Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle Challenge

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #30 – Commit!

Today is the last day of June, which means the last Healthy Lifestyle Challenge post 😦

TODAY I CHALLENGE you to

commit to your health.

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– make time for exercise
– eat clean
– drink water
– spend time with friends
– train your brain
– get enough sleep
– take time for yourself
– be grateful
– wear sunscreen
– stretch
– And be kind to yourself and others!

Commit to lifestyle changes you have made.

Commit to working on the ones you have not yet fully embraced.

Commit to living a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Commit to you!

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Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #29 – Shop Local!

Good Morning, and welcome to our second last Healthy Lifestyle Challenge!

TODAY’S CHALLENGE is to

Hit up your local farmers market for local fresh produce.

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Why?

According to my-market.ca, there are a number of benefits to shopping your local farmers market:

1. Taste Real Flavours: The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers’ market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen in the field and brought directly to you – no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets – food fresh from the farm.

2. Enjoy the Season: The food you buy at the farmers’ market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavours. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in your region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savour sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year.

3. Support Family Farmers: Family farmers are becoming increasingly rare as large agribusiness farms steadily take over food production in Canada. Small family farmers have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

4. Protect the Environment: Food travels an average of 2500 kms to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes greatly to pollution and creates excess trash with extra packaging. Food at the farmers’ market is transported shorter distances and grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5. Nourish Yourself: Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed. The fresh produce you do find is often grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. In many cases it has been irradiated, waxed or gassed in transit. All of these practices have potentially damaging effects on the health of those who eat these foods. In contrast, most food found at the farmers’ market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by building their soil’s fertility and giving their crops the nutrients they need to flourish in the ground and nourish those who eat them.

6. Discover the Spice of Life – Variety: At the Farmers’ Market you find an amazing array of produce that you don’t see in your supermarket; red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, green garlic, watermelon radishes and much much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the diversity (and biodiversity) of our planet, both cultivated and wild!

7. Know Where Your Food Comes From: A regular trip to a farmers’ market is one of the best ways to reconnect with where your food comes from. Farmers themselves sell their produce at the farm stands. Meeting and talking to farmers is a great opportunity to learn more about how food is grown, where it is grown, when it is grown and why!

8. Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes and Meal Ideas: Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers and vendors at the farmers’ market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. They’ll give you ideas for what to have for supper, hand out recipes, and troubleshoot your culinary conundrums.

9. Connect with your Community: Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Going to the Farmers’ Market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The Farmers’ Market is a community gathering place – a place to meet up with friends, bring your children or just get a taste of small-town life often in the midst of a City. Go to the farmers’ market and hear the buzz in the air!

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How?

Here are some great farmers market shopping tips from EVERYDAY Good Thinking

1. Know what’s in season

It’s important to know what’s in season where you live so you can have confidence what you are buying is local and fresh. You’ll find local, in-season produce tastes much better than their supermarket counterparts, and during peak season, you will see prices drop at the farmers market as more producers have similar products.

2. Take your time

It’s best not to rush at the farmers market. Think of your trip as an experience, not a chore. You can bring the kids (many markets have activities for children and have food vendors or entertainment, plus they can learn about food), or just grab a coffee and a freshly made donut and wander for a while before you shop. We recommend you do a lap of the market before purchasing. You will see many of the same offerings at different stands, so if you are looking for a good deal, it helps to peruse and comparison shop before you purchase.

3. Go early (and often)

You’ll find the best selection when the market first opens. The produce won’t be picked over yet, your favorite farm-fresh eggs will still be in stock. You’ll be better able to converse with the farmers without feeling rushed. If you go to the market regularly, you will learn what’s in season and get excited when you see the first local tomatoes hitting the stands. You’ll develop relationships with your food producers and feel even more comfortable asking questions.

4. Bring your own bags

One of the great advantages to shopping at the farmers market is you are supporting the environment through reduced emissions used to transport food. By meeting your farmer at the market directly, you greatly reduce waste. This is especially true if you bring your own reusable shopping bags, a large canvas tote, or a market basket. Many vendors don’t offer plastic bags and the ones that do are usually not very sturdy. You can also recycle your egg cartons or berry crates; just bring them back to the market the next week. Your farmers will be happy to reuse these supplies and grateful for your help.

5. Bring cash

Most farmers market vendors don’t accept credit cards, so bring cash and bring it in small bills if possible. Occasionally, food vendors or suppliers of more expensive products like housewares, wines, meats, or seafood will take cards, but you can play it safe by bringing cash.

