FIRST Monday: How to Beat Back to School Blues

Well, here we are–like it or not–at the beginning of another school year and the end of another summer. It’s enough to bring on a serious case of the blues. Soon we’ll trade in the easy breeze of summer for the hustle and flow of fall, to say nothing of the cold that blows through as winter months loom. Back to the mayhem of homework and projects, student/teacher conferences and music lessons. Mid-week meetings, programs and late night studying. Even if you’re not in academia—as a student or teacher—I’ll bet you notice a shift in the atmosphere when the summer season switches from summer to fall. Bosses won’t be out on vacation, kids won’t be away at camp. Let’s face it, the pace slows during the summer. We might even be caught with flip flops on under our desks or come in a little tanned from relaxing by the pool over the weekend. Or maybe our smiles stay over on Monday morning because cool summer nights linger and so do the memories.

Ah summer…ya gotta love it!
TODAY’S SENSATION

Sadly, all that’s over now, but to beat the blues today, I’m offering a sensation that’s summer-inspired. It’s a grilled turkey and veggies burger with some blue cheese sprinkled in to keep with the “blue” theme. This can easily be a veggie burger too, just leave off the turkey or add your favorite meat substitute, yum! Check out the recipe here.
TODAY’S INSPIRATION

Why so blue? Of course, there are many causes for the blues besides the passing of summer. Sometimes we can explain it. Sometimes we can’t. To beat the blues, we need a good coach. They’re not just for athletes, you know? We each need someone who can stand on the sideline of our life with enough distance from and perspective on our situation to be able to see what we’re dealing with and give us advice about the next step. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need someone who can yell louder than the voices in my head. I need someone to tell me I can when those voices keep telling me I can’t. But then, I have to do my part. It’s not enough just to listen. I also have to believe. Too often I’m more willing to believe the negative voices than I am the positive affirmation.

Do you know what I mean? Last week I talked about the messy middle. Sometimes in the muck and the mire we feel as though the outlook is hopeless. The voices in our heads are so loud that the voice of the coach is a distant hum. But the difference between us and Him is position. We’re only able to see the situation from where we stand—or sit. But from the coach’s vantage, there’s a view of the entire field. The coach can see how our situation fits within the context of the whole game, not just this one move at this one moment. If we would not only listen, but also believe when the Coach says, “you’ll make it, you’re okay, the game’s not over,” we might actually be able to beat back the blues…

TODAY’S CHALLENGE

In last month’s First Monday I promised a writing challenge, so here it is. Check out this video on beating Writer’s Block. Every writer has experienced it and every writer thinks there’s no cure, but there is. Your challenge is to watch the video and follow the 5 or 6 steps provided. Then tell me in the comments box if the method actually worked for you! Remember, this doesn’t have to be for creative writers only. This works for any writing project you might be faced with. Do you need to write a letter, but can’t find the right words? Need to write a personal statement, but can’t put it together? Have to write an essay for class? Sit down, set a timer and start putting words on the page. You’ll be surprised by what happens.

 

WILD CARD

Nothing beats back the blues—or writer’s block—like blood flow! Health professionals recommend a minimum of 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week, but that can be broken up into 10 minute spurts which is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time to go to the gym! So, here’s your wild card back-to-school-blues-buster for today:

If you have a treadmill:

  1. Set your incline to 2 or 4 and your speed to a moderate pace so that you are speed walking. That means probably around 3 or 4. Keep it there for 5 minutes! (Note: adjust the incline and pace based on your own fitness level. Your rate of perceived exertion—RPE—should reach about 5 on a scale of 10)
  2. Set your timer for 5 minutes. Bring the incline down to 0 then for 1 minute jog or run at your fastest pace. Walk at an easy pace for 1 minute then repeat speed run for 1 minute until the 5 minutes is up (Your RPE should reach about 7-8)
  3. Increase incline and pace and set timer for as much time as you have. Repeat cycle with speed runs and walks as many times as you feel strong enough for. If 10 minutes is all you have, decrease pace, cool down, drink plenty of water and head to school or work knowing you can conquer the world with your Coach and the proper perspective! (Jeremiah 29:11)

Happy Monday!

