Chocolate-Drizzled Peanut Butter Cookies

Hi Everyone!

First of all, I’d like to wish a very Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads out there…but especially to mine, who-in my humble opinion-is the world’s greatest. I’m not sure if he knows this, but I feel extremely fortunate that I can say that my dad has had a major influence in my love of living a healthy, active lifestyle.

From the moment I could walk, I was running and signed up for sports. I, along with all of my siblings, grew up playing year-round sports and always being pushed to be the best we could be from our dad, who was a naturally strong and great athlete himself. And I don’t mean he pushed us from afar, like hearing about our games over dinner because he wasn’t there…I mean in the moment and in all of the moments leading up to the games my dad was (and still is) always there. He would spend his days off taking us to sports academies and camps, traveling leagues, and practicing drills with us in the backyard or at a nearby field. He would make sure to be at every single game of ours, even if it meant coming straight from work and showing up in his uniform. My dad was always there in my peripherals: when I was up at bat, on the field, or on the court-to shake his head slightly frustrated if he knew we could do better/weren’t trying our best, to give some constructive advice after a tough moment, to give a roar/hoot/holler from the stands that exuded pure pride and love, and sometimes even to drag us to the hospital for x-rays or MRI’s, when we inevitably injured ourselves…and then to console our defeated, tearful selves afterwards when we realized our season was over and we needed surgery. No matter what the situation, my dad was always there to hug us afterwards, look us in the eye, and tell us that he loved us…every single time.

And even though I don’t live in New Jersey with my parents anymore and my current active lifestyle is a very different kind from what it once was (now mainly running and yoga), I know my dad is still just as proud and tries to stay as involved in and as up to date in my healthy, active lifestyle as possible. Although I selfishly wish that I could see him in my peripherals during every road race I run, I know he’s thinking of me during the race and makes sure to check in with encouraging texts and phone calls. He might not even fully understand the whole blogging/social media concept, but he’s one of my most loyal and supportive Meg in the Meantime followers, too! How lucky am I to have him?! So thanks, Dad for caring enough to always be there.

And so, here’s to you dad: the greatest man I know and a fellow peanut butter lover. I want to dedicate today’s Sunday Snacks edition to something that he would enjoy eating–lucky for me, I am home in New Jersey this weekend with my family and so my dad can actually test them out, instead of just commenting about how good my healthy snacks look. Per usual, I trolled Pinterest for some healthy peanut butter desserts and came across a peanut butter cookie recipe from Myra of The Happy Healthy Freak. With a healthy dark chocolate, coconut oil drizzle on top, I knew right away that these small, sweet, and healthy treats would be the way to go for Father’s Day.

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These cookies are made from only five ingredients, are low in sugar, low in carbs, and takes less than a half hour to make (about 10-15 minutes of prep time and about 15 minutes of baking time). This particular recipe will yield 20-24 cookies, depending on how large you want to them, but I believe the whole purpose to to keep them on the smaller, bite-size end.

According to my dad, they’re a little too delicious to be healthy. He said (and I quote): “Are you sure these are healthy?? They seem too good to be healthy…” Haha! So since these cookies are impressively “Dad-tested, Dad-approved” (trust me, he’s not easily impressed) let’s get straight to how to make them so you and your loved ones can enjoy, as well!

Chocolate-Drizzled Peanut Butter Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (I used the kind with honey in mine for extra sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup organic sweetener (I used Stevia, but there are many different kinds)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil

PeanutButterCookie-ingredients

Other Items Needed:

  • mixing bowl
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • whisk or electric beater
  • baking sheet
  • fork

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine peanut butter, sweetener, and egg in a bowl-mix together well.
  3. Roll the mixture together into 1 inch balls (or a little smaller)-place on baking sheet.
  4. Press down on rolled balls with a fork.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes (but check at 12-13 minutes, if you rolled smaller balls).
  6. While cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together in the microwave.
  7. Once cookies are cooled, drizzle the chocolate mix on top.
  8. Let the chocolate drizzle harden* and enjoy!

*You can place the cookies in the refrigerator to serve chilled and really harden up the chocolate, or keep the cookies softer, warmer, and gooier and keep out in room temperature.

PeanutButterCookie-ballsPeanutButterCookie-forked

PeanutButterCookie-baked

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Besides inspiring my love of peanut butter, my dad inspires me to forever strive for greatness; to respect and appreciate the pride that comes after a long, hard days work; to always keep challenging myself and to never stop until my “good” is better than my “best” in all aspects of my life…and I’m so grateful to have that kind of mindset in my adult life. What about you? Think about what your dad (or some kind of father-figure) has inspired you to do/become today. Was your dad your number one fan growing up? What special traditions did you have together growing up-something that maybe is meant for just you and him? What’s some of your favorite memories? Make sure to give him a call and tell him or, if you’re lucky enough to live nearby, go visit and tell him in-person.

In the meantime, if your dad is a peanut butter fan like mine is, bake these cookies for him and enjoy a special conversation over a healthy snack together. And don’t forget-look him in the eye and tell him you love him, too!

Happy Sunday,
-Meg

Wellness Tip: Unplug and Reset

Happy Wednesday, Friends!

As some of you may already know, my boyfriend and I recently got away from the city and booked a tiny house getaway experience in the Lake Sunapee-region of New Hampshire via the Harvard start-up Getaway. Whether you read the brief overview of our experience through one of my older blog posts “Get Movin’!” or if you saw us featured on the CBS This Morning piece “Startup ‘Getaway’ encourages short vacations in tiny houses” (hold on…can we stop to acknowledge that Ryan and I basically became national celebrities for 4 minutes last week?!), I hope you are able to grasp how necessary unplugging is/can be.

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Getaway supports and focuses in on everything I should be doing more of: recharging and reconnecting and living simply. There’s honestly not much we need to be happy. For me on that getaway, all I needed was Ryan, a space to wander around and explore, a roaring campfire, a deck of cards, a hearty meal complete with s’mores, and a place to rest my tired head at night. And, while the main purpose of our trip was not to necessarily partake in the social experiment of unplugging and rather to experience living life in a tiny house (a lifestyle that Ryan is quite obsessed with), I quickly fell in love with the concept of just leaving my phone be and doing whatever we pleased, whenever we pleased without any concept or care for time or other responsibilities. That way of life is not sustainable, nor realistic for me (this was a mini vacation, after all), but it was an extremely refreshing reset to my usual every day of being overly-connected to anything and everything at the tip of my fingers…and that really resonated with me.