6. Know your needs

Sometimes going to the farmers market is almost too much fun! It’s very easy to get caught up in all the beautiful colors and varieties of fruits and vegetables. To reduce the risk of extra food going bad and needing to be thrown out, think ahead about how many nights you plan to cook that week or how many meals you need to prepare. By thinking this through, you’ll have a better idea of how much you should take away from the market. Remember, if there is something you love, you can always buy in bulk (savings!) and preserve the food through one of the many preservation methods, such as canning, pickling or dehydrating.

7. Ask a lot of questions

The farmers at the markets are an underutilized resource for information. Ask as many questions as you can. Ask about how things are grown, ask if they are certified organic, and if they aren’t, ask why not. A lot of certifications are expensive, so farmers don’t get certified even though they may follow organic or natural processes. Feel comfortable asking about how weeds and insects are controlled or where the food is grown. If purchasing meat, you can ask about what the animals are fed and how they are kept. Farmers are often very proud of their work and are happy to answer your questions. Additionally, ask how they like to prepare the foods they sell. Who better to ask for advice than the person who eats, sleeps, and breathes their product!

8. Store foods properly

If you plan on running some other errands after the market or you want to drop off your food and go back to enjoy the festivities, consider bringing a cooler and ice packs along. This will ensure your frozen meats don’t thaw and your herbs don’t wilt. If you aren’t sure how to store your goods, ask the farmers when you buy them. They will be able to give you some tips.

9. Buy ugly stuff

These days, we are so used to how fruits and vegetables look under the bright lights of the grocery store. They are often shiny, plastic-wrapped, or pre-chopped, and there is not a speck of dirt to be found. It is different at the farmers market since many of these foods were picked, pulled, or cut that same morning. Some foods may have had a rudimentary washing, but many will still have some natural leftover dirt from Mother Nature. Weird looking carrots or apples will often taste the best, so don’t pass over an item for minor visual imperfections. The more you shop, the more comfortable you will become with what food looks like directly from the source.

10. Have fun and be flexible

This is the most important tip of all. Farmers markets are all about finding what’s in season, so if you were planning on buying squash and the crop just isn’t in yet, you’ll be out of luck. Keep your shopping plan flexible and make substitutions as necessary. Also, have fun with your purchases. Try new things you’ve never had before and you may just end up with a new favorite food!

Head out to your local farmers market and taste the difference freshness makes!

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Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #28 – Eat Clean

Hello everyone! Happy Friday!

How has your week been? Are you following through with the daily challenges? We’re getting close to the end… I hope you have adopted a few new healthy habits and that they have become part of your healthy lifestyle 🙂

TODAY’S CHALLENGE is to:

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Why?

I’m a huge believer in the Clean Eating lifestyle…here are some of the reasons why…

Clean Eating promotes (source)

  • fat loss
  • weight loss
  • increased energy
  • clearer skin
  • shinier hair
  • better sleep
  • increased mental well-being

And a decreased risk of (source)

  • cardiovascular disease
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • some cancers – colon, prostate, lung, breast

How?

  • Well, I guess the first step is to understand what Clean Eating is….

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Here is a grocery shopping guide to clean eating20130627-215606.jpg

For some great recipes check out the Clean Eating Recipes page in the menu above or go to The Eat Clean Diet or Clean Eating websites.

Share your favourite Clean Eating recipe (or the link to it) in the comments section below. I’m always looking for new ones!Happy Long Weekend to all of my Canadian friends! Have a good one!happy canada day

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #27 – What Are You Thankful For?

TODAY’S CHALLENGE is to

start a list of everything you are thankful for.

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Why?

Research shows that saying ‘thank you’ for the good stuff in life makes for a happier, healthier you!

People who perform daily gratitude
exercises reported higher levels of:

– Alertness
– Enthusiasm
– Determination
– Optimism
– Energy
– Experience less depression and less stress
– Are more likely to help others
– Exercised more regularly
– And made more progress toward personal goals

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How?

Here are a few tips from Greater Good

– Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.

– Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.

– Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.

-Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.

– Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. In fact, one study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”

So, grab a pen and paper and get started!

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Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #26 – Live In the Moment!

