Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blog Hiatus and Retooling

My deepest apologies to my two readers out there!

There's been a significant amount of activity in my personal life, causing much reflection on who I am, who I want to be and where I'm going. Unfortunately, it's just personal enough that I'm not comfortable publically blogging about everything, but it's major enough that I'm rethinking my purpose in this blog, what I want to write about, what's important to me, and what I think may be important to other moms.

So if you're reading this, please don't mind my brief hiatus. I hope to relaunch, with a new focus and new design, in the next few months. Any thoughts, ideas, comments, insights, suggestions would be much appreciated. If I have updates on where this blog may be going, I will post them along the way.

Thanks so much for your patience!

FYI - I'm back at the gym a couple times a week....and LOVING IT!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Life has been taking me for a ride a lot lately, with a cold followed up in less than two weeks with a summertime flu-like virus! But more importantly, I received news that an old college classmate lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis this past weekend.

Cystic Fibrosis a genetic disease with a life expectancy of only 35 years old. Josh died at a heartbreakingly-young 31 last Friday. Cystic Fibrosis was the charity of choice for our chapter of Delta Sigma Pi in college, as one of the chapter's founders died from the disease; and it is the charity of choice for the Saint Peters Playgroup that I run, as one of our little guys has CF as well. My MOPS mentor from last year has a son with CF who's an amazing 44 years old - thanks to a double lung transplant.

So if you're thinking about it, check out the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - 90% of the charity's donations go towards research, care and education programs, so please consider making a donation today, and write it off your taxes next year. When Josh was born, life expectancy was still in the teens, and thanks to this Foundation, the life expectancy has increased from 32 to 35 years old just since 2000. It's a worthwhile cause that literally saves lives.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wii Workout

My MIL purchased a Wii for my stepdaughter and the family has, of course, been playing around with it.  I'd heard all about how using a Wii was a workout, and I'm happy to report that it's true! 

When you purchase a Wii, it comes with Wii Sports, a game package that includes Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Golf and Boxing.  Holy Crap!  Any of these will get your heart rate up if you let it!  Boxing especially wore me out.  Now, the young kids, you know the 9 and 10 year old gamers, play less dork-like, and just stand there and move the controllers.  But us adults, I find, really get into it, using our full bodies to simulate hitting a tennis racket or trying to knock out our spouse.  If you're doing it right, you'll find yourself sore the next day!

My two year old son, whom I don't really let play, loves to pretend he's playing, so much so that it's become a morning workout for me.  (Which is helpful since I'm still on doctor's rest from Stroller Aerobics.)  We do about 45 minutes of Wii, with my son holding a second, unactivated controller, imitating me while I play tennis and baseball.  Both of which I'm terrible at, but I keep trying.  I'm pretty good at the bowling, though, I bowled a 201 this morning.  That has never come close to happening in real life!

So, I strongly recommend that you start putting money aside, and look into investing in a Wii for your family.  Wiis are expensive, and if you want to play with a second person, you have to invest in another controller and nunchuck, sold separately, of course.  Seriously, we have about $330 in gaming equipment, but if I consider that i'll play it for about 45 minutes each day, I actually get more use out of that than a gym membership!  Ha!  And if it gets the whole family off the couch, it's ten times better than a gym membership.  

And if you already have a Wii, I'd love to hear from you and what your favorite games are!  And has anyone tried the new Wii Fit?  Could make an already cool machine even cooler!

Friday, June 13, 2008

15 Sneaky Ways to Exercise

Thanks to Debbie, who shared this on the FitMommas of St. Peters message board today. Great Ideas!

15 Sneaky Ways to Get Fit
By Jillian Rowley

When you're a mom, it's tough to find time to exercise. But with a little creativity, you can squeeze in a workout without overhauling your busy schedule. Don't believe us? Check out these brilliant suggestions.

Stock your trunk
Feel like you spend your life in the car driving your kids from one activity to the next? Try storing a pair of sneakers and a jump rope or resistance bands in the trunk. Next time you find yourself waiting for your daughter's ballet class to let out or your son to finish his piano lesson, you can get in a quickie workout.

Dance every day
Every morning, turn on the stereo and get your kids energized for the day with a 10-minute dance session in your living room. Not only will they love learning how to do the Twist and the Electric Slide, but you'll break a sweat and burn a few calories.

Have the babysitter come early
Having dinner plans means you have even less time for yourself, right? Not always. The next time you and your spouse have a dinner date, ask the sitter to come an hour earlier. While she watches the kids, use the first 30 minutes to exercise and the rest to get gorgeous. Remember, working out before a big meal helps rev up your metabolism and makes you more likely to eat healthier.

Take a walk at naptime
Don't just sack out on the couch while your little one naps in his crib! Once or twice a week, strap him into the stroller instead -- the vibrations from being on the move will help him fall asleep quickly while you take a power walk around the neighborhood.

Ask Dad to run errands
"The key to finding time to exercise is to look at your schedule and find a few tasks that you can assign to your husband," says Julie Morgenstern, a professional organizer and author of Time Management from the Inside Out. "Maybe it's having him pick up the kids from daycare or going to the bank and post office." A good place to start: Every Sunday afternoon, have Dad take your little ones to do the grocery shopping while you hop on the treadmill, go for a jog outside, or head to the local pool to swim some laps.

Plan around playdates
Ask around at your child's preschool and you're bound to find another mom who wishes she had more time to exercise as well. Then set up a playdate schedule: One week, you host the playdate so the other mother can exercise for an hour; the next week, she watches the kids so you can use the time to hit the gym.

Play T-Ball before pizza
If you're like most families, you probably order pizza or Chinese food at least once a week. The next time you're waiting for your food to be delivered, get the whole family outside for a pickup game of touch football, softball, catch, or even tag.

Start a video library
Buy a few inexpensive, 30-minute workout videos to use while your child is napping or right after he goes to bed. To keep costs down, borrow tapes from your local library, see whether your video store has any used videos, or check out sites like half.com, collagevideo.com, and secondspin.com.

Pump some iron
"Women don't realize that just five or 10 minutes of strength training provides enormous benefits to their muscles, boosts their metabolism, and reduces their future risk of osteoporosis," says fitness expert Kathy Smith. Every other night, while you and your family watch television, use 3- or 5-pound weights to do three sets of 10 biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, and chest flies.

Cheer on the move
Don't just sit in the bleachers or on the sidelines during your child's soccer and basketball games. Instead, walk the perimeter of the field or court as many times as possible. If you find it too distracting to walk while you watch, try to slip in some yoga moves while no one's looking.

Use your lunch hour
If you work, make your lunch break your designated time to exercise. "My company has an on-site fitness center, so I try to hit the gym for a 30-minute workout three times a week. On those days, I bring my lunch and eat at my desk," says mom Sara Schmid, of Atlanta. If you don't have a fitness center nearby, keep a pair of sneakers under your desk, grab a coworker, and climb up and down the stairs in your building.

Enlist the kids
Need a fitness buddy? Look no further than your child! Most community YMCAs offer "Mommy and Me" swimming or yoga classes, many big cities have stroller-walking programs, and any yard is big enough for an impromptu obstacle course. "When the swim class I take with my 12-month-old son ends, I hand him to my husband so I can squeeze in 15 minutes' worth of laps," says Lynzi Ziegenhagen, of Baltimore.

Window-shop before you buy
Even if you know exactly what you want, always do two laps of the entire mall before you buy a thing. Not only will you burn calories, but you'll also find out who's having the best sale.

Tone and tighten around the house
Doing little exercise moves throughout your day will leave you with strong, shapely muscles. Try calf raises while you iron, leg lifts when you're washing dishes, and deep squats and lunges as you feed your toddler lunch in his high chair.

Get up earlier
It's true: The morning is often the best time for moms to fit in an uninterrupted workout. Just once a week, set your alarm for 45 minutes earlier so you can ride your bike, practice yoga or Pilates, or go running and start off the day refreshed.

How to Create a Home Gym
We're not talking about spending thousands of dollars on a treadmill and other high-tech gear. "Believe it or not, you can get a full-body workout by buying just a few inexpensive pieces of equipment that you can use in your TV room," says Sue Fleming, director of physical education at Riverdale Country School, in the Bronx, and author of Buff Moms-to-Be. Check out Fleming's suggestions for getting fit on the cheap.

Dumbbells. If you're a beginner, buy 3- and 5-pound sets of weights. Use them to strengthen your arms, chest, back, and shoulders. ($10 to $20)

Resistance bands or elastic tubing. These provide great resistance for leg and arm exercises. ($15 to $25 for a set of several bands)

An exercise step. Use a sturdy, hard plastic step or bench with a slip-proof rubber covering for toning moves like squats and lunges, in addition to heart-pumping cardio workouts. ($25 to $50)

Fitness ball. Strengthen your abs, back, and lower body with the help of this oversize plastic ball. It's also good for safely modifying moves when you're pregnant. ($30)

Copyright © 2006. Reprinted with permission from the November 2006 issue of Parents magazine.
© Copyright 2008 Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chili Dogs without the Heart Attack

(It has taken two days worth of attempts to get this online!  And it hasn't been computer problems, but life problems, like a terrible two year old, and a "honey, I need" husband!)

