Let’s Talk About The C Word 

Nope, not that C word. 

Get your mind out of the gutter. 

I’m talking about the word that so many women don’t give to themselves enough, the word that is so important for taking care of yourself. 

Compassion. 


I can’t even count the amount of times that I hear women refer to themselves with strong, negative language such as hate, ugly, fat, wobbly, and the list goes on and on. And it tends to get even worse right around and after the holidays, as we’re faced with the prospect of a new year and old goals that may not have been met. 

For those who are struggling to lose weight or who are just unhappy with how they look or feel, the seemingly endless temptations between Thanksgiving and New Years can seem like torture, like constant reminders that they still have a long way to go. 

Then add in the pressure of resolutions, declarations of change, and pressures put on us by ourselves and society, and we’ve got a perfect storm of body insecurity. The key here is not to simply stop making goals or seclude ourselves from popular culture, but instead to treat our bodies and our minds with compassion. To realize all of the wonderful and difficult things we do each day, to acknowledge all of the hard work we’ve put in to get where we are, even if it’s not where we want to be.

 Compassion for our jiggly arms, soft stomach, and cellulite thighs. Compassion for our seemingly inability to work out as many days each week as we plan to. Compassion for our wandering, competitive minds who compare us to every other woman we see in the gym, in the store, on the train. 
These things are reality. Most of us will never be super model thin or fitness model lean. We will not have perfect arms or legs or butts or thighs. We will have arms that hold our babies, legs that carry us through life, and abs that have been formed through years of laughter. We accomplish beautiful things every single day, yet the hateful language continues despite these successes. 

Show your body some compassion and acceptance for what it does, not hatred  for what it doesn’t do or for what it doesn’t have. Are you hating your post baby body? Cut yourself a little bit of slack and think about what your body has done for you. You grew a human, and then put your body through trauma to get that human out, no matter how smoothly the birth went. Trauma needs time to heal, and more than time, it needs compassion and care. 

Beating your exhausted body up with workouts every day isn’t the answer; a traumatized body will not be beaten back into submission, trust me. You’ll just end up injured and even more frustrated than before. 

And this goes for returning from an injury or picking back up after life stresses. 

Acknowledge what your body has been through, get in some healthy, restorative movement as often as possible, and build gradually. Fitness after a life change or stressful time isn’t about getting back to “normal” as quickly as possible, it’s about nurturing yourself to allow for gradual, healthy change. 

On the other hand, some people just feel like they’ve been doing everything right for so long and are just not seeing the results they want. Why bother with the hard stuff if you still hate what you see in the mirror? Because results take time, the process is slow, and there is so much value in acknowledging the process as you go along. It can be hard to remember when you’re in the thick of it, but major change does not happen all at once. It is created through a series of tiny, minuscule steps and victories along the way. 

Showing yourself compassion and recognizing these baby steps is the key to not driving yourself absolutely insane when results seem so far away. I often recommend that people set a reflection time once per week to stop and think about these small steps and accomplishments. Write them down where you can reference them each week. And over time, you’ll start to see those building blocks add up to bigger successes. 

Ignoring these small steps in lieu of wanting bigger results is akin to wanting fresh baked cookies but getting angry when you realize that you have to follow a recipe first, step by step. You can’t get the end product without all of the small steps in between, and the small steps are what matter in the long run. Speed through that recipe and forget the baking Sosa or salt, and you’ll end up with some pretty unformed  and bland cookies just because you couldn’t take the time to complete the small, necessary steps to getting quality cookies. Now you’ve wasted your time and you have nothing to show for it. 

Ok ok, enough about cookies, but do you see my point? 

It doesn’t matter if you lose 20 lb if you beat yourself up constantly to get there. That end game will leave you tired, frustrated, and wondering why you don’t feel better even though you reached a goal. If you start out from a place of hate, how do you expect that to turn into happiness and acceptance just because the scale reads a certain number? Hating your body every time you look in the mirror does not just go away once the scale hits the number that you want. If that’s how you’ve conditioned your brain to think, it will continue, and the goals met will never be enough– it’s a vicious cycle. Practicing your compassion, acknowledging the small successes along the way, and recognizing positive things about yourself will help you to appreciate yourself, even if goals are not quite met or change over time. 

