Home Workout; Getting Started!

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I’ve tried, and loved, gyms before. I liked the ritual of going somewhere, packing up, and being surrounded by other people who are all working together. It’s the easiest way to feel motivated (money! other people to count on you!)Group fitness classes, LOVE. But? None of that was even kind of sustainable with our budget or schedule.

I tried to get friends together frequently enough to do workouts, but without the skills, training, or equipment to really keep going.. it always petered out.

All that to say: I love gyms, and maybe down the line that kind of training will be for me. But for now? For my budget/kids/family life/sanity…. nope. Also, it’s hard to imagine going back now that I have a nice established home routine, it feels so good and doable. I also really (really) love having it be a ritual that my kids see me engaging in every week. It’s normal to them to see me jumping around doing squat jumps and burpees, they’re used to me grunting my weights around and leaping like crazy when I hit a PR. That is something I never want to lose. The visual of their Mama being strong, loud, and growing. Celebrating my strong legs, thick arms, and newfound ability to hold a chaturanga.

Where To Get Started: Start by deciding your goals. Are you hoping to lose weight? Or fat? Are you aiming to build muscle? Or get stronger overall? Do you want to build mass? Or just feel more fit? That will help you determine how often/aggressively and what body parts to be working out. My main goals are overall fitness and strength and fat loss. Because of that, I do a good mix of cardio/hiit (not just treadmill or running unless I’m craving a run! And with Summer coming, I’m sure that will come back into my routine), and heavy strength training. I use Fitnessblender workouts and LOVE so much about them. The main thing I love is that they are body positive. You won’t hear Kelli or Daniel saying “Think of bikini shopping! How do you want to look on the beach!” they NEVER promote fasting, or depravation, they are openly encouraging of eating real foods from all food groups and indulging when you want. They don’t promote calorie/macro counting at all and both are open about their own high calorie intake because of the importance of fueling your body in order to grow muscles and effectively lose fat. Also, hearing Kelli’s story through a crippling eating disorder and out and into amazing strength? So awesome, relatable, and inspiring. ANYWAY: Why I love their workouts is the sheer variety. There are hundred of free videos to choose from and you can easily search them through their website (click Workouts -> full length workouts) and select exactly what you are looking for. My favorites are the “for people who get bored easily” (they have cardio/abs, lower body, upper body varieties) because they are all strength training that feels like cardio for your body (So.Sweaty.). If you are just starting out I think the best place to start is with the Five Day Challenge for Busy People, it will get your body going for a few days, show you their style and variety, is free, and the workouts in that program are only 30minutes or less. I love all the five day ones (the strong and lean one is HARD AND AWESOME). You can also purchase programs, they will create a calendar for you when you log in and preload the workouts so  that when you log-in you just click and it’s already chosen for you. I highly recommend using a program when you are getting stared, it will help you meet your goals, and not overtrain one area/neglect another. I loved the FitnessBlenderBooty program and had really great results, and the Ab program was great as well. I have done FBFIT too and liked it, but the workouts were a bit longer and at that point I wasn’t ready for it, but I’ll probably repeat it now that I have better endurance. The programs range from $9-15 and once you have it, it’s yours to repeat as often as you like. It’s a crazy steal.

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Motivation: This is the number one question that popped up when I started putting feelers out on this post. I get it! Feeling motivated to workout, at home, with your cozy bed right there… it’s herculean at first! It’s rolling a square stone up a hill. It’s really hard. But two things sick out to me; First, momentum is motivation. It’s like every other habit, the more you do it… the more you’ll do it. So pulling the trigger on actually doing it those first few weeks will feel like pulling teeth, but it should* get easier and easier the more you do it. Those first weeks it is best to set aside two times of day that work (early morning and late evening? lunch break and before dinner? whatever are two 30 min times you can carve out) and decide that you will use one of those times, set phone alarms, tell a friend you’ll be doing it, find an accountability partner (or Facebook group! I made one that is helping me BIG TIME to stick to actually getting in my daily workouts, let me know if you want to join <3), send a sweaty selfie to your friend or on your IG, do whatever it takes for you those days to really get it. Secondly, motivation needs to be tangible and internal. Those seem counter intuitive but what I mean is that you need to have achievable goals, results are so inspiring and motivating, almost universally! But I feel that for those goals to really sustain you long term, not wreck your self esteem, or contribute to already deeply entrenched patterns created by media and culture… those goals need to be tangible and not size/number related (solely! Everyone can have many goals, but if your only goal is a size… it’s likely going to backfire). So, creating goals that are measurable but won’t make you cry in an Old Navy Dressing room (just me?). Goals like climbing a harder route on a rock wall, keeping up with your kids while you play soccer, biking the trailer all around town, hiking a hike that has seemed outside of your skills, sleeping better at night, feeling guiltless about your food choices on a regular basis (or! all the time!), buying whatever fits you best without feeling sad about the size. Here are my weird, tried and true tips for motivation and sustaining your home program… and forewarning, some of these are weird.