One of the many struggles to life fit and healthy is giving up all your old favorite standards.  Most of us grew up on a typical American diet, which back in the day wasn't as terrible because we moved more and didn't consume quite so much.  But today, we're fairly sedentary and have grown accustomed to super-sized portions.  And we think we can't eat foods that are traditionally bad for us.  So here's a new column feature of how to enjoy old favorites, but a bit healthier than we're used to.  By no means am I saying these are healthy meals you should eat everyday!  But there are ways to incorporate the tastes of your youth without killing your waistline (or, yourself!)

This week, I was really wanting a chili dog!  Talk about a heart attack on a plate!  Hot dogs are a hot bed of who-knows-what - anyone remember the Dan Ackroyd/John Candy classic "The Great Outdoors?"  I love that movie, and one of my favorite lines is Dan Ackroyd's character's description of what a hot dog is made of.  Unfortunately, it's not fit for family reading, but it's not pleasant!  And Chili!  The only thing that keeps chili from killing you on the spot is that it's loaded with fiber if you're smart enough to eat it with beans.  

So how can you enjoy a chili dog without the heart attack?  First off, replace your regular funky dogs with turkey dogs.  Yes, turkey is now the Great Imitator, being manufactured into some of your favorite foods to offer up a healthier alternative.  Now, the quality of turkey dogs varies, and unfortunately, you definitely get what you pay for.  No off brands here, buy the good stuff, and you'll be justly rewarded.

Second, (you should know what's coming here), give turkey chili a try!  My favorite no-brainer choice here is Chili Man's Turkey Chili with Beans.  Found at every major grocery store, and is a significantly healthier choice than most commercially made chilis.  And opting for chili with beans gives you more fiber than you'll know what to do with at one time (that's actually a bit of a warning!  Drink Up!)

You can forgo the extra carbs by opting to go bunless, but if that's just not cutting it for you, pick up some 100% whole wheat hot dog buns.  They make whole wheat hot dog buns, hamburger buns, tortillas, english muffins - at this point, there's no excuse for any refined white flours in your life!  Top off your chili dog with some shredded 2% Fat cheddar cheese, and you've got yourself an American classic that won't give you a coronary!  Add some baked potato fries and some fruit-flavored water, and you have a satisfying new take on an old classic!

Now, let's be clear - this is not a health-food meal.  Hot dogs and chili have various chemicals and fillers, not to mention the sodium.  However, this is about reinventing old favorites, so that when you are feeling like you just can't take another grilled chicken salad, you don't find yourself at Sonic, ordering not only their chili dog, but also a batch of chili-cheese fries and a mega-soda!  

Monday, June 2, 2008

Healthy Snack of the Week

I'm still struggling with tiredness, but at least my nausea is coming to an end.  And I'm trying to develop some regular Blog features, making it easier for me to think of stuff to write about everyday.  And my eating habits for the past week inspired my first column feature!

Healthy snacks can be tough, because most marketed snacks come in small bags or packages, and contain more calories, fat and sodium than most of us need in one short sitting!  So I'm going to feature easy to make snacks that are healthy for you!  Keep them around the house or in the fridge at work and hit them up first before heading to a vending machine!

This week's snack is something I ate almost every day last week - Apples and Peanut Butter!  Apples are so good for you - loaded with soluble and insoluble fiber and vitamin C.  Research shows that apples lend to a healthy heart, lungs and, ahem, colon.  I tend to like crunchy, sweet varieties, like Pink Lady, Gala or Fuji.  My hubby and stepdaughter will only eat tart Granny Smith.  Try a few different varieties out to find your favorite - they are definitely not all the same!  

As for peanut butter, I can only advocate a natural, organic peanut butter, not the good, old fashioned Jiff or Skippy we all grew up on.  That stuff is loaded with trans fats and "stabilizers."  Natural peanut butter should only have two or three ingredients on its label - peanuts, oil and salt.  When you open up your first jar, do not be alarmed.  Natural PB separates, and it needs to be stirred up at first, then stored in the fridge to stay firm.  But the taste is all there!  And despite the high fat, peanut butter is good for you!  The fat is Good Fat, and will help reduce your risk of heart disease.  And it's loaded with protein.  Just keep your servings to no more than two tablespoons, as fat is fat, and PB is high in overall calories.  

So slice up an apple this afternoon, and take them for a dip in some peanut butter.  Yummy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Hunger Solution

Apparently, the way to keep from waking up at 3am in the morning from hunger if you're pregnant is to eat something right before you go to bed!  Isn't that was health and fitness professionals are always saying, eat right at bedtime?  (*snark*)

No wonder us preggos gain so much weight, we're stuffing our faces as we lay down to rest!  However, it does keep me from being awake in the middle of the night and sleep is so precious in these few months before a new little one makes it's presence known.  So my strategy will be to eat something light, but worthy (like an english muffin with a bit of peanut butter) along with a glass of milk before bed.  Let's hope I get my energy back to restart my daily walks!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm Just So Hungry!

What is it about pregnancy that brings on ravenous hunger?  I distinctly remember this with my first pregnancy, casually telling my husband that I was hungry, and within minutes ripping his head off because I was so hungry I wanted to eat his arm.  I can't remember if this was just a certain trimester or the whole pregnancy, but I remember it!

So far, this has only hit a few times, and not quite as intense as I remember with the first pregnancy.  But last night was a new experience.  After our long weekend out of town, we treated my mom and stepdad to a big dinner of grilled steak, roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus - Major Yum! - for taking care of our dog for us.  I definitely ate until full, though I didn't overstuff myself.  By bedtime, I was telling my husband how I already felt hungry again, but I went to bed.  By 4am, I was up and out of bed, rummaging in the kitchen, looking for something light enough to satisfy the hunger, but let me go back to bed.  Two hours, two whole wheat english muffins and a cup of lo-fat yogurt later, I was finally satisfied enough to be able to go back to bed!  

I really wanted some fruit and cottage cheese, but we didn't have anything that fresh since we've been out of town.  I know that protein would have helped satisfy me, but didn't even think to put peanut butter on those english muffins until I was already done.  Another reason to keep a well-stocked house of lots of low-fat proteins and low-glycemic carbs - which, of course, would be easier to do if I was ever in town to keep a well-stocked house without it all going bad!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Working Out While on Dr's Order's to Rest

I'm now at 11 1/2 weeks pregnant, and I continue to have sporadic spotting.  Even though ultrasounds continue to show that everything is going perfectly, I'm on doctor's orders to take it easy.  She specifically said "No Stroller Aerobics!" which is my main form of both aerobic and strength training exercise!  For the past few weeks, I wasn't worry about it too much, and fully enjoying the reasons to rest!

However, here I am now, and while I'm in major "Wow!" over not gaining one pound, I realize that I'm getting really squishy!  Translation:  I'm losing muscle mass!  Yikes!  So rest or no rest, I need to find ways to keep active while keeping the activity to a minimum.  How the heck do I do that??

Well, I'd love to hear any ideas, but here are some that I've come up with.

1.  The Exercise Ball.
I need to bring mine up from the basement, which is currently undergoing some remodeling to make room for baby.  It's time to bring it to the living room, and do some easy stability moves that will help me keep toned without over-exerting myself.  

2.  Embracing Housework
WHA??  Ok, not that I love cleaning house, but if you're familiar at all with the FlyLady (check out her site if you're not), you learn that you can do a weekly once over in your home in about an hour - racing against the clock!  If I gotta clean anyway, I might as well make it worth my while!  The idea is that you make a short list of chores, and do the best you can in 10 minute segments, actually setting a timer and racing against it.  The house is clean on the surface, and you get a decent, meaningful workout doing what you have to do anyway.  No Heavy Lifting allowed!

3.  Assisted Squats and Lunges
I don't know about you, but squats and lunges raise my heart rate fast, and I can find myself overdoing it fast!  So if you need to take it easy, grab the back of a chair or couch with one hand, go slow and get squatting.  These are great moves for pregnant moms anyway, and you'll still reap many fitness benefits even though you're not doing them at full strength.  

4.  Take a Walk
Unless you're on Full Bedrest, there's no reason you can't take a simple walk.  It's better than sitting on the couch any day.  For me, that means putting my little one in the umbrella stroller, and taking a walk around the cul-de-sac.  If I'm feeling ambitious, we can drive to the park, give Momma a walk, and then let the little one burn off some energy on the playground when we're done.

