Post Partum Shape Up – Month 2

Get the details of the second month of my post-partum fitness plan, including real talk about setbacks, failures and discouragement!

Ok, it’s time for some real talk.  This is always where I start getting frustrated with myself after having a baby and trying to get back in shape.  It’s usually a couple months after really starting to pay attention to my food and exercise habits, maybe I’ve even lost a few pounds and inches.  And then my progress kind of stagnates.  That’s where I am right now and it’s all I can do to not pull my hair out!!

In the past, when I get to this plateau and lose motivation, I decide that I “just can’t lose weight while nursing” and even though I’ll still try to exercise regularly, I get lazy with my diet and just kind of accept being overweight.   So here’s what I’m doing differently this time around!

June 24, 2017: 17 weeks postpartum

Current weight: 163
Goal weight: 140-ish

Current measurements: (last month’s in parentheses)
Bust 39.5″ (39.5″)  –  Waist 32″ (32″) –  Hip: 41″ (41″) – That’s right, exactly the same as last month’s.  Ugh.
Goal measurements:
Bust 37″  –  Waist 29″  –  Hip: 39″

Successes: Not a ton of successes this month as you can see from my stats (I actually gained my measly 2 pound weight loss back plus 1). But I’m chalking that up to muscle gain and/or regular fluctuations and trying not to care).  Also, it’s not super noticeable, but I actually can tell some little progress when I compare pics (last month’s here)!  I am continuing to feel stronger from the weight training I’ve been trying to do:  Blogilates is still my favorite for busy days and I’m throwing this shower workout in on the extra crazy ones.

Setbacks: I’m realizing that my number one problem is diet sabotage!  Stress, lack of time and exhaustion (you moms get me) all take a toll on healthy eating habits.  I really do enjoy eating well and exercising but all the salads and jogging in the world won’t help me when I’m downing half a loaf of banana bread at 2pm because I didn’t have time to make myself a decent lunch.

This month’s goals: I’m sticking with my goal of only eating sugar on as many days a month as I’m going without it (in other words, if I want to have a treat 10 days one month, I need to go without sugar for 10 other days).  Even though some days all I have is a couple chocolate chips to ride me through the afternoon, I realize that it makes me crave more junk than when I abstain all day.

The goal of this is not simply to eliminate sugar (although that’s kind of important!), it’s to force myself to eat a healthy meal instead of junk food that’s ready made and easily accessible.  Do you lose all self control when you’re really hungry and a cookie is staring you in the face??  YUP. When I mess up and start eating my feelings in the form of hot fudge sundaes, I’m trying not to beat myself up but rather recommit to entering my diet in MyFitnessPal for a few days to get back on track.

I’m still working on getting out to exercise when I can but my first priority is diet for this next month!

Ok, fitness buddies, who’s seen successes recently?  Any motivating tips you can send my way??  Help me not give up!

Moving and Shaking

These ideas for keeping kids active in the summer have been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #BlueLizardSummer


Remember back when you were a kid and you were outside like, ALL the time??  Riding bikes and building snowmen and jumping in leaves and playing in the sprinkler?  It makes me sad that so much of my kids’ childhood is spent zoning out in front of screens.  I mean, sure, I could forbid screen time altogether…but then when would I shower??

We’ve had to get creative to make sure our kids get outdoor time everyday, especially since we homeschool and are home ALL day.  One of our favorite things to do together is to head to our local part and just run crazy!  I’m sharing a couple of fun outside games that we like to play below.  Hopefully they’ll help you make sure your kids stay active this summer which will in turn keep you sane 🙂

The only problem with being outside for us here in Arizona, is the ridiculously brutal sun.  I’ve never experienced sunshine like they have here anywhere in the world…it’s SO intense.  I worry nonstop about my fair little redheads and their poor skin.  Whenever we’re outside I make sure that I slather sunscreen on everyone like it’s going out of style; I also keep baby Alice protected in the shade or inside since a pediatrician’s approval is recommended before using sunscreen on a baby under 6 months. 

Not all sunscreens are created equally, as we’ve found out over our 12 years of buying bucketloads of the stuff.  Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen® is one that I just recently discovered and love!  They have 4 different formulas: Sensitive, Sport, Face & Baby and they’re all designed specifically for their unique purpose.  I love that the Baby formula is formulated with baby’s sensitive skin in mind.  There’s nothing sadder than seeing my poor little baby’s skin all irritated.

Blue Lizard® Baby sunscreen has an SPF of 30+, is free of fragrances and parabens and it even has a cool bottle that changes color in harmful UVB light!  A great reminder for us busy moms who forget everything.  Blue Lizard® was originally created in Australia (hence the name), where sunscreen standards are the strictest in the world (although it’s now made exclusively in the U.S.) It’s unique zinc oxide formula has been recommended by dermatologists for 15 years!

