Voluntary Discomfort

This is a term I recently learned and am trying to incorporate more and more into my life. Voluntary discomfort is exactly as it sounds – making deliberate decisions that make you uncomfortable. So why am I choosing the hard way in life? To be happier.

2017 is a year where life hacks shorten daily tasks, Buzzfeed can tell you what you want to eat for dinner, you can buy whatever you desire and have it on your doorstep the next day, and you can accomplish anything by a touch of a smartphone. Life is relatively easy. This is where Voluntary Discomfort comes in. If you step back and say, yeah my life is pretty easy, then I challenge you to start being uncomfortable. When you step out of society’s comfort zone you discover a feeling of pride, relief, accomplishment, and happiness.

 

To help you figure out some ways to start using voluntary discomfort, I decided to write out some of the things I have changed in my life and the impacts they have had on me.

  • Wake up early. If you’re like me, you don’t like rolling out of bed when the alarm goes off. It would be more comfortable to hit the snooze button and catch a few zzz’s for an extra ten minutes. Don’t. Use the extra time in the morning to get ready, appreciate the day, and set intentions. By doing this simple task, I am uncomfortable for less than five minutes when I’m choosing to get out of bed on time, but I have become more productive than ever before.
  • Shed the negatives – research has shown that buying new things as an effort to create happiness can cause high levels of stress, and therefore unhappiness. Instead of going out and buying that new car or lamp, think really hard if it will make you happy. A perfect example of this was this summer when I bought a mountain bike. I spent $700 on a used bike that I thought would being me so much happiness – it would allow me to spend time in the mountains doing an exhilarating activity with my boyfriend and provide a great source of fun exercise. I went mountain biking once and quickly realized it wasn’t for me. Now there was a $700 bike sitting in my living room that wasn’t being used. This caused enormous amounts of stress on me – I had wasted $700, I was wasting space, and now I was struggling to get rid of it. Instead of going and buying a new toy to cheer myself up, I chose to first shed the negative from my life. I advertised the bike on every possible website, and eventually sold it for $470. Although I took quite a major loss on the bike, the feeling of relief and satisfaction of having it GONE made me so happy. The same research that said buying things causes stress stated that getting rid of the things in your life that you don’t need will cause much more happiness than any new purchase will. I have chosen to deliberately go through all of our belongings and only keep what we need or what truly makes us happy. Selling and donating old belongings made me feel like I had been trapped in a tiny box and the doors finally opened.
  • SWEAT- because this is a health blog, right? Working out is never easy and nor should it be. We push ourselves daily to better ourselves in the long run. If you are reading this blog I can assume fitness is a part of your life so I’m not going to dive into this too much – you know that post workout high? That intense feeling of pride? Imagine if you could make other areas of your life a little more difficult to feel those feelings more frequently.
  • Alternative transportation – this one is huge, and has had the biggest impact on me over the last six months. I started riding 120kms a week on my bike to save a little money and help improve my health. Little did I know it would improve my mental health tremendously and leave me so much happier. Biking is clearly harder than driving. It takes more energy, more time, and more planning. I live less than a kilometer from a grocery store, but yesterday my boyfriend and I decided to ride our bikes 30kms with our packs to get our weekly groceries from a budget friendly grocery store. We did this as a voluntary discomfort experiment. We were tired (ok, I was tired, the mountain biker was ok) and sweaty and our packs were heavy. It took a total of 1.5 hours of cycling to get to and from the grocery store. It was probably the happiest grocery trip we have ever taken together. We got to spend 1.5 hours outside together in the fresh air and got a great workout in. We were able to get a weeks’ worth of groceries to fit on our backs, so we clearly didn’t buy “extras” we didn’t need. We saved money on our grocery bill. And it was free to do. Was it hard? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

 

The options are endless, from taking mandatory breaks from social media and spending more face-to-face time with people to switching the types of food you are eating. The little changes that are uncomfortable at first can leave you feeling so much happier.  What are some ways you make yourself uncomfortable to ultimately feel happy? I’d love it if you’d share your ideas!

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goal digger

Leading up until now, my fitness goals have included getting skinny, getting a six pack, “being strong”, and getting a six pack (again). These goals were purely physical and what I was doing was not working and it left me feeling drained. It was frustrating it was to see my boyfriend absolutely smash his fitness goals (in ONE month) and I felt like I had been going in a downward spiral. I used the classic “it’s easier for men to get fitness results” excuse and immediately regretted saying it as the words left my mouth. Clearly, Carson was doing something that I was missing – and after talking to him it was clear that my goals needed to be re-evaluated. I have heard of SMART goals many times, but have never actually took the time to set my own SMART goals.

