What Pregnancy is Not

Whether it’s your first time or fourth time being pregnant, hormones can really take a toll. From mood swings to cravings to other weird and unusual things happening to our bodies – it’s sometimes a challenging place to be. It is a wonderful miracle, for sure, but fit mommas, please take into consideration the following:

Pregnancy is not the time to punish ourselves for eating too much or eating the “wrong things.” Yes, we only need to increase our caloric intake by 300 calories, but if we happen to go over that (because lets be honest actually counting calories is daunting and stresses us out, right?) don’t fret. No, we don’t need to go “burn it off” at the gym.

Speaking of the gym – Pregnancy is not the time to try and set new PRs in our lifts. Yes, we CAN continue to workout and lift weights – yes we CAN even lift pretty heavy – but remember we have a baby growing inside of us – there are a lot of new stresses put on our bodies, both mentally and physically, not to mention the increased hormone “relaxin” which is needed to help our bodies change and adjust for the growing baby and allow our pelvis to move for childbirth – but it also makes our joints and ligaments loose and less stable which can cause us to feel less balanced and at an increased risk for injury. Loose joints isn’t our only new issue but our center of gravity changes as our bellies grow.

RadiaShield -Belly Armor

Pregnancy is also not the time to compare ourselves to other pregnant moms – not every pregnancy is the same – not everyone shares the same genetics – so if we are only 3 months pregnant but look 6 months pregnant and “Insta-mom” who we follow on Social Media is 6 months pregnant but only looks 3 months – SO WHAT! Pregnancy isn’t a physique competition – so if we find ourselves comparing to other moms we vow to stay off of social media!

Pregnancy is a time for us to get to know our bodies. It is a time to tap into our emotions (that we might otherwise suppress) because even if we don’t want to,
we will cry – and it will be over silly things – and it’s ok.

Pregnancy is also a time to connect with our partner – to open up and communicate and include them in the process.

Pregnancy is a great time to make new friends – other ladies who are going through the same thing – we all understand the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having that support team is priceless!

Buckle up and enjoy the ride because pregnancy is definitely an adventure, and sometimes even with the best “directions” we get lost. Have no fear, the final destination is worth the detours to get there!

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2 weeks Postpartum and 2lbs Below Pre-pregnancy weight – What's the Secret?

I said to my husband the other day, “I don’t know if it’s just because I had a big belly for so long, or what. But, pregnancy makes me really skinny afterwards.”

It’s true. The same thing happened after my son was born. Not just do I lose my belly because the baby is now out vs. in – but even my legs and arms are smaller. 

Now, before you roll your eyes so hard they pop out of your head or gather the townspeople with your pitch forks and fire to crucify me, hear me out.

The secret to getting back into your pre-pregnancy jeans in 2 weeks is that THERE IS NO SECRET. Are there things you can do to have a healthy pregnancy and faster postpartum recovery? Yes. Does that mean everyone is going to have the same experience? No. 

And let’s be clear – just because I am under pre-pregnancy weight and back in normal clothes doesn’t mean I am “healed” from pregnancy. I don’t have a “6 pack” (didn’t have that before anyway) and my stomach is still mushy. My body doesn’t look the same, even though the number on the scale says I weigh less than before. The number on the scale or the clothes you are able to wear again is NOT an indication of anything….just like when you are not pregnant. The number on the scale and on the tag in your jeans means nothing except your “body’s relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it.”

There are many reasons why some people take longer to “bounce back” to their pre baby bodies – some reasons of which might be out of your control. For instance, if you are considered a high risk pregnancy and your doctor puts you on bed rest – you must REST – if you end up having a c-section you will likely retain more fluids and carry around more weight post delivery. If you got pregnant and were already 10lbs, 15lbs, or more over weight you most likely won’t get back into those “skinny” jeans right away. 

Now let’s talk about what you CAN do in a effort to have a “quick” postpartum recovery:

1) If you are planning to become pregnant, it is a good idea (before conception) to get yourself to a healthy weight for your body – in other words a number your body feels most comfortable at and is easy to maintain without calorie restriction. (That number will be different for everyone based on what body type you have.)

2) Get into a regular workout routine, before getting pregnant, so you can get your body used to exercise so you can continue to workout at a fairly good intensity through out pregnancy (of course sometimes there will be exceptions and always make sure your doctor clears you first)

3) Eat as balanced a diet as you can during pregnancy. This one is easier said than done since there are often cravings or food aversions due to our hormones. Try your best not to gain over the 30 pounds additional that is recommended during pregnancy (this is the general “rule” for a single pregnancy; not if you are carrying multiples.) 

