Welcome to Fit Mom Strong Mom!

11403051_383755275155443_189832472834459400_n 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!

Meet August’s Ambassador of the Month – Maribeth

Maribeth Aug AmbassadorMaribeth represents the fit 40 something crowd and has submitted some positive, motivating and refreshing posts valuable to our community! She frequently shares and reposts our posts and photos and is always inviting others to join our community! She has introduced Fit Mom Strong Mom to the yoga community and we have gained followers because of this! She’s a single mom who also owns/runs a yoga studio at the Jersey Shore. Her positive message and inspiring photos bring amazing content to FMSM!

We wanted to find out more about what makes this inspiring fit mom tick!

Favorites

FMSM: What’s your yoga to practice? Favorite yoga pose?FullSizeRender (53)
Maribeth: I practice Vinyasa. I love to be creative on and off my mat. Vinyasa allows me to be creative with my sequences when I am teaching. Hmmmmm. Favorite yoga pose??? I have a few. I would say I love balancing poses. Tree Pose, Warrior 3, Half Moon. Just to name a few. I have found I am very grounded and balanced on and off my mat. Being a single mom, you have to know how to juggle, multi task and be balanced. It becomes less challenging.

FMSM: Favorite workout gear/clothes/brands?
Maribeth: My favorite work out clothes. I would say anything that is comfortable. I have yoga pants from Marshalls, Athleta, Fabletics and Lulu Lemon. I am so grateful that my brother and his girlfriend give me gift cards on my birthday. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have any Lu Lu attire. It’s pretty expensive.( It does do wonders to your ass though!) I would say Athleta is my favorite. Athleta fits me perfectly. Their sports bras are the best. I am more of a comfort girl than the label. Most of my tanks are from Marshall’s. They have a great selection of tanks with great sayings on them and they cost anywhere from $9.99-$14.99.

FMSM: Favorite go-to healthy meal? Favorite treat/snack/dessert?
Maribeth: My favorite meal. I truly LOVE pasta. Not healthy, but I can’t help myself. I have been very good lately and been replacing it with zucchini spaghetti. It is fast, and you can make it with anything. My favorite snack is Pita Chips and hummus. Favorite treat is ice cream. Mint Chocolate Chip. I love food. I never deprive myself of anything. If I know i am going to make a pasta dinner, we will eat early. I try never to eat late. We try to go by the royalty rule “Eat breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper.” There are nights when we only have smoothies for dinner. It works.

FullSizeRender (45)Goals/Challenges

FMSM: What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome as a fit mom?
Maribeth: Losing a lot of weight!! I gained 80 pounds with both of my children. I could not believe it and many don’t until I show them the pictures. I think moms face challenges everyday as a fit mom. It never ends. We want to set a good example for our children. Eat healthy, exercise, keep the alcohol to a minimum. Our children look up to us. They listen to us. They eventually become us. Setting a good example is a must, but very challenging. I rarely keep alcohol in my house. I NEVER drink with my dinner or alone at night. I keep it for social events or holidays.

FMSM: What is your next big fitness goal in the next year?
Maribeth: My fitness goal for this next year is to get more cardio in. Since I teach so much, write, marketing and the business aspect, and then all of the mom responsibility, it has been tough to get the cardio in. It has been all yoga lately.

Advice/Hot Topics
FMSM: What are your thoughts on “Yoga Porn” on social media? Do you think these types of pages/accounts are more inspirational or discouraging to moms wanting to get into yoga?FullSizeRender (62)
Maribeth: This is a great question. And I have a few answers.  First – it depends on the page/account. I do find it very intimidating. Such accounts/studios that I have seen intimidating is the reason I came up with creating SUKHA as a “non-intimidating” yoga studio. Some of the photos can sometimes make me not want to practice yoga. We all have days like these. Scrolling through IG and Facebook and seeing hundreds of yogis doing crazy poses, contortionists like flows, that I would not be able to do EVER. Not at 45. My body does not work that way and it never will. Sometimes, I sit back and say “Am I not good enough to do this”?. I am more than good enough. Because that is not what yoga is about. It is not about putting your feet around your head. It is exercises/flow for mental and physical health that teaches a person to experience inner peace by controlling the body and the mind. There are many days, I keep scrolling or I don’t watch the video or I don’t go on at all. I am a good teacher. I have a lot to learn. That is the beauty of yoga. There is so much to learn. The poses. The philosophy. The teachings. My students/friends come to SUKHA because I am not intimidating. I do not do crazy things and I say it every day. If I learn a new arm balance, I post it because I am proud and I attached a motivational quote along with the photo.

My second answer to this question is: Yoga is beautiful. The poses are beautiful. Men and women look amazing in “certain yoga” poses. Why not post. It’s nature. Human Nature. If you are a business owner or teacher, I think pictures of “yoga porn” should be posted once in a while. It’s MARKETING. And social media is a marketing tool and every business should be on every form of it. I am. And I will continue to be. “Yoga Porn” pictures are like food; “all in moderation”. I post. For SUKHA. For my students. And for myself. I am proud of what I have done. I am not getting any younger, so I should do it now. 50 is around the corner. People will always make comments of selfies and “yoga porn”. Articles have been written that anyone who takes selfies or post pictures of themselves are NARCISSISTS. I disagree. I asked a few of my students their thoughts on my posts, Both men and women. They all said “Keep them coming”! “We love them”. ” They inspire us”. So I will continue to do so. It makes me feel good and it inspires my SUKHA family. If I posted videos of myself walking across a room on my hands or putting my foot around my head and in my mouth, I don’t believe I would a room full of wonderful people who have been dying to try yoga and finally after all of these years, made it on a mat. And I am proud to say that it is at SUKHA where they found comfort to practice.