Click here for a $4.00 Ibotta offer when you purchase a 5 oz bottle of Blue Lizard® Baby!  You can find it at your local Walmart, in the seasonal display in a center aisle.

Ok, you ready for the activities?!  Here they are!  And of course, you can try your own spin on these.  I’m sure your kids will tell you exactly which one is their favorite…

  1.  Mother May I – Speed Racer Edition!
    In case you’re unfamiliar with the classic “Mother May I” game, this is how it goes: the “mother” stands at one end of a room or field and everyone else stands at the other end.  The goal of the game is for one of the kids to reach the “mother” before anyone else.  One by one, each child asks “mother” if he or she can do something that brings them closer to her.  For example, “Mother may I take 5 giant steps?” or “Mother may I take 3 ballerina twirls?”  Our version goes the same way except everyone does the action together and as fast as they can!  The game ends much quicker but they get more exercise and there are lots of giggles.  In fact, each “mother” can have several turns since it ends so quickly!
  2. Rolling Along
    Like every other kid on the planet, my kids LOVE rolling down hills, even teeny little slopes. Since our local park doesn’t have any good hills, I decided it’d be fun to try to roll across a flat field!  To play this one, everyone lays on the grass, end to end.  On Mom’s count, everyone starts rolling their bodies towards her, trying to be the first one there.  It’s much harder to keep rolling when there’s no hill and it’s a great workout.  Just make sure everyone wears clothes you don’t mind getting grass-stained 🙂
  3. Copy Cat
    One child stands in front of the others and makes a single movement with his body (hops up and down, circles his arms, spins around quickly, etc) and all the other kids try to copy him.  Then, the child in charge adds a second movement to the first and everyone tries to copy both movements; he keeps adding new movements to the series until someone makes a mistake in copying him and that person is out.  The game continues until there is only one child left and he becomes “it” for the next round!  So, it’s sort of like Simon Says, only with a series of movements.  This can also be a lot of fun to play in the pool!And that’s it!If you come up with any other great made-up outdoor games, comment with your idea, we’d love to have more things to do to keep us active and healthy outside this year.  And don’t forget to grab your Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen® at Walmart (with this great offer!) to keep those cute kids safe!

Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle

Post Partum Shape Up: Month 1

This month was full of some ups and does in my weight loss journey, which is pretty typical of the first month of any new health plan.  Overall I’m fairly pleased with the progress I saw (-2 pounds and -2.5 inches) but honestly, I’m just grateful for any kind of improvement!  I can’t see much of a difference in pictures from last month, but when I wore this dress from Alice’s blessing again this Sunday, it did feel a little bit looser. Woot!

I lost just 2 pounds this month but I feel so much stronger than when I started. My exercise routine is by no means exceptional or even very regular but I make an attempt most days to do something.  And I’ve gotta say, the first 2 weeks of starting regular exercise are always SO hard!  It’s not until I start feeling muscles under my flab again that working out becomes even a little bit enjoyable.  So if you’re new to a workout regimen and hating it, you are TOTALLY normal. I actually might be a little suspicious if you liked it.  🙂

May 19, 2017: 12 weeks postpartum

Current weight: 160
Goal weight: 140-ish

Current measurements: (last month’s in parentheses)
Bust 39.5″ (40.5″)  –  Waist 32″ (32.5″) –  Hip: 41″ (42″)
Goal measurements:
Bust 37″  –  Waist 29″  –  Hip: 39″

Successes: I had some really good days which sometimes included a trip to the gym where I’d run for 15-20 minutes and do another 20-30 minutes of strength training. But then again, some days all I did was 15 minutes of Blogilates Youtube videos while locked in my bathroom before showering. Those days felt particularly successful because they were the crazy ones where I had all but given up on any exercise.

My biggest success this month was starting back up on the My Fitness Pal app (a super popular calorie counting app).  I started out aiming for 1800 calories (the app recommended 1200 for my goal weight but I added 600 for breastfeeding) but most days get around 2000. Even that is often hard to hit without going over; I bet I easily consume 3000+ calories when I’m not paying attention! Pretty eye opening for sure.

Setbacks: I went out of town twice this month which always equals no exercise and lots of restaurant food. No bueno!! I also had some not-so-good days at home: no exercise, eating mindlessly (for example: pancakes for breakfast, ham sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner) with little produce and too much refined flour &/or meat.


