If you have stumbled across this page, my guess is that you are probably a woman who is pregnant, planning to get pregnant, just had a baby, or are a veteran mom and you love fitness…am I right? ::wink::
My goal here is to build a community of women who not only love fitness (whether you are brand new on your journey or are a life long exerciser) but, who want to learn, share, and support each other on this roller coaster adventure called, parenting!
If you would like to be featured as one of our “Strong Mommas” or contribute an article as a guest blogger based on your personal experience please fill out our contact form. We would love for you to join our community!
October’s Ambassador of the Month is…..Jesse! Jesse is a busy mom of 3 boys! She’s an advocate for exercising during pregnancy and has a mission to educate moms on safe methods to remain fit and healthy not just during pregnancy but throughout motherhood. Her positive energy and supportive nature is exactly what we look for in an Ambassador!
We wanted to find out more about what makes this inspiring fit mom tick!
FMSM: What is your favorite exercise? Favorite body part to train?
Jesse: My favorite exercise landmine reverse lunges. I love being able to hit my legs (my favorite muscle group to train) all while engaging my core because of the offset loading.
FMSM: Favorite workout gear/clothes/brands?
Jesse:My favorite workout gear are resistance bands and my Garmin Vevoactive! I keep is simple with my workout clothes and I’m not big on brand names. I’m a Maxxinista so whatever cute workout outfits TJMAXX sells, I’m all over it!!
Jesse:My favorite go-to healthy meal is simple: chicken with Quinoa, veggies, and peach mango salsa. As far as snacks, oh man, where do I begin?! Haha. I LOVE Good n’ Plenties— those white and purple licorice candies. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lol
FMSM: What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome as a fit mom?
Jesse:The biggest challenge I have had to overcome is having to stretch myself like a rubber band to juggle it all. I want to do it all, but I can’t do it all. Having three busy boys while working, exercising, after school activities, and trying to keep my home semi-presentable, it’s hard to manage time. I have HAD to make it a point to keep everything on track. Simple things like making school lunches the night before, using a crockpot, picking school clothes out the night before, meal planning, and putting a weekly calendar up in my kitchen with that week’s plans, have helped me a lot!
FMSM: What is your next big fitness goal in the next year?
Jesse:Within the next year, I plan to train hard and qualify for Nationals again for triathlons. I love constantly competing with myself and striving to do better than the run, or the race, before. Fitness is a one-person competition. It doesn’t matter what the person next to you did. It’s YOUR PR that you need to beat.
Advice/Hot Topics FMSM:Some people still don’t understand why it’s ok for some women to continue to exercise at a high level more than other women during pregnancy – what do you have to say to those people and what do you have to say to the moms-to-be who want to keep exercising, but are getting push back from loved ones?
Jesse: Fitness and pregnancy is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. As moms in the fitness industry, we all know the importance of exercise during pregnancy. Not only for us, but for our unborn baby. We know that we don’t need to “eat for two”. We know that we only need an additional (about) 300 calories a day as we enter our second and third trimesters. Explaining the importance of exercise to those who don’t understand, or agree with you, can be an uphill battle. When I was pregnant with my boys, you wouldn’t believe the negative remarks I received for teaching cycle classes, running, and lifting. I just smiled, laughed it off to myself, and carried on. I was happy to listen to them when they asked me questions or made ridiculous remarks, but ultimately, I knew I was doing right by myself and my baby. I have three beautiful and HEALTHY boys to prove it.
The best suggestion I can give is first, find a doctor who is on the same page as you. Make sure he or she is aware with your intended exercise program and intensity. From there, talk to your spouse or family member, about exercising and pregnancy. Listen to their concerns, and address them. Once they understand, each day that push back will be less and less.
Your loved ones are the people you need to acknowledge and help educate–not those making snotty remarks in the gym. Trust me. For all those people who may think you are being “selfish” or “hurting the baby”, there are plenty others who are “high-fiving” and commending you.
FMSM: What advice do you have for newly postpartum moms who feel alone and without an identity, besides being “just mom”? What do you suggest they do to still have “me” time and pursue any goal.
Jesse: This is a topic near and dear to me. First of all, postpartum moms, you are not alone. You have just had a baby, you are overwhelmed, you’re trying to lose your baby weight, you feel like you are drowning. I have felt like that too. I guarantee we have ALL felt like that! Breathe. You aren’t drowning. You are beautiful and you are doing an amazing job. Motherhood is hard. It is hard because along with our new baby, we cannot lose sight of our lives before our baby. Our lives in which we actually liked our husbands, wore makeup, and showered. I recently wrote a blog post about this. I used the example of the air mask on an airplane. We all know when the flight attendant says, “Put your air mask on first before you help put it on the person next to you”. If you don’t have any oxygen, you’re not going to be able to help your child get his or her mask on. We cannot help others if we are not helping ourselves.
