Winter Blues

This New York gal has got the blues. It’s fair enough to say that I think we’ve gotten our fair share of snow this winter. And with great snow, comes great shoveling…

Now, to stay on the bright side, I have to say I don’t mind shoveling, since it’s productive (yes, I need to get my car out of it’s snowy tomb) and it’s quite the workout! So we’ve had about 7 snowstorms so far (and one complete with thunder!) and we’re in the midst of an ice storm.

Check out my car, it looks sort of like an orca whale’s eye, if you look at it the right way… No? Just me?

Now, with the 18+ inches of snow we got last week, and the ice storm we’re waiting out right now, I have a hard time motivating myself to leave the comforts of my warmer-than-outside home. This hasn’t boded well for my food intake, or my fitness. So, I’ve taken to doing simple things to make better use of what’s going on outside the house and inside my body!

This is a unique opportunity for me to get extra creative with what I cook. I could whip up a batch of chile with my eyes closed under any normal circumstances, but with no onions left, and not many other supplies, I’ve had to dig into the depths of the pantry and use what may has been neglected.

Dried beans have been my savior and I’ve eaten chickpeas more ways than I can count. Luckily I find if I add enough spices, you can make anything taste gourmet. Chickpeas with chile powder, cumin, garlic, onion powder, curry powder and a can of chopped tomatoes made an excellent last minute meal.

It’s also made me realize just how much food goes to waste, even in my household where we’re extra conscience about how much we buy. There have been some eggplants sitting in the crisper (which is by far the worst place to keep food in my opinion, how easy is it to forget that it’s there?!?) so those also went into making an impromptu indian dish (see the spices above, substitute eggplant for chickpeas). Bam! Another easy meal, without even having to leave the house! Other than to de-ice the driveway for the 3rd time…

As far as indoor fitness goes, I’ve been lucky enough to have held onto an Amazon.com gift card for quite some time, and purchased myself an Xbox with Kinect!

After visiting my college roommate in upstate New York and experiencing playing around with this, I was convinced that I needed one. It gets me moving and it’s interactive, which is something I definitely need. I’m not good at doing workout videos, and I’m a little hesitant to join a class, but for some reason if it’s a game, I’m all for it!

So those are just my wintertime hibernation solutions that I’ve been using to stay well so far this winter. And even though the groundhog may not have seen his shadow and Spring is on it’s way, I have a feeling we’ve still got some more shoveling ahead of us…

 

Marissa

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Keep On Keepin’ On

I have been a bad, bad blogger, you guys. Not only have I not been cooking anything exciting, I haven’t even been on the computer in over 54 hours. Getting to the gym has also been a struggle. I don’t know about you, but this winter is hitting me hard. If I had the energy, I would make a line graph showing the positive correlation between the snow accumulation and my level of motivation. Shoveling every other day + 20 hours at work + 21 hours at my internship + running as much as I can =

Exhaustion!!!

Apologies for complaining, but I believe that venting is an important stress management tool. Recently, I’ve been going out of my way to do things that reduce my stress.

Mike and I have been going for long walks on the weekend to get some exercise and absorb a little vitamin D. We recently took a 5 mile hike around this lake, in which we encountered a flock of birds. Swans are enormous, by the way.  Don’t these remind you a little of The Beatles?!

Another way that I’ve been relieving some stress is by indulging in an hour of knitting a few times a week. I’m not very skilled yet, so I’m just trying to practice making things that are outside of my comfort zone.

Kind of like these 1 Up mittens for Mike! These were the first mittens I’ve ever made and the first intarsia work I’ve ever done. As you can see, the left one is a little wonky because that’s the one that I did all by myself without the help from my very talented mother.

Indulging in delicious sushi has also been part of my stress relief routine. It’s important to treat your body, mind, and soul every once in a while.

 

What are some ways that you get yourself out of a mid-winter funk? I’d love to hear your motivation tips!

 

–Ariel

Make Like An Onion!

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “make like a banana and split!” Today, I made up my own saying that I’m sure will catch like wildfire as well. “Make like an onion and layer.” Anyone that’s seen Shrek will remember the scene in which Shrek explains to Donkey that ogres, like onions, have layers. Then, of course, Donkey says that instead of an onion, the analogy should be with parfait instead because “everybody loves parfait!” So if you don’t like onions, “make like a parfait and layer.” Maybe it needs some work…Its lack of a punchline might not make you chuckle, but it will serve as a reminder of how you can enjoy the outdoor sports that go hand in hand with the winter weather.

