Give it some time.

I remember my first few months with this girl. They were rough to say the least. . Lots of feeling lost, helpless, and just feeling totally overwhelmed.

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I cried into my pillow at least 2-3 times a week, maybe more? I don’t really remember, it was all a blur.

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I eventually came out of this postpartum fog around 7-8 months after sheet was born and I started to feel more like me again.

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But I will never forget those first months. They were hard and they were beautiful. I was a new mama, I loved that baby girl more than anything, I just could NOT get out of that fog.

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What I’m trying to get at here is that feeling “not normal” is ok, especially after a baby. Maybe you need to reach out for more help, maybe you don’t, we all take a different path.

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BUT, let me be totally clear here, you do NOT need to be the woman you were before you had a baby, ever again. You are a mom now, and that will forever change who you are physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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So when I see women striving to get their bodies back so soon after birth, it makes me sad. Yes, let physical fitness and health be a part of your journey but . . .damnit , you just created LIFE! . Give yourself a little time. Start nourishing your body with whole foods and start sleeping more instead of trying to fit in a workout.

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Most importantly though, trust the process, your journey is YOURS don’t compare it to mama X or mama Y. Do you and you will get to where you need to be.

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Slow and Steady

I recently checked in with one of my clients. We usually check in a few times a week and then once a week she also does a weigh in (her choice).

We have been working together for about 3 months now. We are working on a holistic approach to her fitness, taking nutrition, stress management, sleep, and physical fitness into account. 

Though, I don’t “see” her daily, (I am an online personal trainer), I have noticed changes through our conversations together (mental changes) and through some recent progress pictures she has sent me (physical changes). 

Recently, her weigh in caught my eye. Now, again, we have been together for 3 months and her latest weight in came back with a total loss of 10lbs. Yep, 10lbs. That is a little less than 1 lb per week for the past 12 weeks.

Now, as a trainer, this makes me so unbelievably proud for many reasons but I do understand how this might frustrate my client (not necessarily the client I am working with but any client trying to lose weight). So let me dive in a little further to show you why I think this is actually an amazing accomplishment and why YOU should take a second look at why crash dieting is not the way to go and why slow and steady is the better option for weight loss.

  1. Crash diets or extreme diets are so popular these days because of the results one can get in such a short period of time BUT most (if not all) people who use a crash diet to loose weight, WILL gain that weight back (and sometimes even more!). A crash diet usually includes some extreme way of eating, or not eating, that can’t be maintained long term. So while eating cabbage soup for 14 days straight will help you shed some serious pounds, how does one expect to keep that up in the long term? After a crash diet is completed and the goal of weight loss is met, people usually go back to their old way of eating and eventually gain back the weight. NOTHING about nutrition was learned and none of the old habits were broken.
  2. Most diets only take physical fitness and nutrition into consideration (if you are lucky). There are two other factors that are incredibly important that tend to be overlooked: sleep and stress management! If you aren’t getting good sleep, you could be resistant to weight loss. If you are stressed out, you could also be resistant to weight loss. And do you know what causes bad sleep and major stress on the body (among other things of course)? Poor nutrition from a shitty crash diet!
  3. When you lose weight at a slow and steady pace, you are in control! You are more aware of your body and how it feels to be thinking, acting, moving at a certain level. Body awareness is HUGE for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. If you are more aware of how you are eating, how you are moving, and how you are feeling, you are more likely going to either keep doing what you are doing (if you feel good) or make adjustments (if you feel like you could be better).
  4. When you take a holistic approach to your weight loss and healthy lifestyle, you are not JUST focusing on the food but also the movement, the mindset, the sleep, and the stress management. Our lives are not one or even two dimensional, they are multi-faceted and need to be treated as such. Crash diets put a band-aid on the problem and give you an immediate result of fast weight loss. Slow and stead weight loss and body awareness give you a set of tools that you can use for a lifetime of weight control and healthy living.

I truly hope these points show you why crash dieting and quick weight loss are not the way to go. I know, in our fast paced world, it is easy to want to steer towards “easy” but as a personal trainer and coach, it is my life mission to help women find ways to create a healthy lifestyle that works for them.

I am sick of seeing women go further and further down the diet track with no real results and no real connection to their bodies! This has to change, and it starts with a slow and steady approach to health. 

If you are interested in what I do or talking more to me, come find me in my Facebook group——> The Energized Life Project and we can connect there!