Yes, you are a mom, and a damn good mom, but you’re more than a mom. You’re a beautiful woman. A gym rat. A loving wife. Maybe a dancer? You like to read? Play an instrument? Don’t lose sight of who you once were. Of WHO YOU STILL ARE.🙂
This past August Fit Mom Strong Mom ran an Olympic contest during the Games and ended up with our own Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners! As part of their prize pack these awesome moms were awarded a feature on each of them to be posted here on fitmomstrongmom.com! Next up, Strong Momma Tera!
FMSM:What’s your favorite exercise? Favorite body part to train?
Tera:My favorite exercise is any type of cardio. I love getting my heart pumping. My favorite body part to train is my legs. I always feel so strong after leg day in the gym.
FMSM:Favorite workout gear/clothes/brands?
Tera:Most of my workout gear is for running and my favorite thing ever is my Glitter Skirts. They are so cute and sparkly and super fun to run in.
Tera: My favorite go-to healthy meal is brothy soups. I love a soup with a lot of vegetables and great tasting broth. My favorite dessert is Creme Brûlée. There is just something about the burned sugar that I just can’t get enough of.
It’s Tuesday night and I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with a group of other moms watching as our three and four year old daughters twist and tap their way through their very first dance class.
About six months ago in for a parent-teacher conference at my daughter’s daycare. (Let me reiterate that my daughter is now three, so at this point she was not yet three.) The woman who sat across from me was not more than 21 or 22, just having finished her degree in early childhood education, but who has not yet experienced having her own children. I like her alot, Ms. Ashley. She loves the children in her class. She is kind. She is friendly. She greets each child with eagerness and enthusiasm each morning.
Ashley began the conference walking me through how my daughter can recognize fourteen letters and seven numbers on the first try, and is spot on with her colors and shapes. I wasn’t sure if I should be concerned about her letter and number recognition ability. It hadn’t occurred to me that this was something the daycare was actually tracking or that I should be tracking. Ashley must have mistaken my pause in response as worry, and quickly assured my that my daughter was performing perfectly well for her age.
But I hadn’t been concerned with that. All I was thinking was please tell me my daughter is not an asshole. All I really cared about, all I still care about, is making sure that she’s not going to grow up to be a mean girl, that I’m not raising somebody who’s going to grow up to care too much about her body or anybody else’s body. I never want her to see her body as something that can be the center of pride or ridicule. No. I want her to see her body as something that propels her through life.
Since starting to consider fitness and wellness as an integral component of my lifestyle and who I am rather than something I just “did” to stay fit, I’ve been more than determined to pass this lifestyle along to my children. I bring to them gym whenever I can. I have them help me make green smoothies for breakfast, sometimes even convincing them to take a sip. I rallied my gym owner to begin a Fit Kids class on Saturday mornings not only so that I can attend boot camp when I don’t have anyone to watch my kids but also so that I could introduced them to the place, the people, and the activity that I love so much.
So far, it’s working. They love the kids class. They like to help me load plates onto my bar when I’m practicing lifts. They cheer me on during competitions. They delight in swinging from the ropes and rings and generally just being at the gym much in the same way I generally just like being at the gym.
About a month ago, I was convinced to enroll my daughter in the dance class by another mother, whose older child played t-ball with my son. And because she was not one of those moms prone to brushing her child’s hair into a perfect bun or crowding by the window, sharing war stories of the long days at home with kids, bragging about whose nap was shorter or who had had to wrestle three kids through Target that morning, and because I wanted this woman to be my friend, I’d registered and paid the very day she mentioned it.
I did not dance as a child. Or do gymnastics (though now that I’m a crossfitter, I wish I had!), and I definitely wasn’t a cheerleader. No, I was the first girl on the soccer field. Like, literally one of the first females allowed in the rec league in the 80s. And I played lacrosse. And I was a swimmer. I was an athlete, not a dancer (yes, yes, I KNOW dancers are amazing athletes, but I am talking about childhood stereotypes here).
Even now, standing here on a Tuesday watching her move her tiny body as gracefully as might be expected of a three year old, even after having watched the Olympics with my daughter, both fixated on the strong, athletic gymnasts and dancers bounding across the screen, competing on behalf of our country, something inside me still gives pause to having a daughter in dance.
But I am trying. I am trying to reconcile the glitter and tights and everything nice when what I really want is for her to throw on a pair of workout pants and a tank and hit the barbell. OK, maybe not the barbell. She is only three. And I want to see her on the field, playing with teammates, learning valuable life lessons about what it means to be part of a team working to achieve a single goal. What it means to be teammates and friends with the girls you play with.