This month’s goals: continue to write down (or track in the app) what I eat most days so I’m eating consciously. I also need to write down when I’m exercising because it doesn’t happen as often as I think! I’m sticking with a goal of 4x weight training and 2-3x cardio each week.

I also failed miserably at my 1 weekly treat goal, so instead I’m following a friend’s advice and cutting down sugar to 10 days a month. That’s still plenty of treats but it will get me used to saying “no”!

Ok, now your turn!! What goals did you hit this last month? Are you changing anything this next time around? I wanna hear!

Thanks so much for following along.  I thought of this post often when I was tempted to eat ice cream!  Ha!

Postpartum Shape Up – Before

Follow along with my post-partum fitness progress (and setbacks). Come share your healthy goals and let’s get in shape together!

The other day, my sister Nancy and I were talking about losing weight and how to hold ourselves accountable while we work on getting in shape.  Nancy had recently posted a “before” pic on Instagram and mentioned how she was working on accepting her body where it is right now, while simultaneously making better food and exercise choices.

She also said how easy it is to post embarrassing “before” pictures of oneself once you’re already looking like the amazingly hot “after” picture. It got me thinking about how hard we women are on ourselves, even while we’re trying our best to make progress. We’re constantly inundated with pictures of perfection: perfect crafts, decor, outfits, hair, parties, makeup, bodies; and when we look in the mirror every day, it can be a struggle to not feel inferior.

So, I decided that I’d invite the whole of the interwebs to follow me on my very imperfect journey of shaping up and losing the baby weight this time around. I’ve gained and lost so much weight over the past 12 years of bearing children, that I’m a lot more at peace with my postpartum body now than I was after the first couple kids.  I know that my body won’t be like this forever and so most of the time I just try my best to implement healthy habits and then not dwell too much on the rest.

But I fully acknowledge that having a healthy mindset about one’s body isn’t easy.  It can be frustrating and exhausting to try to lose weight and see little progress. For example, my body never gets entirely back to normal until after I’m done nursing my babies…which means every time it’s taken close to (if not longer than) a full YEAR to lose all the baby weight!  It’s a slow, sometimes agonizing process but as long as I’m doing my best, I try not to beat myself up.

Today I’m showing you my current “before” status via pictures, weight and body measurements. Once a month after this, I’ll be posting updated pictures and stats, as well as any successes and setbacks.  I hope that any progress I have will be inspiring to other moms trying to make healthy changes, but mostly, I hope to offer some comradery to those of you who struggle with postpartum body image issues or frustrations because you don’t look like your favorite fashion blogger just minutes after giving birth.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I’m not generally a fan of showing this much skin in public (let alone on the internet!) even when I’m in good shape 🙂 but I felt it was important that other women see what a postpartum body often looks like (and yes, I have stretch marks and loose, flabby skin under those swim bottoms!).  You may be starting a lot closer to your goals than I am or a lot farther away, but the important part is that we accept where we are, make a plan to improve and then just START!

April 17, 2017: 8 weeks postpartum

Current weight: 162
Goal weight: 140-ish

Current measurements:
Bust 40.5″  –  Waist 32.5″  –  Hip: 42″
Goal measurements:
Bust 37″  –  Waist 29″  –  Hip: 39″

Successes: I joined a local gym and had some great workouts there doing mostly body weight strength training.  I also got back into running since having the baby.  I’m not fast, but I did do 2 miles without stopping recently!

Setbacks: Sugar and refined carbs are my kryptonite when nursing a new baby. I did lots of baking this month and ate a lot of garbage.  I’m working on really listening to my body and feeding it fuel when I’m hungry instead of junk.

This month’s goals: Do strength training 4x/week and run or do other cardio 2-3x/week.  Limit sugary treats to once a week.

Now it’s your turn!  Please share any goals, progress or frustrations you’re facing on your fitness journey in the comments.  Let’s support each other in our quest to get healthy!

And if you’re looking for more ideas to help you get in shape, check out the fitness challenge I posted after my last baby.

Healthy Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SameSilkySmoothTaste #CollectiveBias

Busy moms rejoice!  Check out these 4 make-ahead healthy breakfast ideas that your kids will love.

Hey all!  Life just keeps getting crazier and crazier up in here as we’re heading into the last month of this pregnancy.  Lots to do and get ready and not enough time or energy to do it all! (Seriously, someone please just come get me off the couch.)

In my effort to eat better this new year, I’ve put together a list of my 4 favorite quick and healthy breakfast ideas; they also happen to be approved by kids!  These are easy to make ahead of time and inhale in a flash or while running out the door.

NOTE: These are all dairy-free which means they’re perfect for any of you who struggle with an allergy or intolerance or who are trying to eat a more plant-based diet.  Liam’s still avoiding lactose due to his chronic stomach pain so these work perfectly for us!

