I’m More Than a Number!

I’m more than a number.

Neither my weight nor my clothing size defines my self-worth.

I say this now, like it’s easy. But it’s NOT. It takes constant reinforcement to remind myself of that in this day and age.

Just look in any women’s magazine and you’ll find multiple articles about how to shred fat and drop 10 lbs in 2 weeks… all surrounded by super-lean models.

Scroll through instagram and see “fitspo” everywhere… it’s supposed to be motivating but so many of those models are crazy lean—skinnier than I’ll ever be.

It’s easy to get down on your body and your looks when constantly surrounded by all of this. Especially if there is part of your body that is sometimes hard to love. =)

More than a number

My superpower is getting outside each and every day this year with our two boys. Trading the tablets for the trees; spending our time in the light of the sun rather than the light of a screen. It’s challenging us and changing us and that’s good.

So when People Magazine launched a campaign geared toward “proving that women are more than just a number”, more than just their size, I was initially happy to see a mainstream media outlet taking on this issue.

But unfortunately, the campaign is asking people to share their picture with… you guessed it… their number! People’s #ShareYourSize campaign is asking people to post pictures with their clothing size.

I get that the idea is to show that all sizes are beautiful and that there are many different body types out there.

All that is true, but I’d rather learn something about those people and what their bodies can do for them. I’d want to hear about my friend who is a grandmother and is training for her first triathlon. Or my friend in the Navy who has three kids and who did a tour in Iraq. Or my friend who is bravely recovering from an accident that destroyed her knee.

I couldn’t care less what size clothing they wear. I want to know what they do.

I want to learn about women who constantly grow by pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves. I want to be motivated and inspired by their example, whether big or small. Because that’s how I will become a better version of myself.

So we are launching an alternative to People Magazine’s campaign.

Share your picture on Twitter or Facebook with a sign that says something about you, but nothing about your size or weight!

Share your Secret Superpower—something that you are proud of or that challenges you in some way.

Use the hashtags #shareyoursize AND #morethananumber. Tag @People and @FitMomsforLife and let’s change the conversation!!

We are more than a number. We are strong. We are healthy. We are Fit Moms for Life!

Update (4-29-16)

So many beautiful women who are Fit Moms for Life agree… we are proud to share a few of these amazing people!
morethananumber 4

more than a number 2

more than a number 1more than a number 3

Self-Care Revolutionized

I don’t know why, but making the time for self-care can feel so difficult this time of year.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been sick a fair amount. Or maybe it’s because the days are short. Or that it’s a crazy busy time.

Regardless, it can be too easy to start pushing self-care aside and letting other things creep in and get in the way of workouts, healthy meals, stress-release time, etc.

That’s why I so love this quote from Lisa Bauer, who leads an awesome Yin Yoga class at the Transformation Center on Wednesday evenings.

Many of us equate self-care with being selfish. Self-care is filling up so you can continue to take care of others. Self-care is feeding your spirit, taking care of your body, calming your mind, so you can be more present in the world and with those you love.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about self-care as a revolutionary act: Taking care of yourself is kind of like flipping off this cultural notion that we should be going, doing, winning, striving, setting goals, meeting goals — all the time, in order to have worth. Self-care is stepping outside that cycle and saying, “Nah, I’m gonna just be good to myself, and be myself.”

I love that because the funny thing is that when you adopt that mindset, it actually becomes easier to make the changes you want to make… for all the right reasons.

take care of yourself (1)When you stop spending so much energy trying to be the person you think you “should” be, and instead love and care for who you are, it frees up the space to be able to take care of yourself.

When you find that sense of self-love and self-worth, you want to take better care of your body and your mind, because it matters to you.

Then it becomes easier to take the actions that will get you closer to who you want to be in the future, because you love and respect yourself now.

Personally, I’m adding yoga back into my fitness routine because it reminds me of all of these things. Plus, it loosens my muscles and joints and just makes me feel better. I had let it slide as time grew tight. But I’ve realized that I need to let other non self-care things slide instead.

