30 Days – 30 Minutes of Movement

get-moving!

It didn’t take me too long as a parent to realize that you have to be careful what you tell kids you are going to do as they never seem to forget. “Tomorrow we are going to the park”….tomorrow comes and you get busy and they are all, “Um, I thought we were going to the park?!”

So I decided that the best way for me to get in daily fitness is to get them to encourage me by doing it together.

We came up with a plan. For 1 month, we’ll get in 30 minutes of “movement” a day and by movement, I mean some sort of fitness/exercise. And my promise to them? That along with all the benefits they’ll gain by staying healthy, I’ll also take them someplace to reward them for their efforts – one of those jumpy house places. What kid doesn’t love those, right?!

calendar

I printed off a blank July calendar and for each day that they get in their 30 minutes of movement, they get a gold star sticker. (Does that take you all back to elementary school or what?!) I picked up a pack with hundreds of those gold stars at the dollar store. Talk about a simple and inexpensive rewards chart! We also jot down what movement we got in that day.

The other day we walked along some trails for an hour so they each put 2 gold star stickers on their charts for that day. Great way to start us off!

I just wanted to share this with all of you in case you wanted to have a month of movement challenge yourself. You don’t need to wait until the first of any specific month. Just start and go 30 days from that point. The important thing is, that you start!

Here are a few Apps and products that I like that might help:

map-my-walk

Map My Walk – I love this one! You can sign-up for Free. I downloaded the App to my phone. Whenever my kids and I start walking, I just click a button and it keeps track of our route, how far we went and how long it took us. The kids love checking out our stats when we are done.

myfitnesspal

My Fitness Pal – This is a good one for keeping a food journal and exercise log. I just started getting into the habit of logging my meals as I usually have my phone nearby and it only takes a few minutes. It’s so educational to see how calories can add up even when you think you are eating healthy. What I like about this one is your friends can join and you can cheer each other on to help reach your goals.

fit-bit-flex

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband – I have heard really good things about this. It does have a higher price tag but if in the end it helps you stay healthier, it might just be worth it!

thermos-funtainer

Thermos FUNtainer Bottle – These are so great for helping keep the kids (or even yourself!) hydrated. They sell these at places like Target, too. What I like about the newer generation ones is that they have a handle on them.

hopscotch

This is a great way to spend time with the kids and stay healthy. Here are a few ideas for “movement:”

~Game of Tag (Freeze Tag, Flashlight Tag)
~Jump Roping
~Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Hockey, Tennis, Football, etc.
~Running – Train for a Kid’s Miler Race
~Dancing
~Gymnastics/Tumbling
~Kid’s Yoga
~Backyard Obstacle Course
~Hopscotch
~Animal Fun (Crab Walk, Bunny Hob, Frog Leaps)
~Riding Bikes/Scooters
~Red Light, Green Light
~Hula Hoops
~Frisbee
~Game of Catch
~Tug of War
~Rope, Rock or Tree Climbing
~Walking
~Video Games like Wii Fit, Zumba, Just Dance etc. (For rainy days!)
~Hiking – Turn it into a Nature Scavenger Hunt!
~Playing at the Park
~Canoeing, Paddleboats, etc.
~Rollerblading, Rollerskating, Skateboarding
~Cheerleading
~Karate/Martial Arts Moves
~Jumping Jacks, Toe Touches, Stair Climbs, etc.
~Yardwork – pulling weeds, mowing the lawn (if older)
~House-cleaning: Scrubbing floors, walls, vacuuming

There are so many ways to get movement without it costing you a lot of money. Summer is an especially great time to start this as the weather is nicer and you can get outside a lot more.

I’m hoping you and your family (and friends!) will challenge yourself to get in some extra movement even if it’s just a few days a week!

Info on Marching Into Fitness 2013

marching-into-fitness-2013

I can’t believe that I am typing this but….it’s almost March! Wow, where is the time going?

Those of you that have been readers of Coupon Geek for awhile know what March brings to the site—the Marching into Fitness theme! For the past 3 years, I have done a “Marching into Fitness” segment during the entire month of March with special health and fitness posts and lots of fitness/health giveaways.

Well, this year, my fourth year, there won’t be a “Marching into Fitness” month on Coupon Geek BUT it is still going to happen. I’m just doing it on Glowing Gazelles this year.

For those of you that may have missed my announcement several months ago, I started a second site where I am putting my longer articles so I can keep the Coupon Geek site to mostly shorter deal/coupon/freebie posts. It’s a lot easier for those that just have a limited time to scan for deals. (You can easily access Glowing Gazelles from here at any time as there’s a button for it in the right sidebar.)