SignatureMed

If you don’t have a treadmill…

These exercises can still be done on a track or open road adjusting your pace according to the timer. If you have access to hills or stairs you can add the incline also. If space or weather is an issue for running outdoors, another alternative is jumping rope or jogging in place. To keep these options from becoming too redundant, set your timer for 1 minute and switch between the following:

  1. march in place
  2. jog in place
  3. jump rope
  4. jumping jacks
  5. squats
  6. plank

For more exercise options, check out Monday Mayhem: Tabata Mania! and Monday Mayhem! How to Get Back to Work after Vacation

Photo by Wang Xi on Unsplash

Monday Mayhem: Enjoy the simple things

So, I haven’t shared a recipe or workout in a while,  but it’s January, so while you’re still gungho about working out, let me share a quick routine–ready?

Okay!

First, turn on your TV or radio–might as well have some background noise, then grab some hand weights (or a small child, canned goods–anything with some weight to it that you can hold for 5 minutes)

Now,  set your timer to 5 minutes and march up and down your stairs!  Don’t have stairs? March around your house, apartment, bedroom, dormroom…whatever! Just get those knees up!

If you’re holding something that has a reasonable amount of weight and you’re moving, I guarantee you’ll feel something! If not, move your arms up and down as you march or pick up something heavier.

Catch your breath after 5 minutes, then repeat as many cycles as you have time for. If marching is too tame for you, then pick up the pace! Lift your knees higher and go as fast as you can. (See my post on Tabatas.)

Then, when the workout is done, it’s time for your reward:

So, I made the most AMAZING grilled cheese sandwich ever in my new air fryer–have you seen these things? They are fantastic! You can “fry” without frying and have dinner on the table in minutes.

I also happened to have some of my holiday wassail left over from Christmas and decided to settle down with my delux GrilledCheese and a cup of this deliciousness and I must tell you it was quite a treat!

Okay, so the theme for today is–enjoy the simple things.  What’s so great about grilled cheese you may ask? Nothing, until you add a dash of herbs and a slice of tomato. Then your basic grilled cheese goes to the next level. Trust me!  (Even if you don’t have the air fryer yet, you can still use low fat margarine instead of butter and prepare on the stove as you normally would.)

And for those who’ve never heard of wassail, well, there’s an entire tradition behind this holiday beverage that goes back to the Middle Ages, showing up in English literature, in fact, which was a happy discovery for me!  According to Robert Doares, the word comes from “the Old Norse ves heil and the Old English was hál…meaning ‘be in good health’ or ‘be fortunate.’ The phrase was first a simple greeting, but eventually the reply “drink hail” was joined with it to create one word and one meaning: to be in good health. Basically, to have good fortune was to enjoy a meal and drink with friends and loved ones!

Ironically, traditional wassail was also consumed with crusty bread or toast which explains why we raise a glass and “toast” one another today as we offer health and good fortune to those we love.

So, I think it’s quite appropriate for me to offer you this lovely combination, don’t you? This perfect GrilledCheese with crusty bread and my own version of wassail as I extend to you good health and good fortune!

Wassail

My wassail recipe is also quite simple–I told you, it’s the theme for today. Here are the ingredients I use (amounts are approximate):

  • 2 liter apple juice
  • 1 can frozen orange juice
  • 2 liter cranberry juice
  • 1/4 cup whole cloves
  • 10 cinnoman sticks
  • 2-3 slices of fresh peeled ginger
  • 1/4-1/2 cup whole cranberries
  • add orange slices 1/2 hour before serving to preserve color
  • add 1/2 cup sugar if more sweetness is preferred

Just pour everything into a crock pot or a large pot on the stove–put the burner on low and let it simmer for at least an hour. Your house will be filled with a wonderfully sweet aroma and there’s nothing better than the delicate balance of sweet and spice which you control by the amounts that you choose to add.  When served, the ingredients can be strained, but they look pretty in the glass, don’t they?  This will keep well in the frig for 4-6 weeks.

Voila! Instant comfort food on a chilly January afternoon. Can you picture it? Cozy blanket. Grilled cheese. Warm, spiced cider…ahhh…wassail!

