When I was living in Holland a few years back I experienced a lot of culture shock. More bikes than people? Took some getting used to. Bland foodmash that passes for a national dish? Mildly offputting (though Dutch food eventually grew on me). The inability to wear high heels on cobblestone? Straight up rage-inducing. However, once the first day of February hit and I realized it was spring I was finally shocked…in a really really good way.
The air smelled sweet, the flower markets were packed with fresh blooms and the rain (at least temporarily) seemed to subside.
Fast forward to present day…February in Toronto, Canada…my cold Northern landscape is providing me with no such seasonal inspiration. But I’m still trying my best to find that sense of February rejuvenation by mixing things up and implementing some small changes in various aspects of my life to keep myself from succumbing to the winter doldrums.
Small Fitness Changes: 3 Ways To Mix Up Your Routine
1) Try out some incline/intensity during your regular cardio. Not a lot. Just add some incline or intensity for 1 minute after 4 minutes of your regular level of intensity, then return to normal. Repeat for the duration of your workout.
2) End your workout with squats. Either time how many you can do in a minute (or 2, or 3) OR try going to 100. This will add a nice little end-of-workout burn without raising your heartrate too much. Plus it is satisfying because you can set small goals and then feel great when you achieve them!
3) Pushups. Give em a go. Go for girlyones (I’m appropriating the term, its cool) if you aren’t used to the upper body challenge or try to do them in full plank position. Just a few sets of 10 mixed into your routine is a great total body workout…Plus they make you feel all tough-like. 😉
Small Food Changes: Experiment with New Ingredients
Last week I bought Sunflower Seed Flour for the first time. It has great nutritional benefits and is very high in protein but it has a really distinct flavour so I wasn’t sure how well it would blend into regular baking. Nevertheless I made the change, I gave it a shot and ended up creating these deliciously energizing little snackbars.
DIY: Protein-Rich Granola Bars
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar,
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar,
- 3/4 cup gluten free oat bran or oat flour
- 3/4 cup sunflower seed flour (I’m sure you could sub for almond flour with great results)
- 1.5 cups crunchy cereal (I suggest a high protein variety like Hi-Lo or Kashi but anything would work)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 mashed banana
- 1 tbsp honey or agave
- 1 cup almond milk (sub for rice milk if you want to make this recipe nut-free as well)
- 4 tsp ground chia mixed with 4 tbsp boiling water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- Optional Cinnamon
- Optional 2 Packets of Stevia (to enhance the natural sweetness)
- Combine wet ingredients mashed banana, almond milk, vanilla, chia mix and tahini in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir flours, baking powder, salt, seeds and cereal together. Also add cinnamon and stevia if using.
- Mix dry and wet ingredients and knead a bit with your hands to make sure everything is combined.
- On a parchment lined baking sheet, shape dough into two rectangular blocks. You’ll be cutting each into 6 pieces and you want them to end up looking like standard granola bars so do the math. I made mine about 2 inches thick.
- Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. They should end up golden brown and crispy at the edges.
- Slice into 12 bars and store in the fridge for an on-the-go snack that will last all week.
What small changes are you making to keep things fresh this February?