I did a 24 hour fast, here is how it went.

Last week I finally did the impossible, and I fasted for a full 24 hours.

A year ago, this felt nearly impossible to me. I had dabbled in intermittent fasting a few times and did well with 14-16 hour fasting most of the time (you can read about my past attempts and what I learned here).

Even as I got deeper into the ketogenic way of eating (read more about why I chose keto here), I was still feeling hesitant about pushing the fast past 16 hours. I still felt like if I went past the 16 hour point, I would get that hangry feeling and then have to eat everything in sight because of it. Let’s just say, my fears were getting in my way and I couldn’t see past them.

So why did I even want to push my fast past the 16 hour point? Why was 24 hours so important to me? See, I think a lot of people who are anti fasting see it as a way to just not consume food but really there are so many other benefits, including:

-lowering the markers of inflammation

-increasing cellular turnover and repair (this is also called autophagy)

-and improved blood sugar control (through increasing insulin sensitivity)

There are many more benefits but I wanted to make this blog post more than just a laundry list of benefits, so I’m stopping with three. These three, though, are HUGE for over all health and go so far beyond just weight loss.

There is a bit of a catch though, some of these benefits (including those listed above) only begin to show up AFTER a certain number of hours of fasting, this range is usually 20-24 hours for most people. So, while I was hitting 16 hours of fasting, I was never actually getting the benefits that I was looking for.

Gulp. It was time to take the plunge into my first 24 hour fast.

I started my fast at 5:15 PM right after an early dinner. The next 17 hours were, quite honestly, uneventful.

It was not until after 10 AM that I started to feel a little hunger. I went with some herbal tea and tried to just stay distracted with chores and playing with my 3 year old.

The hunger went away after plenty of tea and lemon water until about hour 20. At this point the “I’m hungry/I’m not hungry” battle started playing in my head and they pretty much switched off every half an hour. I was hungry and then 30 minutes later, I wasn’t. It was so weird, but I knew it was totally a mental game at this point.

I sipped a bunch of water and remained busy, I was at the park with the kids so that definitely helped.

When we got home, I was at hour 22. And my energy was coming back. It was strange because I was mentally prepared to be tired, cranky, and just worn down at this point. I even told my husband to “beware” of me when he came home from work because it would be hour 22 of my 24 hour fast. Instead I was jumping around, dancing, and laughing.

The last hour went by slowly but I wasn’t hungry, I was just looking at my watch every minute to see if I could eat.

When I broke my fast, I made a meal that was a little above average in size and enjoyed it but I did not devour it like I had never eaten before. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could have gone further than the 24 hours.

I realized that so much of the reason that I didn’t do the 24 hour fast to begin with was due to fear that I couldn’t do it. I think my main fear was not knowing how I would feel in those last few hours of the fast but now that I think about it, if it was really horrible, I could have just  eaten something and ended the fast. I now realize that it really wasn’t as hard as I thought and now the unknown is known and this will make it easier to start the 24 hour fast next time around.

Is there something you are scared to do because you don’t know what the outcome will be? I challenge you to give it a try, the worst that could happen is that it won’t work out for you but even if this is the case, you will learn more about yourself and your limits.

Twice baked Spaghetti Squash with Tuna & Feta

Ever end up with literally 5 ingredients left to make dinner with and wonder how it will all come together?

Yep, that’s how this recipe came together the other night.

It was Saturday and I looked in my fridge and pantry and thought I was going to be screwed when all I came up with was a can of tuna, a spaghetti squash, an onion, a jar of marinara, and some feta cheese.

“What the heck am I supposed to do with all of this?” I thought.

I knew I had to come up with something because I am extremely anti-grocery store on the weekends (I don’t like the craziness and prefer to go on a weekday).

That’s when this recipe was born. I kind of created it as I went but kept track of times and amounts in my mind knowing that if it was good, I would want to do this again.

Well, it was delicious, so I want to share it with you too.

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash with Tuna, Onion, and Feta

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium size spaghetti squash

1/2 cup marinara sauce (I use any store bought variety that has no sugar added)

1/3 of an onion, diced (use more or less to your liking)

1 can of tuna

4 oz of feta cheese, crumbled (I use a sheep’s milk variety but any feta will do)

salt/pepper/olive oil/any other spices to your liking

Method

Preheat the oven to 425F. Prep the spaghetti squash first by cutting off the ends and then cutting it open length wise. Scoop out the seeds and guts and then place the two halves in a baking dish. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on each half, sprinkle salt and pepper and rub in.