I gently shift from foot to foot as I watch the girls circle the instructor and move into a single-file line. The only boy in the class, I think his name is Thomas, grabs my daughter by the waist instead of the shoulders. He’s only three, but I feel my body tense and snap my gaze to the instructor to see if she has noticed and will address the inappropriate touch. My gaze is quickly drawn back to my daughter though, who has spun around and pushed the little boy’s hands off her waist. I can not hear her words, but I can see her confidence. I watch as she takes his hand and places it on her shoulder, sure of herself and sure of the fact that he will follow her lead. And he does.
Around me on the floor, older dancers are slipping on ballet shoes preparing for their class to begin. Two sit closely beside one another, sharing a bag of grapes and Cheese-It crackers. I want to lean over and tell them not to eat the crackers, that they are garbage, but instead I eavesdrop on their conversation. They discuss math class, mostly. And who has already been asked to homecoming. They giggle. But they also talk about their dance and an upcoming competition. They discuss specific movements. They are just as any two friends, two teammates, might be preparing for a practice or game, staving off the jitters or adrenaline with intimate banter. They are exactly who I was as a girl growing up athletic. Exactly who I want my daughter to be, though perhaps minus the Cheese-Its.
This past August Fit Mom Strong Mom ran an Olympic contest during the Games and ended up with our own Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners! As part of their prize pack these awesome moms were awarded a feature on each of them to be posted here on fitmomstrongmom.com! Next up, Strong Momma Sara!
FMSM: What’s your favorite exercise? Favorite body part to train?
Sara: After trying many different things for working out – I must say that my absolute love is Crossfit. I have never enjoyed working out this much ever and I can’t imagine ever finding something else so fulfilling on so many levels. When I first started training my goal was to work on my arms. I definitely still enjoy seeing more definition – I must say I thoroughly enjoy working on my legs. Tis the season for dresses!
FMSM:Favorite workout gear/clothes/brands?
Sara:I will generally wear any tank top. As my husband says – I love wearing something with an inspirational saying (like my “strong is the new skinny” tank). I swear by Victoria Secret leggings & capris. As a mom, I prefer something that doesn’t move and has a high waist and these are absolutely fantastic. For my shoes, I wear Reebok Nanos 5. I have the American flag ones – they make me full very patriotic.
Sara: My husband and I are strict meal preppers so lunch and breakfast are ALWAYS the same for us. It makes life super easy. I mix up dinner every single night which I think helps keep things fresh. Lately one of my favorite dinners is grilled chicken with tomatoes, avocados and topped with a balsamic glaze (always with zoodles). My favorite snack is apples & almond butter and I always have a Larabar with me. Those are my treats – I don’t eat refined sugar. I follow Whole30 guidelines for 99% of my eating.
WHAT HAS BEEN HOLDING YOU BACK FROM BECOMING THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF?
What is it that halts your commitment to your own well being, always finding excuses to skip your workouts or hit up the drive through/buy frozen dinners (high sodium alert) because of convenience?
Often times when we feel lost, we become stagnant. Instead of figuring out a way to change what isn’t working, we just keep complaining and ignoring the problem, making things worse and falling further and further down the rabbit hole. However, there will come a time when you suddenly FEEL the ignorance that you have bestowed upon yourself, having no choice but to change your habits and create better ones.
Here are some of the most common obstacles that we face when trying to start a FIT SPIRIT lifestyle!
Scheduling workouts and Lack of Energy
I want to address the amount of coffee you are consuming.
Coffee is an oxymoron of energy. It gives you a temporary jolt, before leaving you as a confused, dehydrated and cranky toddler on need of a nap.
The only cure? More coffee! And by the end of the day, your body is so drained and tired that a workout is that last thing on your mind.
Funny how all of that coffee has left you exhausted!
Your body needs water to thrive, and a cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine, but it should never become a substitute. Before your morning cup, have a glass of warm water with lemon to help wake up your system and flush out the toxins. You should never wake up and have coffee before rehydrating after a nights sleep. On some mornings, have a green tea or make fresh juice, which also gives your body a natural boost of energy that does not results in a crash!
Not a big fan of juicing? Try this GREENS BLEND for an easy, on the go, and just as healthy option! I have a glass every morning and I am addicted.
Now, what’s most important here is to create a schedule that allows you to have enough sleep so that you feel somewhat energized, can make good food choices, complete your daily responsibilities, and get in your daily sweat. I know that life can get crazy, but taking 20 minutes on Sunday to figure out your weekly schedule will help you stick to it.
Write it all down, see what lies ahead of you, and feel prepared to own it! This includes meal prepping or creating your weekly dinner menu to help lessen your load.