The writing started off slow this year as I was asked to fill-in as a teacher’s aide at our local school as the regular one was taking care of her son that was in a car accident. While I missed writing, I never say No to helping out others in need and/or the school. I’m back online there now, though, and you will start seeing more posts.

A few of the latest posts there:

~Love Your Food Challenge and Preparing for the Love Your Food Challenge – How I’m working towards healthier food with the family
~How to Stockpile Sensibly and How to Start! – A post a lot of you have been waiting for now for awhile!
~Finances: Week in Review – A few of them posted. Just little ways I’m finding to save money. A new one will be posted next week.

So if you’ve enjoyed the “Marching into Fitness” segments in the past or want to check out what it’s all about, be sure to stop by Glowing Gazelles. You can sign-up for the newsletter for it so you won’t miss out or Follow on Facebook, too.

Here are just a few of the giveaways that you’ll see there in March:

~Bed Bath & Beyond Gift Cards
~$50 Amazon Gift Card
~Fitness DVDs/Games/Equipment
~$50 Grocery Store Gift Card (Winner’s Choice)
~Starbucks Gift Cards

So keep watching for them on Glowing Gazelles as they won’t last long! The giveaways are exclusively for Coupon Geek and Glowing Gazelles readers and their friends/family.

I hope that you enjoy this year’s “Marching into Fitness” fun again!

Ways to Spruce up a Salad

One of the things they stress for a healthier dish is to eat salad. When you think salad, you might think iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers with a bunch of dressing on top. But salads can be so much more than a simple side salad. Here are a few ways that I’ve found to spruce up a salad so you can have it several times a week without it becoming too dull:

1) Vary your Lettuce Types – I used to just eat iceberg lettuce but I started trying the Earthbound Farm kits with varying types and they’ve started to grow on me. Consider making your salad with a few types of lettuce such as spinach, romaine, oak leaf, arugula, etc.

2) Vary your Dressings – I like to try new salad dressings all the time. I’ve even mixed a few things at home when my budget gets low. I’ve had luck with mustard and cranberry juice and I also sometimes like to just stir in some homemade salsa. The juices mixed with the contents of the salad can make a decent dressing.

3) Add Sun-Dried Tomatoes – These tend to add a little chewy sweetness to your salad. You can also Make Your Own Sun-Dried Tomatoes from your garden to save on money.

4) Add Berries (or other fruit)- I never thought of adding fruit to my salad until I ordered one like that in a restaurant a few years ago. The juices from them can help create their own dressing, too. My favorites are strawberries and blueberries but I’ve seen salads with apples, oranges, bananas, pears, watermelon, etc.

5) Add Nuts – Give your salad a little crunch with some walnuts, almonds, etc.

6) Add Beans or Hard Boiled Egg – Helps get a little extra protein, too. Garbonzo,  cannellini and black beans are ones you’ll often find in larger salad bars.

7) Add Seafood, such as Tuna, Salmon, Cooked Shrimp, etc – Find healthier varieties and add a little Omega-3s to your salad.

8 ) Load it up with Chopped Veggies – Add things such as cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, corn, asparagus, peas, radishes, broccoli, carrots, cooked and chilled squash/sweet potatoes, cucumbers, etc.

9) Add a little “salad reward” – It’s kind of fun to find “hidden treasure” in your salad by adding a little bit of something worth digging for that may not be 100% healthy like bacon pieces or those things that you need to limit such as avocados, olives, or cheese/dairy products. I also like to sometimes add things that are a little more expensive when I can, such as artichoke hearts, baby corns, hearts of palm, etc.

In the end, the best way to avoid salad burnout is to keep making them different so they seem like a new meal. Keep some fruits and veggies on hand to spruce up your salad and also for a healthier snack later in the day. Just be sure to watch your dressings that you add to your salads, as they are the way to take it from healthy to not healthy very fast! A great way to encourage more salad eating is to grow your own vegetable garden. I had fairly good luck growing several varieties of lettuce last year. And if you need more ideas to add to your salad, take a peek at the salad bars at your stores/restaurants near you. You might find a new item to add to your salad to spruce it up even more!

I’m hoping some of these ideas might help you get a little more salad into your weekly diet, if you need to!

Are You Ready to Zumbaaaaaaaa?!

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from juggling a life of being a blogger and a Mommy, it’s that you really must be flexible and adapt when things don’t quite go as planned. I had wanted so much to get in my annual “Marching Into Fitness” month focusing on health and fitness items and life dealt me a different path. I spent most of March battling a terrible case of bronchitis and a sinus infection. I had just enough in me to get up my daily postings and not much more. I try to blog from my heart and my heart was not saying, “Fitness” but “Sleep…get some sleep!”  All my extra energies, which were limited, were spent on my family–just as it should be.