Bake for 45 min- 1 hour.

While baking, drain tuna and then mix with onion, marinara, and spices in a small bowl.

When the squash is done baking, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then, scrape the meat into the bowl with the tuna mixture, mixing it all together.

Place back into to the spaghetti squash shells and cover each half with 2 oz of the feta cheese.

Bake for another 10-15 minutes, letting the cheese get melty. (Note: feta doesn’t melt the way a cheese like cheddar does, it stays pretty much in the same “shape” for these 15 minutes.)

Remove from oven and enjoy! (I added another drizzle of olive oil to the top of the feta when it came out of the oven for added flavor and fat).

Wool Dryer Balls! A review and why I’m using them.

A few weeks back, a friend brought to my attention that dryer sheets might not be the safest things to use for myself or my family.

I had heard that they might be the safest things but I was unaware of how unsafe they were until reading some articles (here’s a link to one).
Taken directly from the article:
“Fabric softeners and dryer sheets coat our clothes with a subtle layer of slimy chemicals – in fact, that’s why they feel a little softer. The most common softening chemicals are called “quats” (short for quaternary ammonium compounds)”
And what’s so bad about “quats”?
The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a leading international authority on asthma, calls these chemicals “asthmagens,” substances that can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people. With asthma affecting nearly 1 in 10 American children, it makes sense to avoid exposing kids unnecessarily to asthma-causing chemicals.
And those “fresh laundry” scents? Fragrance mixtures, including phthalates and synthetic musks, both known as hormone disrupters, are one of the top five allergens in the world! In fact a recent study done by the University of Washington between 18 & 20 chemicals in each of our scented laundry products! So not only are these chemicals getting onto our skin and our children’s skin but they are being released into the air via your dryer duct!.
Yeah, no thanks. I don’t want these chemicals on my clothes, my kids clothes, and, if I can help it, I don’t want these in the air I breathe either!
So, I needed to find an alternative! That’s when I came across these wool dryer balls on the Thrive Market site.
I was skeptical at first, I love my dryer sheets! They made my laundry so soft (but I guess that is part of the problem) but I decided to give these wool dryer balls a try.
I will say, they don’t give your laundry that soft feeling the way dryer sheets do but they are 100% chemical free so everything feels more “natural” I guess. The feel wasn’t satisfactory to me at first but after a week of using them, I am beginning to like the feel they give my clothes.
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Also, they cut down on drying time! You have these three big wool balls bouncing around your dryer so the clothes don’t clump up and stay wet. There is a lot more aeration!
These balls also last FOREVER. I think this brand lasts about 1000 loads so even if you are doing a load a day, that about 2.5 years! Dryer sheets last one load and then you throw them out (more waste) and from what I can recall they are kind of pricey! This box of 3 balls was about $17.
Oh! And you can add essential oils to the balls soooo, if you want a scent to your clean laundry, you can add the oils before adding the balls to the dryer.
Bottom line: I like the wool balls and I am getting used to the feel they give my laundry. I am happy that I no longer have the clumps of wet laundry and I am even MORE happy that I am not only creating less waste but I am also giving my family actual CLEAN laundry and not chemically laden laundry.
If you are looking to start making a change to a more chemical free/natural lifestyle, these wool dryer balls are an easy place to start!

On tracking calories and food.

I see them everywhere I look. Women sharing their screen shots from one of the dozens of food tracking apps out there.

Sometimes I cringe when I see these, I truly believe most women don’t eat ENOUGH and then here they are, flaunting to social media, how little they just ate. It makes me sad and frustrated. I want to ask them a million questions. Are you happy with eating this way? Are you hungry all the time? How is your mood? How is your sleep? How are your relationships? Do you still get a regular period?

All of these are dead serious questions and all of these aspects of life can be affected by not nourishing your body properly.

So when a woman wants to lose weight and she immediately cuts her calories to some drastically low number, I want to scream, but I also totally understand.

We are taught from an early age that eating less will mean we lose weight (the good old calories in/calories out). While I agree that a person needs to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight (if that is the goal), the way I see it being done is not my favorite.

I want better for women.