And so, on this edition of Wednesday Wellness, I want to encourage you all to find a way to unplug, if even just for a designated hour each day (sleeping hours don’t count)! You don’t have to run away from your city life, throw away your computer, lock up your phone, or anything dramatic, but rather just set aside some time to mindfully step away from the screens in your life.

If you’re struggling to think of how to execute this unplugging hour, here’s what’s been working for me: running. Running with a phone is an inconvenience for me-I don’t like running with armbands, I don’t have a waistband that’s large enough to carry my iPhone 6S, and, frankly, I’d rather start or end my work day with some quiet reflection time or quality catch up time with someone that I care about. As a result, running has become something that I specifically look forward to because I know that it is my do-not-disturb time; my solo time; my catch up time; my time to quiet and calm all of the hundreds of thoughts and ideas that are constantly running around inside my head; my time to give gratitude and thanks for the amazing life I live in this wonderful city…and that is priceless and so necessary to do more of.

If you’re in need of some other ideas to kickstart your unplugging hour:

  • Pick up a good book and learn something new
  • Write a letter to someone that you love and let them know that you are thinking of them (it really is a lost art!)
  • Ask a friend over and have a face-to-face conversation…catch up on the important areas of your life
  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood or explore somewhere new
  • Stretch and/or meditate
  • Take on a new fitness challenge: abs, push-ups, strength training, cross training, etc.
  • Cook a healthy meal (check out my Sunday Snacks section for some inspiration!)

Honestly, I could go on and on with suggestions, but I’d rather hear some new great ideas from you! How do you love to spend your unplugging hours? What has worked (or not worked!) for you? As always, please comment below or share your thoughts with me on Twitter: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, live well, love well, be well-I look forward to chatting more on Friday,
-Meg

Healthy Enough for Breakfast, Sweet Enough for Dessert!

Hello There!

I don’t know about you, but I can almost never turn down dessert…especially if it’s ice cream, or some kind of frozen treat. So now that we’re moving into the hot summer months, I want to share with you a cool, healthy snack alternative that complements most sweet tooth desires: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana, Yogurt Pops. Yes-almost all of the ingredients are listed right there in its title and yes-they are as perfectly balanced and delicious as they sound.

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I originally found the Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana, Yogurt Pops recipe from Danae on her healthy recipe blog, Recipe Runnerafter trolling Pinterest for healthy summer snacks. Right away the title caught my eye (all of my favorite things in one popsicle?!) and knew that it would be perfect for this week’s Sunday Snacks edition-it’s quick and easy to make, healthy and wholesome, and something cool and refreshing for any “Sunday Funday” you might have this summer!

Prep time for this recipe is only 10 minutes so you can make them (without stress) when you get home from work and-in three easy steps-this sweet and delicious treat will be ready for you before bed or after your morning miles as something to cool yourself off with (in lieu of a smoothie)! This particular recipe yields 8 popsicles, so feel free to double your ingredients if you are making them for a larger gathering or summer party.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana, Yogurt Pop Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/2 – 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

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Other Items Needed:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Popsicle molds (the ones I used are from Bed, Bath. & Beyond, but you can use any mold with wooden popsicle sticks, too)
  • Blender (or some other variation: Ninja, NutriBullet, etc.)

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Instructions:

  1. Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into the popsicle mold and place the sticks/holder in place. If you are using traditional wooden popsicle sticks, freeze the pops for about 30 minutes before placing the stick in so it stands up straight).
  3. Freeze the popsicles for about 4 hours, or until frozen. Enjoy!!

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Now all you have to do is get out there, grab a friend or two, move with intention and get your sweat on, and come home to this refreshingly, cool treat to snack on…you more than earned it!

On a separate note, have you ever read through my “Current Goals” section?  If not, please check it out and make sure to tune back in tomorrow for a special post-I want to share some exciting news with you about my training! In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you-what are some of YOUR current health, wellness, and fitness goals? As I continue to  accomplish more and add new challenges to my list, I’m curious about what you all are striving for. If you are willing, share some of your big and bold or small and hard goals below in the comment section to inspire me and others or tweet at me: @meggielukes (with the hashtag #MegInTheMeantime for good measure). Can’t wait to hear from you!

Happy Sunday to you all,
-Meg

Mixing up those greens.

Let’s start your week off right with some creative alternatives for your healthy meals!

But first, I’m going to shoot straight with you: I have always been an admitted salad hater. I grew up hearing people around me order salads at restaurants as a “healthy substitute” for a big meal, like dinner…something to just help them to lose weight, a la dressing on the side. Now these were just your basic, bare-boned salads with a hint of protein: lettuce, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, shaved carrots, and a light vinaigrette (kept on the side to portion your calories properly, of course). Because I was surrounded by these kinds of salad-eaters, something within me ignited a deep hatred for the salad; so much so that nothing infuriated me more than hearing someone order a salad and I began to mock the salad eaters, vowing to never become one of them.

Now bear with me…I’m a little older and more mature and open-minded in my views now. I understand the reasons why I disdained the substitute-a-meal-with-a-salad eaters and have decided to approach it with the mindset of: “Hey-whatever floats your boat, but it’s just personally not my cup of tea.” It still didn’t make me enjoy eating salads or feel like they could fill me up and fuel my active lifestyle and felt like they should be left to the rabbits to munch on. That was, until I discovered what kind of salad could work for me and my needs.

Those who know me well would tell you that I can take anything from a refrigerator-even things that usually don’t mix well together-and throw it together to create some kind of a hodgepodge of a meal and be thrilled with it; they would also say that I can throw anything together over two handfuls of lettuce and call it a salad. I like to think that I’m just creative and easy-going in that regard. I’ve learned to find what I need from food (protein, veggies, fresh fruits, vitamins, a crunch, etc.) and experiment with hearty meals and snacks to complement my diet for the day and always keep me feeling strong and moving.

And so, for today’s Sunday Snacks edition I’d like to do something different: instead of giving you a new recipe to try out, I’d like to share with you some of my all-time favorite salad toppers, broken down into categories to get your own creative juices flowing. Maybe you are a basic salad hater like me or maybe you’re just looking for something new and different to spice up those boring greens…either way I hope this short list adds color and creativity to your meal prep life!