FullSizeRender (66)FMSM: What advice do you have for moms who want to try yoga but might be intimidated? How to let go of self doubt, self criticism, comparison, and achieve self love and self acceptance though yoga?
Maribeth: My advice to anyone would be – Try Yoga!!!!! It has changed my life.Mentally and physically. I am a better person because of it. Don’t be intimidated. Focus on yourself. Don’t look at what Jane Smith is doing next to you. Every BODY is different. If social media posts freak you out; don’t look. It took me years to try it. You will love it.

If you think you think you have what it takes to Represent Fit Mom Strong Mom as an Ambassador click here and apply today!

Meet July’s Ambassador of the Month – Ashley

Ashley FMSM ShirtAshley has been a super active member of our community since day one of becoming an Ambassador! She has submitted some great posts, recipes, and videos as well as frequently tagging us in her posts and inviting others to join our community! She’s a full time working (newly married!) mom who also competes at an elite level in Crossfit. She really is a role model to her daughter and the moms of our community!

We wanted to find out more about what makes this inspiring fit mom tick!

Favorites

FMSM: What’s your favorite exercise? Favorite body part to train?
Ashley: My favorite exercise is CrossFit- specifically body weight movements- anything involving hand-stand pushups or hand stand walking, box jumps, pistols, etc. I don’t have a favorite part of my body to train- I like to be equally sore all over. 

FMSM: Favorite workout gear/clothes/brands?11043111_10205185730577023_7600116868746802501_n
Ashley: I pretty much only workout in Lululemon and a cheap tank top. Their speed shorts are my favorite with a free to be wild bra. Most of my shirts are just the tanks that were freebies in comps I have done.

FMSM: Favorite go-to healthy meal? Favorite treat/snack/dessert?
Ashley: My go-to meal is grilled chicken breast with mixed stir-fry veggies (asparagus, peppers, green beans, broccoli), white rice and a tablespoon of peanut butter with Sriracha and soy sauce… when you heat it up it becomes a spicy/salty delicious peanut sauce.

I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I love cheese as dessert! If I make a dessert it is probably a paleo mug cake with homemade ice cream.

Goals/Challenges
13415637_1107637582607943_8466231081131707845_oFMSM: What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome as a fit mom?
Ashley: My biggest challenge was trying to figure out how to balance my responsibilities (single parent/full-time job/athlete) and compete with/beat the girls I train with, who are in their early to mid-20s who train 2-4 hours a day, to a part of the gym’s CrossFit Games Regional team. I have guilt from working all day and then wanting to go to the gym for just an hour- aka more time away from my child. This is a huge internal complex I have that I am still trying to figure out. I am not ready to give up my dream to compete at a higher level (I made the team, but was named the alternate), but I don’t have the time to train like my friends- and my child is honestly more important… not to mention my job thrown in there too! 

FMSM: What is your next big fitness goal in the next year?
Ashley: My next big fitness goal is to maintain some level of fitness through a second pregnancy. I didn’t start CrossFit until after I have my daughter and hardly worked out through my pregnancy due to bed-rest restrictions. I would like to train as much as possible through this one and make a come back the following year.

Advice/Hot Topics

FMSM: What are your thoughts on “Fitspo” or “fitspiration” on social media? Do you think these types of pages/accounts are more inspirational or detrimental to moms hoping to get fit after babies?11242684_921831047855265_5914188837342567519_o
Ashley: I think that people are all inspired differently. Personally looking at someone in their 20s without children who works as a trainer and has far too much time in the day to take selfies is not inspiring to me, but if that inspires someone else I am ok with that. I think a lot of women spend way too much time comparing themselves to others and I would rather focus on myself and my goals. As soon as those accounts make you feel bad about yourself you need to “unfollow” or stop looking. We all carried our baby-weight differently and healthy looks different on everyone. My goals are fitness-related and not physical- however I look to achieve my goals, whether that’s “too muscular” for some people doesn’t bother me. Women as a whole need to support each other and have a positive attitude about themselves- I am sure everyone is doing the best they can.

FMSM: What advice do you have for moms who aspire to get back into fitness at a competitive level? How to balance life, training, work, and being a mom?
10636193_760322287339476_8429842987627773157_nAshley: First of all know that it is going to be hard- but you have a new drive now with your little people watching- I never want her to see me give up. I tell myself that children are not a restriction- just a challenge- and I like a good challenge. My advice would be to not compare yourself to the others you are training with. Focus on you. We have different strengths are weaknesses and focusing on them and what they lifted or did won’t help you reach your goals. Progress isn’t always fast, so take time and look at how far you have come. I only train 3-4 days, an hour at most, in the gym- but in that hour I work as hard as I can because I didn’t leave my child to half-ass a workout. Everyone’s balance will look different- when something becomes a priority you no longer make excuses– if that means getting up at 4:30am to get my squats in before work because I need to work on strength that’s what I do. Take the negative people out of your life and you will be surprised with those that are willing to help you- my daughter sometimes comes to the gym with me and others bring their kids so they play while the moms train. There will be good and bad weeks but stay consistent and you’ll get there. 