Ok - so these are just off the top of my head, and I'd love more ideas if you have them!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life Takes Hold

There's no excuse for lack of posting, only my perfectionism to blame.  The fact is this pregnancy, and my May schedule of one family event after the other, has left me with next to no energy to even come on the computer to type a simple post.  That, and my desire to have all my posts be ground breaking and full of information - well, that's just silly, because this is supposed to be a blog about a real mom facing real challenges (Like Life!!) while trying to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle, right?  So if I'm struggling, I should be on here talking about it, and not worry about giving all the best analysis of the latest fitness news!

So anyway, I worked out for the first time in two weeks on Monday - and it was awesome!  I had SO much energy in the few hours afterwards.  And then exhaustion set in, as it does every day in this first trimester of pregnancy!  And I slept the rest of the afternoon!  Yesterday, Tuesday, was a small birthday party for my son with his playgroup friends, which wiped me out!  Today....recoup and regroup!  The crazy schedule is coming to an end, only one more family event this weekend, and then we're done.  In the meantime....

I'm happy to report that I've been too tired to stuff my face, and at 11 1/2 weeks pregnant, I've not gained one pound.  I have noticed, however, that I'm a bit squishier, most likely due to the lack of exercise.  Some of that was doctor-ordered, but everything's looking better now, so I'm hoping to get back to 3 days a week of good cardio, at least two of good strength and two of yoga.  

So I promise to update every day, even if it's just my daily struggles.  That's what I started this blog for!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Get Yourself a Workout Partner

A not-so-secret symptom of pregnancy is feeling like crap!  My nausea has been up and down so far, but the exhaustion is constant.  I hadn't left the house in over three days, so overwhelmed with tiredness, and feeling like the pit of my stomach was in my throat.  Blech!
But something got me out of the house today, and it certainly wasn't my overwhelming desire to be fit and healthy.  It was knowing that I obligated myself to lead a Stroller Aerobics every Wednesday morning.  I missed last week because of physical concerns with the pregnancy (which turned out to be nothing.)  So while I wanted to stay on the couch (again) today, I put on my workout clothes, ate some toast to soothe the belly, and grabbed my ginger hard candies.  I wanted to turn around a million times, but once I saw my friends there, I knew I had made the right decision.  I did ask someone else to lead the group, but I was there.  And even crazier is that I felt great once it was all over!

Having someone or a small group to workout with is such a huge key to your overall success.  It's a painful truth, but we have no problem letting ourselves down.  But the flip side is we find it terribly hard to let others down.  So one way to ensure your commitment to yourself is to find a reliable outside person to commit to.  

Some things to keep in mind:
  • Choose someone who is reliable, not someone who will be skipping out for a million reasons or will be talking you into a trip to Dairy Queen instead of a morning walk.
  • Keep your workout location convenient for both of you, as this will eliminate excuses for not showing up.  
  • It's helpful if you and your partner are of similar physical shape - so that one isn't ready to run a mile while the other is barely walking around the block.
  • Remember that you're getting together to workout, and to push each other to achieve better health - any conversation is bonus!
If you don't automatically know who to ask, here are a few ideas:
  • Ask neighbors, friends, church members if anyone is interested - you may be surprised who is looking for the same thing as you.
  • Check out Meetup.com to see if there's a local workout group in your area.  If not, consider starting one if you're feeling ambitious (this is how FitMommas of St. Peters was started.)
  • Try to match up with a fitness partner using a site like Exercise Friends, or posting an ad on Craigslist.
  • You can always post a small flyer at the local library or grocery store bulletin board.
Hopefully once you find a partner to commit to, you'll find it easier to commit to yourself as well!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Who Will You Be?

Last week, I mentioned in my How To Be A Better Mom post the new Maria Shriver book, "Just Who Will You Be?"  Well, my copy arrived via Amazon today, and I have to say, it's an inspiring little read.  And I do mean little!  It took me about 35 minutes to read, but she packs a nice punch in those few words.  

It's not life shattering, but eye-opening.  Knowing what we know of the Kennedy family, it's refreshing to hear from one of the more famous and successful ones that everyone struggles with their identity.  We all feel lost at times, but to hear that from someone so seemingly put together is not scary, but comforting.  There's no such thing as having it all, and it's OK to constantly change and figure out who you are.  

I encourage any woman of any age, especially if you find yourself at a crossroads (which for me is every other week!).  You won't find the answers, but may feel more comfortable asking yourself the questions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

20 Worst Foods in America

Yesterday, I revealed pretty much the only thing you need to know about losing weight - well, OK, I might have oversimplified, but I postulated that simply eating less food and learning correct portion sizes is key to overall weight loss.  It must be on the minds of many, as I found an interesting link on the Yahoo page to the 20 Worst Foods in America, written by one of the authors of "Eat This, Not That."  (Anyone read this book yet?  May be an interesting read...)
Take the time to read through each of the 20 foods and you quickly see that I wasn't just whistling Dixie about the ginorous portions that we've become accustomed to in restaurants.  I love those quick, fresh-Mex places for a good burrito, and always thought that the grilled chicken burrito was a good way to go - who knew that Chipotle's version packs in just under 1200 calories!  YIKES!

So even when you think you're choosing something somewhat healthy for you, remember to stop when you're full, and don't feel compelled to finish every bite.  And if you suspect that something's atrociously unhealthy, rest assured that you're 100% correct, and opt for something a little less detrimental to your health!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

FitMommas Big Weight Loss Secret - Eat Less Food!

Okay, this could be a career ender for me right here, but I'm going to give you the big, weight loss secret that trumps all others - eat less food, exercise more.  Alrighty, my work here is done, we can all go home now.
(crickets chirping)

Oh, you're still here?  This "eat less, move more" theory isn't as easy as it seems?  Well, all joking aside, it obviously isn't, because look at us.  We, as a nation, are huge!  And it may just have something to do with the fact that we eat constantly!  Have you noticed this?  I referenced in my post yesterday about our extreme overconsumption, and in no area is that more prevalent than in the area of food.  We eat from sun up to sun down, we eat when we are not hungry, we eat when we're bored, tired, upset, happy, sad, up and down.  And we're teaching our kids to do the same.  My just-about two year old son eats all day, and I'm to blame!  I can't leave the house without half our pantry in small ziploc bags in case he has a Goldfish freakout in the middle of Costco.  

So what to do?  Nine times out of ten, it's all about portions.  That's right, folks, good ol' Portion Control will save you inches off your waist.  You can eat the exact same foods, just eat less of them, and you will lose weight.  Now, if you want to do an Ali-like transformation, yes, you will need to address what you're eating as well, but good health can be attained by simply eating less.  Here's some ideas to help.

1.  Only Eat When You're Hungry - I'm going to go out on a limb here with this crazy suggestion.  Don't eat if you're not hungry!  Hunger is a physical feeling in your tummy, not a mindless reach for the chips because it's 3pm and you're bored.  If you're bored, take a walk, call a friend, check your email, read a book to your kid.  If you're sad or angry, call a friend or write in your journal.  If you can't resist when someone else opens up a bag of chips, carry some sugar free gum with you, and pop it in your mouth.  No explanation needed, just say "No Thanks!"

2.  Learn What a Portion Is - Restaurants have seriously distorted our view of what portions are, and we are partly to blame for this.  We feel like we're getting a better deal when they bring out a bowl of spaghetti the size of the Colosseum.  But spend a few days in your pantry.  Read those labels, and find out that a portion of chips is not half a bag.  Dole out those portions, and learn what a 1/2 cup of rice actually looks like.  Also, use some handy non-food references.  Body For Life taught me to use the palm guide (not palm reader...).  When filling up your plate, only give yourself about a palm-sized portion of each item you're eating.  

3.  Eat Slower - One reason we eat so much food is that we've swallowed half a plate of food before it even hits our stomach.  We're a society on the go, and eat half our meals in the car or at the counter in about five minutes.  Be like the French, and sit back and relax - savor each bite!  Make eating an event, and slow down.  When you allow the food to reach your stomach after each bite, you'll find that feel fuller after eating less food! 

4.  Use Smaller Plates - When we registered for our wedding, I insisted on these awesome 12 inch white porcelain plates from Pier One.  I love them.  They also look really, really empty when I put normal portions sizes on them.  Surely that's not enough food, look at all that white space!  In turn, I've taken to eating more meals on our lovely salad plates.  It gives the illusion that I'm eating a full plate of food, and amazingly, it works!  

5.  Stop Cleaning Your Plate - Oh, your mom is so mad at me for this!  But seriously, stuffing your face will not help the starving kids in China, or anywhere else for that matter.  If you can't control the portions that are given to you, do not feel the compulsion to eat every last morsel.  If at a restaurant, ask for the lunch size portion, and if that's not an option, ask for the to-go box up front, and put half your food in it right away.  If you're with friends or family, Just Say No to more food when they start pushing.  Sing praises of the chef, but politely suggest that you simply can not eat another bite, you're full!  (Yes, they'll talk, but they're talking if you're overweight, too, so don't worry about it!)

