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!
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.🙂
I had a precious moment the other day with Hanley. I have lots of those each day and luckily my phone is somewhere nearby so that I can grab it and snap a picture or shoot a quick video to capture the moment. At the end of each day after he falls asleep I sort through the moments with a smile and edit them down to just a few to keep and remember. Thank goodness for our beautiful smart phones that are able to do this for us.
However, I was on the beach the other day with Hanley. Just the two of us. I was relaxing on our beach blanket in the shade and he was playing all around me, climbing over me, poking at me – it was adorable. Eventually he started slowing down and getting super snuggly. He was sitting next to me and just flopped his head and little torso onto my belly. He relaxed there for a few minutes just people watching those around us…and then he fell asleep.
It was absolutely the sweetest feeling ever.
I carefully lifted my head to look down at him asleep on top of me in this awkward position and started patting around my sides for my phone so that I could capture this on camera. Except my phone was in my bag, behind our umbrella, totally too far away for me to grab in this position. I started freaking out! My heart broke in half thinking how I wouldn’t be able to snap a picture of the cuteness that was happening.
Then I realized how silly I was being. I was wasting part of this precious moment stressing about my stupid phone and “capturing the moment” when I should have been soaking every bit of that moment in wholeheartedly right then and there. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. I noticed how it felt to have his tiny warm body sleeping on my belly. I felt his tiny little breaths against me. I stroked his tiny little arms that were resting on me. I reveled in the beauty of my little baby being so comfortable with me to just cuddle up and fall asleep. My heart felt like it was going to burst. Even just recalling this moment cracks my heart wide open and brings me right back to the love I felt.
It was a great reminder that I don’t always need my phone to capture these moments. My heart is the most important tool I have for that. I intend to not be so quick to grab my phone the next time something super sweet or cute happens but instead truly be with my son in the moment so that the moment is etched into my heart forever.
Three and a half years ago, we left our tiny bungalow in South Minneapolis to what I thought would be my dream home in a number of ways. You see, I grew up in a family of farmers, and while my immediate family lived in the ‘burbs, I spent many summers on my aunt and uncle’s farm in northern California, and often thought I’d go into farming myself one day. That didn’t happen, but at the bungalow in Minneapolis, I’d turned a decent corner of our .3 acre lot into an overly productive vegetable patch. I was eager to do the same at our new house in the new suburb, and had big plans given that the plot where we moved is 2+ acres.
The first summer here, I started a small patch of vegetables in what had been the previous owner’s flower garden. It was mildly successful, and I blamed the fact that all of my peppers and green beans died on the soil and poor sunlight. That fall, my husband and I marked off a 12×18 garden, tilled out the grass, put up a 6’ deer fence, and anxiously awaited spring. Once we were finally able to plant, we started rows of tomatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, beans…you name it.
A few weeks later, things were looking good. Little spouts were pushing through the surface of the soil just as they should have been. I talked with my son about the garden we were growing and how he would soon be able to help me weed and pick vegetables. But then something happened. Or rather, a series of somethings over the next several weeks happened as I became a bit distracted by the warming weather, weekend trips to the family cabin, soccer practices, swimming lessons, BBQs. I glanced at the garden now and again as late spring turned to summer, each time expecting to see the plants a little bigger, the small vegetables growing and ripening.
What I saw instead was a garden slowly being taken over by the shade of the giant oak tree in the yard, something we had apparently not anticipated when we selected the plot of the garden the previous fall. It was our first full summer in the house…we didn’t know just how much foliage came in on our trees, just how shady the yard was. I watched as the tomato leaves wilted, the lettuce grew tall and bitter and began to flower. I picked things now and again when the thought occurred to me just as I was in a panic to serve my children dinner before they lost their minds, usually having a window of about 20 minutes after daycare pick up before that happened.
I blamed my dying garden on the soil again. And the fact that the tree blocked too much sun in the afternoon.
But here’s what was actually going on (aside from the shade, of course): Within three weeks of moving to the new house, I had my second child, so I was mothering an infant and a toddler. I started a new full time job that had me commuting to and from the very city we had just vacated. I had started focusing on my own health and wellness, joining boot camp and then eventually CrossFit. I was gluten free and then dairy free and then paleo and then just trying to track my macros. I trained for and ran a marathon. I started a part time job. I wrote a book. I did everything except for garden.