We are not numbers on a scale, we are not the size of our jeans or the presence (or not) of fat; we are so much more than that. But the beautiful things that we are are often overshadowed by the things that we’re not, especially when it comes to size and shape. Show yourself compassion. Recognize and celebrate the small steps, the challenges that you face every day, and the magnificent ways that you navigate through this crazy thing called life. Because it’s not easy, none of this is, and that’s why the little things deserve celebrating, and you deserve compassion from the person who is least likely to give it to you: yourself. 

Change the conversation 

For those of you who have daughters, they are listening. 

If you don’t have a daughter, but you spend any amount of time around young girls, they are listening. 

Whether she’s 10 hours old, 10 weeks old, or 10 years old, she’s listening. And it’s time to change the conversation. 


My daughter Isabelle is almost 3 months old. She doesn’t talk yet, of course, but she listens to me talk all day long. She’s picking up language and building connections in her brain, connections that will someday allow her to not only understand what I’m saying, but to speak words herself. And I want to make sure that the words that she’s understanding, and the connections she is making, have nothing to do with my self worth due to the way my body looks. 

The other day, we were in the kitchen, and I was chatting away like always. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in!” I smiled at her. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in so that I don’t get f…..” 

I looked at her looking at me, and stopped my sentence short. Of course the F word I was about to say, I’m embarrassed to admit, was “fat”. After all that I preach about working for health and energy for yourself– I was about to reduce that all to that one demeaning word. 

No, she can’t really understand yet what “fat” means. She can’t say the word, or tell me what it means. But she’s listening. 

In that moment I realized that my responsibility in that conversation is so much bigger than how I feel on any given day. It’s so much bigger than anything to do with me, because how I finish that sentence over time could determine how she feels about herself for the rest of her life. I make a point to tell her daily how strong she is. How smart she is. How brave and successful she’ll be some day. Yes, I also tell her she’s cute and pretty, but those are not the focus of my time with her. But how often do I speak about myself that way to her? It can’t be “mama needs to workout because she doesn’t want to get fat”. It needs to be “mama wants to workout because it makes her feel strong”. “Mama gets to exercise and it makes her feel powerful”. 

We have to change the conversation, and it starts with how we speak to ourselves. 

My body is not the same after having Isabelle, and it might not be for quite some time.  My weight is exactly where it used to be, but everything else isn’t. My body shape and composition has changed, and there are days that I struggle with how much work it will take to build my strength back up. 

But I can’t put that on her. She’s listening. 

She’s listening to every mention of the word fat, to every mumble about my glutes disappearing. She’s watching every time I look at my belly in the mirror or give my thighs a little squeeze. Those things might mean nothing to her now, but over time they will. And the last thing I want is to someday walk in on her giving her own thighs a disappointing squeeze, or offering up a sharp criticism of her abs. 

We are so much more than that. We are so much more than hips or bellies or cellulite. We are strong, independent, brave, powerful, intelligent, and kind. We are generous, thoughtful, inquisitive, and honest. All of these things are what I want Isabelle to strive for–  not how much fat she can pinch between her fingers. It’s up to me (us) to change this conversation and to take our bodies out of it completely. 

Because we are so much more than that. 

And they are listening. 

Don’t Fall For These Holiday Health Scams

Oh, the holidays. 

The 6 weeks out of the year between Thanksgiving and New Years when health and fitness scams are at an all time high. 

Ate too many Christmas cookies? Lose all the weight and 10 lb more by following this diet! 

Went a little too wild at one too many holiday parties? Detox with this magical tonic and lose 20 lb! Oh, you don’t need to lose 20 lb? YES YOU DO. 

Too much pie and not enough exercise? Just follow my 1000 burpees-a-day plan and you’ll be shredded in no time! 

Exaggeration, yes. But unfortunately, none of these are that far off on what people will try to sell you around this time. So today, we’re talking about those health lies and fitness scams, and how to spot them. 


The first, and most obvious rule is this: 

If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. 

Even though that’s a rule that most of us follow in our daily lives, when it comes to health and fitness, many people have a tendency to buy into hype and promises, no matter how far fetched a plan may seem. I think it’s just because we all want to believe that there’s an easy way out there. But trust me, if there was a magic pill, diet, or shake, it wouldn’t be a secret. 

Remember The Cookie Diet? Bingo. 

If they claim extraordinary results with minimal effort, it’s too good to be true. Likewise, if they promise something that makes you think “why doesn’t everyone use this if it works so well?”, it’s too good to be true. And if it comes in pill or powder form, you guessed it, it’s too good to be true.