I’m finally home on a two week winter break! I have plans to cook, bake, clean, read, knit, reunite with friends, and SLEEP. I also want to exercise in order to maintain the strength and stamina I’ve worked to achieve. At school, it was easy- the gym is a 10 minute walk from my apartment, so I was able to set aside an hour and a half 3-4 times per week to get some running in. Given that I’m only home for a short period of time, I want to try to branch out from my gym routine to enjoy the colder weather. I know that enjoying the cold weather may seem like an oxymoron, but as long as you have the right “tools,” being outside can be refreshing and invigorating.

I will admit that at first, I was hesitant to run outside. It’s cold, windy, and grey, and completely outside of my comfort zone. Then I realized, that this was the perfect excuse for me to venture outside. Instead of New Year Resolutions, I’ve decided to set some New You Solutions for myself (more on that later!). One of my solutions is to try some activities outside of my comfort zone. So I layered up, grabbed my iPod and I was out the door. Running in the colder weather is just like anything else- the hardest part is getting started. I stood at the top of my driveway for about 30 seconds, and then I was off, and didn’t look back. Believe it or not, I took off my mittens about 15 minutes into the run.

Having proper tools is important, as is their quality.  I wear wool socks because they are comfortable and will keep your feet warm even if they get wet. I also wear 2 pairs of pants- a pair of spandex leggings underneath, and a pair of long underwear from EMS. On top, a short-sleeved wicking shirt from TJ Maxx, a long-sleeved thermal from The North Face Outlet, and a fleece vest.

Again, wool is your best friend for outdoor activities. A headband and gloves are vital when temperatures are low. Even though I know I’ll probably end up taking my gloves off, I never leave home without them. This is one of those “more is more” cases.

If putting on all the layers doesn’t get me amped up to run, I think about how great I’m going to feel at the end. If THAT doesn’t help, upbeat music is always the answer.

 

Does your exercise regime change during the winter months? What do you do to motivate yourself? Email us at apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com

–Ariel

No Business Like Snow Business

I must say that out of all the seasons, winter is not my favorite (even though it is my birthday season). I don’t really mind the cold, but the harsh wind and potential dangerous driving conditions are what gets me. That, and the fact that the 12+ inches of snow we got last night is inhibiting my ability to go out for a run. In the kitchen, I use the “use what you have” mentality, and I think the same applies for the winter weather. So while I may not be able to get my usual exercise by running, I have alternative methods.

That’s right, snowshoeing. My parents have had snowshoes for as long as I can remember, and although I don’t look forward to the snow, when it comes, I always look forward to snowshoeing. Yes, you can go walking or hiking in the snow without snowshoes, just make sure that you wear gaiters and boots with a good tread. The great thing about snowshoeing is that if you can walk, you can snowshoe. They even make shorter snowshoes that are meant for running. My family likes to race.

Shoveling is another great way to get a little exercise in. It may seem like a chore, but if you have some company, or some great music on your iPod, it will go by quickly. Make sure that you lift with your legs, not your back, and you’ll feel the burn in your arms and legs. Another great arm workout? Baking. Put away the stand or hand mixer for the day and use some of your muscle power to whip up a recipe or two. My arms got a great workout mixing up Alice Medrich’s chocolate chip biscotti recipe. If you haven’t already, borrow her new book “Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies” from your local library, or go out and buy it. There are some really stellar recipes in there. After a day of snowshoeing or hiking in the cold, there is nothing more satisfying than a big cup of chai or coffee. I thought that biscotti would make for a perfect afternoon snack.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Combine 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl and whisk together.

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 1/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar, 1/4 plus 2 T packed brown sugar,  and 1 tsp vanilla extract until well combined

Like so!

Add in the flour mixture, and then add 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or any other nut you like. Don’t like nuts? Add more chocolate! Don’t like chocolate! Try some dried fruit!). I found that the easiest way to incorporate the flour mixture and the nuts and chocolate was to use your hands. They are your best tools!

The dough will be very thick. Scrape the dough onto a greased baking sheet into 2 skinny strips 16-17 inches long and at least 3 inches apart.

Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Let the biscotti cool for 15 minutes, leaving the oven on

Transfer the loaves to a cutting board, and use a serrated knife to slice the loaves into 1/2-inches slices. Stand the cookies up on the baking sheets at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy!

How do all of you deal with the inclement weather?  We’d love to hear from you at apostiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com

 

–Ariel

Hibernation Mode

Hi all! I don’t know about you, but I have had the most difficult time getting out of bed in the morning. I’m making a conscious effort to go to bed early(ish) but I must say, this sudden cold weather is making me want to retreat under the covers until spring time. Here are a few slight changes that I’m making to ensure that I function to my best ability, despite the unappealing chill factor.

