Spring Guidebook

Free Spring guidebook to help you get the most from this beautiful season. Whether it is during actual Springtime, or just when you have a season of growth. Click image below to access the digital PDF. Also available to print and use as a hard copy! I love to print off the foods to nourish pages and post in my kitchen for easy access while I menu plan.

Happy Spring!

Wintering

Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of Snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I rued.

-Robert Frost

I have always loved the side of winter that is surrounded by the glow of a thousand Christmas lights, but come Jan that glow is gone and winter feels like trampled snow, cold dirty and never ending. That is why when I came across the book “Wintering : The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May I was thrilled at the idea of someone trying to relate to winter in a different way. We used the concept of embracing the dark cold times in your life and re-contextualizing these moments to inspire us to live intentionally during every season of our life as the framework for the first three months of the year.

Many animals and plants use the winter time to rest and rejuvenate in order to come back in the spring ready to take on another year. We can do the same. This time of year can become one of preparation where we learn how to live joyfully and carry that throughout the rest of our year. The goal of the balance project for the first three months this year is to focus on “wintering”, embracing the difficult times for what they are, a change to grow and adapt and become stronger. Each month will have a theme that ties into the Wintering concept:

Restore-January
Hibernate- February
Prepare-March

2020 has been a challenge; (understatement of the year) and it may seem difficult to frame this new year in terms of joy but even small steps towards relating to a season you usually find to be long and dark is a step in the right direction.

30 Fun Ways to Move Your Body

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Joyful Ways to move your body

  1. Turn on a playlist of songs and dance!
  2. Take a walk around the block, take photos of your neighborhood as you do
  3. Take the stairs but listen to music as you do
  4. Walk a dog
  5. Walk or Bike to brunch instead of drive
  6. Do an online workout with friends before hanging out
  7. Yoga with Adriene YouTube video
  8. Play basketball
  9. Hula hoop
  10. Hike
  11. Pushups/sit-ups during a t.v. commercial break (or every 20 minutes during a movie)
  12. 7 minute workout (this is the app I use)
  13. Go to a pool and play water games
  14.  Make out with someone/have sex (had to include it 😉
  15. Deep clean your house while listening to a favorite podcast or album (save it for just when you clean so it’s motivating 😉
  16.  Throw on some spandex and do good old fashioned aerobics (jumping jacks, kicks, prancercise etc.)
  17.  Kick a soccer ball around with a friend
  18. LAUGH
  19.  Do just the stretches that feel good to you. Breath deeply during the stretching.
  20. Jump on a trampoline
  21. Go shopping (it’s true-it can burn calories). No purchases required.
  22. Put on a YouTube karate video and pretend you’re the karate kid
  23.  Play at a playground (just bring a kid, or go off hours so you’re not that creepy adult…)
  24. With support, try a handstand
  25.   Play a yard game with friends (tag, red rover, capture the flag, etc)
  26.  Sit on an exercise ball while hanging out, to engage core
  27.  Doorbell ditch treats to neighbors. Bonus points if you tuck and roll out of there to avoid being caught.
  28. Try partner yoga for a fun challenge
  29.  Run around with your kids, nieces/nephews, grand kids, or pet kid (plant kids do not work as well for this activity)
  30.  Stand in the sun, reach your arms up to the sky, breath deeply, and be grateful for your body.

I’m feeling better already! 😉

-Rachael

Fitness with a Purpose

Happy New Year from The Balance Project!

 

We’re going classic January goals this month with fitness being the theme. So many people want to recharge this month and we are all for it! Don’t let resolution haters get you down! Just make useful goals.

 

How to do that? For us, we decided the first step is discovering your purpose for becoming fit (or doing whatever goal you have in mind).  And at this time in our lives, we each have different purposes.

 

Kristin is getting ready to try and have another baby (yay!), I (Rachael) am working to become stronger/fitter after I recently had a baby.

 

So, first step for you is to WRITE DOWN YOUR PURPOSE! Find intention within what you are doing. Losing XXX lbs is not a helpful goal, and likely will become frustrating along your journey. Instead, write the “why” of your fitness goals, and then focus on how you want to FEEL as you continually work towards your goals.
Given our different purposes, our fitness plans will look quite different. And yours will look different from ours! But we wanted to share ours in the hopes one might resonate with someone, and it can help you work towards your goals.

 

Think of it like those exercise videos where one person is doing the advanced (Kristin), and then “if you need something more low key”, that’s me.
Kristin has developed a structured exercise program with daily practices, but that still allows for some flexibility. Her calendar can be printed HERE– Workout Plan with a Purpose, and you can use her schedule, or make your own depending on your needs.