If you work late hours, you may not want to wake up at 5am to workout, or if your day starts at 4am, a nighttime routine may seem impossible. You’re tired, and it feels like there is not enough time in the day to workout, right? Well..here’s the thing, we all have the same hours in a day, and it’s how we decide to spend those hours that will make the difference.
You found the time to sit and read this post, right? Go do some jumping jacks!
Don’t have time to workout for an hour 6 days a week? No problem! This is why HIIT traning is so incredible! I have a ton of workouts that you can do at home or in the gym. You should not feel like a prisoner to your fitness routine. Find what works for you, and realize that this is your time to better yourself. You will feel amazing afterwards, and proud that you made the decision to commit. Your family will also notice the difference in your sudden calm demeanor.
it’s amazing what a little punching bag can do!
Lastly, I know that it’s easy to choose the couch over a workout, or an indulgent dinner after work with friends instead of cooking your own healthy meal, but when this starts to become more of a habit, it’s important to make progress your first priority.
Before I make any impulse decisions, I always like to ask myself, “How am I going to feel after this? I could skip my workout and watch my recorded shows, but will I feel better afterwards? Or, “If I share this giant plate of nachos, and bottle of wine, how will I feel physically tomorrow?”
Taking the time to think ahead is what nips those moments of weakness in the butt. Now this is not to say that you can’t have a social life, rest when your tired ( I love naps), or go out for ice cream with your husband. It’s about creating a lifestyle that allows you to make decisions that you are aware of, without feeling trapped in a constant hamster wheel of guilt.
Finding Motivation and a Place to Start
Whether you are a beginner, or just in a fitness rut, we all get to a point where we need a little extra motivation and boost. If you have been doing the same routine for a while, such as spin classes or treadmill runs, it’s time to change things up! If you are beginner, bring a friend for support or talk with a trainer who can help get you started. Also, don’t be afraid to try different workouts!
Love to dance? Try POUND, PILOXING, or ZUMBA.
Love to kickbox? Find a boxing center that puts you through drills and plyometrics.
Need to strength train? Take a body toning class such as BARRE, BODYPUMP, or any type of resistance class to build lean, strong muscles.
Can’t seem to wind down? YOGA and PILATES are an amazing way to align the mind and body.
A simple addition and shift to your routine can recharge your battery and bring the excitement back to your daily sweats. You will also figure out what you don’t like, which is just as important.
Allowing “Limitations” to Stop All Progress (injuries, emotional stress, time, lifestyle circumstances)
We all love excuses. Why is that? It’s as if we get to pull a sick card and not feel guilty about it.
Well, that may work for a while, until you start to see the repercussions such as muscle loss, decreased endurance and weight gain.
A sudden change may limit what we were previously capable of doing, but that does not mean we stop all together.
If you experience an injury, there are still ways around preventing weight gain and staying active. Remember that it’s 80% food, 20% fitness in regards to physique. Do not have an all or nothing attitude, completely giving up you lifestyle in place of sulking and feeling bad for yourself.
You are only limited by what you allow yourself to limited by.
If you have a hurt foot, boxing is a great way to still get in cardio, and a broken arm does not also mean broken legs. Walk on the treadmill, do lower body exercises, and stay moving!
New baby? At home workouts and daily walks are perfect for you! Or, find a studio/gym with a daycare that you are comfortable with. It’s easy to feel trapped when another life is suddenly running the show, but you must remember that you’re mental and physical health is still important.
Emotionally drained?…you can decide to change that at any moment. You are in charge of how you allow yourself to feel, even during the times it may not feel that way. Pull yourself away from what is causing you stress and immerse yourself in something that makes you feel better. Even just 30 minutes of peace in a bubble bath help you feel recharged.
Sometimes a peaceful bath trumps a workouts.
Money issues? There are endless amounts of free workouts, healthy recipes, and so much more right at your fingertips…literally, GOOGLE IT. You don’t have to spend money at a gym and on a huge grocery bill. This goes back to figuring out your schedule, your finances, YOUR situation, and taking control of it.
Choosing foods that make us feel better on the inside, and look better on the outside.
Read those labels! What is in your food, and what are you feeding your family? Get rid of the frozen dinners, processed foods, and sugary soft drinks. Get educated on what you are putting into your body!
I know you’re aware that vegetables are better than french fries, water with lemon is better than soda, and fruit is better than candy, but it is up to you to decide to put this information to use! I understand that life can get busy, so supplements also help if used along with a healthy diet.
Need more help? Find a nutritionist in your area to help get you started, and begin to google healthy recipes online! There are endless sites that give step by step instructions on how to create a delicious, healthy and satisfying meal for you and your family.
