. Take a few minutes to re-energize and throw on your favorite tunes.

ShowerTaking a hot bath or shower.
Indulging in an extra long shower or steaming hot bath can help our blood begin to circulate better, making you feel more energized and ready to take on anything. Not to mention the steam will provide your skin with much appreciated spa-like treatment.

1. ExerciseGet moving.
Even just a single set of jumping jacks can leave you with more energy. Walk up and down the stairs at work a few times, do lunges across the hall or take 5 minutes of your lunch to power walk around the block.

InspirationSurround yourself with things that inspire you.
Add plants or vibrant pieces of art to your workspace, glancing at these items a few times a day can remind you of the things that make your heart full.

Meditate.
Take 5 minutes each morning to breath, smile without reason, and say a short mantra that directly reflects your intentions for the day.  

VolunteerVolunteer.
Take a few hours each month to donate your time to your community. Food banks, local YMCA clubs, libraries or soup kitchens are all places that accept and welcome help from those in their community.

Perks of Caffeine

Cup of Coffee

As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop, sipping a cup of hot holiday brew, I got inspired to write a quick article about my favorite beverage, coffee. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a quiet porch in the waking hours of the morning, sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I love starting out my morning with this ritual, and studies show that just about 83% of all adult Americans do too. If you find yourself in that percentage, you may be wondering how a daily dose of caffeine affects your mind and body.

Here is a quick list of the benefits you may be getting from that cup of morning brew.

1. It can help you burn fat. Pretty much every over the counter “fat burner” supplement and pre-workout supplement contains caffeine and for a good reason. Due to its stimulant status, caffeine jumpstarts your metabolism and creates quicker oxidation of fatty acids (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

2. It helps protect your liver. Studies found that a few cups of coffee daily can help reduce the risk of liver cancer by 40% (Science Direct).

3. Coffee contains loads of antioxidants and nutrients. Now we aren’t talking about white chocolate mochas here, strictly black coffee. Surprisingly, coffee has more antioxidants than any fruit or veggie in the American diet (Healthline).

4. Coffee improves memory. Much like its fat burning properties, caffeine helps improve mental acuity (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

5. It makes us happy. This is my favorite reason. Like most psychoactive brains stimulants, it boosts our mood. I couldn’t forget to mention that it’s delicious as well!

Keep Hydrated

Drink More WaterRemembering to drink enough water throughout the day can be difficult when life gets busy. However 60%, of our body is made up of water, and we need to remain fully hydrated throughout the day to keep all bodily functions working properly. Daily water consumption should be around 2 liters, or 8, 8oz glasses, but there are many factors that may alter consumption recommendations such as gender, weight, activity level and climate. Here are a few ways to keep your body properly hydrated. 

Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Keep a glass by your bed, or leave a water bottle on your nightstand to serve as a reminder first thing to start your day.

Try creating infused water or ice. Use any combination of lemon, cucumber, strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, orange, fresh rosemary, mint or basil to craft a lightly flavored water. Infused water is a great substitution for drinks that have higher sugar content such as soda or juice. Simply add to your water bottle, or make a batch in a pitcher to enjoy all day. Here are some combinations to try: Lemon and strawberry, basil and strawberry, mint and lime, cucumber and lemon. You can also create flavored ice cubes with these ingredients as well. Just add desired ingredients to ice tray with water before freezing.

Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times. By simply having water with you, you will drink more.  

Use a water tracking app. There are many apps to help you keep track of how much water you have consumed each day. Having a bit of accountability can help you stay motivated and remind you to drink enough water. Try using the water tracking feature on the Walker Tracker app, My Water Balance, iHydrate, Water Reminder or Plant Nanny.

Include snacks in your day to boost water consumption without noticing. Most fruits and veggies serve as a supplemental way to consume more water. Celery, cucumber, cantaloupe, tomato, grapes, zucchini, strawberries and watermelon are all great options.