If you think you think you have what it takes to Represent Fit Mom Strong Mom as an Ambassador click here and apply today!

Running With Your Furry Best Friend

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Fitness Over 40 Team Blogger, Strong Momma Kristi

My dog can always keep me from a run. He looks at me with the big brown eyes and can convince me to stay home and cuddle instead of working out. Who can resist? But there are ways to let my fur baby run with me safely and enjoyably, it just takes a little time.

Not all dogs can or should run multiple miles, but with time and training, they can certainly put in a few with you. And its a win-win for me, since I also cannot resist slipping my little Nigel an extra treat or two, so he has a few extra pounds. Nigel is a mix of chihuahua and some kind of terrier so he is a tad bigger than your average chihuahua. With training he became used to the leash and no longer attempts to trip me to chase down squirrels or cats. It helps that I keep my eyes open for such distractions so I can signal to him to not even try it.Furry Best Friend

If your dog is new to running, you will need to train him to run so that it is safe and fun for you both. Here are some tips I suggest:

Always check with your vet first. He or she can give you quality, professional advice and guidance about the health of your own pet and how much exercise they can safely do. They can also advise you on any special diet they may need in conjunction with their exercise. If your dog is very young, they might advise you wait until the dog’s bones and joints can take the running. They can also advise you as to whether your breed of dog should be engaging in this vigorous exercise or not.

Get the important business out of the way first. While I do my stretching, Nigel does his business. I try to let him get this and all his play time out of the way first. This lessens the number of stops that could happen. It also seems to get all of his necessary sniffing out of the way.

Start slowly. Just like I could not run long distances when I first started, neither could my Nigel. Too much too soon can raise the risk of injuries to your dog. A routine of walking and running is a must in the beginning. This is the time also to teach your dog basic leash manners and the all important “leave it” command. I live in a rural area and there are snakes, foxes, deer, and such so that command is a must. They must also learn not to pull you, but to run with you. Don’t be discouraged that the first few weeks are more training than actual running; they will come along eventually.

Keep your dog healthy! Your dog cannot tell you when they are thirsty. Make sure you give them water breaks about every ten minutes. Depending on the weather and your dog’s need for water, you may be able to go longer. In the beginning, don’t be stingy with the water. And you don’t have to carry it. They make awesome, lightweight packs for dogs to carry their own supplies with. Utilize these! Also, don’t run your dog in the heat. I live in Florida, so this means early morning or very late evening runs are the only way Nigel gets to go along with me. In the “winter” we have here, he can go more often. Keep an eye on your furry friend at all times; if they get tired and or can’t catch their breath, STOP and seek shade and rest. And don’t forget their little feet. If you cannot stand on the running surface with bare feet because it’s too hot, then neither can your dog. If your dog will wear them, they make special booties for dogs paws. I see this a lot when running and wonder how in the world they trained their dog to wear these cute inventions. Mine just stands still with those on. Perhaps had I tried them when he was younger, it would be fine now.

Leash your loved one. It goes without saying that most public areas require leashes. I require a leash because the last thing I want is my dog to run after a squirrel, deer or dog or worse yet, into traffic. This is supposed to be fun for both of us after all, and there is no fun in chasing a dog or having one hit by a car. Better to always be safe than sorry.

No Photoshop Please! Five Steps to Body Acceptance

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Healthy Body Image Team Blogger, Strong Momma Heidi

“I don’t use photoshop.” The photographer swooped around from behind the chair she’d just positioned in front of the gray backdrop, what would be the first of three backdrops we’d use for this — my very first professional headshots.

“That’s OK,” I smiled as she directed me to the chair and arranged my shoulders back before moving into position for the first set of shots. I sucked in my gut as much as I dared, wary not to make it look like I was holding my breath. I knew if she captured anything more than my head and shoulders, that I’d have a muffin top for sure.

“Don’t worry,” she added, “I do touch up makeup up and such, just nothing drastic.”

That was good. I didn’t want drastic touch ups or anyone to photoshop my body, and I began kicking myself for starting my very first photoshoot in a real studio with the same negative body thoughts that I seem to start anything where I am even remotely the center of attention.

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Before Photo
Suck it in.

Don’t let the fat show.

You should have worn something different.

The first few proofs the photographer sent the following week are evidence of just how tense and uncomfortable I was in those first few minutes trying not to let my fat show. But as I clicked through the album of proofs, trying to decide which shots I liked best, I could see evidence of the very real, very intentional mental shift that I had during the shoot. But although I could see evidence of a mental shift over the course of a few frames of a camera, in reality, it’s taken years. And I’m still not fully there.

You see, we don’t just stop thinking negative thoughts about ourselves. We don’t automatically replace years of negative self talk about our bodies with a sudden sense of self-worth and self-love. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes intention and commitment. It takes effort. It takes accountability. It takes consistency. And it takes a community of other people helping to reshape the idea of what any of us should look like in a professional photo shoot anyway, especially for those of us in the fitness professions.

What all of this amounts to — patience, intention, commitment, effort, accountability, consistency, community — are the basic tenets of long-term behavior change. It’s easy to throw up an inspirational quote on Instagram about how all bodies are beautiful or how to think positive thoughts, but it something entirely different to actually live through that change in your own mind.

