Category Archives: Keeping active

Activities for children during the winter months

There are many things that we are required to do as the clocks go back, the nights draw in, and cooler temperatures move in. This varies across the country depending on the microclimate you reside within, but here in Kansas City we have to winterize irrigation systems, take plants inside to protect them for the winter months, and complete the painful task of leaf removal. Those of you with large, old oak trees will know exactly autumn-212733_960_720what I am talking about here…

Despite making all of these adjustments for “things” leading into the winter months, there is something much more important that we need to prioritize: what to do with our kids! This applies to children of all ages, as here in KC it’s typically too cold to go outside during the day with toddlers, and it’s already dark by the time older students get done with school activities. As I am a mother of 2 young boys, with a third child due next month, here are 10 activities that you can do to keep your young children active during the not so nice part of the year. Enjoy!

  1. Create space in your garage for them to kick a ball, and ride a bike around.
  2. Set up an obstacle course in your basement
  3. Visit a museum – there are so many small children’s museums, many that you may
    Wonderscope, Kansas City

    not even know about!  Search your area and check reviews for good ones that are close by.

  4. If you still have indoor malls close by, these are typically quiet during the day and provide your little ones with plenty of space to run around and get some energy out of their systems.
  5. Indoor games with modified equipment to prevent damage to valuable antiques and decorations – play with small wiffle balls, foam soccer balls, and this Hover ball is a great indoor toy as well!
  6. Take an inflatable pool and fill it with balls to turn it into your very own ball pit
  7. Trips to your local community center, swimming pool, YMCA etc.
  8. Buy a simple trampoline that will keep them entertained for hours at a time – just be prepared for some serious fistfights when multiple children want to bounce at the same time.
  9. Have them help you with cleaning and laundry where they will be on their feet for son-helping-dad-with-laundryan extended period of time. You can time them cleaning up from multiple rooms, turning a chore into a game!
  10. In Kansas City, we have a place called Rainbow Play Systems, which is a place that sells playground equipment but has their product line set up inside to “test out.”  For just a few dollars, your kids can have a playground/park experience in a temperature-controlled environment!  Look around your area to see if there are any places similar to this, I would highly recommend it!

These are all great for your children but be sure to plan some physical activity for yourself. Here are just a handful of ideas to get you started:

  1. Join a gym – this way you have no excuse for not working out when it is 3 degrees outside.
  2. Stationary bike/elliptical, or another piece of equipment that you can store in your garage or basement where it isn’t going to get in the way.
  3. Join a team where you will play weekly games – Indoor soccer and basketball are just two options that you could get involved with.
  4. Exercise during your lunch break if you are fortunate enough to have on-site fitness equipment, or a nearby gym.
  5. Use the fitness programs of your fitness tracker, activities from an app on your smartphone, or a fitness DVD from someone like Jillian Michaels to give you simple and easy to follow workouts during the short days of winter.

What are some ways that you keep your children and yourself entertained and physically active during the short days of winter? What works and what doesn’t work? Please share your thoughts so that we can all be prepared for this crazy time of year! Thanks for reading, and until next time, Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.

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Ways to become WELLthier

My current city of Overland Park, Kansas, was recently named in the top America’s WELLthiest cities.

This list was compiled by looking at data from across a variety of aspects including health and fitness businesses and amenities, healthy eating establishments, and activities around town that promote healthy living.  The article also included reviews of these places and their popularity among residents.  Overland Park was recognized namely because of their expansive arboretum and botanical gardens, availability of fresh produce at the farmer’s market, as well as the outdoor  walking and educational activities available at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.

Even if your city wasn’t recognized on this list, there are so many ways you can ensure a “wellthy” lifestyle on your own.  Here are a few ideas to get you started!

(1) Walk daily: walking trails are everywhere.  Even if there isn’t one connected to your pexels-photo-504881neighborhood, it’s nice to drive to new places and explore the area.  This is especially true if you live near a busy road, as most trails are a safe place to take your kids and let them run!

(2) Visit your local farmer’s market: you wouldn’t believe the great deals you can get on produce at a farmer’s market vs. a grocery store.  Not to mention the other fun things they have, like honey and jam and beautiful flower bouquets!

(3) Participate in physical activities: going for a run or to the gym may not be your cup of tea, but maybe you love to play basketball when you get the chance.  This is a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time, so find a league and join up!

(4) Work-life balance: it’s important to take a break every now and again to clear your mind and enjoy time with family.  Be sure you have a healthy balance between work and home life so you can get the most out of every day!

