Archive for the ‘health and fitness’ Category

5 Ways Your Kid’s Toys Keep You Fit

I know that adding exercise to your daily routine is a great way to keep healthy and energized and believe me, with 3 kids I need all the energy I can get. Starting a routine is easy, especially at the start of the new year; keeping a fitness routine can be harder. It doesn’t help that I work from home and have my 4-year old with me at home for half the morning. I actually thought having my kids start school would free-up my time but the whole half-day kindergarten is turning out to be more inconvenient than I thought. Now I wouldn’t change that but that’s another post.

All said and done, my situation isn’t going to change. At first I would bemoan not having time to do my workout but the more I thought about it the more I realized I’ve been working out all this time. If you have kids, you probably are too.

So here are 5 Ways Your Kid’s Toys Keep You Fit:

  1. Video Games. It may seem like 30-minutes of saving the alliance from the dark forces but if you’re like me and really get into playing videos games (especially on the Wii or Xbox Kinect) you’d be surprised how much of a sweat you can work-up. Bonus: you’re kids might even think you’re kinda cool. Kinda.
  2. Obstacle Course. My 6-year old son loves his hot wheels cars. He received a track extension set at Christmas which means he can make his own track with loops and jumps. Forget the standard loop with a hoop jump at the end, my son loves to make tracks that go over chairs, under book tunnels, around stuffies, all the way down the hallway on the second floor. Creative right? Sure, unless your office is on the third floor and the courier arrives and you have to dash and jump and swerve down the hall and stairs without killing yourself or ruining the track.
  3. Game Cupboard. I thought I was being smart, setting up our sideboard as a family game cupboard. The idea was that kids could easily pull out a game to play together or on their own to use right on the dining room table. This would cut-down on the requests for me to pull out a game and tidy them up. In theory this is great if you only have a few games but over the years we have amassed quiet a large collection. It’s like a puzzle to try to get something out of there and fit it back in, which means I end up back into the routine of digging out and putting away the games. Who wants to play a game after 20-minutes of digging out from the back of the Jenga game cupboard?
  4. Clean-up Chase. My 6 and 8-year old are pretty good at tidying up after playing with their toys. My 4-year old, however, is a work in progress. This usually involves me running around, looking under beds, in closets, behind doors, to find my hiding 4-year old. I think she takes the expression ‘out of sight, out of mind’ a little too literally when it comes to putting her toys away.
  5. The Clean-Up. Like I said in point four, my older two kids are pretty good at tidying up but no one’s perfect. This means there are books in the bathroom, boats and plastic sharks in the tub, pencil crayons and play dough pieces under the table and Lego everywhere. You can get a good workout slipping on, stepping over, bending down to pick-up, sorting out, reshelving these items all over the house.

Even if your kids are super tidy or don’t have toys, trying taking them grocery shopping. A trip to the grocery store can be a workout on its own (with or without kids). If you’re looking for more of a structured workout, checkout these hi-tech options on EverythingMom.

So next time you’re picking up the umpteenth piece of Lego buried in the shag carpet, remind yourself that this is for your own good, that you’re giving your body a workout so you can be around for years and years (and years) to come and your children are still living in your basement, unemployed. Hmm, maybe I’ll rethink this workout craze.

Taking Your Heart to Heart

When you think of February you probably think about Valentine’s Day, sending thoughts of love to those near and dear to us. February is also Heart Month, a time to focus on our heart, taking care of our heart, loving our heart.

Sure, I know my heart is important, I don’t think anyone would dispute that, but do I do anything about it? I think I’m like most people, taking my heart for granted. I’m young(ish). I exercise, though maybe not as regularly as I should. I try to eat healthy. I drink the occasional glass of wine. But I’m too young to really worry about a stroke. My job isn’t stressful enough to be that concerned about a heart attack. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But that all changed on Thursday.

The office secretary at my children’s school died suddenly after suffering a heart attack.

I couldn’t believe the news when I heard it. The secretary and I didn’t get along that well (I wrote about our encounter one morning), but my kids liked her; they dealt with her every day and she was pleasant to them, usually. My feelings aside, I would never wish something so terrible to befall her. My older kids were upset about the whole event but it did give me pause to think. It reminded me that life is short; no matter what your age, death comes far too soon. There’s always things we plan on doing ‘someday’. This whole experience reminded me that you have to enjoy what you’re doing now; do what you want to do now. It’s one reason my husband is changing jobs, to live a better quality of life and spend more time with his kids. It was a message we passed on to our kids by making time to enjoy things now, take trips together as a family, telling each other often how much we love each other and appreciate each other.

Taking care of your heart emtionally is important, being happy and sharing love, but physically taking care of your heart is key too.

Eat healthy.
Exercise regularly.
Stop smoking.
Don’t do things in excess.