How about you? How can you take better care of yourself? What can you do to start letting go of the notion that you must always be doing more in order to be worthy? How can your actions reflect that shift in perspective?

If you are looking for a place to start, try moving more. Nutrition plays a huge role in your overall health, but exercise can help you feel better more quickly and can give you the energy to make other changes.

Whatever it is, start now! There is no better time.

Need support? Check out the community and support in our flagship 6 Week Challenge program.

Lessons Learned from Staying Active Every Day

We’ve always been pretty active as a family. But this year, I wanted to be more intentional about it.

I’d noticed that it was too easy to stay indoors on our short, cold winter days in Wisconsin. And, especially on those days, our boys had too much extra energy and acted out a lot more.

Plus, I recently read Younger Next Year, which is a great read that talks about how critical it is to do something active each and every day, especially as you get older.

As our lives have gotten busier, my husband and I have found this harder and harder to do…

So, on New Years Day, we decided as a family to commit to getting outside every day, even for just a little bit.

I’m tracking our progress and posting pictures a couple of times each week on Instagram with the hashtags #365outside, #activeeveryday and #outsideeveryday. (You can find me at h88emily.)

While we are only two months in, it has been a great experience so far! Here are a few of my early take aways:

  • Getting outside helps the mood and behavior of our boys. One of our sons is on the autism spectrum, and some days can be really challenging. Getting outside, even for a short period, can really help. I remember one evening in particular, where a walk on a dark, cold night saved us from hours of awful outbursts.
  • Skating

  • We think about new things that we can do as a family outside. This challenge caused us to discover geocaching, for example, which has been a blast and an easy thing to do together. I’m not sure I ever would have tried it otherwise.
  • We’ve had some spectacular moments, like this evening on the ice on a perfectly glass smooth lake. The ice was so smooth that it didn’t make a sound under our skates. It. Was. Amazing. I’m not sure we’d have been out there to discover that without this challenge..
  • Our house is messier because we get outside in all kinds of weather. We are in mud season right now as the snow melts in Wisconsin and there is A LOT of mud in our house and our front yard is a disaster. So we spend a bit more time cleaning… I still think it’s worth it.
  • It’s been easy to stay unplugged. We’ve never had a lot of screen time in our house, but the kids have watched almost no TV since we started this in January. And they haven’t missed it!

While it hasn’t been easy every day—some of those short, cold, Wisconsin winter days were tough, especially when they are in school most of the day—it’s been worth it to actually think about when we were going to get outside and what we were going to do. Although it’s not too planned most of the time—there’s a lot of creative play that happens in the sandbox and the snow banks. But knowing that we made this commitment causes us to be very intentional to think about how and when we are going to get out.

We’ve only missed one day so far. It was well below zero, with a 30-40 below wind chill, and while we could have gone out, I decided that it just wasn’t worth it. We went to an indoor pool and went swimming instead. So, still active… just not outside. =)

It’s been totally worth it for us and we’ve seen benefits already in time spent together as a family, time being active, and our kids’ behavior.

Plus, it doesn’t usually cost us a dime!

What can you do to get more active as a family? It’s a lot easier to stay in shape when you can do it together!

Post your goals in the comments here and connect with me on Instagram so we can hold each other accountable!

Feeling SAD?? This Can Help!

The birds are singing, the days are longer and spring really is coming, but still, if you suffer from seasonal blues at all, this time of year is the hardest! All of those grey, short days have taken their toll.

The good news is that there are some things that you can do to help yourself get through the last gasp of winter, and that’s what I wanted to share with you today.

You are not alone if you struggle with this! My husband, who is an EMT and firefighter, said that they get far more crisis and suicide calls this time of year than any other.

It’s not that severe in my family, but I have less energy and have to work harder to find the motivation to work out and eat right this time of year. My boys fight more and it’s easy to feel exhausted at the end of the day.

