Wellness

I've been wanting to write about wellness for a few weeks now, but I wasn't quite sure how to begin.

Because wellness is such a broad term.  It can mean so many different things to every person.  For me, I define wellness as good physical and mental health, which I sustain with clean and nutritional eating, LOTS of exercise, and healthy behaviors and habits.

I want to tell you something too, that I don't share with many.  Some of you readers know that, about 4 years ago, due to the wrong anti-depressant being prescribed by my (then) family doctor, I started to have suicidal thoughts going along with a crippling anxiety disorder.  I was having severe panic attacks, sometimes twice a day, and then I couldn't eat or sleep.  For 3 days.  I started to hallucinate.  It was the scariest time of my life.  Pregnancy and childbirth?  A piece of cake compared to this.  I landed in the inpatient mental health unit at our local hospital for 4 days.  My (current and amazing!) psychiatrist put me on the correct medication, which stopped the panic attacks, slowed the racing thoughts, and I was able to sleep again for the first time in 5 days.

I am not ashamed to share this.  In addition to being a fitness professional, I also have a Masters degree in Counseling.  Mental health is important to me, and I don't believe in there being any stigma surrounding it.  Without those 4 days in the hospital, I wouldn't be where I am now: a strong, capable, coping, content and happy member of society.  I just happen to have a diagnosed mental illness that I take a medication for daily.

It was a slow process, getting back to who I really was.  But what I learned during that 6 or 8 weeks following was that I had the capabilities to learn how to cope with my anxiety disorder. I also learned there is no shame in taking a pill every day that keeps my mood level, and allows me to parent, hold a job I am passionate about, care for a household, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, take care of MYSELF.

I have a client who is very near and dear to me.  She came in for her session this week and spilled the beans of how she is thinking of making some huge changes in her life so that she can better care for herself and her family.  While I know my values and opinions of what she is thinking of undertaking have no measure on her decision, I couldn't help but have my heart swell for her when she told me her thoughts.  Why?  Because she was putting herself first.  Personally, I feel that, as women, we get to a point somewhere in our 30's, where we take off the rose-colored glasses of what we feel we SHOULD be doing.  For many of us, that means being Super Woman.  And trust me: we aren't.  There is only so much we are capable of.  But here's the thing: we have to figure out what is most important.  We must prioritize.  And delegate.  And for fuck's sake, we gotta let it go.

I know that I can't be everything to my daughter and my husband.  Being a work-from-home mom, there are things I do on a daily basis that I have figured out how to do because it makes the flow of our day so much easier.  So what my daughter watches Sofia the First or Up! or Zootopia one after the other after the other so I can get my workout in?  Or unload the dishwasher or vacuum or whatever? My daughter is happy and healthy and fed and bathed and is LOVED and cared for and, to me?  That is all that matters.  I have given up trying to have a spotless house, or dogs that have been brushed. I have pretty much given up on the yardwork for the season. But you know what?  I don't care.  Because I KNOW I can't do it all.

So I do what I CAN, and I do it well.  Like parent my daughter.  Love my husband.  And my dogs. I work hard at my job as a health and fitness professional, and I care for my clients with the best service I have. 

And the last piece, is I take care of ME.  I eat well (with the occasional indulgence), I exercise every day.  I hydrate, I use sunscreen, I moisturize. I take my daily anti-depressant and my multivitamin and my asthma medication. I allow myself time to do things for ME. Like play a computer game, or write, or binge-watch Netflix.  And I try to get a lot of sleep.  Now, if someone would like to get my 2-year-old to stop waking up in the middle of the night, I would be forever in your debt. 

So the moral of this story? In blunt terms, get your shit together.  Start caring for YOU, in whatever way that applies. Wellness will come when you do, I promise.

Celebration workout

This morning, to celebrate our 1,500 pound weight loss since January, I walked my Weight Watchers members through a challenging yet low-impact workout to help them along on their weight loss journeys!  What follows is my best advice on routines for those who are just starting out, but still looking to be challenged in their workout plans.

First off, EVERYONE, despite age, weight, gender, etc., should get 30 minutes of moderate activity every day during the week.  This can be a combination of strength, cardio, and flexibility training.  I recommend cardio 3 times a week, strength-training twice a week, and flexibility once a week to ALL of my clients.  Most clients should also focus on low-impact exercises to begin with, to accommodate any pain or existing injuries on joints.