Remember that your mind believes the things that you tell it.
Imagine yourself as a small child making poor decisions. Would you look at little you and say, “You’re so fat! You’re so useless! You’re so weak!”? Then why speak that way to yourself now? That is not tough love, that is bullying you in your own home.
Instead of talking down to yourself, sit and figure out how to change what is making you feel this way. What choices are you making that have led you to this point? Then decide to make the change. You should never be the one to bully yourself. Be your own inspiration, no matter where you’re at.
*If you haven’t caught on yet, it all comes back to sitting down and meeting yourself where you are NOW in order to know your next move. Try my FIT SPIRIT MEDITATION to begin learning how to calm your mind, hear your thoughts, and see more clearly.
Guilty feelings stemming from kids, family, job stress.
The one thing you need to remember is that you cannot take care of your responsibilities if you are no longer here. Allowing feelings of guilt to control your life will leave you stressed, unhappy, and emotionally unstable.
It’s easy to become our role as mom, assistant, and caregiver, but that does not mean that you lose yourself in the process. You are not meant to do it all at once, and all on your own. It’s impossible. And what good are you if you’re constantly under stress?
Stop feeling guilty. You deserve time to yourself, which in turn, will benefit everyone around you. There is nothing wrong with saying “NO.”
This past August Fit Mom Strong Mom ran an Olympic contest during the Games and ended up with our own Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners! As part of their prize pack these awesome moms were awarded a feature on each of them to be posted here on fitmomstrongmom.com! First up, Strong Momma Danielle!
FMSM: What’s your favorite exercise? Favorite body part to train?
Danielle:I love burpees and any variation of them, I incorporate them into all the classes I teach somehow! My favorite body part to train is legs!
FMSM: Favorite workout gear/clothes/brands?
Danielle:I love Brooks running sneakers, ghosts to be exact. As for clothes, I like under armor & old navy! I love anything that has a good quote on it..one of my favorite shirts is from a couple that takes my HIIT class, it says “Last Set, Best Set” – they got it for me as a thank you for getting ready for their wedding!
Danielle:I’m all about spaghetti squash these days, I put chicken or ground turkey usually to make a chicken parm or lasagna. Love almonds & fro yo!
FMSM: What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome as a fit mom?
Danielle: Listening to my body when I’m exhausted! My first pregnancy my daughter wasn’t the best sleeper in the beginning, I got pretty run down and still tried to push through my same workout routines when I was cleared, plus work from home until my 12 week maternity leave was over. Don’t try to be a hero, listen to your body or else it’s going to resent you and shut down when you need it the most!
FMSM: What is your next big fitness goal in the next year?
Danielle:A Half marathon this Sunday! I’d love to beat my time from last year. Also, signing up for my first triathlon. I would like to accomplish more individualized fitness goals in the future. I’ll still do the team Tough Mudders & other obstacle course races, love those! I recently formed my own company Bridge The Gap Workouts, LLC so I guess you could say making sure it is a successful business is definitely a fitness goal of mine as well!
FMSM: Some ladies still run well into the 3rd trimester while others continue to do crossfit. What are your thoughts on staying active during pregnancy?
Danielle:Highly recommend it! I don’t know any other way! I stayed active with both of my pregnancies & had a problem-free pregnancy & “easy” labor and I truly believe that it’s because I kept up with my workout routine (with modifications when needed!) I do understand with some moms to be they are told to stop physical activity for health reasons, but those who are not, keep it up! You’ll thank yourself in the future.
FMSM: As a new mom of 2 what advice do you have for moms who want to get fit and exercise postpartum but are having a hard time finding time? How to balance life, exercise, work, and being a mom?
Danielle:Make it a priority! If you’re unhappy with yourself it is going to effect all other aspects of your life. Even if you break up a half hour workout into three 10 minutes sessions throughout the day, you’re doing something! Involve your children, my daughter, who is 3 now, is my biggest accountability buddy at home! We do squats, push-ups, burpees, etc. in the living room because she wants to. Also, having a good support system from my husband is huge! Thankfully my husband is into fitness and a healthy lifestyle just as much as I am, but not all couples are that way. If not, sit down with your other half and explain the importance of getting back to a place where you want to be physically!
What makes a Yoga Studio Real?? Hmmmmmm….What exactly does that mean?
I am not really sure why anyone who truly practices yoga or even if they don’t practice would ever say “It’s not a real studio”.
What does that mean?