Despite all of these efforts to lose the baby weight, to drop body fat, to see the number on the scale go down, I didn’t feel any happier. Yes, I was losing weight. But I didn’t feel that way. I still felt fat. Still felt the rolls of my stomach pressing against my workout pants, convinced that everyone around me was as fixed on that fact as I was.
I became frustrated at myself when, in those 20 minutes of panicked dinner making, I would pop bits of food in my mouth to stave off my own hunger until my husband got home and we could eat together. Sometimes I ate directly from my kids’ plates if they didn’t finish a meal. Sometimes I treated myself to bites of their dessert. And with each of these “indulgences” or “cheats” I berated myself for not working hard enough toward my goals.
In my efforts to make my new house a home and settle my family in the suburbs, I did not do the work necessary to make a garden grow. I never weeded. I didn’t water enough. I simply waited and hoped that I would get the results that I imaged in my head, that I knew I had the potential to get. But I did not tend to my garden, and so my garden did not grow in the way that I wanted or expected it to. And in my pursuits of wellness, I did everything except for tend to my mental wellness and self-compassion, and so despite losing weight and getting stronger, I still felt negatively about myself.
This year, I’ve abandon my garden altogether. That is, I’ve abandon where I originally planted it and I’m starting over. I’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in pots on my patio, and I’ve got a small herb garden nearby. I’m diligent about watering them, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming to keep them clear of weeds despite now having soccer and swimming for both children, the cabin, and the general business of summer. We’re planning another big garden for next year, one that will be more carefully mapped out, but for now I’m tending to what I have because I’ve managed it better, and I’ve managed my own expectations around it better.
This year, I’ve also abandon food tracking for the most part. I’ve stopped weighing myself. Most importantly, I’ve made a conscious effort to have self-compassion, to not think of a bite off my kid’s plate as cheating anything or anybody, especially myself. I look at my body as something powerful and beautiful, and I tend to that thought every day, being intentional about my mindset and keeping negativity at bay.
I’m now happier with the garden on my patio than I was with a huge plot, and I’m happier now even though I don’t necessarily see drastic differences on the scale, and here’s why:
Just as we need to tend to the seeds we plant in the soil if we want to see them come to fruition, we too need to tend to the mental seeds we plant when we make efforts to improve our wellness. We need to weed out the negative self talk and instead plant and water the thoughts of positivity. We need to foster growth by tending to what we started with self-compassion. We need to address obstacles or giant oak trees as the arise, and find constructive ways to overcome them. And we need to be conscientious about all of this, which means we have to put effort into our work, not just effort into the physical work of becoming “fit” or changing our nutrition, but into the mental work that goes along with long-term success.
We also need to be mindful of when the weeds are beginning to take over or perhaps our thoughts are a bit starved for water. It can happen slowly, that negative self-talk creeping up around what we’ve worked so hard to sow in our lives, until it’s all we can see or focus on. We need to be mindful of this and then also intentional about taking the time to combat it, to pluck it out and allow the positivity and self-compassion and thoughts of positive body image to grow. And sometimes we need to be open to planting new gardens if the place where we started is now allowing us the long-term success we’re looking for.
Post submitted by: Fit, Working Mom Team Blogger, Strong Momma Heather
Traveling with kids can be a lot of fun, but also challenging at times. Long car rides are not exactly something children look forward to, but the memories made far outweighs the stress of traveling. My family travels often; my husband’s job is a big reason but also we just love seeing new places! This means lots of hours in the car for my 5 and 2 year old, and I have learned to be creative with keeping them occupied and entertained. It also means I spend a lot of time being creative with my workouts and finding ways to sneak in some training while on the road. Here are some of the ways that help both ensure a smooth ride (for the most part) and keeping up with my fitness routine.
1.Food. Personally when I am bored, I get hungry. When my kids get bored, they turn into savages! Food for us is definitely first on the list. I have my snacks very organized even at home, which makes packing for trips really easy. Everything is pre-sorted in snack sized bags so I can just grab and go. I make sure to pack two of everything. If you have more than one child, I’m sure this is a no-brainer. Even if your child never eats something, when the other child has it in the car they will want it. I pack a big variety of both dry and cold snacks, and keep the two separate in large storage sized plastic bags. Then everything goes in a soft cooler that we use at the beach too. Along with food, I usually just buy a gallon of water to use for refills in all of our water bottles and sippy cups.
