Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Managing a Fitness Routine Over the Holidays

With Thanksgiving fast approaching it is time to think about holiday fitness.  Colder weather, traveling, and visiting relatives are a few things that can get us off track this time of year, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  I am a big fan of modifying a routine rather than relinquishing it.  Every little bit counts so even if you are too busy to stick to your regular gym routine you don’t need to throw in the towel completely.  The following are some ideas to keep your fitness in tact during the holiday season:

-Move first thing in the morning: Make movement a priority before the day’s festivities begin.  You can practice yoga as soon as you get out of bed, head out early for a walk, or choose another type of movement that leaves you feeling energized and ready for the day ahead.

-Make it a family affair: Be the change you want to see in your family!  Initiate a group walk, run around with the kids at the playground, or challenge everyone to a game of touch football.  Family time doesn’t have to be sedentary.  Sitting and talking over a cup of tea is great, but make time for connecting via movement too.

-Plan ahead: Get together family for a “Turkey Trot” or see if there are any special classes you can treat willing family members too at the gym.  Instead of closing, many gyms adopt holiday hours on and around the holidays.

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

You can also click the button to the right (desktop) or at the bottom (tablet or phone) to subscribe and get posts and recipes delivered straight to your inbox.

Don’t let the pic fool you, Dee was surprisingly cool with the antlers she just has RSF (resting sad face)


Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Miso Tempeh Croutons

Last week I had some leftover pho broth (you can find the recipe for the broth here).  I decided to turn it into pumpkin soup since fall had slipped by without me making anything pumpkin!  The recipe below can be modified to suit your tastes.  I made the soup a second time using regular boxed broth and some spices and it turned out just as good.  The tempeh croutons are an added bonus and a nice touch!  This soup has a digestive health focus.  How?  The spices are not only there for flavor, they also act as carminatives, easing digestion.  The probiotics in fermented foods, like tempeh and miso, help keep a balance of good bacteria in the gut.  For an extra probiotic boost, serve with kimchi!

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

4 cups pho broth (or ready made boxed veggie broth if desired, Pacific Foods is a good brand)

1 15 oz can pumpkin

1-2 very large sweet potatoes (2 makes a heartier soup, 1 more of a bisque as pictured)

1 15 oz can light coconut milk

2-4 tablespoons light miso

If using boxed broth instead of the pho broth recipe, tried adding some of these spices to add some extra flavor.  Use your palate and taste as you go.  (The beauty with plant based food is you can taste as you go without worrying about food borne illness!)

Star Anise


Dried Shittake Mushroom

Dried Spring Onion

Black Cardamom


Place all ingredients except miso in a slow cooker on high for three hours, or until sweet potatoes are soft.  If you have an Instant Pot, you can use the soup setting and pressure cook for 30 minutes, allowing the steam to release naturally.

Once cooked, transfer the soup to a high speed blender and blend until creamy.  Add the miso and blend again, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking.  Serve immediately or pour back into pot to keep warm.

Miso Tempeh Croutons

1 package tempeh, cut into cubes

3 tablespoons light miso

1 tablespoon mirin

3-4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 hot red pepper, diced small (optional)

1 tsp fresh cilantro (optional)

Whisk everything except tempeh in a bowl until smooth.  Pour mixture over tempeh cubes and toss to coat.  Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Place tempeh cubes on a nonstick baking mat or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes or until browned and slightly crispy, turning once halfway through baking.

For more plant based ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

You can also click the button to the right (desktop) or at the bottom (tablet or phone) to subscribe and get posts and recipes delivered straight to your inbox.

Bon appetit!

The finished product, served with croutons, sprouts and kraut cause I was out of kimchi…less than authentic but still tasty!



Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: “Success” and Health

The road of good health is not a straight line.  It has lots of dead ends, u-turns, and often an accident or two along the way.  Getting every piece in order is like trying to clean the house with a toddler around.  As soon as you pick things up in one area, you look over and another is in disarray.  But just like we don’t give up on tidying the house (or maybe you do and that’s cool, just stick with me on the analogy) you don’t have to give up on health when the road gets rocky.

Frustrations are part of the journey and sometimes it may seem like little to no progress is being made.  Old habits reappear, injuries pop up from seemingly out of nowhere, and yet, if you stay the course….you may still get off track but find getting back on gets easier and easier.  You may figure out ways to treat yourself well during times of physical distress, discomfort, and frustration.  You may find a new way to deal with an old problem that makes your life better as a whole.  You may find things that help make the natural ups and downs a little less jarring to your system.

Homeostasis is not static.  We have to constantly be shifting and adjusting to maintain some sort of balance.  We don’t get to a peak and stand still.  When it seems like the struggle is for nothing I encourage you to focus on refining.  Find ways to work within the struggle that might not lift you up immediately but might lift you up eventually.  Give yourself the space to let go of what isn’t working and try some new stuff that might.  Breathe.