The key ingredient to achieving a more positive outlook on your body is to have self-efficacy, or belief in yourself, to do it. In other words, you need to believe that you can change your mindset to begin with, and you need to believe that you can come to a point where you perceive your body in a positive light. Unfortunately, a photograph on Instagram, an inspirational post on Facebook, a quick snap of someone’s (most likely photoshopped) washboard abs aren’t going to get your mind there. Only you can get your mind there.

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After Photo
The second, third, and fourth set of pictures in my headshot proofs were evidence of how I’ve increased my self-efficacy for positive body image. As the shoot went on, I made a decision that the experience would not be clouded by my poor perceptions of my body. I began to engage in real dialogue with the photographer. She put me at ease with jokes and with just the pure excitement I could tell she got for her own profession of helping other people to show their best selves. And she asked me questions about ReclaimFit and was genuinely interested in my responses and my mission, and as I spoke to her about my passions, my shoulders relaxed just a bit, my smile became more natural. And yes, a little bit of fat rolled over my high-waisted workout pants.

But I had fun. And I had fun because I’ve begun to shift my mind, to make that change to my negative self-talk behavior using these steps:

 

  1. Recognize the need to change, and believe you can change. You do need to make a decision to stop talking negatively to yourself. You need to decide that you want to be happier by not thinking negative thoughts about your body. And you need to believe that you can achieve that happiness by being positive to yourself.

 

  1. Learn to think about how you think. You need to be critical (not engage in criticism) about the basis of your negative perceptions and what the real consequences might be if you were to gain a little weight or aren’t a certain body fat perceentage or were to show a picture publically that has a little body fat in it. (Hint: There are none.)

 

  1. Prepare to change. Seek out other people who have positive body image. Inform yourself of the realities of fitness and nutrition. Decide what your own personal happy balance will be. Does it mean still drinking wine but otherwise eating clean? Does it mean you are happy working out three days a week? Only YOU can decide this.

 

  1. Engage in positive self-talk. Live it. Love it. Do it.

 

  1. Find a community that will support you in your efforts. Find people who are your cheerleaders. Support others in that community. For it’s through community that we are able to maintain consistency. Communities keep each other accountable.

Two years ago, I would have dismissed any photo proof that showed these rolls of fat. I would have been mortified that I’d even allowed my picture to be taken looking that way. But now that I see my body as something very real, a manifestation of my life and how I choose to live it — as an athlete and a mother and a business owner and a writer and a wine drinker and occasionally a cheese curd eater — I am most in love with the pictures that reveal that true self and the true body that comes along with it. And part of me maintaining my own mental shift toward positive body perception is to share my experiences with others, to build a community of like-minded people who also want to improve not only their physical selves but also their mental selves. I need to also be held accountable to the learning process for becoming strong physically and mentally.

 

“Having a baby changes everything”

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Postnatal/Postpartum Fitness Team Blogger, Strong Momma Rachael

“Having a baby changes everything” that’s what they all said when they found out I was pregnant.

“You’re never really ready for what it means” was what they said as I inched closer to my due date.

“Your marriage will never be the same” was what they said the day I gave birth.

And boy were they right!

Before babies there were parties to attend, bars to frequent, fancy dinners to be had.

Before babies there were new cars to drive, motorcycles to ride, sports cars to own.

Before babies there were early morning gym sessions, late night gym sessions, middle of the day gym sessions, long solo runs.

Before babies there were adventures to have, vacations to take, traveling to be done.

Before babies there were horror movies, rom-coms, thrillers and sit-coms.

Before babies there were late nights out followed by deep sleeps and lazy mornings in bed.

Before babies there was romance, date nights and romps in the hay.

Before Lucas there was a savings account, a spending account and a lazy day account.

And then there wasn’t … there wasn’t any of it.

Olivia-1

 

Lucas came into our lives first, a perfect 6 pound 13 oz bundled of joy on a gorgeous sunny morning in September 2013 followed by Olivia two and a half years later in April 2016 an angelic 7 pounds 2 ounces. We were elated, ecstatic; a little scared but madly and truly in love. We spent three days in the hospital basking in that “new family” bubble, talking about all the wonderful things that we had waiting for us when we got home.

Then we left the hospital, our own little family for the first time. No nurses to take them in the middle of the night, no extra hands to hold them or rock him when we wanted and needed sleep, no button to press when I needed more meds.

All of a sudden we were alone and reality set in. We settled into life as a family of three with Lucas and then again as a family of four when Olivia joined us. That’s when things began to change and quickly!

With babies there are kid’s birthday parties to attend, child-friendly restaurants to try, family dinners at home.

With babies there is a sports car that’s been sold, a motorcycle for sale and the never ending battle of which “mom car” to buy!

With babies there are at-home gym sessions, before the sun runs, mommy & me lifts but truthfully a lot of missed gym sessions.

With babies there are days spent at the park, long walks through neighborhoods, and hours spent swinging.

With babies there are alphabet books, nursery rhymes, made up fairy-tales, family sing-alongs.

With babies there are early bedtimes, restless nights and even earlier wake ups.

With babies there is still romance, a few date nights and less frequent rolls in the hay.