Silk Almondmilk is one of my favorite substitutes for dairy milk since it has no cholesterol or saturated fat and the kids love it.  I was also excited to see Silk’s non-dairy creamers – the perfect plant-based alternative for your coffee or my personal fave: hot cocoa!  You can find all of Silk’s non-dairy products at Walmart in the refrigerated dairy cases.  Look for the new packaging coming out this month!

  1.  Homemade granola
    This is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts!  I make this granola (or a similar version) every other week and store it in an airtight container.  My favorite way to eat it is like cereal with Silk Almondmilk and sliced bananas or strawberries on top.
  2. Overnight Oats
    This is one of my healthy eating secret weapons!  I love oatmeal but don’t always have the time or inclination to make a whole pot of it. Instead, I mix the following in a glass or bowl the night before and then store it in the fridge:
    1/3 c rolled oats
    1/3-1/2 Silk non-dairy yogurt
    1 Tbs chia seeds
    1/2 banana (mashed or sliced)
    sprinkling of cinnamon
    pinch of saltIn the morning I give it another stir and then add any other toppings like nuts, nut butters, fruit and a bit of pure maple syrup or honey.  (This recipe feeds one hungry mom but can easily be multiplied to feed the whole family.)
  3. Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash
    While this breakfast takes a little longer to make, I love making a huge pan of it for dinner or on a Saturday morning and then storing the leftovers for whenever I need something a little heartier during the week.  It’s been a breakfast obsession of mine this pregnancy!4-5 large sweet potatoes
    1 lb good quality chorizo (or other sausage)
    4-6 eggs (depending on how many people you’re serving)

    Chop sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces (you can peel them ahead of time but it’s not necessary) and spread them over a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and a couple tablespoons of liquid coconut oil and roast at 400 degrees until soft (about 20-25 min).  Meanwhile, fry chorizo on the stove, stirring and scraping the pan until cooked through and caramelized.  Add sweet potatoes to chorizo and stir to combine.  Crack eggs over the hash and cook until whites are firm.  You can also season with rosemary and other spices.

  4. Protein Smoothie
    Green smoothies are THE best on-the-go breakfast or snack.  We often make them ahead of time or store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days; I store them in quart-sized mason jars and screw on these plastic lids.  Shake well before drinking and it’s just as good as the first day!  Below is the recipe for one of my favorites…

    Blend the following in a blender for 1 minute:
    3-4 c Coconut water, Silk non-dairy milk or plain filtered water
    2-3 c spinach, kale or other leafy green
    1 c raw almonds (even better if they’ve been soaked overnight)Then add:
    1 c strawberries
    1 ripe banana
    1/2 c mango
    1/2 c pineapple

    Blend again for about 90 seconds, until smooth.  This makes a TON of smoothie and completely fills my big blender, so you might have to scale down if you have a smaller one 🙂  We often add flaxseed, chia seeds or hemp seeds on top for added nutrition.  YUM!  Let me know if you try any of these or if you have go-to healthy breakfast faves at your house that I need to know about!

Healthy Kid-Friendly Kitchen Swaps


Do you guys struggle with feeding your kids healthy as much as I do??  With each new addition to our family, the stress level at mealtime increases and my desire to make a big elaborate meal (that 87% of my children won’t eat) DEcreases.  So instead, I stock my house full of healthy-ish packaged staples so that we always have something easy to fall back on.

I want to feed my kids healthy, whole foods but I also want to stay sane!!  And cooking everything from scratch is just not always an option.


Below are a few of my favorite family-friendly healthy kitchen products and a few other tips to get whole foods on the table quickly.  I hope they help your mealtime rush!

  1.   Know what ingredients to watch out for.  It’s amazing what kind of preservatives and garbage you’ll find in packaged foods: from pancake and cake mixes to processed meats and cheeses.  It’d be impossible for me to list all the bad stuff out there but I generally go by the rule of trying to only purchase items with 5 ingredients or fewer.  We do our best to avoid hydrogenated fats and oils of any kind (did you know this is in Cool Whip??), High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), monosodium glutamate (MSG…shockingly still in lots of stuff!), nitrites and nitrates (in bacon and lunch meats) and added sugar.  
  2. Pick 3-4 favorite from-scratch recipes for each meal and store them in a book.  Always keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients for these favorites.  Some of our breakfast favorites include this waffle recipethis GF muffin recipe and this granola recipe.  Cereal has been hard for us to kick (and we still sometimes splurge) but it’s really just processed wheat and sugar for breakfast and I know I feel like crap when I eat it!  Yes, it takes a little extra time to make meals from scratch.  Yes, sometimes I just wanna dump milk in a mix or pop in some frozen burritos…but with a little planning ahead, it’s easy to whip these out and store them for future meals (homemade pancakes, waffles, burritos and muffins all freeze wonderfully!).  And I rest easy at night knowing exactly what I’m putting in my little ones’ bodies.  