The diet/food industry is a smart one. It feeds off of what we were taught about eating less as the key for weight loss. It markets “low fat” this and “zero calorie” that and we eat these things up (literally). Then we happily add them to our food trackers because these foods help keep that calorie number low. When this happens, we feel progress, like we are moving closer towards the goal of losing weight.

Now, I understand that a calorie deficit is needed for weight loss, I don’t think we should try and defy physics but what if we take a step back from trying to lose weight by eating fewer calorie and first work on eating foods that actually nourish and fuel the body!

Yes, I think we all need to stop counting the calories for a minute and focus on getting in whole, unprocessed, REAL foods that are good for your body. And surprise, this does NOT include “low fat” and “zero calorie” foods.

Wait. . .what? What do you mean?

Yeah, that might seem counterintuitive but hear me out. The foods that you eat should NOT have a label on them! In other words, if your foods promote being “low fat” or “zero calorie”, you shouldn’t eat them! This includes low fat yogurts, low fat cheeses, zero calorie beverages, low fat cookies/crackers, and other things in these categories.

These foods have little to no actual nourishment, they are made to cater to people who are counting their calories and who are concerned about sticking to a certain number of calories in a day.

Look, I get it, these foods are convenient and marketed very intelligently. We need to step away, though, and this is where calories become the issue. You can get in your perfect calorie allotment for the day but are you getting in all of your nutrients for the day?

See, our bodies need things like vitamins and minerals to maintain and run optimally. If we are just feeding it calories with no regards to the vitamin and mineral content, we are doing ourselves a disservice.

Now, obviously, we need calories! Calories are energy! Can we just work on making sure we are consuming calories that have a little more to them (ie. nutrient dense).

When we focus on nutrients FIRST our bodies get what they need to run optimally and I truly believe that this is the first step to a sustainable and healthy way of eating.

And when I say “sustainable”, I mean you are going to be able to do this long term, this is NOT a diet, it is a lifestyle.

So please, let us put down the calorie trackers for a minute. Let us NOT obsess over how many more “low calorie” items we can eat. Let us instead buy foods WITHOUT labels (you know, fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, and beans) and start nourishing and fueling our bodies properly.

We deserve this. We deserve to not be eating foods that only serve as a way to get in “less” in. We deserve to eat foods that fuel us and that make us feel fantastic. We deserve a lifestyle not just a diet.

Why I stopped showing my abs on social media.

I have been into fitness and health for the past three years. Of those three years, I have spent the entire time connected and sharing my story on social media.

I shared a lot too, right out the gate. My workouts, my struggles, my meals, stuff about my kids, and my progress with my body post baby.

I wasn’t a woman who had a lot of weight to lose but I did struggle with feeling comfortable in my skin and learning to love my body after kids was a struggle for me at first.

I soon got into a groove though; lifting weights, doing HIIT workouts, eating well. I was seeing amazing results with my body and I wanted to show them to anyone who would look.

My ab photos were frequent and honestly, didn’t have much substance behind them other than “look at me!”. At the time, I thought I was inspiring other women, but now I think differently.

I look back at those super frequent pictures of myself with just a sports bra, showing off my stomach and they are seriously a huge turn off and quite embarrassing .

So why did I change my mind about showing off my midsection/abs so much?

Honestly, it all started with me thinking “why the hell does this even matter?”. I had one of those light bulb type moments but instead of it being an “ah-ha!” it was more of a “I want to break everything and start over”. Like, I could not believe I was doing it this way for so long and thinking it was ok to just flaunt my midsection to other moms who might be having a hard time with body image. Heck, I was having a hard time with body image most days, the pictures I shared and the likes I got were almost like a justification that I looked “ok” , I needed it more than anyone I was sharing with needed it.

After that initial moment where I wanted to break everything and start over, I started thinking about my message more and more. I want moms to create healthy habits first and foremost and abs might or might not be a a part of this, and I definitely don’t want women trying to achieve flat stomachs through unhealthy methods.

We, as moms, need to think about sustainable and healthy ways of eating, movement, and stress prevention and the way our bodies look is a side effect of these practices.

So, needless to say, I am done showing women my body because my body is NOT the body you should strive for. Your body, eating healthfully, moving nutritiously, addressing  stress in a mature way, and being part of a supportive community, is the body that you want to strive for. I (or anyone else for that matter) do not have your perfect body but I do want to inspire you and motivate you as a trainer and fellow mom. I think I am doing a better job of this now and I am always working to improve my message, as I believe, we are never done improving ourselves.