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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balance

When Life is Subject to Change Without Notice

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Competing in next week’s big game.

Carefree time on the 3-day weekend.

A long planned-for (paid for!) international adventure.

Taking in the beauty of the first farmer’s markets of the season.

All things to look forward to.  Now, all on hold.

When the Coronavirus started to rapidly unfold in America last week, I said to a new friend “it feels like everything now has an asterisk next to it.  Everything is to be announced, subject to change without notice.”  I didn’t know what that meant then, a few short days ago.  So much happens each day.

Not only are the things we have to look forward to either canceled, postponed, or up in the air, even the basic routines of life are disrupted.  Will I go to work next week, and if so where and for how long?  My daughter is unexpectedly doing school online for a while. How will that go? You’d think she would be thrilled, but she groaned when I told her.  She said she will miss school, even with the ridiculously early wakeups and late nights getting home from practice.  She loves her teams and her friends and being with people.

That’s really it. We look forward to people. Experiencing and sharing life with them.

Now it’s all social distancing. Abundance of caution. Flatten the curve. A curve ball I wasn’t anticipating.

I’ll admit, the uncertainty has gotten me glum or a little anxious at times.  Even though I’m sometimes overwhelmed by my typically busy life, I love what I do.  I’ve started to reflect and appreciate the joyfully-packed life I get to lead most of the time. And I know it will return.

At the moment, I am living in the present more so than I have in a while.  The calendar is suddenly much emptier than it was.  The urgency of a lot of things is gone. It’s very strange, living in the time of to be announced.

As for healthy hacks? What helps me today is focusing on what I can control.  Exercise. Nutrition. Cleaning. Routines. Basics. Patience.  Taking some time to get outside to appreciate the signs of spring that are popping up (see the pics!) Nature has a rhythm that continues and comforts in times of upheaval. Keeping the amount of news and social media I consume at a reasonable level.  I have had a rocky time with several of these already, but I’m trying.

I choose focused over frantic. Present over pessimistic.  Peaceful over panicked.

Choose daily.

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healthy hacks

Hydration Challenge

We all know water is good for us.  I’ve heard a huge range of amounts we should drink.  Our body weight in ounces, half our body weight in ounces, a gallon a day, on and on.

I’ve come a long way since I was drinking 6 – 8 cans of Diet Coke a day and basically no water unless it came to the restaurant table before I ordered a Diet Coke.  But, upping my water is still a challenge.  The truth is, I get just plain bored with just plain water.

How to change water up and make it more interesting and drinkable?  For a long time, I was on the lemon water train.  Then I changed it up with lime. Both are refreshing but it didn’t take too long for me to tire of them.

I changed jobs about 18 months ago and one of my favorite things about my new school is infused water.  The flavors change each week.  Sometimes it is blueberry pineapple, sometimes cucumber mint, sometimes even a citrus blend of orange, lime, and lemon.  I started drinking 2 cups a day at the beginning and end of lunch.  Then, I decided to try to finish my coffee a little earlier so I could move on to water by 10:00 am.  Now I’m drinking three or four 16 ounce cups of infused water each day.

I’ve even gotten to the point where I infuse my first insulated tumbler of water at home in the morning that travels with me to work or the gym.  A chunk of pineapple and a few raspberries adds just enough flavor to make the water craveable. I don’t really crush anything, just throw it in there. I don’t eat a ton of fruit anymore, but I get a lot of flavor from these fruity infusions. The pop of color from the raspberries makes me smile, too.

When I get home at the end of the evening, I switch to sparkling unsweetened water.  I still love carbonation and it gives me enough of a change to keep drinking throughout the night.

Another little healthy hack from the 2 Chicks. What tricks have you used to increase the amount of water you drink?  Cheers from Chick 2!

 

healthy hacks

Refresh, Recharge, Repeat

​​This is my triple threat for 2020. How do I refresh, recharge and repeat?
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​​I set out with 10 massage sessions at a spa within a mega-gym. Said gym has a pool, hot tub, sauna, spa, healthy eating arena, and all the gym equipment you could ever want to use.
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​​If you pay for a service at the spa you are entitled to use of the facility for the day. I’m specifically not naming the mega-gym because I love this feature as I am a non-member. Now that $100 massage has a lot more value. I also bought a block of massages in volume thus lowering my cost to less than $80.
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​​I make sure to get in some cardio, get my deep tissue massage, head to the pool for a swim then into the sauna as many times as I can. Over and over again from cold to hot. It’s amazingly refreshing.
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​​This type of day is more of an active recovery session for me but it’s full of many benefits. If you have a facility near you that offers a similar option, take advantage!
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​​I will spread my 10 visits over the year to give me the right amount of recovery from massage that works within my budget and time constraints.
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​​In this scenario I unplug from technology as well for about 4 hours. It’s a great opportunity to recharge. Obviously this works for me. This is the repeat feature. Also if my investment is $80 for the massage but I spend four hours at the facility I am definitely getting my money’s worth.
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​​Just another healthy hack for you in 2020 from 2 Chicks and a Pen. Recovery is part of staying healthy. Me time to reset my mind is equally beneficial. Don’t forget to flip your recharge switch.

healthy hacks

Just Add Eggs

Another quick healthy hack for those interested. The “baggie” trick I learned from
my friend Milagros.