3.  Stock your kitchen with whole-food staples like the ones in the picture above!  This post is not sponsored in any way, these are just some of my favorites:  

*pure maple syrup from Costco: yes it’s expensive, but I’ve taught my kids to only use a small amount and it’s better than the HFCS-laden big brand syrups
*unsweetened Greek yogurt: I realize that kids love yogurt but the stereotypical kid yogurts are chock full of dyes and sugars…some have more than 20 grams!!  We prefer to buy unsweetened and then add some berries or honey.
*natural peanut butter: most pb’s have hydrogenated oils added, simply so you don’t have to stir them.  No thanks!  It took us some experimenting to find a brand we love but this “Adams” brand from WinCo comes in creamy and crunchy and is delicious!
*whole wheat bread with no sugar: I buy ours at the Alpine Valley factory near our house but they sell this bread at our local Costco as well.  Once I tried to buy bread at our local big grocery store, and I couldn’t find a SINGLE loaf without added sugar in it plus a billion other ingredients.  Alpine Valley uses honey and only about 5 ingredients.  And it’s super good!
*Natural applesauce: my kids eat this stuff like candy!  We like this Motts variety with no added sugar.


4.  Cut out most prepackaged snacks.  I feel a little bad for our babysitters when they peek in our pantry looking for a treat cause we ain’t got nothing: no chips, no cookies, no crackers, nada.  We weren’t always this way but over the years, I’ve figured out 2 things:
1.  my kids don’t eat real food if snacks are available.  Having fishy crackers or granola bars available is a surefire way to make sure my kids won’t eat lunch.
2.  When packaged snacks aren’t available, my kids will snack on fruits and veggies.  Seriously!  I always keep a bowl of fruit out on the counter and when they’re hungry between meals, that’s where I send them.  My kids also love carrots and cucumbers and sometimes baby bell peppers with hummus.

**If you gradually make it a goal to stop buying these, you’ll be surprised how quickly you don’t miss them!  And I’m always happy when my kids are hungry at mealtime.  If you have snacks that you yourself can’t live without, hide them!  Maybe you’ll break some bad habits too!


5.  Take a little extra time at the store one day and find 4 or 5 prepackaged meals (or easy to prepare ideas) that fit the tips above.  I love to have a couple frozen options that I know are relatively healthy and will rescue me on nights when there’s no time for real dinner.   Some of my favorites are:

*frozen bean & cheese burritos from Costco with no preservatives (sorry, I can’t remember the brand!)
*using frozen pita bread to make quick pizzas with bottled sauce and mozzarella cheese
*leftover frozen waffles (just stick them in the toaster!)
*rotisserie chicken with yummy french bread and good cheeses
*blending up a quick soup with roasted veggies (butternut squash & cauliflower are favorites)
*whipping up some tacos with leftover meat and veggies.

It takes a little preparation and ingenuity but eating whole, unprocessed foods tastes so much better, it’s totally worth it!

Lest this post makes you all think we’re perfect over here…right now we’ve got Lucky Charms, nutrigrain bars and fruit snacks hanging around (what happens when dad does the shopping) but we try to make that kind of junk an occasional treat.  I use my best judgement when buying packaged foods for my family and just do the best that I can.  I think that we moms often get freaked about all the stuff we’re not doing right, that we forget about how far we’ve come!  The trick is just to improve, a little at a time.  Good luck, mamas!


5 Minute Shower Workout



In a perfect world, I’m up at 5am to go for a 12 mile run, after which I shower, do a full face of makeup, put on a super stylish outfit, read scriptures and pray and meditate and am ready and waiting in the kitchen at 7am with a freshly baked batch of healthy muffins for the kids and hubs.

In reality, most days my soggy-bottomed babes are in my bed at 8:30am, climbing all over my sleep-deprived face and prying my eyelids open asking if they can have leftover ice cream for breakfast.  I’m really hoping this scenario sounds familiar to at least some of you!

Because of this, I’ve taken to doing a couple quick exercises in the bathroom before I shower.  Sometimes it’s just a few push-ups on the floor and sometimes it’s a whole routine…but it makes me sweat and helps me feel a tiny bit better for staying up too late with Netflix and the sewing machine.  I hope this quick workout helps you get moving on those sorts of days!