And finally, just remember – it’s not a race on getting your body back to pre-pregnancy shape. Your baby won’t care if you can fit back into your size “whatever” jeans – so, take the time to properly heal your body, practice self care and give your baby the attention he/she needs right now. 

How Amazon Prime, Pantry, Fresh, and Subscribe & Save Changed my Life!


As a recent mom of two, the idea of packing up and newborn and toddler and trekking out to the store alone for a few essentials, like diapers or bananas – scares me. I’m sure I can’t remain homebound forever…but until then, there’s Amazon…and I am in love!

It all started a few years ago with Amazon Prime. Someone recommended the service to us and we thought we’d give it a try. For just $99 a year you can benefit by getting free 2 day shipping on hundreds of items! We have used this for everything from household items to unique/specialty items, to full blown Christmas shopping (that’s right, no lines, parking, or nasty people to deal with at the mall!) 

Prime also come with tons of movies and videos, sort of like Netflix -and with a toddler who watches Sesame Street on loop this is a lifesaver! We use this app on our Roku everyday – and if it buys me 20 minutes of sanity, that could be the difference between this mom losing her sh*t and remaining calm!

Then my sister told me about this amazing thing on Amazon called Subscribe & Save. GAME CHANGER! In our house we are creatures of habit. We like what we like and very rarely switch or try new or different brands. This actually makes shopping pretty easy for us since we get literally the same stuff ALL – THE – TIME. I have a number of items in my Subscribe & Save account shipped to me either monthly, every other month or quarterly including diapers, wipes, face wash, face lotion, dishwasher soap, etc. I researched my items to price compare first and many are the same or cheaper than from Walmart – and I DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOUSE!

Amazon Pantry is also great for items I just need once in a while or can’t get on Subscribe & Save. There is a $5.99 flat delivery fee – however if you add 5 “qualifying” pantry items to your box you can avoid that $5.99 and get free shipping. This is the option I go with, so I make sure I go around the house making note of what we need or will be running out of shortly so I’m not just buying random stuff to avoid the $5.99 fee. 

Finally, and the most fun is Amazon Fresh! (I learned that this service isn’t offered in all areas so check your zip code) I am soooo thankful for this service. It’s sort of like “pea pod” or other grocery delivery services, where fresh food is delivered right to your front door. The first 30 days are free and then the service is $14.99 a month after that…and as long as you spend more than $40 you don’t incur any additional shipping fees. ($40 is sooo easy to do anyway.) I placed my first order at 10am on a Thursday and had it on my door step by 9am the next day! You can get fresh fruit, veggies, meats, eggs, dairy, shelf stable items and frozen items. It’s not just limited to food either, you can get household items as well! My biggest reason why I haven’t tried the at home grocery delivery service before was because I wanted to pick out my own produce and meats – but everything came perfect! For some, the $14.99 monthly fee may seem excessive, but if it allows me to avoid possible meltdowns in the middle of a shopping trip with my newborn and toddler,I will gladly pay that. 

Have you subscribed to any of these services? What do you think? How was your experience?

*Disclaimer: I have included my referral link to Amazon. You receive $5 off your first order using the Amazon App and I receive $5 for every person who places an order using my link. All experiences and opinions above are my own and were not influenced by this referral reimbursement

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If you Feel Like a Hypocrite Most of the Time, You're Probably a Mom


Mom life – it’s funny how it changes you – but don’t worry it’s definitely for the better…(ok, usually for the better)

Before becoming a mom (or even thinking about it) I was focused on trying to achieve and maintain the “perfect physique.” Sometime in my early to mid 20’s I was training to compete for figure and fitness competitions. I stalked fitness pros online, subscribed to Oxygen magazine, and avoided bread because…well, carbs! I bought into the whole supplement stacking by consuming fat burners and high caffeine products, all in the name of vanity. 

Recently one of the moms in the Fit Mom Strong Mom Ambassador Facebook group asked everyone what they consumed before their morning workouts with a poll including coffee, green tea, and other. I answered “black coffee” and another mom chimed in saying black coffee makes her angry…she loves her creamer. It’s funny because I never used creamer or sugar in my coffee – in fact I actually enjoy black coffee. What I used to consume were those awful canned energy drinks filled with who knows what! My husband tried to convince me for years to stop drinking that crap but I just loved them so much – it wasn’t until we wanted to try getting pregnant that I finally listened. So I made the switch to black coffee and never looked back. 