(5) Annual medical check ups: this is a great way to make sure your health is on track.  doctor-medical-medicine-health-42273Don’t forget about the dentist, dermatologist and optometrist when you are making your appointments!

(6) Stay hydrated: when I notice my energy levels are low, I can usually pinpoint the cause as dehydration.  If constantly drinking water feels like a chore to you, try adding some flavor or even eating watermelon!  This is a great way to stay hydrated and get some vitamins as well.

(7) Sun screen: don’t leave home without it.  We all know the risks associated with sun exposure, but many of us will only apply if we are spending the day at the pool or beach.  Even if you are just out running errands, it’s a good idea to lather up before you go as you will be in the sun more than you think!

(8) Get a good nights sleep – this means a good night’s sleep, not lying in bed for several out of bedhours looking at your phone.  The light on your phone can cause insomnia, so turn the blue light filter on if you do have a habit of playing games or browsing Facebook before you sleep.

(9) Sign up for an event so that you have something to work towards – signing up for a 5k or Tough Mudder “forces” you to create a fitness regime so that the day of the event isn’t a complete disaster!

(10) Family time – spend time with friends and loved ones. Workout together when possible so that everyone is involved and something that typically isn’t enjoyable becomes something that the whole family looks forward to!

Staying Healthy at Home

In today’s economy, more and more people are being asked to go above and beyond the expectation of working 40 hours per week. Kids’ schedules are becoming increasingly complex, family time is being continually squeezed and unfortunately people’s health is frequently one of the first things to be sacrificed. This is rather unfortunate as this makes all of the other responsibilities even more challenging than they already are. Staying physically and mentally healthy are of critical importance for an enjoyable and productive life. Are you taking care of your health or have you let other things take over?

Last week we looked at ways that you can take care of your health in the workplace. Today we are going to look at ways in which you can take care of yourself at home. Hopefully some of these will help you along the way to improving your health, or will give you alternative solutions to what you are currently doing. We would love to hear of any other ways in which you stay healthy, either at home or in the workplace, so please leave your ideas in the comment box below!

The first thing to do is to work on separating work from family.  This is an ever woman on computer in bedincreasing problem where parents and spouses are in the same room as their loved ones, but they aren’t actually present. More and more people are working remotely due to technologies that are now available to us. This is great in many ways, but can also be problematic as your home is now your place of work, and you can get trapped in “the office”.

Try to separate your work from your home life by having a designated room where you go to work. Keep all electronics and other work related items in here so that you truly can separate work from play. Try not to fall into the trap of having your computer or phone with you at all times where you are constantly connected to work, and miss out on the time with your family. We all need downtime to relax, have fun, and keep our stress levels under control. Make sure that you aren’t overdoing it, because it will catch up with you at some point. Here are our 10 most important factors when it comes to all-round health.

NOTE: We are not medical professionals and this list is just a collection of ways in which my family and I try to stay healthy. If you are concerned with your personal health you should set up an appointment with your doctor to discuss solutions.

(1) Diet

  • Eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Limit portion sizes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay hydrated – take your weight and divide it in two.  That is how many ounces of water you should drink in a day.

(2) Grocery shopping

  • Try to visit your local farmer’s market when possible to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Stock up on healthy snacks
  • Have a refillable water bottle on hand for when you are on the go
  • Limit purchases of high sugar, high fat foods so that they aren’t easily available
  • Try to spend the majority of your time in the store on the edges – protein, dairy and produce – and less time among the dry goods.

(3) Financial health 

  • Budgets – meet with a financial adviser for professional help in this direction. There are also some great financial trackers out there including Mint and EveryDollar.
  • Establish 529 college funds for your children’s future education expenses
  • Pay down credit card balances and avoid interest charges
  • Regularly contribute to retirement funds to take advantage of compound interest
  • If your company provides a 401k match, take advantage of this “free money” at least up to the amount that your employer provides

(4) Exercise

  • Choose activities that you enjoy. Walking, dancing, gardening, and playing in the yard with your children are all great ways to exercise.
  • Try to create a regular schedule so that your exercise becomes a routine
  • Work out with someone else
  • Perform other tasks at this time – for example you can read while on an exercise bike, or listen to a podcast as you complete a run or bike-ride.

