Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is one of those holidays that we love and hate. There is nothing more fun than seeing your children excited to dress up in their costumes and go out trick-or-treating, but there is no denying that all Halloween does is bring a bunch of junk food into the house… which we all know is hard to resist, especially the Almond Joys!

I have included a few tips below to help bring some health to your Halloween!

1. Avoid Buying Candy Until that Day
If candy is lying around the house, you are more likely to eat it. So instead of snacking on one or two pieces each day leading up to Halloween, buy your candy that day, or buy it ahead but stash it away out of sight!

2. Make an Extra Healthful Dinner
There is no doubt that your children (and yourself) will be having a few more treats than normal. Instead of just ordering pizza for dinner on halloween, make an extra healthy dinner. I generally make something hearty and warm like chili or this great soup recipe and a nice green salad.

3. Add in Some Exercise
Instead of driving to go trick-or-treating, try walking to the next neighborhood. Or even when your little ones are done collecting candy, walk around the neighborhood a few times to check out all the other costumes. Exercise will help offset the extra indulgences of the day.

4. Avoid Large Collection Bags
Find an appropriately sized collection bag for your child and steer clear of using a pillow case. If you encourage your child to only take one piece of candy from each house, they’ll be able to visit more houses in the neighborhood and still fill up their smaller bag.

5. Manage Expectations
Let your children know that when they come home they will get to eat a certain amount of candy so they should keep their eyes out for their favorites as they are trick-or-treating. When you return home, they can sort the ones they want to eat that night and the rest gets stored away, once again with the expectation that they will get to pick out a certain amount of pieces in the following days or weeks. More often than not, they will lose interest in the stash over time!

Happy Halloween to you and your family!

-- Jill

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our Feet Support Us...

In reflecting on the word of the month “support” I’ve been thinking about what supports me in different aspects of my life. For a large part of the day, structurally and biomechanically, it’s my feet. They are the primary foundation and amazingly the most important component for optimal alignment of our entire body.

I am currently doing a yoga immersion and my brilliant teacher, Maritza, devoted the first 13 hours to our feet due to their importance in every posture and movement we make. The slightest shift towards optimizing alignment of this base of support can translate throughout our entire bodies and help alleviate many issues, some we maybe didn’t even know we had!  Over ¼ of all the bones in our entire body are in our feet, which gives us some idea of how intricately they can move and adapt to the weight and force of the rest of our bodies in motion.

Finding proper foot alignment takes focus but as with any practice, the more intention you put on it, the quicker it becomes natural and intuitive. 

Alignment 101:
Start by placing your big toe mound firmly down on the ground and then lengthen back to foundation down your inner heel (you should feel a sense of “stretching” your inner arch).  Maintaining both of these foundations, reach up and over to spread your toes wide and foundation your baby toe mound. Maintaining these three points lengthen the lateral side of your foot and place down your outer heel. This alignment helps keep all three arches of your feet engaged and equal distribution throughout the four corners of the feet for your greatest stability. This stability will travel up to help with proper muscle engagement for your ankles, shins knees and thighs.

Metatarsal Stretch: 
This is a great way to improve flexibility in your feet. A flexible muscle is also a strong one because it has a greater ability to contract - hence creating strong and supportive arches. 
On your knees, curl your toes under and press your inner ankles together. You can use your fingers to help spread out your baby toes to create more foundation. Sit back on your heels and maintain your best upright neutral spine alignment. This will give more weight to the stretch but also help core strength.  If it really hurts in means you need it :). Try to sit with the stretch as long as you can. It will definitely get more comfortable the more often you do it!

Metatarsal Massage: 
This is a great way to release tension in your feet and help to stretch the fascia that can get tight and restrictive to movement. 
On your knees place the top of one foot on the floor and then cross the other foot on top of it near the arch. Sit back on your heels maintaining an upright neutral spine. The metatarsals on the top foot will work at pressure points on the bottom foot. Sit with a point and then move around to different sensitive areas.  Breathe and try to sit with the discomfort for greatest benefits.

If you want more detailed anatomy and alignment information on the feet check out our anatomy teacher Kerry Corcorans blog on feet:

Here's to happy feet, 

-- Jill