I think back to the ridiculous amount of money spent on fat burners and caffeine supplements and all of the energy drinks I consumed and now think, “Was I crazy!?” 

I would never even consider taking stackers or ever drinking another drop of an energy drink now! A lot has changed in the last 10 years – from my philosophy on how to best train to get an athletic physique to what kinds of foods to eat. I used to feel embarrassed about how I used to do things – but you know what? It just means I have grown as a person, I have learned better ways to do things, I’ve become more educated and stopped believing the ads and marketing behind products that promised results that, honestly, you could probably achieve with the right nutrition and training plan. 

So, moms if you ever used to do things one way and now you do them differently – don’t feel like a hypocrite. Give yourself a pat on the back for evolving into the person you were meant to be. Because guess what? 10 years from now you might change again…and that’s ok. 

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I gave in – I got the epidural – and I don't regret it 


There are so many ways to bring a baby into this world – all natural and drug free – or with pain management – or by c-section. For some reason, I have always ranked these in my own ridiculous hierarchy, as if one was better than the other. 

My first pregnancy I was determined to go drug free. I practiced yoga, positive affirmations and meditations for pretty much the entire pregnancy mentally preparing myself for this life event. And guess what? 2 days before my due date, I did it! I had my son completely natural – no pain meds – nada! I was so proud of myself! I freaking did it! It was like a badge of honor I was happy to wear. 

My second pregnancy I had the same plan and determination to have a drug free delivery. The only difference was I sailed past my due date and because of “advanced maternal age” my doctor wanted to induce me at 41 weeks. Woah! Wait…induction? Induction scared me….doesn’t that bring on harder and faster labor? What if I can’t handle it and I need to get (gasp!!) the epidural?!! What if the induction doesn’t progress my labor and it only intensifies the pain or I end up in a c-section?? So many thoughts and fears – so – much – anxiety!

This is when you not only have to trust your gut, and do what is best for you – it’s helpful to have a doctor who you trust who is going to put your best interest first, in case, like me, you’re struggling to make the right decision. 

So, we schedule the induction and off we go Friday morning. We get to the hospital early and I’m still willing this labor to start on it’s own before having any intervention – but no such luck. Dr checks me around 9-9:30am and tells me I’m only about 3cm and 50% effaced – she’s going to break my water and see if that jump starts things and will be back around 1pm to check me again and make a decision on what’s next. 

Hours go by and I feel NOTHING. The closer to 1pm the more anxious I am starting to feel about possibly having to start pitocin. 1pm rolls around and the doctor doesn’t come – 1:30pm she’s still not here, but I’m starting to notice more consistent “contractions” starting. They still don’t hurt but I’m starting to become hopeful things are progressing naturally. By 2pm the doctor shows up and tells me I’m only 4cm and 70% effaced and that we need to start the pitocin. I agree to it, but I’m scared. Are the contractions going to still develop slowly and steady and increasingly get more intense – or will it just (BAM!) happen like 0-60 and I won’t be prepared? 

Contractions started to become more intense and more regular. Around 4pm I’m thinking I’ve already done the natural drug free route – I know I can do this! But….do I want to? I’ve already gone 9 days over my due date, I don’t know how much longer this is going to take, I don’t know what to do. So my husband runs out to get the doctor so we could discuss the options. She asked me “what if you are 9cm?” I told her I could tough it out – well, I was only 6cm and 90% effaced. She said it was happening fast but if I wanted the epidural “now” was the time to get it. So, I did.

Going drug free with the first pregnancy wasn’t all about trying to prove I could do it (although it WAS one of the reasons) but I was just scared of the epidural itself. No not the “huge needle” in my back, but the horror stories I have heard from things going wrong during the insertion process, to it not working, to it working too much, to it leading to excruciating migraine type headaches after delivery. I didn’t want to deal with any of the potential side effects. Well, the anesthesiologist was excellent! The process didn’t “hurt” and it was all over fairly quickly. It took about 10 mins for the “relief” to kick in but once it did I was able to FULLY relax. I never lost feeling in my legs or feet and I could still feel the contractions but the edge was off and it was more of a pressure feeling. I think I might have even dozed off between contractions because I was so calm. I was so calm and relaxed I was surprised when the doctor came in and told me it was time to push! Wait…didn’t I just get the epidural? 

After about 5 mins and only a few pushes she was out! I only suffered a small first degree tear. The process was over and I honestly felt great! 