SUKHA is located in St.Denis School in Manasquan, NJ and run through the Manasquan Recreation Program. The school was closed down in 2015 due to low attendance. The Recreation Program leases the building to run the programs in the gymnasium and two very large classrooms. One of the classrooms has been converted into a “Yoga Studio”. The business name is SUKHA. This is my business name; a legal business name, a real name. The size is perfect, it is relaxing, zen, quite, peaceful and no distractions. There are four walls, mats, blocks ,heat, Buddha, candles, music, TWO bathrooms, and people. Amazing, real, fun, people. Although to practice yoga, none of this is required. That’s the beauty of yoga. You can do it anywhere. Solo or not. And I encourage that!!
SUKHA and the Manasquan Recreation Program is making yoga affordable to the community. at a low drop-in rate of $10 per class. Does the affordable price mean it is not an authentic studio? Or is it because it is held in a classroom? I’m not sure. You tell me. So, of course I asked a few of my students, my friends, new friends that have been with me on this amazing journey. They practice with me 2-3 times a week.
So what makes a studio “real”?
“The people make it real. There is comradery instead of competition.” says one yogi friend who has practiced at other studios and feels comfortable in the “non-intimidating” setting at SUKHA.
Comradery:“The spirit of friendship and community in a group who keep each other upbeat despite the difficulty of their circumstances.”
“The space that yoga is practiced can be anywhere….outside in nature, a gym, a stage, a bedroom.” The space doesn’t matter because yoga is a physical and mental practice and a journey. “‘Real Yoga Studio’ is just an aesthetic phrase that confines it to four walls and a sign outside”– says a yogi friend/teacher in training.
“A peace of mind….an ability to quiet my mind. A balance of mind and body. It allows me to learn how to focus…separate things in my mind. To figure out if they are even worth worrying about. I can do this at SUKHA. Your classes and your personality have helped me find that. The other classes I have taken just feel like a ‘room to do yoga.’ Your classes have a warm, welcoming, and real feel. You make it personal.’ says another yogi/friend.
“I get so much from your dharma talks. Real, genuine. From your life’s experiences and ours. You get your students involved, you print us quotes, you are funny, caring, genuine and you make mistakes. You are human. You fall, you laugh and you get back up. You inspire without even realizing it. You can’t do crazy poses and you admit it. You sing, you dance, you cry (trying to hold it in). You let us be real. No judging. No competing. We are all growing together as we laugh our asses off, and that is the beauty of SUKHA and what makes it real.” –Yogi/Friend since the beginning
So with all of the responses from my yogi students (that I can honestly call each one my friends) to my simple question “What makes a yoga studio real”? I will say that the comment made “why don’t you practice in a “real studio” has baffled me. Who says that? In my opinion, not a true yogi or a very nice person. But I know that SUKHA is a place to practice yoga. A great space, through such a great program, in a great town, with amazing people. Come see for yourself. You won’t know for sure what is real until you come check it out.
You will be very surprised and maybe even put it on your list as a “real yoga studio”.
Below are 7 Habits to Actually Practice Off the Mat. I encourage everyone to read these even if you do not practice yoga.
Practice compassion and kindness – Knock off judgmental ways, put an end to the rumor mill and hush up on gossip. Don’t speak if it’s going to hurt. Say hello to a stranger. Let go of destructive thoughts. Practice gratitude – Don’t think about things that are missing in your life. Stop comparing yourself to friends or even strangers. You have family and love. You have time and health. You have yoga (in a real studio or not). Don’t relish in what you are lacking. Announce what you are grateful for. Practice contentment – Find joy in any experience no matter how big or small. Appreciate how far you have come in life. Practice humility – You’re no better than anyone who doesn’t practice yoga. Be inspired by people who come into your life. Practice generosity – Treat others as you treat yourself on the yoga mat. Give with your heart and spirit. Be present. No anger. No jealousy. No hate. Jealousy, anger and hate are UGLY. Practice slowing down – No rush. Your outside world is a reflection of your inner world. Reduce your commitments. Prioritize your life. Practice smiling -So easy to do. Try it first thing in the morning when you look in the mirror. It helps you feel good and it looks AMAZING!! It can brighten someones day.
This blog post is for us moms. This is a reminder that we need to put ourselves first. As you are reading this, I KNOW you are thinking I am selfish. I’m sure you are saying to yourself right now:
“Jesse, myself first? I have 3 kids (4 if you include my husband), breakfast that they complain about because it’s not candy, elementary school car line, preschool drop-off, endless laundry, a train wreck of a house, preschool pickup, lunch that they complain about because it’s not candy, homework, that damn dog, dinner that they complain about because it’s not candy, and bedtime.”