Some of these snacks are for me as well, I am a way more patient mommy when my belly is full. As for meals, we stop and eat…usually at a restaurant over a rest area but making the time to eat a full meal rather than just snacks all day can really help too.
2. NEW activities. Sure, your kids have lots of coloring books, stickers, and other small toys perfect for a trip already. But having new things is exciting, and doesn’t have to be expensive. This time of year I am constantly hitting the dollar section of Target and the dollar stores finding things I can hide away and surprise them with in the car. Some of my personal favorites are stickers and paper, window clings, activity books with those wonderful clear markers, scratch books, and even bubbles. If you are down with electronics, both of my kids have kindles and we download a new movie or two and some new educational games on them right before the really long rides. Just remember the charger! Here are some examples of things I have found…even if we aren’t planning a trip I stock up on these types of items to have for restaurants and sometimes even just for the jogging stroller!
3. Games. For the bigger kids, there are tons of scavenger hunt type games you can play…it’s super easy to cut and paste pictures and hand them a clipboard and pencil for this. Some things my daughter will hunt for are road signs, different color cars, words that start with certain letters, or just keep it simple like trees, tractors, airplanes, whatever! She is just starting to be able to read, so the pictures right on the page or the letters make this easy. Then she just crosses off the items as she sees them…maybe even for a prize.
4. Cleaning and organizing supplies. I prefer to use the bathroom hand towels as napkins in the car. They are nicely kept in the box, and easy for the kids to pull out one when they need it. However, for any big cleanups have a roll of paper towels handy too. Hand wipes or baby wipes also come in handy for sticky hands and faces. Bring a few extra plastic shopping bags to use for garbage, and do a sweep anytime you stop. Up until this past summer, we were lucky that our kids do not get car sick. Then we found out the hard way that my daughter cannot color in the car. Lesson learned, pack one extra outfit for each child in a large plastic storage bag and keep them somewhere accessible. We were on the side of the highway, pulling out suitcases searching for new clothes for her. The storage bag will come in handy for the soiled clothes after they change. Along with that, a plastic bucket from the dollar store isn’t a bad idea either. Pack a container of disinfecting wipes for car seats, and also to wipe down all those things kids love to touch and put in their mouths at the hotels (think TV remotes…not at home but without fail in hotels…what’s up with that?).
5. Plan to stop. Take your time getting to your destination if you can. Before having kids I would set the GPS, look to see what time it was estimated I would arrive at a destination and think, challenge accepted…I can beat that by an hour! Now I set it (the Waze app is my personal favorite these days) and laugh knowing it will take us way longer. Medically I am not supposed to go more than 2 hours without stopping due to the risk of blood clots, so that is one reason we need to stop. But I have found along with that the kids really benefit from getting out for a few minutes and moving. Some fresh air is good from time to time. If we are really taking our time, we look and see if there are any parks or trails we can stop at and get in a quick run too. Just be ready, as soon as you get back on the highway, you’ll hear the word “potty”, or smell that it is time for a diaper change.
6. Emergency candy stash. For me, this is everything. Once in a while they are just done. And this usually happens about 30 seconds after you pass the last rest area for 150 miles. At this point, you do what you have to do. Having a secret bag of non-messy candy can be a life-saver for me. Usually it’s pez dispensers, smarties, dum dum lollipops (I take all the clear colored flavors) and mints. Keep these handy for restaurants on the trip too…a lot of times we eat pretty late at night and these can help keep them happy when off schedule…along with some of the stickers and books from above.
I try to use either plastic tubs or tote bags to keep everything organized. The more you plan ahead, the smoother things will go. Let the kids help with this.If they feel involved, it can be an easier process. I allow my kids to pack one small bag each with whatever they would like to bring. Toys, books, blankets usually make the cut. If it fits in the bag, it can go. Helps make the hotel feel a little more like home too.
As for working out, I find that if I work out before we start I will be a lot more patient on the ride. I will wake up super early and get in a few miles because I know for me, it will make the trip a lot smoother.
Once on the road, I know that keeping up on my workouts keeps me less stressed and with more energy during the trip. I am not typically a morning workout person, but waking up before everyone else helps with making sure the time during the day is spent making memories.