With my son not only did I endure hard and painful labor for 6-7 hours, and had to push for 30 mins to get him out. I screamed in primal pain through the whole process. I had a more severe tear as well AND an internal cervical tear. I had dramatically low blood pressure after delivery (passed out twice because of that) was passing blood clots the size of softballs from the internal tear, became super pale, nauseous, couldn’t eat or get out of bed until my doctor came back to the hospital to do the repair (which called for anesthesia that I refused) my husband had to change all the diapers and bring the baby to me when he needed to eat since I was in bed for a good 24 hour after delivery. 

Reflecting back on both scenarios it reminded me of my marathon. I trained hard for my marathon for months and months and on that day it still hurt really bad. When I was done I was happy that I did it and felt proud that I could be added to the list of people who can say they ran a marathon – but, i have no intention on doing another one. I mean if there was a way to run the marathon and at mile 18 they tell me “you have a choice to keep running or get on this scooter and finish the race and no matter which way you choose you still finish the race and you still get credit for it at the end” then I might consider it. That scooter is the epidural. At the end of the labor and delivery process you still end up with a baby – whether you choose to ride the scooter to the end or not. 

I’m not saying there will be a 3rd pregnancy – but if there is, I’m not ashamed to say I would pick the epidural again – I have no regrets. 

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Dear Husband – Thank you.


Well, here we are on the eve of our induction – and soon we will become parents for the 2nd time and a family of 4. I may have done all of the physical work the past 41 weeks but, I feel it’s necessary to thank you for all that you have done for me the past 9+ months.

Thank you for the days you took the toddler out of the house so I could have some alone time – whether that meant relaxing, taking a nap, or cleaning the house with zero interruptions – this helped me reboot and become “mom” again upon your return. It gave me the break I needed to recharge and helped me keep my sanity, especially during the first trimester when hormones are extra wacky.

Thank you for supporting me in my want and need to workout during my entire pregnancy – and never questioning my decisions surrounding that. This allowed me to have a comfortable pregnancy with limited weight gain and no back or hip pain. The ability to remain strong allowed me to keep up with our very energetic and active toddler. I anticipate this helping with my postpartum recovery as well.

Thank you for always telling me how “hot” I looked through all phases of this pregnancy, when almost the whole time I may not have felt that way. Your compliments were appreciated, even if I never seemed to accept them.

Thank you for putting up with my crazy and often irrational emotions over the littlest and most unimportant things – pregnancy hormones are no joke and make you feel crazy some times. I know I can be hard to deal with – without pregnancy hormones -so you definitely deserve a prize for this one.

Thank you for being the champion breadwinner that you are. Your amazing ability to provide us with the lifestyle we live is something I don’t take for granted and I appreciate the fact that I can remain home with our children and not have to worry about running back to work for financial stability. Too many families struggle with this and because of you we thankfully do not. 

Thank you for our son and thank you for our daughter. Parenting is a team sport and I’m glad you are my teammate. I can’t wait to see you hold your daughter for the first time – seeing you fall in love with our children makes me love you more and more. 

Here’s to the last hours as a family of 3. 

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"Advanced Maternal Age?" WTF is that?

40 weeks 2 days – Baby
35 years 2 months 22 days – Me

Child birth is a scary thing – there, I said it. It takes an entire pregnancy to pep-talk yourself into being mentally prepared for this event, ok well at least for me anyway.

When you are adamant about wanting to go natural (no pain meds) and know that you’ve done it before pep-talking yourself is just reminding yourself how badass you are – that you’ve already done this – lots of women have done this – and you are gonna rock this.

You work your ass off all pregnancy to make sure you only gain the recommended weight and nothing more, you keep highly active by weight lifting, which results in a much easier pregnancy (no back pain, no hip pain, limited weight gain, perfect blood pressure.)

RadiaShield -Belly ArmorAnd THEN you make the mistake of telling yourself you are going to “go early.” It’s the second pregnancy after all – don’t most moms go early after the first? You get closer and closer to your due date and have to go see the doctor. She drops the bomb that because of “advanced maternal age” it’s recommended that women over 35 deliver between 39-40 weeks….and anyone older than that even earlier.

Excuse me? “Advanced Maternal Age?” I’m 35 – people live until their 80s and beyond, so technically I’m not even “middle aged” let alone “advanced.” I’m healthy as a horse both not pregnant and now pregnant.

