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Food for Thought

Movement for Heart Health

Tips from real moms to get your heart pumping!
Movement for Heart Health

MOVEMENT FOR HEART HEALTH

 With February being "Heart Health Month," the importance to keep moving is a message I hope to help reach audiences young to old. I am also here to remind you that all exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective.

As a classical Pilates instructor for more than 13 years, movement is truly a part of my everyday life and work. The Pilates method is a wonderful example of exercise that provides gentle stretch and strength and can be adapted to any audience, age, or injury. The best part? No equipment is needed!


A phrase often heard in my home is “It’s not just about what’s on the outside- it’s about what’s INSIDE!” I want my children to grow up knowing that exercise and movement is part of what keeps us healthy, feeling well and strong. This doesn’t have to always be a sport or dance class; I am also a huge proponent of outside play, where I know my kids are climbing, swinging, digging, and exploring for hours on end. The important part? They’re moving, and it’s fun.

If you’re having trouble finding movement motivation, keep trying new things until something makes you smile and feel good on the INSIDE. I remind my clients often that just because your body isn’t sore after a workout, doesn’t mean you are not getting the benefits of exercise. Keep trying, keep moving, and your body will thank you- inside and out!

 

The 100: This Pilates warm up exercise is meant to warm up the body. Pump your arms up and down like you are treading water! Legs can remain on your mat or in a tabletop position.

The Roll Up: Roll up with control and reach and stretch to your toes. Roll down to the mat and focus on feeling each part of your spine touch the mat. Use your hands to help you up and down if needed.

Rolling like a ball: This fun exercise if all about balance! Roll back to massage your spine, and roll up and try not to let your feet touch the ground. Make it fun!

Shoulder Bridge: This exercise engages your core and legs. Lift the hips and create a "bridge" while pressing your hands and feet into the mat. As you roll down, feel each part of your spine touch the mat to increase your back flexibility.

Side Kicks: Keep your upper body still while you kick your legs up and control their descent down. This is a great exercise that stretches and strengthens the legs!

Teaser: This is a tough one! Keep working on "rolling like a ball", and once mastered, try to come up and balance with your legs extended in a V shape. Grab a partner to help you roll up and down!

Spine Stretch Forward: This lovely exercise opens up your lower back and stretches your legs. Grab a friend and gently stretch each other while keeping your feet pressed together in a small straddle stretch.

 

 Submitted by Meghan Juras, Guest Author

Find more pilates tips @thepilatesmama

 

Outdoor Adventures With Little People

A few tips from a family of rock climbing nomads

 

“Mom, is that lemon stone?” Lemon what? What could he possibly be… oh.  “Do you mean LIMEstone?” We were hiking up to a climbing area near a small town called Rifle, Colorado.  Clearly, some of our obsession with rocks had taken hold in this little dude - maybe just not quite all of it. 

 

Back in March of 2020 - COVID had just hit.  Of course everyone lived different versions of the same thing - everything closed.  We were scared and unsure.  We isolated ourselves dutifully and did everything we could online.  Our 850 square foot apartment in Portland, Oregon, packed to the gills with stuff, quickly began to feel too small for just one of us, much less four.  We woke up irritated and went to bed grumpy.  Our ‘adventures’ were limited to walks around the block or desperately searching for sunshine on the weekend. So after a short time (that felt like an eternity), we couldn’t take it anymore.  

Fed up and longing for something different, in May of that year we packed our suitcases and drove out to an Airbnb in Wyoming to spend a month away. A month turned into two, and that summer we packed up our entire apartment into storage, and initiated a huge experiment - could we live life in a way that we dreamed about, instead of how we felt we were supposed to? 

We’ve been adventuring non-stop (in between two full-time remote jobs and remote 2nd grade) ever since. 

Spending so much time outdoors with a now 5 and 8 year old (ages 3 and 6 when we started this lifestyle), we have tested many different ways to keep our kids happy and excited when out adventuring - from hiking to spending all day outdoors at the climbing area.  Here’s a few things we think work really well to help maximize your time outside (without tears)!

 

Tip #1: Layers

Whether you pack an extra pair of pants in case it’s cold while you’re hiking, or put a set of dry clothes in the car for after the adventure, extra layers are key.  If you’re out and about in a place that’s wet (like the coast or in the Pacific NW several months of the year) don’t forget to include dry shoes and socks for after the adventure - you’ll avoid lots of meltdowns when those little people feel snuggly.

Tip #2: Food (and also water)

Most days it seems like our kids eat constantly - so making sure you provide enough food, with enough variety, is clutch to keep up kiddo energy.  We love the Rover - small compartments for each item make the individual snacks manageable for kiddos, and the variety keeps it interesting for them to keep opening up and snacking.  I try to make sure to include some kid friendly veggies, fruits, and a protein, along with those simple carbs my kids gravitate towards.

Tip #3: Slow down the pace

Especially when we adults are destination oriented on a hike or climbing approach trail, slow kid paces can seem torturous.  But often that’s where the magic happens - looking at the insects that live off the trail, hunting for mushrooms, taking a minute to explore that cave that’s off trail.  After all, part of the goal isn’t just about getting to the place you’re headed - it’s about making sure your kids love the journey as well.  Plus, how will you know whether or not unicorns live in your local forest, unless you look for the signs of them?  (What, your 8 year old isn’t obsessed with unicorns too?)

Tip #4: Bribery

When all else fails, make sure you bring the bribery.  For our kids that’s candy - pieces from the latest holiday they’ve gotten to choose that morning to add to their PlanetBox lunchbox, but also the extra emergency stash I carry in my bag just in case.  I think on our adventure days we all burn a lot more energy than we might think, and sometimes that sugar pick-me-up will get you that last attempt at the rock climb, or get you back to the car without tears.  Or maybe just to the top of the hike at all - we have those days too. 

Oftentimes the hardest part for us is getting out the door - leaving a warm and comfortable house to run around outside can be a difficult transition for kiddos.  But once they are out there, their imaginations take over, and we all enjoy the exercise.  Even after months spent outside most days, there are still new and exciting things for our kiddos to discover, even in the places we’ve spent many, many days. And who knows? Maybe they’ll grow up to be the same kinds of rock hounds their parents are.  Or maybe just their own version.

 

Submitted by Karissa Dunbar, Guest Author

Follow more of  this nomadic family adventures on their Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube pages!

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