**Note: Obviously these could be dangerous if done in a wet and slippery shower…make sure the floor is dry and do them before turning on the water! Can you imagine a worse nightmare than having a firetruck full of hot paramedics come rescue you naked in the shower because you slipped doing squats??  Ha!

Download and print the printable HERE!  Laminate it and stick it right in your shower to make things easy.


Ladder Sit:  I love doing this exercise over my shower seat (I stop just short of sitting down completely) but you can do it even if your shower doesn’t have a seat…just try to get your quads almost at a 90 degree angle.  I aim for 8-10 reps.

  1.  Squat a few inches down from standing and hold for 3 seconds (1)
  2. Lower yourself another few inches and hold for 5 seconds (2)
  3. Lower your bottom again and hold for 7 seconds (3)
  4. Squat a bit more until you’re almost sitting on your seat and count to 9 seconds (4)
  5. Now repeat going back up!  Raise your bum back to step (3) and hold for 7 seconds, step (2) and hold for 5, then step (1) and hold for 3.

Stand up completely and repeat!

vertical-pushups-instructionsVertical Push-Ups:  The trick to making these work is the angle of your body compared to the wall.  You want to stand far enough back that gravity offers some resistance, but the first few reps should be fairly easy.  I stay on the balls of my feet, and hold my hands pressed together on the wall with my thumbs and index fingers forming a diamond shape. Aim for 10-15 reps.

1.  With arms held straight, gradually bend your elbows directly out to the side of you and lower your face to the wall.
2.  Get your face as close to the wall as you can, then push yourself back into an incline with your elbows straight.  Be sure to tighten your core and bum during this exercise.  You should feel it in your chest and triceps!

plie-releve-instructionsPlié Relevé: (pronounced pl-ee-ay rele-vay) This is one of my favorite fitness hacks from my ballet days.  Be sure to keep your toes pointed out to the sides, your bum tucked under and your spine tall and straight.  Aim for 15 reps.

1.  Standing with your feet about 10 inches apart, raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, tightening all your leg and butt muscles.
2.  Squat down, with your heels still raised, as low as you can go.  I like to keep one hand on the shower door, but the less you can hold onto, the better the workout!
3.  Lower your heels (still in the squat position), and raise back up to a stand.
**You can actually perform this exercise in any order.  Sometimes I go right to step 3 from step 1 or do the plié before the relevé.  Your choice!

Tricep Dips: This a pretty standard exercise that you’ve probably seen before.  My only caution is, you might want to skip it if you have weak wrists.  This can also be done on a (closed!) toilet.  Try to do 8-10 reps.

1.  With your back facing the shower seat, rest the palms of your hands on the edge of the seat and extend your legs out in front of you.  Be sure to keep your legs straight so that they don’t take up the slack when your arms get tired!
2.  Slowly lower your bottom down towards the floor, bending your elbows straight out behind you.  Try to get your triceps to form a 90 degree angle with your forearms.  Slowly lift yourself back up and repeat.
** If you haven’t done these in a while, they can be pretty difficult when first starting out!  But keep it up and you’ll get better really quickly!

Leg Extensions: Another ballet-inspired move!  Keep your standing leg really firm and tight and your hips square, facing the wall.  Aim for 10-12 reps each leg.

1.  Facing the wall, and holding onto it for support, lift yourself onto the balls of your feet and extend one leg behind you, with your bum and hamstring flexed and your knee bent.
2.  Extend your bent leg farther back behind you until your knee is straight; hold for 3-5 seconds.
3.  Bring your leg back towards the wall in front of you, with the knee bent and facing forward.
4.  Repeat!  Don’t forget to switch to the other leg when you’re done.

That’s it!  If this was easy for you, then repeat it from the beginning and try to do the entire circuit 3 or 4 times.  Depending on how many children are banging down your bathroom door at this point, you may or may not make it.

Lastly, have a little fun and GET DOWN.  (Don’t forget to get the cheat sheet here!)




A Child in Pain




I want to tell you a story about our oldest child, Liam and an incredibly hard trial he had to go through.

Last year he began experiencing some terrible stomach pain (coupled with vomiting) for several months and even though now things are much, MUCH better, it took me a long time to gain some wisdom from that experience.  It was really painful to watch as his mom, but we’ve learned a lot from it and I’m finally ready to share it so that hopefully we might be able to help someone else!

Liam’s gastrointestinal troubles actually began years and years ago…probably as an infant.  He was the most colicky baby of all of our children, and it wasn’t just because he was our first and we didn’t know better!  Everyone mentioned how fussy he was and that it took a quasi-miracle to calm him down.