These are just a few things the Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests as preventative ideas on their site The Heart Truth. This is a great site to find out the warning signs and evaluate your risk. Making changes can be easier said than done but the Heart and Stroke Foundation has a program, Heartbeats, which will set out a whole healthy heart plan for you for the year, delivering an achievable step once a week right to your inbox.

My kids are still young. I want to be around a long time to experience everything with them. That means I need to take care of my heart. Taking care of my heart means my heart will take care of mean. That’s not a bad trade off is it.

Happy Heart Month!

Grocery Store Workout

Squeezing a workout into my day can be hard at the best of times, but when grocery day comes along, it’s next to impossible. Or so I thought.

On a recent trip to the grocery store with my 3-year-old I quickly discovered how I had incorporated a workout into our trip without even realizing it. A little fine tuning and now I have The Grocery Store Workout. And because I’m the sharing type, I’m going to let you in on my fabulous new routine, absolutely free (did that sound infomercial-y enough).


Dis-Organize Your List – If you’re the type to make a grocery list, you probably try to group everything into sections: fruits and vegetables, dairy, bread, meat, frozen, other, etc. The first step to the Grocery Store Workout is to stop being so organized. Instead write your list randomly and stick to it. So you start with milk (have you ever noticed this is usually the product furthest from the door), then walk all the way back to get a bag of oranges, then over to grab some frozen carrots and back to get bread…You see where I’m going, all over the place. You’ll get quite the workout just walking back and forth through the store.

Grab the Overstock – You know all stores have overstock shelves. These are usually the top shelves where extra product is stored for quick reshelving. Forget picking up the easily accessible chicken broth in front of you. Instead reach up, way up, to the overstock shelf to get the same product. Climbing up the shelves is a bonus workout.

Use the child – When I go shopping I usually have my 3-year-old in tow (I plan my trip when my two oldest are in school for obvious reasons). Like most preschoolers, my daughter is going through her defiant stage, better known as the ‘whatever mom wants me to do, I’ll do the opposite’ stage. I know, cute right? We usually start the trip with her wanting to walk and help, then she gets tired and wants to sit in the cart only to revert back to walking 5-minutes later. You would be amazed at how heavy a 3-year-old is, especially when you’re trying to wrestle her in and out of those shopping cart seats. Forget cursing under your breath when your child asks to get out of or in the cart for the tenth time. Instead, imagine the great upper arm workout you’re getting.

Push the cart – You know there’s a cart in that stack of carts with a defective wheel. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll find  it without even looking. These carts are great to use as part of your workout since they always seem to pull to the left or right. It takes a great effort to keep your cart from ramming into the little old lady shuffling in front of you or the giant glass pickle bottle display on the corner of the aisle.

Last minute items – The best part of the Grocery Store Workout is the last minute item sprint. These are the items that, as you finish unloading the cart at the checkout, you realize you forgot to pick-up and you MUST have them (potato chips tend to fall in this category). This is where you make a mad dash through the store, dodging other shoppers, to get your missing item(s). This works best if you think about the disapproving looks you will get from the cashier and other customers should you take too long and keep them all waiting.

Follow this what should be a twenty-minute but more like an hour workout and you won’t feel bad about missing the gym or not getting to your workout video that day. Remember, you bought chips when you were out right? A perfect way to cool down. And eat one, breath out, eat two, breath out.

Happy Shopping!

Getting Old versus Growing Old

I know I’ll grow old and I’m fine with that, sort of. What I want to avoid is getting old. Confused? There is a difference. Growing old is all part of your life-cycle; it’s inevitable. You body doesn’t have the same shape or react the same way but you have more free time, even if it’s just spent napping.

Getting old on the other hand has nothing to do your physical abilities. It can sometimes have nothing to do with your age, though many older people fall into the getting old trap.

People who are getting old are those who have quickly forgotten what it’s like to be young, to be a kid. I tend to notice these people more when I’m out with my kids, like at church today. Father was talking and yes you are supposed to be a good Catholic and listen quietly and attentively, but try telling that to a three-year-old. My daughter was pretending her fingers were people talking. It wasn’t loud but loud enough to disturb the ‘old’ woman sitting in front of us. How quietly would you sit while someone gave a speech on how calculus evolved. Not what father was talking about but the point is it’s hard for anyone to sit still and be interested when the topic isn’t of interest to you.

Old people seem to forget what it was like when they were young. Perhaps that part of their memory has eroded away. Along with the part that sensors the crazy things they say ‘I feel sorry for your son. If you don’t cut his hair he’s going to grow-up thinking he’s a girl.‘ Yes, we’ve had to deal with the ignorant side of those getting old too. And the part that stimulates logical thinking; why else would a person with a cane and the inability to move faster than a sloth decide to cross a busy street without using a cross walk.