  1. Videos of yourself! This happened on accident, I started taking workout videos for my IG and the side effect? I went HARD when I popped on the video camera! I had great form (well, sometimes, I’m still learning!) and was able to feel that gym motivation to lift harder/heavier because I knew I would be sharing this, and I wanted to share my best and hardest.
  2. Mirrors. Being able to see yourself is kinda paramount with home practice because you can’t get form correction from a trainer. But with your mirror you can see how straight your back/legs are, and what is working and what isn’t.
  3. Music, find you groove and station. For me, and this is stupid embarrassing because every song on there is AWFUL and full of terrible messages… I listened to Sexy and You Know it Radio (when I’m working out sans kid’s) and Taylor Swift Radio (with kids).
  4. Pull up your workout and push play. As it starts going I always realize… “I don’t want to watch this, I want to get this DONE.”
  5. Let every one know… I know, it’s my generation or my narcissism or something, but don’t knock social media accountability till you try it. Post in a group that you are working out now, and ask someone to check back in an hour. Text your friend, or spouse, write it on your to-do list, IG a picture of what you are about to do and then delete it and add a sweaty after instead. Whatever you do, ditch the social media shame and guilt and do whatever works for you to get you to your goal of feeling better.
  6. Photos…. seriously. After you ditch the scale and begin to rely on emotions and feelings and strength to gauge fitness it can be easy to feel like you aren’t seeing any changes externally. Your see yourself every day and will likely not notice the changes, because healthy changes are super gradual. Take progress photos! You *will* eventually see some changes, even if it’s mainly in how you hold yourself, smile, and enjoy your reflection, and those will motivate you to keep achieving your specific goals.

**Should: I say should because many people (me!) experience a major endorphin high and feel way better after working out. I need to feel that several times a week to feel good, it’s an antidepressant for me. It’s the runners high, that is present after any good hard workout. I don’t think that happens the first few times depending on your fitness level, but give it at least a bit of time. However! and the reason for the asterisk. I have recently had it pointed out that feeling better after a workout/endorphin high is not an experience everyone has, so the motivation of “you’ll feel better after” and “you never regret a workout” is not true for everyone and I am privaledged that it does work and happens for me. If this doesn’t happen for you then your goals can reflect this and you can look into other ways to meet those needs that maybe *do* bring you that joy. It could be working out outside, or trying an alternative workout (try a zumba or dance video, rock climbing, yoga, hiking, long walks with friends, jogging with a pod cast, etc) and my advice up there won’t hold true that it gets “easier and easier” because it very well may not for you, and if so, that’s okay! You can hate working out, and choose an active lifestyle instead, or you can hate working out and do it anyway, depending on your goals, but I would think them through thoroughly and be sure that they are goals you want for your heart and head and not just for acceptance or a size.

When?!: I’m going to repeat myself a bit here. My answer is similar to what I said in my Home Yoga Practice: Getting Started, post. Many of the programs are set up to exercise three or five days a week, if you are choosing a program I suggest following it fully and not adding more exercise right away. If you are creating your own, by choosing workouts, I would aim for 2-3 active workout days, 2-3 active rest and at least one full rest day. As far as time of day… that’s on you! Does your day work well with a firm schedule? General consensus is that working out in the AM is easier, less time to put it off. For me I have to just fit it in where I can/when I feel motivated and if not? Then I do it at night. My day to day is pretty all over the map, and will only grow in that chaos with Summertime and no school schedule, so I will continue aiming for morning but taking time wherever I can squeeze it in. If you procrastinate and pull up your program and realize “There is NO way I can do 52minutes of anything right now!” then just take note of the muscle group/style of exercise it is and hunt down a short one on their page (their 10minute workouts are some of my FAVORITES!). A little of something, is far far better for your body than nothing.

Gear: This is where home workout can get pricey. All of the fitness blender videos are still hard and effective without any weights. But to really work on muscle growth and up your stamina, some weights will be really helpful (but not right off the bat! You could see how you like it and then slowly save up!). I used exclusively one pair of 8 pound weights of for the first year (!) because that was all I had. And? I loved it. Had awesome results and still got all the endorphin highs! In December Charlie bought me a weight set from Costco (10-30# for $200!) and it’s been amazing and invaluable. It means we can both workout together towards our goals, and it means that my muscles are growing like crazy now! If you are wanting in invest in something I would start with a pair of 15# weights and a pair of #5 pound weights, that at least gives you a nice weight for shoulders/back, and squats/deadlifts. And then grow from there. I also really like having a couple of kettle bells (less expensive!) I have a 10# and a 15# and really want a #35. Caution! Buying workout stuff is addictive! I have found all my plates and my first dumbells at Good Will and Value Village, always keep your eyes open! Other than weights: a good mat, supportive shoes, and killer headbands to keep your sweat at bay are all worthy investments. But? My favorite thing about working out at home? I can workout in my underwear and no one ever need know. heyo! I buy most of my workout clothes at Old Navy and Target, or I look for better brands at Good Will and Value Village (SO MANY IN MARCH! End of resolutions?)