Fast forward several years and Liam began complaining of occasional stomach upset and sometimes vomiting for no apparent reason.  He’d just go into the bathroom, throw up and then come out and announce, “I just threw up, Mom!”  We attributed it to simply a sensitive stomach at the time and even though we brought it up to the pediatrician a couple times,  no doctor ever had any helpful suggestions and it wasn’t bad enough (yet) to warrant additional research.

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Then last year, right after Marilyn was born (about May 2015), Liam began experiencing INTENSE, daily abdominal pain.  It seemed to almost come out of nowhere and it was so bad, some days all he could do was roll up in a ball and lie on the couch.  It was heartbreaking for us as his parents to see him this way and nothing we did seemed to help.  We took him off dairy for a while, then gluten, then some other random stuff.  Then we started wondering if maybe it was stress, or constipation or anxiety over having a new baby in the house.

The climax came after a month or two when he was in so much pain one night he was literally screaming and begging us to help him.  It scared the living daylights out of me, so we took him to the nearest pediatric ER.  They poked and prodded and did scans; then declared him constipated and sent us home.  My momma heart just KNEW this couldn’t be it!

So then we began taking him to doctors.  First our regular pediatrician, then a gastroenterologist, then another GI, then a naturopath, then a psychologist…you get the idea.  And they ran test after test: bloodwork, urinalysis, MRI, tests for Celiac and Crohn’s, colonoscopy and endoscopy all without conclusive results: everything looked normal.  It was an exhausting, frustrating and expensive several months.



All while this was going on, something in the back of my head kept hinting to me that his diet needed to change.  I’ve always worked hard to feed my kids fairly healthy whole foods, but Liam has always been my pickiest eater.  If it was his choice, he’d survive on cheese crisps and pizza for the rest of his life.  What surprised me most about the doctors that we went to up to this point, was that not a single one of them (barring the naturopath) questioned his diet or suggested he change it.  I thought it quite strange that when they saw an otherwise asymptomatic, healthy kid with stomach pain, they didn’t start wondering if maybe it was something he was eating.

The last straw came when we visited yet another GI, at a pediatric hospital who came very highly recommended to us.  At the end of this visit, the doctor suggested that we start pain management therapy and techniques.  In other words, he was essentially saying, “We have no idea what’s going on and can’t help your son.  He will suffer with this indefinitely and we can only put him on pain meds and hope he learns to cope.”  I left that office almost in tears…how was I supposed to explain to my 10-year-old that he would have to deal with this pain, without a solution, for…EVER??

I refused to believe it.  I had already promised him that we would find a solution no matter what, and I planned on keeping that promise, goshdangit!  It was at this point that we saw the naturopath who, even though they couldn’t offer much in the way of answers, did start him on some holistic supplements that actually helped.  If Liam took them regularly, the pain could mostly be held at bay.  I also then emailed a friend of mine who I knew to be very passionate and knowledgeable about nutrition (including gut-healing diets) and whose husband was also an MD.  She explained some things she thought might be going on with Liam and then recommended we see her husband.



It turned out that not only is her husband a traditional family practitioner, he also specializes in integrative medicine (or a more holistic medical approach).   He listened to our whole story, looked up and learned about the supplements that had been helping Liam and then FINALLY gave us some real answers!  I won’t bore you with all the details  but in short, he said Liam’s GI tract was damaged and needed some healing.  He also suggested we start the FODMAP diet and recommended a few other things to change as well.

You guys – once we really committed to this diet (because it took a few tries and some tears before Liam was committed to eliminating ice cream and wheat!) the pain DISAPPEARED.  Seriously, it was a true miracle.  It really wasn’t until about March of this year (NINE months after the beginning of his pain!) that he turned to me and said, “Mom- my stomach doesn’t hurt anymore!”   We were so happy!  After almost a year of tears, prayers, blessings and pleading to take this pain away, it was finally gone.


I learned a couple of valuable lessons during this time period:

  1.  When my loved ones are suffering, and there’s nothing I can do, I’m often tempted to get angry.  It upsets me and it upsets my children to see me this way.  During this last year, I learned a lot about Christ’s perfect love and His commandment to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
  2. A mother’s job is HARD and suffering alongside your child is the hardest part of all.  If your child is in pain, he needs you at the top of your game.  Take care of yourself and find an empathetic friend to talk to.
  3. The solution to most health problems is DIET.  If our bodies are in pain or not functioning properly, we owe it to ourselves to research and discover which foods will heal us.  Our food supply has a lot of problems with it today, so going back to basic, unprocessed whole foods is always a great place to start.
  4. A mother’s intuition is rarely wrong.  I think it’s a special connection we moms have with God’s spirit, telling us how to best care for our children.  If we have a problem and need a solution, sometimes we just need the courage to listen to that little voice inside.  I believe it will always lead us to where we should go!Good luck raising those amazing little humans, mamas!

