Easing into Exercise Slowly

My fitness routine changes pretty regularly. I do a lot of walking (since it’s my #1 form of transportation!), but otherwise I feel as though there’s a lot of ebb and flow with exercising. I’ll go from running and doing power yoga sessions to light strength training at home to gentle hatha yoga to cycling around the city to skiing outside… it changes all the time.

On the one hand, this is a good thing: it keeps my muscles guessing and ensures that I don’t neglect aerobic vs. anaerobic fitness, or forget about key muscle groups.

On the other hand, it means that I have had to really learn the art of easing into exercise slowly after I’ve taken it easy for too long!

easing into exercise slowly

Not quite kayaking weather. Love that there are different activities for all seasons of the year!

It’s not that I *only* like doing hardcore exercise or that I *only* like to do gentle forms of exercise. I like all of it to varying extents and degrees at different times of the year and in different ways, and I’m sure that that is a big reason for why I’ll sometimes go for months with high-intensity exercise, then switch to low-intensity, etc.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do as much exercise during the holiday season. And before that, there was the whole thing where I kept waking up late in the morning, so I wasn’t doing yoga consistently, either.

Part of me really wants to just jump into my favorite classes at GoodLife Fitness (I love the BodyCombat class especially!), but I also know that it’ll probably be a bit of a shock to my system if I start doing it when I haven’t been doing as much in the way of strength training lately.

That’s why I’m having fun skiing and skating outside a couple times each week, walking on an inclined treadmill at GoodLife Fitness, and doing gentle hatha yoga in the morning. I’m looking forward to getting back into BodyCombat, but I also know me, and if I jump in too fast, too soon, the novelty and fun of it will burn out quickly.

Knowing how and when to ease into exercise can be a challenge! But easing into exercise slowly can also really help us to keep exercising for longer periods of time. I don’t want to start doing a high-intensity workout and then feel so sore for a week afterwards that I can barely move (which has happened to me in the past. I get too excited about these types of activities and push myself a little too hard sometimes :)).

To me, fitness should be about having fun, being strong, and feeling great. That usually also means a little bit of muscle soreness—I just want to make sure it’s not so much soreness that it deters me from continuing with the activity!

What do you do to try easing into exercise slowly? Do you prefer to just jump into a high-intensity workout and work through the soreness or gradually build yourself up to different types of exercise? How are you staying fit this winter? Share in the comments section below!

This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all opinions expressed are my own.

30 Days of Not Hitting the Snooze Button

For the past couple years, I’ve been hitting the snooze button several times each morning before getting out of bed.

Some days it’s more than that, and other days it’s less. But it always happens.

I never used to hit the snooze button, and I would wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start my day. Since I got into this bad habit of pressing the snooze button, it’s much harder for me to get up and out of bed! (And working from home—knowing that I can get up *whenever I want*—doesn’t help much with that.)

So when I read one of Carla’s recent articles, I decided then and there that I needed to go an entire month of not hitting the snooze button… and see what that does for my health, the day that follows not pressing the snooze button, and my entire lifestyle.

snooze button

Can you go 30 days without hitting the snooze button?

For the next month, I am not going to hit the snooze button. At all.

I can generally wake up when I want to by visualizing myself waking up at a specific time the next morning (have any of you tried this? Is this a normal thing that people do? It’s a pretty neat trick! Sometimes I can get it down to the minute), but I still like setting an alarm clock *just in case.*

I’m going to continue setting the alarm clock for the next 30 days… and make sure that when it goes off, I turn the alarm clock off instead of hitting the snooze button. Maybe I’ll end up falling back asleep and sleeping in some days, but I went for years without that happening. I’m pretty confident that my body will adjust quickly to this healthy new habit and that I will be getting out of bad earlier, faster, and more bright-eyed than I have in months.

That’s my prediction, anyway! We’ll see what happens. I’ll report back as this fun little challenge continues with the results (and don’t worry—I haven’t forgotten about reporting back on the modified green smoothie cleanse! I should have an update on that in the next month or two).

I’m excited to try this and commit to making a change in my life. And—as always—I hope that this simple change might help me sleep a little better, too.

Will you join me in not hitting the snooze button for a month? Do you rely on the snooze button? Do you avoid it like the plague? How do you feel about alarm clocks? Share in the comments section below!

Why skiing and skating are a good winter running alternative

skiing and skating

How pretty are trees when they get frosted with snow?

When the weather gets in the way of your workout

Winter in Winnipeg this year has been all over the place. We’ve had some extremely warm days and some freezing cold days, too. And unfortunately this also means that the ground is slippery. The snow keeps turning to slush and then freezing over, making the sidewalks super slick.

Mr Science and I were really looking forward to doing some winter running this year, but the terrain is just not very safe. Neither of us are comfortable with running in all that snow and ice. We could take to running indoors, but I certainly prefer running outdoors, and it’s so important to get fresh air all year long.

Although we do yoga most mornings of the week, and although we like to do some strength training at home, we really don’t want our bodies to forget about running until the ground is clear again in the spring. That’s one of the problems with exercise: you go without doing a certain type of exercise for too long, and it becomes hard to get back into it!

Best outdoor winter activities

Our alternative to running in the winter this year is to focus a lot on cross-country skiing and skating. Both of these sports are, obviously, perfect for doing in the winter months (since snow and ice are requirements!), and they can also get your heart rate up. I also love how skiing and skating use a similar striding / lunging motion to running, which can be useful for that muscle memory.

Running, skiing, and skating are all very different types of exercises, but they are all great forms of cardio training and are full-body exercises. Skiing and skating are like cross-training for running! Even if skiing and skating use different muscles than running, these two activities should keep us in good shape to get back into running when the warmer weather hits.