With babies there are college savings accounts, a daycare tuition account and a “we need diapers” account.

I guess in a way you can say having babies “ruined” our marriage. It ruined the marriage that was before and created something even more amazing. For something new to begin something else must end – we willingly and knowingly gave up our care-free, go with the flow existence for a life filled with planning ahead and worrying about what’s next.

Of course there are days where we long for that very care-free life we gave up, who wouldn’t love an exotic vacation, a new car or even being able to sleep in on weekends? But the truth is we wouldn’t change our life now for the world. Given a choice between the two, I’d choose the “ruined” marriage every single time.

 

Mommy Meditation

LaurenGroganPost Submitted by: Mind, Body, & Wellness Team Blogger, Strong Momma Lauren

 

I’m no expert at being a parent, I just thought of some affirming, relaxing things that I would like to hear as a mom and shared them with you here in this brief mommy meditation. I hope this chills other moms out for a moment or two during their busy day. Please click here to listen to my Mommy Meditation soundcloud.com/centeryourhealth/mommy-meditation

11 Tips for Exercising When Pregnant

 

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Postnatal/Postpartum Fitness Team Blogger, Strong Momma Rachael

It has officially been six weeks (well, technically eight) since my daughter was born. I’ve been given the green light to start exercising again and I’m ready (mostly) to get back at it!

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram or Facebook pages over the last few months you’ve probably noticed that while I was pregnant I was sharing a lot of pregnancy friendly exercise videos and fit tips.

During my first pregnancy (2013) I was very active and exercised right up until the end. Doing so made my labor and recovery so much easier! And quite frankly it kept me sane! But, back then one thing I noticed was that there weren’t a lot of resources out there in terms of what I should and shouldn’t be doing from a fitness standpoint. My OB/GYN basically told me that I could continue as I had been prior to as long as I paid attention to my body and didn’t push it too hard. While this was great info, I found myself wanting more!

When I became a certified personal trainer I knew that one of the things I really wanted to do was to further my background in pre & postnatal exercise. I now carry a sub-certification in such and so now, having gone through another fit and healthy pregnancy I thought I would pass along to you some of my favorite fit tips for exercising during pregnancy!

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Top Tips for Exercising When Pregnant

 

  • Check with your doctor or healthcare provider
  • Eat / Don’t Diet
  • Remember the Exercise No-No’s
  • Dress appropriately
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
  • Don’t push your limits
  • Make sure to warm up & cool down
  • Find a friend
  • Stay off your back
  • Don’t stop moving
  • Watch your temp
  1. If, like me, you were a regular exerciser before you got pregnant, typically it’s okay to continue working out as you were before with some slight modifications. However, as with any fitness level, it’s vital that you speak with your doctor or healthcare provider to make sure that your routine doesn’t put you (or your baby) at risk.
  1. When you exercise, you burn calories. But when you’re pregnant you gain weight as your baby grows. Depending on where you started, you’ll need to gain weight in varying amounts. Generally speaking, if your BMI (body mass index) was healthy (between 18.5-24.9) you need to take in roughly 300 additional calories per day on top of what you were previously eating. If, however you were either underweight or overweight this number can decrease or increase accordingly. As your pregnancy progresses, your doctor will obviously monitor your weight gain, as well as any activity level you may have. He or she will advise you regarding the actual number of additional calories you should aim for.
  1. There are certain things, fitness-wise you do not want to participate in during your pregnancy. Any activity that requires balance (skiing, horseback riding, figure skating) are off the table as are any contact sports such as boxing or wrestling. Regardless of whether you were doing these activities in the past your ligaments loosen up during pregnancy which makes you more susceptible to falls, trips and sprains which can be dangerous to both you and your baby.
  1. As with normal day-to-day pregnancy, while exercising you want to make sure you are wearing the appropriate clothing. Your internal temperature will fluctuate quite a bit over the next 9 months so dressing in layers is important especially when you’re working out. Do some research and find some great fitting maternity fitness clothing and a pair of sneakers that are comfortable and supportive, yet able to accommodate your growing and sometimes swelling feet. Don’t wear anything that is too tight or constricting. Wear loose fitting, breathable clothing that make moving easier. (I swore by FitBump and ForTwoFitness apparel during my pregnancy!)
  1. A non-pregnant woman should drink a minimum of 64oz of water a day just to stay properly hydrated. There aren’t any specific guidelines for pregnant woman however, it’s safe to say you should drink a minimum of 8oz roughly 30 minutes prior to exercise and then consume an additional 8oz every 20 minutes of exercise and ending with a final 8oz at the end of your workout. Dehydration during pregnancy can cause a rise in your body temperature that can be dangerous to you and your baby, and in addition it can cause contractions.
  1. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Know your limits; then Defy them” – now is not the time to push your limits. While pregnant you should be able to safely carry on a conversation while you’re working out. If you can’t do that, slow down until you can. The best tip is to listen to your body. If anything hurts then something isn’t right. You should feel like your body is working but not pushing it past its limits.
  1. Warming up and cooling down are more important than ever during pregnancy. You want to allow your muscles and joints to get prepared for exercise and slowly increase your heart rate (which you should also be monitoring). By skipping your warm-up you are putting your body at risk for intensified post workout aches and pains. Give yourself five to ten minutes at the end of each workout to do some stretching and let your heart rate slow back down to normal which enables you to re-regulate your core body temperature and lets the lactic acid leave the muscles and redistributes your blood throughout your body.
  1. Having a workout buddy goes a long way in keeping you motivated, especially on those days when you feel extra tired (which you will). Have set days and times that you will workout, write it on your schedule as if it’s an appointment so you don’t miss it. Use your friend as an accountability tool and have some fun!
  1. Lying flat on your back after the first trimester is a no-no.  By doing so, you put pressure on the vena cava (a major vein in the body) which can drastically reduce blood flow to your heart, brain and uterus which can make you dizzy and short of breath. If you typically do exercises lying on a bench, try putting it in a slightly inclined position so that you can still work those muscle groups without putting pressure on the vena cava.
  1. During a normal exercise routine staying in a single position for extended periods of time is fairly common (think standing bicep curls), but doing so while pregnant can minimize blood flow and cause pooling in your legs. Try super-sets, that require you to move between exercises/machines or even march in place while doing stationary moves.
  1. As mentioned above, your core temperature will fluctuate quite a bit over the course of your pregnancy. You want to be aware of this change and what it means for your body in order to continue to properly exercise. During pregnancy you want to keep your heart rate below 102, anything higher than that for extended periods of time (longer than 10 minutes) can be harmful to you and your baby. If you find yourself getting overheated, stop exercising, remove one of your layers (that you should be wearing) and seek out a cooler environment. And as always hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