How to do it with kiddos?: Two things here: one, expectations. The first few weeks/months you may be stopping your workout five… ten times, it might take you 1.5 hours to do the 45min workout. Or? You may have to stop all together and just call it good at 10min. But trust that doing some bit of something is still better for your brain and body than doing nothing. And secondly, the more you workout with kids around, the more normal it becomes. For our family it’s now just a part of the routine that “okay! I’m gonna workout now.” and they scatter to play. Or, they join in! It isn’t the most alonetime/break/easy when that happens, but I feel awesome about them choosing to stick with me and see me doing something I feel really great about modeling. But truly, the more you do it the more they really won’t care. Also? Full stop. If you plug your kiddo into netflix for 30min to get a sweat? No shame. It’s important to do what you need to do to be your best self and best parent, and sometimes that means some compromises. If we had more than one device/screen I’m sure I would be doing that too!

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Here are some quotes and support from some of the ladies in our Facebook group, sharing a little about their at home practice:

“Give yourself grace! Realize you aren’t a paid athlete and it’s okay to have more than one priority in your life. Scratch that, not just okay but healthy! Finding balance is so difficult but if you keep trying to fit fitness in (even 15- 20 minutes) you will feel so much better.” -Christin

“When I first started working out, I used several DVDs. They were so hard because I was so unhealthy and out of shape. But I made it my mission to complete the workout even if I had to down modify or walk in place during some of the moves. Making it through to the end gave me a real sense of accomplishment even if I wasn’t doing exactly what was prescribed” -Nicole

“The biggest challenge I’ve always faced is getting discouraged when the results seem to take such a long time to achieve. I want to see and feel immediate changes, but I have to remember that I didn’t get to my current physical state overnight, so I need to commit to long term goals in order to see appreciable improvement. I continually remind myself that I will never see results for the work I never put in.” -Colleen

“My advice would be to do what you can day by day & build up from there. If you go full out right out of the shoot (lifting like the trainer on the screen, keeping up with reps, etc) then you’re likely to be super sore, discouraged because you can’t “keep up” and then burn out quickly, not to mention the risk for injury. (Uh, I remember when 3lb weights made me incapable of washing my hair… But I gradually increased and it felt AMAZING!) But the biggest part? Have a stellar accountability partner to check in with daily. It makes all the difference. And knowing that there will always be someone that wants to put you down for bettering yourself. Having someone to turn to when those negative thoughts creep in was vital in my initial success in learning to be consistent.” -Megan

“My biggest advice would be to start with small achievable goals. For me it was committing to 30 minutes a day. That seemed so easy to do and squeeze into my schedule when I just started out. Also finding a chunk of the day that you firmly dedicate to exercise no matter what’s going on – of course you do have to be flexible too because, life. There’s many a day I’m catching up on my missed workout in the evening… But it’s also way more tempting for me to skip it then. Be gentle with yourself and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day!” -Liza

“You have to start from somewhere!” -Kristen

 

This post got long! But if you have any other questions feel free to ask them here or on the FB page, I would love to chat more about this!

 

 

The words we use.

Acceptable. Hot. Skinny. Okay. Good enough. Too much. Too flabby. Too soft. Good food. Bad Food. Clean food. Dirty food?

The words we throw around as goals, or descriptors are big. They aren’t just words, as much as I wish they were. They’re the balm we rub onto every inch of skin and stretch marks and cellulite, and take them on as truth. If ‘hot’ is my goal then I will bathe in that daily in the form of “goals or mantras”or what words will “push me through that last rep” until my brain has learned that what is inside doesn’t matter as much as what my skin pours out, am I hot? Hot enough? Too hot to be a mom? I can’t win.

*(I like goals and mantras, but not when they’re tied to how I “need” to look in a certain time frame)

The words we use are important. They’re the words we teach our kids. The words I toss around above their heads to friends as they absorb them like bubbles in the baths we take together. The baths where they talk about how much they love my Mama Marks, and how squishy I am, and soft I am. The words unspoken are; comforting, love, fulfilled, theirs, mama, cozy, memories, soft, mine. And those are words I want to wear with every inch of my skin.

The goals aren’t wrong, having a body goal isn’t inherently wrong, but pursuing body above heart and brain and self love, is. It’s dangerous. It’s insidious for our children. It’s shame and doubt and self hate. It’s where your fingers go on your phone in the night, what youtube videos you find yourself watching (how to get rid of cellulite, how to lose ten pounds fast), it’s where your heart feels heavy quick when you start to compare. It’s fear over a size up, and anxiety over a sleeveless dress.

We are far more than dresses and sizes, scales and numbers, lumps and bumps. We aren’t the words we’ve owned for so long, that is why changing them is important. I am not only what I pursue. I am what I am today, and that is worthy of care, love, and acceptance.

I am soft, strong, muscled, dedicated, hydrated, fueled, comforting, consoling, mine, theirs, his, and ours. I don’t have to shy away from my body just to celebrate it, this body is worthy of good words, sexy words, and descriptors. But it isn’t the only part of me.