The most important aspect for those just starting out is to begin slowly and MODIFY if needed.  The last thing I want for my clients and members is to injure themselves.  If you feel pain, STOP.  During any exercise (that's worth it's weight), a good burn in the muscle is what you should feel.  If there is pain, that usually means form is suffering, and something in the body is trying to make up for what's going wrong.

For any workout, I recommend 2 sets, and 10 reps in each set, if you are just starting out. 

Also, it's important to speak to a professional (like me!!) if you need further assistance in learning how to exercise with the best form.  Quality over quantity every time!

SQUATS

I always try to focus on proper form with squats.  Begin standing with feet a little wider than hip distance, with arms straight out in front.

Squat down as if you were going to sit in a chair.  Keep your butt out, and try to keep your foot from tracking out OVER your big toe.

LUNGES

Lunges are great for working your quads, your hamstrings, and your glutes.  Proper form indicates you bring your foot out in front of you, and your opposite foot slightly behind.  Bend both knees, careful again not to track your knee out OVER your big toe.

CALF RAISES

Calf raises help strengthen these smaller muscle groups.  It also how you get those gorgeous high-heel worthy legs!  Stand with feet about hip-width apart, and lift yourself up and down on your toes.  For balance sake, it's okay to hold onto a wall or solid object so you don't fall down!

BICEPS

I told my meeting this morning that resistance bands give you a fantastic workout, and I stick to that statement!  Personally, I have since moved to dumbbells, but resistance bands are perfect because you get to decide how much you want to be challenged by a slight move of your feet.  I got a light, medium and heavy band set at Target, and I love them.

For biceps, place the middle of the band under one foot, and grip your handles at the mid-point of a curl.  Simply curl up to get those badass guns.

TRICEPS

Kickbacks are a great way to work on getting rid of your "wings" as my members called them this morning.  Stand with both feet on your band and bend over. Bring your elbows up to your sides with your palms facing up to the ceiling. (Golden retriever not included)

Now kick those bands back, keeping your elbows high and close to your sides.

SHOULDERS/MILITARY PRESS

Shoulder work is one of my favorite things to do.  I have worked HARD to get some pretty badass shoulders I am proud of.

With Military Press, start with your band under your feet at an equal distance.  Hoist your handles up so you make some goal posts with your arms, like this.

Press your arms up, but NOT TOGETHER (shoulders hate that), like this. (Can we also talk about how majestic I look in this photo?)

CHEST

Personally, I feel there is no better workout for the chest than push-ups.  I love them.  It's good to remember too, to start out EASY.  I showed my members how to modify to start by doing them against a wall at first.  

Once you're ready, you can move down to an incline position, say on your fourth or fifth stair in your home.  Then, move down again to doing them on your knees.

Before you know it, you'll be up doing them on your toes, like I do them!

And it's also important for some to have a good workout buddy. If you don't have a houseboy, somebody like this will do fine.  This guy loves to sit in the room with me most days I workout.

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Of course, there are so many wonderful ways to get in your strength-training, cardio, and flexibility each day.  But I wanted to share my passion for activity with my members this morning, and I had a blast doing it.  More workouts to come this week, I promise!

Weekly Schedule/Goals

As most of you know, I am in my 7th round of P90X3.  I love this program, as it allows me to get a super high-intensity workout in, in just 30 minutes, 6 days a week.  Trust me: I love my original P90X, but as a mom of a 2 year old, it's difficult to get in 60-90 minute workouts in every day.  30 minutes is about all I can muster for now with a busy toddler in the house.  The beauty is, of course, I've been able to take off all 62 pounds of pregnancy weight and get into the best shape of my life with this program.

It isn't for everyone, that's for sure.  It is, indeed, pretty intense and hard-core.  It is not for the faint of heart.  When one undertakes X3, they need to be ready to commit to a plethora of fitness training they may have never seen or experienced before.

But, in the end, it is SO worth it.

Today, I share with you an example of a weeks' worth of workouts, and why I work towards the goals I'm challenging myself toward.

If you aren't familiar with the P90 programs, all of them are 90 days (hence the 90).  P stands for Power, and X stands for Extreme.  All of the P90 programs introduce a concept called "Muscle Confusion."  What this basically means is that every day, the person committing to the program does a radically different workout every day to confuse the muscles into working harder and burning more.  Indeed, you will be SORE.  Even in my 7th round of this program, I still get sore, as I push harder (which I will get to in a moment).  There are 3 blocks to the 90-day program.  Weeks 1-3, you do a different workout each day.  Week 4 is Transition or "Recovery" week.  The body needs time to chill and dump all the garbage and lactic acid that has built up during the first 3 weeks.  Then, beginning Block 2, week 5-7 is the same as 1-3, but different workouts are incorporated again.  Week 8 is Recovery week.  And, Block 3 begins and repeat repeat repeat until Week 13, or "Victory" week.

