Two Balls in a Pod

Whether or not you happen to be part of a couple right now, these balls are for you (that’s what she said?  He said? Sorry, we’ve been watching The Office on Netflix after T goes to bed lately….).  Since this week was punctuated by me and J’s 9 year anniversary followed by Valentine’s day, a treat was in order.  In case you were wondering, semi-eloping to Key West with 13 of your closest is a great excuse to evacuate Chicago mid-February.  We may have been young and in love, but we weren’t dumb.

J’s been digging walnuts and dates as a pre-workout snack.  I wanted to make him something sweet without cramping his healthy style.  Consequently, these balls have just two ingredients!  You guessed it, walnuts and dates.  I did roll them in a bit of coconut to make them look fancy but if you are good with casual balls (there must be a joke in there somewhere….) walnuts and dates are all you’ll need.  Give yourself or someone else a little love this weekend and roll up some (healthy!) sweet treats!


-1.5 cups raw walnuts

-1.5 cups Deglet Noor or other date of choice, pitted

To make:

-Place dates and walnuts in food processor.  Process until blended and sticky.

-Roll mixture into ping pong sized balls.

-Chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes (the balls, not you).

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

Just a couple of peas in a pod balls on a counter….

Three Fringe Books for Healing

Remember the old saying “What’s right isn’t always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right?”  Once applicable in kindergarten, it may still ring true in adulthood when it comes to health and healing.  Sometimes it’s useful to veer off the beaten path and see things from a different perspective to find the answers that you seek.

The following are three books that have proven helpful in my own healing journey and those of my clients.  Though they are not exactly trending, they do contain some science-backed information for overcoming chronic health challenges and feeling better in and about your body:

1.) How Not to Die: The title of this book always gets a chuckle.  Note it is a play on words.  This book does not have the answer on how to become immortal (but if I do find a book that does I will be sure to let you know….).  It does, however, reveal diet and lifestyle changes that can prevent and even reverse many chronic conditions.

2.) Trust Your Gut: According the the American Nutrition Association, over 70,000,000 people everyday suffer from digestive issues.  The microbiome is oh-so-hot right now and while this book touches on that topic, it also ties in how the brain impacts the gut and vice versa.  Gut issues can be complex, and this book looks at them several different angles.

3.) The Pleasure Trap:  This books takes an in depth look at our how our biology effects our drives and, consequently, our choices.  Written by two doctors who have helped many reverse disease with lifestyle medicine, it’s particularly helpful if you are interested in issues related to high blood pressure and heart disease.

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

T thinks reading colorfully illustrated books with a giant teddy bear is healing…I might have to agree….

Yin and the Art of Movement

Many of my clients come to me looking to improve their balance.  While to many this means being able to stand on one foot, I think deep down most of us want more than that.  I may be a Joyful Gym Rat, but I don’t subscribe to the notion that constantly running on a hamster wheel is beneficial to anybody’s health.

In a world where it is all too easy to get off balance in many areas of life, it is not uncommon to have this phenomenon creep over into our fitness routine.  I’ve had clients who didn’t consider a workout to be effective unless they were very close to (or actually…) throwing up.  In our go-go-go society, we are often lead to believe that more is more.

In middle school, I wore a necklace with the yin and yang symbol although I had no idea what it meant (not something they teach in Catholic school I guess…).   Looking back, I wonder if I was intuitively drawn to this idea of balance, or simply a 12 year old wannabe hippie?  The world may never know, but I do like the idea of yin and yang as an adult.

In last week’s post, I mentioned a yin yoga teacher training I attended.  In case you aren’t familiar,  yin is a style that targets the deep connective tissues and the fascia that encase muscles and organs.  The goal is to release into a yoga pose rather than go deeper through muscular activity.

This particular form of gentle movement has many benefits.  Yin practice has been associated with increased range of motion, decreased levels of physiological stress, and possibly even an increase in the body’s production of  hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally found in the body that helps retain cellular moisture (aka the proverbial fountain of youth).

At first glance, people in a yin class may not seem to be getting much done.  In a deeper sense, they are accomplishing a lot.  In the quest for holistic health, it isn’t always necessary to be working to the max.  Slowing down and speeding up both have their benefits.

It may be helpful to point out that yin and yang only have significance in relation to each other.  For someone who normally participates in a gentle seated yoga practice, a brisk walk might be yang.  For someone who frequents HIIT classes, a brisk walk might be yin.  A balanced movement routine is very personal, and will change throughout the course of one’s life.

So next time you consider blowing off that high intensity interval training class in favor of something more serene, rest assured you are still doing your body good.  Though the theory of unity of opposites might be associated with deep thinkers,  deep tissues tend to like it too.

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

To me and J this walk was yin, to T and Dee it was yang….

Flashback Friday

After participating in a Yin Yoga teacher training last weekend (thanks Marla Cantor!), I came away very excited about fascia.  This connective tissue has only recently been acknowledged by the medical community as an organ, the health of which can have measurable effect on how we feel both physically and mentally.

I’ll be writing more about this soon,  but thought you might enjoy this post from Get Fit Lit in the meantime.  I wrote this in the olden days when fascia was not officially recognized as an organ, way back when in 2014…..

Find Your Edge

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

A very yin T, practicing his sphinx pose……

Can Exercise Keep You From Flipping Your Lid?

Ever since T turned three, I’ve been knee deep in parenting books.  More accurately, earlobe deep.  In audiobooks.  What brought this on? One day, and I can’t tell you what inspired this, I roared at him.  No lie.  Like a dinosaur.  For those of you who know me, you may know this is somewhat out of character, as I am a fairly quiet gal.  I have no idea where it came from, and though he was momentarily frightened, the overall effect was genuine awe.  Distraction accomplished?

A book and a half into Dr. Dan Siegel’s work, he mentioned how exercise can keep us from flipping our lid (check out this Mindfulness Monday post for a refresher on what occurs in the brain when we “flip our lid”.)

Ironically, my limbic or “reptilian” brain was taking over when I went all dinosaur on my son.  Did I harken back to my most primitive instincts?  Though my behavior that day shall remain a mystery, I now know that doing a few jumping jacks will serve me better next time.  Exercise is a quick way to access our higher level thinking.  Three year olds are only beginning to develop this area of the brain, but as adults we have the option of switching gears.

So, next time you are about to go apeshit (or dinosaur) on someone, do a few burpees.  You may be able to solve your disagreement amicably, or at the very least confuse them into forgetting it all together….

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

T’s actual response to me asking him why he was eating the carrot off the ground from the snowman we made 5 days ago….