Figuring out what my goals would be was another challenge. I had to sit down and think about what would really help me become better. What would make me happy. I googled “fitness goals for women” and wasn’t really finding anything that sparked my fire. Once I went on to some general fitness pages and read about other people’s goals, I was reminded of goals that I once had that had fallen to the wayside. I chose six goals to work on over the next three months.

Do 10 unassisted pull ups

Do 25 push ups

Do a pistol squat

Hold a handstand for 10 seconds

Ride 120kms/week on my bike

Increase flexibility

In order to work around my crazy shift schedule, I decided that the best way for me to reach my goals would be to create my own fitness plan. This will include three strength training workouts a week, two yoga practices, and riding my bike to work three times a week. I have never made my own fitness routine, but this is just another exciting step along my journey. Check out my Instagram to follow along!

FREE GYM MEMBERSHIP

One of my favourite things about the summer is that it is a cheap time to get fit. You don’t need a fancy gym or a spin membership. All you need is a park, maybe a bench, and a friend to enjoy the sun with. I love heading outdoors to go for a bike ride, play in a park, or even do a strength training circuit! Some cities, including the one I live in, even have outdoor gyms that people can use for free – although, I haven’t personally used them that much! I think my favourite outdoor workout is an arms & abs HIIT circuit. Arms are my least favourite body part to train, but for some reason it is easier when you are in a green space enjoying the fresh air! This week I met up with a friend to do a quick and effective 20 minute arm and core HIIT circuit. I like doing 4 rounds of each exercise for 45 seconds, with a 15 second rest in between! Scroll down for today’s workout!

 

  1. Incline push up – find a bench or a step to use. If 45 seconds of push-ups isn’t quite in your reach yet you can modify by pushing back on your toes and “rocketing” forward into each push up to give your arms a little break in between push ups! Alternatively, you could drop to the grass and do regular push ups or push ups on your knees.

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2. Tricep Dips – Find a bench for these guys and engage your core as you use your triceps to lower yourself down and back up. If you want to make this one easier you can bring your feet closer to the bench. No bench? No problem! You can also do these by placing your hands on the ground behind you and your heels out in front of you!

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3. Burpees – Everyone’s favourite exercise, right? There are many different variations of the beloved burpee, but I do mine by placing my hands flat on the ground, jumping both feet back and all the way forward before rocketing up for a sky high jump! If you want you can add a push up, or you can make it easier by walking each foot in and out one at a time.

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4. Plank – Keep your hips level, core engaged, and count the blades of grass to make the 45 seconds go by faster!

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5. Shoulder taps – start in a high plank with your core engaged, and without swaying your hips use your hands to reach up and touch the opposite shoulder.

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Do each of these moves for 45 seconds with a 15 second break for a total of 20 minutes! And don’t forget to stretch after!! Let me know if you do this workout and tag me on Instagram @tanlines.and.training!

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Spinning Negativity Around

 

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I struggle with many things, we all do and that’s normal. I think it’s important to talk about our struggles in an open and safe environment so we can work together to figure out how to work through each day. Nothing is worse than feeling trapped and not knowing where to turn or what to do. A struggle that I find myself constantly dealing with is dealing with negativity in a healthy way. Our worlds are crazier than ever, and unfortunately they are often filled with negativity. My gut response to negativity is usually one of three things – get angry, shove positivity down the culprit’s throat, or ignore it. There are issues with all three of these reactions, but often I use all three, along with a call to my mom, to help me get over negative experiences.

It’s ok to be mad about things, but don’t let your anger hurt others. Anger is an emotion that is natural, and we all experience it. When things don’t go our way or when something so terrible happens that we can’t even process it, it’s ok to be angry for a little while. Just be careful with this one – while I believe it’s healthy to fully embrace your emotions, anger can tend to impact others in a great way as well, and it will benefit nobody if your anger brings someone else down. Use anger as a short-term release until you are ready to process what to do next.

“Shoving positivity down the culprit’s throat” is a little harsh. What I should call this reaction, or step, is “looking on the bright side”. This may or may not involve the person or event that brought negativity into your life. It may be a conversation with someone about how what they did had a negative affect on your life and what the two of you can do to make it better for everyone. It may be an hour solo yoga session where you discover something that brings that positive light back into your soul. My personal favourite is a phone call to my mom or a friend and we can talk about all the great things in life – whether it’s related to the negative experience or not. I find this “exercise” helps me realize a very important life lesson – positivity always outweighs negativity.