Right now, I am at the tail end of Week 5 of Round 7.  Or Day 34, if you prefer.  This is what my week has looked like so far:

Day 1: Eccentric Upper. Okay, it's School Time, folks.  There are three elements to a muscle conditioning exercise.  First is Concentric, when a muscle shortens.  Think of doing a bicep curl.  The concentric motion happens as you curl up.  Isometric is the moment when the muscle is holding still, or at the bottom of a bicep curl.  Eccentric, or the "negative," is when the muscle is lengthening.  This would be as you're curling down in a bicep curl.  Focusing on the eccentric portion of an exercise increases time under tension, and helps muscle growth.  Eccentric upper is a melting pot of push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder, bi and tri exercises.  One of my favorites of the X3 workouts.

Day 2: X3 Yoga. 30 minutes of flexibility, stamina, balance, core strength, and body awareness.  It's so great to take just a little bit of time and allow your body to fill in the gaps that you miss doing the other intense workouts.

Day 3: Cardio Day.  I tend to mix this one up a bit.  If the weather is nice and the humidity is low, I usually go for a run.  This past week I did the Sunday Stair Climb with my buddies over at Plan for Adventure.  It's a great, self-paced 30 minutes of cardio.  I tend to push myself this day, as I want more bang for my buck.  Plus, those stairs at Lincoln Park are NO JOKE.  If it's way too hot and the humidity has my asthma in a tizzy, I'll do an X3 Cardio at home in the AC.  On the docket for Week 5 is Triometrics.  It's an intense jump-training, or Plyometric, workout.  It's pretty explosive, and incorporates three levels (hence the "trio") of intensity.

Day 4: Eccentric Lower.  Same concept as Upper, but focusing on the lower half.  Hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves.  All are screaming by the end of the workout.

Day 5: Cardio Day. Again, if the weather is nice, I like to continue focusing on my running.  However, during Week 5, this day includes MMX, one of my favorites of the X3 workouts.  MMX is a mixed-martial arts routine of karate, kenpo, jiu-jitsu, judo, and tae kwon do.  It targets not only max heart rate to help burn fat, but also helps upper-body strength, core, leg endurance, and flexibility.  I sweat so hard during this one.  It's awesome.

Day 6: Incinerator.  Another of my favorites.  It's an upper body push and pull routine, designed to max out the body with back-to-back movements that engage the same muscle groups.  A good example is 10 reps of a back row, then max reps of pull-ups.  Then 10 reps of fly push-ups, then a max reps of a chest press with a lighter weight.

Day 7: REST DAY!  It's important for the body to take a day to just relax and, again, dump all the garbage it's been carrying around for the last week.  On this day, I make sure to hydrate like a beast (more water = less recovery time), eat clean, and spend time with my daughter and family.  I usually tend to be pretty lazy on this day, which is great.  I sit around and play computer games or read a book or binge-watch Netflix (all while my little one naps).  When my bub is awake, we may go to a park or museum, or grab a treat at our favorite little coffee shop up the hill.  It's a pretty great day.

And then, after Rest Day, it's back at it again.

So. What are my goals?  It's simple: I am close to 40.  Yes, it's true.  I'll be 39 in October.  My goals aren't too incredibly lofty, but they are important to me.  I train hard because:

1. I want to keep up with my daughter.  She is incredibly busy all of the time.  Also, she has two very fit parents who are committed to a healthy lifestyle.  It is SO important to me that she grows up knowing how important fitness, wellness, and healthy eating can be.

2. Endurance.  As an asthmatic, some things are extremely hard for me.  Running is a beast.  But I love it.  Here is the thing: I will never have a sub-10 minute mile.  I am okay with that.  I will also never run a half-marathon.  Also okay with that, as it isn't something I'm particularly interested in.  I just want to be able to keep doing it.  And do it so it feels easy and not painful.  X3 has completely changed my body in so many amazing ways.  I am able to endure so much more as a runner than I ever did when I first started running 6 years ago.  And I'm OLDER now!  Being in great shape at 38 has drastically changed everything for me. A goal? To finally be able to run a 10K.  It's far off in the future, but I'm in no rush.

