- Eat More Vegetables.
This is the number one piece of nutrition advice I give to anyone and everyone, and would often even give it to myself. I have never once worked with a client that I did not recommend to increase their vegetable intake. Even if you are doing a pretty good job of getting vegetables in, you can always eat more. Vegetables are always going to give you the most bang for your buck. They are low in calories, high in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. I believe they are almost impossible to overeat as most people will just simply fill up before eating too many. There are thousands of types of vegetables and numerous ways to prepare them. If you claim you do not like vegetables, keep trying new ones. Try cooking them a different way, add a little salt and butter or dipping sauce to keep them interesting. Add them to smoothies, soups, frittatas, sauces. There are endless ways to add vegetables to your meal and they can have a significant impact on your health.
2. Move As Much As Possible.
For years we have heard about trying to get in 10,000 steps/day, taking the stairs or parking further away. These small amounts of movement might seem insignificant but they can really add up. Research shows that many people, after working out earlier in the day, actually end up sitting more that day since they already exercised. They feel they have more of an excuse to be less active that day because of their earlier workout. Though working out is great, it does not counteract sitting at your desk for 8 hours. You need to keep moving throughout the day for optimal health. This might be challenging for many with a desk job but just moving around your desk and office can help.
In 2005, the concept of NEAT, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis was introduced. This concept is the idea that daily movements such as standing, walking and basically fidgeting can have an impact on how many calories we burn each day. Studies show that NEAT can burn up to 350 calories a day! Stand up when you answer the phone, get up every hour for a few minutes and walk around the office. Try to have walking meetings if possible. Try to take a few breaks during the day for even 5-10 minute walk breaks. Every step does really count. Just move.
3. Sleep More.
I actually feel somewhat of a hypocrite typing this as I should be sleeping and not staying up to write a blog but I know that I should sleep more. We all probably should. I also know that at times it is literally impossible even with the best intentions. Like the night I got into bed early and was so excited for my 8 hours of sleep, only to be woken by my toddler at midnight demanding a bedtime story about “Frog and Toad.”
Sleeping and parenting little ones often do not go hand in hand but sleep is crucial for everyone. As with food and exercise, sleep can have huge impact on your overall health. Your body and mind need time to rest, recover and restore. When we do not sleep enough, our cravings, energy and hunger levels are out of whack. We are often grouchy and sluggish. Research shows that with less than 6 hours of sleep, our blood sugar becomes elevated the following day which can lead to inflammation. Most experts say 8 hours is ideal with some needing 7 and others needing 9. However, many hours you need to feel good, make it a priority.
4. Cook at Home More.
I love to cook but I realize that not everyone does. Even if you do not love to cook, please know it is one of the most impactful things you can do for your and your family’s health. Eating at home has so many benefits including eating less calories, fat and sodium overall, not to mention saving a significant amount of money. The time to connect with your kids and significant other is also hugely important.
Cooking at home does not mean cooking boring chicken breast and vegetables all the time. It also does not mean cooking super elaborate meals. I cook a wide variety of foods. Some are super simple like putting pre-made burgers on the George Foreman (yes, they still exist and I use mine often), steaming a vegetable and making some type of quick cooking whole grain/starch. Other nights when I have more time and feel more creative, my meals are a little more involved like chicken enchiladas. I also often try to re-create restaurant favorites like nachos and pizzas but they are signiciatnlty better for you when made at home. I can control the ingredients, portion sizes and add extra nutritional value with added vegetables.
It does help that my sister is a professional chef and has helped me significantly over the years to become a better cook, which I am forever grateful for. But just as with anything, getting better at cooking takes practice. The more you cook, the better you will become and we generally enjoy things we are good at. Keep trying new recipes. If you do not enjoy it, try super simple recipes. Pick a protein, starch or whole grain and a vegetable. Super flavorful meals can be put together in just 20 minutes. Keep trying, cooking at home matters.
I know you do not know how much I wanted you. I wanted you and your brother more than you will ever know but for different reasons. Caleb made me a mom after struggling for years to become pregnant. You made me a mom all over again and gave me hope on something I thought I would never have again, a mother-daughter relationship.
