Get Hygge This Winter

by Lauren on November 16, 2017

Are you dragging your feet lately? Finding it hard to get out of bed and get motivated for the day? I am. The sudden cooler temperatures and additional hours of darkness that we get in November in Canada really have an effect on my mood and motivation.

Why than, are the Danish, who experience 6 hours of sunlight and -30 C (-22 F) temperatures in winter, ranked as some of the happiest people on earth? One word: hygge. 

Hygge is loosely translated as coziness; wearing warm socks, sipping a hot drink, cozying up with blankets and candles, and gathering with friends and family. Not only does hygge mean to physically get cozy, it’s also about your state of mind or attitude. A recent article in Sage health magazine lists 10 ways the Danish get hygge and the one that really stood out to me is:

“Reflect: Write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each day; research suggests this can have a positive impact on well-being and help you maintain a more positive outlook” (1).

Most people are familiar with hygge as it’s pretty trendy right now. I wanted to write about it today because this idea of hygge ties into another article I read last night that really resonated with me. The author found herself saying, “I’d reclaim my joy when my circumstances changed. When the baby sleeps through the night … or my husband gets a raise; when we can finally take a vacation … or at least I can take a nap, then I’ll have reason for rejoicing” (2). After reading this, I realized I’ve been doing the same thing lately. I found myself saying, “I’ll really start enjoying myself when the days get longer,” or “when the Christmas season is here” or “when the perfect snowy, sunny day happens.”

To combat this way of thinking, the author’s friend shared her trick: “a little booked that changed her life:” A notebook where she jotted down 3 things that she was thankful for each day. It could be something as simple as the smell of baking muffins in the oven, the sound of your toddler giggling or the sun shining. What may seem like a simple exercise will turn into something bigger; a shift in how you move through your day; with thanks and appreciation vs. grumbling and dread. “Give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a). Because God knows thanksgiving may not change our situation, but it will always change our soul (2).

I decided to get hygge and jot down some thanks of my own:,

  1. When I see Jack singing to Max to help me out, and get him to stop crying
  2. Our family’s health
  3. Our warm home on cold days where we gather as a family; share a meal, share laughter, tears and just be together

Will you get hygge this winter, and write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each day?

  1. Green, Amy. “Gather the Danish Way.” Sage, Nov/Dec. 2017, pp 32-34.
  2. Bruxvoort, Alicia. “The Power of Giving Thanks.” Proverbs 31, Nov. 14, 2017.
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Oh, hello abs.

by Lauren on November 13, 2017

Oh, there you are abs. After two kids, and a few years of lackluster core workouts, I thought you were gone forever, but turns out you’re still there. Every time I sneeze or laugh, I painfully remember where you are.

I braved another yoga class last Saturday afternoon – 1 hour and 15 minutes of “Pure Core” advanced hot yoga class. We did 135 “Hollow Rock” exercises. I started off in the shape of a crescent, rocking nicely back and forth like I was supposed to. By the end I was crouched in the fetal position, grunting and hardly moving at all. I have some work to do on this one. We also did yoga squats or malasana. I thought regular squats were hard. This one keeps you at the bottom of the squat, where you live. Small pulses, so low, legs and butt on FIRE.

I went into this class a bit more prepared than the first one though. I rented a proper mat for $2 so as to not turn my cheap blue mat into a sweaty “slip and slide.” I brought a towel (win!) and a lock, and realized that Pure Yoga Studio is in fact, a hot yoga studio. Good to know.

Before I went to the 3pm Pure Core, I looked at the class description at home online. I was really nervous when I saw it was an advanced class in a 30 degree room. Again, I almost didn’t go, but I recalled a quote I read on the wall of the yoga studio that stuck with me:

This yoga should be practiced with firm determination and perseverance, without any mental reservation or doubts.” – Bhagavad Gita

Off I went.

I saw the teacher when I arrived at the studio, and told her I was not an advanced yogi. She said no worries, just do your thing. I relaxed a bit and told myself to just enjoy my blissful 75 minutes alone. It was hard, but doable. I loved the challenge.

This past week, I started thinking about what is drawing me to yoga, and it’s not about losing weight. If my body changes, bonus. My yoga journey is about overcoming physical challenges; feeling empowered with what my body can do, and feeling stronger mentally. I always had a feeling I could benefit from yoga, but I think my brain needed it more than I realized. Lately I’ve found myself drifting through days, feeling like time was flying by in a blur of routine. An article from Sage health magazine says, “When you do the same things every day (for example eating oatmeal for every breakfast), your brain becomes lazy; days begin to blur together…research shows that trying something new wakes up the brain.” (1). I want to stay curious. I want to have interesting things to talk about. I don’t want a lazy brain. And I have a feeling I’m not the only one; there’s a reason this yoga studio is packed with people.