6.  Ban the Buffet - Let's face it, we love to get a good deal.  And if I'm paying $9.95 for an all-you-can-eat, you bet I'm going to eat all I can!  So just don't do it.  HomeTown Buffet is now angry with me, but those just aren't good places to go if you're trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight.  This also goes for big family gatherings, you know the ones where every bit of counter space is covered with some dish, and you just keep going back in for one more bite.   Stop lurking over the counters, and go sit in the living room and strike up a conversation with your Aunt Myrtle instead.

7.  No More Family Style - Along the same lines as Ban the Buffet, let's change what eating Family Style means.  Take the pot of mashed potatoes off the dining room table and keep it in the kitchen.  Make it harder to go back in for seconds.  If you really want more, you have time to think about it while getting up and walking into the other room - you may decide that you aren't still hungry after all.  If you really want to go gangbusters here, dish out everyone's plate, and immediately put all the food into tupperware.  Then you'll definitely have room for dessert!

And speaking of dessert, you'll find that if you aren't constantly eating all day long, you actually have a few calories to spare for a nice, small treat!  Rather than the extra large Blizzard, opt for a small cup of ice cream with nuts on top.  And sit back and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Easy Ways to Go Green

Today is officially Earth Day, and if you haven't been paying attention, we're in danger of turning over an increasingly dirty planet over to our kids.  As a fit and healthy momma, don't we want our kids to inherent clean air and water - and have an equal opportunity to be fit and healthy as well!
If it seems just all too overwhelming, and you're wondering what one person can do to save the planet, think of this as taking baby steps!  Rather than worrying about the entire earth, let's just worry about our own footprint left on this planet.  Here are some really simple (and MONEY SAVING!!) ways to get started!

1.  Recycle - The easiest way to get started!  We all throw stuff away, it's just about rethinking how we get rid of things.  First of all, find out from your trash company what their recycle policies are and start participating.  Maybe they give you a container, maybe you have to do it yourself.  Also, what you can recycle in your everyday trash differs from company to company, so get that list, and familiarize your family with it.  At our house, we have two extra trash cans just outside our garage door.  One for paper recycling, and one for glass, cans and plastics.  It all goes out in the Thursday trash.  Easy Peasy.  

As for everyday household items, become a member of your local Freecycle community.  There's no reason to ever throw anything else away, just post it on here, and wait for someone to come pick it up!  Or call Vietnam Vets of America for donations, or take items to your local Goodwill.

For hard-to-get-rid-of electronics, check out www.mygreenelectronics.org to find the nearest recycling center. 

2.  Change Your Light Bulbs - Stop buying the incandescent bulbs you've been buying all your life.  Spend a few extra dollars upfront, and buy the corresponding compact flourescent bulbs - you'll use a fraction of the energy (and money!) to produce the same amount of light!  Plus they last ten times longer.  You can buy them at bulk at Costco or Sams, and even my local Aldi's sells these babies.  Even your floodlights, and other obscure bulbs around the house, now come in CFLs.  Oh, and just at tip - most of these bulbs take about 10-15 seconds to get to full power, so don't freak out when you turn on the light and it's still dim!

3.  Drive Better - No, your mom did not ask me to tell you this, but seriously, the better you drive, the more you'll get out of that gas-guzzling machine sitting in your driveway.  Don't speed, avoid quick stops and starts, and be a more relaxed driver.  You'll save a ton of gas, not to mention wear and tear on your car, and a ton of patience while you're at it!  Have you seen the prices at the pump lately?  Yeah, it's enough to make you sick!

4.  Control Your Thermostat - This is not a commentary on your temperament, but actually the temperature of your home!  Whatever you normally feel comfortable in, try setting the thermostat just two degrees different - two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer.  Just two degrees will have a few hundred bucks a year! 

Go a step further, and invest in an automatic thermostat.  With this gizmo, easily installed in place of your current one, can adjust the temperature in the house over the course of the day to meet your families needs.  And you'll avoid drastic temperature changes, which tax both your furnace and your AC.  

5.  Unplug Electronics - How many phone/mp3 player chargers do you have plugged in right now?  Did you know that you're using (and paying for) electricity just to have these items plugged in?  While not every single item in your home can be unplugged when not in use, you'll find that most can.  Rather than unplug every item behind your TV, plug them all into one power strip and flip the switch when not in use.  Unplug appliances when not in use.  And put the chargers away in a drawer, taking them out every night to charge what you need the next day.  And watch your electric bill drop!  Oh, and my dad wanted me to remind you - Turn Off The Light!

6.  Keep Up on Home and Car Repairs - This is something we should already be doing, but we always let these things go.  Fix that water leak in the hall bathroom, repair the broken window in the basement, reseal your doors and windows around the house.  And keep your car up to speed by checking your tire pressure, replacing air and fuel filters regularly and get your oil changed as recommended for your car.  All of these things will save you money every single day of the year!

7.  Embrace The Tote Bag - Plastic bags never decompose, paper bags require a lot of energy to produce, and those (awesome!) department store bags have a nasty coating on them that allow them to live forever in our landfills.  None of these options are ideal for shopping, so start investing (slowly) in canvas tote bags.  Keep them in your trunk, and have them on hand whenever you go shopping.  Aldi sells a massive one for only $2!  You can now buy these at almost any grocery store for a few dollars more.  If you have a specific need to reuse those plastic bags (need bags for garage sale or always need a few on hand for pooper scooper duty), then opt for them when you're low.  But otherwise, gradually make this switch, and you just find that your need for all those bags isn't really there in the first place.  

8.  Ditch The Plastic - I've heard we use one BILLION plastic bottles a week.  Billion.  That should really be eye opening to you - and I'm just as guilty as the next person!  So I've decided no more plastic bottles.  I'm going to invest in a few eco-friendly reusable water bottles. If you want to drink like the stars, check out these cool Sigg bottles.  I'm hoping to find a decent knock-off at my local Target.  Let's slowly invest in a few bottles per person in the family.  And your tap water is already pretty darn good, but if it makes you feel better, you can buy a Britta or Pur water pitcher, filter for the sink, and even a filter for your fridge water and ice.  Makes these investments and ditch the billion plastic bottles a week.  

9.  Support Your Local Farmers - I've already blogged about the beauty of local produce, but let me reiterate it here.  Buy meat and produce from a local supplier, and you'll not only be saving the earth (as these producers tend to be more earth friendly in their practices), but you'll also be saving money, as you won't be paying for items to be shipped from around the world!  It's just good all around!

10.  Consume Less Stuff - This is a personal mission for my family right now.  We live in a society of extreme overabundance - we simply have way too much stuff, and that results in tons of waste every single year.  So just stop the madness!  Create a basic menu every week (or two weeks or whatever works for you!), and only buy what you will use.  Aren't you tired of throwing out pounds of fruits and veggies every week that you bought without thinking?  I know I am!  Do you really need another TV in the house?  How many computers does one home need?  Is that couch really shot, or would it be just as easy to reupholster it?  Go shop in your mom's basement, and see what unique items may be lurking there that you could refinish and reuse.  And no matter how cute they are, do you really need 20 pairs of strappy sandals?  

And rather than continuing to ask for things at birthdays and holidays, start asking your family to buy you experiences - family memberships to the Zoo, music or dance lessons for the kids, help with your big family vacation.  Do you all really need another sweater, Tonka truck or Barbie doll?  Maybe you do one, but do you need five of them at one time?
There is only one Earth, and I hope you've found a few things here that can help us all keep our Earth as fit and healthy as we want to be!  If you're interested in doing more, check out this awesome list of 50 Easy Ways To Go Green from MSN.  And check out Oprah's Earth Day Event for some other fun ideas.  And did I mention that you're not only saving the Earth, but you're saving Your Wallet?

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Be a Better Mom

I spent this past weekend alone - resting with the dog, no kids, no husband, and barely enough housework to call it so!  It was much needed, for many reasons, but what I got out of it the most was...catching up on Oprah!  (Did you think I was going to say something really healthy, like lots of exercise?)  
So as you know, I continue to believe that any FitMomma out there is not only working out her exterior, but more importantly, she's continually working on her interior.  True health is mental and physical, and say what you will about the Queen of Entertainment, but Oprah really does have amazing shows on working on your mental health.  She's so mainstream and popular, I want to not like her, but I just can't.  The woman just really knows how to tap into what I need to hear.

What I got out of many of the shows I watched were steps I can take to be a better mother - and woman.

Stop Putting Yourself Last - This weekend was a good example.  I was spent.  The next six weeks of our lives, we are traveling out of town four of them, and have family coming to town for big events for the other two.  Besides needing to lay low because of my early pregnancy, I needed a weekend to recharge.  I am no good to anyone if I'm not good to myself.  Say That Out Loud to Yourself!  "I am no good to anyone if I'm not good to myself!"