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I asked for positive body descriptors on my Facebook page today. And damn, damn damn damn. Those smart people. The list just brings me right to my knees. If you are struggling with words for your body, read this list. Read it again. And then start to bathe in these words each time your brain wants to rob you of your worth. Also, I pulled this list verbatim. I wanted to see where the words overlap, where we are all leaning into, because there is power in knowing that as you chant “I am strong. I am strong.” you aren’t alone. I’m there, chanting it too. And so are these other women. Building up, not just ourselves. Not just our children. But each other.

 

Statuesque

Majestic

Beautiful

Strong

Sturdy

Tolerant

Nurturing

Perfectly Imperfect

Comfortable

Soft

Healthy

Invaluable

Unbreakable

Determined

Curvaceous

Nurturing

Spirited

Calm

Vital

Luscious

Capable

Juicy

Strong

Voluptuous

Home

Snuggable

Resilient

Unique

Capable

Strong

Learning Flowing

Sure

Desired

Squeezable

Sexy

Bangin’

Strong

Life-Giving

Comfy

Evolving

Life-Giving

Nourishing

Strong

Rooted

Alive

On Fire!

Voluptuous

Fertile

Resilient

Curvaceous

Life Creating

Solid

Luscious

Beautiful

Capable

Full of Life

 

I’ve read this list. ReRead it. And then challenged myself to read it out loud. I’ll be here. Coming back to this on the darker days, the mean brain days, and remembering. I’m not alone, we’re here together. “We are strong. We are strong.”

4 forever.

It’s weird to feel loss over babies never conceived. It’s strange and selfish feeling. We decided, two years ago, to be done. We made that decision permanent.

Nearly every night we talk about it, and we squeeze hands with excitement about our growing family and passing phases, the girls newest endeavors and how what just passed has now passed forever. It feels so right.

I look into the back seat as Charlie drives, his hand on my thigh, Nolie’s eyes wide out the window looking at each mountain and hill as it blurs by and Ev’s still chubby hands thumbing a book, and I feel so full to the brim with our family.

They cuddle together to read, they cooperatively work to build their cities and hospitals and camping trips and doll houses, they are made to fit each other. Complimenting and contrasting in every perfect way, the light and shadow each flip flopping in their role as they play and love and chat seamlessly. A large piece of our decision was their total contentment in each others arms and hearts and lives. There was no lack, to need, nothing missing. Our puzzle of four fit perfectly.

But there are quiet nights. Where my brain wanders and finds that old secret PinBoard full of pictures I saved for the baby we tried for before we decided we were done. The bump pictures, the nursery, the old posts of my own recalling the magic of those months. The nights where I relive the excitement through a friends announcement or a commercial. And the ache, the forever ache of a mama, I think, is there.

Sometimes I just say it to Charlie, often at night, more often as we drive, always after a friend tells us about their impending baby. “I’ll never have another.”

It’s not said with sorrow exactly, but not with joy either. Peace, maybe. Calm, almost. Just with surety.

It’s strange to decide. It’s uncommon to make that choice before we hit 30. And it’s strange to some to do that after “only” having two.

I don’t doubt our decision, or regret it.

But, I’ll never have another baby. And that weight is so big tonight. 1093843_10100584074008060_2006042849_o-1

{back when my Nolie nursed, and Ev was a little babe.}

 

Grabbing Tight, my January/Now.

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Motivation is fickle, some weeks I’m on it. Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s where I’m at in the month, maybe it’s how long it’s been since I’ve eaten a piece of cake as big as my head. But whatever it is, when it’s there. I grab it.

I wish I knew the single key to be able to just keep going, but whatever the code is, I haven’t unlocked it. Rather, I have found my own mode of staying somewhat motivated. Two things are working.

One is to not keep stuff that brings me down around me. Be that social media that contributes to negative thinking, or junky food in my pantry (or not junky, but just hard to stop myself on. I’m looking at you plantain chips.). If I just don’t have it there as an option (to hate read or shame eat, that is) then I’m WAY more likely to stick to my goals and positive thinking.

The second thing is a bit weirder, maybe controversial? When motivation is there, I GRAB IT. When I have the mornings where I wake up feeling like a beast who can lift heavier than ever, I make my day around it, and DO that. When I feel that urge and fire to meal prep for the week, I drop everything and shop and cook cook cook (obviously, with the limitations that come from a single income home, homeschooling, and two active kiddos).

These past two weeks I’ve had the bug. I’ve been really going hard in my workouts, writing lists of goals and checking off small steps towards them. It’s been here. I think the weather, the food, the excitement, it’s all just hit at a good time. But even here, at the close of my second week, I can feel that pendulum swinging a little bit towards rest. I’m not going to fight it. I’m going to take an extra rest day, not stress about family pizza night, and really enjoy the calm as much as the high.

Motivation can feel so fickle, but I am choosing to harness that into a cycle of self care that works for my mind and body. Some weeks I’ll have PR’s and sweaty yoga sessions daily, other weeks will be more school and coloring and hot coffee with homemade cookies. It’s balance, and motivation, and goals, and I’m good with that.