Other red flags for health scams:

Specific results promised within a specific time frame. 

The truth is, every human body is different and responds differently to fat loss techniques. What works for your best friend may not work for you and vice versa. Just because Joe Schmoe got X results with Y strategy, you are in no way guaranteed the same results. In fact, I can almost guarantee you won’t get the same results.

So any plan or trainer that tells you that if you follow these rules for a specified amount of time, you’ll see these specific results? Yeah, they’re lying. 

Lose 10 lb in 2 weeks with this special diet! This, my friends, is a scam. Run away, and run away fast. 

You must do THIS exact thing to see results.  

Along those same lines, any trainer who tells you that you have to work out at a certain time of day, or eat a specific breakfast every day, or do one particular exercise in order to reach your goals is not worth your time or precious money. There is no one size fits all option when it comes to health and fitness, and if your trainer treats you exactly the same as every other client they have, you’re getting a raw deal. Health and fitness, and especially fat loss, cannot be cookie cutter from person to person. 

A magic pill, shake, supplement, etc without changing anything else in your life. 

Again, there is no magic. If you’re told that you can reach your body goals by taking a pill or mixing up some powder every morning, and that you don’t have to change anything else about your life, don’t even give it a second thought. It does not work, I promise. Even if it’s backed by your favorite celebrity or fitness guru, it Does. Not. Work. Fat loss and body change is hard work, and it’s an all encompassing project. Fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, environment– it all plays a role. And anyone who tells you different, will also probably try to sell you on my next red flag… 

Using the phrase long and lean. 

Want to spot a fitness con artist in one second? Look for someone who promises that their workout plan will make your muscles long and lean. This is impossible, yet it’s a goal sought after by many. You cannot make your muscles (or your arms, legs, or torso) longer. You cannot buy yourself the body of a ballet dancer if you’re not genetically built like one already. This is one of the oldest fitness scams in the book, but unfortunately many women still fall into the long and lean trap. Can we let this one go in 2017, please? 

Detox

The word alone makes me twitch. Anyone who tells you that you need their product to help your body detox from all of the sinful torture you’ve put it through is flat out lying to you. Human bodies have evolved to have a masterful detoxification system– it’s called your liver. You do not need to starve and survive on juice for 3 days in order to take advantage of this wonderful organ of yours, it does its job quite well on its own! Imagine that. To put it quite simply, I’m pretty sure the phrase “juice cleanse” is one of the biggest assaults against the true health and fitness industry. Don’t waste your time, money, or sanity, especially not in the name of health. 

So with all of these scams and lies out there, how can you reach your body and health goals? Good old fashioned hard work. It’s not catchy, it’s not sexy, and there’s certainly not anything to trademark. But there are real life results that you can’t get from a pill or powder. It’s hard, and it takes time, but you can do it. The right way. 

Calling All Moms: Facebook Community

Let’s face it: momming is hard.

And it’s not just hard because you’re caring for tiny humans, it’s hard because while caring for those tiny humans, we often forget or don’t have time to take care of ourselves.

Pregnancy can leave you with changes to your body that you never expected, and the postpartum period can leave you feeling out of sorts, and worried that you’ll never be the same again. And the thing is, maybe you won’t! But that’s not meant to discourage you– your body went through something incredibly difficult, and may not go back to the exact shape or size it was before pregnancy.

But, and this is a big, big but:

That is okay! We’re not meant to go back, we’re meant to move forward. And if forward means different, all you can do now is do your best to get to where you want to be for yourself.

Another truth about mommyhood though, is that it can be pretty isolating at times, am I right? So what we all need at some point is a community. A tribe, a village, whatever you want to call it, we moms need to be there for eachother. We need to lift eachother up when we’re having a rough time, and we need to provide eachother with the support needed not only to take care of our littles, but ourselves as well.

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This is why I’ve started I Train Therefore I Eat:Mommy Style, a Facebook group that is meant to be a supportive community for moms and moms to be who might need a little help on their health and fitness journey. We can take care of the little ones better if we’re doing well ourselves, and this is a place to help you do just that!

Motivation, support, challenges, wins, fails– we’ll discuss it all. We’re all going through the same things, and whether your baby is 6 weeks old or 6 years old, it doesn’t get any easier to do it on your own!

So please, join us and help build a community where we can be strong together, supportive of one another, and we can all get back to feeling our best one small step at a time. Click on the link above, search the group on Facebook, or click here to join.