(5) Sun

  • Steer clear of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m when the sun is at it’s most dangerous.
  • Wear hats, long-sleeve shirts and sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher.
  • Don’t use sunlamps or tanning booths. Try self-tanning creams instead.
  • Wear sunglasses to prevent damage caused by exposure to UV rays
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(6) Minimize vices

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Avoid risky behaviors such as speeding, gambling and dangerous driving

(7) Staying mentally healthy

  • Keep your mind limber – reading, completing puzzles, enrolling in a class
  • Rest and relaxation – take time out of your schedule to pursue your passions, and spend time with your loved ones
  • Sleep – adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep daily

(8) Setting goals

As is the case with many things in life, there is a need to set SMART goals when it comes to your health. This might be a target weight that you want to reach, a size of clothing that you want to be able to fit into, or the number of glasses of water that you want to drink on a daily basis. Whatever your goal there are multiple apps that can help you track them including Fitbit, Samsung Health and My Fitness Pal.

(9) Annual health check ups

These are frequently covered by your health insurance policies and you should definitely take advantage of them. They are great for collecting baseline data, reviewing past medical concerns, and catching potential health issues before they become too problematic.

(10) Prioritize your health

We saved the most important for last: Make sure that your health is always at the top of your priority list!

Until next week, stay healthy, and Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

Staying healthy in the workplace

Most American workers live a fast-paced life that can feel hectic at times. In this new economy, many companies require employees to do more with less. To be effective and to work healthy, you must learn to properly manage your time and stress levels.

chart americans work long hours

On average 39.2% of American workers reported work weeks in excess of 50 hours. Does this mean that American workers are more dedicated to their jobs than others? Does it mean that they are more fearful of losing their jobs? Are their bosses more demanding of their time? Or does it mean that American workers are just very inefficient at what they do? All of these items should be considered when looking at this problem.

I personally believe that the economic crash of 2008/2009 had a huge impact on most families, and workers are now doing everything that they can to prove their commitment to the company. I also believe that some people just really love their jobs and don’t see it as work. My husband is so passionate about what he does that he will frequently work on tasks in the evenings and weekends because he believes in the company’s vision, and loves the challenge that he faces!

Given the ridiculous number of hours that employees are currently spending at the office, we are going to look at some ways in which you can boost your health, and consequently your productivity.

Time management – ask any for-profit business owner and they will tell you that the output is more important than the input. Being at work for 60 hours per week, and completing the same amount of work that it takes someone else to complete in half the time is extremely inefficient. High quality time management strategies can help you to complete more work in less time! Creating to-do lists, prioritizing tasks, delegating, and collaborating are all ways in which you can work more effectively and efficiently. This creates more time for you to exercise, relax, and spend time with loved ones.

Taking advantage of breaks – all workers are legally entitled to breaks throughout the day and you should take advantage of these. It’s important to get up out of your chair, stretch your legs out, get the oxygen flowing, and give your eyes a break from staring at the screen or papers in front of you.

Diet – the extra time spent at work, and the associated time spent travelling means that personal time is being squeezed out of the common American worker. Lunch breaks are shorter or non-existent, employees are bouncing from meeting to meeting, and they are having to make phone calls in the car or check email on the train in an attempt to stay afloat. With this hectic lifestyle and constant rushing, many people do not take the time to eat a healthy diet through the day. It’s often an energy drink out of the vending machine when they arrive at work in the morning, fast food for lunch, and frequently a drive thru on the way home. On the surface, these practices appear to be freeing up more time for work, but does this behavior actually lead to the productivity levels required in today’s world? Check out these tips on how you can eat healthier during the workday.

Getting fresh air and sunshine – It has been shown that sunshine can lead to improveddubai-977365_1920 (1) mood, stronger bones, reduced chances of depression, and improved skin conditions. Getting outside for 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the afternoon can have a tremendously beneficial impact on your overall health. Find a colleague or two and complete this daily activity collectively.

Staying hydrated – America runs on coffee, but unfortunately this drink’s popularity, or intake, isn’t matched by that of water. Everyone manages to find time to grab their morning cup of joe, but many people will then go the entire day without drinking anything else because they do not leave their desk. Have bottled water in a drawer at your desk, use the water fountain every time you visit the bathroom, or take a water bottle with you each day and make sure that you drink it all over the course of your time at work.

Make a healthy change – most of us are guilty of one unhealthy behavior or another.  Maybe you have a weakness for soda, or are a smoker.  You could have a box of candy hidden in your desk drawer at all times, or get all your meals from the vending machine.  All of these things will negatively effect your work performance.  Dedicate yourself to making a change in your unhealthy behaviors and you will definitely notice a difference in your everyday life!

