healthy hacks

Same But Different

I was on a podcast kick for a while. Then, as it happens with many things, I got burnt out on it. Many of them started to get repetitive. Still, I do a lot of driving and sometimes music doesn’t cut it. If there isn’t anyone to talk to, a podcast is worth a try.

I thought I would try to freshen up my podcast listening library. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health lately…my own mental health as well as the mental health of my friends, my students, my family, even society at large. So Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast seemed worth a shot by name alone.

I don’t know about you, but my attention span is shorter these days than it used to be…or at least it feels that way. Maybe it’s covid fatigue. Who knows. So short little tips are much more useful to me than long drawn-out explanations.

The happiness tip / healthy hack she gave at the beginning of the podcast was to do something familiar in a new way. Novelty amuses the human brain. We like to do new things. So doing something we already enjoy and adding a twist can light up the happiness spots in our brain. The hosts mention doing familiar activities at different times of day or with different people (or alone.) So go on a hike in the afternoon instead of the morning. Or go to a restaurant by yourself instead of with family. Change it up.

This seems both more challenging and more necessary during the pandemic. So many of us are very closed in, even locked down, to routines and schedules. I feel the doldrums of routines at work and even at home to some extent. For me, it might be riding my bike outside in the afternoon instead of the stationary bike at the gym in the early morning. Maybe have a hot drink in the afternoon instead of just the morning. A different scent of candle of lotion? Extra walk in the evening? Breakfast for dinner? Who knows. Take a new trail. I’ve often heard that changing up our routines can keep our brains nimble. Maybe this is a related perk.

What are some things you can do that are the same but different? What happiness hacks do you use in these challenging times? Share in the comments.

healthy hacks

The Extra Weight

It was Amazon Prime day. I had been thinking about purchasing a weighted blanket. The price was right. I took the plunge. Was it worth it?

First, the box was heavy. It was a weighted blanket inside the package. Why wouldn’t it be? Nothing fancy from the aesthetic side but functional and purposeful….we shall see.

Night one. It’s heavy! It’s heavy on my body. Maybe a bit of a smothering feeling. Almost seemed like it would be so much extra effort to get up and go to the restroom.

Night two. I knew what to expect now. Today it was hot. Come winter that will be good but today was a warmer fall day so it didn’t have me jumping for joy.

Day three: the real question was did I sleep better? I don’t know is the answer. I don’t have an issue sleeping so it was in/out just like normal.

Day four: I was sore from my workouts. Going to bed was an extra effort. Lifting that extra weight seemed daunting but I did it. That extra weight seemed to diminish the aches or soften it a bit. Off I went to lala land.

Day five: I had to travel. A hotel was in the mix. I noted I missed my weighted blanket. It could have been the newness of it but I missed it. Obviously I’m not going to travel with my weighted blanket so I’ll have to wait a few days to get back in the comfort flow with it.

The verdict is: I’d say give it a try if you have been considering a weighted blanket. Your results may be more spectacular than mine. I could see it being a benefit if you are stressed and need that weight to calm you or if you struggle winding down it could definitely help you get settled due to the weight alone.

My package said it’s like getting a giant hug. With so much physical distancing these days maybe you need one just for that hug option.  Just another weight post for you think on.

3Splitz Farm, healthy hacks

The Herd Needs Feeding

Recently I’ve had exposure to group cooking or cooking for a group. How do you feed a herd (people), choose healthy options and keep many happy? It’s takes a miracle, resources, creativity and willingness to try new things.

I tried a breakfast casserole one weekend. It wasn’t prepared by me but it was tasty. It had Canadian bacon which is an alternate to greasy bacon. The meat was a protein alternative and it also had cheddar cheese as the cheese of choice. Two options I enjoyed but I would have chosen Colby cheese or traditional bacon. Exposure to this group feeding was positive. It was delicious. I tried something new and I now have a new recipe to use when I need to feed a group.

Meat mix bowls: easy to cook up some meat and you can vary the meat with spices. Taco flavor, spicy, saucy or whatever you like. Add in rice, cauliflower or whatever substance makes your bowl as a filler. Top with lettuce shreds, avocados, grilled peppers and onion. Season to your liking. You can dress it up with your cheese of choice, sour cream, salsa or whatever you like. Super easy to make and a fan favorite for many. Any time you can customize while feeling a herd you win big. Some variations are healthier than others but options are a big win for this meal.

If you need a cheap fix, spaghetti and meatballs is a good go-to staple but pretty boring and high on carbs. Another Italian option might be a lasagna. Layers and layers of goodness. Ricotta cheese, beef/sausage, veggies, sauce and seasonings. It’s a bit heavy but always a ton of goodness. Lasagna covers groups easily but may leave your group ready for a nap shortly after due to the carb loading. 

