Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Mindfulness in the Moonlight

Last week’s post gave some ideas on how to incorporate a mindfulness practice into the morning.  This week we’ll focus on some practices that can be integrated after the sun goes down.

Evening is a great time to invest in a little mindfulness practice.  Rituals at bedtime can result in better quality sleep, which has a significant impact on overall wellness.

The following are three ways to find your center, no matter which side of the bed you sleep on:

-Be Still With a Body Scan: Starting at the crown of the head and working down, systematically relax muscles from head to toe.  Notice any areas of tension and see how you can relax them, either by changing position or simply focusing on releasing.  This is usually best performed with eyes closed, but a soft focus on the ceiling also works.

-Say Goodnight with Gratitude: Think of three good things that happened during the day.  This is a nice way to train your mind towards the positive and is great of you tend to be a night time worrier.

-Lounge with Your “Legs Up the Wall”: Try a little yoga with Legs Up the Wall Pose.  Sit with one hip pressing against a wall or headboard.  Spin around and place the backs of your legs on the wall.  Breathe deeply.  This pose is lovely after being on your feet all day, as well as post travel.

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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Photo credit Mary Ellen Blacker



Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Fancy Footwork

You don’t need to be the next Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers to play around with fancy footwork.  In fact, if grace and coordination do not come naturally to you, you may even benefit more from practicing it.

Agility training is a great way to fitness multitask.  Since it incorporates learning, focus, coordination, and balance,  you’ll strengthen your muscles along with your brain.

Looking for a few simple ways to incorporate some fancy footwork into your life?  Try the following:

-Spice Up Your Workout with the Speed Ladder: In between strength training sets, do a few drills on the speed ladder.  You’ll get the benefits of interval training while improving agility.

-Do Some Dance: Dance is the #1 way to reduce risk of dementia through exercise.  It’s also tons of fun.

-Swing Back to Step: Remember step classes?  Though I no longer teach group step, I do love using some my old moves while interval training.  Using a step is a great way to get more comfortable with level change, which can take your coordination to a whole new level!  If you don’t own a step or prefer to workout outside the gym, real stairs are always an option (google Gene Nelson “Tea for Two” for some inspiration).

For more fitness ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

T made the following video by himself the other day.  Still not sure how it did it but it seemed to fit today’s theme…

Health and Healing

For Moms and Those Who Love Them…

Thanks to Tara Wheeler for allowing our family to share the story of our daughter Eve in such a meaningful way. As Brene Brown says “Shame cannot survive being spoken…and being met with empathy”. Starting a dialogue around baby loss is not only helpful for prevention but also to the preservation of the integrity of those women who experience it.  You can view the news story here .

Me, J, and Eve on a trip to Colorado….
Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: 1 Minute to Peanut Cashew Butter in the Vitamix

A few weekends back we started potty training.  Yes, a funny way to begin a post about food but I’ll get to the point in a sec.  We peppered the weekend with lots of fun treats to keep the situation light.  In this spirit, we had dessert for dinner and I made a “Potty Cake” (again, not the most appetizing of names, I guess you had to be there….). 

Since I had some extra frozen bananas in the freezer I decided to make some nice cream to go with (in case you didn’t know, blend frozen bananas in the food processor until smooth and you get the texture of soft serve ice cream…cool right?)  In the middle of some hard core blending the metal blade broke.  Since no one digs banana metal chip, into the trash it went.  Turns out the blade was recalled (what can I say, I like to live dangerously….).

After a few days spent contemplating a bleak nut butter-less existence, I decided to go nuts balls to the wall and give the Vitamix another try.  I love it for smoothies and sauces but last time I tried making nut butter I ended up pouring it into the food processor to finish.  Turns out the keys are to:

A.) Follow directions and not just throw nuts and seeds in willy nilly 

B.) Use nuts with a very high oil content (I’ve found peanuts and cashews work best) and/or roast them 

I was pleasantly surprised when, after a mere few minutes of blending, I had the creamiest nut butter I’d ever made.  It’s so close to the consistency of Jif that it kinda freaks me out.  So, if you like quick, creamy peanut butter without the the hydrogenated oils and happen to have a high speed blender, give this one a go.  You’ll be nuts for it.


-2.5 cups dry roasted peanuts (organic of possible, just peanuts with no added ingredients)

-1/2 cup raw cashews

-1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

To make:

-Place all ingredients in blender except for salt.

-Turn on low setting (1) and gradually work up to highest (10), using tamper to push nuts toward blade.

-Keep blending on highest setting for approximately one minute, or until smooth.

-If using salt, add and quickly blend again on medium setting to distribute evenly.

-Pour into jar and store in refrigerator.

Sorry I ever doubted you Vitamix!  I’ll know better next time….
Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Morning Mindfulness

Whether you are a night owl or a lark, mixing a little mindfulness practice into your morning is a great way to start the day.  We plan when we wake up, why not plan how we wake up?

Every morning is a fresh opportunity to experiment with a little neuroplasticity.  Because the mind tends to be quieter first thing in the morning, most people find it easier to practice at this time.  On the flip side, if you are someone who naturally wakes up on high alert or is going through a stressful period, practicing in the morning can help break the anxious cycle.

The pushback I get when recommending this is usually lack of time.  There is a zen proverb that goes something like “If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour, meditate for two.”  Though I love the gist of this, I also understand what it is like to have a screaming toddler banging down your door (who also happens to be a lark like his mama….)

Here a a few ideas on how to begin the day mindfully, right in the comfort of your own bed:

-Read and Rehydrate:  Keep a bottle of water and an inspirational book next to your bed.  Set your alarm earlier than you usually do.  As soon as you wake, prop some pillows to read and sip.  You’ll start the day with the two things your brain needs most: water and positive thinking.

-App It Up: There are some excellent meditation apps available, and many for free.  Download one to play as soon as you wake.  Earbuds are helpful if you are sleeping with a partner, and sitting up can be helpful to keep you from falling back asleep.

-Yawn and Do Yoga: Take that instinctual morning stretch a step further and hit a few yoga poses before your feet hit the floor.  Pull your knees in towards your chest and curl up like a ball to stretch your back, take a spinal twist to either side, then flip over and hit child’s pose.  Take deep full breaths as you move.  If you sleep with a partner you may want to take your mini practice to the floor or, better yet, have them join in!

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

You look so comfy T….how about sleeping in this morning?