Exercise, Lifestyle, Pregnancy

Client Spotlight!

Welcome to the WellMom Client Spotlight, Jenn Chandler!  Jenn became a WellMom distance training client about halfway through her second pregnancy.  She feels her workouts helped her mentally and physically during her pregnancy and expedited her recovery after delivery.  She continues to train with me today, and she’s getting stronger all the time!  Way to go, Jenn!

Jenn Chandler

Mom to Jack (4) and Max (6 months)

What motivated you to work with WellMom?  What goals did you have?

When Jack (baby #1) was a born, I remember thinking, “wow, I never realized how physically demanding having a newborn is.” My back, neck and arms were so Jenn Chandler and kidssore from nursing, lifting him and carrying him (and his gear). For Max, (baby #2), I was nervous about being physically strong enough to keep up with a very active toddler AND carry around a newborn.  Plus, I worked out regularly during my first pregnancy with Jack; with Max, I did little beyond chasing a toddler and walking the dog.  I just felt sort of “blah” from not having a good exercise routine. I happened to see Chris’ interview on ARLNow and, on a whim, emailed her.

What are your accomplishments since working with WellMom?

Compared to my first pregnancy with Jack, I was not nearly as sore right after Max’s birth or the first few months after he was born.  Even towards the end of my pregnancy, I always felt strong and energized after my workouts. They were a great mental and physical boost.  I can now do 20 real push ups on my toes, and I’ve moved from 8 lb weights to 15 lb weights for some exercises!  Overall, I feel stronger and just more fit.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

I really attribute those to having a good relationship with Chris and staying consistent. I do distance training with her where she emails me a full workout, with links to video clips for new moves, every Friday morning. As I’ve told her, I always get a little excited AND a little terrified to open that email every week and see what she’s cooked up for me. I can do the workout whenever is convenient for me and then report back to her. Chris knows how to push me without overdoing it and has always been great about offering modifications, especially towards the end of my pregnancy.

What goals do you have moving forward?

(1) Be able to consistently do 25 push ups on my toes; (2) Be able to crow pose in yoga (a move I’ve never been able to get); and (3) Get back into running shorter races and eventually run another marathon before I turn 40.

What health and wellness advice do you have for other moms based on your personal journey?

Figure out an exercise routine that works for you. And then stick with it, even when it’s hard or not super convenient. I look forward to my hour workout from Chris every week. And even when I’ve had to start and stop the workout because of a fussy baby, I’ve always felt great after powering through.

 

Exercise, Lifestyle

45-min Workout – on the fly!

Yesterday I had 45-minutes from the time I stepped foot into the gym until the time I needed to leave to make it to a client.  I typically plan my workouts ahead of time, but I came unprepared on this occasion.  On the spot I created an efficient workout (check!) that first elevated my heart rate (check!) and then hit all the muscle groups I wanted to work, focusing on the posterior chain (check!).

The next time you find yourself with just 45-minutes and zero ideas, give this a go.  If you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises, just ask google.  If that fails, email me and I’ll tell ya 🙂

Warm up (~5 minutes):

  1. diaphragmatic breathing in quadruped.  30 seconds. (what?  breathing as part of the warm up?  Yup. And here’s WHY I start all my classes and personal training sessions with diaphragmatic breathing)
  2. cat cows x 10
  3. rocking psoas stretch x 10 each side
  4. body weight glute bridges with overhead reach x 15
  5. body weight squats x 15
  6. walking knee hugs x 10 each leg
  7. standing hip abduction x 15 each side

HIIT Training (10 minutes).  Pace: 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest.  Then move on to the next exercise:

  1. Burpees
  2. Lateral high knees
  3. Double butt kickers
  4. Medicine ball slams
  5. Speed skaters

Resistance Training (~25 minutes). 2 supersets, each three times:

  1. Single leg rotational deadlifts x 10 each leg
  2. Dumbbell Lat Pullovers x 15
  1. Dumbbell glute bridges x 10+10 pulses at the top
  2. Decline push ups x 15

You might notice I failed to cool down.  When I have time, I do.  But if I ONLY have time to warm up OR cool down, I always opt for the warm up.  Personally I feel it’s more important, especially for injury prevention.  But if you’ve got 55-60 minutes, stretch it out, people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Client Spotlight!

Megan steps into WellMom’s client spotlight this week!  Since she started training at the end of last November, she’s increased her self-esteem, energy, and strength.  Oh and I did mention she also shed 25 pounds?

Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishments, Megan!  I look forward to seeing you continue to reach your goals in the months ahead!

Megan  

Mom to Ellie (7) and Jake (4)Megan Kerbs

What motivated you to work with WellMom?  What goals did you have?

I started working with WellMom because I wanted to get back to being the person I used to be. I wanted more energy and to be able to play with my kids without feeling winded or injuring myself.  Some recent medical issues scared me and made me think about my long term health.  I want to live a full and vibrant life but knew that I would need to feel more comfortable in my own skin in order to do this.

Two realizations marked a turning point and caused me to reach out to WellMom.

  1. I discovered just how bad my self image had gotten when my daughter asked if I knew how to swim. She had never seen me in the pool or ocean even though I actually love swimming.
  2. I realized that I avoid being photographed and that this might affect my kids someday. Would they wish they had more photos of me with them when they were young?