 

In an attempt to get back into more regular and structured exercise, I am going to incorporate “joyful movement” into my daily life. The idea being that if I intentionally move my body every day in a way that I enjoy, it will help me want to continue to improve my physical health.

Tomorrow on the blog I am sharing 30 ideas of how you can move your body daily. If this is the level you are at, join me! Do something everyday and get your body moving in a way that FEELS GOOD!

 

Or, enter BEAST MODE and follow along with Kristin to really ramp up your fitness and see big strides this month!

 

Are you making fitness goals this month? Share with us what you do to keep your resolutions useful and attainable.

 

Start today-move your body, outside, in the gym, in your home–wherever! We are doing it right along with you.

-Rachael

 

Workout Plan with a Purpose

A few “during” photos, and journal entries. Week 1 to Week 4.

Remember how I don’t really like “before” and “after” photos? Mostly just calling them before and after. I do think it’s important to monitor your progress not only the scale but by how your clothes fit, and the visual progress you see.

My husband and I took some during photos before we started being more consistent with exercise, and tweaking our diet with less carbs and very limited sugar. And here’s the thing-I wasn’t perfect this month, but I still saw progress. I lost about 6 lbs, my jeans are looser, I feel stronger, and I can tell I am overall slightly leaner. These are not huge, dramatic changes, but they are a start on my ongoing journey. My goals continue to become stronger, and improve cardiac fitness. Also, while the first “during” shots are me when I am not at my fittest, I am grateful for my body then, and now, and I will be 1 year from now. Don’t hate on your body-it’s the only one you have 🙂

Week 1—–>Week 4

(don’t mind the socks and sandals haha. I didn’t know my husband would take a full body shot)

Check out my journal entries below as well. This is the most important part of health to me–how I feel.

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Sharing all this publically isn’t the easiest thing, but I hope it can help someone feel that they can make small changes that add up to improved health. I have definitely been inspired by others, and appreciate when people share their journey.

How to Find a Fitness Program or Gym That Works For You

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Fitness and health are super personal. We all have friends who swear by vegan/paleo/atkins/brightline/crossfit/yoga/running/weightlifting/*enter your preference here*. It can be overwhelming and confusing, but it is ok that people choose different ways to reach their health goals! It is ok that what works for one person is totally wrong for another. So, on the one hand, it’s confusing and overwhelming, but on the other…it’s awesome because you get to personalize what works for you from so many choices.

In general, I would make sure you study your choices and have some research or data behind it. It also helps to talk to your doctor or registered dietician or trainer or health guru or whoever you trust to give you solid advice. They can help you understand the “why” behind certain lifestyles, and give you tips to succeed.

As for us (and we are not your doctor OR your health gurus ; ), we prefer a balanced approach. Shocker! It just works for us to have moderation in all things, including with fitness and food. We’ve discussed food in previous months (paleo, Mediterranean, vegan), and continue to utilize each of those food styles in our own cooking styles.

This month is about fitness, and that ongoing journey we all are on. There is no “end”, as it is a continual thing we are striving for. That is why I don’t like “before” and “after” photos.

For some practical information:

  • Check with your insurance on gym membership discounts. Mine will give me and my husband up to $400 back a year on gym memberships. Nice! It won’t cover all the costs of the gym we chose, but it is a great chunk off.
  • Check with your employer on gym discounts. Mine gives discounts to gyms in the area, and combined with my insurance discount, it makes sense to join the gym! Look into combining several offers, and gyms can become affordable. I prefer a gym that doesn’t have a lot of “frills”, because I don’t want to pay $80-$150 a month for extras I’m not using. I am in and out of the gym, and just want to get my sweat on.
  • You don’t have to join a gym. Perhaps it doesn’t work financially, or perhaps timewise it doesn’t make sense to join a gym. Whatever your reason, home workouts are rapidly becoming more popular, and very effective. We all know there are companies out there who have their programs, and if you like that and have a friend who is a coach, by all means, go for it! They can be very helpful for people. But you don’t have to have a coach or join a program to be able to find great at home workouts. Here are some of our favorite resources for that:

Yoga with Adriene- We talked about Adriene in yoga month. She has been our favorite yogini for years, and still is.

Fitness Blender– Awesome husband and wife duo. Their workouts are effective, clear, minimal in the best way, and they have a lot of options to choose from.

Popsugar Fitness videos and workout posts–  Great for fun, “trendy” workouts. Who doesn’t want to train like a Victoria’s Secret Model sometimes 😉

Nike Training Club App– Workouts in the palm of your hand. Nike does a great job providing clear instructions, for whatever your goals are.

7 Minute Workout App– There are several versions of this basic app, this is just the one I use. It’s a great quick HIIT workout to get the blood going, and it’s really fun to notice how quickly the exercises get easier the more you do the workout (you are getting stronger!).

