We are in winter now. With another couple of snow falls under our belts in 2021-22, and the end of year holidays… There’s no turning back now! The winter can be a difficult time to think healthy. In Minnesota, lots of us want to hunker down for the season. It can be tempting to give in to all the comfort foods, especially around the holidays. That’s why I thought it was important to talk a little bit about healthy snack options. My big advice for healthy snacks is to keep it simple. There’s no need to go out and spend a ton of money on snacks or ingredients in order to eat healthy. Here are a few simple ideas that are go-to snacks in our house:
Plain nuts are healthy snacks
These are a great option, if you aren’t allergic. Look for these raw nuts, and make sure they aren’t loaded with salt or sweeteners: almonds, cashews, pistachios. Nuts are good fats, and a great source of protein. They are actually better for balancing your sugar levels so you won’t get quite as hungry as quickly after eating them.
Homemade granola snacks can be healthy snacks
These are simple to make and most people have all the ingredients on hand. Just take oats, peanut butter, and honey (you can add your favorite nut in, too) and roll them in a ball. Then, let them sit in the fridge to set-up. Sometimes I even add a little chocolate! We like to make these in our house – they are easy, delicious, and healthy.
Vegetables are healthy snacks, too
Yes, this is an obvious choice. We like to cut up carrots, but you can really use any vegetable you have available. Hummus is widely available these days and it’s a great addition to your veggie snack. Some veggies pair well with peanut butter, like carrots or celery. You can even make “ants on a log” with celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
As adults we may think some of these snacks are just for kids, but they are actually easy, healthy alternatives to the other junk out there marketed to adults. I’d love to hear your go-to healthy snacks. Comment below!
Sometimes being active takes motivation. There are some tips and tricks I use to help motivate myself and my family into an active lifestyle.
You might be wondering, “Is it even possible to motivate yourself?” The big thing I have to do is ask myself what activities I actually enjoy spending time doing. I am more likely to engage in movement when I enjoy the activity. So, if you don’t like running, setting a race day as motivation may not be what you need. Maybe you’d enjoy hiking or yoga more. In that case, setting a goal around those activities could be more motivating.
Accountability is important. One tip for accountability that helps me is participating in 30-day challenges with friends. Each day we check in via text to let the others know we did the daily challenge or ask how they are doing on their goals. Having someone to answer to can really increase motivation! Another tip is working a fitness program where you can check off the “boxes” of activities. This helps me stay on track while feeling like I am accomplishing something. Somehow, checking off the box helps the goal to feel more tangible.
In the winter, I am motivated to stay in shape from the fitness activities I’ve done over the summer. I don’t want to lose the results of the hard work from the season. So, in the winter, I try to shift my activities inside (or gym-based activities), like strength and weight training. Staying in shape is the motivation, and I must alter my activity to achieve my goal.
A lot of times, in order to motivate kids to be active, we have to model the behavior and invite them along. This summer, I had goals for my own running. What I did to involve my kids was invite them along to bike with me while I ran. They liked it because they didn’t have to go as fast on the bike; at the same time, they were able to help me run faster. We were doing separate activities together, and the kids seemed to have fun with it.
Another tip for motivating your family to be active is to create little hunts along the way when you are running, biking, hiking, or skiing. We will pick something and count how many we can see along our route. In the winter, you could pick how many snowmen you see while out for a walk, or how many people wearing red jackets while skiing. The options are endless.
Just like for yourself, you can ask your family what types of activities they like doing and then participate with them. I’m talking about movement-based activities here – playing sports, hiking, running. My son likes to play football, so I’ll spend time with him in the yard running drills or playing catch. The point is, the more interested they are in an activity, the more likely they are to do it. These are some ideas for motivating yourself and your family to stay active. What else works for you?
Today we are going to talk about joy. Sometimes joy and happiness get mixed up in definitions. I think joy is more important as it is solid, while happiness waxes and wanes over time.
A couple months ago I was realizing that I was not joyful, in a constant state. I was looking for the “big joys” or the big moments in life that produce the “high-highs” of emotions. Those big joys are rare and usually far between. I was chasing the big joys and feeling the lows when they passed. This produced frustration.
We have little kids in our family, and bedtime can be a challenge. It may only be 3% of the day, but sometimes that 3% of struggle wipes out all the joy of the day. Sometimes it seemed like the whole day as frustrating, just experiencing that struggle.
