In a world that moves at a breakneck pace, finding time to slow down and quiet your mind is difficult—and it’s also essential. Many people turn to meditation to help. The practice guides the mind to a calmer place using breathing techniques, mantras, and imagery. It can be as simple as breathing deeply and repeating a phrase or as complicated as traveling to a different plane tucked away in the recesses of your imagination. Either way, you need a quiet, calm space to do it in order to really reap the benefits of meditation. Here’s how to make your apartment feel bigger when you meditate.
Oust any clutter. One of the most obvious ways to make your space feel larger is to rid it of any stuff that’s non-essential. Purging extra clutter is a good habit to get into, whether you meditate or not. Donate any knick-knacks, furnishings, and decor that you don’t really need in order to open up some space for your meditative practice. This will make it even easier to get into the zen zone.
Welcome natural light. When sunshine comes streaming into your home, it makes your world a bit brighter and bigger. Harness the power of natural light and pick a corner for meditation with ample windows. The sunny rays, and the view visible through the windows, will make your meditation nook feel instantly more spacious.
Enlist neutral hues. While dark colors tend to make a room feel smaller, light and neutral tones do just the opposite. Whites, creams, and shades of beige create the illusion of extra space. So when you pick furnishings for your meditation area (or for any room in your home, really), opt for these lighter colors instead of dark, bold hues. If you already have darker furniture in the area where you intend to meditate, there’s no need for a full makeover. Just add some lighter elements, like a whitewashed throw blanket or set of pillows.
Just add mirrors. Mirrors instantly add square footage to your home, almost in the same way that a window does. The reflection seemingly doubles the size of any space. Affix a mirror to your wall or find a small stand-alone mirror that you can incorporate into your meditation nook.
Strategically place your pillow. One essential that every meditation space must have is a cushy pillow for you to perch on. Pick your pillow and then arrange it strategically to make your space feel larger. Instead of pushing it up against the wall, pull it out at least six inches. This is an old trick for arranging furniture. When you let your furnishings float, the room feels bigger. When they connect with the wall, that seems to suck up space—or, at least, make a room look smaller. You can use this tip with any piece of furniture or decor in your meditation area.
If there’s ever a time to indulge, it’s the holiday season. The nonstop family gatherings, workplace celebrations, and get-togethers with friends certainly provide ample temptations in the form of festive treats. And while it’s fine to nibble on something sweet at the occasional soiree, when you make a habit of it, you could enter the new year carrying some additional weight. Here’s how to avoid going overboard with the holiday snacks.
Preemptively eat a healthy snack. When you grab a healthy snack before you head out to a holiday party, you won’t be ravenous by the time you show up. This will make it easier to stay away from the festive spread, or at least to keep yourself from overdoing it. So nibble on some fruit or veggies the next time you’re getting ready for a holiday party.
BYO noshes. If you don’t think pre-gaming with healthy snacks will be enough to keep you away from the buffet table, here’s another way to avoid temptation: bring your own bites. Instead of chowing down on holiday cookies, chips, and other unhealthy snacks, bring along veggies and hummus, fruit and yogurt, or low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers to share with the crowd. Other health-minded partygoers will probably thank you!
Focus on balanced snacks. If you do intend to partake in the provided nibbles at a holiday bash, make smarter selections. Opt for a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates, ideally with a small amount of fat. This combination will help to keep you full and avoid overeating.
Sip on tea or coffee. When you’re at the family holiday party, do you devour snacks because you’re actually hungry, or simply because they’re sitting on the table next to you? Many people will absentmindedly snack just for something to do. Distract yourself with a hot cup of peppermint tea or black coffee instead. Sipping on the warming beverage will keep your hands busy, but it won’t add any calories to your daily intake.
Chew gum. Another way to distract yourself from the snack spread is to chew gum. Most gums contain only a few calories, and they help to trick your brain into thinking you’re snacking freely. If you’re not actually hungry, just looking for a way to keep your teeth busy, pop a stick of gum instead of snacks.
Keep treats out of sight, out of mind. When you go to a party hosted by someone else, you don’t have control over the menu. That’s when the previous tips may come in handy. But when it comes to your own home, you can choose what you bring into it—and how you display (or don’t display) holiday treats. Try to avoid bringing candy, cookies, and other desserts into your apartment altogether. When you can’t, at least keep them stowed away in the cabinet and showcase fruit and other healthy snacks on the counter. This makes it more likely that you’ll choose a light and healthy bite over a calorie-dense treat.