Week 12…and GIVEAWAY!

Well, we made it to week 12!  This is the start of our last week on the 12 Week Tone Up and it’s been SO good for me!  I hope some of you following along have seen healthy changes from all these tips.

Sometimes it’s just the small little changes that make all the difference in living a healthy lifestyle.  Like swapping out processed meats and produce with fresh ones, getting enough sleep and avoiding sweets.  For our last week, the challenge is to research restaurant choices!


Research Restaurant Choices


In a perfect world, McDonald’s would not exist (except maybe as punishment for criminals), restaurants would all serve healthy delicious whole foods and the weather would always be a balmy 78 degrees.  Sorry to disappoint, but in today’s world there are a LOT of really, REALLY crappy food options out there.  Even worse, these restaurants get away with touting that something is “healthy” simply because it has processed chicken in it instead of beef.  Do your research and be familiar with your really healthy restaurant choices.


Let’s face it: we’re going to eat out.  We live in too fast-paced a world to be able to cook every meal from scratch.  The least we can do for ourselves is know which dining establishment won’t tattoo our chromosomes (there’s your ‘80’s movie reference) and give our grandchildren cancer.  I’m always shocked when I find out how many calories are in my favorite fast food items.  But it’s not just about calories either.  Find out what restaurants use evil trans-fat laden oils, super processed meats and add sugar to everything.  Check out this website for some ideas!  (Although it’s a great article, I obviously disagree with their McDonald’s pick.  I don’t care if they offer apples with their kids’ meals!  Don’t feed your kid those chicken nuggets!!)  It’s so helpful to have some choices in your back pocket for those crazy days when only fast food will do.


Now, on to the fun stuff…it’s time for our giveaway!  I have really come to love exercising over the years so I’m giving away a couple of my favorite things that help make exercise not only bearable but enjoyable!  

1.  A Hydroflask water bottle – this thing is amazing!  I’ve left cold water in mine for over 6 hours, in a car parked in the Phoenix summer sun (and car temps here can reach 150!) and I come out to water that is STILL cold.  It’s incredible!

2.  A box of Kind nut bars – I LOVE these!  My favorite go-to snack for after workouts or to stash in my purse.  They are made mostly with nuts and fruits, and always have less than 5g of sugar per bar.  Plus this chocolate flavor is delicious.

3.  Bluetooth headphones – this style headphone is seriously the only kind to stay in my ear when I run.  Plus, a bluetooth hookup makes it less likely you’ll trip on a cord and embarrass yourself at the gym 🙂

4.  Runners Waist Pack – sort of like a streamlined fanny pack, these things are a game-changer!  I stash my phone, credit card, key and any other necessities in it every time I go running…and it works great for the gym too.  Don’t know how I survived so long without it!


 To enter, head on over to THIS POST on the Whisk ‘Em Facebook page.  And good luck!!

Thanks SO MUCH for joining me on this fitness journey and I really hope you saw some improvements, like I did!  If you have any other tips or successes to share, please comment or email me!  Let’s get, and stay, healthy together!


Week 11: Sit Down to Eat


Ever noticed how sometimes you get to 2 or 3pm and can’t remember if you’ve eaten anything that day?  I do it all the time.  Then I stand over the counter in my kitchen and eat all my kids’ sandwich leftovers, then a burrito for myself and top it off with whatever treat I can find hiding in my pantry.

Not only does this mean that I should really plan my meals better (and record them more often!) but, if I sit down with all the food I plan to eat right in front of me, I can eat slower, enjoy it more and feel fuller.  The act of emptying your plate can really go far in signaling to your body that it’s time to stop eating (which is a good reason to eat on small plates!).  Not to mention that you’ll feel rested and full after a meal instead of like a hyperactive squirrel looking for its next nut. 😉  I also tend to eat more healthfully when I sit down and make meal of it.  After all, I can’t remember a time I sat down to a Snickers ice cream bar, a handful of chips and two beaters full of icing…but I know I’ve inhaled it guiltily in the corner of my kitchen before!

If you’ve been following along these past 10 weeks, then you’ve done some really hard things.  Just sitting down to eat doesn’t seem like a big deal after all those other challenges.  But if you’re in the habit of eating on the go, it can make a huge difference in your quest to eat more mindfully!

Let me know if this is usually a hard thing for you to do and how it goes!

If you’re ready for our LAST weekly challenge, you can find week 12 here!