  • Take a hike. Seriously, it’s free, and awesome. (Walking in general is a great thing for your body).
  • Find a friend. Or don’t! Not everyone likes to workout with other people. And it’s totally ok to dig down and get your workout done alone. But if you thrive on company, and motivation from others, finding a buddy can really help.

 

Now then, who’s going to make some new goals this month? 🙂 Let us know what you like to do for exercise, and if you have any great ideas on how to make it more accessible or affordable.

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My Relationship with Fitness (and some tips to get started!)

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What is your relationship with fitness?

Mine has been a bit fickle, off and on, and under-appreciated. That’s not to say I haven’t pursued fitness in my life; I have, and it has helped me through some really important times. I’ve been fascinated by the human body since I was a teenager, and with fitness as an adult. I’ve always wanted to see what my body can do, but sometimes don’t know where to start. I’ve played sports, I’ve weight lifted, I’ve thrown myself into yoga… and I’ve enjoyed all of those things. It’s always a matter of falling back in love with exercising, each time I “take a break”.

It’s also a matter of finding something I love. I don’t love doing push-up after push-up for an hour each day. I don’t love running countless miles on a treadmill (or anywhere else for that matter). Over the years I’ve found what I DO enjoy — HIIT workouts, yoga, weight lifting, hiking, aerobic classes with friends, biking.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a theme of what I enjoy in fitness. Things that combine outdoors with fitness being some of my favorites, and also ones that help me feel strong and empowered, such as with weightlifting.

What’s your relationship with your body, and body image?

Yikes, loaded question! This one is mostly a self-reflection question, but I also really like to hear people’s answers. Mine has mostly been positive, but as I really think about it, I’ve definitely had times in my life where I was so critical of it and disliked it. I think that’s not an unusual feeling for women and girls, and that’s so sad! I’m still not perfect at accepting my body 100%, but I have come to an appreciate my body, and what it can do, and even *gasp* think it looks pretty darn good, flaws and all. But this brings me to the point that I can accept my body, and also want to improve it in a healthy way. Accepting your body, and wanting to improve it are not exclusive.

And so, in an effort to become a stronger, healthier, leaner, me, I have some simple goals I want to achieve this month. But first, it’s important to remind myself not to expect that after 30 days I’ll look like Genzebe Dibaba. I’ve been guilty of this. Like, “it’s been 4 days of me working out, why can’t I see a six-pack?!” Patience.

My goals for this month are:

  • Lose about 4 lbs. This is an attainable goal and something that be done in a month. As I gain muscle, I expect to perhaps gain a small amount of weight, and I’m ok with that. But in a month, it’s not likely I’ll put on enough muscle to see an increase. Instead, I expect that I’ll burn some fat and a few lbs to start. As I’ve put on about 10/15 extra pounds this past year, I have something to work with 😉 Losing weight is not my main goal, but I anticipate it might be a nice “side effect”.
  • Feel more energy! To me, this means being able to get up when my alarm goes off, and not “snooze” so much. It means getting through the workday without that 2pm slump. It means being able to go out with my husband on a Friday night and staying out a little past our bedtime without feeling 80 years old. (Just a little bit though, because I’m basically 80 and love my early bedtime).
  • See definition in triceps. Firm up you little things.
  • Assisted pull ups to 50 lbs. (On my way to no assistance, but everything builds upon itself).

A few tips to help you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be.

  1. Set your expectations high, but realistic.
  2.  Be kind to yourself. No negative body talk. Celebrate it, thank it for what it can do!
  3. Pick a program if you are just starting out. Having something to follow, and an end to a challenge or program can really help beginners and the more advanced alike. But especially beginners, who could feel lost if they just decide to go for it and “exercise”; that’s pretty broad. Start with a 30-day challenge and build from there! I’ve enjoyed Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, P90X (90 days, not 30), Bikini Beach Body (again, longer challenge, but great), all the Yoga with Adriene 30 day Challenges, and others.
  4. Take a “during” photo before starting a new program. Let me explain. I don’t really like “before and after”, because it sometimes seems that it is saying that “before” is lesser, and that your life or body wasn’t good “before”. When in fact, your body is always in progress. It’s always “during” because we are always living our lives, and having experiences which shape us (physically and mentally). But seeing progress is so very motivating, so photos are important.
  5. I think even more important than photos, is to write a journal entry before (and during) a fitness program. Write how to feel, your energy levels, skin condition, digestion, any flare-up of illnesses, mental health, etc. How you feel is key, and improved health is the goal of exercise. Seeing a change in that area will also be very motivating. It has been for me.
  6. Last but not least, check with your doctor. I know, I know, you’ve heard this and it seems silly, but it’s important to have regular check-ups (nurse here). Do you need to ask your doctor if you can start taking walks and doing yoga if you’ve recently seen her or him for a checkup? No (in my opinion). But if you haven’t been in a while, or want to start a really intense new program, just hop in to make sure everything is running smoothly.