Please note that I am not writing this post with the knowledge and authority of a nutritionist. I am simply sharing my personal opinions and experiences with playful salad toppers that keep me fueled and happy. For a full disclosure statement regarding what Meg in the Meantime’s purpose is and my personal qualifications, please check out my About Me section or, just consider the image below. 🙂

Koalafications

Meg’s favorite salad toppers to mix up those plain greens:

  1. Meats/Fish: I love meat so almost every salad I made will incorporate a major portion of protein like steak tips, tuna, salmon, etc. Obviously chicken falls into this category, as well but I try to avoid going the basic route of grilled chicken when you can be so much more creative with your pairings when you use something like a steak or tuna. Steaks are great and juicy and, when combined with the right kind of cheese sprinkled on top, will make you forget you even have greens underneath! Tuna is a great, creamy salad topper and-when mixed with a lite Mayo or Greek yogurt-does not really call for a salad dressing to go with it.
  2. Fruits: Both fresh and dried fruits can add a sweetness to your salad that can combat the blandness of your basic greens, as well as add a nice, succulent crunch to each bite. Think: apples, pears, grapes, dried cranberries (Craisins) pomegranate seeds, avocado (I just learned that it’s considered a fruit, at its core), etc. You can dice some of these fruits up into little cubes or shave them off into long, thin slices–both will give a nice color and texture to your salad!
  3. Veggies: When building your salads, vegetables can give you the most bang for your buck in terms of flavor, fiber, vitamins, and crunch. Besides the obviously carrot topping, versatile veggies like corn, sugar snap peas, and beets are some of my favorites to throw onto a salad and usually pair nicely with most cheeses and meats. Diced beets have become a newfound favorite of mine last year when I searching for something to serve as a good anti-inflammator, but you can read more about the amazing health benefits of beets here.
  4. Cheeses: Of course cheese are not the most healthy addition to salads, but when used proportionately it can add great flavor and serve as a rich source of necessary calcium to your meal. Some of my favorite non-traditional cheeses to put on salads are goat cheese, brie, and feta-depending on what your main protein pairing is. As you can tell, I prefer less crumbly cheese and more creamy/spreadable cheese because it helps fight the urge to drown my greens in a creamy, fatty salad dressing.
  5. Nuts: There’s no better way to incorporate protein-while doubling your crunch factor-than by adding nuts, such as walnuts, almonds and pistachios, to your salad. While rich in healthy fats, nuts are meant to be more of a light salad topper-whether crushed up and sprinkled, shaved down for an added textural element, or broken up to really add a crunch-so make sure to use sparingly and beware of those drenched in salts, sugars, and glazes.
  6. Alternative dressings:  Let’s face it-a dressing can either make or break your salad, but it’s usually the thing we pile on the most when trying to drown out those greens, like lettuce and kale. Some healthier alternatives from store-bought salad dressings are Greek Yogurt (yes, me again promoting Greek Yogurt) or a DIY light vinaigrette. My personal favorite DIY salad dressing recipes come from Michelle via her blog, Sunshine & Superfoodsdefinitely check it out if you’re interested in saving some money and making your own creative dressings. You can also always play it simple and add strong flavor (with minimal calories) to your salad by using the juice from a lemon or lime.

While salads are still a symbol of a healthy meal, I’ve come to realize that you have to bring your own personality to the table to really make salad eating more of a willing habit than a dreadful, desperate attempt at cutting calories…keeping in mind the moderation of toppings to still consume a health-conscious meal. But that’s just my opinion–what’s yours? Again, I’m no nutritionist or salad-expert, just a former hater who’s opening up her heart and stomach to the idea of incorporating more salads in her life so I would love to hear your thoughts on my funky salad topping choices, as well as some of your own! Comment below or Tweet at me: @meggielukes.

In the meantime, today is Memorial Day-how are you spending it? I like to consider national holidays, such as this one, a day to not only reflect and be grateful for those who served our country and fought for our freedoms and rights, but also a time to spend in solitude being grateful for the freedom that our bodies entitle us to: to move about, run around, and explore. Today, I’ll be going for a quick 3 miler to stay on track with my 10k training and to relish in all things that running has given to me that I am forever grateful for.

Until Wednesday, wishing you wellness!
-Meg

This thing called “Spoonking”

ni men hao! you duán shijiān méi liánxìle.
(roughly translated to: Hello, Everyone! It’s been a while.)

Greetings from rainy and humid, Hángzhōu, China, where the current time is approximately 5:50am and here I am…awake! My biological clock is definitely still thrown off, having just arrived in China approximately 14 hours ago after a 16 hour flight and knowing that I’m 12 hours ahead of where I usually am back home in Boston. Despite the fatigue and my body’s confusion to the local time, I am most excited to be here in China for a week and to explore as many cultural aspects as I can. As you can already see, I’m doing my best to pick up the language to get by. 🙂

I’m going to keep this post fairly short since the internet is pretty touch and go here, but I did want to follow up on something that I mentioned during my last post on Wednesday: “Do Your Om Thing!” So when I was describing that my best friend, Anya, had just come out of a 40-minute meditation and was lying on an acupressure mat, I knew at that very moment that I wanted to talk about that mat on this week’s Feature Friday post.

Although there may be many variations of an acupressure mat, the one that I know Anya was lying on (because she gave me the same one for Christmas last year) is called a Spoonkand it looks like this:

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According to their website, Spoonk is “based on the principles of acupressure and Japanese Shiatsu massage. The mat stimulates specific reflex points throughout the body, releases blocked energy, eases tense muscles, and creates deep mental and physical relaxation. Benefits include increased level of energy, reduced inflammation and pain, improved and deeper sleep.”

That all sounds well and good and very commercial, but what is it really like? Well, even though it may look to some like a torture device (see the picture below), I have honestly found it to be quite relaxing and a great way to practice bringing awareness to specific parts of your mind, while easing your mind. While I never thought to use it during my stretching time, I have tried it recently on my sore calves and tired feet and it also can definitely relieve tension and pain in certain trigger areas…I mean, check out those spikes!

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I personally have used the Spoonk mat most to calm my body down after a long day or to mindfully try to go to sleep without the aid of Netflix or my phone. I’ll usually break it out before bed, and position my back (from the neck/shoulders area) all the way down to my lower back to be positioned on it. From there, I will usually lay down in my savasana pose with my legs completely sprawled out straight or a  variation of vrksasana, or tree pose, where I switch each leg off in being in a figure four pose while still lying down. From there, usually it takes me about 20 minutes to completely fall into a deep, relaxation state and many time I find myself sleeping for about 2-3 hours on it before I wake up in the middle of the night, grateful for the peace that it has given me, and push it aside for the rest of the night to give my back some release from the spikes.

You might want to use the Spoonk differently, though.

