Take a Leap and Reset Your Life

It’s Leap Day. What are you going to do with your extra day in the year? We all sometimes wish for extra hours in our days. Well, we have an extra twenty-four hours this week.

What’s your “leap?”

Maybe this is the day you decide to do something amazing. Maybe it’s the day you take that leap of faith and start a new life somewhere, start a new exercise program or just start going for a walk once a day. Sometimes, one small step is actually a leap of faith. It can lead to a break through in that one area of your life you really want to repair. You may not see it yet but you know and trust that if you keep moving consistently you’ll see new levels of success, organization, fitness and health.  Why not use a Leap Day or a Leap Year as your jumping point?

For some of us, this could be the perfect day to reset our New Year’s resolutions. The end of February has traditionally been the time of year fitness centers and gyms see attendance start to decline (after the usual rush right after January 1).  We’ve all either done it ourselves or witnessed it: People getting excited, saying this will be the year I tone up, get in shape, lose weight, run a 5K and so on. Then, about two months into the New Year, that zeal and fire just seems to fizzle out. Maybe it’s because we had a huge amount of ‘life’ going on. It could be that you were blessed with a bad winter cold that morphed into the bronchitis attack from you-know-where. Or, it might be that your kids took turns getting sick, one week after another, passing it to you and your spouse. Whatever was going on, your goal of getting in shape, exercising daily, cleaning out your garage, attending church, being more spiritual, stopping smoking, quitting caffeine or just getting more fresh air took a backseat to other things.

Create a ‘Reset Your Life’ Program

Why not let Leap Day (or whatever day you read this!) be THE day you start your  own Reset My Life program? Do something to make it “official.” It might be something as simple as picking up a wall calendar from your local dollar store and making that very first “X” to show TODAY as the day you began to change whatever needs changing or fix whatever needs fixing.

Need more ceremony to go with your new decision? Why not kick things off with more flourish and host an impromptu party? Do it tonight. Light some candles around the house. Play some party music while you organize the closets and resolve to never let them get cluttered again. Trying to eat right? Meet friends for dinner and celebrate ordering healthy food for dinner on your first night resetting your life.  Drink a toast to your new life (with sparkling water of course!) Time to start exercising? Lace up your shoes after work or after the kids get home and start a “Family Walking Night.”

While the saying “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is true, only you can designate the start date of an official “Reset My Life” program and tailor it to your needs.

So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step. Design your life. Truly, it only needs to be one small step at a time. Walkingspree likes to recommend a walking program simply because it is so easy to do and offers so many health benefits that lead to positive lifestyle changes. Still, the reality is, this is your life.

What “leap” will you take today?

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Using Your Garden to Eat Smart: Choosing Your Veggies

When trying to decide which vegetables to plant, you’ll want to consider more than just which ones you like or don’t like.

It’s not something we normally think about (unless we’re experienced gardeners) but it’s important to know that there are two kinds of vegetables when it comes to planting a garden.

Vegetables are labeled warm-season or cool-season, depending on the weather necessary for optimal growth.

Many parts of the country are still in what is termed the cool-season. Knowledgable gardeners planting during this time choose cool-season vegetables that grow consistently at the right temperatures. Sunset recommends averaging between 10° to 15°F/6° to 8°C below those normally required by warm-season veggies. These vegetables can be planted in early spring for an early summer harvest and again in late summer so they’ll harvest in the fall and even in the winter for milder climates.

Photo Credit: Northeast Nursery

Warm-season vegetables, which include peppers and tomatoes, need both warm soil and higher temperatures to grow well and keep producing. They can be killed by frost and should always be planted after the last frost in spring.

Photo Credit: Northeast Nursery

Here’s a detailed article by Sunset on choosing the right vegetables, how to plant and harvest them.

Gardening on a Budget: Choosing Vegetables with Value

Trying to save money on food by gardening? It’s true that growing your own vegetables can decrease your grocery bills. Some green thumbs lower their food costs by hundreds of dollars a year. If saving money is your goal, choose your veggies carefully and you’ll be eating healthy and lowering your grocery expenses.

Some vegetables – due to cost and time consumed growing – aren’t worth the money or the effort if you’re just trying to save some cash.  If you are going for more bang for your buck, expert gardeners recommend skipping artichokes and cauliflower.   They are trickier to grow and often more susceptible to pests.

Likewise, onions and potatoes won’t save you any serious money either – mostly because the difference in seeding isn’t much different than what you’d spend at the store.

If you are looking for a good use of your budget, choose salad greens (estimated savings of $300 for close to five months worth of salads!) and plant heirloom cherry tomatoes. These tomatoes are said to save even more money than larger tomatoes because they have a longer growing season and more abundant crops.

For more detailed information on how to save money growing vegetables check this article at Bottom Line Personal.

Up Next Week in Eat Smart: Easy, Healthy Recipes Using Fresh Vegetables.

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Eat, Drink and Exercise?

There are numerous things you already know to do before you workout, exercise or go for a brisk walk. These things might include dressing in your best workout duds, wearing the right shoes, ear buds are in and your Fitbit, Garmin or other wearable device is strapped on.