Walking to Your Next Big Idea

Walking to Your Next Big IDeaIt’s no secret that walking can help to boost your creativity in a big way! Charles Dickens, Aristotle, John Muir, and Beethoven are among just a few of the many famous minds who attribute regular walking to their genius.

A study done at Stanford University found that walking, regardless of where, can boost creativity by up to 60%. The study also found that creativity levels remained elevated even after the walk had ended. The same results applied whether participants were getting their steps inside or outside—so rain or shine there are no excuses!

 Does this mean walking meetings are a good thing?

They can be! Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) have all been known to hold meetings on foot. Walking meetings can be a great way to brainstorm creative ideas, as well as solve problems. Fredrick Nietzsche famously said, “all great thoughts are conceived by walking.” In addition to a boost in creativity, the increase in energy one gets from taking a brisk walk helps those who spend the majorly of their workday at a desk maintain higher levels of productivity (not to mention the health benefits).Barbara Oakley,

Barbara Oakley, engineering professor at Oakland University, said, “walking allows us to subconsciously process and think in a different way.” So next time you have writer’s block, are stuck on a project, or need inspiration for that next big idea, get up and take a walk!

You can find the Stanford study here.

Go To Yoga Moves for ‘Those Days’ – Guest Blogger Jessica Lin

I first met Jessica through yoga.  We taught at the same studio and immediately hit it off (I’m talking first 2 minutes of knowing one another).  Thus,  I am elated to have her guest blog for Walker Tracker and share some yoga wisdom with our community!  Take it away, Jessica!

 

We all have’ those days’, you know the ones, you feel sluggish, off, and just not into anything. Your brain feels slow, your body isn’t cooperating, or everything seems to just fall short Those days are the worst BUT there is a way to turn them around; if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort. I’m usually all about ‘maximum effort’ but on ‘those days’ I’m all about minimal effort. So, here are my go-to yoga moves to turn any blah day around.

I suggest starting with a few Sun Salutations to warm up the body. This series of movements gets your blood moving and allows new energy into your body. Start small, in as little as three times through and you’ll already start to feel better; you can do as many as you need.

Sun A: Start in Mountain Pose (see below), as you exhale: fold forward from your waist and bring your hands toward the floor. Inhale: lift halfway up,abs pulled in, gaze forward and down, shoulders away from your ears. Exhale: step to high plank pose; hold this posture for a full breath cycle and on your next exhale lower ½ way down (Chaturanga) or all the way down to your belly. Inhale: Up-dog/Cobra Pose Exhale: Down Dog

 

Mountain Pose: Start with hands along your sides, palms facing forward, feet about hip distance apart as you inhale, reach your arms overhead, relax your shoulders away from your ears, spiral your pinky toward one another, draw your abs up and in, actively press your feet down into the earth. Mountain pose helps you to reground to earth, create strength in your body, help find your natural alignment and improve your posture.

 

 

Plank Pose: place your wrists under your shoulders, hips in line with your shoulder, abs in, engage your legs. This pose helps to strengthening and align the body, core, and spine as well as improve respiratory function. Option for Chaturanga from plank – bend your elbows by your sides to 90 degrees, keep the strength of your planks.

 

Cobra Pose: Start with your forehead on your mat, hands under your shoulders, as you inhale lift your chin and chest away from the floor usings your back muscles as you draw your abs toward your spine, gaze forward and down, slightly tuck your chin to keep your neck long.

 

Down Dog: Hands shoulder width distance, push into your fingertips, strong through your upper back as you lift your hips up and back, create an inverted V, relax down through your heels as you draw your abs up and in.

 

Legs up the wall: Super awesome, restorative pose, can be done anywhere anytime. My favorite time is with my legs up my headboard while I’m reading in my bed! Bring your hips all the way into the wall as you bring your legs to rest above you. Relax through your feet, send energy to your breath. Hangout!