Once again, the last step “ignore it” is rather harsh on it’s own. Ignoring something can cause the bottling up and explosion of emotions in the long run. I actually don’tknow what I want to call this “step” of my process. “Get over it” also doesn’t work, and “moving on” feels like I’m leaving it behind. I guess “live and learn” is the most appropriate. This is the stage of acceptance. The negative experience has happened, and I have used different tools to help me move through the experience to find my light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever process you use, this is the most important thing – don’t let the negative experience dull your positive light. Find your light and let it shine B R I G H T, because when each of us shines a little brighter, the world is a better place.

*picture taken from google*

Balancing Act

easter tret

Eating healthy is always a balancing act. Whether you count calories or macros, follow a specific eating routine, or just try to “eat clean”, you need to find a balance so you don’t go bananas! I find that special occasions are always the hardest time to stay balanced. I see people too often using holidays as an excuse to go nuts with our food and end up feeling guilty, bloated, and even sick. Now, I am NOT saying don’t eat those chocolate easter eggs that the Easter Bunny is going to bring you this weekend, but I am going to give you a few great tips to help you feel satiated, healthy, and happy over the holidays!

  1. Enjoy your meals! Most “food regret” comes from uncontrolled snacking throughout piled on top of (usually large) delicious meals. Traditional holiday meals usually include lots of vegetables, protein sources, and other nutrient-filled foods! Try to be aware of the snacks that you consume throughout the day & try to snack on fresh fruit and veggies if you are feeling snackish! I know for me, the mindless snacking is the hardest thing to avoid during – but it can be done! And you’ll enjoy your holiday meal even more if you aren’t as stuffed as the turkey before the dinner begins!
  2. Stay hydrated! Holidays usually means socializing, and that often means bringing out the vino and brews! Try to stick to water to stay hydrated throughout the day, but make sure you enjoy a pint or glass at some point if you want to! Deprivation is as fun as food guilt – NOT FUN AT ALL!
  3. Bring healthy snacks! I was taught to never arrive empty handed. If you are headed off to someone else’s house for the holiday weekend, make a delicious snack that is healthy too for everyone to share!
  4. Enjoy in moderation. I am a huge chocoholic and I’d be lying if I said I’d make it through the weekend without indulging in some chocolate. Instead of setting up next to the giant bowl of mini eggs, I try to grab a piece of dark chocolate every now and then to keep my sweet tooth at bay!

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL weekend filled with laughter, love, and friends & family. I also hope the Easter Bunny treats you well, and you can use these tips to get through the weekend feeling great!

 

*Photo taken from Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/444308319475988456/)

Groceries on a Dime

 

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There is a huge myth out there that eating healthy is expensive. Eating healthy CAN be expensive if you choose to buy that new organic name brand superfood that is going to sit on your counter and go bad before you get the chance to eat it, but if you plan ahead and use some of these simple tips you can actually SAVE money on your monthly grocery bill!

 

  1. Buy dried beans – Beans are a great source of protein and we often grab the convenient canned guys because they seem like they are a cheap and healthy choice! Dried beans are not only a more cost-efficient option, but they also contain less sodium and MORE nutrients than canned! If you have never used dried beans before it is worth noting that planning is essential when it comes to cooking with them – dried beans must be soaked in water overnight prior to cooking and they take approximately 45-60 minutes to cook. Most beans double to triple both their weight and size once cooked!

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  1. Buy in bulk, but be wary of where you buy – Bulk Barn is a great resource for buying products in bulk, but sometimes not always the cheapest! Do your research ahead of time and figure out where the best places are to buy what you need. Certain things that should ALWAYS be purchased in the bulk section include: SPICES, anything used for a specific recipe that isn’t a staple in your house, and dried fruits and nuts.

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  1. Speaking of doing your research – DO YOUR RESEARCH! Make a grocery list ahead of time and figure out where the best place to shop will be. Keep an eye out for local coupons, discounts, and no name brands. When you’re at the store check for any sales that might be going on – but only purchase sale items if you need them for your meal prep that week. You aren’t saving money on sale foods if you weren’t going to buy that food in the first place.

 

  1. Meatless Mondays – Going vegetarian isn’t necessarily an option for many people, I know it probably would never happen in my house! But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat vegetarian meals 1-3 days a week! Not only are vegetarian protein sources healthy and a cheaper alternative to meat, but also it is also a much better alternative for the environment!

