Blackberry Apple Crisp

It's the time of year to visit the locally growing wild blackberry bushes!  The berries are ripe, juicy, delicious, and full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Go get some.

For this recipe I also use wild apples, which I found growing on a tree beside the local beach.  These apples are small and somewhat tart.  You can substitute another type of apple, cutting back the number of apples from 6 to 4.  Or try out a different berry or combination of berries.  Have fun and enjoy this yummy and nutritious crisp that can be used as a pre workout snack.

RECIPE

Fruit Filling:

6 small wild apples, peeled + cored + chopped into small bite sized pieces

2 1/2 cups of blackberries

1/3 cup brown sugar (this recipe is not too sweet; if you prefer more sweetness increase this amount)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

Topping:

1 1/2 cups extra thick rolled oats* (see below for why I choose organic)

1 cup white flour*

3/4 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup melted butter

Directions:

Butter a 9 x 11 " baking dish.  

Mix all fruit filling ingredients and place in baking dish.

Mix together topping ingredients and pat down over the fruit filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Enjoy!!

 

*I choose organic ingredients as much as possible.  For oats and flour, I prefer organic in order to avoid glyphosate which is sprayed on grains in conventional farming. 

 

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

Take a moment to think about your overall health and wellness.  Choose one area where you would like to see a change.  This could be increasing the amount of time you participate in fitness activities each week, reducing intake of a certain unhealthy food, quitting smoking, getting a better night's sleep, or incorporating meditation into your routine.  These are just a few of the hundreds of possible goals a person could have with respect to their health.  

Once you have one idea in mind of an area for change, state it in the form of a goal.  State it in a way so that you will know when the goal is achieved.  For example "get in better shape" is vague, and it can be difficult to determine when this has happened.  However, "each week I will attend two yoga classes and go for one 45 minute walk for the next month" is an objective goal.  At the end of each week, and again at the end of the month, it can be determined if the goal was met.  

For more details on how to set and write goals, look up S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.  A quick search online will produce many well written articles, so I won't repeat that here. 

Once you have defined your wellness goal, take this important step:  get out a piece of paper and a pen/pencil/coloured pencil.  Write that goal down in big letters, taking up the whole paper.  This gets posted somewhere you will see it everyday.  You can also take a photo of your written goal and make it your screensaver, so you will see it throughout the day.  The act of physically writing it down and frequently looking at your goal will switch your brain into gear to make it happen.  

Now take that overall goal and decide what steps need to happen.  With the goal listed above, going to yoga and walking, you may need to purchase a pass at the yoga studio, check your walking shoes, call up a friend and make a plan so you have a walking partner, organize childcare, check out the yoga studio schedule, etc.  Each of these steps carries you on your way toward the goal.  Take out another piece of paper.  Write out all the steps.  As you achieve each one, put a big (I mean BIG) check mark beside the item.  It will feel great as you check things off your list.  Don't do it in your head, do this physically.  

Get out your calendar.  This can be on your laptop, phone, diary, whatever you prefer.  Schedule time to achieve your goal.  These time slots are as important and non-negotiable as any other in there.  If you have scheduled 7:30-7:45 am meditation on Tuesday, then on Tuesday morning make sure you are ready at 7:25 with everything you need for a quiet 15 minutes.  

When you see your posted goal, when you notice the entry in your calendar, smile and feel proud. You are working toward a positive change.  Give yourself a mental and maybe physical pat on the back.  If there are slips, which will happen, do not beat yourself up! Tomorrow is another day and a chance to get back at it.

What is your health and wellness goal going to be?  

Hot Weather Hydration

5 reasons to stay hydrated and 5 ways to get your fluids!

Drinking water and staying hydrated are always important components of a healthy lifestyle, and key considerations in a fitness program.  As summer approaches with warm and sunny weather, the outdoors call us to walk, run, hike, swim, cycle, and attend outdoor fitness classes.  What's better than outdoor yoga?  During activities in hot weather it becomes even more critical to consider hydration.  This article describes 5 reasons to stay hydrated and 5 ways to get your fluids. 