 

Happy Baby: Awesome before you even get out of bed in the morning! On your back hug your knees in towards the corners of your chest, extend your feet towards the sky and grab anywhere that feels comfortable (big toe, feet, calves, thighs), make sure to keep your low back down and relax through your shoulders. This pose is fun, relaxing, creates compression in the body to release new energy into the body.

 

Supine Twist: Another great pose for first thing in the morning. Minimal effort needed for this one and it can come before or after happy baby. Start with your RIGHT leg pulled in toward your armpit, left leg extended down, give yourself a little hug around your right shin as you inhale, as you exhale cross your RIGHT leg over to the left, extend your right arm long as you gaze over your shoulder. Hold this side for 3-5 breaths and then switch sides moving slowly and with your breath. This posture is great for digestions, releasing low back tension, and stabilizing good posture.

 

Seated Twist: One of my favorite poses, you can easily do this in an office chair, on the floor, just about anywhere and it’s GREAT for digestion and easing lower back pain. Sit with your RIGHT leg crossed over your left in anyway, place your left hand to the outside of your right thigh as you twist up and over to the right, gaze to the right over your shoulder if it feels good. Hold 3-5 breaths, return to center then over to the left side.

You’ll  be surprised how your ‘blah day’ can change in about 10/ 15 minutes just by doing some of these poses. If you only have a few minutes just take a moment to sit, close your eyes, and breathe. The deepest part of yoga is the breath. At the beginning and the end of everything it comes back to the breath, to taking your time to become aware of the sensations within your body. Take a little moment each day to work on the idea of awareness to help you easily shift out of the funk and into the flow.

 

Join me on my journey to the self via travel, yoga, and exploring the world around me on my blog and social channels! Share your energy and be true to yourself!

 

-Jessica Lin

My Blog: www.myperfectnightout.com

@theonlyjesslin

 

Produce Review: Cherimoya

After waiting a week for it to ripen, I was ready to try another new exotic fruit: the Cherimoya!  I found a few at a local supermarket, and I was told by the produce manager that they only get in a few dozen within only a 14 day window.   My initial reaction was wow, what makes these so tough to acquire?

It turns out the Cherimoya are actually quite a difficult fruit to grow and maintain.  They’re found natively in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.  They only grow at specific altitude ranges (about 2,300-2,700 ft), require excellent drainage, and don’t tolerate hot/cold very well at all.  Perhaps their most interesting issue is that they require hand-pollination, so Cherimoya farmers will hand brush pollen onto the 30 ft Cherimoya tree’s flowers in order to produce Cherimoya fruit using paint brushes!  Whew, what work!

The fruit itself seems somewhat like a Cactus in color and texture but much like an Avocado you must wait until the fruit is soft to the touch to know if the fruit is ready to eat.  My Cherimoya’s green outer skin had turned mostly brown by the time the fruit was soft to the touch.

I noticed my Cherimoya didn’t have any fragrance as the whole fruit or when I cut it open.  The Cherimoya has many larger seeds inside of it.  Eating it reminded me of a seeded Watermelon, but as an added caution, unlike a Watermelon, the seeds (and skin) of a Cherimoya are poisonous and should not be consumed.

The taste was very faint, and there were no discernible prominent flavors.  Others describe the taste as a mix of various other flavors like pineapple and banana.  I would agree with the Cherimoya’s nickname “Custard Apple”, as the texture is very custardy.  However, I’m going to say that I wasn’t impressed with the flavor.  I’ve tried the northern cousin of the Cherimoya: the Paw Paw & had a similar review on it’s flavor… Perhaps my Cherimoya (& Paw Paw) still wasn’t ripe enough.

So if you’re able to acquire a Cherimoya, be sure to consult with a produce expert to ensure that you’re consuming your Cherimoya at its pique flavor and ripeness.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to get the most out of your Cherimoya, please feel free to let others know!