Spend 10 Minutes In Silence Everyday - Do you think I'm crazy?  Ok, if this is completely foreign to you, or impossible sounding, try just five minutes or even one minute.  Set the timer if need be.  But pick a time (when you first wake up might be easiest), spend time awake, but in silence.  Listen to what's going on inside of you.  Take deep breaths and relax.  You'll find some amazing answers to your daily problems in these moments of peace.

Learn to Say No - For a man, no is no.  For a woman, it's the beginning of a negotiation.  You cannot attend every single family/friend function.  You cannot accept every bit of overtime handed to you.  Your kids have to learn the disappointment of learning they can't have everything they want.  I guarantee there will be those that are upset with you, but they will get over it, and you will find yourself more at peace and feeling less chaotic.  Be honest with yourself and others, and learn when to say "When!"

Don't Let Any Thing Define You - The least interesting things about you are your race, sex, clothes, hair or makeup.  You are not the designer purse your carry, or the car you drive, or the neighborhood you live in.  Those are things, and give no one a true idea of the wonderful, unique person you are inside.  You are the experiences that have defined you, your attitude, your humor, the way you treat others.  And stop judging others on those exterior things - you may be passing up on an amazing friend and teacher.

Never Stop Asking "Who Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?" - Conventional wisdom has us decide what career we want to follow when we're in high school or college.  First of all, we are not our career.  Second, what we want continually changes through our life, and we need to continually seek out what we want out of ourselves.  Wife, Lover, Mother, Friend.  Poet, Doctor, Accountant, Artist, Writer.  We can be all of these or any number of other things.  Continually evolve and learn, and you will never feel stuck.

If you're not sure what any of these things have to do with being a better mom, just give them a try.  I suspect you'll find that you're more at peace, happier with who you are and where you are, and will suddenly find yourself being present with your children - and that's the best a mom can do!

I have no read the book yet, but understand that Maria Shriver's "Just Who Will You Be?" is an easy, inspiring read, and plan on getting my hands on a copy soon.  I'll let you guys know what I think.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Help for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

This week has been a crazy one around these parts.  First of all, a bit of news for my faithful readers, who I temporarily abandoned this week!  This FitMomma is Pregnant!  
Yes, I found out last Thursday that we're going to add to our brood the first week of December.  That puts me at about 5 1/2 weeks pregnant right now.  My list of topics for this blog just expanded.....if I could just stay awake long enough to write anything creative!

But the other crazy thing we've been involved in is a charity garage sale for our Playgroup.  One of our Playgroup and FitMommas members has a son, Chase, with Cystic Fibrosis.  He'll be three next month, but has years of struggle ahead of him - the average life expectancy for a person with CF is only 37 years old.  I just turned 34 yesterday and I certainly feel like I have lots more living to do!

Cystic Fibrosis is primarily a chronic lung disease, which causes thick mucus build-up in otherwise healthy children and adults.  It's inherited, and typically diagnosed under the age of two.  In the 1950's, most children with CF didn't live long enough to enter grade school, but research into new treatments has greatly improved the lives with those with CF.

To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis, please check out the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's website.  Chase is the fourth person that I've known with CF, and those that have lived past their mid-30's did so only with a double-lung transplant.  

Part of being a FitMomma is nurturing your FitMind, and nothing works better than helping others in need!  If you would like to help little ones like Chase, please check out his mom's fundraising site, CHASEing A Cure, and please consider making a donation in the next few weeks.  The fundraising drive ends May 3rd, culminating in the CF Great Strides walk-a-thon.  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taking Care of Your Momma Skin

(Apologies for my absence - I've been creatively impotent this week!)
This past weekend, I had a spa day with my mom - and I urge each of you to add this to your wish lists for birthdays and holidays right now!  Any spa treatments are worth their weight in gold - I had a message, facial and a pedicure, and it's the facial that really opened my eyes!

First off, I discovered that I need to drink even more water than I originally thought.  As I wrote in The Importance of Water, you should take your weight in pounds, divide in half, and that's how many ounces of water you should drink.  But I was mistaken in how much water you should add for every caffeinated or alcoholic drink - rather than ounce for ounce, it should be two ounces of water for each ounce of beer or wine, or coffee or soda.  

So....I weigh 136, and typically drink two 6oz cups of coffee a day.  Therefore, I should drink 68 ounces of water, plus an additional 12 ounces if I drink my normal coffee.  And even more if I have a margarita at the Mexican restaurant!  Wow!

Second, the esthetician recommended a facial every 4-6 weeks, as that's the cycle of your skin cells, and that would generate the best results.  But who has $62 once month to spend on a facial?  Not this momma.  But that doesn't mean this momma doesn't need to take care of her skin - between age, sun, stress and pregnancy hormones, my skin is not what it used to be, and given that it's the largest organ of my entire body, I better take dang good care of it!

Serendipity is a good friend of mine, and today it brought a speaker to my MOPS group to discuss....at-home spa escapes!  Translation - recipes for awesome skin care that you can use in your home.  Much cheaper than $62 for an hour facial.  

The speaker provided a host of recipes, most of which she gathered from the KitchenCraftsNMore.net site.   This link will explore specifically facial care recipes, but check out the site as you have time, as you'll find everything to bath and body recipes to homemade cleaning products - much better than all those chemicals most of us use around our home and on our body.

My favorite recipes from today?  
Olive Oil & Sugar Body and Face Scrub - Gentle on the skin, and oh, so simple!
Equal mixture of olive oil and sugar, wet your body down in the shower, and message into your skin.  Rinse well - but beware that the olive oil will make the tub slick!

Avocado Mask - for those of us with Dry skin.  
2TB honey
2 TB dry milk powder
1/4 medium avocado, mashed
Combine, stir until smooth, leave on face for 10 minutes.  Gently wipe off with damp warm washcloth

Cucumber Mask - for those with Oily skin
2TB honey
2TB dry milk powder
1/4C cucumber puree
Blend cucumber into a puree, combine with other ingredients until smooth, leave on face for ten minutes, gently wipe off with damp warm washcloth.  

One of the best things I got out of today - another affirmation that what we put in and on our bodies has a huge impact on how we feel!  Chemicals have a place in our lives, but frequently, nature has provided most of what we need for our bodies and homes!  

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sign 'O The Season - Fresh Produce!

Spring is here!  Well, at least that's what I'm told, because it's just rainy and blah here in the Midwest.  Still waiting for gloriously sunny days and blooming flowers and trees!
Either way, now is the time to acquaint yourself with a local produce stand.  Having fresh fruit and veggies in the house is the number one way to make sure that you eat fresh fruit and veggies everyday!  Plus, produce typically needs to be bought more often than your other grocery items, so finding a quick-stop stand close by will help keep your produce bins stocked.  

With the start of spring, the local produce stands are beginning to fill their shelves with some of our favorites.  Now's a good time to find a few in your area to check out and figure out which one your most likely to shop on a regular basis.  Local produce stands will typically sell more-locally grown foods than the typical supermarket, and are usually cheaper to boot!  Not to mention the satisfaction of keeping your money in your community and supporting your mom & pop shops!  Since it might mean an extra shop in your weekly grocery route, I find the most convenient location wins over almost anything else for this busy mom!

Not sure where to start in your search?
On YellowPages.com, search for Fruit & Vegetable Markets in your area code.
On Yahoo Yellowpages, I found it a bit harder, but searching for "Food and dining produce" got the best results.  
On MSN Yellowpages, I got great results with a simple "produce" search in my zip code.  
(Why they have to be unique and difficult is beyond me!)

And don't forget for old fashioned word of mouth - ask neighbors, friends, family where they like to shop locally.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jumpin' With My Baby?

I'm learning quickly that living with a toddler is the best form of exercise!  We've been dancing, strollercizing in the yard, and this morning...learning to Jump!  I started with squat kicks out to the front, and my son started imitating me, running around, kicking his leg out to the front.  Then we squat jumped - and then the fun really began.  He's not quite two years old, so he can't actually get air under both his feet.  All the more reason to keep practicing!  But ten minutes of squat kicks and squat jumps was enough to get me winded, him laughing, and ensure many more jumping sessions ahead!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Easter is second only to Halloween when it comes to candy overload.  My son ate more candy yesterday on Easter than he has in his entire (albeit short) life!  So what to do on the day after?
First, I emptied out all the candy.  All wrapped candy went into a large Ziploc (or more than one if necessary!), and the lose candy (random M&M's, Jelly Beans, Malted Egg Balls, etc) went into another.  All candy in one place, no secret stashes!

What to do next depends on the age of the kids in your home.  
If you only have young children who don't really understand that the candy fairy dumped pounds of candy on them yesterday...
Decide how much candy you want your little one to have - there is no right or wrong answer, and none is OK, too!  My son also has a small hallow bunny, so I decided on one piece of wrapped candy per day for this week.  I have set that aside in a baggie with his name - one piece per day, perhaps for a mid-morning snack.  Enough time to let the sugar burn off!