Thankfully we are healthy here now and ready to get back to our regularly scheduled programming, so to speak.  And in a sense, I’m glad it was delayed because I think it’s going to be a much better month and here’s why….

I didn’t realize how many of you would be interested in Zumba Fitness For Wii. At the time, I only had one to giveaway but I’ve picked up a few more so that I can do this—Every Monday for the rest of April I will be giving away a copy of Zumba Fitness For Wii. I really do love this game and I want to offer you all a few chances to win one. So many of you are like me and lead a busy life, unable to make it to a gym. So I’m hoping this will give a few of my readers a chance to have this fun “class” at home. I’ll be adding a little update on how my progress on the game is going with each new giveaway–motivating me to use mine all the more.

While fitness may not seem like a “hot deal” I have to tell you that it IS! Taking care of yourself and your family is such a great investment–one that not only could save you so much money in the future on medical bills but also may give you a longer, healthier life with your family–and that is priceless and the best deal that I can ever share with you on this site!

So stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for those giveaways each week and all the others that are coming at you–including one that will make one of my lucky readers go Wii Wii Wii all the way home! :)

Note: This posting is not for a giveaway. Just an update as to what’s coming soon.

Coming in February: Fitness Month

My hubby and I decided we’d try our luck at another 5K this year so we signed up for one this spring. That means I need to start training again as I’d love to improve the time of the first one I ran last year. It shouldn’t be too hard considering I had no training for it! :)

I’ve been very fortunate to have been given some giveaways from some of my sponsors that focus on either fitness or just healthier items. So each week, I’ll be giving away an item that I’ve received from them or one that I’ve personally bought just for this series and just sharing with you briefly what I’ve been working on myself to get some much needed fitness into  my life.

I had such fun sharing my journey in September when I was doing the Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred. So many of you joined in and even shared your own personal experiences.

So, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy these little segments and possibly find a little encouragement to get a little more fitness into your weekly routines, too.

Marching Into Fitness: Healthy Food Choices and Kids


While I was watching TV earlier this last week, I saw a preview for a new show starting called, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” It sounded interesting so I set my DVR to record it. Oddly, it only recorded one of the two hours. So I still need to go back and watch the first episode on ABC online. (So if you missed either or both, you can still watch it and get caught up. It’s going to be an ongoing series that airs on Friday evenings on ABC.)

Now while I obviously don’t know what any of the other episodes will be like going forward, I did love most of what I saw in the last one. I was amazed at how when fixed healthier foods in the elementary school, that the kids wouldn’t eat them or asked for pizza and chicken nuggets. I had a sickening feeling in my stomach when he took a chicken carcass and then ground it up in a food processor. He showed the kids the “mess” and they were disgusted by it until he formed it in a patty and fried it up. Then they still wanted to eat it since it resembled a chicken nugget, despite knowing it was guts, bones and tissues. But what really made me sad was when he went into a classroom of 6 year olds and they didn’t know the difference between potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.

It had me wondering what my children would do in situations such as these. I do know that my 3 year old can tell you what almost any vegetable is and my 16M old could pick up most of them that you asked her to find.  But what about when given the choice between healthy and processed food choices? Well, yesterday when I was at my nieces birthday party, I saw one example. My sister had made a cake that had blueberries and strawberries on top that formed a flag pattern. When she cut my 16M old a piece of cake, she gobbled down the fruit and wanted more, not interested so much in the cake. She then went on to eat half a bowl of fresh cut-up strawberries leaving the cake behind on her plate.

I’ve done what I can to give my children healthy meals. We always sit at the table for our meals and while I don’t deprive them of chicken nuggets, pizza or french fries, they are always given several healthy options to choose from. They will choose milk over juice boxes. Several times they want an apple, banana or grapes over chips. And put some blueberries on the table and it’s like they block out anything else that’s served.

I try to include them in on making our meals, as well. I only let them watch/help when there’s absolutely no chance of them getting cut by a knife or burnt from a hot oven or what’s on the stove. But they can do little things like washing vegetables/fruit, stirring things in a bowl or even adding ingredients to an unplugged and cold crockpot. Like they said on the show, having your children be involved in the making of meals is also an important process for what they choose to eat.

