February Foodie Penpals

It was my second month in the Foodie Penpals program organized by the awesome Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean! Once again I was not disappointed in my exchange. The package I sent was for a lady who does not have a blog, so I am unable to give link love, but rest assured her participation is massively appreciated.
Foodie Penpals
Now, what did I find on my door step earlier this month? Tons of treats from Danni over at Healthy Kitschy Vegan! Chocolate Espresso Beans, Cinnamon Apple Spice tea, Biscotti, homemade cookies (which came wrapped in foil and felt oh-so-gift-from-mom-while-at-camp but I repacked to keep them fresher longer, some sponge cake type things I have yet to open and a lovely hand written card.

Pay no attention to the opened Biscotti package…
Homemade “Tag-a-longs” since I love me some Girl Scout Cookies!
Sponge-cake? These will be a post heart procedure treat!
And a card to bring it all together
Thanks again Danni!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

If you’re interested in participating for March, please send  an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!

You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!
***PLEASE NOTE: if you send an email, you WILL GET A RESPONSE within 48 hours. If you don”t….please re-send your email or contact Lindsay via Twitter (@LeanGrnBeanBlog). Last month we had a few emails get lost as spam so we’re trying to avoid that!

3 Steps to an Active Lifestyle : A Guest Post from MeghanM

Today we have a wonderful guest post! When I asked for input from people on how to keep active and be involved in fitness…because you’re all sick of hearing about my health complaints…Mehgan volunteered. Here is her post! Please stop be her blog and show her some love as well as leaving any comments.

Hello, ROJ Running readers!  I am your guest writer for the day…MeghanM from TheMeghaMix (http://themeghamix.blogspot.com).

I hail from the Pacific Northwest, where umbrellas are for tourists (and the rest of us load up on coffee and vitamin D to weather seasonal affective disorder). I do Crossfit, hot yoga, half marathons, racquetball…well, a little bit of everything!  I find joy in the challenge of eating healthy and staying fit in the midst of sorting laundry, paying bills, and spending 40 hours a week in a little grey cubical. Julie was looking for a post on living an active lifestyle, so I volunteered!

An active lifestyle is not a diet or a training plan for a particular event.  It’s about restructuring your life in a way that prioritizes your health…and the catch is that you have to set up something you can picture yourself enjoying week in and week out for the rest of your life.  It requires planning, creativity, and a willingness to break out of your comfort zone.

Here are my three steps to an active lifestyle:

  • Work(out) 9-5.  Ideally, we’d all be Bob Harber or Jillian Michaels…enjoying the benefits of six-pack abs while people paid us to maintain them.  However, most of us have real life jobs where we sit at desks after a sedentary commute.  You could obviously quit your job and hope to be the next key trainer on a weight loss show that will catapult you to svelte stardom…or you can tweak the job you have right now.
    • Guzzle H2O.  If you make ONE change to your daily grind, this should be it.  You probably don’t need me to tell you that water is good for you…but it is ESPECIALLY good for you on the job.  The more water you drink, the more often you will have to make a bathroom trip or walk to refill your water bottle.  This is an easy way to make yourself take regular screen breaks and up your daily movement tally!
    • Buy some resistance bands.  If you are like me, part of your job relies on certain software or other electronic resources…which can often be slow to load.  I used to while away these 1-2 minute stretches by checking my facebook or otherwise wasting time.  I now keep a couple of resistance bands at my desk and do reps of shoulder strengthening exercises while I wait.  In addition to building muscle on the sly, I usually get a great mood boost out of this, especially in the afternoon when I start to lag.
    • Give yourself a standing ovation.  A year or so ago, I was spending 10-15 minutes several days a week doing core strengthening workouts…and seeing little results.  After reading an article about how sitting weakens abs muscles, so I asked my employer to change over my current workstation to a standing desk.  It has made  HUGE difference in my mental focus, my core strength, and actually also helped with hamstring pain I’d suffered from sitting too much.  If your employer can’t or won’t adjust your desk and get you a tall chair (standing ALL day isn’t ideal), buy a Swiss ball and sit on that instead of your chair.  

  • Be an Ambassador.  Experts say: to be successful in your health and fitness goals, you should surround yourself with like-minded friends.  Am I suggesting you ditch your longtime happy hour buddies and join a running club?  No.  Building great relationships takes a lot of time and energy.  Don’t scrap the wonderful people in your life – get THEM excited about healthy living, too!  This way, you won’t feel like you have to sacrifice social hour for workouts…or vice versa.
    • Step out of your comfort zone.  If you’re the fit one, getting your buds to join you on your 16 mile weekend training run may not be the best place to start.  Instead, look for things THEY love, and be willing to try!  I practically brag about my lack of hand-eye coordination, but last May, I got my dad to sign up for a gym membership so he could teach me racquetball.  We play together a few times a week – he is getting in better shape and I am improving my coordination!
    • Be the trainer.  Are you into boot-camp style workouts?  Rather than trying to get your friends to pay a monthly fee so they can join you at your gym, start your own class and “teach” them for free!  Meet at a park, or take turns hosting in your living rooms.  Plan a workout and then lead your friends through it once a week – or more!
    • Just. Get. Moving.  If your friendship without caffeine is not worth considering, meet for a cup of coffee…and then take it outside!  If your weather is less than stellar, meet at the mall and walk around indoors.  Watching the game more your thing?  Have your buddies come early and throw the football around or shoot some hoops.  

  • Mix It Up.  I probably don’t need to remind you that variety in your activities is important in warding off frustrating injuries.  Variety also protects your active lifestyle by making room for real life…and helps you stay motivated by keeping boredom at bay!
    • Have two plans.  Say you go to the 6pm Pilates class on Mondays at your local gym…that is, when work doesn’t run late.  Does your gym have a pool?  Throw a swimsuit in your bag.  If you’re too late for class, you can still get in a full body, low impact workout (and some extra cardio, too).  
    • Join Groupon.  Maintaining your active lifestyle doesn’t have to bleed your bank account dry!  Sign up for emails from sites like Groupon, Living Social, or Amazon Local.  They routinely offer deals on workout class packages (think kickboxing and yoga), or one time activities like trapeze or fencing.  And work this angle as an active lifestyle ambassador!  The same friend who hates the gym might be totally down for a day at the ice skating rink.
    • Beat the commute.  Save money, gas, and your health by running, biking, or walking instead of taking your car, whether to work or just running errands.  Explore new routes – try to find less traffic-clogged roads to ease the toll on your lungs.  You’ll be in a better mood and feel proud of your accomplishment instead of ashamed at the less-than-kind hand gestures you would have made while fuming behind the steering wheel.

You’ll soon find that living an active lifestyle comes naturally – almost effortlessly.  My lifestyle changes have given me a spring in my step, improved my productivity, and brightened my attitude.  I bet you Jillian Michael’s abs that these steps will do the same for you.

YOU TELL ME: What steps do you take to live an active lifestyle?  

Thanks, Julie, for the opportunity to guest post!!!