What are your accomplishments since working with WellMom?

Since working with WellMom, I have more energy, have lost weight and can run around with my kids more easily. My health has improved and I feel strong and proud of myself.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

I attribute my accomplishments to how hard I have worked and how committed I have been to training. Chris made me feel comfortable when I couldn’t do any of the exercises. She listens to me complain the entire workout but never gives up on me.  She has been my non-judgmental cheerleader and has gotten me to a place where I look forward to exercise.

What goals do you have moving forward?

Moving forward, I would like to get even stronger and master some of the more difficult moves Chris has introduced. I would like to lose more weight and would also like to be able to do more push-ups.

What health and wellness advice do you have for other moms based on your personal journey?

I understand just how hard it can be to set aside time for oneself and commit to self-care. I can always think of something else I need to do instead of exercising. I have had to actively ignore that nagging voice and remind myself that this inner chatter is moving me away from my goals. Once I started to see and feel the benefits, the voice has quieted down a bit and I find that I don’t dread exercise as much.

I have tried to set realistic and tangible goals related to something other than the numbers on the scale.  If I only focused on my weight, I would have stopped a long time ago. But seeing my strength increase from week to week has kept me going when the weight loss was uninspiring.

 

Exercise, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Client Spotlight!

These are my favorite posts to do.  🙂  WellMom’s newest client spotlight is Kara M.  We started working together at the end of June.  In less than 5 months, she dropped 25 pounds and drastically increased her energy levels, and she did it in one of the best ways possible: incremental improvements that over time built to sustained lifestyle change.  Her story is nothing less than inspiring.

Kara MMacek headshot

~Mom of Simon (4) and Alden (1)

What motivated you to work with WellMom?  What goals did you have?

I saw a photo of myself at a work event in May while waiting to board a plane home and couldn’t believe how heavy and unhealthy I looked.  I was also feeling really tired and sluggish, but the photo is what really prompted action.  I sent Chris an email from the airport to see if she was accepting new clients.

My original goals were to simply gain strength and energy and to be a better example for my sons.  I wasn’t necessarily looking for huge weight loss or diet changes.  I honestly didn’t realize how much nutrition and healthy eating choices played into Chris’s one-on-one services.  But I am so glad that they do!

What are your accomplishments since working with WellMom?

I have dropped about 25 pounds and gained strength, cardiovascular fitness, and energy.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

Macek side - 2017-11-19
…25 pounds less!
Macek side - 2017-07-15
Before…

I largely attribute my accomplishments to having someone to hold me accountable.  I also think that making some realistic, small dietary changes at the beginning and then gradually adding other changes was very helpful.

What goals do you have moving forward?

I would like to carve out time in my schedule to work out at least twice a week (once with Chris and once on my own). On the nutrition front, I want to have a plan for healthy weeknight dinners ahead of time every night to avoid scrambling for something quick (and likely less healthy) when crunched for time.

What health and wellness advice do you have for other moms based on your personal journey?

Take it one step at a time and don’t beat yourself up if you slip every so often.  Old habits diet hard, and it can take time to make lasting changes.  Be mindful about whatever you eat and notice your mental state when you eat it.  Stop and listen to what your body is telling you.  Are you actually hungry or just snacking because food is there?  It’s hard to be mindful when we are constantly juggling the competing demands of work and family life, but it really helps.

Exercise, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Client Spotlight!

Today’s client spotlight lost 47 pounds.  That’s the weight of your average first or second grader.

Rashawn is actually my “client” spotlight because she’s not a client at all – she’s my nanny.  Beyond modeling healthy behavior and allowing her to pick my brain from time to time, I played no role in her success.  She did it all on her own.

Client or not, Rashawn deserves some time in the spotlight.  Over the past 16 months, I’ve witnessed her completely transform herself through dedication, determination, and patience.  She succeeded above all because she recognized that a diet is a way of life – not something we go “on” and “off.”  I am so proud of Rashawn and grateful for the opportunity to share her story with you.


 Rashawn B

~Nanny Extraordinaire

What motivated you to make an improvement to your lifestyle? What goals did you have?

My motivation came from one day stepping on the scale and seeing it read 225 pounds.  I was 28 at the time and told myself, “you have carried this weight around since high school; getting weight off after 30 is much harder.”  With those thoughts, I made a goal to lose 30 lbs (minimum) and fit into a size 10 before my 30th birthday (Aug 28, 2017).

What are your accomplishments since pursuing those goals?

Since May 2016, I have lost 47 pounds (from 225 pounds to 178 pounds) and achieved better control of my exercise and eating habits.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

In the beginning, I did not enjoy the thought of exercise, and I lacked the motivation to get it done.  I decided, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it on my terms.  I love to dance, so I purchased dance DVDs and made a goal to exercise 3-4 times per week. I also made a goal to eliminate 1 bad habit a month.  The first habit I eliminated was drinking juice and soda.  I swapped these beverages for flat and sparkling flavored water (without aspartame). Then I eliminated red meats and fast foods and tried new low carb recipes (thanks to Chris and Pinterest).   After a month of the dance tapes, I found that I lost 10 pounds and had energy that was once lost.  Following the DVDs, I purchased a Fitbit watch, began walking a lot more, and joined a gym.  I focused on cardio and core workouts and using elliptical and ab machines. As I continued to familiarize myself in the routine of working out, I also began to make monthly challenges, such as no artificial sugars and no caffeine.  Months later, I began juicing and adding them into my regular diet. Each challenge started out hard, but as I continued the process, I began to feel mentally stronger, physically happy in my results, and more and more confident in myself as I gladly swapped my size 16 for a size 10!