When I found out you were a girl, I was overjoyed and actually in so much disbelief that the nurses, doctor, your father and my sister had to really convince me you were a girl. I just could not believe it. But with that joy, also came a little bit of fear. Raising both you and your brother are a great responsibility that I do not take lighly. I want more than anything and am trying everyday to raise respectful, kind, confident and strong children. Yet, I feel that I have a greater responsibility to you in regards to your relationship with food and your body. Of course, I want Caleb to have a healthy relationship with his body and food but I believe it is still a much more of a struggle for girls and women. After struggling for much of my life with my own relationship with food and my body, you and Caleb allowed me to change my relationship. You both taught me there was so much more to life than obsessing about exercise and food. You showed me how amazing my body truly was and is and what it was capable of. I still have days I struggle or go back to my old ways of thinking but you and Caleb will never understand how much you healed me. I only hope that I can now pass this healthy relationship on to you.
My wishes for you:
- That you try all different types of exercise, movement and sports throughout your lifetime because moving our bodies is fun and enjoyable.
- That you find a type of exercise/movement that you love, find joy in and do it often and until your golden years.
- That you want to exercise and eat delicious nourishing foods because it makes you feel good and strong.
- That you do not see foods as inherently good or bad but that some foods make us feel and perform better than others.
- That you learn and hopefully enjoy to cook as I think cooking for yourself is one of the highest forms of self-care and cooking for others is an expression of love.
- That you know just how amazing good food can be and that it should not be associated with guilt or shame.
- That you do not exercise for punishment for eating something ‘bad.’
- That you know your strong legs and genetic build are actually a gift that allows you to run, swim, climb and do all these amazing physical things.
- That you never hear me talk negatively about my body or someone else’s body.
- That you never hear me say that I have been ‘bad’ when it comes to food or exercise.
- That you will be a leader with your girlfriends when it comes to body image and show them what a healthy relationship with your body and food can really look like.
- That you never see a number on the scale and let it determine what kind of day you are going to have.
- That any number measuring anything on your body (clothes, waist size etc.) is NOT a reflection of your self-worth. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MORE THAN A NUMBER.
I know you will probably struggle with some of these issues as many will, but I hope I can be a good example and that you have a healthy, enjoyable relationship with food, exercise and body image. You are strong, smart, beautiful and everything to me. I have learned more about my body, my relationship with food and myself in the last 4 years than I have in my entire lifetime and everyday I still learn, am challenged and in awe of what you and Caleb continue to teach me. Thank you for this responsibility. Thank you for being mine.
Your favorite book currently, and the one we brought to the hospital on the night you were born so that we could put your footprints on the inside cover also sums up my wishes for you.
I Wish you More
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
I wish you more ups than downs.
I wish you more give than take.
I wish you more tippy-toes than deep.
I wish you more we than me.
I wish you more hugs than ughs.
I wish you more WOO-HOO than WHOA!
I wish you more will than hill.
I wish you more can than knot.
I wish you more snowflakes than tongue.
I wish you more pause than fast-forward.
I wish you more umbrella than rain.
I wish you more bubbles than bath.
I wish you more treasures than pockets.
I wish you more stories than stars.
I wish all of this for you, because you are everything I could wish for…and more.
Happy Birthday baby girl!
I am very excited and honored to have my sister and a professional chef as my guest blogger today. My sister has influenced, encouraged and taught me more about cooking more than anyone else. We both hope to encourage people to cook more as we know the impact it can have on someone’s health and overall wellbeing. Yet, we realize that not everyone loves to cook but want to emphasize that even simple cooking is important.
Last weekend we joined neighbors for a barbecue, and the conversation turned to meal delivery services like Blue Apron, Green Chef and Purple Carrot. (Why do they all have colors in their names?) A friend, who works full-time and has two boys under five, turned to me and asked – apprehensively, I felt – what I thought of these services. Perhaps she thought that as a professional teaching chef, who emphasizes cooking at home, my opinion might be somewhat judgmental, as though these services were somehow “cheating.” On the contrary, however, I endorse these, and many other similar options, wholeheartedly.
For the past seven years, I’ve taught public and private cooking classes to hundreds of people. My focus has always been the same: to encourage people of any age and any background to get back in their kitchens and cook. I don’t teach fussy, “cheffy” recipes requiring dozens of hard-to-find ingredients or absurdly long preparation and cooking times. Instead, I concentrate on simple, fresh, healthy recipes that can be made successfully by anyone; the majority of the recipes I teach are exceedingly flexible, based around whole grains, fresh vegetables and layers of flavor, but also forgiving of ingredient substitutions and dietary guidelines.
The reality of my position, however, is that I can only reach a limited number of people, because I conduct in-person classes and lectures. These meal delivery services, on the other hand, have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of thousands of people through their well-financed marketing departments, slick online how-to videos and collectible recipe cards. Instead of competing with me, I think these services bring even more people into the cooking fold, and if any company gets more people to cook at home then I salute them. And I want moms (and other busy people) everywhere to know this: YOUR FOOD IS GREAT. Please, keep cooking.