Another article from Sage states that, “simply staying active several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes may help maintain reasoning and learning skills; improve memory, judgement and thinking abilities; and delay the start of or even slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.” (2). Awesome. I need yoga to stay sharp, and keep up with my 3 ½ year-old and 17-month old sons. Now, and as I get older.

Another draw for me is that yoga presents a completely new set of challenges unrelated to the challenges I face everyday as a mom. Less stressful challenges. Let’s be honest, mom challenges can suck. Wondering if your decisions, or one thing you said, could have an effect on who they become as adults, or scar them for life. Those are intense, serious, stressful challenges that can sometimes break you down. The challenges I’m facing in yoga make me feel good, are invigorating, and give me energy. I already can’t wait for the next class. I’m going up against “Pure Beats” again on Thursday night. Hopefully a bit more mentally prepared this time.

  1. Grant, Colleen & Alarie, Sara Eve. “Stop the Clock.” Sage, Oct. 2017, pp 36-37.
  2. Wong, Ellen, BSc (HONS), ND & Annand, Vanessa. “Can We Keep Our Minds Young.” Sage, Oct. 2017, pp 28-31.

 

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I almost didn’t go. It was cold and rainy outside. I had had a long day with the boys, and the thought of curling up on the couch with my favorite jogging pants, a glass of red wine and Ray Donovan was very appealing. But, maybe doing something different; physically leaving the house and moving my body will relieve some of the pent up stress of the day. The stress caused my multiple tantrums where I had to keep my cool…over and over again. I changed into my camo tights, sports bra and tank and made the the decision to go.

I opened the studio door, and walked into a sea of boots and runners in parking spaces by the front door. Peeking down the stairs to the reception desk, I finally found a place for my Hunters. I waited in line to check in, got my tag and told the girl which class I was here for. New to the studio? Yes. First time. I didn’t tell her it had been over 3 years, and 2 kids later since I’d stepped foot in a gym or yoga studio. She directed me to the change rooms, and that was all the information I got. Off I went.

Following the hurried people with their professional looking yoga mats, I made my way into the busy change room, hung up my coat and sweater and took my $10 Home Sense yoga mat, my purse and waited in line for class to start. So this is where all the young people in Ottawa are on a Thursday night at 7:30pm.

It felt really hot and sweaty in the line. Why does everyone have towels? Why are some of the guys in just bathing suits? People started moving towards the dark, steamy room. As I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other, I saw a big quote on the wall, “the time to hesitate is through.” Just the push I needed. Ok, let’s do this.

What I thought was going to be a simple yoga class, in a calm serene setting, turned out to be an intermediate, hot yoga class to 80’s music with 50 people jammed like sardines into a hot room. I quickly found a spot for my cheap blue mat. I wonder why no one took this prime spot at the back. Sweet. Oh, the mirrors are on this wall. I’m at the front. Crap. As I watched people warming up doing yoga handstands and other pretzel like moves, I had a feeling this wasn’t your typical yoga class.

Start warming up. Don’t show fear. Pretend you know what you’re doing. Fake it till you make it. You’re fit, you workout three times a week (even if it’s only for 15 minutes in the basement). You can do this. Repeat motivating thoughts in between yawns. I wish I was back on my couch in the safety and comfort of my home.

Class seems like it’s about to begin. I wonder where the teacher’s mat is. The class is starting and she’s telling us to do child’s pose. Oh crap. No teacher demo. I have to listen to the moves? It’s time to dig deep into days of practicing yoga, and get moving.

I have never sweat so much in my life. Not even during labour. During chair pose to chaturanga push-ups, repeat multiple times, I looked longingly at my neighbours delicious, dry, fast-absorbing towels, and looked sadly at my balls of soaking wet tissues that I kept desperately grabbing from the box that was luckily behind my cheap blue mat. My shoulders were sweating. Sweat was in my eyes. This was crazy, but so, so good.