Drinking in fresh air while you workout may be a good motivator, but when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it’s not a practical option. You could spend a chunk of your hard-earned paycheck on a membership at a gym, but it’s going to be easy to find an excuse to skip your workout when you have a commute to the treadmill. Since your building boasts its own in-house fitness center, there’s no need to spend any extra money or travel further than a few hundred feet for a workout. Here are a few ways that you can make the most out of a fitness routine in your apartment’s own fitness center.
Begin with just your bodyweight. Apartment fitness centers tend to vary in terms of the equipment they offer, but all of them tend to have one thing in common: limited space. So you might not see the wide variety of cardio and strength-training equipment you’d find at your typical gym. This just gives you the opportunity to simplify your workout. When you first embark on a fitness routine at the apartment gym, try skipping the equipment altogether and just using your own bodyweight. Moves like squats, lunges, and burpees torch calories and strengthen muscles, even in a small space.
Strengthen your core. One muscle group that’s easy to shred with zero equipment and a small amount of space? Your abs. As long as your apartment fitness center has a mat, you can power through crunches, bicycle kicks, and grueling planks to really take your six-pack to the next level. If one is available, throw a medicine ball into the mix to add an extra challenge to your ab routine.
Get creative with minimal equipment. If you do want to incorporate some of the available equipment into your workout, try creating a circuit that hits every part of the body from head to toe. Start with a round of bicep curls and tricep rows using the hand weights. Sink into a dolphin plank for intervals of 30 or 60 seconds. Then start squatting with a medicine ball or kettlebell in hand to strengthen those glutes and legs. Hop on the treadmill or elliptical for a minute in between each strength-training move to keep the heart rate high and the body burning calories.
Try some supersets. Have you ever heard of a superset? If not, now’s the time to learn. When you’re working out in a small space, the superset is your best friend. It’s a pairing of two moves performed back-to-back, typically working two antagonistic muscle groups. For instance, you could do a set of deadlifts and then transition swiftly into a round of pushups. So, what’s the benefit of a superset? When you do this, the movement keeps your heart rate elevated, which means your body will continue to burn calories all throughout the workout.
Over the years, health experts have claimed that most people gain up to 10 pounds around the holiday season. Recent research has disproved this theory, indicating that the average eater only puts on around 1.3 pounds each holiday season. A pound might not seem like a problem, but that’s not the end of the new findings. Researchers have also discovered that very few of the folks affected by holiday weight gain drop the pounds as soon as the New Year hits. In fact, most of them never drop them at all.
Think of this in the long-term. True, you might only put on one pound this year—although, keep in mind this is only an average. It’s possible for you to gain more, depending on your holiday eating habits. But even if you give yourself the benefit of the doubt and put on a single pound, over the course of the next 10 years, that’s 10 pounds. In 20 years, you’re looking at 20 extra pounds. All as the result of one too many glasses of eggnog.
So how do you avoid the pitfall of this extra holiday poundage without skipping the dessert table altogether? The answer is really two-fold. First, know how many calories you’re consuming. While some holiday desserts are relatively light—like the perennial favorite, the gingersnap— others inundate your bloodstream with sugar and overload your body with extra calories (we’re looking at you, cheesecake). So it’s important to know how much a dessert is going to set you back before you decide to indulge.
Secondly, make sure that you’re balancing your holiday treat intake with regular exercise. Physical exertion doesn’t work like an eraser that removes your body’s memory of a sugar rush. However, it will help to stave off excess weight gain as long as you’re munching on some fruits and veggies on a regular basis, not just sugar cookies.
Are you wondering how much time at the gym it’ll take to work off the calories of your favorite holiday dessert? Wonder no more. The following list encompasses a wide variety of seasonal treats, from candy canes to glasses of eggnog, and unveils exactly how many minutes or miles you’d have to run on the treadmill in order to work them off.
The numbers are based on someone who weighs 156 pounds and therefore burns 11.25 calories per minute or 112.5 calories per mile. Keep this in mind, since anyone who weighs less will burn calories slower and those who weigh more will burn calories faster.
Going for a spin on the stationary bike has its benefits. It’s a low-impact exercise, so you can do it even when your joints are aching, and like any cardio, it efficiently burns calories. The only problem? It’s very easy to phone it in on the bike—and when you aren’t giving it your all, you won’t see results. But it’s impossible to pedal slowly when you’re inspired by thumping tunes. Stay motivated with one of these up-tempo Spotify playlists.
With a name like “Beast Mode,” it should be pretty obvious that this playlist will get you pumped. If the name doesn’t convince you, then maybe the snapshot of former pro wrestler Ric Flair which accompanies the playlist will. He’s sporting a gleaming bare chest and a flowing set of golden locks that scream ‘80s. The performer also helped to curate the adrenaline-inducing playlist, a mix of Post Malone, Drake, DJ Khaled, and other equally motivational artists.