If you have older children who are very aware of the candy in the house....
Decide how much candy you really want them to have each day, and let them pick out what they want to keep.  One to three pieces a day is reasonable.  The amount is not negotiable, but which pieces to keep is their decision.  You'll quickly learn what their favorites are!

So how much for you and the hubby?  Again, this is your decision.  For us, that bag of loose candy that we have is more than enough for this week.  (Four plastic eggs full of M&Ms and a handful of malted egg balls.)  Plus helping our son eat his hallow bunny! If we didn't have the loose candy, I'm thinking no more than two pieces a day for the week is plenty - again, you have to decide how this candy fits into your 80/20 rule!  

Now what do you do with all that extra Easter Candy?  For the wrapped candy.....
  • Send it to work with your hubby!  It really doesn't matter where your husband works, surely there are adults without children there who did not have the Candy Fairy, er, Easter Bunny visit this weekend!
  • Bless your neighbors!  If you have any childless-neighbors, divvy up your remaining wrapped candy into smaller Ziplocs and be a belated Easter Bunny for them.  Maybe they want it, maybe they don't, but it's the gesture that counts.  And it's out of your house!
  • Craigslist or Freecycle!  If you live in any community of size, you may very well have a Craigslist or Freecycle that serves you.  Check out their sites, and post a FREE ad!  Give away your candy to the first person willing to drive to your house.  Worried about the stranger pick-up?  Place your candy in a tied-up grocery sack and leave it on the front porch with that person's name.  
  • Donate it!  I'm not sure candy is the reason food banks were set up, but find a place in town that services the needy.  Food banks, churches, shelters, etc.  Throw in a canned good or two, and I'm sure they'd be happy to take your candy!
  • Throw it away!  As drastic as this may be, if all the options above don't work for you, just throw it away.  The tree-hugger in me doesn't like this idea so much, but honestly, it's candy - there's no nutrition, someone else isn't necessarily better off because they have it instead of you!  
As for the unwrapped, loose candy you may have left over, just throw it away, too.  Children in China are just fine without all that extra candy!

And Next Year?  Plead with your family to give a little less candy and a little more love!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stroller Aerobics....in your Yard!

There's nothing better than discovering new ways to workout that are fun and easy - and I made such a discovery just yesterday!  After all this gloom and doom weather we've been having in Missouri, yesterday was in the sixties and we had...Sunshine!  Rather than sit inside and enjoy the glorious sun from the confines of my comfy couch, the hubby and I decided to clean up the garage a bit.  
We had the jogging stroller (on loan from FitMomma Colleen!) out and set up for cleaning, and my son was rather adamant about going for a ride.  So I strapped him in, and we ended up running around our front yard in a figure eight - and within a minute or two I realized what a good workout I was getting while entertaining my kid!  WooHoo!  My hubby, and probably my neighbors, thought I was a fruit loop, but the kid was laughing his head off, and I was working hard!  

These are the little gems that can be found - if any of you have any great workout ideas that aren't really workouts, let me know!  And I think I need to come up with a term for this - any ideas?  Fakeouts?  Funexercise?  Ugh, I'm drawing a blank!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You Don't Have To Be Perfect

To achieve the model or celebrity bodies that we crave, most of us would have to achieve perfection of our diet and exercise first - and most of us are even aiming for this perfection!  We know what we need to eat, we know what we need to do physically, so there's no reason for us not to just be perfect at all times.  Right?  EH, not even close!  

So let's just get this out there right now, and admit to yourself - say it out loud - I do not have to be perfect!  There is no such thing.  Those who try to achieve perfection lead incredibly unfulfilled lives, because perfection cannot (and really, should not!) be attained!  While it is possible that we could live our lives like drill sergeants, eating just so, maximizing every minute of our day to attain perfect bodies, the fact is that we're human, we're moms and our days on this earth are numbered - so we should make the best of them!

Think about what you want to attain, set your goals, set a plan in action - and then give yourself room to be human.  Rather than focus on how you failed in your diet today, focus on how well you did do, and how much you enjoyed and savored that dalliance in your diet!  Keep in mind that most of us seeking a fit and healthy lifestyle are eating better than the average American - so your bad day is likely better than most people's good day!  And you're probably eating better than you have in your life.

If you're looking for some practical info in this post, I found a great gauge for living a fit and healthy lifestyle - the 80/20 Rule.  Do what you're supposed to do 80% of the time, and don't beat yourself up about the other 20.  This is not an Amy-ism, I found this little nugget from Pamela Peeke and the Body For Life For Women.  Eat what you know you should, workout like you know you should, and then let the other 20% of the time go.   This rule stuck with me, and I have found that I'm less stressed about my overall health by keeping this in mind and forgiving myself for not being perfect.  Being less stressed in and of itself will aide in your health - so give yourself a break.  

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Importance of Water

I like to describe myself as someone who likes to go with the flow - take things in stride, let things roll off my shoulder, run with things rather than fight them.  But the flow I'm talking about today is not about being laid back, but about water.  Agua.  Eau.
To be truly fit and healthy, we all need to embrace the miracle of water.  It is the wonder drug of being healthy, so put those diet pills away and read on.  What can water do for you?
*Give you energy
*Is a natural appetite suppressant (so drink a glass before each meal!)
*Boost your metabolism (are you saying Woo-Hoo yet?)
*Rid your body of toxins, i.e. random crap floating around in your body
*Make your skin glow (save money on all those beauty products)
*Keep headaches at bay
*Keep your digestive system running....smoothly

What I'm afraid is that you already know this, and yet you still aren't drinking all you should.  Or, worse, you're sabotaging your intake.  What to do?

~Well, first, be aware that for every cup of coffee, soda or alcohol, you need to drink an extra cup of water.  Alcohol and caffiene rid your body of water, so you need to replenish that.

~You also need to make sure you drink extra water when working out to replace all you lose when you sweat.

~If you don't love the taste of water, try one of these two suggestions.
First, add some citrus.  Buy some fresh lemons, limes or oranges, cut into wedges and give a squeeze to each cup.  
Secondly, give Crystal Light (or whatever generic you like) at try.  Be aware of the fake sweetener in this stuff, and go easy on how much you use.  I use those single serving packets, and one packet gets me through 2-3 bottles of water.  
Edited to add:  FitMomma Jodi suggested sliced up cucumbers as well!

~There are many schools of thought on how much you should drink, but I find the most reasonable gauge is to drink in ounces half of your body weight.  So, if you're 140 pounds, shoot for 70 ounces of water.  Does that sound CRAZY?  Well, small bottles of water are 16.9, and those sport tops are usually 24 ounces.  Three 24oz bottles, with a bit of citrus or Crystal Light if you need the flavor, and you're golden.

~Get it out of your head that drinking more water will cause you to gain water weight.  If anything, not drinking enough will cause you gain water weight, as your body starts storing it (not unlike a water buffalo) when it thinks it's going to run out.  The more you drink, the better your kidneys work, and the more you'll be a-peein'.  Which gets me to....

~Just come to terms with the fact that as you increase your water intake, you will be in the bathroom constantly as your body adjusts.  It's like your 9th month of pregnancy, but not as uncomfortable.

~Feelin' sluggish?  A bit out of sorts?  Like you're swimming in mud?  You're probably dehydrated.  Drink your water.  This is your mother talking.  OK, this is a mother talking, but still.  Make the commitment to drink more water, carry it with you, drink it instead of soda, and you'll be stunned at how much better you feel after a few days.  And if I'm wrong...well, you're mother told you so.  

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Importance of Cardio, Strength Training AND Flexibility

There are only so many hours in the day, and some movement is better than no movement. So do not let this post stress you out, and give you an excuse to sit on the couch and eat ice cream. Though that is one of my favorite things to do!  But I digress...

While getting up and moving any which way you can is the first step to a fit and healthy lifestyle, I wanted to take the time to explain why the kind of movement is also important.  I won't go into depth on each of these right now, but here's an overview on the three types of movement you want to strive for each week....

This shouldn't be news to you, but cardio burns fat.  Period.  Do you want more than that?  Well, it boosts metabolism, strengthens your heart, helps you sleep, regulates your mood....I could go on.  Cardio is the foundation of most people's workout routines, and it's pretty easy to work it in.  Walking, running, aerobics, dancin' with your baby, even housework qualifies.  If it gets your heart rate up into your target heart rate, it's cardio, and it's good.  Aim for 45-60 minutes of moderate Cardio or 20-30 of intense Cardio at least 3x a week.  

Strength Training
Cardio helps you burn fat in the few hours after your workout.  Toned Muscle burns fat while you sleep.  Seriously, did you read that last sentence.  Burn Fat While You Sleep!  That's freakin' ingenious!  This is also why when you and your hubby start a weight loss program together, he loses more right away - he has that toned muscle working for him while he sleeps while you...well...don't.  That's where strength training comes in.  A set of 3lb and 5lb weights is all it takes to get you started.  Again, I'll post more later, but here's a good place to start for some basic information.  And please note - you will not become a beheamoth by working your muscles.  Think buff, not bulge!  Shoot for 20-30 minutes 2x per week.