I know it’s easy for a professional chef who regularly teaches classes on homemade bread and kombucha and how to make your own yogurt and using up your homegrown organic garden herbs to sound a little sanctimonious and judgmental. I know that I make these things look easy because that’s my job. And that’s exactly why I want you to stop just for a moment and take some credit for the things in your kitchen that you’re doing right. Are you planning at least a few meals every week? Making a batch of homemade muffins or granola? Subscribing to a local CSA? Brewing coffee at home rather than hitting the drive-thru? Focusing on using up your leftovers and cooking from your pantry instead of buying more food? Including your kids in grocery shopping, meal planning and food preparation? Maybe not every single meal in your kitchen is 100% from scratch, but please know this: whatever you’re doing, keep it up. Really, you’re doing great.
Seriously, we’re judged for so many things every single day, and I believe that is even more true for moms who might sometimes feel as though they can’t get anything right. It is heartbreaking to cook a meal and then receive family feedback that’s less than enthusiastic. But please, take it from me: if the majority of meals you feed your family come from whole, unprocessed foods that you’ve cooked (hopefully as a team), and if you make an effort to have as many sit-down meals together each week as you possibly can, then you are ahead of the game.
And if you subscribe to meal delivery services like Blue Apron, then you probably already know that you’re paying more than you need to for those ingredients and recipes. But if – as my friend pointed out – those conveniently packaged ingredient boxes encourage you to cook something you never would have tried before, or entice your kids to sample a new ingredient just because it arrived in a surprise box like a Christmas present that they got to unwrap, then you’re doing well. Cooking fresh, wholesome food at home isn’t an all-or-nothing game, and some days will definitively be better than others. You do your very best, you involve your family and hopefully don’t treat it like too much of a chore, and you sit down together to enjoy the results. And that, friends, is what cooking at home is all about.
To quote Merrill Stubbs and Amanda Hesser of Food52:
“Because, if you cook:
Your family will eat dinner together.
You will naturally have a more sustainable household.
You’ll set a lifelong example for your children.
You’ll understand what goes into food and will eat more healthily.
You’ll make your home an important place in your life.
You’ll make others happy.
People will remember you.”
So get in your kitchen. And remember, you’re doing great.
Chef Elizabeth Buckingham is a Colorado native and has recently returned from a five-month round-the-world sabbatical. She earned her culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu Paris and has cooked aboard dive boats and private yachts worldwide. Elizabeth now teaches public and private cooking classes in the Denver area and is a certified Master Gardener; she runs a small urban homestead complete with bees, chickens and a large vegetable garden. She is an avid canner and preserver, a passionate advocate of local food, and she thinks everyone should know how to cook at least a little bit. Learn more about her adventures at www.findingquietfarm.com.
All photos by Nick Nick Photography.
“Can I run while I am pregnant?”
“When should I stop running when pregnant?”
“What can I start running again after having the baby?”
These are questions I receive quite frequently from clients, friends, my group exercise class participants or even strangers after finding out what I do.
The answer to the first question is yes. Running while pregnant is perfectly safe as long as their are no complications or you have not been instructed not to do so from your doctor. Though exercise duration recommendations for pregnancy is the same as the general public, 150 minutes a week, it is recommended that you do not exceed pre-pregnancy intensity levels. So if you were not running at all before pregnancy, you can definitely still began an exercise program, but it would be best to probably start with walking. If you do decide to run while pregnant, I would highly recommend good supportive sport bras as well as supportive shoes. Some women also choose to use a running belt as they get further along. You will want to really listen to your body as far as intensity goes and pay attention to any associated pain. It is not recommend to get purposely breathless while exercising during pregnancy (hormone changes will often make you feel rather breathless) but there is no need to be running 200 meter all out sprints while pregnant. Keep the intensity fairly moderate. The hormone relaxin is also circulating while pregnant, making joints a bit more lax so again, pay attention to your body. If you are having pain while running or afterwards, it is best to back off the pace or switch to fast or incline walking.
When should you stop running? There is no medical recommendation on exactly when a pregnant woman should stop. I believe you should stop when it becomes too uncomfortable, when it is no longer enjoyable or have been recommended to stop by a doctor or other medical professional. Exercise is supposed to make you feel better, not worse. I know women who ran for the majority of their pregnancy. With Caleb, I ran to about 27 weeks as it still felt good in my body. Of course, I was running quite a bit slower but I still enjoyed it. With Madelynn, I stopped and 19 or 20 weeks because it just did not feel good. My joints ached a bit and everything seemed to be jostling around no matter how much supportive gear I wore. So this is a very personal answer, if it still feels okay, you are not having any associated pain during or after, then you can continue to run until you feel too uncomfortable.