3. Mass. At this point, I am done toning and firming.  I am now to a point where I am working on more definition and mass muscle gains.  I realize I am still a work in progress, and always will be.  So now, I work on heavier weights and less reps to help define my muscles more.  It's slow going, but I'm having a blast.  And my goal?  To do ONE unassisted pull-up by the time I'm 40.  I have 14 months.  I think I can do it.

4. Continue my Passion. It took me ALL of my adult life to finally find what I am really passionate about.  And that is fitness and wellness.  I tried so many things: voice and piano teacher, actor, theatre company owner.  Then I went off to grad school for a masters in counseling.  But I kept being pulled toward fitness and wellness.  I am so lucky I am able to put my masters degree to use by helping people through fitness and wellness.  I find the two go hand-in-hand.  Challenging habits and behaviors are often at the root of why we have a difficult time getting into a healthy and clean lifestyle.  I get the chance to help people change that EVERY DAY.  So I train hard to be a great example to my clients that anything is possible if you put in the work.  It may not be easy, but it's so worth it.

5. I want to feel good as I age.  And have a rockin' bod.  Not kidding.

Workout of the Day

So yesterday, I asked on my WWQC Facebook page what my clients and fans would like to see on my blog.  A few people gave some great ideas for topics, which I will get to in a few days.

However, today, I'm posting my WOD, or Workout of the Day.

I am currently in week 4 (recovery week) of my 7th Round of P90X3.  I love this program, as it allows me to get in a really intense 30 minutes of work so I can devote the rest of my day to either my daughter, my family, my clients, or my work schedule at both Weight Watchers or The Group.

I was hoping to get in a recovery run after a great 5K time this past weekend, but the humidity is still pretty high, which means my asthma would have given me a difficult time of things.  Even though it's recovery week, it doesn't mean I get to slack off.  Today was Accelerator, a pretty intense HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio workout that hits EVERYTHING.  Cardio, core, lower and upper body strength.

The workout is as follows:

3 reps Speed Salutation: like a Sun Salutation, but much faster.

1 minute of Twist and Pivot: step and pivoting feet as twisting the torso.  Rev up every 15 seconds.

1 minute of Foot Pursuit: High knees, run in place. Alternate with sprints.

1 minute of Get up, Get down: Like a Burpee without the jumps, but add in push-ups every so often.

1 minute of X Jacks: Like Jumping Jacks, but arms go into an X position.  Alternate with Punch Jacks.

1 minute of Balance Burpees: Start in wide sumo squat, then hands on floor and jump back into plank. Do a side-arm-balance, then a push-up, and repeat on the other side. Jump back up into sumo squat.  This one is a killer for the quads.

1 minute of Slalom Hops: Take two small towels (I use washcloths), and begin jumping laterally inside and out of them.  Start slow, then rev up.

1 minute of Mountain Climbers: In plank, pull knee up to chest, and alternate.

1 minute of Spin Stops: Deep squat start, alternate turning 45 degrees between a low and high jump.  Another quad killer.

1 minute of Plank Walkers: in plank position, walk on hands and feet forward, right, left, or backward.

30 seconds of Joel Jumps, each side: Jump forward and land on one foot, touching the floor with opposite hand, then jump backward on same foot.  Do for 30 seconds, then switch feet.

1 minute of Plank Circles: like Plank Walkers, but in a circle this time.  Killer.

1 minute of Roadrunner: Start in a deep lunge, and alternate feet, never allowing head to come up too high. Repeat.

1 minute Double Trouble Climbers: A bit like Mountain Climbers, but opposite knee goes to opposite arm in Plank.  Once in Sphinx, pull knee up to same side tricep.

1 minute Diamond Hops: Like Slalom Hops, but jumping to each of the four corners of your small towel.

1 minute Swimmer's Planks: Alternating raising opposite arm and leg.  Just an absolute killer.

1 minute Speed Skater: On one leg, jump to the opposite foot, allowing other leg to cross behind.  Alternate between single and double jumps.

1 minute Plank/Sphinx combo: Start in plank, and alternate between this and sphinx.  Meanwhile, lift legs on cue.  Great for the core.

1 minute 3 Squat hops: begin in parallel squat and hop 3 times in either direction.  Alternate between shuffle and high jumps.

1 minute Donkey Kicks: I can't even begin to describe this killer.  It sucks.  Which is the reason it's at the end.

There you have it. A sweaty, intense, HIIT workout.  I'm going to go take a nap now.

Motivation

Motivation.

It's been on my mind a lot today. 

Our topic of discussion at my WW meeting today, we talked about why we got off track.  What stops us from eating well/moving more/taking control?

And the ultimate question, how do I get back on track?