Hey Everyone! Hope you are having a great week! Once again this week is f-l-y-i-n-g by! Only 3 more days of school and then it’s Summer Holidays – sort of, but i’ll explain more about that later 🙂

 

Onto TODAY’S CHALLENGE:

live in the moment

Why?

Do you ever feel as if life is passing by way too quickly? That you have no idea where the day/week/month went? Maybe things are crazy busy at work. Maybe there’s a lot going on at home. There’s a good chance that you are so busy thinking about what needs to be done that you’re totally missing out on what’s going on.

Sound familiar?

If so, it’s time to start living in the moment.

How?

Here are 8 ways to help you live in the moment (according to stop and breathe):

1. Tune in to your senses
Tuning in to your senses is one of the best ways to connect with the present and truly live in the moment.  Unfortunately, we all too often dull our senses.  Sometimes we do it intentionally, such as when we block out the sounds around us with music headphones.  Other times we simply ignore our senses.  Have you ever devoured a meal only to realize you didn’t take the time to taste your food?  If you acknowledge and fully experience your senses you’ll become much more present in your life. 

2. Single-task, don’t multi-task
If your attention is divided between multiple tasks it is impossible to live in the moment.  Instead, choose to single-task and focus fully on experiencing the task at hand. Focus on one task at a time and live in the moment.

3. Find your flow
Athletes describe being in “The Zone” as their thoughts and actions flowing seamlessly and with ease.  Artists describe a similar experience in which their creative process takes over and a paintbrush directs itself across a canvas or words effortlessly flow on to the page.  These are excellent examples of living in the moment.  Have you ever experienced this kind of flow in your life?  Perhaps when you cook, when you dance or even when you become immersed in work you’re passionate about?  Spend time doing these activities and when you experience that flow know that you are truly living in the moment.

4. Step back
Most of us are furthest from living in the moment when in stressful situations.  Stress forces us out of the present and we begin to think ahead to the future or to rehash the past in our minds. The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, step back.  View the situation as an external witness and watch the events unfold.  This will help you to remain present and better able to respond rather than react.

5. Breathe
The list of responsibilities and distractions we face in life is endless.  They can become overwhelming at times and will easily pull us out of the moment.  The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by thoughts racing through your head, breathe.  By doing so you’ll become refocused and return to the moment.

6. Meditate
Taking the time to breathe properly can help you refocus and return to the present moment when your thoughts become overwhelming.  However, meditation can help you calm your mind and de-clutter those distracting thoughts that cause you to loose focus in the first place.

7. Face your self-conscious fears
It’s impossible to live in the moment if you’re worried what others may think of you.  It is intimidating to put ourselves in the spotlight when we’re self-conscious, but it’s necessary if we’re going to live in the moment.Look for opportunities to face your fear one small step at a time.  Once you’ve gained more confidence, you’ll be less concerned with the opinions of others and be better able to experience the moment.

8. Ignore the future and let the past be
If we’re focused on the future or the past, we’re not in the moment. Let the past be, ignore what is still to come, and simply experience the now.

It is impossible to always live in the moment, especially given the hectic world we live in.  However, by using some of the tips above we can spend more time connected to the present and less time distracted by what has happened or what’s still to come.

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Have a great day, and remember be present!

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #25 – It’s Getting Hot Out There!

Wow! I can’t believe is is already the 25th of June…crazy!

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TODAY’S CHALLENGE is designed to increase your awareness. As temperatures rise it us important to:

learn the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses.

Why and How?

Heat illnesses become more common as the weather gets hotter, especially for children and the elderly. What can start out as simple thirst and fatigue can quickly progress into something much more serious.

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It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

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Be prepared, stay cool and stay safe! Enjoy the sunshine!

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge #24 – Workout Your Brain

TODAY’S CHALLENGE is to

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Why?

Your body isn’t the only thing that needs a workout – your brain also needs stimulation to stay in top shape. It is believed that by exercising your brain, you can create a “cognitive reserve” that will help you stay sharp as you age and reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that doing just one brain boosting workout a week can reduce the risk of dementia by 7% – increase the frequency and you can reduce your risk by up to 63%!

How?

It’s easy, do at least one of these brain boosting activates today (and hopefully everyday for the rest of your life!)

  • do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle
  • play a board game
  • play cards
  • read
  • write for pleasure
  • play a musical instrument
  • do the Rubik’s cube for 15 minutes
  • knit
  • garden
  • play chess

Don’t forget, physical activity is also good for the brain so get out there and do your 30 minutes of activity today!