Bedtime. That’s a fun time. I like to refer to bedtime as Purgatory. This is the place where you are SO close to reprieve, yet very close to Hell. They still want 25 books read to them, endless trips BACK to the bathroom, water (hmm, maybe I’ll install a trough of water in their rooms….), songs (this is my chance to fulfil my dream of being a performer), acrobatics (this is where we jump from spot to spot on the floor to avoid the creeks so we don’t wake the baby), and finally cardio (you know, the THOUSAND times we have to run up and down the stairs to get them TO GO TO SLEEP). But I digress…
At the end of the day, we are exhausted. Our tank is depleted– only to be “refilled” the following morning with coffee. Lot’s of coffee.
Look, I get it. I am looking in a mirror as I type this. I have learned from my own mistakes. Let me encourage YOU to learn from my mistakes.
We are all moms trying our best to do right by our families, but how are we going to do right, be our best, do our best, if our tanks our empty? You’re saying, “I can’t put myself first. Let’s be real, I don’t even think I’m in the race! I feel like I’ve forfeited long ago”.
Well, lace up your shoes girlfriend, and get back in the race. Even if you’re dead last.
Here is an analogy for you. I’m sure we have all flown a time or two. If not, before the plane takes off, the flight attendant stands up and says, “In the case of an emergency, the air masks will fall from the ceiling. PUT YOUR AIR MASK ON FIRST BEFORE YOU HELP OTHERS”.
Put your air mask on first.
Put YOURSELF first.
Many people have written and spoke about the “air mask” analogy before. It’s a common and powerful analogy. The point is, we cannot help others if we are not helping ourselves first. If we do not have any oxygen, we are certainly not going to be able to help our child get oxygen. Scary.
Let me encourage you to put your air mask on first. We are all fit moms, so we KNOW the importance and the priority of exercise, but it runs deeper than that. For some of us, the gym, running, or taking a class is our only “me” time. This hour isn’t enough.
Put down the phone. Get off of Pinterest.
It’s OK that you didn’t make a 4 course dinner for your family from scratch– Trust me, your kids won’t eat it anyway.
It’s OK that you’ve restarted the dryer 3 times because you don’t feel like folding the clothes– You all still have plenty of clothing upstairs to wear.
It’s OK that you put cold pizza in your kids lunch today– he’s eating, and not complaining. Cold pizza one day won’t set him up for academic failure.
It’s OK that toys are scattered throughout the family room this morning– they are having fun playing and no one is crying.
It’s OK that you let your kids watch some TV Saturday morning– It felt good to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet for a little bit, didn’t it?
It’s NOT OK that we have neglected ourselves. Moms, it’s time to put ourselves first. Take the time to finish our cup of coffee on the first try (without having to reheat it in the microwave). Read that book we started 3 months ago. Watch that makeup tutorial and learn how to contour (haha yeah… I looked like a clown. And not a funny clown, but one of those serial killer clowns. But I digress again). Go on a date with our husband (trust me, he misses that too).
Once I fell into a groove with my routine with Hanley I got a little too excited about the fact that I could “do it all” as his mommy.
I stopped resting during his naps to get more things done.
I started watching more TV after he fell asleep at night, and I would watch until way past my bedtime (of 10pm).
I started skipping lunch and just picking on things throughout the day because I was “too busy” to make the time for a substantial, nutritious lunch. With that I also started getting lazy with taking my supplements.
I began waking up in a fog, so groggy and begging Hanley to just cuddle and relax in bed. That was not happening, so my mornings were exhausting. I would force myself through workouts but would be miserable during them and pooped by the end. By the time the afternoon rolled around my energy would come back, but I would get a killer headache. I kept blaming it on the weather or seasonal allergies. Even after neti-ing I would have little relief. My cravings became obscure and unlike my usual ones. I was dying for sweets, cakes and cookies all day long. I wasn’t feeling like myself and by the end of each day I was super cranky and taking it out on Hanley (not fair).
I finally took a step back and realized that my body was speaking to me each day through the symptoms that I was suffering with. A concept that I constantly bring to the attention of my clients (need to take my own advice!). Exhaustion, headaches and sweet cravings aren’t just the norm. My body was trying to get my attention and I was ignoring it, pushing through my day making excuses as to why I was feeling so crappy instead of making a change. So, I had to have an honest heart to heart with myself and come up with a plan to address what my body was truly asking for.
Taking care of ME allows me to be the best I can for my little man.
I began resting while Hanley napped again. Sometimes it’s just for a quick power nap and then I wake up and get things done, other times it’s until he wakes up. Whatever I need, I allow my body the time for rest.
I decided to commit back to my beloved bedtime of 10pm. Even though there are tons of really great shows on right now (hello Bloodline, Casual, OITNB), I need to chill from binge watching at night. This means that my bedtime routine needed to start earlier. I’ve been winding down at 9:30pm; playing soft music, diffusing a sleep oil blend, journaling, reading a book or magazine (instead of my phone or tablet). Some nights I’ll listen to a guided meditation to help me drift off to sleep.