The quote “Don’t let perfect get in the way of Good Enough” rings deeply true for me. Those ideas of “don’t be content! Always be striving forwards!” don’t connect for me. Contentment and forward momentum can live together and look different at different times. For now, I’m keeping my home (and my phone!) full of things that make my heart feel good and my brain tick on positively, and I’m holding tighter to motivation while it’s there.

One thing to note is that, when I am feeling less motivated, I do keep up with the things that have become habits. Whole foods more than not, water, and yoga with a sweaty workout here and there.

I’ve been following this up and down pattern, while maintaining healthy habits (walking and yoga at least, lots of water, and whole foods), since January. I dropped all calorie counting or tracking, and am working on eating intuitively and trusting that when my body wants to workout hard, it needs it. Here is some of my change from January/Now.

I feel strong and happy in both photos. The victories here are skin deep, my muscles are thriving in this new way of grabbing motivation and using grace when it’s gone.

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Nut’ola!

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Paleo granola is pretty popular but it was hard to find one on the shelf that didn’t have a bunch of sugar. We eat a LOT of this, so keeping it lower sugar was important to me. Also, we have found that the big benefit of keeping it unsweetened is that it doubles really well as a salad topping!

Nut’ola is what it sounds like, nut-granola. I love it plain with almond or coconut milk, on top of chia pudding, or with yogurt. It’s also great by the handful, or sprinkled on top of salad for an extra crunch. It’s not a science, easy to change to fit your own likes/dislikes or allergies. And keeps well in a sealed container for a couple of weeks. Also, if you are grain loving you can substitute one cup of the nut’s for one cup of rolled oats easily.

Nut’Ola

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3 cups of mixed raw nuts (any will do! just pick your favorites, I like mine whole, other people like to pulse these in the blender once or twice to break them down a bit)

1 cup of seeds (chia, hemp heart, sunflower, what ever you like!)

1/2 cup coconut flakes

**Mix dry ingredients all together in your 9X13 baking dish**

2tbs melted coconut oil

2tbs nut butter (melted into oil, I also really love sunflower seed butter in this!)

shake of cinnamon

shake of ginger

**Pour oil and nut-butter mixture over dry ingredients and mix well. Put into a hot oven, at 350, and bake for 25min stirring and checking often.**

1 cup raisins (I love the jumbo mix of raisins from Trader Joe’s, but any raisins work.)

** Mix in raisins while nut’ola is still hot. Let is cool fully before storing.**

 

Home Yoga Practice: Getting Started!

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I read lots of “getting started” yoga articles about a year ago. All of them offered some great advice, but primarily just featured some pretty products and linked to videos that I am sure were wonderful, but expensive. They also all focused on out of the home yoga practices and while I wish (wish wish) I could make that a part of my week, I can’t swing the extra cost. The constant advice for an at-home practice is to set aside a time of day, the same time, every day. In my life… that is just not possible, at all. SO… here is my guide; a how-to for free/low cost, at home practice how-to’s. Bear in mind this comes from a total novice, complete newbie, and yoga fan more than fanatic. My practice is daily, and slow, but consistent, and growing.

Where to get started: I have always loved yoga/stretching, and the classes I’ve taken here and there inspire me when I get home. I would try Sun Salutations and Dolphin poses here and there, but the idea of making up my own flows (routines) was intimidating and felt impossible. But choosing one video to do over and over (ahem, jillianmichaelsyogameltdown, ahem) was boring and felt like it didn’t leave room for growth. This is where finding a YouTube channel served me perfectly. There are approximately a hundred thousand yoga video’s on youtube… and starting down that rabbit trail is overwhelming. I have found my favorite and will link to her page, Yoga With Adriene (duh, no affiliation, but Adriene, if you see this I LOVE YOU). If you are a super beginner with zero experience, start out with her Yoga For Beginners options (click on that and it will take you right there to the playlist), or with her Foundations of Yoga playlist, that will take you through many of the most often used poses, and help get your body aligned just right. If you have a little bit more experience (you’ve done some videos here and there, have a basic level of fitness) then I really encourage you to dive in with one of the 30 day challenges. Her 30 Days of Yoga challenge is really great, and her newer version Yoga Camp is wonderful (I just finished yesterday!). What I especially loved about Yoga Camp was that every day there was a mantra. That initially felt a little… weird, or fake, or just hard to connect with (I generally struggle with quiet or meditation) but the  more I went with it, said it out loud, all of that, the more I really loved and felt like it made a difference in my day and practice. I still use a lot of those mantras now with my practice. What I like most about her is she is really not intimidating (no fancy set, just her pretty home. No perfectly tanned/made up/boobs out body, just her body moving well in poses) and she’s also not overly spiritual/’woo woo’ in her practice. I’ve come to appreciate and love people who are, and I can be sometimes too, but I really like that her videos feel accessible and not over the top. Her instructions make sense and are to the point, instead of “now breath with the breath of an eagle” (but what does that mean?!). She’s great. I highly recommend her video’s as a place to start (or keep going!). Once you get your feet under you, and a daily practice ironed into your life, you will have a nice foundation for creating your own flows.