Participating in group fitness activities – we all know the benefits of exercise on individual health. A great way to promote healthy living in your place of work is to have men-1179452_1920your entire workforce participate in physical activities. This could be a 5k run/walk, completing a marathon as part of a relay team, a sponsored bike ride, or even adopting the local highway and being responsible for the upkeep of the adjacent areas. All of these activities allow people to exercise with their colleagues around them, which provides the added bonus of team building!

Choosing insurance policies where a healthy lifestyle is promoted AND rewarded – many policies now have options where holders are rewarded for participating in certain activities that positively impact their health. Our current policy rewards you for the number of steps you take, annual medical screenings, dental check ups, and participating in fitness activities such as 5k’s or other sporting events. If your policy doesn’t have these benefits, provide your HR department with the following example of Humana and their accompanying well-being program, Go365.

Making the most of vacation time and PTO – We are all given vacation time and personal time for a reason. The thing that you need to remember to do, is to take advantage of it! Many people in the current economic climate want to show their bosses and owners that they are committed to their job and pass on vacation time. In the long run this tends to have a negative impact as the employee gets burnt out and their performance starts to drop. Take advantage of the days that you have at your disposal. Take that time off to go and help at your child’s field day, use a day to accompany your daughter on her college visit, and take those few days to go and visit loved ones. If you relax properly, you can recharge your batteries, and be even more productive upon your return.

Getting up and about and moving – Being sat in the same spot for more than an hour at a time is not healthy. Try to get up to use the bathroom, get a drink, go to the copier, or even just to walk around the office to get your blood flowing again! You might also want to speak to your HR department about the possibilities of incorporating group stretching activities into your daily routines.

We spend over a third of our day at work, so it is imperative that we are taking great care of ourselves during these hours. Hopefully the above suggestions will help give you a nudge in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle. Make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost, and maintain a healthy balance. Next week we will take a look at what you can do to stay healthy at home! Until then, stay healthy, and expect the exceptional in everything that you do.

 

Kids in the Winter – Yikes!

As a work-at-home mother, the winter months tend to be the ones I dread the most.  I love the beginning, when it’s fun to get cozy and curl up under blankets for an awesome Pixar movie, but as time goes by, watching Toy Story again starts to get old for parents and kids alike.  The holidays require a lot of work on the part of parents, which leaves the kids begging for more attention, and when everything calms down a break is much needed.  But not for the kids!  They are ready for more action.  Whether or not you are home or off to work during the day, winter with little ones can be trying.  Therefore, I present a list for your winter activity needs!  Maybe you don’t have kids, but are still looking for things to do when it’s freezing outside.  Read on.  You may get some ideas!

  1. Build a fort – this is a fun activity that reminds you of your childhood while entertaining the little ones in your life at the same time.  And there is no rule that says children need to be present while a fort is being built.  So give it a try when the weather is nasty and being inside one more day seems unbearable.  Plus, you already have everything you need, which is a sheet.
  2. Have a picnic – choose a dinner that does not include anything messy, such as sandwiches and veggies.  Then throw a blanket on the floor and have a picnic dinner!
  3. Game night – pull out some games for the whole family and play the short versions to hold the kids’ attention.  And this way, you can get through two or three different games in a night!

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  4. Play in a different room – this may seem simple, but even providing a new environment can eliminate the boredom the members of your household are feeling.  If you typically play in the family room, set up some toys in the dining room and utilize the space in your home!
  5. Bake – when it’s cold outside, baking can warm your home and provide entertainment for the whole family.  Find a recipe that everyone can help with, and start delegating.  You might even find multiple recipes to keep the activity going and the children captivated.
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This is a start, and will hopefully help with the winter blues.  Do you have ideas for winter activities?  Put them in the comments below!

Time after time

This time of year, people start thinking a lot about changes they want to make after the clock hits midnight on the 31st.  Typically you will hear vows to lose weight, quit smoking or any number of promises that weren’t fulfilled the year before.  This may sound cynical, but the truth is, you rarely hear of someone setting a useful New Year’s goal that they actually accomplish. (Yes husband, I did say useful.  Vowing to never set the microwave timer to an even :00 or :30 is not actually useful, even though you have technically accomplished this resolution).

new-years-cartoon

So why do we continue this cycle, year after year?  And why do we feel the need to wait until January first to start working on these major, life-transforming goals?  My brother recently pointed out that really, we should set our New Year’s resolutions on our birthdays, as that is our personal new year.  But again, something as important as quitting smoking or beginning an exercise regimen should not wait until a specific date; those things should be done today, as they could save your life!  So to help out a bit, I’ve compiled a list of helpful guidelines to follow when setting your resolution this year.  I hope it helps, and I wish you the best of luck in completing your mission!

