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 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 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 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 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!