Posted in Exercise and fitness, mind and body, School-related, Uncategorized

Recess—The “New” Law (?!)

Welcome to 2016, everyone. Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and happy upcoming year. Thank you for your patience and support these past, erratic weeks. I’m working on getting back into some kind of routine.

I heard a recent news snippet that NJ law makers are looking to sign into law a bill that mandates recess for school-aged children. Preferably, one that is held outdoors.

Well…duh.

Back in my 6th grade days—yes, the dark ages 😉 —I remember being in 6th grade and having a 15-minute, outdoor recess daily (in addition to lunch recess). In fact, I recall days when it was so windy and cold, a few of my classmates and I tucked ourselves behind a wall outside one of the entrances, creating a shield between us and the wind.

Through high school, I still recall being allowed air. My public high school’s building was a new construction, and included a fully-enclosed courtyard. Kids got to go OUTSIDE during lunch, study hall, etc, but had no way to leave the grounds.

Fast-forward to my kids and 5th grade, when, for the first time in the history of their school lives, the kids got only 10 minutes outdoors after lunch, weather permitting, and those rules far stricter than in my day (i.e., stay off the grass, no ball play, etc) Since my district’s 5th graders attend a 5th-grade only separate building, the kids are appropriately disappointed to find there is no longer a 20-minute lunch recess (after they eat).

Nat state forest 1

By middle school, and through high school, there is NO outdoor time (barring gym; and again, weather-permitting). Movement breaks for the kids are considered “built into” the changing of classes. Like the high school I attended, my current district’s high school has a large, enclosed courtyard, but I’ve never seen it put to use. Nor has either of my kids ever reported spending any time at all there.

I remember reading an article—at least 10 years ago—that stated the diagnosis of ADHD appeared to have risen significantly once recess went out of school.

Ya think?

Sorry for my attitude of disdain, but I can’t help thinking that lawmakers might be priding themselves on having re-invented the wheel. Does it really take a college degree to figure out that kids need to move? Heck, we all do, as the popularity (and big industry) of Fitbits and related technology bears testament.

Present-day curriculums are academics-driven. That’s all fine and appropriate, but not if a child—no matter the age—is so saturated with information, artificial light and re-circulated air that learning is compromised. When did addressing one’s basic human needs go out the window? (Oh, yes, many of the classrooms don’t have those either. Not that every teacher opens them, and some keep the shades down and classrooms dark. Note: I do realize there are areas where it could be more dangerous to leave them open. What a world we seem to be living in.)

Everyone needs to move. We all need fresh air. Babies. Kids. Adults. Seniors. Passing four years of high school Phys Ed is a graduation requirement in my state.  NFL Play60 campaign posters are all around. (Honestly, far more than that is much more favorable, but unless a student trains with a school team, who has time when bogged down with academics and homework?) Spending time outdoors, moving, exploring, learning–no technology can replace what a child absorbs from simply being outside and running around, climbing, etc.

Nicholas daredevil KMS

The bottom line is this. Introducing recess into the school day is no novel notion. Taking it out was, IMHO, a bad idea in the name of more time for academics. Guess some ‘old school’ ideas are classic and bear re-installment.

Where do you stand? Should recess be re-installed? Or should direct instruction time not be sacrificed? Should outdoor time be left to before and after school, and maybe lunch—or maybe extending a school day to include that? Should middle and high school students be allowed to step outdoors for air during the day?

Enjoy the upcoming (extended) weekend

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.

 

 

Posted in mind and body, Reflections

Peace via Gratitude

Received this AMAZING QUOTE by Gilda Radner in my inbox via Thoughtful Mind:

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

tulips--2015
Totally in love with the colors of these Easter flowers. Can’t wait to plant them outdoors for next year!

This got me thinking. I know very little about Gilda Radner. She had a flourishing career on Saturday Night Live, and was married to Gene Wilder who supposedly loved her very much. (He probably still does.)

Life hit her.

Hard.

Cancer doesn’t care who you are or about what’s going on in your life.

The little I read suggests she chose to make the best of it, until her short life came to its close. (She died at 43.)

Flexibility is key, folks. Life happens. People—kids included—do what they do. (Sometimes it stinks.) We roll with it and experience some modicum of peace, or fight with it and spend many of our days feeling miserable, resentful, cheated, hopeless—you name it.

Regardless of your situation, name ONE thing for which to be grateful. It can be big (that promotion you just got) or not-so-big (the thoughtfulness behind the ceramic loon your 8-year-old spent his money on at the flea market, figuring you’d love it 😉 ).

bird

Make thankfulness a habit. Challenge yourself to name two things. Five. (You get the idea.) Miring oneself in gratitude—despite the stuff life brings—makes it really hard to stay sad. Just MHO and just sayin.’