While I’m not sure how much of the show is “real” or just “reality show real” I did like the message that it offered: Start your kids off young knowing about healthy choices and making sure their meals aren’t all processed foods. So I’m hoping that you will also take a look at the choices you offer your kids this week and try to include several healthier choices. I know I’m going to be asking myself at every meal—are there enough healthy choices here? While I can’t control the choices they’ll make later in life, I would like to give them the foundation that they need at a young age to be healthier later in life.

Marching Into Fitness: Little Changes, Big Rewards


One of the mistakes that I find myself often repeating when it comes to altering my diet and fitness levels is that I take it on full force at a gazelle level and burn out quickly. I get so excited about my latest ambition to succeed at a healthier lifestyle and instead of setting off at a jogging pace, I take off at a sprint. This would be OK if it were a short little race but honestly, altering a lifestyle is more like taking on a marathon. You have to pace yourself. I mean, it’s not like I just overnight starting making unhealthier eating choices or not allowing myself to find time throughout my day to exercise. So I can’t expect myself to just change every bad habit overnight. (Though I wish I could!)

I have to keep reminding myself that little changes will bring big rewards and the most important thing I can do is to have patience and to continue to praise myself for each little accomplishment I make along the way.

I had really great success this last summer when I took on some little changes to my eating habits. I didn’t just completely stop eating junk food and switch to veggies or tofu or anything. But I just made tiny changes over time. Once again, I’ve taken on this same mindset and have had luck with eating healthier and squeezing in some exercise since I’ve been back from the Blissdom conference. I thought I would share some of the things that I’ve been doing. (But please, keep in mind something very important; you must never change your diet or exercise routine without consulting with your physician first. Also, what works for me, may not work for you. You must find what works well for you and keeps you the healthiest.):

1) Cut back on “nibbling” on food when I prepare meals – This is a tough one for me. I often find myself distracted when I cook and that seems to lead to eating part of a meal before I even get to the table! So now, I either chew gum, nibble on fruit or just altogether force myself to be conscious of what I’m eating. It also helps that I did a Freezer Cooking Session and I’m spending less time cooking this month.

2) Serving Food Family Style – I used to dish up the plates trying to take a guess at what everyone would like and to the amounts they’d eat. Now, I serve everything “family style” and we just take little bits of food at a time. If I do go to add food to my plate, I’m very aware of anything extra and take note of it—am I really hungry or did I not allow myself time to digest what I already ate? I also seem to have less food to throw away from our plates and more leftovers when we do this. But you have to be careful not to allow yourself too many extra servings, which can happen with the food being so easily accessible. (Ask your Dr./Nutritionist what are healthy portions for you to follow.)

3) Cut up fruit/veggies at each meal – Every night at dinner, I cut up a big bowl of fruit and/or veggies. I serve up what I think is a healthy portion of my other food and then when I feel like I’m still hungry, I choose to eat from the fruit/veggie bowl instead.

4) Quit eating what’s the kids leave on plates – I have a hard time throwing food out. So I let the kids choose what they want now (again from the family style serving). I always make sure they get their proper nutrition but by letting them make their own choices, there’s less to throw away. Also, I tend to put less on my own plate in case they pick something and don’t end up liking it. Otherwise, it’s so easy to end up eating way too much.

5) Choosing healthier foods – Overall, we eat fairly healthy as a family. But I am making even more of a conscious effort to make sure our snacks are healthy and that “junk food” or candy etc is something we have just at random or as a treat. Side dishes are more along the lines of yogurt, steamed veggies, or fruit and sometimes cheese or pickles, as opposed to fried or greasy foods.

6) I’m eating a little slower – It used to be a guarantee that I’d always be the last person done eating at any meal. But just over pregnancies and then trying to make sure I got myself and the little kids fed, I think I’ve almost trained myself to eat faster. I’ve been trying to make an effort to pace myself and actually try to enjoy my meals than to inhale them now. :)

7) Squeezing in exercise when I can – I have a hard time getting in full exercise segments, as I mentioned, so I now opt for “Time for 10″ with the kids or even use the Just Dance Wii game with them. (They don’t follow the steps but create their own little dance steps!) I also use my EA Sports Active and other Wii games, as time permits. When the weather breaks, we’ll be getting in a lot more walks together.

I actually did an entire series on 30 Ways (Ideas) for Losing a Pound last year. They mostly focus on eating habits and not diet/nutrition advice. I’ve had a lot of readers email me that they’ve had really good luck with them. But again, keep in mind the important fact that you must consult your physician before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

I hope that by sharing some of the little changes I’ve been making that it will help inspire you to seek out a few of your own so you can slowly start working towards a healthier lifestyle. I’d love to hear what works for you, as well. I’m hoping that you’ll also find those little changes that add up to big rewards in the end!