Here’s what helps our family…

Eat foods that support your mental health.  Eating a diet rich in plants, and especially those that are good sources of Omega-3s, certain minerals, and anti-oxidants, can really bolster your mood. My top picks:

  • Raw cacao or dark chocolate – very rich in anti-oxidants and a proven mood booster. How cool that this is on the list, right? See below for the smoothie recipe that I drink almost every day this time of year. You can also simply eat a square or two of dark (70% cocoa content) chocolate each day, but watch the overall sugar content.
  • Spinach – getting more greens in is a good idea no matter what. But spinach is high in iron, Omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Overall, there are a fair number of studies that suggest it can be helpful in alleviating both depression and fatigue. Best of all, it is easy to incorporate into just about anything, from eggs to casseroles to soups to smoothies. Yes, I even put it into my daily chocolate smoothie… see below for the recipe!
  • Chia or flax seeds – again, both are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help your body combat depression by naturally boosting serotonin levels. Add them to smoothies, oatmeal, salads, yogurt, etc. Chia seeds will thicken smoothies, etc, but otherwise I find both of these to be pretty undetectable.
  • Blueberries – very high in anti-oxidants and a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth cravings that I tend to get this time of year. 

Take time to support your mental health. My go-to strategy this time of year is daily meditation in the morning (just 10 minutes!) and daily gratitude journaling at the end of the day. Both of these activities help set me up for success, keep my mind clear, and remind me of all of the good things to celebrate in life so I don’t get stuck in Debbie Downer mode.

I struggled with the idea of meditation until someone recommended the app Insight Timer. It’s free and it’s jam-packed with daily, guided meditations of all different lengths. My favorite so far are from Tara Brach. Check it out here: https://insighttimer.com/

Get moving, even if you have no energy. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Whether it is a walk around the block or a 5 minute workout, get your blood going each and every day and it will do wonders for your mood.

Click here to check out 14 free 5-minute workouts that Dustin recorded and use them when you think you have no time to move!

While abs may be made in the kitchen, exercise is absolutely your biggest lever to get a better mood and more energy. Use it to give you the momentum to tackle other goals.

I hope these strategies help!

I’d love to hear how you deal with this in the comments below. Let’s all support each other through the last gasp of winter!

Superfood, Bust-your-blues Smoothie Recipe

1 cup raw spinach
1 cup water or coconut water (may also use coconut or almond milk)
1/2 – 1 banana (frozen, ideally)
1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 scoop hydrolyzed collagen (protein powder)
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon almond butter
cinnamon to taste
1-2 drops stevia if you need it sweeter

Add ice if desired and blend until smooth. I recommend blending the spinach and water first, then adding the remaining ingredients and blending again.

How to fall in love with your health in the New Year

How many times have you set New Years resolutions in January, only to abandon them by March?

We’ve all done it!entertainment-career-resolutions

But it can leave you feeling guilty and like you’ve failed yet again to improve your health, exercise more, eat better, etc, etc.

It sets up a negative spiral in your relationship with your body and your health.

The good news is that there is a better way and you can fall in love with your body and your health—you just have to shift your mindset first.

This year, when you are thinking about the resolutions you want to make, skip the ones that involve losing weight, getting into better shape, etc.

Instead, focus on loving and accepting yourself. Decide that you are worth taking care of—that it is worth the effort to put yourself first once in awhile.

Then, instead of thinking “I should exercise more” or “I should lose weight,” ask yourself “How can I do more to take care of myself?” “What can I do to put myself first?” “How can I make my health more of a priority?”

Pick 1-2 small action steps that you can start now and that feel doable in the context of your life.

Then take action. Right away!

Make those 1-2 things the focus of your attention and energy for the next few weeks. Tell a friend or family member what you are doing and ask them to hold you accountable.

Once you start to experience some success in taking action and making changes, it will start to shift your view of what is possible.

Then you can ask yourself those same questions again: “What else can I do to take better care of myself?” And pick another small action to start focusing on, once your first actions start to become part of what you do each day.

That is the key to starting healthy habits that last. Start small with actions that you can sustain. Early success will keep you going, and they will ultimately become part of who you are and what you do each day without thinking about it—just like brushing your teeth.