  • You can roll the mat a little bit to elevate your neck, like a pillow, and massage out that high-stress area.
  • You can sit down on a chair or the edge of your bed, and walk out your feet to hit pressure points that way.
  • You can use it in a more active sense and either massage your hands or feet with it during a yoga pose like, downward-facing dog.

The best part about the Spoonk is that it’s light and easy bring with you on-the-go and store anywhere. The mat easily rolls up, very much like a yoga mat, and can be stored in a handy over-the-shoulder/across-the-shoulder, light weight protective bag that it comes with–this means that you can Spoonk at home, at work, on vacation, at your friend’s place, etc. The possibilities are endless!

spoonk3Well, I’m off to eat breakfast and start my day as you wind down yours across the world. Today we are exploring Hángzhōu through a private boat ride on the famous West Lake, Lingyin Temple-one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, and the Southern Song Imperial Street, which is filled with genuine antique shops and teahouses.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to find a way to meditate today. Personally, I know that I will definitely take some time to quiet my mind as I enter the temple today to think of my current state of being and my levels of happiness, as I continue on my quest for balance. You are winding down your day–what will you focus on?  If you don’t know where to start, first read over my last post to get a better sense of what kind or style of meditation might be best for you. As always, if you have any suggestions on techniques that work best for you, I’d love to hear them and share them with everyone: leave a comment below, email me melucas7@gmail.com, or Tweet at me @meggielukes and include #MegInTheMeantime.

And make sure to tune back in on Sunday (pending internet connections) for my next edition of Sunday Snacks!

baozhòng! (Take care!)
-Meg

Do Your Om thing!

Hi Everyone!

So I was originally going to write to you today about my training schedule and plan for the upcoming B.A.A. 10k on June 26th; however, I ended up having a much needed life conversation with my best friend from home, Anya, last night and I feel like some of those points are probably more relevant and important to share with you at this time…

First of all, I have to express that I hope that everyone has an Anya in their life–not a literal person named Anya, but someone just like her. Anya is one of those people who is so kind, wise, and non-judgmental; she automatically calms your life down with the sound of her voice; and, most impressively, she and I have always had such a rare connection in completely understanding each other.  Even though she and I are arguably very different people and even if our lives aren’t synced up or at the same place in our respective trajectories, there is some kind of unspoken balance and understanding within us, so much so, that we’ve always considered ourselves to be “twin souls,” lucky enough to find each other so early in our lives! Anya has been my best friend since first grade, so that means we’re going on 22 years of friendship-the past 10 of which have been spent a majority apart from each other due to college and post-college life (I, up in Massachusetts and she, down in New Jersey)…so that, in itself, is amazing. Somewhere in that brief rambling of an overview, I hope you can gain a little insight to the type of person that Anya is and why I would hope everyone is just as lucky to have someone similar of significance in their life. Anyways, I digress…

I will not go into the great details of what Anya and I spoke about on the phone for countless hours last night, but I will share an inspirational concept that was sparked from our conversation with you in hopes that we can both incorporate something new into our lives to better balance ourselves and practice wellness.

We began our phone call talking about what we were just doing: I had just walked into my apartment after running around Boston, crossing off my to-do list of last minute errands before my business trip to China, feeling completely exhausted from earlier in the day because of a 4am wake up to travel down to NYC to pick up my visa and passport from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York only to travel back up to Boston to attend a work reception in the afternoon. Anya, on the other hand, had just stepped out of a 40-minute meditation state in her apartment, where she was lying down on an acupressure mat, with a warmed up, spa-like mask to cover her eyes, and soft music and sounds playing in the background that she downloaded off a yoga YouTube channel. I told you we were very different!

Right away I thought to myself: Damn, I wish I could be more like her! Only to quickly correct myself and say: I am inspired by Anya and will put in the effort and time to practice similar wellness habits. There is no reason why I can’t be more like her in that way, I just have to choose to make time for myself and my wellness throughout the day.

I don’t know about you, but I am notorious for always keeping myself busy, for better or for worse: I always stay late at work and take work home with me (the first thing I check in the morning when I wake up is my e-mail so I know what I am getting myself into for the day); for the last four years straight (including summers) I have been in grad school part-time for two different master’s degrees; and I am always taking on some new challenge, like a half marathon or 30-days of yoga, etc. I choose and love these additions in my life, but I also never choose to take a break or check-in to make sure I’m not going to burn myself out. This is where something like meditation can come into handy!

I just completed my very last grad class on Monday night and, while I’m so sad that I will not be in a physical classroom learning anymore (at least for now!), I am energized at the thought of a formal break to take some time for myself; to be able to come home after work and do what I please: read a book for pleasure, take a walk, go to more yoga classes, meet up with friends, or even meditate! Anya is just as busy and stressed as I am in her life, but she does a way better job of making time to practice wellness and set aside time to check-in, reconnect, and refresh. I think just mentally knowing that my schedule will clear up a bit will do a lot for me in terms of fitting in time for meditation, self-reflection, and care.

Now I know some of you may scoff at the idea of meditation, yoga, or the concept of “finding yourself,” or “doing something that’s good for your soul.” Some of you may even feel like the donut depicted below in this sketch:

meditation

You don’t have to attend a yoga class to meditate. I personally think the best part of meditation is the fact that there are a million different ways, spaces, and times to do it–it’s very adaptable to any schedule! If you have no idea where to start, start with concentrated, deep breathing-you’ll be surprised at how much taking sloooooow, deep breaths will relax you and clear your mind. If you master that and want to move on, consider setting an intention or a mantra for the day and honing in on how you might achieve that.

If you do feel the need to have some form of private, guided meditation there are plenty of free ones to stream on YouTube, but you can also buy some really wonderful apps that come fully loaded with meditation essentials (some cost money, others are free). One company that I feel does the meditation things really well is Meditation OasisI personally have downloaded their “Relax & Rest,” “Simply Being,” “iSleep Easy,” and “Breathe” apps to practice mindfulness throughout the day, but you can also purchase their Meditation Oasis bundle (which includes 8 targeted apps) or listen to their podcast that is highlighted on the website I’ve linked above. Again, while there are many this is the one that I have been most happy with because I like the way they blend voice commands and soothing background music and because there is a wide variety of different timed meditations to choose from: as short as 2-3 minutes if you’re trying to squeeze in a quick break and all the way up to 30-45 minutes.

