Christmas Thoughts

Merry Christmas!

How are you spending your holidays?

I am going to my Uncle’s house this afternoon and spending time with relatives I only see a few times a year. It is such a warm feeling to be reunited with family and friends that I haven’t seen for a while.

One my goals for this break (I don’t have to work for a full 10 days – Woohoo), is to put away my phone. When you walk down the street, drive in your car, or even look around your family room, how many people are playing with their phones? I think I’ve developed a phone addiction this year! My neck sometimes hurts and my eyes become very dry staring at the screen. Does anyone else feel this way?

During the holidays, challenge yourself and see if you can put down your phone. Send your christmas texts, and update your social media statuses now, then put your phone away for 12 hours. Yes- 12 hours. Your text responses can wait until tomorrow.

Give it a try. See how your mood can instantly change, and how you can spend time living IN THE PRESENT. Do you feel a little bit happier? Do you feel the urge to be active and do something different? Or do just really miss your phone? It can be a bit impulsive to pull out the phone and take pictures with family or of the new gift you just got but try to resist the urge. Maybe a little technology detox can be good for all of us.

If you don’t want to start today, give it a try before the new year and let me know your results! Happy Holidays!

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s easy to get back into the groove of eating fatty, hearty filling foods. Lately I’ve been craving something like chicken alfredo. I looked up a few recipes for alfredo sauce and was a bit overwhelmed. It basically consists of heavy cream, parmesan, salt, and butter. Lots of fatty, but don’t get me wrong, tasty ingredients. After much researching, I opted for something lighter like this creamy avocado pasta created by oh she glows, a great blogger with tasty vegan recipes. This pasta really hit the spot, providing that similar creamy texture like alfredo sauce, but it used more wholesome and simple ingredients that provide nutrients.

I mixed up the recipe by using spinach and kale instead of basil, and included a red pepper for some sweetness.

Ingredients:

1) One Avocado

2) Two Kale leaves

3) Hand full of spinach

4) Half a lemon – squeeze for juice

5) One clove garlic

6) (Not pictured) Quarter of a peeled red pepper

7) Pinch of Salt for tasting

Fresh ingredients

Chop all ingredients up!

all chopped up

Put all ingredients in blender and blend. If you have trouble blending, add a teaspoon of water at a time or more lemon juice to ease the blending process. I use a bullet blender which works quite well.

Blended sauce

Pile avocado sauce on top and dig in!

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Does this look yummy or what? I made enough for two meals and will bring this into work tomorrow. Thanks oh she glows! It was an amazing recipe. How does your pasta taste?

Avocado Pasta

Fitness Goals

There are times when I am at the gym, running on the tread mill, or lifting weights, not really thinking about what I am really trying to achieve. I go through the work out motions in order to not feel guilty for eating the chocolate I will consume an hour after my work out. I use my work outs to unwind after a long day of work and clear my head, but when it comes to seeing results,  it helps to stay motivated when you have a goal.

I still actively practice aerial silks dance, but I am looking for new ideas for my work out routine. I think the best way to stay motivated and even begin your fitness routine, is to make a fitness goal and seek inspiration that will keep you actively working towards it. How can you find your fitness goal if you don’t have one? It can be really simple.

1) Pick an image.

What one activity do you want to do? Do you want to stand up on a surfboard? Do you want to learn a hand stand? Do you want to do the perfect basketball layup? Do you want to throw the perfect pitch? Do you want to go down the hill on a snowboard without falling on your butt?

This is something you need to imagine in your mind doing. This athletic activity may be something that is close to your physical reach, or you may be far from it. You need an image in your mind of what skill you want to achieve in order to work towards it.

My image is this girl doing a hand stand balance…with a back bend and some crazy leg work.

amanda bisk

2) Target your muscle groups.

What parts of your body do you need to strengthen to perform the image you picked? If you picked a basketball layup, you will need to focus on leg work and coordination. Build muscle around the quads and calves. Maybe you need some core strength to get the perfect jump and arm strength to push the ball up. It might take coordination from all the muscle groups, but you need to find the correct muscles for that skill and start building that muscle. Looking up videos on youtube will provide guidance on how to achieve the skill.

For the handstand, I will have to focus on developing arm strength in the shoulders, triceps, and core strength for stability. I am watching these videos by Kino MacGregor to learn how to gain muscle strength in both of these areas and practice getting into the hand stand by taking baby steps.

3) Work on your craft at least once a week.

Once a week is all it takes to begin. Ideally, you could practice every day but once a week is better than never. Commit 15 minutes a week. That 15 minutes will slowly work towards 30 minutes, then an hour, Then, hopefully that will multiply to 3 times a week and become part of your routine. The most challenging part is to get started but once you find that groove, and find that your body is changing and getting stronger, you will want to keep doing it.

4) Stay motivated. Pick your person.

Who or what is motivating you? Is it the image that you selected in the very first step? Is it a friend that is working toward the same goal? I find that instagram is a very powerful tool to find inspiration. There are people out training and doing the things you want to do. It’s all possible! You can do it too. Watch the video or review the image daily. Yes, daily. This will be a constant reminder of what you are working towards. If you let this motivation slip, you will revert back to your old ways.