I have to be careful though, I think I’ve noticed hints of growing old in myself. It usually comes out as impatience. My three-year-old wants to get herself dressed and her socks have to be perfect (seams lined up and everything). My son HAS to build the extra dungeon in his Lego fortress before coming down to dinner. Sometimes I find it hard to remember what it was like learning and practicing new skills or loving what you’re doing so much you just can’t stop. Or maybe it’s not that I’ve forgotten but rather I don’t think the skills my kids are learning (and I’ve mastered) or the activities that interest them (and not me) deserve the same consideration as my own new skills and interest. It’s hard enough getting through childhood without having people, including your mom, discourage or short-change what kids are doing. I think I need to work a little more on avoiding getting old. Hopefully my kids are patient enough with me while I learn.

Being sick makes you pretty thankful

I know Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone but all the Thanksgiving posts and tweets from my friends in the United States have me thinking. Sitting on the kitchen floor with my iPhone waiting for my kid’s store bought pizza lunch to cook, I realize all the things I’m truly grateful for when I’m not well:

  • the already prepared food section of the grocery store so my kids can have a lunch consisting of more than crackers and the pickles in the bottom of the pickle jar.
  • the television, even without cable, that so aptly turns my kids into zombies and gives me an hour or two to sleep without interruptions.
  • the twitterverse that entertains, amuses, consoles and connects me to the outside world from the comfort of my fuzzy PJs and down comforter.
  • the age and number of kids I have so they can care for and entertain themselves in a pinch. I can’t imagine having to take care of an infant or having just one child that needs to be entertained. My seven-year old daughter made her younger brother and sister breakfast, even if it did include items covered in powdered sugar. I love them.
  • the seat heaters in my van that keeps the chill away as I make an emergency milk run to the grocery store. I could have fallen asleep in the parking lot all toasty warm if it wasn’t for those three kids bugging to get our of the van.

Being under the weather isn’t fun when you’re a mom and your responsibility don’t disappear, but at least these things make it doable until I’m on my feet again tomorrow. Because we all know mom’s have the incredible ability to be taken out by a bug for one day only. Something else I’m thankful for.

And in this corner…

School’s in full swing, the weather is colder and the flu bug seems to be creeping around every corner, time for the flu fighting gloves to come off.

Before I had kids I never got sick, okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I certainly didn’t get sick as much as when I had kids. There’s something about kids and bugs. And with this new flu strain, the H1N1 virus, you can’t help but worry about your child’s health and well being.

We haven’t changed our routines any when it comes to staving off the flu and colds and so far this season we’ve been lucky (knock on wood). Some of the things we’ve been doing to keep us bug free are:

  • Drinking plenty of water to flush the system and a good nights sleep so the body can re-energize (sadly that doesn’t seem to include me lately).
  • Keeping the fingers out of noses (which is much harder than it sounds) and ensuring finger nails are always clean and trimmed short (it’s amazing what can hide in my oldest daughter’s nails if not cut).
  • Blowing the nose to get ‘stuff’ out instead of sniffling and keeping it in.
  • Increasing the body’s immunity system. Checkout my review of Nayla Natural‘s Anti-Monster Spray immunity system booster
  • Regular and proper hand washing. This is a big one. To ensure my kids spend enough time scrubbing with the soap they now have to sing a song. A chorus of Happy Birthday and We Wish you a Merry Christmas seem just long enough. Only after the chorus can they rinse. Here are my two youngest to demonstrate (though my shy two-year old seems to have lost her voice, especially when she realized the camera was on her):

But sometimes even with the best intentions and practices kids get sick. If your child does get sick here are a few simply measures you can follow from The Ontario Ministry of Health:

  • Treat your child’s fever. Take off heavy clothing/blankets. Dress your child in lightweight clothing and keep the room temperature at 20C (68F). Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and muscle pain in the dose recommended on the package (unless your doctor says other wise).
  • Treat your child’s other flu symptoms. Encourage your child to get plenty of rest. Use salt-water nose drops to treat a stuffy nose. (See my review of the non-medicated Breathe Right nasal strips for kids we tried.) As your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines for cough.
  • Protect others from the flu. Keep you child at home until his/her fever has been absent for at least 24 hours and he or she is feeling well enough to resume normal activities. It’s important for your child to stay home if there’s a fever so that the virus doesn’t spread to other children. Your child can return to school 24 hours after the fever has resolved and he/she is feeling well enough to get back to normal activities.

If you’re concerned that your child has more than just a simple cold or flu, you can take The Ontario Ministry of Health‘s online Influenza assessment tool. The Ontario Ministry of Health has also set-up a pretty comprehensive flu section on their site. There you’ll be able to find details on the open flu vaccination clinics, tips on staying healthy, information on the H1N1 vaccine and more.

Here’s to winning the fight against the flu.

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central and received a Mom Central gift pack to thank me for taking the time to participate.