Here are some ideas to kickstart your meditation practice:

  • You can lay in bed for a few extra minutes when you wake up and set your intention for the day.
  • If you walk to work or commute by bus or train you can plug in to a guided meditation flow, close your eyes and follow a meditation sequence (make sure to not miss your stop!).
  • You can close the door to your office and take some time mid-day to refresh.
  • You can wait until you come home from work to disconnect with everything that happened throughout the day.
  • And, my personal favorite, take some time to wind down before bed to reflect on your day, let go of anything that doesn’t serve you, and prepare for the next!

Okay, well I’m off to China in the early morning for a week-long work trip. As I mentioned, I hope to still be able to blog regularly on my usual schedule (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday), but please bear with me, the jet lag, and the 12-hour time difference in the meantime. You can trust that I will definitely be utilizing these meditation tools throughout my trip-especially during the 16 hour flight-and will share with you one of my favorite meditation accessories on Friday.

Until then, be well and send me some positive and energizing vibes during your meditation experiment! 🙂

Love,
Meg

Stretch It Out.

Hello!

So last week I gave you a sneak preview into my active weekend of participating in FitBit Local’s kickoff event in the South End on Saturday morning and then a free run clinic on Sunday morning. Needless to say, between trying my very first high intensity bootcamp class and actively working on new strength training exercises, I was hobbling around my apartment with that good, sore feeling by Sunday evening.

You know that feeling I’m talking about, right? The one that makes you feel positive that you got a solid workout in and maybe even worked some new muscles because getting up from a seated position is a lot of work and trying to reach for something in a cabinet becomes a chore…sometimes even just laying there hurts! But, as sore as you are, you can’t help but smile knowing that you allowed your body to work hard and you pushed it to the limit for that day. Rest was much deserved!

In between the struggle of my sore moments and the excitement of telling my running friends about these two free fitness events, I realized that the perfect thing to share with you today would be active warm-up and recovery suggestions-something I learned in the run clinic and definitely utilized this weekend…it was my saving grace and can be yours, too as you think about incorporating wellness activities, like proper stretching, into your daily routine.

But first, let me quickly recap what these two events were like…

Fitbit Local’s free event was held in the SOWA Power Station, an architecturally-stunning building with high cathedral ceilings in the South End-and, over the course of two hours, featured a bodyweight bootcamp class led by a prominent Boston fitness instructor, Chad Flahive, followed by a yoga flow by Cara Gilman. I’ll be honest, I originally only wanted to attend this event for the sake of the yoga portion-not only was it a class taught by my absolute favorite yoga instructor, but it was also a free yoga class (whereas many single class offerings in Boston range from $15-$25 per class)…the added bonus was that I got to try out a bootcamp class, too which I have never done before.

That being said, I was very curious about what a bootcamp class would be like so I went in with an open mind. It is what it sounded like: “bootcamp:” a high intensity cardio class, that gets your heart rate up, something to make you sweat quickly and continuously, and something (or someone) to push you to keep moving. Over the course of the class, I did a mixture of twisting jumping jacks, regular squats, pulsing squats, jump squats (after typing out all of those squat, I can now understand the soreness in my glutes…), burpees, mountain climbers crunches, and so forth. The end result? I think I would try a bootcamp class again just to give it another fair shot, but it also solidified that, for me, a large class, with loud music meant to pump you up, and an instructor yelling (in an inspiring way!) things like, “Keep moving!” “Almost there!” “Last set!” “Okay, really–this is the last set!” “You got this–this really is the last one!” doesn’t really motivate me…it more so irritates me. But that’s just me. I can absolutely see why other people need or want a class like that to motivate them intensely for 30-45 minutes; it had me looking at my watch to see when this part would be over. Still, I can’t really complain at all since clearly it worked me out well and I was feeling all kinds of new sore throughout my body.

And, yoga with Cara was simply amazing (to be expected)-so not much to report on that end. I was so grateful to have that time to slowly cool down my body and flow through some poses and begin the active stretching process, while calming my forever-on-the-go-mind. It also reminded me of how much I miss yoga incorporated into my week at least once or twice (is such a powerful practice especially when paired with running) so I bit the bullet and signed up for Cara’s 10-week Run + Yoga summer series…although I have to miss the first two classes due to grad school and work travel, I am beyond stoked to have this series to look forward to each week as I train for the B.A.A. 10K.

And so, I woke up pretty sore on Sunday morning, kind of regretting this decision to do back-to-back new fitness events, but I was also too excited to attend this run clinic to let anything cloud my mind.  A friend, fellow November Project-er, and PT/DPT/Cert. DN/Running Specialist, Dani Adler, led her first clinic: Learn The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient where we learned how to apply the 3 E’s to our active warm-ups and strength training routines. We topped off the clinic with a gorgeous 3 mile run along the Mystic River, right across the street from her office in Medford, MA.

Here is a picture of our awesome group-a mix of triathletes, ultra-marathoners, marathoners, and just regular runners, like myself-outside of the Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness office before our run (we were even lucky enough to have two members of Team Hoyt join us as they trained for the upcoming Providence Marathon). All in all, I was inspired to be surrounded by such amazing athletes and greatness and got pumped to keep my run pace with them-it felt good to challenge myself like that.

RunClinic.jpg

Okay, and now the moment I’ve been so excited to share with you since I was hobbling around my apartment, wonderfully sore from all of these free fitness events: active warm-up and stretching. During the run clinic, Dani led us through a series of warm-up routines that were easy to follow, proved to be effective during our 3 mile run after as we all felt properly warmed up, and were super efficient: the whole routine took no more than 9-10 minutes, yet covered a broad spectrum of body parts and muscles that are integral to running. She explained the difference between active warm-ups (what I will share with you below) and static stretching (something like bending over and touching your toes or pulling one leg behind you to stretch out your hamstrings before a run)-she immediately turned me into a believer and made me never want to statically stretch before a workout ever again-that should be saved for post-run stretching. Why do I say this? Read below and find out.