If rock ballads by inspiring songstresses get your competitive juices flowing, this playlist should do the trick. It showcases tracks like “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine, and “Chandelier” by Sia. Let these ladies’ powerful pipes push you through a spin session.
‘80s Hard Rock
Guns N’ Roses. Mötley Crüe. Van Halen. These rockers dominated the ‘80s. They can help you dominate your workout, too. The ‘80s Hard Rock playlist compiles a compendium of head-bangers, from Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
Hip Hop Club Bangers
If you often find yourself counting down the minutes when you’re at the gym, maybe the problem is that you’re at the gym. Pretend you’re at the club instead—this playlist should make it relatively easy. Pedal to the bumping beats of Kendrick Lamar, Migos, Logic, and other trending rap greats.
This playlist could be compared to the previous lineup except for the fact that it pays homage to the greats who’ve been around for years, like DMX and Jay Z. It also includes some oldies-but-goodies by Kanye, 50 Cent, and Eminem, to name just a few. So you know you can trust these old pros to keep you entertained and energized throughout your workout.
You don’t necessarily need to know the artist behind a song to let its beat drive you to pedal just a bit faster. This cardio-specific playlist (hence the name) does a great job of bringing together some artists you know well—like David Guetta and Skrillex—with newer talents you might not have on your radar yet, such as Dua Lipa and Galantis. What do these eclectic bands and crooners have in common? They all craft tracks that are perfect for getting the blood pumping. The list consists solely of songs with fast-moving beats that won’t allow you to slow down, even during your final few minutes on the bike.
If you prefer a long, leisurely run in the summer sun to plodding along on the treadmill at the gym, you’re not alone. But the reality is that as the temperatures drop in the chillier autumn months, it’s difficult (and at times, even dangerous) to drag yourself outside for a run. The treadmill becomes a necessary evil. Here are five ways you can liven up your next treadmill run.
Enlist an app. You might think that running apps are strictly for outdoor workouts, but they can actually boost your indoor routine, too. When you’re about to stagger right into slumber on the treadmill, open up Nike+ Run Club. It offers all the basic features you’d expect of a running app, like tracking your distance and pace, but it also boasts extras like guided runs by pro athletes and celebs. You can also try Zombies, Run!—a game in which you’re actually running for your life.
Mix up your strut. When you want to stave off boredom and get a better workout in, try doing something different than just running. Incorporate other types of strides while you’re on the treadmill. Try side-galloping at three miles per hour (in the name of safety) for intervals of 30 seconds or tossing in timed intervals of skipping at three or four miles per hour. You can add high-knees or butt-kicks to the rotation.
Blast up-tempo music. Many music apps, like Spotify, offer their own playlists customized specifically to the type of workout you’re doing, including running on the treadmill. You can even use the app to measure the rate at which your feet hit the ground and match the beat to a playlist of songs with a similar one. If you prefer to be in charge of your own workout music, design a playlist packed with up-tempo tunes, including but not limited to hip-hop, bubblegum pop, and rap.
Enjoy an audiobook. Maybe your feet move faster when your brain is distracted by something else and your body goes on autopilot. In this case, dive into a good book. Reading on the treadmill will either give you a headache or cause you to wipe out, so instead, download an audiobook and listen to a novel. You could also try a trending podcast if none of the current best-sellers appeal to you.
Netflix-binge. Another great way to keep your mind off of your weary feet? Launch into a new Netflix series. Download the Netflix or Hulu app on your phone and get lost in the latest season of Black Mirror or dig into a totally new documentary. Pro tip: avoid anything with subtitles (even the trending European crime dramas that have recently filed your Netflix feed). You probably won’t want to stare at your phone for the entirety of your jog, and it’s going to be pretty impossible to keep up with a show in a different language if you aren’t keeping track of the dialog.
Cooking up Thanksgiving dinner is a daunting task all on its own. So when you have bored kids underfoot, it becomes practically impossible. Instead of trying to keep them busy with an endless stream of activities, harness their energy and use it to help you. Assign your youngsters simple jobs that will make them feel like part of the meal and take items off your to-do list at the same time. Here are a few Turkey Day tasks the kids can handle.
Write up the grocery list. Depending on the age of your children, they can help out with the grocery list a few different ways. Older kids can sift through your digital or printed Thanksgiving recipes and jot down all of the ingredients you need to grab at the store, whereas younger kids can spell out ingredients as you dictate them.