When?!: Start with your goal. How often do you want to practice? I started with three days a week of 20 minute videos. That felt achievable time-wise, but not a super huge commitment. Now I practice some amount (some days just 10 min!) daily. Once you decide how often, then it’s when will it actually happen. This part is hard. At least for us, and our style and daily life, and kiddos… this is so hard. My days are mostly dictated by the weather (is it nice out? We are headed out! beach! mountains!) and kid moods/sleep. If we all slept well, then when Charlie pops in to wake me up early (it’s a daily request of mine, and it works about 20% of the time, haha), I am more than ready to peel myself out from my pile of kids and do an early morning yoga/workout. If Ev was up nursing, and Nolie was chatting to me about her dreams all night (not uncommon… at all), then NOPE I will be sleeping till they wake naturally and fitting yoga/workout in later. Consequently, I can’t “map my week” or set aside a time daily. Instead, here is what works for me. Prioritize. Once we are up and moving, I set my phone down and think about our day. If there is at least an hour before our morning activity (usually starts at 11) then I make it happen early. I put my phone somewhere, plugged in, and leave it alone (I can easily flit away an hour on my phone without thinking, while the girls play after breakfast, and once that happens… then there is ‘no time’ to workout). If the morning is hectic or our plans are coming quick, then I think through the afternoon. And I carve the space out in my head BEFORE we get there. That way when the afternoon comes, and with it all the tired and done feelings, I already have a plan. At that point I set a phone timer. If 3pm is my time. I set that timer to go off 30 min early so I can start mentally preparing (I know, it shouldn’t be so hard! But for me it really is.) and when that timer happens, I plug my phone in (again, away) and get my yoga clothes on. I use that method for workouts and for yoga. I’ve found my yoga practice does feel best in the AM or after the girls are in bed, and that even 15min feels amazing. So often I prioritize my workout first (and set the timer for that) and then just make yoga my before bed/after kid bedtime plan. Usually I spend whatever time I can (while the girls are playing or in class) when we are out of the house, choosing a video or workout. Finding something I am excited about. If you are looking forward to it, you are more likely to do it. Laying out my clothes, choosing a video, telling a friend about it, setting my timer, thinking about a long shower afterwards and how great that will feel. All of those planning techniques really help me get to my mat. It’s also all momentum, the more you do it the more you’ll do it! Really! It works.

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Gear: So… this part. You don’t technically need any gear. Yes, a yoga mat is the best place to start (and a cheap one will work just fine! They are also ALWAYS at garage sales too!) and if you can afford to buy one piece of gear, buy a mat. But otherwise, you can fake it till you buy it with almost all yoga props. A blanket works fine or just your bare floor instead of a mat. Books work just fine as block, and a belt or long silk scarf works well as a band, and as for clothes… it’s a dangerous rode to go down. You don’t *need* any special clothes. Soft pajamas, anything stretchy and moveable. But there are also about a bajillion beautiful yoga pants, pretty tops, strappy bra’s and on and on. I love yoga pants that come down over my heels, they feel cozy and perfect for morning and evening yoga. I also like shorts that are tight and high waisted (Prana has some that I am drooling over, but I actually REALLY love the Studio collection from Old Navy and they’re cheap and thick and nice $18 a pair).

That’s it! If you have any questions, or recommendations for other great videos, please leave them in the comments! I am always on the hunt to switch it up.

Mothers Day

I wanted to share a couple of things. One is my post from my Facebook page, that you’ve likely seen. And two is my post to my girls on Mothers Day from my personal page. I’m sharing it here because today marked a big and really awesome milestone. I’ve written posts to my girls in some form or another, on some platform or another, every Mothers Day. But today, I read them all aloud to them. And they were still, and listened, and smiled, and cooed over the photos of tiny them. They’re getting big, and grown, and starting to understand it. How deep our love is. And how special and different it is. I’m so honored to be theirs, and today felt so big to share with them.

However, I am aware of what a deeply hard day this can be for so many, and so first I wanted to share from my page these words. I dropped tear after tear thinking of the hurting women out there who are aching for babies of their own. My heart breaks for those who give and give as Mothers, who put out mothering love and energy and don’t receive this day as their own for one reason or another, mostly all based in labels and cultural constructs. This day is hard and loud, and I hold you close today.

 

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Happy Mothers Day to you! You out there who nurture, who give, who donate, who love on others. Those who mother birth babies, babies birthed by others, babies that come over from across the street for a cookie and an ear, those who mother the kids who come through their line of work, those who mother with their hearts but not always their bodies, Happy Mothers’ Day to you. You who ache, you who yearn, you whose heart hurts, I am thinking of you today. Happy Mothers’ Day to those who are that stable person for a child, a teen, another person whose mama isn’t. You are doing the work, and it’s work that matters, regardless of what story your body or Facebook tells. This day is for you too. Take it, whether that is in a gentle thought to your heart, or a card, or a hot bath, or just a passing thought as you work yet another day. You are a strong Mama. No matter through what avenue or for what amount of time. I am thankful for you.