I stopped running well before this photo was taken.
Returning to running after having a baby is much more complicated and there are many more things to consider as there is a lot going on in your body post-partum.
A few things to think about:
- Are you having any pain with any type of workouts?
If gentle and slow exercise hurts, it is not time to start running.
- Are you having pelvic floor dysfunction which can include pain, incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse (when your pelvic organs drop from their normal position) ?
If you are peeing down your leg every time your attempt to run or have been diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse you need to focus on healing your pelvic floor first.
- How is your overall current lifestyle?
It is very likely that many moms, regardless of their kids age, are probably not getting enough sleep but are you getting ‘adequate’ rest? Often, time may be better spent getting a quick nap then trying to add extra miles to your weekly routine.
- How is your overall energy and stress levels?
If your body is still very, very much stressed the last thing we want to do is add a lot more stress with running and intense exercise.
You can run while breastfeeding but a few things to consider include needing a very supportive bra (I just ended up wearing two) as breasts are almost always larger when breastfeeding. You need to to think about timing of the run with feeding and/or pumping. When you are breastfeeding, you still have some relaxin in your body. This hormone makes the joints more relaxed and loose feeling. Be aware of any joint pain and see if running acerbates this.
Caleb and I about 6th months postpartum at one of my first post-baby races. I fed him early before I left and then pumped right before I raced.
As I have mentioned before, I just wish I would of waited to return to running and intense exercise with Madelynn. I think I would have skipped many months of severe back pain. Though I do not believe you have to wait 6 weeks post-partum to return to some form of light exercise, I do think you need to wait a bit to return to intense exercise which includes running.
Even if you are running fairly slow, running is high impact and can be stressful on our bodies. The last thing we want to do to a body that is already highly stressed due to having a new baby, hormone changes and lack of sleep is put it under a lot more stress. Remember, birth should be treated as a major event to the body regardless if you had a vaginal or cesarean section. You would never run a few weeks after having an ACL surgery and that it one location in your body vs. an event that impacted most of our body. Why does society put so much pressure on new moms to ‘get their body back’ and to return to intense exercise shortly after a major body event?
As Jessie Mundell, one of the most educated coaches in pre-and post-natal exercise, says about returning to exercise post-partum, “the slowest path is the fastest path.”
Before you get back into running, I would highly recommend the following to hopefully be able to return pain free and for the long term.
- Clearance from your OBGYN. It is standard to go see your OBGYN 6-8 weeks after birth. At this time the Dr. will generally check you for any issues and clear you for exercise. As mentioned, I think slow and intentional exercise before 6-8 weeks (walking, swimming, light weight training, body weight training) is okay and actually good for most women who have no complications. But for more intense exercise I would DEFINITELY wait until you have had your first post-op check up.
- Be seen by a Pelvic Floor Physio Therapist. A physio who specializes in women’s health can help determine pelvic floor function, any issues, evaluate you for diastisis recti and make other recommendations to help you heal and function properly. Unfortunately, a recommendation to see a PF Physio is not the standard of care in this country but as more and more women are starting to talk about be open with pelvic floor dysfunction, they are becoming more common.
- You have been doing at least a month (ideally two to three months) of lower intensity workouts The first time you exercise post-partum should not be a run. Before running, you should have started walking frequently, light weight lifting, body weight exercise and core work.
- You have no pain from exercise. Pain is different than being a little bit uncomfortable or challenged from exercise. Exercising after having a baby will be a bit challenging as you start to regain strength and stamina but again, exercise is supposed to make you feel better and enhance your wellbeing. If your joints or body ache after walking, do not attempt to start running.
There are no hard rules on pre-and postpartum exercise. Yes, there are some guidelines that should definitely followed but other recommendations are really personal to each woman. Listen to your body, work with a coach or trainer who is knowledgeable in pre-and post-natal training and whom you trust. Pregnancy is temporary but postpartum is forever. By being smart, taking it slower than you might wish, you are much less likely to have complications later on and you can return stronger than ever!