 

Staying fit on vacation? Of course!!

kristi headshotPost submitted by:

Fitness over 40 Team Blogger, Strong Momma Kristi

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower 2015

When I retired at a young age in 2012, the first thing I thought of is when am I going to start my travels? I had started traveling a few years prior, when my daughter finished school and moved out. Once a year, I planned a trip with girlfriends and travelled abroad. But now that I was retired, that once a year thing was out the window.

About this same time, I really got back in to running and going to the gym daily. I loved both traveling and running; how was I going to make sure I got enough of both?

Take an orientation run.

When I settle into my hotel, or cruise ship (I LOVE European cruises), I unpack and head out. Running in a foreign city is the easiest way to get to know the layout. On the run I locate drug stores, ATM’s, grocery stores, major landmarks, etc. This makes it much easier for me to get around later. It is pretty easy to feel you will get lost, but carrying your phone with GPS and carrying a card with the hotel’s information on it will ease your mind. If you feel you are lost, either navigate back using the phone or hop in a cab. Don’t let the fear of getting lost keep you from this awesome first run.

When I am on a cruise, I unpack, and walk the entire ship from top to bottom (and don’t use the elevator, take all the stairs) to get my bearings. Then I head to the gym. While I love the cruise ship gym equipment, I can also find information on fitness classes and group runs they may schedule. The days spent at sea make me stir crazy and the group runs around the ship are something I really look forward to.

Don’t Uber

If at all humanly possible, I walk everywhere when I’m on vacation. My husband fondly recalls one trip to D.C. where I forced him to walk a marathon. Was it really 26 miles? I’m not sure, but it was close. It’s not my fault, everything there looks like it is within walking distance. Why take a cab or metro when you can kill two birds with one stone? Get my exercise in AND see all the sights!

Alaska 2010
Alaska 2010

When in Rome, I take a map, a bottle of water, good shoes and set out early to see everything. And know that you can eat gelato all day and still burn the calories! Win-win! Or in Paris, walk all day and climb the steps to Notre Dame and you can partake in crepes and wine with no guilt.

Stretch. Every day

Be it sitting on a plane, a car or standing in long lines, our muscles get stiff and sore just vacationing. I know, not fair, right? Take time each morning to stretch these travel worn muscles and they will thank you later. You don’t have to upload an hour long yoga routine to your iPad, (although I find these awesome!) but do yourself a favor and get down on the floor and stretch your legs, back, arms, abs and neck. Then reward yourself, not with a steaming hot cup of coffee but a big bottle of water. Have the coffee later but replenish your fluids now before you go sightseeing.

Strength training at a hotel? Be creative

Of course there is usually a small gym in most hotels where a treadmill, maybe a stationary bike and some weights can be found. Hey, if the fitness center is available, you may as well use it. If there is none available, you will need to be creative. I love TRX suspension training! I have a permanent hook in the ceiling of my home, but they also have a door anchor so that you can do the same exercises you normally would at home. The TRX system is easy to throw in a bag, pack in your luggage and take with you. Within 5 seconds of unpacking, you can be working out. It really is that simple. There are many videos online as well if you can’t put together a 20-30 minute workout on your own. I carry a TRX deck of cards; each card has a different exercise on it. Shuffle the deck and get to work!

Eat all you want to eat!

I totally have a different view about vacation eating than most of the “fitness” experts. I’ve deprived myself of yummy foods and experiences before. No more. I believe I was put on this planet for one lifetime. I will always advocate living each moment to the fullest. That means, for me, traveling to far flung places, running on strange city streets and enjoying the exotic and delicious foods each new city has to offer. I do not curtail my vacation eating; if I want wine, I drink wine. If I want a chocolate and banana crepe for breakfast, by all means, that is what I have. A huge bowl of pasta while in Italy? Of course. Paella in Barcelona? You bet, and give me some sangria with that! That is why I am vacationing after all; I can eat healthy when I return. I can lose the few pounds later, but when I’m on vacation, I EAT. All the foods. But I also don’t stop exercising while vacationing. You have one life, live it and enjoy it like there is no tomorrow!!