It doesn’t even matter what the actions are, as long as they are taking a small step on your path towards health. However, actions that help you feel better will naturally keep you motivated to continue.

There are our top picks for healthy habits to start to incorporate into your life. These things will all help you look and feel your best. However, pick something that resonates with you and that you can work into your life!

  • Move more, whatever that means to you—walk each day; exercise a certain number of times per week; take the stairs instead of the elevator; etc.
  • Reduce the processed food that you eat—if your great grandma didn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t either.
  • Eat more veggies—drink a green smoothie each day.
  • Drink 96 ounces of water each day.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t eat carbs alone—always eat carbs with a protein to help balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings.

Make 2016 the year that you enjoy success with your New Years resolutions and fall in love with your body and your health!

What to Eat After a Workout

handstandEver find that your workouts leave you exhausted and starving the rest of the day? Like all you want to do is lay down and take a nap… after eating all the snacks in your secret stash of the good stuff that you don’t share with the kids? 😉

I used to feel this way. And with two boys under two running around underfoot, I could not afford to keep feeling like I just got hit by a mack truck on gym days.

It took some experimentation, but I finally realized that what I ate after exercising hard and how quickly I ate it made all the difference in how I felt the rest of the day.

I started off not eating anything after exercise, because I wanted to lose a few pounds. But it turns out that strategy was not only making me feel bad, but probably hindering my recovery and weight loss too.

Read on for my solution to the problem and follow us on Periscope @fitmomsforlife to join these conversations live! This was the topic of yesterday’s scope, which you can watch below.

First, keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. What works so well for me may need to be tweaked for you.  But just about everyone will benefit from refueling after a good workout.

Right after exercise is when your cells are most receptive to the carbs and protein that will help repair damage and build new, lean muscle, helping you get stronger and fitter.

More importantly, eating something right away helps keep your metabolism going, prevents that energy crash, and helps tame your appetite the rest of the day.

So, what should you eat?

The key is a balanced mix of easy to digest proteins and carbs, without much fat. Fat slows the absorption of carbs and proteins and so this is the one time where you do not want to consume too much fat, even healthy fat. You want those carbs and proteins to get into your muscle cells as quickly as possible.

You can go with somewhere between a 1:1 to 3:1 ratio of carbs to proteins.

Some examples are:

  • Low or no-fat greek yogurt with fruit
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder (we recommend hydrolyzed collagen, but you can also use whey, rice, pea, etc)
  • Cottage cheese with fruit on the side
  • Hard boiled egg and a piece of toast or fruit
  • Half a turkey sandwich, with little or no mayo or cheese
  • Low/no-fat chocolate milk, possibly with added protein powder

You can certainly use one of the many pre-packaged post-workout recovery drinks, but read the label carefully. Many of them are full of sugar and very high in calories, with lots of added ingredients.

Organic Valley’s Fuel or Balance drinks are pretty clean options. (The Fuel has more protein—otherwise they are similar.)

cookbookandcollagen for webMy go-to is a smoothie, which I make with the FM4L Hydrolyzed Collagen—an amazing, clean protein that dissolves in anything with no taste. As a huge side benefit, it’s pretty much eliminated my knee pain, which I had had for 15 years, before I started using the collagen.

Click here to find out more about our collagen.

If I’m working out early in the morning, I’ll drink 1/3 of it before the workout and the rest of it when I get home. Otherwise, I drink the smoothie within 15-30 minutes of wrapping up the workout. And then I feel pretty amazing the rest of the day!

Below is a basic fruit smoothie recipe that you can customize as you wish.  You can use your favorite combination of frozen fruits.   Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and even allspice can jazz up a fruit smoothie nicely.  Lemon or other citrus is a great way to freshen the flavor.

Basic fruit smoothie

  • 1 cup of frozen fruit—usually mixed berries with a couple of chunks of pineapple
  • 1/2 frozen banana (optional—use for more sweetness, or if you’ve just done a very taxing workout and want more carbs in your smoothie)
  • 2 scoops hydrolyzed collagen
  • Water or coconut water as the liquid—use as much as you need to get the consistency you want; You could also use milk, almond milk or coconut milk
  • Cinnamon for extra flavor and blood sugar balance (optional)

Blend until smooth.