If you have any feed-the-herd recipes that are tasty, somewhat healthy and easy send us a note. We would love to try your favorite recipes and let you know how we liked them.
Fun options like variations of build your own pizza are always welcome since most folks adore pizza but don’t care for greasy options.

Now that I am hungry from writing about all this food I will sign off to eat a snack of white yogurt covered pretzels for my semi-sweet treat of the day. Bon appetit!

healthy hacks

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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It’s an age old question…when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Little known fact about Chick 2:

When I was just a wee one, I wanted to be a mailman, or what we would now call a mail carrier.

At six years old in my childhood home, so many summer afternoons I would watch out the front window starting about 1:00.  The mail would arrive between 1:15 and 2:00.  I’d wait anxiously for the sound…when I heard the stop, start, stop, start of the mail truck, I’d walk down our hilly driveway to intercept our family’s haul.

I’d sift through the daily pile of JC Penneys catalogs, electric bills, and who knows what else and most days find nothing for me.  But once in a while, in amidst all the typewritten envelopes, there would be a piece with my name handwritten on the front. Like a lottery win!

To this day, I LOVE getting personal mail.   Opening a personal letter or card is one of my life’s greatest delights.  Who wouldn’t want to be the person that delivers those, I thought?  Everyone looks forward to seeing you every day and all the treasures you bring!

Life has changed a lot since then.  Not only do I realize that most mail isn’t that exciting, these days most of our communication comes through email, texts, snaps, messages and so on.  Although I’ve given up on the career ambition of delivering mail, I still send mail as often as I can.  In the age of texts and emails, a handwritten letter stands out even more.

Here’s today’s healthy hack for pandemic life: send letters!

In these days of isolation, most of us don’t see each other much, if at all.  We have a need for connection and some of us may have more time since we aren’t commuting, etc. So, I’m sending postcards, uplifting quotes, funny cards, and letters to people far and near.  Sure I still text, but when I want people to pause, when I want them to know they are special, I send it through the mail.

Words are one of the things I enjoy sharing, whether it’s my own words or a well chosen quote. I tried painting watercolors, but it’s just not my thing.  I do enjoy making art, so I added some little accents to cards.  I will keep sending these so, in with all the bills and catalogs and coupon flyers, the handwriting on an envelope can bring someone (or many someones) a smile.  In the end, I still want to be a person who delivers joy when I grow up.

So, unlike many other things today, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Add pandemics to that list in the US Postal Service’s unofficial motto. I’m grateful for these couriers of kindness.

Who can you reach out to in a different way today? Who needs a lift?

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fitness and nutrition, healthy hacks

Movement Snacks

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Life is changing quickly these days.

Many of the routines that I thrive on have been either somewhat or completely turned upside down by precautions due to the Coronavirus.

This week, my school district moved to online learning. But, employees in my position still had to come into the school building so I kept my usual schedule of getting up, going to CrossFit (with extra cleaning measures), then heading for work.  This wasn’t a huge deal, but I did notice that at work, I get up and move a whole lot less when students aren’t around.  My calorie activity tracker on my Apple Watch took much longer to reach my daily goal.  The reminder to stand up, which comes on the :50 of the hour if you’ve been sitting the first fifty minutes straight, went off several times during the days.  This never happens!  My job keeps me moving to help students, teach them, and walk throughout the building.

Time for a healthy hack!

So, I started incorporating “movement snacks” into my day.  I was doing inventory tasks in my library while the kids were gone, so every time I finished scanning a shelf, I did 10 hand release pushups.  It was great to break the monotony and get the blood pumping again.  And, it all adds to my goal of 2,020 hand release pushups in 2020!

Today, another change.  I’ll now work fully from home.  My gym is quite far from where I live. It’s much closer to where I work.  That, combined with concerns about health and money (in a family with a small business that will be deeply impacted by all this) means I’ll be at the gym far less frequently.  I do have some home gym equipment, plus I’m training for a triathlon as well.  I’ll be doing different types of workouts, but I plan to continue to wake up early and get moving most days.

I made it to a gym this morning with my daughter then came home to work. After day 1 online I can safely say I need to keep moving not just early but throughout the day to stay mentally and physically strong and fit.  I spent much of today sitting on my butt answering questions and reviewing work. I took a couple of short walks around the yard but I was still mostly sedentary.  I didn’t feel nearly as calm or energetic as I usually do after 8 hours of work…and the irony is that I burned a lot less physical energy!

Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. We all know the rule.

So, tomorrow I’ll get up and take my bike to the park.  It’s already loaded in my car. During work, I’ll experiment with a timer so I stop and move every half hour at least.  Maybe situps.  Maybe the mobility I desperately need to work on. Or the “power jumps” I need to practice to get closer to double unders. Maybe I’ll alternate.  Bite-sized bits of movement spread throughout the day. There are many ways to experiment and keep moving.

Even 10 at a time, everything helps.  How are you continuing to move in this time of change and disruption?

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