Pregnancy already has a lot of scary things to deal with – simply getting through first trimester – waiting to hear that first heart beat and see that blob on the monitor confirming, “yes, in fact you do have a baby growing inside of you” – to all the testing for genetic disorders, anatomy testing to make sure everything is included and where it’s supposed to be, and now because of “advanced maternal age” the risk of stillbirth if it goes too far past the due date?

Nobody wants to hear stillbirth after carrying a full term pregnancy – I didn’t do all this work for a miserable ending.

So, the doctor talks to you about induction – and then your already crazy and hormonal self looks at all the complications that could potentially come with that. What if my body doesn’t respond to the drugs that are supposed to induce? What if the doctor breaks my water and I don’t advance on my own and I’m forced into an emergency c-section? Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, women get c-sections all the time (for all different reasons) and their babies end up healthy and everyone ends up healthy in the end.

Well I DON’T WANT A C-SECTION – and I’m not going to apologize for that – it scares the living crap out of me. No, it has NOTHING to do with returning to my fitness routine or how my body will look postpartum – it has EVERYTHING to do with being cut open. SURGERY – MAJOR surgery! I’ve made it to 35 years old with wisdom teeth as my only “major” surgery – I’ve never been in a cast for a broken bone, never needed stitches, never needed ANY kind of invasive, cut me open to fix or correct anything, (besides my teeth) kind of surgery, (and THAT scared me back then!)

Thankfully, my doctor is willing to work with me – because I only turned 35 in October it’s not as much of an issue, I guess, as if I had already been 35 at time of conception. So, for now I opted to give my body some more time and am scheduled for a Non-stress test on Friday (tomorrow) to monitor fetal movement. Maybe I go into labor on my own before then or maybe I don’t – if not we schedule another NST for Monday or Tuesday of next week and then if I STILL have not gone on my own we will schedule the induction for either Tues or Wed of next week at 41 weeks.

While I appreciate everyone checking in on me with their “labor inducing” ideas, for now I need to just focus on getting positive again about this experience. I don’t want to hear about how “awful” induction is – how your best friend’s cousin ended up in a c-section because of her induction – or how bad the contractions are from pitocin.

I need to get back to that feeling of “I can friggen do this” no matter what or how it happens. I need to relax my body – reduce the mental stress – I need to enjoy the last few days with “my boys” and spend as much time playing with and snuggling my son – even if that means watching Sing it, Elmo for the 100th time this week.

Next update to come after the NST – unless of course I go into labor on my own – send positive vibes please.

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An Open Letter to Fellow CrossFitting Moms

11043111_10205185730577023_7600116868746802501_nPost Submitted by Strong Momma Ashley

I love the people I have met through CrossFit. They are my best friends- we drive our significant others nuts with our constant group chat about diets, fitness, and general savagery towards people on social media. I am the only one in the group, however, married with a child and trying for more. Although my friends support me and I support them, they are not ready for that part of their lives yet, and it therefore differentiates me from them as I take a step back from competing, and they still have the drive to keep pushing forward. It’s not a secret that it’s been an internal struggle for me over the years to take the time to train after work and keep up with my best friends when I have been away from my child all day. The other day I was talking to some fellow moms at the gym- one who went to CrossFit Regionals as an individual, but after almost two years and three kids later, has lost a lot of her strength and has just returned to work on img_8148getting it back; and one who was there with her college-aged daughter working on benching just more than the bar. As I was driving home, in between the constant, “Mom?” “Yes, Charlie” … can’t think of something to say pause…“I love you” “I love you too, peanut” from the back seat; I reflected on my conversations, goals moving forward, and the positivity they shared about my situation (struggling to stay competitive while working full-time and having a four year-old, having a still birth and moving on from that, etc). I was thinking it’s funny the cliches of classes at the box- although both groups train together daily and push each other, the 5 and 6pm *usually* has the most “competitive athletes”- the ones that have that drive it takes to compete at a high level, do mobility, train for hours, etc…and then 9am CrossFit class- typically known as the “mom class.” It’s almost entirely women, a lot bring their children with them and therefore will be in and out within the hour. Most of my friends are at the later evening classes, but the “mom class” is one of my favorite groups to train with, they are so positive and inspirational even if they are not at the top of the leader board- so I wanted to write an open letter to them- my fellow CrossFitting moms.