(photo cred:chicklitplus.com)

Drink more water. Everyone knows that you’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but when it’s cold out, I think we tend toward drinks like coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages that warm us up. Therefore, if you don’t make a conscious effort to sip some water, it’s much easier to get dehydrated. Drinking water in the winter is also essential because it hydrates your skin! If you find that your skin is drier and flakier than usual, or your lips are chapped or cracked, think about upping your water consumption! I keep a 1 liter water bottle in the refridgerator at my job and make sure to drink at least 1.5 liters throughout the day.

Eat energizing foods. Colder weather usually means cravings for comforting foods. I find that while I may crave sweets, especially at night (hello, old Halloween candy!) and comforting carbs, I feel lethargic after eating them. I have been making big pots of lentil stew so that I can quickly heat up a bowl for lunch or dinner. By throwing in roasted carrots, celery, tomatoes and spinach in with the protein-packed lentils, it makes for a nutritious, energizing, and comforting meal. At night, instead of reaching for the big bag of M&Ms and peppermint patties that my supervisor gave me, I have been having a small piece of dark chocolate and an orange, or a cup of homemade hot cocoa (with skim milk!) and an apple. Listen to your body and try to get to the root of your cravings! If you’re craving pretzels and chips, you probably want something savory, so reach for vegetables with hummus or some air-popped popcorn with a little olive oil and sea salt. Craving candy and sweets? Try making a baked apple with nutmeg and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, or sprinkle some orange segments with cinnamon. It’s all about eating what makes you feel good.

Get moving! I know this is a no-brainer, but during the cold months, I make it a point to get some sort of physical activity at least once a day. It’s difficult because it’s getting darker earlier, so many of us leave for work or class in the morning when it’s still relatively dark out, and then don’t get out until the sun is setting. These in-between months are also difficult because while you may not want to do the outdoor activities that you were doing over the summer, it’s not yet time for winter sports, such as snow shoeing, skiing, and ice skating. I love running outside, but the cold air makes my lungs very unhappy. Instead of running outside after work, I’ve started to take walks during my lunch hour. I picked up some warm shirts and pants at The North Face Outlet a few years ago (sample sale win!) and I try to go walking at noon (don’t forget sunscreen!), which is the warmest part of the day. Remember to wear a hat and gloves on those extra chilly days. Not only do I feel physically good afterward, my mental state is much better too. Taking a mini mental break lets me start the afternoon with a clear head, and I don’t fall into a slump around 3 pm. Luckily, since I’m on a campus, I have free(!!) access to a gym. If you don’t have a gym membership, I would recommend exploring alternative activities. If walking outside isn’t for you, how about exercising in the comfort of your own home? I have had really great results from various workout dvds, such as Fat Burning Yoga. I took out a bunch of dvds from the public library, and this was one of my favorites. If you haven’t found a video that works best for you, check out what your library has, and after you’ve found one that you like, you can always buy it on ebay or Amazon! If you want a short workout, Jillian Michaels has a few videos that I enjoy. I’ve tried the Yoga Meltdown as well as the 30 Day Shred. I only do these workouts when I’m pressed for time, since they are each about 25 minutes long. If you aren’t a fan of workout dvds, use what you have! Run up and down your stairs a few times, vacuum your entire house or apartment, or do push-ups and sit-ups during the commercials of your favorite television show. Anything to get your heart rate up, and those endorphins released!

Soak up some rays. Getting a good dose of Vitamin D can have a positive impact on your mood, and all it takes is 15 minutes of exposure a day! It’s easy to go from work to the gym to the couch and then spend the rest of the night watching The Vampire Diaries (what? It is the BEST show on tv. No, I’m not joking. Watch one episode and tell me the plotline isn’t stellar. Go ahead. I’ll wait) but by getting a little sunshine, you could see a marked improvement in your happiness.

Keep It Social, Smarty! It’s really easy to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy and to neglect any and all social plans. You may not be hibernating, but you might be isolating. I have been interning as a therapist for the past two years, and I can confidently say that in the fall and winter months, rates of depression increase. If you’re skipping out on plans with friends more often than not, take off those sweatpants, put on your going out clothes, and have a good time. If you’re feeling a little down about the cold, isolating yourself from your social support group is only going to exacerbate those feelings. It’s good to get out of your house once in a while, believe me, even if you just go to a friend’s house for dinner and a movie. Do something that makes you laugh, it’s good for your health.

What do you do to beat the cold weather blues? Or are you a fan of cooler temperatures? Email us at apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com!!