What goals do you have moving forward? 

Going forward, I will continue to build my strength by working out and making more challenges for myself.  I have committed to a lifestyle change of healthy eating and exercise.  Overall, I desire to be confident, happy and live a long fulfilling life.

What health and wellness advice do you have for other women based on your personal journey?

It’s never too late and anything is possible.   Diving into lifestyle changes takes time.  Start slow, eliminate one bad habit at a time and replace it with a healthy one.  If exercise seems intimidating, start with your diet.  Good food choices will provide so much more energy – you’re going to want to get up and move!  Next, find time to get outdoors.  A nice walk and fresh air does wonders!! Lastly, do something you love and challenge yourself. You’re capable of more than you think. There will be bad days, but that is never a reason to quit.  Tomorrow is always a perfect day to start over.  Just make sure you start!

Rashawn before and after.jpg
Rashawn lost 9 inches from her waist, 5 inches from her hips, and dropped 6 dress sizes!

 

Exercise, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Client Spotlight!

I am so excited to announce WellMom’s new Client Spotlight!  Brittany Y became a WellMom client in December 2015, soon after the birth of her third child.  Over the past year and a half, Brittany has made AMAZING strides on both physical and emotional levels.  Physically she improved the shape of her body and gained strength and energy.  Emotionally she experienced boosts to her self confidence and improved her body image.  Brittany’s story offers great insight for others, so read on!  And make sure you read all the way to the end – it has the best part!

Brittany Y

Brittany
December 2015: 38 second plank and 15 push-ups
May 2017: 3 minute plank and 27 pushups!

~ Mom of Isabelle (5), Sophie (4), and Ernest (19 months)

What motivated you to start working with WellMom?  What goals did you have?

I met Chris at Clarendon Day.  I remember she had Lily (her youngest daughter) with her and she was engaging people as they walked by her booth. I was not looking for a personal trainer at the time, but after talking with her I felt she had some interesting ideas of how to help me meet my fitness goals. Her website was comprehensive and it was clear she was knowledgeable and passionate about health and wellness, plus her flexibly to do in-home training convinced me to try WellMom. Originally my goals were to strengthen my back, help improve running endurance, close my stomach muscle split after my third baby, lose 10 pounds, and increase muscle tone.

What are your accomplishments since working with WellMom?

I am so much stronger! It has been empowering seeing myself meeting and exceeding specific weight training and strength training targets. My back is so much stronger; I don’t ache as much as I did picking up my kids. My endurance and energy levels are higher. The muscle split in my stomach is gone. While losing 10 pounds was originally part of the goal, and while I did lose some weight, as I saw my body shape change for the better and my clothes fit more comfortably for the first time ever I didn’t really care about the scale numbers. I think if you have ever struggled with body image being able to embrace strength and health regardless of your ideal weight can sometimes be a difficult and uphill mental battle. I felt like Chris helped me so much with this piece of my overall health and wellness.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

Regular training, defining specific goals, having someone who knows how to coach you to meet those goals.

What goals do you have moving forward?

Maintaining my current strength level and finding other areas of my life that could be made healthier, nothing radical just improvements like reducing (not eliminating) my daily sugar intake. Perhaps aiming for a 4-minute plank, just kidding, well kind of :).

What insights have you gained on this journey that might help other moms?

If you find time to take care of yourself physically and emotionally you will value yourself and your time more and that will make you a stronger, happier individual and Mom.  Sometimes this requires asking a spouse, friend, or family member for help or may mean hiring a babysitter or a trainer like Chris. If your kids see you taking a little time each week to take care of your health they will value their own health more and it helps to give you individuality in their eyes beyond being Mom.

Exercise, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Client Spotlight!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year with the announcement of another Client Spotlight!  Alissa G became a WellMom client in late October 2016 with the goal of dropping 11 pounds, and today she is just one pound shy of that goal!  Read on and learn more about Alissa and her accomplishments.   Awesome job, Alissa!  Looking forward to working with you to knock off that last pound!

Alissa G

~ Mom of two, ages 6 and 4

alissa-with-head-2
Alissa wanted to remain anonymous. I say she’s a convincing Giselle. 🙂 #excusemypoorphotoeditingskills

What motivated you to start working with WellMom?  What goals did you have?

I was motivated to start working with WellMom because I couldn’t seem to lose that last 10 pounds after having my youngest. I also noticed that with age it was getting more difficult to lose the weight. My goal was to feel better about my body and increase my energy level.

What are your accomplishments since working with WellMom?