Before every trip, I do my research. I check the hotel website and know ahead of time what the exercise room has, or if the hotel does not have one on site. If they do not have some sort of universal weight machine or free weights, I pack my kettle bell. In fact, I had bought it primarily for this reason. I have a 20 lb bell and it takes up hardly any room in the car, but is so versatile and there are so many simple exercises I can do with it. An added bonus is it’s easy to use in the hotel room! Many times my husband leaves early on these trips but I can get in a workout in the room with the kids. The long hotel lobbies are great for lunges too! My kids never mind running up and back either.
The other thing I research before every trip are parks, trails, and other areas around our hotel where I can run. I always pack the double running stroller for family runs, and we find this to be a great way to explore a new place. Last summer we were in Pittsburgh and each morning would get up before things got busy and just run. We would take note of some places to visit later that day and had a better understanding of where things were. It made it easy to find the stadium for the Pirates game that night and we found cute parks and ran along the water with the kids. Of course we make stops along the way. We have done this in almost every city we travel to…some examples just in the past year are DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Greenville NC, and more. I have ran so many beautiful trails and parks that I would probably otherwise never saw. It’s a fantastic way to see new places!
I think for me, though, these vacations are about spending time with my family, seeing new places, exploring cities, and the memories we make. Over the years,I have realized this is what is important and although I do my best to make the time to keep up with my fitness and training while away, it has to be secondary to what this time is really about.
A lot of my friends say, “you’re good at running because it comes naturally to you.” Or they ask the same questions, “how do you run without stopping, do you get tired,” and my favorite, “don’t you hate running?”
Well friends, running does not come naturally to me or most others I know; unless you are Usain Bolt and well, he is just magical. And yes I get tired and of course I don’t hate it or I wouldn’t be doing it. I’ve turned a few of my friends on to running and have helped a few get back into it after a long break. Running is the easy part; staying committed may take more of an effort.
I’m here to share a few easy steps to get those feet moving in the right direction.
Set a goal
Setting a date to run a 5K can help. Find a race near you with a date of at least two months in the future. No sense trying to put undue pressure on yourself, that will only be defeating. I would suggest a fun run or one that may have a finisher medal. The fun runs tend to have a lot of run/walk folks and they seem to be much more accepting of anyone that is “slower” than them (someone who may “get in their way” during the run.) Also, during a fun run there is certainly no pressure or guilt if you must stop and walk. The fun people tend to be in the rear of the race anyway! The races with a finisher medal give you a reward for all the hard work you have done the last few months. Wear it proudly!
Start low and slow
I always suggest to new runners to download an app to their phone such as Couch to 5K or Hal Higdon’s apps. There are several similar ones, so don’t feel tied to these. They produce the same results, but basically they have you do the following:
Start by getting a good warm up in. Do some dynamic stretching. Myself, I started by running every other day. It took longer to reach my goal, but not putting undue stress on my joints and shins was better in the long run. The first day try and run 30-60 seconds, followed by one minute of walking. Don’t just stop in your tracks, keep moving. Continue this for 15 minutes. For the next several runs, try this run/walk method for 15-20 minutes. On my off days, I generally weight train and ride the bike. While it is not essential to running a 5k, keeping everything working and strong is important to overall health. Make sure to incorporate one rest day per week, minimum.
The second week, lets move up to 20-25 total minutes of running/walking (1-2 minutes of running followed by 30 seconds of walking). If you feel you can run more and walk less, by all means attempt it, but keep in mind you are building a base and the first few weeks are important.
For the next several weeks you should be increasing the length of your run intervals and decreasing the walking ones. By week six, you should be to the point where you can run 20-25 minutes without stopping. Let us not worry about speed at this point, the object again is to build a base; you can build speed later. Good rule of thumb is run until fatigued, then slowly jog or run until recovered at this point.
By week 7-8 you should all but eliminate the walking segments of your workouts, as well as you should be able to run 30 minutes without stopping.
Week 8 – run your race, girl! Have fun with it, don’t hold yourself to a certain finishing time; especially if this is your first race. So many different things can affect race times; this is your first race and you need to have fun with it. Having fun is the way to keep running and to love running forever!
Maribeth 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!
FMSM: What’s your yoga to practice? Favorite yoga pose? 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.
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? 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.
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.
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