“A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” Abraham Lincoln. (I’m thinking this applies to women too! 😉 )

How do you practice gratitude and/or flexibility? Does either or both bring you peace? Share about it in the comments. You might just inspire someone else.

Have an inspired day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in Exercise and fitness, fitness, holidays, mind and body, recipes, Uncategorized

Should “Healthy” Pancakes Taste This Good?

Yes, we will be doing recipes here, too. Something for everyone, right? And I’m thinking these might be a perfect addition to an Easter breakfast. 🙂

These past few weeks I’ve craved (diner) pancakes. Before I started cutting back white-flour products, I would order them on occasional breakfast trips out. Now, three bites gets me an instant headache from the flour AND the sugary table syrup.

I tried making a white whole wheat version, but they always felt heavy. They certainly didn’t capture that “diner flavor.” Then, shortly after Christmas, I picked up some woman’s magazine that talked about Paleo recipes. Almond meal came into my home and life changed—a little, anyway.

I found the original recipe here. I followed it exactly the first time, but I have this need to tweak every recipe I come across and really wanted to cut back the flour. Either way, the flavor—and even the texture—resembled those of the diner!

pancake ingredients
The (18-oz) jelly jar is holding about 1-1/2 cups of pre-mixed dry ingredients, enough for the 5 or 6 6-inch (?) pancakes pictured below.

Rather than list the entire recipe with my changes I’ll keep this short and note only the changes I made:

I cut back the white whole wheat flour to ¼ cup and increased the oatmeal to ¾ cup. (Next time I might add an additional ¼-tsp of baking soda too.)

I used ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt (b/c it’s all I had) and thinned it with ¼ cup of 1% milk (dairy or almond—both worked fine).

I ALWAYS add extra vanilla. 😉

I made some plain, added chocolate chips to a few, and even some dried coconut flakes. (I did blueberries last time, which I keep frozen.) They all worked.

pancakes (healthy)
Can y’all tell I’m a huge fan of green, especially that obnoxious lime version, lol? My dream vehicle is Jeep Wrangler in that shade–non-metallic, please. 😉

Rather than fry the pancakes in canola oil, I sprayed my griddle and cooked them the old-fashioned pancake way. Next time I make my tweaked version, I’ll let them cook a few minutes longer. I think oatmeal is a touch heavier than white whole wheat flour, so the batter has to cook a little longer to rise (?).

I transferred them to a spatter screen, to keep the bottom of the pancake from getting mushy from condensation. Once they’re cool I put them on a plate.

These keep well in the fridge for a few days. (The flavor gets better.) I’m sure they can also be frozen for a quick and healthy breakfast just before school. (I toss them in the toaster on low. Works really well.) Layer them with yogurt and fruit or maple syrup and a touch of butter. PBJ or almond butter and jelly are good too. (Yes, I’ve tried it.)

Are you constantly looking for healthier versions of comfort food standards? Do you follow a recipe ‘as is’ or are you compelled to put your stamp on it? Will your kids eat your take on their favorite foods?

(Images of my dream vehicle–just for fun. Parents and caregivers need some. 🙂 )

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all who celebrate! Please take a moment to remember (and pray for, if you are so inclined) those who aren’t as blessed as we are.

Until next time,

Joanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Exercise and fitness, fitness, making time, mind and body, Parenting, Uncategorized

Working in Exercise–Keeping the Parent’s Body (and Mind) Fit–Part 2

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Thank you for checking back in. Guess “later this week” will have to include a full seven-day cycle for this post. Life gets REALLY busy sometimes, and the best one can do is make the necessary adjustments.

Last time we discussed issues that messed with the morning routine I’d gotten into during my kids’ elementary school days. (This included early-AM exercise.) Once they got older, their schedule changed and this mom-who-works-outside-the-house had to adapt. Here are some of the ways I did.

One: I moved my ankle, wrist and small dumbbell weights from the basement to my bedroom. I exercised in my room—or between their beds—while calling them between counting out reps. (These days, my gear hides in a basket near the TV in the living room, just within reach of the exercise ball.)

FullSizeRender (1)

Two: I shortened and/or broke up the routines (about 10 minutes each): do arms in the morning; legs in the afternoon–often while catching a Law & Order SVU re-run. I get in full-body routines during Dancing with the Stars, too 😉 ).

Three: I learned to multi-task exercises (i.e., combine lunges with arm work, arm work with abdominal work while on the exercise ball, etc). Translation: More muscle groups addressed per move.

Four: I make walking outdoors a priority—15-25 minutes, usually 5 days a week. (I abhor treadmills and exercise machines—I’m far too restless to stay in one spot that long. Reading and/or watching TV while I’m on one just doesn’t cut it for me.)

Dancing: I’ll cue up my favorite YouTube videos of songs I like and just move to them. So many out there—all age groups covered.