Happy Monday!

SignatureMed

 

Cover photo credit: pixabay.com

Revamp Monday: True Confessions!

I’m a workaholic. I have a hard time slowing down and unplugging from work obligations, especially when I have a lot to do. There’s a sort of adrenlin-rush that comes from busy-ness and activity and a bit of anxiety that comes over me when there’s nothing going on. I always feel like I should be “doing something”. I actually have to make a concerted effort to rest when work is calling. Crazy, huh?  But they say that recognizing you have a problem is the first step towards finding a solution, so I suppose I’m halfway there!

Of course, knowing what to do is a lot harder than doing what you know.  In today’s “Revamp Monday” Tanzy reveals her own struggle in “Confessions of an Abuser,” but I don’t mean for you to esteem her struggle in contrast to mine. You should see them as one and the same, for they both have one crucially common component: our health. My penchant for busy too often pushes me to the brink. I suffer from migraines, high blood pressure runs in my family, heart attacks and strokes are common risk factors. We both have to take seriously the lure of our addictions–even those that seem, on the surface, to be a good thing!

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It was a stressful day. Caseload at work was epic and I had paperwork to last hours. There was a mountain of laundry begging for my attention and a sink full of dishes that had been woefully neglected. My stress levels were climbing towards 7.9 on the rector scale, So I did what had become so natural to me. I pulled into the drive through at my favorite burger joint and ordered my usual sedative: a number 6 with a root beer and extra sauce. Only 5 minutes into my meal and I felt blissful stress relief come over me.

Later that night after rushing through homework, laundry, dinner time, bath time and bed time, a wave of overwhelming fatigue took hold and I reached to the cupboard for my rescue: a bar of chocolate that soothed my suffering. I repeated this pattern regularly. For years, but not just in hard times, in good times also. After completing that project at work that consumed many weekends, I decided a celebration was in order. Reservations at my favorite pasta restaurant. Appetizers, entrée, soda and dessert!  In fact, eating became my answer to many emotional callings: 

Stressed? Eat. 

Depressed? Eat. 

Happy? Eat. 

Overwhelmed? Eat.

Thankful? Eat. 

Worried? Eat. 

The practice of eating was closely integrated into every life experience. Every emotion. Every occasion. Food was my best friend. Like a toxic lover, my addiction lured me and always delivered the relief I needed–rich, high-calorie foods with little nutritional value, excess sugar, starch and fat–they were good to me, but not good for me. They made me feel better, but not without consequences. Years into the co-dependent  relationship, it bore fruit: weight gain, splotchy skin, worsening asthma, chronic fatigue, digestive upset, a sedentary lifestyle, insecurity and low self-esteem. While I had been exercising consistently I wasn’t addressing my diet in the way I needed to, and the mere thought of facing it, made me fearful! Food had become my best friend and confidant, my “blankey”, my “binki,” my counselor, my consoler, my relief, my medication.  I was terrified to fix it!

The relationship we had was twisted, toxic and abusive. I was both the abused and the abuser. I was the victim and the offender.  I was in the right and also in the wrong. We all need food to fuel our body, but I was using it to fuel my emotions. 

The effort it would take to rectify this complicated relationship would be constant and intense. It requires moment by moment mindfulness, regular prayer and accountability. It means learning to embrace the full weight of my emotions whether positive or negative. It requires finding alternatives for celebrating and mourning. It means going through crippling periods of withdrawal. It requires learning the ugly nutritional truths of man-made food, but also being enlightened by the glorious nutritional truths of God-made food. And it will likely take a lifetime to heal the bond between me and food–a lifetime to put food in its rightful place.

But it’s worth it. For the sake of my mental health, my children and grandchildren, an extended life expectancy and an improved quality of life. It’s worth it. Everything we put into our bodies is fuel. Either fuel for disease or fuel for good health.   I no longer want to indulge in things that rob me of the abundant life available to me. I want to live my life to the fullest. After all, you are what you eat!

Tanzy Chandler
Physical Therapist
Group Fitness Instructor
Founder of
REVAMP FITNESS
“Become a Better You”
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