One thing I’ve always loved about yoga is non-attachment to outcome.  There is something so refreshing about just doing the work.  Without the added layer of expectation, it comes as a pleasant surprise when you can do a pose you weren’t able to do before.  It’s simply a nice added bonus because you’ve been content with practicing for practicing’s sake all along.

So maybe, next time when you experience a health challenge, instead of hopelessly projecting about the gloom in your future try focusing on the next right action.  Keep trucking along,  a smoother ride could be just around the bend.

For more musings on mindfulness, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Picture credited to comedian Demetri Martin, this used to hang in my office at work when I had an office…


Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: When It Comes to Exercise, What “Counts”?

The title is of this post is a question I am often ask.  We’ve come to think of exercise as something we do on top of living our day to day lives.  I’d like to invite you to think of your life itself as exercise.  At any given moment, how can you incorporate your body into the action?

It has been shown that for people who sit 6 or more hours a day,  no amount of exercise can reverse the damage that being this sedentary does.  If you are like me, you might have cringed when you just read that.  At first glance it seems like a pretty gloomy statistic considering how many of us are tied to desks.  Even children in school are forced to sit more than they are encouraged to move.  I often wonder when and why sitting ever became the norm.  For our human bodies that are made for action, sitting is hard work.

I watch my son stand as he plays with his toy cars, run around in circles, and dance endlessly.  He can’t stop moving.  And I don’t want him too (ok, well sometimes I do, but then I remember my core values, take a deep breath, and embrace his maniacal ways…).  I guess what I am saying is instead of dreading exercise or thinking of it as just another chore, why not accept it as our natural state?  It’s really only only in the last 50 or so years that we’ve become such a sedentary society.  For the majority of human existence, we’ve been movers!  No wonder why our bodies reject sitting at desks or on couches for hours at a time….we were never meant to!

Maybe, for this next week, see if you can move more than you sit.  Not in an “I am now going to perform exercise” type of way but more in an “I am going to move because I desire to” type of way. We can get all specific about how much strength training or cardio or agility training is ideal but the bottom line is the more movement, the better.  The gym is a training ground to help us move more gracefully when we are outside of it, but outside of it is were most of life happens.  And that is what counts.

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

We may have been walking 1 mile an hour but it still counts!



Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: On the Road, Plant Based Style

This is not my adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel.  Instead of jazz, poetry, and drug use there were Truck Tunes, baby books, and green smoothies.  We returned last week from a northeast tour attending a wedding with a few stops on the way back to visit family and friends.  All in all it was a success and finding food was the least of our challenges.  In the past I’ve had some questions about how to find plant based food while traveling, so I thought I would share how our plant based family does it in case it is helpful in your own travels.

-Bring a blender: Usually I bring a small personal one but since there was room in the car we went with the full sized Ninja this time.  It worked out great because T was on a huge smoothie kick and I was able to load him up with nutrients.  I also brought things from home like bananas, pre-washed greens, fruit, chia seeds, avocado, and cartons of soy milk in case we ended up without a grocery store nearby at any of our stops.  We tend do do smoothies for breakfast on the road which saves money since it’s one meal we don’t have to go out for.

-Research your route: If you have a smart phone, it’s easy to find plant based restaurant options when traveling.  If you aren’t sure which restaurants offer plant based options, you can download an app like Happy Cow which will tell you all known plant based restaurants in any given place.  We were lucky to find some fabulous food in Providence, RI, went to one of the top plant based restaurants in the country in CT, and had serious decision fatigue by the time we left NYC (so much good food, so little time!)  We even had a yummy plant based dinner at the wedding reception (thanks Mary and Mike!)

-Don’t forget the snacks, especially if you have a toddler!: We brought some easy to eat finger food for T like cut up fruit, bananas, tortilla chips, and brown rice crackers.  T will do anything for a date (the fruit, not the romantic hangout) so we also had a pack of those hiding in the glove compartment in case things got dire.

-Have a few “meal extenders” just in case:  When in doubt, you can usually find something like a salad or baked potato even in the middle of nowhere.  Plain salads and baked potatoes can get old so I like to bring along things like my own dressing, nutritional yeast (affectionately called “nooch” in our house, it tastes a lot better than it sounds I promise….), avocados, and boxes of beans.  You could bring canned beans, but I prefer the boxes because you don’t need a can opener.

-Stay somewhere that has a kitchen: While not always possible, it helps and is a great way to save money.  We do this a lot, which allows us to have several meals in and leaves room to splurge a bit if me and J get a date night during the trip.

For more tips on living plant based visit The Joyful Gym Rat on Facebook and Twitter!

T fueling up with a smoothie before the wedding reception