If this isn’t sweet enough for you, you can add a couple of drops of Stevia.

My other favorite, for the chocolate lovers out there:

Chocolate Dream Smoothie

  • 12 oz coconut water
  • 1/2 – 1 frozen banana
  • 2 scoops hydrolyzed collagen
  • 1 rounded tablespoon (to taste) unsweetened cocoa or raw, unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seed (optional — adds fiber, some protein, a little fat and thickens this smoothie a bit)
  • Cinnamon (optional—to taste)
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Blend until smooth.

If you want to make this more of a meal replacement, you can add a tablespoon of almond butter, and even 1/4 cup of oats. Blend well.

 

 

 

 

Ever Struggle to Stay Consistent?

Ever struggled to stay consistent with healthy eating, regular exercise, etc?

Yeah, me too. No-one is perfect all of the time.

I’ve been going through a stressful time recently and some days I’ve felt like a complete failure at sticking with the healthy lifestyle that I want to live.

But then I turned around and looked at how far I’d come, and I realized that the choices I’m making today (even the bad ones) are fundamentally different, and much healthier, than the ones I made 5 years ago.

It turns out that I’ve made certain changes that I don’t even think about anymore, and I don’t backslide on these things. These changes require absolutely zero effort to maintain—things like:

  • Drinking green tea and green smoothies instead of coffee
    latee

    I’ve gone from this….

  • Exercising at least 3 days per week
  • Eating very few processed carbs
  • Drinking almost no alcohol
  • Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables

Sure, I still overindulge my sweet tooth. I still have a habit of snacking too much when stressed, albeit on healthier foods! I don’t get enough sleep. And I’ve not figured out how to get in the 5+ days of hard exercise that I’d like to get.

But, I realized that, even when I may not quite live up to my current set of goals, my standards have shifted entirely and what I now think of as a “bad day” is really still pretty healthy overall.

It caused me to think about how and why these changes don’t feel like they require any thought any more. It doesn’t require any willpower or discipline to stick with them—it’s just my daily routine.

green_smoothie

…to this, and haven’t looked back!

And I realized that is the key. Finding ways to slowly make the changes you want to make and transition from it being something that you have to decide to do… something that requires willpower to do every day… to something that is just the way it is. A habit. Part of your life. Just the way you do things.

That is the focus of our free training on how to overcome limited willpower, and make healthy habits that you can stick with for life.

Because we all struggle with this, and as a mom balancing two kids, a job, and a husband, I know firsthand that we need to reserve our willpower to deal with everything else in our lives. You don’t want to have to use it up deciding what to eat for breakfast each day!

So sign up for our free training here, and learn some tips that you can use to make and stick with healthy habits, for life!

Welcome to our new blog!

It has been a long time coming, but we are finally launching a blog here at Fit Moms for Life.

In doing so, we hope to give you tons of practical tips and ideas on how to eat better, exercise regularly (and love it!), and get stronger—mentally and physically. We want to help you live your best life inside and out.

We aim to post once a week. Subscribe to get these tips and tricks delivered right to your in-box.

Who should follow us?

Join us if you believe that:

Women can be strong, and strong is beautiful.

You can only be at your best for others when you put yourself first once in awhile.

Life should be FUN–there’s much more than just getting through the day!

It’s time to quit focusing on weight loss and body image.

It’s time to stop listening to the false promises of the diet and fitness industry, because pills and quick-fix solutions will never work.

You are ready for a deep, authentic, real approach to getting healthy, fit, and strong… and feeling better than you’ve ever felt.

You are ready to work with people who actually care about your success and who will support you every step of the way.

You are ready to feel beautiful and proud of who you are… inside and out… regardless of the number on the scale.

Life begins when you start caring for yourself the way that you care for others—so let’s start NOW.

If that’s you, join us. We are so excited to work with you!