I am close to my weight loss goal while doing so during Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was proud that I could refrain from indulging in my favorite holiday goodies. I have also noticed I have more tone to my muscles and problem areas.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

I have become more conscious of what I am eating based on the meal plan and tracking program that Chris and I developed for my journey.  I have also increased my workouts per week.

What goals do you have moving forward?

My future goals are to continue building strength, muscle and positive energy.

What insights have you gained on this journey that might help other moms?

My personal experience through this journey has made me realize how much I missed working out, which not only keeps my body fit but my mind fit as well. I am happier overall because I carved out an hour of time to myself 3-4 times a week to exercise.

Exercise, Lifestyle, Nutrition

Client Spotlight!

I’m proud to put the spotlight on WellMom client, Kristen D!  Kristen started working with me in July and lost 10 pounds in just 8 weeks!  Her weight continues to fall, and she’s developing the body shape she desires as she simultaneously gains strength. Keep reading to learn more about Kristen and her accomplishments.  She also has some great advice for other moms there.  Way to go, Kristen!  

Kristen D

~ Mom to Dominic, 3 years, and Damien, 10 months

kristen-degischer
“My best advice is to make time for yourself…[and] to be kind to yourself.”
What motivated you to start working with WellMom? What goals did you have?

I became motivated to start working out with WellMom when my second son turned 8 months old.  I was done breastfeeding, back to work, and dissatisfied with my weight and fitness level.  I wanted to lose 10 pounds, fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, and change my eating habits.

What are your accomplishments since working with WellMom?

Since working with WellMom, I achieved my 10 pound weight loss goal and am back in those pre-pregnancy clothes!  Importantly, I have gained core strength and overall stamina.  I have also made meal-planning and prep part of my lifestyle so that I am not scrambling to come up with dinner ideas and resorting to take-out or frozen foods.  I feel more satisfied eating whole foods and saving splurges for something truly worthwhile.  Chris really guided me through this process.  She was always accessible via text, which made it so easy.

To what do you attribute those accomplishments?

I could not have reached these goals without Chris’s support!  Every week I knew that we would meet and discuss my weight loss.  This accountability helped me reach for healthy food choices and get in my workouts.  I also really appreciate that she tailored workouts to my needs.  I can do the circuits that she designs for me at home or at the gym, so I really have no excuse not to work out.  The exercises are also both challenging and fun!

What goals do you have moving forward?

I have set a new weight loss goal, with a continued emphasis on core strength, glute shaping (!), and overall fat loss.  I also hope to continue building on the good eating habits I’ve established.

kristen-after
After losing 8 lbs (and she kept losing)!
kristen-before
Before

What health and wellness advice do you have for other moms based on your personal journey?

My best advice is to make time for yourself.  I am a much better mom, wife, and friend when I feel good about myself.  Part of that is physical fitness and a healthy weight.  I am so glad that I sought out personal training to jump start a new health journey as the mom of two young kids.  I would also say to be kind to yourself.  Perfection is not the goal!  Rather, feeling strong and energetic are the best rewards.  Well, that, and fitting into your old jeans 🙂

 

Lifestyle, Nutrition

Does Eating Well Make You Feel Deprived? Consider a New Perspective

I recently had a check-in call with a nutrition coaching client.  Like many people, she has a sweet tooth that she struggles to keep in check.  In the course of the conversation, she expressed a frustration I often hear from those who are trying to improve their diet and lose fat.  She said something like this:

“When I avoid ‘bad’ foods, I feel like I’m missing out or being deprived of something.”

Let me begin by saying I totally get this.  Let’s pretend you’ve got a five-pound fat loss goal, so you’re trying to watch what you eat.  Like my client, you struggle most when it comes to curbing your intake of sweets.  You have a special weakness for cheesecake.  It’s Fridaycheesecake night, and you find yourself out to dinner with some friends.  Your waiter clears the main course and offers you each a dessert menu.  The house specialty is – you guessed it – New York style cheesecake.  Each of your friends unapologetically orders a slice, and now it’s your turn.

How do you feel?  Um, frustrated, perhaps?  Or in the words of my clients, a little deprived?

Of course you do!  Why do they get to eat the cheesecake when you don’t?!

(Oh, and did I mention that each of your cheesecake-devouring friends is 5’10 and weighs 125 pounds?)

But now let me tell you two things that I told my client that will hopefully change your perspective and your relationship with food.

First, if you really want the cheesecake, order it.  Yes, that’s right.  Your nutrition coach said order the stinkin’ cheesecake.

But there’s a catch:  limit yourself to just a few bites, and send the rest home with one of your friends.  Or offer to share a slice with a friend and again just eat a few bites.

If there is something that you truly love, you are entitled to enjoy it.  You will have a much healthier relationship with food and be more successful at establishing sustainable eating habits.  When most people think of diets, they think of something you go “on” and “off”: I’m on a diet.  But a diet should be a way of life.  If you truly love cheesecake and always deny yourself it, you are all but destined to fail.

So that’s the first point.  Nothing is completely off limits, though certain things should be consumed in small amounts.  How small depends on you and your specific goals.  

The second point requires us to first figure out your PURPOSE for losing the five pounds.  And your purpose is NOT something like, “so I can fit into the jeans I wore in college.”  Your purpose is the REASON you want to fit into those jeans.  It runs deeper.  It’s emotional.