Serve as shopping-trip sidekick. Maybe your kiddo isn’t quite old enough to contribute to the grocery list, but if he can ride in a shopping cart, he can tag along on the trip to the supermarket. Send kids ahead to grab ingredients as you mosey down the aisles or task older kids with locating a hard-to-find meal component while you search for something else nearby.
Make place cards or centerpieces. Encourage your children to unleash their inner artists as they help out with the Thanksgiving table. Cut and fold small pieces of cardstock (or have them do it on their own) and instruct youngsters to write each dinner guest’s name on a card and decorate it with a festive turkey or pumpkin. Older kids can design a simple centerpiece using elements like dried leaves, apples, or mini pumpkins.
Perform some simple prep. Maybe you don’t want to entrust the kids with chopping, dicing, or carving, but they can do some other tasks in the kitchen. Let your little ones mix butter and garlic into the mashed potatoes, sprinkle extra herbs on top of the stuffing, or put cookie dough on a baking sheet.
Lead the thanks-giving. Before you dig into your feast, you probably go around the table and let everyone give thanks for something specific. This year, let the kids take over this tradition. Have them get the ball rolling and make sure that everyone has a chance to share what they’re grateful for in front of the family.
Clear the dinner table. After a day of cooking and an hour (or two) of indulging, the last thing you feel like doing on Thanksgiving Day is cleaning up after the meal. Assign the job to your children instead. Have one child clear the plates, another stack the dishwasher, and another wipe down the dining room table. Your cleaning tasks will almost be done by the time you’re able to drag yourself from your seat to the sofa.
With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s almost time to break out your stretchy pants for the Thanksgiving feast. But if that feast consists of the same old stuffing, potatoes, and turkey as all the years before, maybe it’s time to mix things up. Update your Thanksgiving recipe book and try one of these revamped comfort foods this year.
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Orange [Inspired Taste]
If you’re bored of the same old Thanksgiving turkey recipe, try this citrusy twist. You’ll use some of the same herbs you’re used to—sage, rosemary, thyme—but add freshly squeezed OJ and lemon juice to the mix. The acid in the citrus juices helps to tenderize the turkey breast, making for a juice main on Turkey Day.
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries [The Pioneer Woman]
Brussels sprouts are trending right now, and for good reason—they’re delicious. Instead of a humdrum salad, make this brussels sprouts recipe as a veggie side dish. When you embellish the sprouts with balsamic and add dried cranberries, you won’t even need cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving table.
Cheesy Sausage and Sage Stuffing [Bon Appetit]
Stale stuffing from a box doesn’t even come close to this made-from-scratch version, courtesy of Bon Appetit. The recipe incorporates crusty sourdough bread, fresh Italian sausage, and a full pound of aged cheddar cheese. Needless to say, it’s a bit more decadent than your average store-bought stuffing. With a roster of gourmet ingredients like these, really, what more could you want in a Thanksgiving feast accoutrement?
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Mushrooms and Bacon [Better Homes & Gardens]
If you’re like most people, you probably look forward to your serving of fluffy mashed potatoes all year long. This November, add some nutrition without skimping on flavor by using sweet potatoes instead. Mash them up with milk, butter, and salt, then swirl in cremini mushrooms and onions, crispy bacon, golden raisins, and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. The result will be a salty-sweet creation no one can resist.
Sauteed Green Beans with Spice-Glazed Pecans [MyRecipes]
Ready to take your green bean game to the next level? Do it with this creative recipe. It boasts a complex mix of herbs and spices that creates a robust, unexpected flavor, including cumin, fresh rosemary, red pepper, and black pepper. With the addition of sugar and chopped pecans, your green beans will come from the oven hot, subtly sweet, and ready to be devoured by eagerly awaiting Thanksgiving guests.
Apple-Pecan Bourbon-Caramel Pie [Serious Eats]
Regardless of how much you love your Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes, everyone can probably agree that the part of the meal that really matters most is the final course: dessert. From pumpkin cheesecake to sweet potato pie, your family probably has their own favorites. Start a new tradition this year when you craft this apple-pecan bourbon-caramel pie. Use your favorite baking apples, a dash of bourbon and blackstrap molasses, and a mix of traditional ingredients to delight the taste buds of your holiday guests.
If you’re inviting children to partake in the Thanksgiving feast, the meal itself is only part of the equation. You’ll also have to find ways to keep them entertained at the kids’ table while the adults enjoy some turkey and vino nearby. If you add a few extras to the kids’ table settings, this shouldn’t be a problem. Here are five ways you can give your children’s table a boost this Turkey Day.