One of the other things I like about skiing and skating? They’re fairly gentle and low-impact. You aren’t constantly slamming your feet down on the ground, and the gliding motion has such a nice, pleasant sort of feel to it. You can really relax and observe how pretty winter can be while still going at a fast pace (and getting a great workout).

I really hope that next year we can do some outdoor running in the winter, but for this year, I’m content to wait until the spring to continue running. And I am loving all of the skiing and skating we’re doing!

Do you run outdoors in the winter? Do you like cross-country skiing and ice skating? What’s your favorite way to stay fit during the winter months? Share in the comments section below!

Building healthy relationships with loved ones: monthly lunch dates

Just over a year ago, the mother dear decided to instigate monthly lunch dates with the godmother dear (as well as with me and the honorary godmother dear. The sister-traveler would obviously be there as well if she wasn’t, well, traveling all the time and living in Iraq ;)). This has become one of my most favorite things to do each month.

As I grow older, more and more I’m aware of how fast time goes by… and how I never seem to spend enough time with friends and family. That’s where regular dates come in so handy!

monthly lunch dates

The dessert at one of our monthly lunch dates last year. Yum!

The idea behind the monthly lunch dates is that we have a standing date on one Friday of each month. We rotate between the four of us on who chooses the restaurant or cafe, and at each lunch, we pick a date for our next lunch so that the next one doesn’t end up happening six months down the road.

There are a few reasons why these monthly lunch dates are awesome:

First, and perhaps most obviously, the monthly lunch dates gives us all a chance to see each other regularly and spend time catching up. Before starting these lunch dates, we’d only all get together a few times each year around the holidays—because the time just goes by so fast!

Second, it enables us to share our favorite restaurants with each other, and also to find new ones and try them out.

Third, it provides a safe space to have fun and indulge. No judgments about our intake of French fries and creme brulee!

Fourth, it’s something that it’s just so nice to look forward to each month. It breaks up the day nicely and is such a lovely way to start the weekend.

Building healthy relationships with the people you love

We can get so busy and caught up in our day-to-day lives that weeks, months, and years can pass us by without seeing people we love. It’s not intentional, of course, but somehow it just happens. That’s what’s so great about doing monthly lunch dates!

I have something similar to this with some of my girlfriends from high school—we do wine and cheese together once every couple months or so (and the few times that we’ve gone longer periods of time without doing a wine and cheese, it’s generally because we’ve had a cocktail party, or a Halloween party, or celebrated someone’s birthday, and so on).

It makes such a difference to have a regular type of event or date with friends. In university, I often went to the gym with one of my closest friends, and we would teach each other different abs exercises or strength training exercises.

It doesn’t so much matter what the type of event is, so long as it is something you all enjoy and can continue doing fairly regularly… and when you do something like a monthly lunch date, regular wine and cheeses, or weekly gym visits, you’ll never have to experience that regret of “how have three years gone by since I last spoke with XYZ?”

What do you do to build healthy relationships with the people you love? How do you ensure that time doesn’t fly by and years don’t pass without seeing your closest friends? Share in the comments section below!

Vitamix Best Practices

I adore my Vitamix. I use it at least once each week, and at different times of the year (depending on what type of meals we’re having, based on the season) I will sometimes use the Vitamix several times in one day.

The Vitamix can be used for all kinds of things, from the obvious smoothies and soups, to also making peanut butter, nut flour, and so much more. But while you’re having fun using your Vitamix, you definitely want to pay attention to some Vitamix best practices so that you can make the most out of this excellent piece of kitchen equipment.

Vitamix best practices

Blueberry banana smoothie!

Vitamix best practices:

1) Clean it immediately after using it. The Vitamix is very easy and straightforward to clean: just add some hot water and a couple drops of dish soap, then blend on high speed for 60 seconds or so. However, the longer that you leave the blender with dried food on the inside of the container, the harder it will be to clean! Wash it immediately to make cleaning a snap.

2) Use the correct container for different foods. This means using the wet-blade container for wet ingredients, the dry-blade container for dry ingredients, and the massive (standard) container for bigger batches. The different styles of blades really will have a different impact on your ingredients!

If you want to use your Vitamix like a food processor, go with the smaller wet-blade container; it’s a little wider so it’s easier to “process” instead of blend when you use that one (as compared to the taller standard container, which is better for smoothies and soups).

green smoothie recipe

One of my favorite green smoothie recipes.

3) Learn how to use the tamper effectively. This is super important when looking at Vitamix best practices! Be very careful to only use the tamper when the machine is turned off. The tamper is an awesome tool when you are processing food and trying to make nut butters, etc.

After the initial blend, turn off the machine, use your spatula to get the ingredients off the sides of the container, then use the tamper to mush it all down towards the blades. Replace and secure the lid before turning the machine on again to continue blending.

4) Get beyond the recipes on that Vitamix provides for you. It’s not that they are bad recipes; there just aren’t a ton of great ones that they provide. For Vitamix best practices, I recommend adapting recipes you already know and love to your Vitamix (such as blended soups, etc.).

5) If you have smaller amounts of ingredients in the Vitamix, choose a setting around 5—7. When you do this, you’re ensuring that the blades move in such a way as to not just whip the ingredients up around the sides of the container, but instead actually puree the ingredients. Choosing a setting around 5—7 is a good idea when you’re making something like nut butter; if you’re blending a smoothie, always choose the highest setting.

What’s your favorite blender? Do you have a Vitamix? What kitchen appliance could you not live without? Share in the comments section below!

I have no affiliation with Vitamix and was not compensated in any way for this article.