Let me be honest with you: In the grand scheme of things, I don't know.

Because the reasons YOU lose your mojo are YOURS.  I don't live in your head.  I don't know what your life is like, because I'm not you.  Each person is their own individual.  We all have different ways of making our lives work and function.

Allow me to be clear with you: when you ask me to "motivate" you, I think that is bullshit.  Because I don't really know your reasons for eating well/moving more/taking control DEEP DOWN.  I can't answer your question of why you walk through my door and become a client.  As your personal trainer, I will advocate for you.  I will support you and acknowledge your hard work and watch you get stronger and leaner and change from week to week.  I will challenge you and work you so the next day you are sore as hell and climbing stairs feels like your legs are on fire.  I will give you the shirt off my back and be your biggest cheerleader.  But I can't GIVE you motivation.  

Motivation is something that comes from inside YOU.  I will tell you that I have a zillion reasons I eat clean and work out intensely six days a week.  I have a family history of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety.  I love my family, but I don't want to get older and begin to have these problems.  I want to be healthy for my husband, and for my daughter.  I want her to grow up with a Mom who is a good role model for being good to herself through food and exercise.  I want her to grow up with a mother who doesn't hate her own body.  I want to stay in my size 8's.  I want to celebrate my body for what it can do for me.  I am nearly 39, and am in the best shape of my life because I commit to my healthy routines every single day.  

Is it easy?  Not always.  But is it WORTH it?  Absolutely.

So sit down with a journal.  Take as much time as you need. Ask yourself WHY.  And write it ALL down.  Put it somewhere you can see it.  So when you need a kick in the ass, you can look at that list and remember why you have committed to doing something good for yourself.

The Importance of the Cheat Meal

Let me be completely honest with you: just because I am a certified personal trainer, and a Leader/Leader Mentor with Weight Watchers, it doesn't mean I don't enjoy food.

Something to remember is in August of 2010, I weighed 20 pounds more than I do now.  I used food to comfort, to relieve boredom, to socialize.  I never thought of my food as fuel.

Then I became pregnant at 35.  I gained SIXTY pounds with my pregnancy.  Let me tell you, losing 60 pounds at 36-37 is MUCH harder than taking off 20 pounds at age 32.

But I did it.  It took me a good 18 months to take off the pregnancy weight, but I did it through determination and A LOT of hard work with my fitness and nutrition routine.

But again, let me be clear.  Mama loves the food.

Personally, I follow a pretty strict set of rules when it comes to staying on my clean and healthy lifestyle.  Our household eats clean, whole foods, and as little processed crap as we can.  You won't find unhealthy snacks in our house (cookies, potato chips, etc..).  You will find a lot of fruit, almonds, string cheese, and other goodies that help us stay on plan.  Our meals consist of a lot of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and veggies.  It isn't often that we indulge.

But what we do allow ourselves is one cheat meal a week.  Just one.  Here are my rules:

To be honest, it's really this simple.  What I tell my clients CONSTANTLY is your weight loss/maintenance journey is 80% nutrition and only 20% fitness.  You can run 2 marathons a month, or cross-train until you want to throw up, but if what you are putting in your body is garbage, you are only hurting yourself.  At our house, our one cheat meal a week is also a special treat.  We make sure we choose something we wouldn't normally eat at home.  Two weeks ago, it was Thai food.  This week, it will be sushi.  Two weeks from now, we plan on getting some Indian food.

And it's true: allow yourself to indulge.  Enjoy it.  If it's planned in advance, and if it is something that doesn't happen often, you will appreciate that meal so much more.  A member in my meeting this morning said something very smart.  She said "Why is it when we sit down to eat a cheat meal, we think we are never going to eat again?!" So true.  

So I challenge you to try it this week.  Stay on your healthy track for 20 out of your 21 meals this week.  Then allow yourself just one meal where you let your hair down.  Enjoy!

It's On You

In my Weight Watchers meeting this morning, I spoke to my members about responsibility.  I admitted that, after my husband returned from Ireland with FOUR chocolate bars for me from an Irish chocolatier I love, I sat at the computer yesterday and inhaled one.  I immediately felt guilty for doing it.  Did I really NEED that chocolate bar?  Nope.  But did I want it?  Oh God, yes.

One of my members proceeded to say something like "Don't you just hate when they do that?" meaning, having someone bring you a delicious treat that you then feel obligated to eat?

The first thought that popped into my mind was NO.  I wasn't mad or upset that my husband brought something like that home from Ireland.  Number one, I asked him to bring me one (one, not four, but that's okay).  Number two, just because he brought home four chocolate bars, I DON'T need to eat them if I don't want to.