Five: YouTube videos: Long and short workouts galore to be discovered—some as short as FIVE (!) minutes. I pick, choose and vary them. Try two or three 5-minute ones and cover a full-body workout in 15 minutes. (This barre workout and Popsugar fitness are currently favorites. If you can past the English girl’s voice in the former, you’ll be just fine.)

Six: Sneak some exercise at work: take stairs, squeeze your back end while in your chair. My little guys at school are doing wall push-ups or jogging—often with me right alongside—by kindergarten.

Disclaimer: CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR, AND USE YOUR JUDGMENT WHEN USING ON-DEMAND AND YouTube VIDEOS. I have a background in anatomy and physiology. I’m no expert, but I am familiar with the directions that individual muscles move, what key muscle groups do, etc, so I can tailor my routines.

I also have physical therapist friends—this is among their areas of expertise. I ask; they help. Even so, I wound up doing something to my hip during a zumba/soca video I pulled up. (Within 2-3 months, I was having serious trouble getting off the floor. I started by chucking the rocker-sneakers, which I still miss. A trip to an orthopedist, my regular practitioner and athletic taping of my knee followed. 18+ months later, I still swear by my tape.)

Disclaimer #2: WORK AT YOUR OWN PACE and DON’T PUSH YOURSELF TO THE POINT OF INJURY. If a workout calls for jumping or running and you can’t–modify (i.e., walk in place, etc). An injury will side-line you big-time and totally get in the way of your purpose.

Having a stated that, it’s a mind-shift, my dear parents and caregivers. And it can be done. All you need is a little flexibility in your thinking and a desire to make it work within the parameters of your particular circumstance.

How do you adapt? All ideas and thoughts welcome—leave yours in the comments or email me privately.

Have a wonderful day,

Joanne

©Joanne C Timpano, content and images. All rights reserved.

Posted in fitness, making time, mind and body

Working in Exercise—Keeping the Parent’s Body (and Mind) Fit–Part 1

Hello all. Told you we’d cover lots of topics here—this one is for moms, dads and anyone in the parenting role who feels there just isn’t enough time to take care of their fitness needs. (Many times, there isn’t. That doesn’t necessarily translate to: “It can’t be done.” A little creativity can take a little motivation down quite the productive path. And regular exercise keeps the mind fit too–a parent “must.”)

“Make it a priority,” is a catch-phrase so readily bandied about in today’s world. Seems to me that  EVERYTHING is supposed to be that. Kind of cancels out what a priority is supposed to be, right?

So how does a busy parent prioritize exercise?

If you’re strictly a “gym” person, the suggestions I’m offering might not appeal to you. I belonged to one eons ago, and even taught one of their aerobics classes regularly for a while. As much as I enjoyed leading the class–it pumped my workout big-time–I don’t miss the smells of the place, nor how easy it was to blow off exercise when I couldn’t get there for whatever reason. (Chances are, I might have made up a reason or two not to go—what are the odds?)

I got into a habit of exercising at home. I was up around 5:30 anyway, doing paperwork and/or writing when my kids were very small—how else does a parent find undisturbed quiet time? By re-purposing small windows of that early AM time, I would manage to put in at least 20 minutes prior to getting my kids up for school (around 7:30). At K-4th grade levels, they didn’t have to be in until 8:45. (Dad was off to work by 6 AM—the house was mine.)

I picked them up after school. They’d stay on the school grounds and played. When I wasn’t doing my session notes (a.k.a., my “homework”) —or chatting with other parents–I’d walk around the school grounds. (Sometimes I’d walk with other parents while we socialized.) During spring and early fall, I’d often take them back to the playground after dinner, and walk or hit a tennis ball against the wall while they rode their bikes and/or played. They were always within eye and/or earshot. I’d also walk around the neighborhood while they rode their bikes ahead of me.

That changed from 5th grade. Older Son had to be on a bus by 7:40. Now both guys are in high school; their back ends need to be in seats by 7:34.

Issue #1: This mom has been getting kids up for school starting at 6:15 for 5+ years now. Their current, earlier schedule killed a good hour and fifteen minutes of “my” time.

Note: My kids have never given me a hard time about going to school. Teens’ biological clocks are naturally more nocturnal, so getting up at increasingly earlier hours is PHYSIOLOGICALLY more challenging.

Issue #2: Mom has to call the kids more often to get them up.

Issue #3: Mom can’t be exercising in the basement when boys are upstairs in their room, sleeping when they’re supposed to be up.

So how does one carve out the time for exercise?

Solution: Mom had to adapt.

Tune in later this week for a list of some of the changes I made. They’re easier than you might think. Maybe you’ll find a game-changing tip–or two!

Until then, have a great day! Please feel free to leave any thoughts you have on the matter in the comments.

Joanne