Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Rockstar Mentality

In this day and age it can be pretty hard to stay on top of things.  Life moves fast.  Just when you begin to feel like the master of your domain, you discover a whole new domain to conquer.

Sometimes it’s nice to go back to basics.  Take a break from pushing and see what opens up.  Enjoy moments of utter proficiency, doing something you could do with your eyes closed.  Allow yourself to feel like a rockstar once in a while.

The beauty of doing this is that it opens us to flow state.  It has often been said that entering flow state is one of the key components to happiness.  Being in flow is the epitome of presence.  Becoming completely immersed in an activity quiets the mind and allows one to simply be.

Though being challenged is essential for growth, taking the time to revel competence makes striving feel more worthwhile.  So go ahead.  Take your hilly run to flatland and fly.  Crush that moderate level strength training class in lieu of struggling through the advanced.  Show off your mad art skills at a wine and design painting class.   Bust out your four octave vocal range at a karaoke bar.  Get out on the dance floor with your ballet trained booty and shake what your mama gave ya….it just may make you happier.

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

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Rockstar mentality baby……….
Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Prime Your Plank

Remember a few years back when “planking” was all the rage?  In my world it still is.  The plank is one exercise that never goes out of style.  What makes it such a classic?  Considering the minimal effort it takes to get into and the low chance of injury (unless you are one of those crazy people planking on top of a basketball hoop, street sign, or two camels….seriously, google it…) the plank offers some amazing health benefits.  Performing this one exercise can help tone abdominal muscles, improve posture, and reduce back pain.

Ready to incorporate planking into your life?  Read on:

Start With the Basics: To perform a basic plank, place the forearms on the floor aligning shoulders and elbows.  Carefully walk the knees back until your hips are aligned with the rest of the torso.  Tuck toes under and raise knees off of floor.  Hold for as long as you can.  Working up to 60 seconds is a good starting point, but feel free to go longer as you feel able.

Supe Up Your Strength:  A pushup is a moving plank, but your upper body workout doesn’t have to stop there.  Once you are proficient at low plank, see how many times you can move to high plank (or pushup position) then back to low without putting your knees down.  Add a pushup to your high plank for extra credit.

Do Some Horizontal Cardio:  And no, I am not talking about the mambo.  Once you’ve mastered high plank position, try some plank jacks by jumping your feet out then back together, all the while maintaining plank position.

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

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Good effort T!  We can work on your form later….

 

Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday: Doubly Delicious Carrot Cupcakes

Doesn’t this recipe sound like Peter Cottontail’s dream dessert? I made these on Easter and couldn’t think of a more fitting treat.  Unlike some carrot cake recipes, this one is super simple and pretty darn healthy (for a cupcake).  The secret?  Carrots in the frosting!  I know this sounds crazy but it’s just one of those things you have to try to believe.  We have all heard about carrots being great for eye health and it’s true.  The beta carotene and carotenoids in help in wound healing, protect against alzheimer’s disease, decrease risk of heart disease, lower risk of stroke, and boost the immune system.  No wonder why Peter always has that extra hop in his step……

Doubly Delicious Carrot Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

For frosting:

-3/4 cup raw cashews soaked in at least 1 cup water for at least 1 hour, up to overnight

-2 cups grated carrots

-1/2 cup pure maple syrup

-pinch of sea salt

-flaked coconut (optional, for garnish)

For cake:

-2 cups sorghum flour (I used sorghum for it’s high nutritional value and gluten free status but any baking flour would do)

-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (cinnamon would work well too)

-1/4 teaspoon baking soda

-2 teaspoons baking powder

-1/8 teaspoon sea salt

-3/4 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened (I used Westsoy unsweetened organic soy milk)

-3/4 cup pure maple syrup

-1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

-1 cup grated carrots

-1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

To make:

Frosting:

-Add 2 cups carrots and 1/2 cup water to a saucepan and cook covered on high until water evaporates.  Lower to medium heat and add 1/2 cup maple syrup.  Cook until carrots absorb maple syrup.  Remove from heat to cool.

-Drain and rinse cashews and place in high speed blender.

-Add carrot mixture and pinch of salt and process until smooth.

-Transfer to bowl and place in fridge to chill until ready to frost cooled cupcakes.

Cake:

-Combine dry ingredients.

-Combine wet ingredients in high speed blender until thoroughly blended.

-Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined.

-Drop batter into paper lined cupcake sheet.

-Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes, or until knife inserted into cupcake comes out clean.

-Cool on wire rack until ready to frost

Recipe adapted from Rouxbe Forks Over Knives Cooking Course

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

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I love you like a fluffy bunny loves carrots….any old millennials get the vague reference to “21 Questions” by 50 cent?  
Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Spring Awakening

T came home the other day singing “Spring is coming, spring is coming, flowers are coming too!” (ok, not the best lyrics but oh so cute!)  It seems, at least where I live, that we may have turned a corner.  Weather is warmer and with it brings a sense of relief and maybe, just maybe, celebration?

Here are a few ways to celebrate spring while being good to yourself:

-Plant a Plant: Preferably something you can eat!  If you live in a small apartment consider an herb that you might get some use out of (and is legal).  If you have acres, the options are endless!  Some gardening stores will actually send an expert to your house to see what is best to grow.  Whether it is a pay-for or free service depends on the store, so call and check with your local retailer.

-Refresh Your Fitness Routine: Beautiful sunny days make it so much easier to get motivated for outdoor exercise.  If you’ve been cooped up all winter, see what outdoor activities might be fun to add.  Cross training in the gym is great year round, but taking the bulk of exercise outdoors will maximizes its benefits.

-Settle Your Circadian Rhythm: Did you know the most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep is keeping your wake time consistent day to day?  Neither did I until a few days ago.  I am in the midst of trying it and so far so good.  Think of this like springtime cleaning for your sleep habits.  Spring is an especially great time to implement an earlier wake up since morning sunlight increases with each passing day.  Stick with it and you will be able to avoid crowds and catch the early bird deals at your local farmer’s market!

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

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Get all your ducks….er, cars in a row T…..it’s time for spring!

 

Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Back in Action

There are not many areas on the body as neglected as the back.  Is it because most of the time it’s out of our view?  Muscular weakness in the back may hard to see, but boy is it easy to feel.  Last I checked, something like 80% of Americans will experience back pain in their lives.

When it comes to the back, we can’t ignore it without some consequences.  The following are a few ideas for keep your back strong and healthy:

-Pull, Pull, Pull….:  Pulling exercises are a fabulous way to work the back.  Pulling from different angles works different muscles, so switch up your direction.  By extending your arms fully then consciously drawing your shoulder blades together you’ll inspire back muscles to activate, making it harder for the biceps to take over.

-Stretch Your Hamstrings: Tight hamstrings can often pull on the lower back and create discomfort.  Foam rolling hamstrings prior to a workout and stretching them after may help address this issue.  If you have a sensitive back, be sure to bend the knees as much as you need during extended leg stretches, gradually working towards straight as your muscles allow.

-Explore Your Spine: There is a saying that goes “You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”  How many directions do you move your torso in any given day?  If the answer is not too many, consider taking up a yoga class or something similar that will get you moving your spine as nature intended.  Roll it, twist it, bend it back, forth, and side to side, the options are endless!

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

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T says “That’s great you can bench 300 bro, but what about your back?”