See you there!

Top Two Tips For A Guilt Free Thanksgiving

So here we are again, huh? 

The Holidays. 

The dreaded food-everywhere-sugar-frenzy-packed-schedule holiday season. Also known as the guiltiest time of the year. 

From pie to cookies, to stuffing and green bean casserole, the upcoming six weeks can be a nightmare of temptation for dieters, riddled with guilt and “shouldn’t”. 

If you ask me though, the holidays are already packed with too much other stuff to be filled with guilt too. With all of the parties, get togethers, family time, gift shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, etc, how does anyone even have time to feel guilty? So here’s a thought: just don’t. 

My top two tips for a guilt free Thanksgiving? 

1. Eat what you really want. 

2. Don’t feel guilty. 

I know, it sounds like I’m being a jerk, because we all know it’s not that easy. And you’re right– it’s not always easy! But making a conscious decision to enjoy the food choices you make, eating them mindfully, and letting yourself actually enjoy them will go a long way towards your holiday sanity. 

What do I mean when I say to eat that pie or stuffing mindfully? It really comes down to 3 things: 

1. Note the flavors, textures, etc. The reasons that you love this food are exactly what you should focus on. 

2. Acknowledge the emotional or mental component. Does this apple pie have a nostalgic pull for you because you used to make it with your grandmother when you were young? That’s ok. Food is often connected to memories both good and bad, and I think it’s important to acknowledge and embrace this rather than shut it out. Whether we like it or not, food has an emotional sider that can add to your enjoyment of it, but it can also take that enjoyment away. Make sure that this food does the former, honor that feeling, so that suppressing it doesn’t lead to over indulging or binging later on. 

3. Make sure every bite still tastes good. You know when you eat too much of a good thing and it just doesn’t taste as good after a while? Even your favorite foods can fall victim to this tastebud paralasys as I like to call it. Stop before you get to that point– what’s the point in eating something if you’re not going to enjoy it? At first, this will take practice. But over time, you’ll begin to recognize this point without even thinking about it. 

And what about this not feeling guilty? How are we supposed to do that after all of the goodies that we come across at each and every holiday event? 

This one also takes practice. It takes patience and self love, and careful thoughtfulness when it comes to the three steps listed above. It’s ok if you eat pie and cookies…and stuffing and candied yams…and a second helping of mashed potatoes. Even if you do go a little bit overboard (let’s face it, most of us will), it’s one day. One meal. One tiny percentage of your time when your focus should be on family and love and laughter, not on the calories on your plate.

The food you eat on one day will not completely derail you from your goals. If you are trying to reach certain body goals though, be aware that going all out for the entire holiday season will probably set you back a bit. If you’re ok with that, own it, and drop the guilt. If you’re not, pick the times/parties/foods that you will indulge with, do so mindfully, and free up some brain space for creating new amazing memories with your family and friends– not calorie guilt. The bottom line is that this time of year doesn’t have to be stressful when it comes to food. This is just another day, another week, another month on your journey. You’ve got this! 

Repeat after me: There is no room for guilt at the Thanksgiving table. 

Especially this year– the political turmoil will take up enough space as it is. And after that awkward family argument, you’re gonna need that pie. Just enjoy it, ok? 

C-Section Recovery: Postpartum Fitness 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I ended up having an emergency cesarean with Isabelle. And unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t read anything about cesarean recovery ahead of time. I spent so much time preparing for everything else– but a c-section? Complications? Those things only happened to other people, right?

Wrong. The truth is, when it comes to labor and delivery, you never know what is going to happen, no matter how much you plan. And as I found out quickly, recovery after surgery was no walk in the park. Everything hurt, everything was swollen, and it seemed like nothing worked quite right.

The first time the nurse tried to get me up to walk a few steps in my room? Let’s just say my body wasn’t having it. But now, at 6 weeks post op, I’m feeling great, I’m active, and things are mostly back to (fairly) normal. So how did I get from point A to point B?

Week One:

This was the tough part. This was the part where I was counting steps until I had too much pain, I needed help with the most basic movements/tasks, and just changing position in bed was a significant challenge. Add in caring for and getting to know my new daughter, and things were a little bit difficult.  It was during these days where fitness was the last thing on my mind, and all I needed to know was when the nurse was coming with my next dose of Motrin.