Stock it with coloring books. If your Thanksgiving guests include smaller kids, a simple spread of coloring books and some crayons or markers might be all it takes to keep them engaged throughout the entire feast. Find a few coloring books that depict Thanksgiving turkey, pumpkin pies, and other festive things or portraits, then set one or two coloring books at each place setting with the necessary coloring tools.
Add table games. Does your kids’ table consist of older children with a competitive streak? Then keep them busy with games instead of coloring books. Cover the table with craft paper and sketch out a tic-tac-toe board between every two youngsters, providing them with dried beans of different colors or paper X’s and O’s to play. You can also print out Thanksgiving bingo cards and let kids lead the game.
Create edible place cards. Formal Thanksgiving sit-downs typically include place cards. Don’t leave the kids out, but create place cards that double as a pre-dinner snack. Create a turkey place card out of a simple plastic cup and fill it with your pint-sized guests’ favorite candy or a small snack like popcorn, just enough to hold the kids over until dinner is ready.
Assemble a snack mix station. If you like to get your guests in on the cooking, you might end up with a table full of hungry kids not-so-patiently waiting for their meal. In order to keep the kiddos happy, set up a station where they can create their own snack mixes. Include salty and sweet ingredients, like pretzels, peanuts, and chocolate candies. Provide small bowls or cups and spoons or scoops so that kids can mix up their own snack to enjoy as the grown-ups continue cooking the feast in the kitchen.
Provide supplies to make thankful turkeys. With a few materials you probably already have on hand, like construction paper and glue, plus a handful of pine cones from outside, you have everything you need to make Thanksgiving Day turkeys. Create one of your own for the kids to use as an example, then give them all the materials they need to make their own. Challenge them to write the things that they’re thankful for on each of the turkey’s construction paper “feathers.” They can also jot down their names and use the thankful turkeys as place cards.
Once you recover from your Thanksgiving food coma, you have to get back to reality. This means doing the dishes, stepping away from the dessert, and figuring out what to do with all of that leftover turkey. You’ll eventually get sick of turkey sandwiches with a side of leftover mashed potatoes. Mix things up with this year’s leftovers and try one of these addictive recipes instead.
Thanksgiving in a Blanket [Delish]
If you’re a fan of pigs in a blanket, then you’ll probably also be a fan of Thanksgiving in a blanket. With a flaky crescent roll as the foundation, stuff this handheld with your leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Bake the packed crescent rolls to golden-brown. Then warm up some of that Turkey Day gravy and dip the Thanksgiving roll-up right into it.
Homemade Turkey Soup [Taste of Home]
It’s the perfect time of year for belly-warming soups. Throw this simple homemade turkey soup into the rotation for December. You’ll want to save the turkey carcass in order to make the broth, then add carrots, celery, onion, and rice to the mix. Finally, stir in any remaining pieces of turkey from your Thanksgiving festivities. Then you’re ready to enjoy a hearty bowl of the homemade soup, cozied up on the couch as the chilly autumn breezes whip through the trees outside.
Buffalo Turkey Sandwich [Good Housekeeping]
Do you like your leftovers with a bit of a kick? Then consider this Buffalo turkey sandwich. You essentially shred your leftover turkey and douse it in Buffalo sauce, then load it into a roll with a homemade blue cheese dressing. The result is a spicy creation balanced out by the cool, creamy flavors of the salad. When you make this recipe, you might forget that the meal has roots in your Thanksgiving feast, since it’s a total departure from those classic flavors.
Thanksgiving Skillet Pizza [Epicurious]
If you have both mashed potatoes and turkey leftover, this Thanksgiving skillet pizza is the perfect way to use them up. Instead of pizza sauce, this skillet-baked pie features a velvety layer of mashed potatoes topped with cheese, a medley of veggies, and, of course, your leftover turkey. As if this combination weren’t creative enough, the recipes also instructs you to toss your turkey in leftover cranberry sauce, if you have it, resulting in a gourmet pie that’s equal parts salty and sweet.
Turkey Quesadillas [MyRecipes]
Just because Thanksgiving is an American holiday doesn’t mean that you have to stick to American recipes for your leftovers. This recipe for turkey quesadillas is the tasty proof. It takes your turkey south of the border. You tuck the leftover turkey inside a pair of flour tortillas with green onions and monterey jack cheese, searing each side to golden-brown. Then, whip up a cranberry-pear salsa infused with cilantro, lime, cumin, and jalapenos to slather on top. The careful balance of sweet and spicy will probably cause you to wonder why you ever ate turkey any other way.