How to Apply the 3 E’s to Your Warm-Up:

  1. Inch worms: 5 sets 
    The inch worm is a great way to actively stretch out your hamstrings and calves and fire up your core before a run. To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you to see-the sequence goes: Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right, and repeat.
    – Start out with your feet close together and stretch down to to the floor in front of you (top left image).
    – Begin to walk your hands forward, alternating left and right, bending only at the hips and keeping your legs straight until you reach a push up position (top right image).
    – Now keep your hands in place and slowly take short steps forward with your feet, not bending your knees-this is where you will start to feel the amazing stretch in your hamstrings and calves (bottom left image).
    – Continue walking until your feet have reached your hands-or have come as far as your legs allow without bending your knees. You will notice you are back in the starting position-repeat 5 times for an active warm-up (bottom right image).
    InchWorm
  2. Downward Dog into “Walking the Dog:” 5-10 on each side.
    Downward Dog is an energizing yoga pose meant to stretch the shoulders (mine always crack), hamstrings, calves, feet, and hands, while strengthening your arms and legs.
    – To get into the Downward Dog position, you place yourself in an inverted “V” pose, with your palms and feet rooted in the ground below you and your sits bones (think: butt area), lifted up to the sky. Your body weight is evenly distributed,  your shoulders are squared to the ground, your neck is relaxed and your gaze is down/towards your feet.
    – To follow me along, I’ve included a snapshot for you below. Top Left and Top Right are the same pose (Downward Dog), just shown from a front view and side view.
    – Bottom Left and Bottom Right just show the “Walking the Dog” sequence, from the side view. From your Downward Dog position, alternatively lift and lower your lower your heels, still keeping your body weight evenly distributed-don’t let your body fall side to side as you pedal out your feet. Repeat for 5-10 times on each side.
    DownwardDog
  3. Downward Dog into Pigeon Pose: 30 seconds, each side.
    Pigeon pose is my absolute favorite stretch. This pose stretches out your thighs, groin areas, abs, chest, and shoulders and is one of the deepest stretches you can find yourself in, but boy does it feel great if you can bear it!
    – From the Downward Dog position, keep your hips squared towards the ground and bring one leg forward towards your arms to a 90 degree angle (or as close as you can get). That foot, which should stay flexed for a better stretch, will come to rest towards your groin area as your back leg is extended out with the knee and leg squared towards the floor and pressed down.
    – You can either keep your upper body upright, with the ribcage lift and hands perched by your front foot, or slowly lower yourself down over your front knee and walk and stretch your arms out forward as well for a deeper stretch-in this case you can keep your gaze down.
    – I’ve included another snapshot for you to follow me along Top and Bottom images are the same pose, just shown from a front and side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 30 seconds on one side, shake out your leg and repeat the pose on the opposite side. 
    PigeonPose
  4. Adductor Rock: 15-20 on each side.
    This stretch I was pretty new to, but am so glad I tried it! The adductor rock really stretches out the groin area, while also loosening up any tightness in your inner thigh area (note: one side may feel more tight than the other).
    – Start on all fours and extend one leg to the side.
    – Gently rock back on your bent knee, keeping your back flat, and progressively rock back further and further each time, opening up the groin area.
    – I included a snapshot for you to follow along. The Top Left and Top Right images are what the sequence looks like from a front view, and Bottom Left and Bottom Right images is the same thing, but from a side view. *Note: I am only showing one side in these images, but this pose calls for both left and right sides to be stretched. After about 15-20 rocks on one side, shake out your legs and repeat the stretch on the opposite side. 
    AdductorRock
  5. 5 Minutes of “Fitness Walking” – I don’t have an image for this one, and I know it kind of sounds funny to do before a run (especially when most of us barely have time to fit in a run as it is), but getting your body ready for the motion of running by walking at 3.5 mph or less can really relieve the shock of your body going from 0 – (enter your mph here) in just seconds. Walking before allows your heart rate to pick up and for your breathing to quicken and get fired up for your set pace.

After the warm-up we got into applying the 3 E’s to strength training. If you’re interested in seeing some specific strength training videos that you can incorporate into your own routine, I recommend checking out Dani’s RunFitDoc YouTube channel –it’s a great resource to get yourself started and you can rest assured that the information is coming to you from a true professional! All of these routines are easy to follow, reasonable to scale, and really complement your training runs well. The most important thing to me, as someone who is typically stretched thin with many responsibilities, is efficiency: if you give me something that will be effective for my training and compact enough that I can easily fit in to a 10 minute segment every day (or every other day) then that is what I know will work and what I can reasonably stick with.  Personally, I look forward to doing these routines at least 2 times per week, to begin with, during my upcoming 10K training and reporting back on the positive impact.

Lastly, if you missed her run clinic last weekend and are now kicking yourself for it-fear not! You still have one more upcoming opportunity to learn about The 3 E’s To Run Training: Easy, Effective, and Efficient as a part of the first ever BPTW Strength Symposium on Saturday, May 21 at 10am in Medford, MA (I attached the Eventbrite info for your convenience). This event, as opposed to the run clinic I attended, covers a depth and breadth of topics, such as running, nutrition, core strength, injury/pain presentation, etc., but gives you access to a whole line up of health, wellness, and fitness experts and professionals, like Dani…what an opportunity! This is one local event for all you triathletes, marathoners, and fitness enthusiasts to not miss!

As for me, tonight I am off to the Run + Yoga for Runners event held at the Janji pop-up store on Newbury Street in Boston tonight! This event is run by two fellow November Project-ers: Brittany Flaherty and Jana Ross and coordinated by the MoveWith company. I’m so excited to work out in a new location (can’t believe I still haven’t been to the Janji store yet!) after I run through the streets of my favorite area in Boston: Back Bay! More to come on this experience when I write again on Friday.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of today’s post, I want to encourage you all to to incorporate some form of stretching into your daily routine: this could be 5-10 minutes of active stretching in the morning to wake you up or some form of static stretching to flow through and relieve stress before bed…it could even be your midday break from work after lunch! The benefits of stretching (reduced muscle tension, increased range of the joints, increased blood flow, and higher energy levels, just to name a few…) are too go pass up! Or, if you think I missed out on a different form of active stretching, then please comment below and share one of your favorite stretches–I always love to hear from you!

Wishing you wellness today and always,
-Meg

The Top 10 Wellness Tips You Never Knew You Needed.

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a while…I’ve missed you! A little housekeeping update for you: I’ve decided to move my usual Monday posts to Wednesdays in order to spread the love out more evenly throughout the week. That being said, I also wanted to focus a little bit more on giving wellness advice and better habit forming practices as we continue to motivate each other and work towards finding a more balanced way to incorporate a healthy lifestyle and targeted fitness goals into our daily lives–so that’s what a typical Wednesday post will be about!

In case you feel like you missed anything on Monday, you can check out my “Weekly Wisdom” section in the bottom right corner of the Meg in the Meantime homepage–I’ll be posting a new inspirational quote each week. This week I wanted the quote to really strike a nice balance for my overall blogging goals so I decided to go with: “Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being. Enjoy the journey as you strive for both.”