Not only did I keep up in the class, I think I rocked it. Watching myself go through the moves, and keeping up with the other yogis, I thought back to all the hurdles I’d overcome in the last few years as my mom self. C-section, breastfeeding, VBAC, more trouble breastfeeding, daily pumping, sleepless nights, deciding to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. Why did overcoming a yoga class feel different than the other, seemingly more difficult challenges? I know why. It’s because I stepped into a world that my pre-mom self used to feel comfortable in, and realized I had no idea anymore. In my mom life, I feel confident. I go to playgroups, know how to strike up a conversation with other moms, navigate the grocery store with two kids with relative ease. In that life (for the most part) I got this. In this world, of young yogis in a cool downtown studio, I don’t got this. But, I did it anyways. I think I did a good job, and I want to do it again. I want to become a yogi.

Even though the amazingly fit and confident yoga teacher mat-shamed me in front of everyone (your yoga mat won’t work in my classes – it’s like a slip and slide); it felt so awesome to get out of my comfort zone. I used to teach swimming and piano lessons. Maybe I could teach yoga someday? It certainly compliments my background in nutrition. Maybe it will just become a much-needed escape from my amazing, but busy boys. Maybe I could get certified and teach at a resort in the Caribbean? Who knows, but what I know for sure, is nothing would have changed if I didn’t get my butt off the couch.

For all you stay-at-home moms out there who feel like your life is an endless cycle of laundry, cleaning, attending play groups and making it through tantrums, get out and do something that makes you uncomfortable. I’m confident it will end up making you feel awesome.

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Checking IN…

by Lauren on May 29, 2017

Wow. This is the first time I’ve logged in since January 28th, and the only reason is because I decided not to prep dinner tonight or get groceries; thank goodness for my mother-in-law’s frozen chicken soup.

The last 4 months has flown by, but it’s so fun taking care of both my boys. Jack is 3 now, and Max is almost 1! I’ve decided to look after both of them by myself with no help for the summer. Yeah I know. I’m sure I’ll have hard days, but I think it’s going to be great. We live in an awesome, kid-friendly neighbourhood with so many resources at my fingertips. I’m looking at it as my last hoorah before focusing on work again in the fall. I’m not sure what I want to do yet, but I have some ideas and am excited at the thought of having some time to myself to focus on nutrition again.

It’s crazy being a full-time mom because I know my other brain is in there (my work brain), but it’s really dusty and out of practice. Here are some of my ideas for the fall…

  • Start filming more cooking videos for my blog and recipe development
  • Read Intuitive Eating and decide if I want to register for the Intuitive Eating coaching course
  • Go to Toastmasters to get better at public speaking
  • Start doing workshops again with hopefully something interesting to say that I’m passionate about

It’s really hard as a woman to put 100% of yourself into raising your kids and your career. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. I read a quote by C.S. Lewis the other day that gets me through the hard days when I miss my job: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

Just wanted to check in, and let you all know that I am coming back 🙂 Have a great summer everyone!

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Super Easy Veggie Chia Seed Slow Cooker Lasagna

January 28, 2017

Photo Credit For those of you that follow my blog on a regular basis, I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I’m always looking for ways to make not-so-healthy favourites (like lasagna!) healthy, delicious and easy. It’s pretty much one of my main goals in life. So when my sister-in-law gave me the idea […]

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Celebrate National Soup Month with my Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup!

January 16, 2017

January is National Soup Month, and to celebrate; it’s time to change the way we think of soup! It’s no longer just a starter or a side-dish; it can be a complete meal! Having soup as a main opens up a world of possibilities, and because most soups can be prepared ahead of time; it takes some […]

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Stop Dieting and Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle!

January 8, 2017

Happy New Year everyone! With the craziness of the holidays behind us, I finally have a chance to catch my breath and write a little bit. I always have blog ideas floating around in my head, and than one of my kids wakes up from a nap, does a poo on the potty (I’m still […]

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It’s Officially Soup Season!

December 12, 2016

Photo Credit Soups and chillis are some of my favourite recipes to make because they are “one pot” meals, and I love making anything that allows me to prep, chop and cook ahead of time. Anyone with kids knows that evenings are insane, and who has time to make recipes that require cooking before serving? Maybe a […]

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Nacho Inspired Mexican Burrito Bowl

November 28, 2016

Photo Credit Sorry for all the bean recipes lately, but I made a big batch of my Easy Slow Cooker Black Beans recently so I’ve been thinking of all the different ways I can use them! This recipe was inspired by last night’s Grey Cup game. My hubbie was excited to watch, and I wanted […]

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Holiday Gift Idea! Try the World Gift Boxes

November 28, 2016

I was recently approached by Try the World; a company that delivers boxes, which contain gourmet delicacies from around the world on a monthly basis. The first thing I thought when I received the beautiful boxes filled with yummy treats is how perfect this would be as a holiday gift idea! They’re perfect for the […]

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