Toss things you need in a baggie and use later. For her it was marinara sauce that she didn’t want to add to a meal until it was ready. How clever. Then I thought hmmm… I’m going to incorporate that into my meal prepping.

Now I have three go-to baggies made every couple of days. 2 ounces of my meat of choice: steak, ham or sausage. Diced onion, pepper, zucchini and mushroom. Sometimes a mozzarella medallion to spice it up. Some fresh spinach.

When I am crunched for time in the mornings I toss the components of the baggie into the pan while I grab two eggs. When it’s time, I add the eggs and cook away.

No chopping, no deciding what to eat, no wasting precious time. This meal prep is simple when you do a few days at a time. You can add variety by changing up the meat or adding cheese or not.

I always add in Everything But the Bagel seasoning to give my breakfast some added flavor. Give it a try you won’t be disappointed.

I am always full and energized after this meal and it’s so easy to make and cleanup is a cinch. This is a also a great way to show your teens how to start the day off right with a good meal and a little pre planning.

Another healthy hack from 2 Chicks and a Pen. Helping you get healthy in 2020 and beyond one meal hack at a time.

healthy hacks

The Swap

The meal prep swap. How does it work?  What are the benefits?

This is another blog that is just a tidbit for anyone who can benefit.

Each week meal prepping can be boring or tedious. Time constraints could limit what you can make forcing you to eat the same chicken recipe for multiple days. Things could be worse, but what if there was a way to switch up the ordinary?

Grab yourself four friends who eat healthy. Set a side a day and place for the swap. Pick your menu and start your meal prep.

Instead of meal prepping 5 chicken dishes for yourself, you keep one and bring the other four to the swap.

One friend makes spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs with marinara. One friend makes Greek chicken with a cucumber, tomato and onion salad. One friend makes a chicken bowl with black beans, corn, riced cauliflower and veggies. And the final dish is a shrimp and avocado dish. These are just a sample but the picture above actually has egg salad full of veggies, turkey sausage and cabbage with cucumber side, riced cauliflower with beef sausage and hard boiled eggs, and spaghetti squash seasoned with Everything but the Bagel seasoning (a must have) with turkey.

You basically bring you 4 meals and trade with the other four participants. You end up with 5 different meals for the next few days (yours plus the other four). Variety is in front of you.

You may even try something you never would have made and loved it. You could also get a dud meal. That’s the little risk you take for escaping the ordinary. This may be too much planning week after week but here and there it can easily break up the cycle of boring meal prep.

Be sure to set expectations in your group about capturing all ingredients, measurements and of course sharing the recipe. For me it works great when a friend messaged me the details from Myfitnesspal. I just copy and paste and move on to the next meal.

Just a fun way to spend some time with friends, promote heathy eating and maybe even keep a friend accountable for tracking their eating or meal prepping.

More healthy hacks coming your way in 2020 from 2 Chicks and a Pen.

fitness and nutrition, friendship, healthy hacks

Monday Madness

Today’s post isn’t about a lot of words or wisdom. Rather it’s about practical and useful knowledge.

My day started like most: walking the dog and hitting the box for a sweat session. A little koala challenge to put my Monday in high gear with my gal pal Tashi. Maybe I will describe what a koala challenge is in another post.

Then the average ordinary case of the Mondays set in. It’s a not-so-fabulous word used to describe a Monday: WORK. How do you attack a Monday when it’s rainy and blah? Here’s a nice hack for you:

BUT FIRST COFFEE. And not just any cup of coffee. A protein-packed coffee that is good for your macros. You get the sweet taste and the caffeine but without the calories and creamer you get at the big coffee chains. And most likely you are saving a few bucks.

The hack is a brewed cup of your favorite coffee. Add your favorite protein, mine is, of course, Salted Caramel from Teamkattouf Nutrition. I may be partial just because they list KAT on their tub and those are my initials. Then all you have to do is grab your handy dandy frother and get to work. Actually it’s no work at all.

This little hack can turn a sour Monday into a productive day. Of course it can do the trick any other day as well. Hope you enjoyed my coffee hack this morning.

This post is dedicated to my friend Kim who taught me this trick a while back and let me sample her protein. Everyone needs a friend like Kim in their life.