Dear CrossFitting Mom,

You impress me. You are amazing. You are strong as hell even if you are not labeled “strong” by img_0377weightlifting standards…even if you don’t like working out necessarily… I am still talking to you! There are so many easier things you could have chosen for fitness, but you come into the gym and challenge yourself to do more pull-ups, run harder, lift heavier…seriously, how many other moms do you know that weight lift at all? I know how hard it is for you to make it to the gym some days. Sometimes its been a long night and sometimes it’s already been a long day at 9am. I know how frustrating it is when your child is being a little shit after you got them and you ready, drove all the way to the gym and you need just 30 f-ing minutes of time to warm-up, do a workout, and put your stuff away. I get it, I’ve been there. It’s not always easy, but that’s what makes you more impressive.

fullsizerender-3-1I know it can be frustrating. It has probably happened that you have lost some strength or endurance or skill you worked so hard to get. Maybe you had another child and pregnancy took its toll so you selflessly had to begin again. Maybe life got busy or someone got sick and you had to take more days off than you wanted. Maybe you want to be as good as you know you can be, but you can’t justify the hours it takes to train with the guilt of not seeing your family. You want to stay another hour and work on weaknesses, but someone at home or in the locker room needs you. I understand. I have (and I hate to admit it) cried after workouts at the gym because, despite my best effort, I’m frustrated that I didn’t preform the way I expected myself to, especially after all it took to make it to the gym. 

I know it’s sometimes hard to come train in a place where people are running around with their asses hanging out in just shorts and a sports bra and your body holds the markings of carrying a child. Maybe you don’t look like you used to, maybe you are dying to take your shirt off or wear shorts, but you’re embarrassed, I understand. I have changed my clothes before the gym and kept my shirt on even when I am sweating profusely… but one day I truly hope you say to hell with it, I am 30 or 40-whatever years old and I look the way I look and I’m proud of what it took to get here, therefore I’m going to workout in whatever I feel comfortable in!image-7

You might not be at the top of the leader board… like ever… you might PR your snatch at a weight someone else just power cleaned… for reps… but I want you to know that I get you, I am so proud of you. You who may scale the workout, who doesn’t cheat reps just for a better score, you who cheers on everyone, looking like a hotmess, rushing in and out carrying a kid(s) without a warm-up/cool down/moment to stretch. YOU are my inspiration. Keep on pushing yourself momma… you know those little eyes are watching! (because you see them mimicking what they see in the gym making it all worth it. 🙂 XOXO

A fellow CrossFitting Mom

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How Being Vulnerable Makes You Better

IMG_0509 5x7 WEBPost Submitted by:
Healthy Body Image Team Blogger, Strong Momma Heidi

So far this week:

  • I let dirty dishes sit in the sink for a day and a half.
  • I feel guilty that my children did not have time to play with their Santa gifts because they had to rush to get ready to go to their dad’s house for a few days.
  • I am beginning to resent the enormous lego set I bought for my son because it is sitting unopened on the floor near the tree where he left it as I urged him sternly to put on his hat and mittens when what I really want is to be spending the week with him assembling it.
  • I’ve not managed to get out of bed and go to the 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class despite having told myself I would and not having the children this week.
  • I ate stale Christmas cookies.
  • I threw away the remainder of the Christmas cookies.
  • I’ve stayed up late watching movies, which is something I never do.
  • I’ve written this list of all of the things that I perceive to be failures in my life over the past 72 hours.

 

There is nothing harder than letting our guard down or, as my friend and Licenced Family and Behavior Therapist Ashlee Secord puts it, having a hole poked in our hairy pickle.

You’re probably asking yourself what the hell I’m talking about. I had the same reaction the first time I heard Ashlee describe the hairy pickle, and at first I refused to believe I had one. But trust me, we all have one. Your hairy pickle is that tangle of defense mechanisms and pretenses you put up to make sure that you never feel or are perceived to be vulnerable. It looks something like this:

fullsizerender-14

Until just a few weeks ago, the hairs on my pickle were thick. Too thick. They had to be. In a span of 18 months, I lost my brother to cancer, I lost my marriage to reasons I still can’t really wrap my head around, and I went from being with my children every day of their lives to seeing them only 60% of the time. I changed career paths. I lost inspiration to write and blog each week. In my mind, I was failing. And I am not someone who fails. I am a strong woman who is starting her own business, who competes in CrossFit, who considers herself a good mother, a compassionate friend. I am not a failure. And so I went through the motions of life as though everything was fine. As though I was handling it fine. And you know what? People, including my closest friends, believed me. At least they believed me enough to let me be, to not push the issue.

But what I really needed more than anything was that same compassion that I give to my friends from my friends. Unfortunately, just as the hairs on our pickle are good at keeping moments of vulnerability from seeping out into the world around us, they are also very, very good at keeping compassion out.