Something I say to my clients and WW members quite frequently is "who is responsible for what food goes in your mouth?" Can you blame someone else for what YOU are eating?  If someone brings an unhealthy yet tasty treat to the office/party/holiday, are they forcing you to eat it?

I've been a Weight Watcher leader for 5 years now.  I love my job, and I love my members.  Over the years, I've heard so many of them blame their loved ones and peers for bringing junk food into the house, or bringing it to get togethers or holidays.  But there comes a time when we need to decide what is really important.  Do I eat the garbage, do I give it away, or do I ask for help?

Blame.  It's a nasty word.  I can't blame my husband for bringing me home the very thing I asked him to.  Nor can I blame him for it being shoved in my mouth by my own hand.  I take total responsibility for mindlessly eating that chocolate hazelnut caramel crunch bar.  As I mentioned, I felt "food guilt" for doing it.  But after a few minutes, I decided to give myself a break.  It was delicious.  I enjoyed it.  Now, move on.

The next thing I did was ask my husband if he minded if I gave two of the bars away.  He said it was mine to do with what I please.  So, the bars are going to my parents.

Lastly, it can be difficult for us to ask for help.  Again, over the years I've heard so many of my WW members say they feel powerless when it comes to saying "no thank you" to someone who brings them unhealthy treats.  But here is the thing: YOU are in charge of your own journey.  It isn't about making others feel happy, or for them to understand your choices.  And if we want something bad enough, we should just ask for it.  If we have a get together, ask friends to bring a healthy dish to pass, or bring one yourself.  It's okay to ask for what we want.  Once I started asking for what I needed and wanted, the world opened itself up to me.  It was a fabulous revelation.

I challenge you to do the same.  Next time your spouse or partner suggests pizza/Asian/ice cream/something unhealthy, suggest something more to your healthy taste.  Just ask for help.  Because, in the end, it's YOUR responsibility to take care of YOU.

When you fall off the wagon...

Greetings, WWQC friends and clients!

As most of you know, my little family has been through quite a bit these last few months.  My professor husband has been in Ireland since March 2 on a foreign term with 32 students!  He doesn't return until May 20, which means I've been solo parenting our toddler.  Needless to say, it's been busy and exhausting.  After 19 days alone, our little bub and I made the trek to Ireland to be with Daddy for 28 days!  We had so many fun things planned.

Then reality hit.

When we traveled Ireland in June 2015, our little one had just turned one.  She was easy-going, slept well, ate well, and was generally all-around pleasant.  She wasn't walking yet, so transporting her was easy.  To boot, our weather last summer was pretty darned-near perfect.

Fast-forward to present day.  Our bub is now almost two.  She is a spitfire toddler who tells you how she feels about everything.  Our first week was fraught with no sleep (any of us), cold and rainy weather, and of course, jet-lag to deal with for both her and myself.  Due to weather, it was nearly impossible to get out and enjoy much of the sights, parks, and playgrounds that we might have visited had it been lovely.  This means two grown adults and one energetic toddler were stuck in a hotel room.  We tried to get out as much as possible, but there wasn't much by way of fun activities.

After our first six days, my husband ended up with a nasty bout of vertigo, which left me to once again parent alone.  But this time, in a foreign country, with no where to go, nothing to do, and both a sick husband AND child to care for.

I was beside myself with exhaustion.  Everyone was miserable.  We considered changing our flight so bub and I could come home early.  Was it worth hanging around if the trip was going to continue to be like this?

Things got a bit better but, to be honest, not by much.  Meanwhile, I was desperately trying to stick to my workout and clean eating regimen that I had been doing so well with at home.  I don't want to make excuses, but when the baby wakes up at 3:30am and doesn't go back to sleep, so you pull her into bed with you out of desperation, no one gets any sleep. Due to no sleep, I started drinking more coffee than usual.  Because I was so exhausted in the mornings, there was no way I was going to get in my daily workout.  By the time dinner came, I was so exhausted and had had enough of a horrible day, I would just drink booze.  I was hardly drinking any water, subsisting on coffee, booze, and bad, processed foods.

By two weeks, I was just miserable.  Physically, emotionally, mentally.  I tried to keep a brave and happy face but, again, everyone was just in a horrible mood.  Our final week in Ireland, our sweet bub had a mystery virus that gave her a fever and a nasty, ugly rash all over her body, and to top it all off, horrifying constipation.  The stress of her being ill away from home was pretty much my breaking point.  Our poor little family had pretty much had it.