 

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Noele, meeting you was the single hardest thing I have ever done. Getting you out of my body, and to my arms was incredibly difficult, long, and scary. But we did it, together. We beat what every one in the room thought would happen, and you and I worked together through it every moment. Your Papa was the first to hold you, and your bond is deep and unbreakable. When you came to my arms, I felt what I had alway been come to a new and deeper fruition, I knew Mama was my name. You calmed and clung and nursed and gave me every gift in knowing you. We have continued to work together, learn each other, but have that deep and unspoken understanding between our matching round eyes. You are fully your own, and have been my guinea pig in motherhood. I’ve learned how to put the ideas I had into action with you, I’ve felt regret and learned to apologize, you are the best teacher and most forgiving friend. Thank you for allowing me to watch you grow, witness you as a person coming into your own more each day, but fully yourself ever day. You are curiosity and wild delight, you are grace and calm, and you are nurturing personified. I love you dear heart, forever.
 
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Ever, you are my spit-fire. Your birth was all redemption and beauty and prayer in action. You arrived into my arms, and were welcomed with total surprise (you came so fast!). I wept with pride in myself, and for us together, and your life has continued with that. We work together endlessly, we talk and talk through each obstacle and you have the endless ability of reflection. You came out scowling and crying and only wanting me, persnickety to the bone, and it’s only been recently that your shell has been allowing others (Nolie, Papa, and I have always had access!) to peek open to your deep security and willingness to allow others into your Joy and grin filled world. You are well named my love Ever Harbor Joy, you are always a moment away from a tight hug, a huge grin, and a quick joke. You have continued to surprise me, and put my ideals to the test. I love being your Mama and seeing your world unfold. You made the new baby mantra true in every way for me, when you were born ‘Everything is new again’ and it hasn’t stopped yet. Ever, you are wild and sensitive, gentle and talkative, particular and genuine through and through. I am so thankful to be your Mama and am honored to get to know you, and that you choose me daily in your arms. I love you dear heart, forever.

Sustainability.

My first whole30 was almost a year and a half ago. It changed so much for me about food, health, freedom, guilt, and body. But it also comes with deep consequences that can be really hard to overcome. Doing any kind of elimination diet, long term, can really mess with what is “okay” or  not okay in your brain, and what you start to categorize as “healthy”. Whole30 can be especially problematic because there are strict rules and guidelines and the tone of the site and book can be really harsh (works for some people, I am sure. But for me…not so much. I love the food and science behind it, and how it makes me feel, but not the tone). The deal is that to make whole and healthy food changes that last a lifetime you have to be able to decide and see what works for you long term and what will help your choices be sustainable. I wish I hadn’t done quite so many strict whole30’s back to back, and instead had followed the advice on the website to wait, and live my “Life After Whole30” a bit more out, so I could have learned more about myself and trusted my self control(turns out, I have AMAZING self control!!). It took me about 8mo (and 6 whole30’s) to really realize that I need to take off the training wheels and really try living my life without rules, and instead make healthy choices because they *feel* good and not because they’re imposed by a challenge I chose.

Sustainability is the key to maintaining your successes in food freedom, and your successes in body. Knowing what you need to keep your body ticking just right, whether that is what Whole30.com would recommend or not… is way (way way) more important that always living By The Book.

On that note… Chia Pudding.

Chia pudding is a (hilariously) hotly debated food in the Whole30 world. It’s mentioned on the site to “leave the chia pudding for 30 days” when talking about SWYPO foods (aka: Sex With Your Pants On, meaning foods that recreate a food that can send you spiraling, and won’t help you break your sugar/grains/baked goods/whatever coping mechanism during those 30 days). There are rules to whole30, and there are recommendations. No chia pudding is a recomendation, not a rule.

My feelings on this: 1. I don’t like eggs. So having a go-to breakfast that is healthy, protein and fat dense, and easy… worth it.

2. It’s portable, and that is paramount to sustainability and success for me!

3. It’s just not that good. Chia pudding doesn’t make me dive into a pudding cup once the 30 days are over (nothing does, because pudding is great, but not a “thing” for me), because it doesn’t taste anything like that. It’s good, sure, but it’s not sweet or creamy. It’s a great on the go choice, and off whole30 it’s stellar with some honey, but when you make it compliant (this recipe is), it’s more like a yogurt substitute than it is a pudding recreation.

Anyhow… there are a million recipes out there! But here is mine. Endlessly tested, fool proof, and so meal prep friendly it’s ridiculous.

 

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Chia Pudding

1 cup nut milk (I used that coconut almond blend, it’s whole30 friendly, and tasty! It’s also great in coffee. You can use coconut cream cut in half with water, coconut milk, almond milk, whatever you love and you family prefers. Just be sure to either make homemade or read you labels, lots of nut milks are full of added junk!)

1/4 cup chia seeds

Dash of Cinnamon

Mix all of this together well into serving sized containers and then choose 1-3 mix in’s (I’ll add a list of ones that go well in it and one’s that work better as toppings the day of!).

Refrigerate for at least three hours, but also keeps for up to 5 days in your fridge. I prep enough for the weekday mornings on Sunday nights!