This is the trick that I started focusing on a couple months ago. I started noticing the “little joys” before going to sleep. At night, I would replay the mental movie of the day to re-see and re-feel the simple joys that took place in the day. Looking through those wonderful moments of the day turned my perception of the day.
One example of what I would focus on is my son. He often comes downstairs with his giant personality, big smile, and big hugs. He will say, “Daddy, I love you.” Something as simple as that is a joy. Another example is a moment where I get to go on a walk with my wife. It could be a day where I can feel the sunshine. I take that little joy moment, and bring myself back to the emotion, back to the joy. I re-feel the joy. It doesn’t have to take very long. Going through the day again, and thinking about those simple joys, help to keep joy consistent in my life.
COVID-19 has caused us to all have to adapt in many ways. The added stress can lead to a lot of different issues if not managed or addressed. Here are some simple tips to keep your mind and body healthy during COVID-19 and during other times of stress.
Focus on the “I CAN” list instead of the “I CAN’T” list. Try to focus on the things that you are still able to do and not get locked into the mentality of what you can’t do.
Keep moving! Try to break up the day by taking walks, bike rides, running, or whatever activity you enjoy. Movement is life and exercise is great for improved mental and physical health.
Take breaks from your desk every 30-45 minutes and make sure that your new home desk station is ergonomically correct. Poor posture, or postural fatigue will cause increased neck and upper back pain.
Be careful what you listen to and watch. Avoid getting stuck or absorbed in negative news and try to listen/read/watch things that are more positive or uplifting.
Find some new patterns, routines, or rhythms. It is easy to get out of sync and have no rhythm to your days. I realized that my entire day felt off when I had no routine to my day during the first few weeks of COVID-19 and staying at home. I have started to get back into my typical routines and have felt much better during the day.
Go to bed at a similar time every day and wake up at a similar time each day. The body likes routine and sleep is one of those things that can be thrown off by staying up later or sleeping in later because you don’t have to be somewhere the next day.
These are a few things that you can do to try and improve your mind and body health during this current situation, or even after.
Stress management doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require you to pause and think about what you are doing or not doing.
I love the quote above by Albert Einstein. I have been listening to a lot of great videos on mindset over the years. Our mindset is key to how we live our life. This is not all about just being positive, it is about training the brain to look at things in different ways.
Our brain is the most powerful tool we have, but many of us never tap into its full potential because we get into mundane routines that cause it to go into autopilot. Most of us are where we are today because of the habits or routines we have created in our past. If you want different results, you need to change your patterns. If you want to wake up your brain, you need to try doing some things differently.
For example, if you take the same drive every day there have probably been days you are not even sure how you got to work. Your brain went into autopilot. If you want to stimulate your brain you could drive a different way or listen to something that gets it to wake up. If you don’t like the way things are going, it is time to change something up in your routine. Many small steps can lead to big changes. Like the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
If you are tired of the same daily grind, it is time to change up your routines. Your mindset matters.
Here are some simple tips to improve mindset:
Start your morning listing things you’re grateful for. These could be big or small things that are special to you. Instead of waking up with doom and gloom, this gets the mind off to a positive start.
Listen to uplifting things throughout the day instead of negative things. I have almost completely stopped watching the news because I don’t want to start my day with negative or end my day with negative. I also started listening to positive music, upbeat podcasts, recorded sermon series, or inspirational YouTube videos.
Question if your thoughts are even true. Often our minds are led by fear. Is what we believe true or is it a perceived problem? Try to look at the situation that you might be fearing from a different angle. Worrying is a learned behavior, has never once solved a problem, and almost always makes the problem worse. If worry is a learned behavior, we can learn how to worry less.
Giving is living. Do more for others! When we do things for others, we get our minds off our self. We will almost always improve our mood and feel better after.
Changing your routines up a little throughout the day will stimulate your brain. Smile in a mirror, stand up straighter, move your body and hands in an excited way, and speak in a more upbeat voice. These simple things change the way our body feels and can change the physiology of what is happening in our bodies.
Here’s a CHALLENGE!! If you are having a bad day, just try smiling, raising your eyebrows, and sitting up straight. I can almost guarantee you will feel better than frowning, scrunching your face and sitting in a slumped over position.