Stretching and Flexibility
You weren't expecting this, were you?  Well, dedicated stretching workouts, like Yoga or Pilates, do wonders for your body - alleviate back pain, tone long, lean muscles, and find a sense of relaxation and peace through the breathing exercises that accompany the movements.  Your whole demeanor will change once you add Yoga or Pilates to your routine - you'll feel lighter...and you'll look lighter!  Here's a beginner's site, but I really like this Yoga for Beginners book.  Aim for 30-45 minutes at least twice a week - more if you can.  If we all did daily yoga, there'd be a little more love in the world!

So while there's plenty more to say about each of these subjects - and don't worry, I will - this is hopefully an explanation on the importance of a little diversity in your workout routine.  Now I'll get working on that one move that incorporates all three at the same time - to save all us momma's time, right?  

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dancin' with my baby

This past week has been incredibly stressful, and tomorrow AM will be the first time I workout in a week. But I've found that I can still get a lot of activity in by doing something so simple and fun with my toddler....shakin' our groove thang! Between family and friend stress, this past week just hasn't allowed for me to workout for an hour or even 30 minutes. But with the little one, I turn on the radio, and we both just dance! Dance in place, dance around the house, I chase him, he chases me! And it's fun! And it wears me out!

Is your little one still too little dance on his or her own? There's no reason you can't hold your lil' bebe and dance together - they'll love the motion and you'll burn a few more calories lugging the extra weight.

Need some inspiring music? Well, almost any station on the radio works, or try some kid-friendly selections. My little guy LOVES the Backyardigans, and we frequently play their Groove to the Music CD. A FitMomma recently turned me onto Laurie Berkner for some fun, kid friendly tunes that won't have you wanting to stick a fork in your eye. You may have heard Laurie's band if you watch Jack's Big Music Show on Noggin'.

No matter what melody you choose to shake your booty to, dancin' with your baby not only gets your heart rate up and burns calories - it's an amazing way to play and bond with your kiddo!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In need of a little inspiration?

I received an email today from a very good friend, and not a friend who tends to get sappy! So when Renee says here's something amazing, I know it really must be!

You may ask what this has to do with being a FitMomma? Well, I believe being fit and healthy is not only a physical thing, but a mental thing as well. We have to work on both the outside and the inside.

This may be the most inspirational thing I've ever seen. If you are a regular Oprah watcher, you have probably already seen this.

NOTE: This is 11 1/2 minutes long. Set aside the time to watch - it is worth it.
Randy Pausch reprising his "Last Lecture"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Looking for the Best Workout Video?

If you like to workout at home using exercise videos....well, I'm not much help in that department because I pretty much suck at working out to videos at home. We're cleaning out the basement right now, and today I came across my stash of workout tapes...that I never use! Buns of Steel, Abs of Steel, Tae Bo, Windsor Pilates, The Firm.....ugh, the money I have spent!

However.....I know that there are those of you who LOVE workout tapes, who, in fact, thrive on working out in the privacy of your own home, without anyone else passing judgement on either your form or those workout pants. And I applaud you. So here is my gift to you...

Collage Video is the single best source for those who use workout videos at home. They don't just SELL videos, they DO them. And if the workouts SUCK, they don't sell them just to make a buck! The descriptions are written by those professionals who've done the workouts, so there's no hype. Their online search will get you exactly what you're looking for, or you can peruse their paper catalog by category. I can't vouch for their prices, but their expertise and independent reviews are unmatched.

I expect their check in the mail any day. In the meantime, enjoy that gift...from me to you.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

How to Eat Better Everyday

I think we all get that we're supposed to move more and eat better.  We tend to be an all-or-nothing society, however, and most of us will decide to go on a diet and radically change what we're used to doing everyday.  And then we won't stick with it and we beat ourselves up and give up.  And then we do it all again when the next fad diet comes out.

However, a great way to get started on eating better is to just change a few things every day.  Let's not start off by drastically changing everything we know about Food.  Let's start with little things.  Here are some basic ideas for eating better everyday.  They've been gathered from books, magazines, FitMommas readers and general experience.  Please feel free to post more!

Follow the 80% rule.  Eat what you should 80% of the time, and use the 20% to enjoy what you're craving.  A piece of cake at a party.  A piece of chocolate after dinner.  A margarita.  A small cup of ice cream from Dairy Queen.

Don't deprive yourself.  Eat an alternative snack first.  If you still can't stand it, and need that chocolate or fried food or whatever your vice is, then eat it!  Eat it slowly, savor every bite.  Chalk it up to your 20%.  Then Move On.

Do NOT buy junk food.  If it's not in the house, you can't eat it!  Tell your hubby and kids to get over it.  I did it to my husband - no soda or chips in the house!  If you're going to someone's house and you don't know what crap food they may have out, bring your own snack.  It may or may not work, but at least you tried!

Keep LOTS of healthy options readily at hand.  If I had to prepare each snack, I wouldn't eat it.  It's easy to open a bag of chips - it's also easy to grab an apple, orange or banana.  So have those in the house at all times!  ALL TIMES!  And even in the winter, you can find fresh fruit at the grocery stores.
Other snack ideas:
  • A small bowl or Dixie cup full of dried or freeze dried fruit.
  • An apple with string cheese or tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
  • Mix lo-fat cottage cheese with berries (this is heavenly and will sometimes curb my craving for ice cream.)
  • Buy and eat l0-fat yogurt.  The benefits of yogurt are amazing.  You can buy Activia in bulk at Costco!
  • A handful of almonds or walnuts.
  • Lo-fat and lo-sugar granola bars.
  • Whole wheat crackers and lo-fat cheese
  • Any combo of healthy-for-you carb with lo-fat protein - the protein keeps you satisfied longer than carbs alone!
Make the bad stuff better.  Pick off the pepperoni and sausage and pat the grease off of the pizza.  Use lo-fat ingredients in traditional recipes.  Order a burger, but hold the cheese and mayo.  Rethink those "bad" foods and see if you can reinvent them.  And don't forget to tell us your new creations!

Pile on the Veggies.  Make your dinner plate 50% vegetables.  Fresh, frozen, canned - whatever works to get them on your plate.  A salad with a lo-fat dressing and some sunflower seeds works great too!  Do you prefer to douse them in butter?  Then.....

Give a few fake foods a try.  For the most part, I don't endorse "diet" foods.  I tend to think that the chemicals that make them lo-fat or lo-sugar are worse than just eating the fat or sugar!  But there are a handful of things I take advantage of, and one of those things is Spray Butter!  I'm a huge fan, use it on everything.  I LOVE butter, and a few spritz's of the zero calorie/zero fat fake butter does wonders for the veggies.  Sometimes I still use a pat of real butter, as to limit the fake food in my life.  Sometimes I'll do a little of each, when I really want a butter-overload flavor!

Embrace the glory of the No-Sugar-Added Fudgscicle.  Whomever invented these should get a Nobel Prize.  You can buy them anywhere, but I recommend the Aldi version.  Cheaper than dirt, always in stock and just as yummy.

Go grocery shopping at least once a week.  You can't have healthy, fresh food on hand if you only go shopping once in a blue moon.  Schedule it as an appointment the same day every week if you need to.  And be sure to have a nice, full belly when you go.  Everything seems like a need when you're starving!

Buy or Create Your Own snack packs.  You can eat your Oreos and lose weight, too!  OK, you can eat your Oreo crisps and pay a pretty penny, but still, the idea is good!  Either stock up on the store-bought packs at Costco or Sams.  Or, even better, Create Your Own!  Take some of your favorite snacks and some small, sealable sandwich bags.  Take a look at the nutritional panel to what their serving is, and then create your own snack packs.  The key here is not to eat 10 packs in one sitting!

Stay Out of the Drive Thru!  I know you're hungry and Mickey D's is right there.  But you know you can't resist the sweet smell of their sugar and salt covered fried potatoes!  If you're frequently in need of a quick fix on the road, keep some of those easy snacks in the car.  Weather will dictate what you can tote around, but in general, granola bars, your homemade snack packs, nuts - all good items on the go!  Just keep the string cheese at home in the middle of the summer!

Get your family and friends on board.  Even if they aren't going to participate, make sure those people you spend lots of time with and eat with know that you're making an effort to eat healthier.  Do Not tell them you're on a diet.  Very few people take the word "diet" very seriously.  Let them know that this is a lifestyle change, rather than a get-skinny-quick scheme, and they may be more willing to offer up healthier options.  And if they see how happy and not deprived you are, they may even join you!  But also don't be surprised if they don't!

Edited to add (Thanks JaLisa!):
Eat until you're not hungry anymore.  All we heard growing up was that children in China were starving, so clean your plate!  Somehow that made it better for the kids in China.  But what it actually taught us was to overeat.  Put less food on your plate, slow down and only eat until you're full.   Set aside at least half of your portion at a restaurant, even ask for the to-go box up front if you need to.  A serving size is about the size of your palm - makes you realize how huge that Red Robin burger really is!  