The motivators that I have are the two women mentioned in this post:

Amanda Bisk and Kino MacGregor.

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Both athletes and extremely strong, their words and images inspire me and keep me motivated towards my fitness goal. I follow them everyday.

Have you picked your fitness goal? Are you practicing once a week? How do you stay inspired?

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot

Candle Light Stretching

Hello all,

Monday’s are tough. Did you survive?

One of my favorite things to do to unwind after a long day is by lighting candles in my bed room and taking deep stretches for 15 minutes or as long as you need. I like to call this “candle light stretching.” When I first started doing this, I did this for only about 10 minutes a night because I felt so “busy” and the need to rest, but now it is so relaxing, that I usually do it for at least 30 minutes.

For the busy marmots, think of it as only three 5 minute songs, or the length of a 30 minute sitcom before a commercial. Trust me, this is not a time waster! This ritual can really help you get into a better sleep mood and prepare you for a deep sleep. You can try this with soothing instrumental music or if you’re up to it, in complete silence.  If I am having a tough day, I do this in utter silence and listen to my the sound of my own breath. Something about the darkness and soft lights really keeps me grounded and takes the stress away.

You don’t have to be flexible to do this. Go at your own pace, listen to what your body wants, and do what feels good.

candle

 

Try a few basic poses as outlined below. This post focuses on the back and legs.

1) For starters, warm up your body with 25 jumping jacks

2) Hamstring stretch: Place one foot in front of the other and fold forward as far as you can while keeping your back flat. You should feel a deep stretch in your hamstring. Breathe. Only fold forward as far as you can without exerting yourself. After 30 seconds of the hold, switch legs.

IMG_5127 3) Pigeon: Bend left leg in front of you while keeping right leg straight in back. Feel this stretch in your left hamstring, right hip flexor, your lower back, and your glutes. Try folding your top body forward into your bent left leg. Try sitting up and slowly arching back to feel the back stretch. Breathe for 30 seconds and switch sides.

IMG_51154) Child’s pose: Sit on knees and fold forward reaching out directly in front of you. Feel your body lengthen through the back, spine, and arms. Breathe and relax. While keeping knees planted, reach arms to the right and hold for 20 seconds. Switch sides and reach to the left side. You should feel a deep stretch in your lat’s or the sides or your back.

IMG_5136After your stretch, how do you feel? Have you been sleeping better? What other stretches are you incorporating into your nightly routine?

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Hi all,

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a special day to share your time and gratitude with your loved ones, friends, and family. It is a reminder of how important relationships are in your life, and how they truly contribute to your overall well being. Think about it. Do you generally feel happy on Thanksgiving? Are you ever really feeling grumpy on the day you are reminded of what you are thankful for?

Many studies show gratitude has many benefits such as improved sleep, better immune system, decreased stress, and general happiness.

Instead of waiting for Thanksgiving every year, why not make gratitude a mind set? I have a challenge. Once a day, reflect on 1 thing you are thankful for every day.

The best way to approach this is to keep a gratitude journal. You don’t need to purchase a special journal (although it is nice to have and keep you motivated). Just use a notebook and keep it simple. I plan to write down one thing before I go to bed as I reflect at the end day. Do it during the time you are most awake and yourself. Don’t think about it as a chore, but make it a habit.

I think Thanksgiving is the perfect day to get started. What are you thankful for?

The top 3 things I am thankful for at the moment:

1) My health. I am not sick and laying in my bed. I can move and I can breathe (do you remember how hard it is to breathe with a stuffy nose?). I can exercise. I can enjoy the company around me. Health is not something to take for granted and I will be thankful for every day I’m feeling physically well.

2) My family and friends who love me unconditionally. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate my family and friends in my life and I try to tell them every time I see them. People come and go in your life but the ones who will always be there are the ones who truly understand your true being. It is better to have one quality friend then to have fifty lackluster ones.

3) The ability to live comfortably. I have a very comfortable bed, a roof over my head, the heat on and a full meal ahead of me. There are many without food, shelter or running water. Although it may seem drastic, I’m thankful that I can go to bed tonight without fear of survival the next day.

Hungry for more,

The Midwest Marmot

The First Post

Hello all,

Here, I’ll provide you with some tips for staying well, healthy, and above all, happy. I am a working professional and sometimes find it difficult to motivate myself to make healthy decisions; To pick the right foods, when its so easy to turn to carry out or deliver. To go for the jog when all I want to do is lay on the couch and watch netflix. To turn to the cocktail with friends instead of taking the time to really figure out what I need for myself. To stay awake and socialize when my body says to sleep. And when the winter hits, it’s bad and you really don’t want to do anything but eat chili.

Sometimes, I like to tell myself, if I lived in the mountains or near the beach, I would be more apt to go out and do active things. It is true, but I shouldn’t let my location choice stump my ability to do good things for myself and neither should you.

Follow me on my journey on bringing the mentality of being in nature, and on your own, into the city of Chicago. There’s a lot going on here.

 

Hungry for more,

The midwest marmot