She Wants My Arms? Mind Blown.

IMG_0509 5x7 WEBPost Submitted by:

Healthy Body Image Team Blogger, Strong Momma Heidi

When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend named Jeff. In my teenage mind he was right for all the wrong reasons. He drove a red sports car. He was older. He was anti-establishment. He smoked cigarettes. Best of all, my parents hated him. Jeff did nothing for my social or emotional development, which is probably why I kept dating him as long as I did. Jeff also did very little for my body confidence and self-image. He worked out compulsively (yes, even though he smoked. It was the 90s!), and also compulsively reminded me of the areas of my body I could  “fix” with a little more effort in the gym.

 

My arms were a particular obsessions of his, and he had me doing tricep dips every time we chanced upon a picnic table, park bench, or even just the edge of his bed. If any of you have read The Fit Mom Project, you know that in high school I, too, was a bit obsessed with fitness and the concept of working myself to near collapse in the gym to look just a little bit thinner, to be just a little more popular. Jeff is not to blame for my poor self-perception, but he did contribute at least in part to my hyper awareness of, and distaste for, my arms and their tendency to accumulate body fat and stretch marks.

 

For many years, the saggy tricep was my biggest long-term fear. Not cancer, not losing my vision, not old age or dementia, but having saggy arms. I’ve been able to overcome this to some extent not only because I’ve started CrossFit and bootcamp and pay closer attention to my nutrition and am actually seeing some visible results in my arms, but also because I’m finally old enough to understand just how silly such a fear is. My kids won’t remember my cellulite, stretch marks, or sagging arms. They’ll remember me. Who I am as a person, how I treated them, and how I modeled a life worth living for them.

 

Still…

 

arms 2Every time I look at a picture of myself, my eye is drawn to the upper part of my torso, to how much of a bulge protrudes past my shoulder, to how fat my arms look. That is why I was so taken aback by a comment from another woman at the gym this morning. She is a boot camp enthusiast, and we ran into each other as I was exiting the locker room after the 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class and she was just arriving for a personal training session. We made small talk for a bit and then she mentioned that she’d been thinking of trying out CrossFit because the 5:30 a.m. class time was so much more convenient than the boot camp class time, but that she was, to date, too scared to try CrossFit. It intimidated her, she said.

 

I quickly launched into my usual response to this, reassuring her CrossFit is for everyone. I provided examples of how it was actually quite similar to the boot camp class she attended, how she could adjust and scale any workout, and how no coach would force her to use a barbell until she was absolutely ready.

 

When I finished my enthusiastic lecture she smiled, and said, “Well, maybe I’ll give it a try.”

And then she added the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever heard: “Besides, I really want arms like yours. I love your arms.”

 

I was so floored. I didn’t know what to say so I just laughed nervously and awkwardly said thank you and then walked away. It wasn’t until I was in my car driving home that I really processed the fact that what she had said was so sincere and so positively the best body compliment I’ve received since starting the ReclaimFit movement.

 

I also realized then that I really am completely unable to see parts of my body for how they really look. Called body dysmorphia, many women (and men!) become obsessed with what they perceive to be flaws that, to most other observers, are minor or nonexistent. This line of thinking is dangerous, and can lead to a serious disorder. The good news, though, is that as with other mental illnesses, it can be treated. And with time, we can learn to better perceive our bodies as they actually are. We can take feedback from those outside observers to help us reshape our self-perceptions.arms 1

 

So for now, at least for today, I will not hate my arms so much. I will not obsess over how my upper body looks in pictures. I will accept that someone out there, an outside observer, is perceiving my body differently from how I perceive. I will put myself in her shoes, and try my best to admire my arms just as much as she does.

 

My thoughts on getting your body back after a baby….

Post submitted by Strong Momma Ashley
A couple of things lately have made me think about writing this… one of them being a post by my sister, Mara, about the difference between being positive about your body type and people celebrating their self-destruction through morbid obesity. She said, “We’re not all going to look like fitness models and bodybuilders. But none of us should be okay with morbid obesity being acceptable/commonplace. Especially in our children, who are the product of our poor decisions.” And I couldn’t agree more. We are the example and a child who is already far to overweight is being set up for health problems and a future of struggles weight-wise. Here is a link to the article she was talking about.
The second thing that really pushed me to actually sit down and write this was my friend Erica- She writes a very honest blog about being a mother. Aside from great ideas for activities with your kids, she is very open about her body image and struggle with how she looks after children. Here is a link to her blog . You can also follow her on Facebook.🙂

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The final reason why I wrote this was because of my recent CrossFit competition. I had my shirt off during an event- something I do all the time and didn’t even think about… but when the pictures came out I was not proudly tagging myself like I usually am. I was embarrassed at what I saw. I didn’t have the rolls of a normal bent-over stomach- there were the very distinct shrivels… ew. It took me back to all my insecurities- it is hard for me (even to admit) that I don’t feel completely comfortable the way I look now… this is perpetuated by the fact that I am no longer with the father of my child and anyone with me in the future has to love this new me that I sometimes look at and don’t like. It has taken me a long time to realize that I will never look the way I did before, or like the 25 year olds I compete with, but I am honestly in better shape than I ever have been, feel amazing, and have a healthy little girl- that should be enough.