I will be honest: going to Ireland was a huge mistake.  Both my husband and I understand this now.  But it's over, it's done (thank the Universe!) and bub and I are safe at home and established back into our routine.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  In Ireland, due to circumstances beyond all of our control, I fell off the wagon.  I ate too many cookies, drank too much coffee, drank too much Orchard Thieves Cider, and had a three-course meal every dinner.  It wasn't ideal for someone trying to maintain their goal weight, eat clean, and fit in an intense workout every morning.  I did the best I could, and tried to choose the healthiest option for every meal, but it wasn't enough.  I gained a few pounds, which I figured I would, but the thing I am most upset about is my fitness level went down the drain while I was gone.  Before I left, I could easily do push-ups, squats, pull-ups like a boss. During the trip, I lost muscle tone, and started carrying around a "food baby" around my mid-section due to lack of core exercises.

Here is the thing: I could have sat around feeling sorry for myself after I got home.  I could have thought "Oh no!  All that hard work down the tubes!"  But I didn't.  We arrived home Sunday, and Monday morning, I started bright and early with my workout.  I pushed play, made a healthy breakfast, and got to it, despite being incredibly jet-lagged.  It's been ten days, and I am happy to say I didn't lose as much muscle tone as I had thought.  Yes, I am super sore, but after ten days of clean-eating, intense workouts, sleep (hooray!) and lots of water, I feel amazing again.  I feel like myself.

I challenge you to do the same.  The thing to remember is you can't go back and change everything you did in the past.  Why beat yourself up over it?  Making change is about taking a risk, making a choice, and just DOING IT.  It's that easy.  And YOU need to be okay.  You need to take care of you.  Because I'm taking care of myself, I have so much more to give to my sweet girl while her Daddy is away.  Since I am doing this alone, I am both parents for her.  If I didn't have the energy from clean eating, fitness, sleep and hydration, it would be a big ol' mess over here at WellWomanQC.

So get out there, folks.  Leave the past behind.  Pick up the handle of your wagon and get going!

Blasting the (Mommy) Guilt

I want to talk about guilt for a little while.  Would you like to pull up a chair and chat with me?  Please do!

Many of us have that little nag in our subconscious, don't we?  That little voice that says "Hey, you aren't doing ENOUGH," or "Why did you eat THAT?  You are an IDIOT."

I loathe that little nag.  So recently, I've had a bit of a crisis of conscious.  My little peanut will be 20 months tomorrow.  Right up until she was about 18 months, I was pretty happy in my little sheltered world with her, staying home and working part-time for Weight Watchers.  Then something changed.  Once I became certified by NASM to begin my career as a personal trainer, I started to feel (gasp!) the tingling in my limbs to DO MORE.  To work more.  For the first time in many years, I feel the excitement and passion to get out into the world and spread my love for fitness and wellness to my community.  I love that feeling.

However, the other part of me (the Mommy) says "Stay home with your daughter.  This is such an important time in her development and she needs you."

So I struggle.  There is this battle going on inside of me: the feminist and passionate CPT says "You HAVE to have something for you.  Get out there and train those QC women who need your help!" and then the Mommy who says "Nope, your little one only has a few years left before she goes to school.  Stay home with her!"

What is a woman to do?

I know I am not alone in this kind of struggle.  And I'm not alone in feeling guilty.  I want good things for my bub, but I also know I NEED something just for me, that's MINE.

So I sat and thought for a while.  What is the best thing for everyone?  I chatted with my very supportive husband, and he agreed that training clients is too important for me NOT to do it.  If I'm training clients in the evening, he is home to care for our little one.  Violet also goes to daycare two mornings a week.  At first, I felt guilty about having her not with me.  However, this kid LOVES Gaga (her caregiver), who also lives next door to us.  She loves playing with her little friends, snacking on yummies all morning, watching Frozen a zillion times a week, coloring, and having general merriment and EXTREMELY important socialization that I can't give her by myself.  Once she was there every week, I saw how much she loved it and how important it is to HER that she goes.  My Mommy guilt disappeared soon after that.