Your purpose might be anything.  For my client it’s about being happier and feeling more confident with her body.

That’s the second point.  When you start feeling deprived, flip your perspective: you are not depriving yourself of cheesecake.  Overindulging in the cheesecake is depriving YOU of achieving your purpose, whether that be confidence, happiness, or something else.  

From experience I can tell you how true this is.  I also used to have quite a sweet tooth, but now I’m rarely tempted by desserts.  When I find myself at parties and can freely pass on the brownies or easily limit myself to just a single cookie, I feel nothing short of liberated.  My heart goes out to friends when I see them struggle to exercise restraint and then, should they succumb to the temptation, be mentally preoccupied with guilt and regret.  Did I arrive at this place overnight?  Of course not.  It took several years of making incremental changes to my diet.  But it did happen.  And it can happen to you too.  To take your first step in getting there, ask yourself, “What’s my purpose?”

 

Lifestyle, Pregnancy

The Supermom Cape

My sister had her first baby recently, and I’m out in Phoenix right now, lending a hand.  I say that a bit loosely since my toddler, Siyona, came along with me, and sometimes I feel like my sister is helping ME more than I help her!

In any case, in a conversation prior to my arrival she expressed some feelings and behaviors that are common among postpartum moms.  She’s constantly fatigued because she’s up every three hours at night breastfeeding.  She tries to make up for the sleep during the day, taking naps whenever her daughter is napping.  Consequently, she doesn’t get out of the house much, and because she’s home alone with her daughter, she often feels lonely and isolated.

As a mom myself, I totally relate to this!  But I also learned through my own experience that sometimes the best thing to do when you’re feeling exhausted is to push back against it, or, as I like to say, to don the “Supermom Cape.” So I decided that one way that I would offer help during my visit was by showing her the special powers that this cape holds.

As it turned out, I found myself needing to lead by example.  Siyona and I arrived in Phoenix from the east coast, three time zones away.  We’ve both been waking up early, but she’s not as content as I am to linger in bed at 4:30 a.m. To make matters worse, I’m nearly seven months pregnant and sleeping poorly throughout the night, plagued by uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms like restless leg syndrome and the constant need to use the bathroom.

I reached for the Supermom Cape when I found myself particularly exhausted one morning. It was 6:15 a.m., and I forced myself into the shower.  I told my sister I was making myself presentable and planning to go out.  I would take Siyona with me and her daughter too if she wanted to lay back down to sleep.  I put on a cute maxi dress, blow dried my hair, and applied make-up.

She rose to the challenge and cleaned herself up too (luckily I packed a spare cape with me, you see).  Downstairs she emerged with styled hair and in her own cute dress. It was nearly 9:30 by the time we all made it out the door, but we were on our way!

We ended up having a lovely morning.  But the real point is this: the moment I made the mental shift – the moment I put on my Supermom Cape – I felt my energy level rise.  I was determined to be capable, to not let the fatigue win.

I was reminded of a time during my first pregnancy when I saw a woman with a newborn on a flight.  She was traveling alone, and she just appeared to have it together.  I passed her as I walked down the aisle of the plane to my seat.  She was sitting nearer to the front, reading a book while her baby fed discreetly and contently under a breastfeeding cover.  I thought to myself, “That’s the mom I want to be.”

And on this morning, I was determined to be the woman on the plane.  And I was.  And so was my sister.  And it felt – if I can be so liberal with the word – empowering.

I don’t put on my cape every day.  In fact, sometimes it’s good to leave it folded neatly in the drawer or hanging in your closet.  Sometimes you really DO need to forgo the shower – even the toothbrush – and just rest any moment you can.  But just don’t let the fatigue win out every time.  Otherwise, you miss out on some great things, like these:

macchiato

 

 

Enjoying an expertly made espresso macchiato (my favorite drink!) at a fantastic Scottsdale coffee shop…

 

Mia (2)

 

 

 

…while looking fabulous and capable, holding my beautiful new niece…

 

 

selfie 1 selfie 2

 

 

…just before taking goofy selfies with my equally beautiful daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

So go for it!  Get your Momcape on!  The world needs more superheroes. 🙂

Kids, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Recipes

Five Make-ahead Healthy Breakfast Ideas

You’re a mom, so by definition you are busy.  And the busier you are, the harder it is make sure you and your family are eating nutritious meals.

A client and friend recently expressed this feeling with regard to breakfast items.  “Do you have any suggestions for fast healthy breakfasts in the morning?” she asked.  She noted that cereal is fast and always popular at her house, but she was looking for “real food’ alternatives that she could pull together in a few minutes in the mornings with minimal clean-up.

What a great question!  Who can deny the allure of placing a pile of Cheerios in front of your child to occupy her while you get ready for work?  And though we might love to make veggie and cheese omelets for the entire family every morning, who has time for that?

Fortunately, there ARE ways to improve your breakfast menu AND still make it to work or drop your kids to school on time.  They do require prep time, but you can do the preparation in advance.  Here are five ideas.