Now, moving on: I really enjoyed sharing my little wellness hack of rolling your feet with a tennis ball while at work, or at the end of the day (really whenever you can) and ended up having a bunch of people ask me for some more tips; therefore, I figured the best thing to do was make a blog post out of it!

And so, without further ado, may I present to you my best wellness tips for training. Note: this can be training for a race, training your body and mind for better daily health and wellness habits, or just training for whatever life throws your way…because that’s a real thing, too!

Meg’s Top 10 Wellness Tips When Training (for races and life):
I decided to do a countdown style because it seemed more fun that way.

10. Less screen time. I read a wonderful article this morning from Fast Company called “What Happened When I Stopped Using Screens After 11p.m.” I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, and think you should read it, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out the scientific result and grandiose benefits: less screen time = more sleep, more reading time, more quality time with the special people in your life. I really like this concept and the thought of a consistent peaceful and unplugged before bed habit sounds like something we all could use. Once grad school is over for me in two weeks, I won’t be walking in the door at 9:30pm at night anymore and will definitely focus some attention on my before bed habits and turning off all screens (TV, laptop, and phone) around me. Stay tuned on that one!

9. Accountability. I’ve written before about the power of accountability and the benefits that come from using it as a tool while tackling new (and daunting) health and fitness challenges, such as the 30 Days Abs Challenge that I am currently working through with my friend, Kristi, who lives back home in New Jersey. But, from a wellness perspective, I just can’t write enough about how nice and encouraging it is to have someone with you on the journey. When things start to fall apart physically and/or mentally, or you feel too tired to wake up and workout, accountability really makes the difference: someone is there  for you, waiting for you, understands you, and is ready to encourage you to keep moving. Please, try this with something important that you want to accomplish–I promise it will be worth it.

8.  Write it down. I’ve always been a big writer, so this one comes naturally to me, but I realize this isn’t the case for most people. Sometimes accountability can come in a different form: a written document to serve as a reminder. A reminder can serve multiple functions: on one extreme the written document can be a reminder of where you were a few months ago in training because you’ve written down your progress along the way or, on the opposite side the spectrum, a written document can be a reminder to make sure to complete your mini daily fitness goals. Whatever it is for you, just write it down: journal every night or at least once a week, post your accomplishments and progress on social media, put a white board next to the door in your apartment or house, scribble your daily goals on a post-it note and slowly cross each one off (because that is SO satisfying!), or set an alarm on your phone or laptop calendar to complete your task.

7. Unplug. We are way too connected at all times…doesn’t a break sound refreshing? Once you are working out (hopefully more so outside now that the weather is turning into a proper spring!), take off your headphones and just listen to the sounds around you and take in the sights. I used to never be able to run without heavy rap music blasting in my eardrums (I was probably avoiding the terrible cadence of my poor breathing habits), but over time I gained an amazing running mate, Becca, and learned that conversations carried our runs way better than any Biggie song ever could…plus, talking while running is a great pacing tool. Even if you are just taking a quick walk around the neighborhood in the morning before work or at night after dinner, don’t plug in to anything, but the world around you. It’s easier to pull off during races when the crowds cheering you on are electric and fire you up to keep going, but during long training runs, gym workouts, or evening strolls, I encourage you to try it: leave the headphones at home and invite a friend instead, or just get inside your own head and have some quality reflection time.

6. Find a balance (and possibly seek help doing so). Whether you’re new to working out and looking for a proper training schedule to accomplish a running goal, like finishing a half marathon, or you’re a veteran runner looking to BQ, or qualify for the Boston Marathon, or hit some PR’s, making a plan to balance different kinds of workouts and knowing how far to push your limits can be overwhelming, to say the least. So where do you start? Read up on what you can, talk to others who have tackled your goal before and seek some formal advice from a running coach–it might be the exact invest you need for hitting your goals and striking a balancing act in life. For more detailed information regarding the benefits of running coaches, I highly recommend reading Boston blogger,  Jana Ross’ post “5 Reasons Why You Need a Running Coach” –not only is Jana’s blog, Bananas for Balanceone of my favorites, but she is also now a running coach herself so she’s got all of the street cred necessary to lead you to the best decision for your current needs.

5. Be kind to your mind (aka learn something). On the note of taking advice from experts, you should consider the same options for your food, the thing that fuels you in your every day endeavors. Now, while I sure do hope you’ve been following my Sunday Snacks series on this blog, I am by no means a certified nutritionist or doctor and therefore I also recommend that you get to know the facts about the foods you are putting in your bodies. To help you along with that, there is a plethora of articles you can find on the internet, or you can pick up an old fashioned book and learn from two amazing nutrition experts, Tara Mardigan and Kate Weiler, in their book “Real Fit Kitchen: Fuel Your Body, Improve Your Energy, and Increase Strength with Every Meal.” Trust me, these recipes are made for active, healthy people like us, who are trying to live a balanced life…plus, the food is delicious and learning new things is fun!

4. Be kind to your body (aka treat yo’self). After a few rounds of being constantly disappointed in expensive massages once or twice a year, I realized that it wasn’t the service that necessarily disappointed me, but rather my high expectations that the massages to be more clinical to fix my aching body after a long period of hardcore training and general work and school stress built up. After a while I realized that I should probably find a cheaper solution, where I can get relief more often so that I am not expecting spas to move mountains (more like the mountains of knots that I carry on my shoulders and traps). While I do not make a lot of money by any means, I figured a practical, cost-effective monthly massage was an investment in my health and wellness that should not be passed up. I finally found a place to call my massage home: The Elements Massage Wellness Program. Benefits include: a month-to-month membership with a discounted rate for a monthly 1-hour massage, the ability to cancel easily with a 30-day notice, the massages carry-over to the next month (in case life gets busy and you can’t go), you get two upgrade certificates to switch out your normal 60 minute massage to 90 minutes, and you can share your wellness program benefits with a friend, in case you feel like treating someone else that month.

Just think of all of the stress relief and much deserved relaxation you could benefit from at a discounted rate. But seriously, I’ve been a part of their Wellness Program since January, 2016 and it’s been the greatest gift I’ve given myself this year–I wish I had done it sooner because I can absolutely see a difference in my every day comfort level and demeanor due to this form of self-wellness. Side note: if you live in Boston and would like to try out the Elements Massage location on Commonwealth Avenue, I highly recommend Joseph as a masseuse; he is a miracle worker on deep-rooted knots…trust me because I had about a million of them before meeting him. 🙂

3. Know when to rest. There’s a major difference between being lazy or putting something off and actually needing a day or two of rest. Nowadays our lives can drive us in so many directions on any given day and really stretch us thin. I regularly feel burnt out from work, grad school, social responsibilities, and training and, overtime, have even found myself becoming physically sick at times trying to balance it all. Most of the time, I honestly just needed a little rest: perhaps some extra sleep, or to not run that morning, or to just take a step back, put down my work, take some deep breaths, and walk away to call up my mom or dad to check in and feel some love. Listen to your body and trust yourself–sometimes you just need a short break in order to come back refreshed and ready to rock!