*Phew*, long post, but I wanted to really get into some ideas to help you start a fitness challenge! I’ll be doing my own this month, as I really want to “fall back in love” with working out and getting stronger. Whatever you decide to do, we can do it together and motivate each other. Namaste, and go lift! 😉

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Simple Paleo

Of all the different lifestyle “diets” that I have tried Paleo has been one of my favorite. Paleo is short for Paleolithic and is, simply put, the idea of eating in a similar manner to the diet of cavemen based on what would have been available to them.

Do’s of the Paleo Diet:

I think it is best to focus on what you CAN eat first. 🙂

  • Big focus on protein  (beef, chicken, fish, etc.)
  • Fruits and veggies (lean towards 75% veg 25% fruit)
  • Nuts, seeds, good fat (i.e. avocado, coconut)

Don’ts of the Paleo Diet:

  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Legumes, beans
  • Coffee, alcohol, refined sugars

Now if any of the don’ts seem like deal breakers to you, don’t give up! If you have to have a cup of coffee in the morning to function make a small adjustment and allow yourself the exception. The main idea behind Paleo is finding balance and you can’t do that if you are thinking about the things you CAN’T have all the time.

As before Rachael and I have created a Pinterest board with all the recipes for this week and you can access the shopping list from the same google doc.

I am really excited to dive deeper into this week and be a little more mindful in my eating -let’s see if those cavemen had it figured out. 🙂

P.S. if you are an app person “nomnompaleo” is a great place to get some inspiration!

Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan

Ready to try out the Mediterranean Diet, but don’t know where to start? Here’s where. Right here.

We have made a week of very simple menu plans, to help you get a feel for this kind of eating and diet, to see if it would work for you.

All of the recipes we are using are on our Pinterest Page. Make sure to follow us there, and see the “Menu Plans” board. Take note–any substitutions we make to recipes (for ease, or diet related), are in the captions, so make sure to read there.

We also have a really handy menu plan for each day, and a shopping list. Feel free to save a copy and adjust servings as needed for your family. The week of food is meant for 2 people, with some recipes for 4, so you can have leftovers for lunches. Make sure to toggle over to Sheet 2 of the excel sheet, to see the shopping list.

For some good information on what to look for on this diet, here are some guidelines:

Basics of Mediterranean diet

  • Lots of plant based foods-vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes
  • Focusing on fats from olive oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, etc. Less animal source fats like butter (less saturated and trans fats).
  • Increase spices and herbs, to decrease salt
  • Red meat no more than a few times per month
  • Fish and poultry several times a week
  • Low fat dairy
  • Limit processed sugar
  • Plenty of exercise
  • Optional: Red Wine. If you don’t drink alcohol, you can get the same effects from an unsweetened fruit juice like grape juice, pomegranate juice, or cranberry juice.

Med Diet

Food Feels

Me and food have had an interesting relationship over the years. I would not have called my five year old palet refined, I distinctly remember melting cheese in the microwave for a snack. My teen self would eat very little in front of others, because teen boys don’t like girls who eat right? College Kristin would bounce between eating way to much junk and then next to nothing diets to counter act the pounds that accompanied the junk food.

We come now to present day. I have done some soul searching over the years and I determined that what I want more than anything is for my life to be lived for me and my family. A big part of that is finding ways to balance my life (hence the “Balance Project”) and food is a big part of that. With the fun theme this month of “live like a French woman” I have been doing a lot of research into the lifestyles of past and current French woman. One common thread that I have noticed is that French women seem to have a very healthy relationship with food. There is a thoughtfulness in the way they prepare and eat food.  I am by no means the expert but here are five things that I have done to improve the way I view food and myself:

  1. I remember that the longest relationship that I have had is with my own body, I need to respect that.
  2. I eat my meals (whenever I can) at my kitchen table.
  3. I have learned to enjoy cooking.
  4. I have learned to respect where my food comes from.
  5. I don’t let one bad day (or carton of ice cream) get me down.

I am not perfect, and I never will be. But I have come a long way from the girl who did not want other people to know that she eats food (I literally now have a Pinterest board titled “I love food”). Above all we need to be kind to ourselves and a bit of chocolate every now and then to tell our bodies thank you does not hurt.

 

P.S. I went to an adorable local store called Honey Bee Produce Company and let me tell you I was in local cheese, fruit and honey HEAVEN!