Reasons to Stay Hydrated:

1.  Increased energy.  One of the first signs of dehydration is a sluggish, tired feeling.  Going through the day neglecting to drink water is one of the sure ways to experience that late afternoon energy crash.  The last thing you will feel like doing is anything fitness related!  Maintain energy by drinking regularly throughout the day.  If you start feeling lethargic, check in to how much you have hydrated that day.  Try drinking a big glass of water and see if energy levels start to rise.

2.  Stay cool.  Especially in hot weather, we sweat during activity to regulate our body temperature.  Sweating is awesome - the sign of a great workout!  If our body is not properly hydrated, we are not able to fully cool off through sweat.  This can result in dizziness and exhaustion, and at the extreme can lead to in heat stroke which is a serious condition.  So drink lots, sweat lots, and be cool.

3.  Boost endurance.  During activity stamina will drop with the effects of dehydration.  A well hydrated body will experience more endurance and be better prepared to push through the second half of your run, class, or hike!

4.  Prevent headaches.  Studies show that not drinking enough is related to headaches.  Even a mild headache can make us say no to getting outside and getting some exercise.  Headaches are a drag, so use some prevention and drink that water.  

5.  Because I'm Happy!  Mood is affected by hydration.  Feeling uplifted increases motivation and make fitness more fun.  

How to Get Your Fluids:

1.  Carry a water bottle with you at work, in the car, going for a walk.  Make it convenient to stay hydrated.  If a water bottle is in the cup holder of your car, you a likely to sip some water when hopping into and out of the car.  Instead of always having a coffee or tea beside your laptop, try a nice ice water with some lemon squeezed in.  (PS - Choose a re-useable water bottle instead of disposable.  Let's reduce plastics :))

2.  Squeeze a lemon or lime in your water.  This tastes refreshing and is good for you.  Juice from 1/2 lemon provides a good dose of Vitamin C as well as other trace nutrients.

3.  Choose a smoothie for after workout re-fuelling.  Have a blender?  Make a smoothie!  Following a workout, toss into the blender some frozen fruit, milk (or alternative such as soy or almond milk), yogurt, protein powder, and a little maple syrup for taste, and zip it up.  The frozen fruit provides lots of hydration and the protein powder is great for fuelling the body post exercise.  

4.  Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.  Yes, that's right, before coffee!  Try to develop this as a new habit.  Upon getting up in the morning, head first to get yourself a tall glass of water.  Soon you will crave this when you wake up, and then you are on your way to having a hydrated and wonderful day.

5.  Mix electrolyte based drinks 1/2 and 1/2 with water.  If you enjoy drinks such as Gatorade, mix them 1/2 and 1/2 with water.  You will get the taste and the electrolytes, but less sugar, coloring, and other artificial ingredients.  

There are plenty of other reasons to stay hydrated, such as keeping muscles and joints lubricated and skin supple, and loads of ways to increase fluids through out the day.  Find what works for you.  Drink, have energy, be happy!

6 Tips for health and happiness during the holidays!

Welcome to the holiday season.  Christmas time can bring many different emotions, from excitement while we look forward to seeing family and friends, to anxiety about all the expectations.  Feeling cheerful looking forward to food, drink, gifts, and more food, then experiencing guilt for not sticking to our usual healthy habits.  Here are 6 tips to help you hold on tight during the holiday emotional roller coaster!

1.  Don't do everything!  Write out a list of everything you think you should get done during the holidays.  Now take your pen and cross out half of those items.  Keep the ones most meaningful to you.  If you don't enjoy baking, and it is just a stressful "to do" item, cross it off the list!!  No one needs the extra sugar and calories anyway.  Dread writing out Christmas cards:  cross off.  Now you are being environmentally friendly.  Give yourself permission to let go of the should's.  The only thing you should do is be kind.  

2.  Pack the fridge with veggies and fruit you enjoy.  Prior to going to a Christmas party or family event, eat some carrot sticks or an apple.  

3.  Drink water.  It is easy to replace water with hot chocolate, special gingerbread spice coffee drinks, wine, and other beverages that are often full of sugar.  Don't forget water!  Have a big glass first thing in the morning, take a water bottle with you when you go out, and drink water with your apple prior to holiday events.  