Friday, February 29, 2008

Make Mine a Mocha!

Are you a chocolate lover?  Do you also enjoy a daily cup o' jo?  Then you obviously know the tantilizing joy of a good Cafe Mocha!

Well, here's a shout out to my good neighbor, Joe, a fellow chocoholic and caffeine addict who tipped me off to the best way to enjoy a little chocolate treat.  No Sugar Added hot cocoa mix in your cup of coffee is a wonderful, cheaper, better-for-you way to enjoy a Mocha without that trip to the local coffee shop.

I use Swiss Miss's No Sugar Added Milk Chocolate, bought in bulk at Costco.  (Note that this is a seasonal item at Costco, and I don't think they'll carry it past March.)  One envelope is 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 7 grams of sugar - and for my taste, one envelope is more than enough for two cups of coffee.  I know that some will need a little more creaminess, so add a tablespoon or two of skim milk, and you have one delicious treat!  

Figure that a 12oz Tall Cafe Mocha from Starbucks has 270 calories, 12 grams of fat (7 of which are saturated) and 26 grams of sugar.  Order it with nonfat milk and no whipped cream, and you at least go down to 2 grams of fat, but still 25 grams of sugar.   Starbucks now touts their Skinny Mocha, and the 12oz version comes with only 90 calories, no fat, but still 12 grams of sugar.  (Which, really, isn't that bad, but go with me on this.)

And let's not forget about the financial cost of a daily Starbucks habit - a Tall Mocha is what, almost $3 with tax?  Plus the cost of driving there? And who really orders only a Tall?  You know you go for the Grande or Venti when you're there!

So go easy on your waistline and your pocketbook, and enjoy a homemade Mocha today!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blueberry Surprise

Remember just a few days ago, I was waxing poetic about Honeyville Farms shipping me a can of freeze dried blueberries by mistake - a $30 can that I paid $16 for, I might add!

Well, my son didn't take to them at first, but as all FitMommas know, you have to try, try again when it comes to getting your kiddos to eat healthy food. So around Thursday, my son realized that he loved blueberries, and I was happy as a clam. And now, this past weekend, I've found out a surprise about blueberries.

First of all, my sons fingers and mouth are stained purple, and I wonder if he's emulating Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka.

Second....the diaper. As any FitMomma know, food does funny things to the bowel of a toddler, and blueberries apparently are no different. Blueberries consumed in mass amounts are not pleasant when they come out the other side. I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Last Night...Not Good...

My husband is out of town until this afternoon, so last night I found myself alone.....with food in the house....and late night munchies.

I'd spent most of the afternoon preparing our taxes, and then followed up with lots of research on a new computer. After I put my son to bed, I didn't do the smart thing and settle down on the couch to watch a movie and snuggle with the dog. No, I headed back to the computer to strain my eyes for a few more hours. And then it hit....this insatiable need to eat. And eat. And Eat.

I couldn't stop. I was even saying to myself, "Self, you're gorging yourself, and you need to stop." Did I count to ten? Did I fill up on a few glasses of water? Not, I just kept eating. I'm not sure if it was boredom; it wasn't stress eating. I felt like I was hungry, but I couldn't possibly have been. I can't define it, and I think that's even more disconcerting!

Of course, today is a new day, and there's certainly no need to dwell on the past. But I really wish I could figure out what the source of that binge eating was. Apparently, I can't be left alone!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weight Loss Calculator

FitMommas of St. Peters member, Amy E., found a pretty cool website for calculating weight loss.

This Weight Loss Calculator can estimate how long it will take to achieve your desired weight loss, depending on how many calories you cut. For instance, I have about 8-10 pounds to lose, and I can achieve that by end of April if I cut 500 calories a day. Good to know. Not sure if I'll put that into practice, but interesting information none-the-less!

Thanks, Amy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Key to Happiness on 60 Minutes

I find it intriguing this whole idea of what really makes us happy. Because my life so far as been a case study in finding out what things I thought I wanted that don't actually make me happy. When I was 18, I looked forward to my future as a Marketing VP, living my perfect life in my perfect house with my perfect husband and kids. 15 years later, I'm learning that no logoed purse or Plasma television makes me feel happier than simple time spent with my family and friends.

So intrigued I was to see on Yahoo a link to a 60 Minutes segment called "The Key to Happiness." Turns out - surprise, surprise - that Americans aren't actually that happy as a whole. In fact, we score pretty darn low among free nations, and the wealthiest zip codes in the country have some of the unhappiest residents. In our quest to have it all, in our belief that more is better, we've lost the focus on what is most meaningful to us, and let those family and friend relationships slip. The professor interviewed in the segments commented on how American women are particularly unhappy, not enjoying time with their children, because they don't engage with their children. Apparently, they're too busy admiring their new designer handbag?

So why do so many people equate their happiness with how many toys are in their house? And by toys, I'm not talking about Fisher Price, I'm talking HDTVs, SUVs, MP3s, and all other manner of cool abbreviations.

So take a look at The Key to Happiness, and let me know what you think. On one hand, it all seems so obvious, but if it's so obvious, why are we all still trying to attain more things rather than relationships?

Freeze Dried Fruit on the cheap

My son has some few quirks, one of which is not eating wet foods, particularly fresh fruit. But he loves freeze dried fruit, which can get quite expensive in those tiny Gerber bags you buy at the store. So I did a little Google search, and found an online company where I can buy in bulk.

Honeyville Grain has a great selection of freeze dried fruits and vegetables, and if your kid is quirky like mine and consumes these in mass quantities, I strongly recommend them as a place to buy. They have flat rate shipping, and every once in awhile, they'll send out a 10% off coupon. I buy a large can each of apples, strawberries and raspberries, which run $15-17 each can. This last shipment, they accidently shipped me blueberries instead of strawberries, which was fine by me, considering the blueberries are over $10 more! I have noticed that their prices have slowly been creeping up, so if anyone finds a better deal, please pass it on. It may just be related to how all food seems to be slowly getting more expensive!

Skinny Cow = Yum!

You will soon learn that I'm an Ice Cream fanatic. And I've seen Skinny Cow in the stores, and even saw Oprah raving about it as part of the Best Life diet.

Yesterday, I took a big gamble and bought a big box of the ice cream sandwiches at Costco. (You'll soon catch onto my Costco addiction as well!) I figure bad ice cream is still ice cream! Holy Schmoly, they are just simply delightful! What's even better is that they are only 140 calories a sandwich (worth two Weight Watchers points), 97% fat free, 3 grams of fiber and no trans fat. And did I mention how scrumdilicious they are?

AND if you are a Costco member, it's coupon time, and they have a coupon for these fantastic little treats (not that they're little, they are very satisfying!). So you get a box of 20 sandwiches, normally $8.21, and they have a $2.50 coupon running through March 9th, I believe. If Ice Cream is your thing, as it is mine, run, do not walk, to Costco and buy some!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Ah-Hah Moment

So, the whole idea of FitMommas, for me, was born out of the idea of how to be fit and healthy while raising a family - two things that don't necessarily go hand in hand. At the start of 2007, a couple of my Playgroup friends and I started FitMommas of St. Peters on Meetup.com. We scheduled walks in the mall, support groups ala Weight Watchers. During the Spring 2007, I was able to get back to my pre-baby weight. Leading into Summer, we added Stroller Aerobics workouts, and even with a few hiccups here and there, my workouts and eating were pretty good.

But one thing I really wanted to concentrate on was my mental health, because I strongly believe that it may be the biggest key to overall health. That entailed, for me, blogging regularly about the daily ups and downs of a healthy lifestyle with kids, searching out articles and news on health topics to share with everyone, and getting to that mental core.

So mid-September hit and my 1 year old son Sean got a cold. It turned into bronchiolitis, and we were in the dr's office for almost 3 hours doing breathing treatments before we could go home. Since then, he's caught four more colds, all of which have led to the same thing, and an official diagnosis of Asthma. Sean was kind enough to share every cold with me. In mid-December, the stomach flu hit every family member, save the dog. I don't remember that ever happening, not even as a kid. My husband, Trey, and I both got hit over the head with the regular flu not quite three weeks ago, and have since been dealing with a severe ear infection (Trey) and severe sinus infection (me.)

Hardly the fit and healthy lifestyle I'm supposed to be living.

But over the weekend, I started to realize something. This is my life. Ah-Hah! For better or worse, germies or not, this is it. I keep waiting to start this mental journey until "this" passes, but the fact is, pass or not, it's my life, and the whole point of FitMommas is how to be fit and health and deal with life as it's thrown at you. It's not easy, if it was, everyone would be doing it. It's hard, and there are tough days, and there's guilt and there's a need to let it out before you explode. I've totally been missing that point.

So I hope to start that mental journey here.