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Mix-In (to add before you pop it into the fridge!):

Frozen Berries

Almond Butter/Sun butter (mix this in super well and it flavors the whole thing SO well! This with a banana chopped into it is Charlie’s favorite combo)

Mango Chunks (omit the cinnamon for this mix)

Tumeric and Nutmeg (and top with nut’ola at serving)

Unsweetened cocoa powder (this is amazing with nut butter too and also topped with fresh berries)

 

Topping (to put on top at the time you serve it! I like to always have something to add to it that has some crunch because the texture can be a little soft for a whole breakfast)

Nut’ola (basically paleo granola! I’ll be posting my recipe for it later this week)

Apple Slices

Banana Slices

Toasted coconut

Raw or toasted Nuts

Fresh Berries

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I almost always make three nut butter/banana ones for Charlie to grab and go in the AM (he needs higher calorie count than me so he takes one of these, a couple hard boiled eggs, and tops his with nut’ola as well!) and three that are just cinnamon and mixed frozen berries for me. Let me know if you make these, and if you have any other suggestions for mix-in’s or toppings! We are always looking for ways to switch it up.

Space for fear

Today I swung my whole self hand-to-hand across the monkey bars. A year ago I couldn’t hang, holding my own body weight, for more than 25sec.

Yesterday I hung upside down on a bar on the school playground, by just my knees, I used momentum and swung back and forth until I could let my legs go and land on my feet. I didn’t, I fell. But it was okay!

Nolie squealed! I grinned! And tried again.

Feeling the weight of my body, and the strength of my hands was exhilarating. Feeling a little scared, a little uncomfortable, but knowing I could trust that if I fell, I would be okay, maybe I wouldn’t fall next time.

Watching my daughter feel proud and excited for me.

This is why I lift weights, why I rock climb, and why I keep trying to hang on the monkey bars.

Not only for those girls. Not only for the normalcy of a Mama who plays, swims with them, and jumps on the trampoline, and tried ridiculous headstands, and falls and gets scrapes. I want to  do things that scare me. In front of them!

But also, for me. That moment of “can I really do this?” and then… that next of “yes!” or… “hah! not yet!”

It feels good to practice what I preach to my kids. To shift those words I say to them so often, onto myself;  “You can do hard things. Your body is so capable!”

Today I felt it. Today I got to model it. And today I am so strong. IMG_6830

motivation.

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I never used to be motivated by images or by other people being active. I immediately converted that into comparison and shame. I could feel disordered thinking and negative self talk get wrapped right up into my view, as quick as my eyes can snag the image I have made it inextricably linked to “I am not good enough”.

It’s bizarre. We, as a culture, and especially as women, are often fed the idea that shame is a good motivator. That I will do the extra squat if I imagine how jeans shopping will feel.

That I will wake up early to dedicate time to a workout I hate because I need to earn that pizza I ate with my husband the night before.

It’s insidious. It’s in the names of products, and  ‘bikini boot camp’ classes, and on all our lips and brains as we imbibe in more and more fitness media everyday. Someone selling you something to give you a “beach body” or something to fix your flawed self by screaming that “it works!” instead of you “hey! You already work!”.

And, it works, for a bit. Shame can get you out there once, twice, maybe a few months or so if you are really low. But does it satisfy? Never.

Every time I have ventured into health because of shame I lose steam. Or, I reach my goal and set a new one because the old one suddenly isn’t enough, my brain still sad. I meet a weight goal and am still not enough… because I never would be, no matter how small I got, because I am doing it all as a mean of satisfying a cruel voice of shame. So no number on the scale will feel like enough.

This past year+ has been the first where self care has trumped weight loss for me. Using whole foods to heal, and the real key: allowing myself to take days off, choose a bath, choose TV with Charlie, choose rock climbing or hiking or yoga over calorie blasting cardio… choosing whatever speaks to the health of my Whole Body.

I’m still learning this. It’s really really slow and forward/backward work. But I am moving forward. Mostly in a self love drenched fashion.

It’s given me an interesting shift in how I see images. The women I follow on instagram don’t make me feel bad. I don’t compare. I am stopping any negative thoughts in their tracks or {this is important!} unfollowing when I feel that I am unhealthy viewing these people. Lately, I can scroll my feed and feel inspired by head and handstands that I have on my goals, I can see sweaty workouts and heavy weights lifted and think “yeah! get it!” because that is awesome. Regardless of their bodies, that are by and large a good 50 pounds smaller than mine! I’m slowly curbing my comparisons and instead growing my sisterhood. Seeing women not as shame vehicles or a competition that I am failing. 

It’s helping. It’s showing me more concrete ways for Me to be motivated. To see pictures and be inspired, to see them and get up and try that pose! To want to wake early because the ball is rolling and I can feel how strong momentum is. It feels so good to be in control of my thoughts more.

My thoughts love grace, love thanks, love strong women, and love to be inspired. Those are my motivations. Is what I am doing, now, making me feel better, loved, grace filled, inspired? If not, then change something. Delete something. Journal something.

And, to be clear, sometimes what I am doing is nothing. Because sometimes, doing nothing is exactly the kind of ‘better’ I need to be feeling.

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