1. Overnight oats.   Instead of cooking your oats, blend them with yogurt, milk, mashed banana, frozen blueberries, cinnamon, salted and roasted almond butter, and some ground chia and/or flax for good measure.  Toss in the fridge before bed, and it’ll be ready to eat in the morning. My palate tells me it lasts a good three days before it starts to lose its integrity, so make a bunch.  I actually thought I invented this one until a friend told me about this “cool new recipe” that she read on some blog.  To my credit, I do make mine differently – and better, obviously 😉 – than the one she read about, but the basic premise is the same. You’re limited only by your imagination with the ingredients, so don’t feel wed to the ones I use.  I make these for myself, but they’d be good for anyone in the family.

2. Plain yogurt and fresh fruit.  Note the word “plain” here.  Yes, you can buy your yogurt with the fruit already inside, but you’re also going to get a lot of added sugar.  Nobody needs that.  Save time in the morning by mixing it all together the night before.  Buy your fruit pre-cut from the grocery store if that helps.  Frozen blueberries also work well.  If you want to take it on the go, invest in some travel containers.   If you’re looking to up your protein intake, eat plain Greek yogurt instead of regular.

Eggs and veggies on plate
…The cheesy broccoli and sliced grape tomatoes rounded out the meal. 🙂
Siyona eating eggs
The frittata can make for a nice lunch too! Here’s Siyona enjoying hers – and the sun (finally!) – on our deck last week…

3. Veggie frittata.  This is one that my toddler eats.  I saute frozen chopped spinach and kale then add that mixture to beaten eggs. I then pour it into an even layer in a frying pan, flip it once, and it’s done. A three-egg frittata lasts me three days.  I use a LOT of greens, referring to the egg as a mere means of binding it all together, but you needn’t be as heavy-handed. 🙂  I think it’s tastiest fresh, but my daughter eats it straight from the fridge with no problem. If you want to really stock up, you could pour the same egg mixture into cupcake tins and make crustless quiches that you freeze.  Then thaw in the fridge the night before you plan to eat one. Cheese would make a tasty addition to these too.

4. Make-ahead oatmeal.  Is it just me, or does instant oatmeal taste gross?  The science behind it mystifies me, since I think instant oatmeal is just pressed more thinly than rolled oats.  Maybe the Quaker people just use gross-tasting oats?  In any case, I know I prefer the taste and texture of the regular rolled oats, and I’ve heard at least some sources say they are nutritionally superior.  If you feel similarly, you can make a huge vat and then freeze individual portions in ziptop bags.  If you do this, definitely freeze them in a very thin layer to expedite future thawing.  You can freeze them plain or as you plan to eat them.  Cinnamon, blueberries, and a touch of salt make nice additions.

5. Hard boiled eggs.  These are so portable!  If you do plan to take these with you and are worried that you won’t have somewhere to put the cracked shells, you can peel them the night before.  People boil these a lot of different ways.  Here’s how I like to make mine:  place the eggs in a pot and cover with water.  Heat on high until water begins to boil.  Lower heat and let the eggs slow boil for one minute.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover the pot, and let them continue cooking for another 12 minutes.  Immediately cool in an ice-water bath (this prevents the yolk from turning gray on the outside) before storing in the fridge.

And if you absolutely MUST have your breakfast cereal (and I’m  not throwing stones here.  I fall into this category), you know there are healthier and more natural choices out there than Lucky Charms, right?  Some brands that get my general approval are Barbara’s, Nature’s Path, and Arrowhead Mills.  I can’t speak for all their varieties, but I know the ones I eat are made with whole grains, have very little added sugar, and have no preservatives.  Check your boxes carefully and abide my general rule of passing on any option with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Lifestyle

Enter the Travel Blog: Puerto Rico

Hi!  Wasn’t I just saying something last week about how I abhor the cold?

Well, I found a temporary fix last Tuesday when I skipped town for a week in Puerto Rico!  I’m scheduled to return tomorrow night, but I’m seriously considering “accidentally” missing my flight.

Since I’m on vacay, I decided to provide a few highlights from the trip in lieu of the recipes and workout tips you’re accustomed to seeing.  I know this is a health and wellness blog, but R&R is a part of that, right?  And in any case, it’s my blog and I’ll write about what I want.  🙂

We rented a condo in San Juan for the week, and we’ve been splitting our time between San Juan and other areas of the main island.  We invited my parents to join us on the trip as a 45th anniversary gift (Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!).  They were kind enough to look after Siyona while Neil and I went biking through Pinones, an area just outside of San Juan.  We rented bikes from a COPI shop, which we thought were a steal at $5 an hour until we learned why they were so cheap – they’re all in terrible condition! The tire on the first bike Neil rented blew out when we cycled just a few hundred meters from the shop!  We cycled back and he swapped it out with the beauty pictured below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pink water bottle came with the bike.  Lucky Neil.

Despite the poor condition of the bikes, it was a truly lovely ride.  Stretches of it were along the coast, but the trail also took you through the nicely shaded Bosque de Pinones, or Pinones Mangrove Forest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Saturday we spent several hours in Old San Juan.  Our first stop was a coffee shop recommended by the Lonely Planet called Finca Cialitos.