2. Have a mantra. This might sound silly to you, or even something yoga-centric, but using a word (or a phrase) with meaning during your training, a workout, a run, or even just something to kickstart your day can really be powerful. Repeating the mantra to yourself, when something goes wrong, when something gets hard, when you feel like giving up, or when you’re just in need of some self-love or support can really serve as a great connection to your goal. A mantra can be something very simple like “relax,” or “don’t give up,” or something more broad and deep like “love yourself” or “trust” and so forth. Your mantra can change–depending on the day, your workout, your mood, your goal, etc.

1. Give presence. This is my number one tip because simply put: being present is the greatest gift you can give someone…and yourself. It’s also, unfortunately, a lost art nowadays. Look up from your screens and at the life around you; look into the eyes of people you are with and who love you. If even just for one hour a day, give presence in your life (inspired by lululemon’s #givepresence campaign from 2014).

In the meantime, I encourage you to pick one of the wellness tips above and put it into practice for the next week. Over the next few days really stop to reflect on how it makes you feel. What are some things you are starting to notice that are different and/or better in your life? I’d love to hear from you so don’t forget to comment below and share your reflections!

Happy Hump Day! Remember…that means you’re halfway there!
-Meg

Wellness, when you can.

It’s Friday–we made it through the week!

I’m sorry this post is coming to you a bit later than originally planned. One of my favorite Boston bloggers, Jana Ross of Bananas for Balance, once told me that you should never feel pressured to put out a post, but rather to write when you’re ready, when you feel like it. Well, this morning I was not feeling it and was not ready to put out a message to you all. Let me explain…

This morning, I was planning on running hills with November Project at 6:30am–I was so excited to be surrounded by some of the greatest people I know on such a significant day: One Boston Day, a day of remembrance for those killed, wounded, and the families/friends affected by the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 and a day of celebration for the resiliency, courage, and strength that the community demonstrated. Although I wish city officials would promote making a difference every day, just as I wish the members of the community would volunteer and go out of their way to perform acts of kindness every day, I still very much appreciate the notion of communities coming together and finding common ground through difficult times.

Anyways, I set my alarm and woke up at 5:50am and rolled over knowing that I had ten more peaceful minutes of rest in my cozy bed before my next alarm would go off at 6am and then I would up and getting dressed in my neon best to run miles and miles of hills to reflect on the day. Instead, I woke up at 7:05am and immediately mumbled an explicit word, knowing that I had slept through my alarm and missed a perfectly planned out opportunity. I laid there for a bit thinking about my next move: I could get up and go for a solo run–it would be just as reflective as my original running plan OR I could just stay in bed and accept defeat. At that point, I honestly wasn’t feeling it so I rolled back over and opted for more sleep.

Throughout my work day, the choice I made to stay in bed and get some extra sleep stuck with me. Why did I chose that? Did I need the extra sleep? Was I just mad or cranky about something? Was I disappointed in myself? The questions continued to stream in my head and it bugged me all day. The answer came to me finally by the end of day: wellness. This morning, my body was telling me something–you work yourself too hard, you need some sleep. This morning, I needed a little time for me. And, without fully realizing it, I took the proper steps towards wellness.

I don’t know about you all, but I personally like to keep busy. I work full time, I’ve been in grad school (two different programs) for the last four years spending twice a week until late at night in classes, I enjoy working out, I love keeping up with my family and friends’ lives all around the world, and am always striving for new goals…doing whatever I can to try to better myself and the world around me, in any way. But, the older I get, the more I realize that my body and mind are not invincible and that burnouts are real. Very rarely do I just stop and ask my body what it needs…instead I just do.

And that’s when I felt like I was finally ready to write to you: to encourage you to support your wellness, where you can, when you can. Here’s what I decided to do: slip off my flats during work, break out a tennis ball, and roll my feet under the desk…it’s like a mini massage for a fraction of the cost!  You can stand and roll the ball the length of your foot, from heal to toe for a few minutes or keep it stable under your arch for some pointed pressured or, if you’re trying to be a bit more incognito at work, you can do so while sitting in your chair.

tennis-ball

The tennis ball technique is so simple, it’s cost effective (you can get a pack of 3 tennis balls for under $3), it’s easy to pack and bring along with you wherever you go (keep it in the car, throw it in your bag, leave it in your desk drawer, etc.), yet the results are amazing: you’ll get to work the deepest muscles and tissues and allow your feet to properly stretch and recover. We’re on our feet so much throughout the day so why not show them that you’re grateful for them carrying you around all day and bringing you amazing places by kneading out their aches and pains with this little wellness hack?!

The best part? You don’t just have to stop with your feet, the tennis ball technique can be used to fight aches and pains in other parts of your body, too as outlined in this Prevention article by a well-known yoga instructor.

This is just one example of something you can do to promote more wellness in your every day life and give some much deserved love and attention to an important part of your body that gives you so much each day. By all means, if there is a different technique that works for you then go for it–this was just something that worked well for me. I’m sure that if you stop to clear your mind and listen to your body every now and then, you’ll find something is calling for your attention.

That being said…in the meantime, take my advice: make some time this weekend for some quite reflection–it could be as you climb into bed and wind down at the end of the night, it could be as you stir and wake in the morning before you even look at your phone (and all of your messages and e-mails), or even as you escape life’s responsibilities for a 10-15 minutes to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood. During this time think about what you could to take better care of yourself–it doesn’t have to be a major life change, just something that you can mindfully do one day at a time. After no time at all you’ll see these little changes will soon turn into healthy habits and your life will be better off because of it.

Here are some ideas to ruminate on in case you’re having trouble starting your reflection: drink more water, stretch when you first wake up, practice deep breathing and meditation before bed, indulge in less screen time (no phone/computer/TV/etc.) before bed or when you wake up, set some time aside each night to cook a healthy meal with family and friends instead of eating out…the list can go on! I’m excited to hear what you’re planning on doing that’s just for you and your wellness; please feel free to comment below and share your reflections.

Looking forward to chatting more on Sunday about another healthy snack!
-Meg