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I am not looking for compliments or reassurance- but especially with social media now, the pressure to lose the weight, look a certain way and be super mom is very real for almost everyone and a big topic of conversation among new moms. These are my thoughts on the subject of post-baby bodies…

When people look at me, or see a picture of me, especially in a fitness setting, most people would never know I have a three year old. I usually get comments about how I look good for having a baby (wait?! I want to look good anyway, not just for having a kid!! kidding- kind of) or that I don’t look like I have ever had one. I also get comments (or hear through others) that people never want to look like me or that they think the muscle tone is unattractive, I spend too much time in the gym, etc.- that’s fine too- it isn’t for everyone- I don’t “accidentally” look this way and I probably don’t want to look like them🙂

Ashley3

What people don’t see when they look at me, and what we probably share, is that I have insecurities just like everyone else. I have parts of my body that still show the signs (unattractive in my mind) that I have been pregnant and had a child. After having a child you will never look the same… that’s non-negotiable, but you can arguably look and feel better. These are some things to keep in mind…

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1. The people we compare ourselves to are not “real”.
Do you know how many selfie takes, angles, light variations, filters, make-up, etc. went into 99.9% of those pictures? With the right angle and lighting and too many hours in the day to take pictures of ourselves we can all look a lot better. With social media the way it is now, it seems like all your friends are at the gym, on a diet and looking amazing 3 seconds after having a baby, blah blah blah. Take all of that with a grain of salt because social media is deceiving. If you are all about instagram and twitter and follow a bunch of people you don’t know who always seem to wake-up with perfect “morning abs” stop it…. When you look down you do not see what the world sees- the world does not see those people the way they look in pictures… stop comparing yourself to them.

2. All women who have carried a child have permanent markings of carrying a child. ALL OF THEM!
We all show these markings in different ways just as we carried our children and our weight differently. When people look at me they think no way- she has no body fat (I do actually) and as I stand up straight or hang on a bar they do not see those markings- mostly because the parts mostly effected are covered by clothes.😉 I never got stretch marks and I have regained my abs, but when I bend over I have the “shrivel” stomach that only comes from skin being stretched. As much as I do like the way I look, I am learning how to deal with that part of me because I sadly see it as “gross” or “ugly” still.

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The more I thought about all of this the more I thought the permanence is someone’s way of letting us know we are more than our image and I think part of becoming selfless once you become a mother. She is the reason I am pushing myself, she is my sunshine, she is my everything… and I am hers. Every woman… and I mean EVERY woman… who has carried a child, regardless of what you see when you look at them, has some marking of that experience. Get over it, love it, accept it.

3. Healthy does NOT need to look like a fitness model or entail a thigh-gap.
First of all thigh-gaps are F-ing stupid… Seriously stop it.
Secondly, this makes me think of the article my sister shared. I am just going to lay it out there honestly… …and I know people hate fit people who comment on less-fit people. It is a true statement that genetics play a role in our physical appearance… but there is not a gene on Earth that makes you morbidly obese… that would be due to lifestyle choices, sorry. It is true that I spend a lot of my effort in the realm of fitness and healthy eating, but I like it, it’s my hobby and makes me happy. I am in no way whats-so-ever suggesting people do what I do and should look how I look in order to be healthy.

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Healthy will look different on everyone… we carry weight differently, we have different careers and different restrictions (dietary and physically), etc. but we all have only one body to take care of. That should be a priority. How do you do it without money, time, gym, etc?? Get outside when you can, do squats in the living room, try to make healthier meals, do research on cleaner eating, go for a walk as a family, run around the yard with your kids… there is no better feeling than feeling good. Seriously. I didn’t know how good I could feel until I really started caring… it’s amazing. As much as I don’t want to workout sometimes, I have never regretted it- hardest step is the one out the door.

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4. The way we care for our bodies and choices we make are what our children will emulate.
We are a role model for our children, that’s not new information. We are setting them up for life the best way we can…good schools, good morals, lots of love…. good lifestyle habits should be a part of that. You don’t like working out and healthy eating is not enjoyable for you? Well remember what I said above about having a child making you more selfless? This is part of it, suck it up buttercup because we lead by example and they are watching.

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We need to teach them to take care of their bodies and that is hard to do if we don’t take care of ours or constantly belittle the way we look. It is becoming more and more clear how much my daughter watches and copies me… it’s scary. I don’t want her to think she is anything other than beautiful the way she is, so why do I not tell myself the same?
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I make sure she is in the kitchen with me (let’s be honest, that’s not usually a choice) when I am cooking, she grocery shops with me, she sees me at the gym, she watches me lift in the driveway… there is nothing like the pure joy and giggles when I chase her around the back yard. It’s sad but true that a child that is over weight will struggle and that isn’t fair or their fault because they do not make their own choices with food and exercise. There is a lot to be said about being healthy as a family- set a good example.
Healthy choices will also make you live longer so you will be around for your children… I bet no one would not want to be with their kids as long as possible. Be the healthiest version of you.

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5. Keep working hard.
You got it girl… progress mentally and physically doesn’t happen over night. Don’t give up because they see that too. Do it for you, do it for them… you are stronger than you think you are and I promise you will amaze yourself.

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