Let me digress for a moment with a side story.  I absolutely love coffee, but about 6 months ago I wanted to see if I’d feel better throughout the day if I gave it up.  I was hoping that I’d feel exactly the same on or off coffee because truly the last thing I wanted to do was stop drinking it!  But alas, after about a week of feeling like garbage (turns out I had a bit of an addiction on my one coffee a day!), I was feeling better when off the coffee: my sleep improved, and my energy levels were more balanced throughout the day.  After mourning the loss of my regular cup of joe, I’ve come to appreciate coffee as an occasional treat.

And what better treat than having my favorite espresso drink at Finca Cialitos!  Siyona liked it too. Well, she liked the cups anyway.  I told her no coffee until she’s at least 3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After taking our time at the coffee shop (things move slowly in Puerto Rico), it was off to tour the rest of Old San Juan.  As luck would have it, a street circus was taking place that weekend, and we made a new (very tall) friend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And lest you think we skipped the beach, we’ve definitely spent our share of time there too.  Here are two pics of me and Siyona walking along the beach in Isla Verde, one of the nicer beaches in San Juan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those are just a few of the highlights anyway.  If I ever start a REAL travel blog, I’ll cover things in greater detail.  And once again, excuse the hiatus – I’ll be back again soon with my usual workout and nutrition-related material.  If you still feel cheated, check out the archives – I’m sure there’s at least one post you’ve yet to read!  🙂

Lifestyle

Gratitude

Today’s post is a little bit different than what you’re used to seeing.  No recipes, no workout tips, no nutrition lessons.

Today’s post is about gratitude.  My gratitude.  For all of my clients. For my friends.  For my family.  For you.

In addition to running WellMom, I teach group exercise classes at a local gym.  Last week I received an anonymous holiday card from one of the gym members.  (Apparently, it took a while for the card to find me!).  Inside the card was a handwritten note: “May you and your family have a splendid holiday and much happiness in 2015.  Thank you for such wonderful, thoughtful, and enjoyable classes this year.”  It was signed by an anonymous “fan.”

This card totally made my day!  How lucky was I to have touched someone to the point where they would go out of their way to write me this card for no other reason than to just say thanks?

Several other clients also helped to make my recent holiday a little brighter with their own similar notes.  Here are some excerpts:

I have felt so much better from a mental and physical standpoint since starting to train with you…thank you for all you do for me…

Thank you for all your help returning me to my pre-pregnancy self!

Thank you for your wonderful training sessions with me.  I am very grateful and very pleased with my progress.

I think my favorite holiday card ever came last year.  The best part of that note was this:

Thank you for making my life better!!!

I started WellMom after giving birth to my daughter.  Fitness was just a side job for me until this point.  I taught a few indoor cycling classes each week at a local gym on weekends and on weekdays after coming home from my “real job.”  (I used to do survey research, if you can believe that!).  I liked my job well enough, but I also knew it wasn’t the best fit for me.  I did some soul searching during my maternity leave and decided now was a good opportunity for me to take the plunge and try to make a career out of my true passion: health and wellness.

And here we are now, two years later.  Helping clients to achieve their fitness and wellness goals gives me so much more pleasure and sense of purpose than working behind a desk ever did.

Has the road been completely smooth?  Of course not.  I’ve had countless moments of self-doubt along the way, feelings I still face from time to time.  But each time I touch someone – in the words of my client, each time I help to make their lives BETTER – I find a renewed sense confidence in my decision to change career paths.

So I am thankful for my clients and their thoughtful holiday cards.  I am thankful for their kind testimonials and reviews of my services.

I am grateful too for my friends and family who have supported me along the way.  WellMom wouldn’t be here without my husband, who encouraged me to take the leap and quit my old job and who helps me work through my moments of self-doubt.  And I have countless other family members and friends who have helped me work through ideas for the company, provided loving words of encouragement, and also challenged me where appropriate.

I’m also thankful for all the people that WellMom touches who I don’t personally know:  the people who read my blog, who like my Facebook page, who share links to my resources, who refer me to their friends.  Since you’re reading this now, that means I’m grateful to you too:  thank you.  🙂

If you’re interested in reading more about WellMom’s mission, be sure to check out my previous blog post, Putting the “Well” in WellMom.  It will give you a better sense of what it means to me to make the lives of my moms better.

Lifestyle, Nutrition

Those Christmas Cookies Don’t Own You: Seven Tips for Eating Well During the Holidays

Christmas cookiesIt’s the holiday season and edible temptations are everywhere.  They even show up in the most unlikely of places, like this past Saturday when a trayful of homemade fudge greeted me at the hair salon!

It’s easy to see why so many people gain weight this time of year.  But you don’t have to be one of them!  Whether you’re traveling for an extended vacation or just need some help making it through a few holiday parties, here are some tips to make it through the New Year with your waistline intact:

1. Travel with healthy snacks.  It can be hard to find smart food choices at airports and rest stops.  Make sure you pack some healthy, portable snacks to take along during your travels, such as apples, carrot sticks, and almonds.

2. BYOS (“Bring Your Own Staples”).  If you find yourself away from home for a few nights and know your host will have few healthy food choices to offer, pack some staples with you or make a trip to the grocery store as soon as you arrive at your destination.  You’ll be armed with a figure-friendly alternative when the cinnamon rolls come out for breakfast.