Ashlee and I run a workshop together about healthy eating habits, and during the hour and a half that they are with us, we take participants through a journey of advertising 101 and why falling for quick weight loss ads and ultimately failing at sustainable weight loss is not their fault, signs and indicators for disordered eating habits, how to take accountability for ourselves and heighten our internal locus of control, and, of course, the hairy pickle.

As women with careers, kids, a dedication to maintaining our health and fitness, we’re constantly working not just at being the best we can at our jobs and in our homes and in our bodies, but also at making sure we always appear the way we want to appear to those around us. In short, we’re terrible at being vulnerable. As Ashlee explains it, we’re driven to protect ourselves from our own greatest insecurities, but when we do, we end up isolating ourselves and often doing more damage to our self than good.

But here’s the thing:

When we’re vulnerable, people show up.

They show up more genuinely than they do when your shield of protection is up and you’re the mom next door who has and can do it all. None of us are that mom, and we all share a common resentment for that mom, so why are we always trying to be her? She doesn’t even exist. And if she does, I can guarantee that she is lonely because there are no gaps in her persona that invite us in to share in her vulnerable moments, to be present with her when things are not perfect, to lift her up, to be her friend. We show up when we are compelled to show compassion to our friends, but that can only happen when they allow their vulnerability to show through.

I did, finally, have to ask for help. My ex and I sold our house very quickly, and although I found a house I absolutely love in a neighborhood I love, I wasn’t able to close on it for 10 days after we had to move out of the old house. I was going to be homeless, and I was going to have my children with me most of that time. And so I caved. I let the hairs on my pickle collapse. I reached out to friends. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. By doing so, I had friends who helped me move everything, who stored my stuff for free, who took me and my children under their roof for 10 days, who showed up when I needed it the most, who showed me the compassion I so desperately needed, and who did not, not even for one second, judge me or consider me a failure.

Perhaps the greatest change I’ve had since shedding some of the hairs on my pickle is the ability to show gratitude for that.

Our hairy pickles develop, says Ashlee, because we’re often pretty bad at showing the same compassion we have for others for ourselves.

Acknowledging that there are circumstances beyond our control, that pain is a part of life and things do not always go as planned is a small step toward self-compassion and a step away from self-criticism. We do not have to take so much personally. You still have value and worth that cannot be taken away from you. When you find that you’re being hard on yourself and can’t seem to shake it, consider how you would treat a friend who was going through the same circumstance. What would you say? How would you comfort them? Can you offer that same gesture to yourself?

It’s hard to show vulnerability to others. It’s even harder to confront it in ourselves and show compassion and forgiveness for it.

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So far, the ReclaimFit and Thrive Therapy workshops have only been offered here in the Twin Cities, but because our network is growing, we want to be able to extend these offerings beyond our regional boundaries.

Starting in January, the ReclaimFit workshops will all be offered online, and for a short time, registration is FREE. All you need to attend is a device and an Internet connection. Sign up today to begin your journey to feeling greater self-compassion:

Everything You Wanted to Know About Marketing But Were Afraid to Ask: Why We’re Always Convinced That Detox Will Work

Tis the season for weight loss challenges, detoxes, and resolutions to finally lose some weight, get in better shape, or…whatever. We’ve all been there — setting resolutions to be better at this whole fitness and nutrition thing. And we’ve all been preyed upon by the behemoth industry that is weight loss. At the same time, we all know better. We know quick fixes don’t work. And yet….those before and after pictures are so convincing. Why? In this workshop, we’ll address the fact that we are victims and that we’ve likely lost time and money pursuing the unsustainable diet. We’ll also give you the tools you need to make sure it never happens to you again. Don’t keep falling victim to the cycle. Reclaim your resolutions for success.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
7:30 p.m. Central Time

REGISTER NOW

Who to Blame and Why For Feelings of Failure

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the constant yo-yo diet, the start again-stop again approach, or the simple lack of time to make it to the gym as much as should. We’ve all felt like failures when it comes to our fitness, nutrition, and most importantly, our bodies. It’s time to stop. This workshop will reveal why we have these feelings of failure to begin with and will give you the tools to combat them, to stop feeling bad about yourself, and to start a life of self-compassion.

February 22. 2017
7:30 p.m. Central Time

REGISTER NOW!

March: To Be Announced!