Mornings she isn't at Gaga's house, but she is here with me, I make sure I get in my workouts without fail.  Staying fit is the lifeblood of my existence.  If I wasn't fit, I couldn't keep up with my family, nor could I claim to be good at what I do as a CPT.  It's crucial I workout EVERY DAY.  Now that she is older, it's getting more difficult to workout with Violet in the room.  As much as I hate doing it, she gets to watch DVD's while I get in my 35 minutes with my weights and yoga mat.  I really struggled with this for a while.  Before she was born, we said "NO SCREEN TIME BEFORE 3 YEARS OLD."  Yeah.  That didn't happen.  But here is the thing, and I needed to remind myself of this: she is HAPPY.  She is healthy.  She's a great eater and sleeper and generally the most incredibly well-adjusted person I know.  Does it matter that she gets a little screen time with Minnie and Mickey and Peppa Pig if it means I get to do something that makes me a better Mom in the long-run?  Nope.  Absolutely not.

So now I bring it back to you.  What is the guilt that runs rampant through you?  And what can you do to blast it out of the water?  Is it food guilt?  Is it not-getting-your-workout-in guilt?  And how do you change it?  Do you have the skills to get past it?

This is one of the reasons WellWomanQC exists.  While I can't help you get rid of the guilt, I can work with you on coping strategies and ideas on how to tell that guilt to take a hike.  Not only do I offer personal training, I also offer Wellness coaching to help you set goals and think of solutions and not problems.  There is a reason I have a Masters in Counseling as well as my certification in PT: I just love helping people!

Becoming a WellWomanQC Client

WellWomanQC is up and running!  Let's break down what WWQC can do for you

It is important to note that WellWomanQC provides private personal training in your home or at the WWQC home gym, and coaching via in-home visit (yours or ours), phone, and even over email.

  • FITNESS COACHING AND PERSONAL TRAINING

  • For most clients, fitness is the easiest piece to fit in to their daily lives.  However, let us be clear: when it comes to weight loss, the equation is easy. 80% Nutrition, 20% Fitness.  Other ways you may have heard is "Get fit in the gym, lose weight in the kitchen."  This is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH. We cannot undo all our bad habits of eating garbage with a few sessions in the gym.  It's about balance, remember?  Here are WellWomanQC, we specialize in Women's Fitness to give you the best coaching experience possible.
  • When it comes to fitness, this is what Ally is most passionate about for her clients.  Becoming physically fit can set you on a life-long path of feeling amazing both inside and out.
  • Ally is certified as a personal trainer with National Academy of Sport Medicine, specializing in Fitness Nutrition and Women's Fitness. As an NASM-CPT, she can offer in-home training sessions, personalized for your fitness needs and goals.
  • WELLNESS COACHING

  • Wellness is a large part of feeling good holistically.  Our definition of wellness at WellWomanQC is finding a balance between all parts of ourselves: mind, body and spirit.  With a Masters Degree in Counseling, Ally is passionate that her clients find balance within themselves to be successful on their paths to health, fitness and happiness.  Wellness coaching is about finding what makes us "stuck", whether it be in a plateau on the scale, or why the scale isn't budging despite our best efforts, and working through it mentally and emotionally by goal setting and commitment.
  • FITNESS NUTRITION

  • Ally is not a registered dietician, nor does she claim to be an expert at nutrition.  However, she can help you on the right track on what fuel to put into your body when paired with a sound fitness program.  Ally has relationships with area RD's, whom she would be happy to refer you to if need be.

A few other points that are noteworthy.

  • Training and coaching is always done one-on-one to give you the attention you deserve.  WellWomanQC is happy to travel to you should you desire.  We understand how difficult it can be leaving the house with a family in tow.  Coaching and training can be done in your home or in the WWQC home gym.
  • Ally is certified and trained in First Aid, CPR, and Artificial External Defibrillator.  Your safety and health is extremely important to WellWomanQC.
  • WellWomanQC is fully insured with comprehensive property and liability insurance.
  • WellWomanQC accepts cash, check and credit cards.  Fees are affordable, so please email or call us for more details.

I want to make one, very crucial, point.  WellWomanQC will be here for you with a nurturing hand to help guide you to making proper and healthy choices for your nutrition, wellness and fitness.  We will help you with consistency and accountability to your goals.  There is not, nor will there ever be, any judgment on your choices, your body shape/size, or what happened to get you there.  But also know that WellWomanQC will work tirelessly for you to STAY accountable to yourself, your scale, and your goals.  And that starts with YOU. When WellWomanQC leaves your home, YOU are going to be the one responsible for working on your goals, working on fitness, and eating healthy. Getting and staying fit and in shape may not be an easy task.  Nor will it be an overnight success.  It WILL take time.  With consistency and determination, losing weight and becoming fit slowly will keep the longevity of your wellness moving.  If you have the patience and the gumption to get started, WellWomanQC will help get you there.