 

Check out the blog https://www.budgetbytes.com/ for some awesome budget friendly recipes!

 

 

Do you have a favourite budget friendly meal?! Share it in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Date Night

Your heart loves harder when it’s beating twice as hard – M

When you think of “date night,” things like going out for dinner, catching a movie or a play, getting ice cream on a hot summers day, and the list goes on. Most of these things have two things in common – they usually cost money and generally, they aren’t beneficial for your health. I challenge you to find something new to try with your partner that is free and healthy! This past week, my boyfriend and I went on two dates. Our first date was a 40 km (24.8 mile) bike ride and our second was running 160 flights of stairs. At the end of our first bike ride we both looked at each other and we felt more in love than ever. There is something about doing something that is physically challenging together that brings a whole new level to date night. Not only do you get to spend quality time together, but at the end of your date you will be so proud of each other, so high on endorphins, and believe me – you will feel so grateful that you finished that challenge with someone special next to you.

Here are some fun ideas for you and your lovebug!

  • Roller skating! Remember the last time you went roller blading? Me neither! It will be a fun flashback and a great way to get some extra cardio in!
  • Skating – it may be too warm where you live now, but there might be a chance to go out for one last skate of the season! What’s more romantic than skating hand-in-hand with some hot cocoa?
  • Walking. Get outside and enjoy the view. Walking is such an easy form of exercise and it’s a low enough intensity that you will be able to get to know each other better without the distractions of a busy restaurant! Perfect for a new couple!
  • Swimming – the weather is warming up & soon enough we will be able to go for a dip in a lake! Definitely a fun way to spend the day in the sun, just remember your sunscreen!
  • Bike rides – one of my personal favourites! Try to find bike paths in your area and plan a 10km route together. If it’s a quiet day you’ll likely be able to bike side-by-side and chit chat along the way!
  • Take a hike! Whether it’s a stroll near the river or summiting a mountain, hiking has always been a favourite date night for me. You will need each other’s encouragement to reach your goal – you will need patience for when your partner is challenged – you will NEED each other to get to the top. It might be a little crazy, but multi-day hikes with my partner have been some of the best times we have spent together – we built trust, got to know each other even better in the silence of nature, and our relationship became stronger than ever before!
  • HIIT. Although you won’t likely be talking during High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT is a great workout to do together (google partner HIIT workouts!) and really get your heart rate up – more endorphins, more love!

Please comment and share what you do for a fun & healthy date night! I can’t wait to hear what you have planned!

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Half way done our bike ride!

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Our view from where we ran stairs!

Cardio Queen

I am pretty sure I am the only person on earth who actually likes cardio. I don’t find it boring at all – it is a time I take to clear my mind, reflect on my life, and reconnect with myself. I knew I needed to reach out and find something to fill the void of running. Luckily, I have an extremely supportive partner who is passionate about biking. He has helped me find a hybrid bike that I love, mapped my new route, and restarted the fire that was put out when I had to quit running. I am so excited to share that starting this Friday, I will be an official bike commuter. It will consist of 40 kms a day, feeling good about “going green”, and even saving me approximately $50 a month in gas! It has been a really long time since I felt this determination & excitement, and I am so grateful to have stumbled upon this opportunity. I can’t wait to share how this new adventure pans out! Wish me luck!!IMG_3244

Meghan’s March

Each month I write out my goals. Usually, they look something like “drink more water, work out, eat healthy”. This month I wanted to really focus on what would make me happier. As I started writing each goal down I started to feel overwhelmed – my list was growing longer and longer – how in God’s name was I supposed to reach ALL OF THOSE GOALS?! Then I crossed them all out. Each one of those goals had one common theme, and I decided to make that theme my goal. I am “Marching” into this month with one goal: more self care. Sounds great, but what does that exactly mean? Many would argue that because I work out regularly I can already check this goal off, but I disagree. To me, self care is taking the steps to better your overall wellness. Going to the gym and sweating for an hour may be a part of that, but I want to focus on the little things I can do throughout my day that will result in a happier me.

IMG_3400Here are a few things I have already decided to do, but who knows what else will pop up throughout the month!

  • More “me” time – this can be either spent reading, reflecting, or relaxing
  • Trying new whole foods – like incorporating more turmeric into recipes!
  • Spending more time outside and less time in front of a computer
  • Find things that make me happy and do them more often

I plan on sharing more self care tips throughout the month on my Instagram, @tanlines.and.training and I would love you for you to follow along!