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Meal Prepping 101

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Paleo & Whole 30 Team Blogger, Strong Momma Sara

One of the most important things on your road to eating healthy is meal prepping. At max, you will be cooking for about 2-3 hours one day a week and then you can be set for 5 straight days for breakfasts, lunches and vegetables for dinner. We started doing big-time meal prep about three years ago. It was prompted because I had entered a body transformation contest for BodyBuilding.com and to be honest… who feels like making lunch the night before after working a full day and being a parent? No one does. We started with making huge salads for both of us on Sunday’s and while they were delicious at one point, they felt like they took forever to put together. Lettuce, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, edamame’s etc… It was non-stop cutting and dicing. We did this for a while and then at some point we got sick of the prep involved — we also felt like there wasn’t a great variety to what we could do with just plain salads.

Foodstirs, IncFast forward to when I switched to Paleo in April 2015, we both took a hard look at our foods and snacks and decided to make a change. We decided to work with food we could make in larger batches instead of feeling like we were slicing and dicing for hours on end. Like boiling chicken to shred – you can make 3 lbs at once…easy. I also work with a lot of containers to keep it easy and organized. So when you open your fridge you can just pull exactly what you want.

So what do you need? Lots and lots of meal prep containers. 


– Containers for 1 cup needs (Pactiv Newspring Delitainer Polypropylene Premium Round Food Container Clear, 8 oz. 240/Case)
– Containers for eggs (I crack mine at work, you can opt to do this ahead of time)
– Containers for lunch meals  (Rubbermaid 40-Piece Easy Find Lid Food Storage Set)

Plan of Attack 
The week before:

Be sure to have your appropriate containers
 Find recipes for dinner
– Create grocery list to go food shopping
– If you order your food, I like to get mine delivered on Friday

Friday night or Saturday:
– Grocery shop
– Get rest of groceries delivered
– Keep chicken in fridge for easy cooking access on Sunday

Breakfast

– 2 Hard-boiled Eggs
– 1 cup peppers
– 1 cup spinach

Lunch

– Chicken Salad
   – 6 oz chicken
   – Peppers
   – Carrots
   – Lettuce
   – Chopped Walnuts
   – Half avocado 
– Homemade Mayo
   – 2 egg yolks
   – 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
   – 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
   – 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
   – Sea salt to taste
   – 1/4 cup melted butter in a glass measuring cup
   – 3/4 cup nut or olive oil (I use Avocado oil)

Snack

– 1 slice paleo bacon
– Half cup cherry tomatoes
– 1 oz Brazil nuts

Dinner prep for the week (approximately)

– 6 peppers
– 5 carrots 

Shopping List:

– 6 lbs chicken
– 2 lbs ground turkey (for dinner, if needed)
– 1 pack celery 
– 12 peppers (color choice is yours)
– 1 pack carrots 
– 1 bag lettuce 
– 1 bag Spinach
– Container of Brazil nuts 
– 20 eggs 
– Chicken broth 
– Bag of walnuts 

Example of dinner recipes for the full week (feel free to look these up on Pinterest):
– Monday: Cranberry balsamic chicken
– Tuesday: Meatballs & zoodles
– Wednesday: Sweet & spicy chicken
– Thursday: Baked bell peppers tacos
– Friday: BLT Chicken Bake


Sure you can look at our list and what takes about 3 hours in total on a Sunday and think it’s crazy, but you can’t argue with the ease and results of a healthy lifestyle.  It starts with one step at a time. When we started, we just did lunches – and then quickly realized we would prefer to prep both breakfast and lunch and now we get it all done and don’t have to worry about it during the week.

As this blogger points out…

There is no right or wrong way to food prep. The options are endless when in comes to prepping food ahead of time so there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Basically, it comes down to just making time and getting it done. However, just like any weight loss strategy, to be sustainable it needs to fit into your lifestyle. Basically this means do what works for you. If the only thing you want to prep each week are hardboiled eggs then that’s fine. Or maybe you find it helpful to make mason jar salads, buffalo shredded chicken, and a couple slow cooker kits. Whatever will meets YOUR needs. Don’t get bogged down in thinking it has to be done a certain way. Also, it is very important to remember that I have been doing this for 4 years. I have lots of practice and made my fair share of mistakes. What works for me might not work for you. I share the strategies and tips I have learned along the way in hopes that you will take and adapt them to fit into your lifestyle.

It’s always hard, and a little scary to start a new diet or for us, lifestyle change. But every journey started with one-step and changing the way you eat can change your life!

Enjoy, and welcome to meal prep. Follow me on IG if you want to see more recipes @Sara_EatsClean !