  1. Don’t wait – if you have already decided on a resolution for 2017, why not start today?  If you aren’t willing to do so, then what is going to change in the next 16 days?  I understand that waiting until the first is a symbolic gesture, but as I stated above, many resolutions can greatly affect your life, so get started now!
  2. Set manageable goals – don’t promise to exercise for 2 hours, seven days a week all 52 weeks of 2017.  This is not a reasonable feat; instead, try starting with 3 times a week and increasing as necessary.  If you have a vice you want to quit, going cold turkey on January 1st is not going to work for most people.  Providing mini-goals for yourself might be a better idea.
    new-years
  3. Make it meaningful – if your resolution does not hold special meaning for you, chances are you will not stick to it.  Don’t make arbitrary rules for yourself to follow, and don’t choose a resolution that you would be doing either way.  Like, say, resolving to continuing hating a certain premier league football coach that resolution or not, you never would have liked anyway.  Sorry honey.  You’re an easy target.
  4.  Make it quantitative, if possible – vowing to go into work a little earlier is great, but how much earlier?  Technically you could arrive at the office at 7:59 and have accomplished your goal, but that’s not going to make a positive change in your life.
  5. Positivity is ideal – making negative resolutions is not going to start your year off on the right foot.  Saying that you will no longer speak to Sharon in accounting because you don’t like the way she laughs might make your life a little more enjoyable.  But instead, maybe decide that you will try to find something good in everyone at your office; also makes for an enjoyable life and at the same time is a way to better yourself.

Hopefully these tips will help you find a resolution that will make your 2017 great!

If your resolution is to spend less time at work, check out what these guys have to offer!

 

 

Keeping calm during the MADNESS

The past seven days have been insane.  MADNESS I tell you.  And I think we can all agree with Kevin O’Leary:

Image result for kevin o'leary stop the madness

Unfortunately, Kevin cannot actually do anything for us.  So we must rely on ourselves to get through our feelings of stress and frustration, no matter which team you are on.  Here are some things I have been doing, as well as some other ideas I would like to try.  I hope they will help you as well!

  1. Aromatherapy – this might sound hokey to you, but smells really do have such an effect on our moods and feelings.  I’m sure everyone can think of a smell that reminds them of a very happy, or maybe very sad time in their life.  Smells trigger emotions, and therefore really can have an impact on how we feel.  Depending on what I need, I have been combining different ingredients and simmering them on the stove.  I especially love the calming effects of lavender (I also used this to make a spray for my son’s pillow to help him fall asleep at night), as well as the energizing effect of orange and mint.  Here are some tips on using aromatherapy in your everyday life!
  2. Yoga – again, maybe not for you, but something that has been working for me like a dream!  I joined a yoga studio near my house, but many gyms and even some employers offer yoga classes for members and employees.  The combination of stretching, strength  building and deep breathing is a great way to calm down and build confidence at the same time.  When I walk out of that studio, I always feel better than when I walked in, and that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it!
  3. Breathing – this is a part of yoga, but also something to concentrate on in your everyday life.  When we feel stressed, our breathing becomes more shallow, so it makes sense that deepening our breaths will relieve some of that stress.  Try to focus on breathing in for 5 counts, holding it for a few seconds, then taking 5 counts to breath out.  Here are some more tips that could be of some help!
  4. Laughing – seems easy enough, right?  But during difficult times, this could be asking a lot.  Everyone has a different sense of humor, so find what makes you laugh and let loose!  Or maybe call that one friend that always makes you laugh until you cry and share a bottle of wine.  This made me laugh out loud the other day, maybe it will do the same for you!
  5. Delegate – sometimes it all just gets to be too much, and when you are doing everything on your own, it can get downright overwhelming.  So ask for help; assign jobs to others; hire new people.  If you are a store manager and need facility or maintenance services, call Royal!  Whatever it takes, just remember you can’t do it all alone!

These are just a few ideas, but hopefully you will find something that helps you stop the madness in your life and get back on track.  And if all else fails,

Image result for keep calm and drink wine