3. Get plenty of sleep.  When we’re tired, we tend to eat more and have cravings because lack of sleep throws our hormones out of whack. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each night to keep hunger, energy, and cravings balanced.

4. “Crowd out” bad foods with good ones.  Think fiber, water, and protein.  These are foods that make us feel full.  Here are three ideas to take with you to the dinner party:

  • Vegetables are mainly water, so eat a large salad at the start of the meal along with a glass of water before heading back to the buffet.
  • Lean protein is good choice for an appetizer because it takes several minutes for its sating effects to kick in. If you’re feeling the munchies when your host passes the tray of hors d’oeuvres, score yourself some chicken satay or turkey meatballs.
  • Not only does fiber make us feel full, it also keeps our hormones balanced, which keeps hunger and energy in check. Keep your eyes peeled for high fiber choices on the dinner buffet, including lentils and beans (especially split peas), raspberries, and green peas. But eat slowly: like protein, 15-30 minutes may pass before you feel its sating effects.

5. Don’t arrive at the party on an empty stomach.  If you know your healthy options will be limited, make sure you eat something BEFORE you go.  Again, think fiber, water, and protein.

6. Eat a cookie (but not a plate of them).  Don’t deny yourself things you love.  Learn to eat in moderation.  Not only should we be allowed foods we enjoy, it’s a more sustainable way to live and eat.

7. Learn from your mistakes.  Say at the end of the day you utterly fail.  The closest you come to eating a vegetable is the spinach artichoke dip.  You DO eat the entire plate of cookies.  How did you feel afterwards?  Pretty lousy, if I had to guess.  Take THAT experience with you moving forward.  One of these times you WILL succeed, and you’ll see how much better you felt.  That’s what leads to lasting lifestyle change.

Lifestyle, Nutrition, Pregnancy

Putting the “Well” in WellMom

Welcome to WellMom, a health and wellness company that offers in-home personal training and private yoga for moms and moms-to-be!

Since this is WellMom’s first official blog post (yay!), I want to share a little bit more about the mission of WellMom, which is to help women be healthy moms, from pregnancy, through labor and delivery, and beyond.

Here’s a little story to help explain more about what that means.

A few weeks back I was looking through photos of myself for WellMom’s “About” page.  I came across a picture of me holding my now two-year old daughter, Siyona, just a few days after delivery.  I was wearing a fitted camisole and low rise jeans.

I looked amazing.

Before you get put off by that comment and close out of your browser, let me further explain.

I don’t say that to brag.  Sure, I stopped at the photo and considered it for my profile picture.  After all, isn’t it the dream to swallow a basketball, pop it out after 9 months, and slip right back into the same jeans you wore before you got pregnant? Didn’t my ability to stay fit during my pregnancy give me some extra credibility?

The answer is yes. And no.

Yes, I think we would be kidding ourselves if we said we don’t care what happens to our bodies during our pregnancy.  Even though what we want at the end of the day is a healthy baby, and even though we know that means we’re going to put on a few pounds, we sure would like to keep that weight gain to a minimum.  And, yes, there probably is something to be said for, “If she can do it, I can do it too, and maybe she can help me.”

But I didn’t choose that picture.  I didn’t want to.  I couldn’t.

Why?  For one thing, every person and every pregnancy experience is different.  I had a lot of things going for me that helped me slink right back into my pre-pregnancy jeans.  I was slim before my pregnancy.  Although I was tired sometimes, I didn’t have months of morning sickness and fatigue keeping me from my workouts.  This was my first child, so I didn’t have existing parental responsibilities standing between me and the gym.  I enjoy eating well and love to exercise.  These things just aren’t true for everyone.  Using that picture would have alienated the many moms and moms-to-be out there who are different than me.

Even more importantly, using that picture would overlook the “well in WellMom.  It’s not SkinnyMom.  It’s not even FitMom.  Yes, exercising regularly throughout your pregnancy does make you less likely to gain unnecessary fat, but it has so many other benefits too, both for you and your baby: you’re less likely to have a long and exhausting labor or to need medical interventions; exercise improves your baby’s ability to deal with the stress of contractions; exercise reduces stress, which is important both during pregnancy and after baby arrives.  And that’s just for starters.

A mom-to-be friend of mine recently submitted a blog post about her pregnancy experience that is relevant here.  She’s also a fitness enthusiast, but her pregnancy experience has been much different than mine was. She has gained more weight than she prefers, but she realizes that there are more important things to think about right now than vanity.

So, yes, please do exercise and eat well!  It’s good for you; it’s good for your baby.  If we work together, I will do my best to share with you my passion for exercise and healthy, good food. We will find exercises that you enjoy (you don’t have to run, if you don’t like to run).  I can show you that not all Brussels sprouts are created equal (there’s a right way to prepare these guys and a wrong way.  Do it the wrong way, and I won’t touch them either).  If your pregnancy experience ends up more like mine, then great.  You’ll have to buy fewer clothes after delivery.  But if you’re experience is more like my friend’s, be kind to yourself.  Honor your body and the miracle that’s taking place inside of you.