Healthy eating is always my priority but I wasn’t putting the time into prepping enough meals for myself. Even though I was snacking on somewhat healthy things throughout the day they weren’t full, substantial meals. Just bringing a bit more thought and effort into having my own meals ready when needed fixed skipping meals right away. Now there is always something healthy to eat in my fridge for when I need nourishment.
A simple reminder on my phone buzzes each day so that I remember to take my supplements. I’m a big believer in getting your vitamins and nutrients from food, but it’s just not practical all the time. Especially for a breastfeeding mom, I need my supplements now more than ever. This is not an area I can slack on for the health of my body along with my son who I’m nourishing through my milk, so it felt great getting back on track.
Within a few days of making these changes my energy was back, my headaches were gone and my cravings weren’t as intense (sweet cravings can be from a lack of sleep). I am constantly amazed at how wise and receptive our bodies are to the way we live and how we nourish them. I encourage you to step back and have that honest heart to heart with yourself when you are suffering with symptoms. It’s not easy but it’s so important to listen and honestly figure out why you’re feeling the way you are. What are you doing or not doing each day to cause these symptoms? What are you eating or not eating? Are you hydrated? Are you rested? Are you communicating with those that you have relationships with? Are you working too much? Once you’ve addressed these basic questions, the challenge comes with making the changes in your lifestyle/diet to relieve your symptoms. If I can do it, so can you!
Fun fact about me: I’m really honest… It’s a fault sometimes, but it’s just how I’ve always been. My teacher in second grade even told my parents that I’m “not afraid to share my opinion.” So here it goes… Honesty that I needed to get off my chest…
I feel like I missed the “mom gene” if there is such a thing. My mom was a wonderful stay-at-home mom and she wanted to be… I grew up so fortunate to have a loving mom who wanted to be home with me and still when I had my daughter was ready to go back to work after 12 weeks. I am not super mushy with other people’s babies, never have been. I was not big on co-sleeping and she was in her crib, in her own room, by 6 weeks. I worked on “sleep training” and let her cry to sleep around 6 months I only nursed for less than two months, pumping to make it last a bit longer. I am just going to lay it out there… I didn’t like it… I didn’t like being at home 24 hours a day with an infant, I didn’t like the feel or act of nursing, I didn’t like that I didn’t have any time to do anything and felt like I was losing myself. Everything I just said makes me sound selfish and heartless and I’m sorry, but that’s the truth.
I know I struggled with postpartum, I had a less-than ideal pregnancy, a husband who seemed not ready for the life changes we now faced, and then a colicky baby. I was so tired and upset the first weeks she was home I honestly don’t remember them…complete blur. Those are not excuses and I obviously have some guilt about the way I feel or this post would never have been written. I do think there are other women like me out there who are just afraid to say anything…. especially with the over-sharing Facebook friends who are constantly posting about how happy they are staying at home with their wonderful children, how in love they are with everything and suggesting that everyone would stay at home if they could. That’s great, good for them, I would not be happy doing that. There does not need to be a battle about what is harder, what is better, what a mom who stays at home versus one that works is worth financially, etc … it is a personal choice and shouldn’t be a battle between women. We have enough to battle in life, why start a fight over something so personal?
I realize that in my present situation staying at home isn’t even an option, but I would have chosen to work anyway. Now I will say that my profession as a high school teacher is incredibly conducive to being a mom. I will be off the same breaks as her, be able to go to her sporting events, and do get to be with her every day in the summer. It’s almost like the best of both worlds! BUT I also make sure I have time for me…even during the school year. I don’t want this to take a negative tone…. I love my daughter. I don’t know if you truly know love until you have a child, biological or otherwise. I am not a particularly emotional person, but I get emotional when it comes to her and I am not even remotely kidding when I say I would do anything for her, or to help her succeed. I don’t even remember life before her and feel like something is missing the days I don’t have her. Every time I drop her off at daycare on the weekends she goes with her dad, when I leave work I cry all the way to the gym…I go to the gym particularly those days because it is my happy place.
I know that my choices mean in the precious hours I have in the day I spend most of them at work, so then to train for another hour is a sacrifice of time that could be spent with my child. Is it selfish? Maybe. But it also makes me happy, reduces my stress, and gives me the “me” time I really need. I know I could not be the mom that I am if I didn’t take the time to do something for myself. I want her to see me as someone positive in her life, who refused to settle and is a complete bad ass woman. Again, I know others will understand and some will think that this is the sacrifice I made when I became a mom…. I disagree. I think that I can do it all and I can do it well… I don’t need to be mediocre… I will be good at my job, be a good mom, and be a good athlete. Try and stop me.🙂