Below is a recipe that I found for a raw Cherimoya custard from Unconventional Baker:

Raw Cherimoya Custard Pudding

References:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cherimoya.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherimoya

Recipe: Mulligatawny Soup – An Everything Soup for an Everyday Occasion

Mulligatawny Soup is an English soup with Indian roots, and it translates loosely to pepper-water.  Mulligatawny Soup can literally be anything & any ingredients, but most often curry/curry paste, chicken, legumes, coconut, carrots, and apples are used.  The consistency (at least in the kinds I’ve had) has been puréed.  This soup can also easily be adopted for other diets, simply swap ingredients that don’t work for you with others that do.  Mulligatawny soup is meant to be a soup you can make differently each time you make it!

So here’s a version of Mulligatawny soup from Pioneer Woman’s Site:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Cut Into Bite-Sized Pieces (could be easily swapped for faux Chik’in strips or another hearty veggie, like portabello mushrooms)
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter (ghee could be used if you have that on hand…if you don’t know, ghee is a shelf-stable butter from India)
  • 1 whole Medium Onion (try a different color or variety of onion to jazz things up!)
  • 3 whole carrots (did you know that carrots have many different colors?)From: http://www.prouditaliancook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/raw-carrots.jpg
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced Finely
  • 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour (this is used as a thickening agent, agar agar or guar gum serve the same purpose without the gluten)
  • 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder (or curry paste if you love curry!)
  • 32 ounces, fluid Chicken Broth (or veggie broth)
  • 2 cups Half-and-half (or full fat coconut milk from a can would work well)
  • 1 whole Granny Smith Apple, Peeled And Diced (this adds a surprising depth of flavor to the Mulligatawny soup…I’ve never had a variety without it)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar (white Or Brown) More Or Less To Taste (or omit this entirely if you want)
  • 2 teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper (or a spice of choice or none)

 

To make the soup, you want to first cook your protein of choice thoroughly in a little bit of oil/butter (with chicken until the internal temperature is 165° F/ 75° C).  Remove the cooked chicken, and add your garlic and onion into the same pan as the chicken.  Cook until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the flour and the curry and thoroughly stir in to incorporate.  Add the broth to de-glaze the pan (careful of the steam!).  At this point, add the harder veggies like carrots (or any other veggies that you want to add) to provide them a longer cooking time.  After 10 min or so (test the veggies to see if they are semi-soft/soft to the fork) add the cooked chicken, the other spices, half and half, and the apples.  Cook for another 5-10 min or until all veggies/fruit are tender.  Be sure to taste to see if you like how it tastes.

As an optional texture related final step, you can take out half of the soup, place into the blender, and blend until smooth.  Add the blended soup back into the other half.

Voilà!  You’re done!  Enjoy!

Revamp a Super Bowl Classic: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

The Super Bowl is fast approaching, and I thought it would be fun to share a veggie version of a Super Bowl snack staple: Buffalo Wings.  Cauliflower takes the place of the chicken in this variation.  Perhaps you can give this recipe a try this weekend and see what you think!

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”/Bites:

1 cup water, dairy milk, or soy milk
1 cup flour (any kind will work—even gluten-free!)
2 tsp. garlic powder (if you want a big garlic flavor substitute with garlic granules if you have them on hand)
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces that are loosely “wing” sized
1 cup buffalo or hot sauce (personally I like Frank’s Original or Buffalo)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, melted butter, or melted vegan butter

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Combine the water or soy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Core the cauliflower to remove the green stalk base & green leafy sides.
  • Chop the cauliflower into loosely “wing” sized pieces.
  • Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture (this is a good step for kids to help with too!) and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo/hot sauce of choice and oil/butter in a small bowl.
  • Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.

You can serve your Spicy Cauliflower Bites alongside an assortment of veggie sticks (carrots and celery are popular) and your dressing of choice for dipping (ranch and blue cheese are popular).

And that’s it!  I hope you enjoy, and please let me know how yours turned out.  I’ll be updating soon with my review of the recipe & pictures of my addition.

Credits:

-Photo from: Natural Grocer’s Blog Post on Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

-Recipe adopted from: Peta’s Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’ Recipe Page