By about 3-4 days out though, while I still couldn’t walk much farther than the bathroom, I did want to use my muscles as much as I could. Lying in bed all day drives me nuts, even if it’s necessary! At this time I started doing basic movements like standing calf raises, standing leg raises (I’m talking inches off the ground here), and isometric contractions of my lower body muscle groups while in bed.

We were in the hospital for 5 days, so lying in bed for that length of time was out of the question. Never mind the fact that it’s better for you to move around as tolerated after a c-section– it helps with healing and comfort, which is important when you now have a little one to worry about! These small recovery exercises helped my sanity and my restless legs, and they helped me to feel like I was making progress, even if it was just baby steps.

Weeks Two-Three

A couple of days after we got home from the hospital, we went for our first family walk. And when I say walk, I mean a snails pace for about 200 yards before I had to turn back. I knew not to push too much too soon, but it felt so nice just to be outside and moving, I didn’t care how brief it was. Throughout that week, walks got gradually longer each day, depending on how I was feeling. The first time I attempted a hill near us, I made it about 1/4 of the way before realizing it was too much for that day and turning back.

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Each day I made it a little bit farther though, and was able to pick up my pace as well, slowing again if pain increased. I began adding in our neighborhood hills, and when Isabelle was two weeks old, we took her on our first family hike. Again — this was a short, slow, easy hike on a local trail– certainly not a real mountain, but it made me feel like I had accomplished something, and that was priceless at that point. Also, getting out into nature was good not only for me, but for Isabelle too!

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Around week 3, I started adding in some very basic core rehab exercises, as well as body weight glute work. The point of this was not to work out, or break a sweat, or burn calories. The point of these exercises was simply to keep my muscles engaged and to start to re-train my core how to function after major surgery. These exercises at first included pelvic tilts, cat/cow stretches, glute bridges, and clam shells. All of these were done to pain tolerance, once or twice per day.

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Weeks Four – Five

Around this time I started adding in some more dedicated core and glute specific rehab exercises to my daily routine, as well as walking farther and faster. The rehab exercises would take just a few minutes daily, but I firmly believe that this has been helpful to my fairly quick recovery with only mild pain. Along with continuing the above exercises, I added in a resistance band for my glute bridges, single leg bridges, dead bugs, and mini single leg squats. This was in combination of daily walks and a short hike once or twice per week (wearing baby for all walks/hikes). My daily walks were anywhere from 2-4 miles at this point, including plenty of hills on days when I felt good.

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Around 4 weeks I noticed that I really didn’t have pain anymore at my incision site, save for a few specific movements or forceful movements like an unexpected sneeze (seriously– sneezing/coughing/laughing after a cesarean is no joke!). So I pushed my walks as much as I could, walking hill repeats some days, and upping the mileage. By 5 weeks, I was walking 3-5 miles daily.

Present

At this point, I’m far from the types of workouts I would love to be doing. I am just getting back into a structured workout routine– as structured as it can be with a new baby at home. Everything for now will be done at home with resistance bands, kettle bells,and other equipment that we have, and I’m unsure as of now when I’ll make it back to an actual gym. I am looking forward to the time when I can do some barbell work again, but I’m also fully aware that that might be a while!

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The movements and exercises that I will be focusing on in the near future will continue to be core and glute heavy. I have begun adding in weighted squats, RDLs, Turkish Get Ups, lunges, stair work, and some upper body work. Since I had been doing elevated push ups and upper body band work up until I delivered, my upper body hasn’t taken as much of a hit as I was worried about, so I’m not focusing on that quite as much at this time. My goals right now are not to get into killer shape, or to “get my body back”. My main goal is just to feel healthy and strong, and to build my way back into a program gradually. I am well aware that this will be a process and won’t be easy, but I’m ready for the challenge!

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One of the most important exercises for my core stability — the Turkish Get Up. I’m doing them with just body weight here, and will soon add in a light kettlebell. 

Not only do I want to start to build my strength base again, but I also want to be a good role model for my littlest lady. Even if she has no idea what I’m doing right now, or will never remember these days, the earlier I can provide her with a positive influence of strength and empowerment, the better. This is not all about me anymore, and I can only do my best to ensure that she grows up seeing her body in a positive light, not as something she has to fix.

Disclaimer: I was not cleared to work out until 6 weeks post op. I created the plan that I followed based on my medical and rehabilitation knowledge due to my line of work. I do not recommend that anyone else follow this or any other plan post op, until given direct and clear clearance by their physician.