4.  Stop and breathe.  It can be easy to go through our day with shallow breaths, especially when stressed.  Take one minute.  Sit comfortably and focus on nothing other than deep breaths.  Notice your body expand and deflate with each full breath.  Let all other thoughts drift away for this one minute.  Deep breaths send signals to the body that result in relaxation and a calm feeling.  

5.  Do some physical activity every day.  10 minutes is great!  Walk around your block before you hop in the car to go to the mall.  Get down on your living room floor and do 10 minutes of your favourite mat exercises.  (Or even your not-so-favourite)

6.  Have a sense of humour.  Expecting a perfect holiday season?  Hahahaha ...  Perfect does not happen.  Find the humour.  Tree falls over after you have completed decorating it.  That is really funny.  Burned the special dish you were preparing.  Put a smile on your face.  Now you have a good story to tell.  Laughing is good for us.  Watch the movie "Elf" with Will Ferrell.  Again.  

 

50+ Fit and Fiery

Age 50 and over.  What is happening?  Well lots of changes, in our bodies, our minds, and in our lives.  As I turned 50 I realized that the title that I most cherished over the past 23 years, "Mom of Minor Children", no longer applied.  This also affected my social life as hanging out with the other hockey/soccer/cheer parents was over.  Mentally, we often grapple at this age with reflections of our adult life to this point, and what challenges we want to take on going forward (if any).  Okay, now the physical changes.  I have always been a fit person but now the weight seems easier to stay on, harder to come off.  Other "fun" changes include menopause, new or enhanced medical conditions, past injuries that are giving us more problems.  Fun indeed.  

Well, let's not make this a downer!  Being this age means we now have the time to invest in ourselves, explore interests, try new activities, focus on our health.  We are less in a daily survival mode of meals, laundry, bills, kids sports, career, groceries, etc.  Coming to the "Fit" part of the title, having some free time to breathe means we can investigate new types of fitness, and find out what works for us.  In my late 40s I discovered Pilates.  Both as a participant, and then as a certified Mat Pilates instructor, I fell in love with this form of fitness.  The benefits are many for all ages, and in the 50+ age group, the specific outcomes are great.  Core strength means a flatter tummy, whittled down waist, strong back, better posture, and improved balance.  

Have you ever noticed a picture of you that someone else took, and learned something about yourself?  That happened to me a few years ago.  I looked at a couple photos, and thought "what is going on with my posture?  Not good!"  So I became aware, and self corrected when I remembered, but once I started doing Pilates it became more and more natural to go through the day with a proper posture due to strengthening and stretching the appropriate muscles.  I have now had that photo experience more recently, but with a better outcome:  "Hey, my posture looks really good in this photo, a photo that I did not know was being taken (and therefore did not stand up straight just for the photo-op.)"

So in our more mature ages, we can take fit to a new level.  Trying out new things, finding what you love, and have fun at, and working a variety of physical fitness activities into your life.  

So in addition to being 50+ and Fit, what about "Fiery"?  A definition of fiery is "consisting of fire or burning strongly and brightly".  Ya baby, I like the idea of burning strongly and brightly.  Some synonyms are "fierce, hot, spirited, sizzling".  Apply these concepts to yourself and see if you don't feel sassy and sit up a little taller.  Yes, let's be Fiery.  Take a moment to think about what that word means to you.  Take a chance, try something new, laugh out loud, turn up the music and dance by yourself, learn a new skill.  Burn strongly and brightly my friends.  

What is age 50+?  A time to have a different kind of freedom, a time to take charge of health and fitness, a time to try something new.  A time to take deep breaths, smile, and enjoy.  

PSSST:  Scroll down to the bottom of this page and sign up for my newsletter!  :)

Healthy, Fit, and Aging?

Check out the article I wrote for "Living" magazine using this link:

http://www.sunshinecoastmagazines.com/2017/november/#?page=32

The article discussed the benefits and considerations of exercise as we get older.  The natural aging process affects our bones, joints, muscles, brain .. really all parts of our bodies.  The good news is we can do something to slow or reverse these processes:  stay active!  For example, resistance exercises using dumbbells, resistance bands, or even our own body weight against gravity, will build muscles and counteract the gradual muscle loss that occurs with age.  We can stay strong, fit, and continue to do the activities we love!