But what about the things you aren’t supposed to do? Some things are no brainers. Drinking alcohol while you’re working out or eating a huge meal right before you hit the gym are both examples of things we know are not good for us while other actions that seem “okay” are actually not pre-exercise approved.

Here are five things to keep in mind before you plan your next walk or workout.

(1)      Avoid Drinking Alcohol. Period. You know that one glass of wine you enjoy at happy hour? It can lower your blood-sugar levels, which can lead to shakiness and weakness. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause drowsiness, narrowing of blood vessels and other side effects.  None of these things lead to a great workout or productive walk. Skip the adult beverages before your walk. It’s just common sense.

(2)      Avoid the “Wrong” Foods Before a Walk. This means you’ll want to avoid foods high in protein or fats. These types of foods take longer to digest, leave you feeling overly full and cause you to walk slower and workout at less than your full potential.

(3)      Choose the “Right” Foods if You Need to Eat First. To avoid the overly full feeling mentioned in #3, you’ll want to choose foods like a handful of pretzels, a small bowl of vegetable soup, a piece of fruit or other simple carbohydrates. Remember to use personal common sense. If foods are supposed to be “light” yet are an issue for your own digestive issues, look for different options. You don’t want an upset digestive system to deal with during your walk or workout.

(4)      Don’t Drink Too Much Water. That’s right. It seems counterproductive when you think about how often we hear to stay hydrated and to drink more water.  But, experts say that drinking too much water before a walk can cause you to experience painful cramps. Recommendations say drinking 1 cup of water per hour two hours prior to your walk is best. It’s also a good idea to take a bottle of water on your walk and remember to sip about every 10 minutes. When walking more than an hour (or if you sweat heavily) you’ll want to rehydrate with a sports drink that has electrolytes in it.

(5)      Avoid “Over” Stretching or “Static” Stretching. Again, this is one that we all have heard we should do. Who hasn’t heard that you need to stretch before a workout in order to avoid soreness? Well, apparently over stretching impedes muscle performance. Studies indicates that holding the position for 30–60 seconds will increase flexibility in muscle tissue; however, done before activity or workout, static stretching may actually impede the muscle’s ability to perform.

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Use Your Garden to Eat Smart: Get Started Gardening

If you enjoy healthy dishes using fresh vegetables and herbs, then you probably have tried gardening or you’ve thought about it at least once or twice. Spring is fast approaching and if you live in warmer climates, spring may start as early as late February or March. Now is the time to take action and consider starting a garden. Fresh vegetables, tomatoes and herbs are great to have on hand for quickly thrown together healthy meals.

This week, we’ll start a three part series with a few tips on setting up your garden, choosing what to plant and ending with a few recipes that include fresh veggies and herbs.

Never planted a garden? Worried that you don’t have a green thumb and that you’ll kill everything before it ever gets a chance to see the light of day? No worries! We aren’t going to tell you that if you follow any specific instructions, you’ll be an instant success. That’s not reality. What we WILL tell you is that you are not alone and to remember you’re “experimenting” until you get it right. If you think about it, life itself is one big experiment. We are always making mistakes, learning and starting over. Period. Gardening isn’t any different. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, we’re going to keep our notes here very basic and encourage you to research (DIY) do-it-yourself ideas for gardening online.

Setting Up Your Garden – Basics

First, (after deciding where you want to place your garden, how big your garden should be and marking it off) the experts say you’ll want to kill the existing grass or weeds in that area.  There are various ways to do that. Some of them involve using chemical weed killer. We like the more natural approach. It’s easier, safer, healthier and less expensive.  All you’ll require is a stack of newspapers or some flattened cardboard boxes.

A note about using boxes: Remove staples or plastic taping. Your boxes should be flattened into one long layer. Choose heavy cardboard that is not heavily colored.

When using newspaper, you’ll need about eight to ten layers.

Newspapers in the present day use a soy-based ink. This is good because it means that the ink will not be harmful to or impede plant growth. Avoid using the “glossy” inserts from the newspaper or magazine pages.

Once you’ve acquired enough newspapers or cardboard, spread the layers over the whole area of the garden bed. Don’t forget to overlap any edges so there aren’t any gaps or spaces where grass or weeds can grow through. This works to get rid of weeds and unwanted grass because the layers of newspaper or cardboard basically suffocate and prevent them from growing.

Walkingspree like this method because it is simple, involves recycling, uses easily acquired supplies and – bonus – it’s organic. As time passes, the paper (or cardboard) moistens, disintegrates and even feeds earthworms in your soil.

Now you can fill the garden with topsoil. Next week, we’ll include a few tips on choosing what to plant based on climate and location.

If you need tips on choosing topsoil or how to create your own compost, try these links:

How to Make a Trashcan Composter

Composting 101 – How to Make Your Own Compost

7 Tips for Choosing the Right Soil

How to Choose a Good Topsoil

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8 Ways Exercise Helps Your Heart

Source: NY Times


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