If you are looking to get back into running regardless of when you had a baby (or even if you never have had a baby), want to start running or even get faster and set a new PR, I am excited to share with you Running Beyond Baby. This program contains 3, 12 week programs and is for everyone regardless of ability level. The program includes weight, core and yoga workouts as well as education on hormones, nutrition and more! There are no other programs out there that offer this much information and education at this price! AND if you are not ready yet for running (see above) you will have access to the program forever but it is only sale this week so make sure to grab it! Check it out here before Friday!
A few of my good friends and a client of mine have all had a baby within the last month. New babies always make me feel a bit nostalgic and I think of that special time with both my babies. I am also currently studying and obtaining an additional pre-and post-natal fitness certification so I have also been thinking about how I returned to exercise after having my kids and what I think I did right and what I wish I would have known or done different. Here are the few things, not all exercise related that I wish I could tell every new mom.
A new baby is such an awesome, stressful, amazing, beautiful time and it goes by so fast and at times you wish it would slow down and at times you wish it would speed up to the time when the baby sleeps longer or when you think it might get easier. Wait to try to figure it all out. Wait to try to get into a routine. Wait to try to get things back to normal. And most of all, please wait to return to intense exercise. This is so much easier to say now that I am not at that stage but I wish I would have waited. I was often anxious to get back to my routine of exercise and normal life but once you have a baby there is no real returning to your life before. You are forever changed in wonderful ways and some very challenging ways. I had intense back pain 9 months postpartum and I just wish I would have waited longer.
2. Its okay to happy, mad, sad, exhausted
Nothing can prepare you for those first few months after child birth. It does matter how many books you read or how many other moms you talk to. Nothing will prepare you for the awesomeness of becoming a parent but it also one of the hardest jobs I have ever had or will have. The exhaustion is unlike something I have ever known. Postpartum is hard. Not are you only extremely under slept, overwhelmed and stressed, often breastfeeding constantly, you are trying to take care of this human being and figure out what the hell you are doing. All the emotions are totally normal. Not every day is going to be staring into your babies eyes in magical bliss. Some days are going to be a complete shit show. I remember my husband coming home when I was on maternity leave and I just started crying because Caleb wouldn’t nap that day and I thought I was doing something wrong and I was just so tired. Honestly, some days now are a total shit show. Some days I nail it, but many days I do not. I still have all these emotions on the regular. Embrace all those feelings as totally normal.
A really great and smooth morning on the way to school this week.
3 .Doubt is probably the second most common emotion you will have after love.
The love you feel is indescribable but so is the doubt. I do not think my doubt will go away until my kids are at least 35. 😉 In my blog on Caleb’s 4th birthday I mentioned that I will probably always question myself with parenting and I think that is fairly true. There is no manual for this. Though I like to be prepared and read a kajillion books on parenting and still do, there is no preparation for the everyday experiences and being in the trenches. Keep going mama, you are doing an awesome job even when you do not think you are.
4. When you start to workout again, don’t focus on getting smaller, focus on getting stronger. Most moms who come to me for post-natal training want to lose their baby weight. And I was the exact same. Losing the weight I put on and getting my ‘abs’ back were my main priority physically. As mentioned my recovery with Caleb was fairly easy so I thought I that is how it would be for my second. I did not do the necessary core and pelvic floor healing that I should have done which came back to hurt me a lot 9 months later with Madelynn. Fat loss and shrinking does not need to be the main goal. Can it be a nice side effect and perk of returning to exercise? Of course, but can we as a society and my fellow fitness professionals promote proper healing and recovery first? Can we stop gawking at the celebrities who pretend to get their body back in 6 weeks? If they lost the weight, great but who knows how they are really feeling and functioning. Regardless of how fast the weight is loss, no postpartum body is fully recovered and healed at 6 weeks. And how will they be feeling and functioning in 6 months? Our bodies are forever different and forever changed. Postpartum is forever. My main goal now as a pre-and post-natal fitness professional is to help mamas heal their body, stop being so hard on themselves and get their body functioning to a place they want to be. I hope they lose the weight if that is there goal but I more so hope their body feels good and they can get on the floor to play with their little ones, give piggy back rides, go running, lift weights without pain and feel good in their own body.
You are going a good job mama! What do you wish you would have known or could tell other mamas? Would love to hear from you!
Yesterday, I celebrated my son’s 4th birthday. I always get a little nostalgic on my kid’s birthday as I am sure many moms do. Caleb is my first born so everything I know with him is my first as a mom. We struggled for years to to get pregnant and were so thankful to bring him into this world. I think of how dramatically my life has changed since March 12th, 2013. Though Caleb, has taught me more lessons than I can probably remember in his short life, below are 5 that really stick out to me.
- Unconditional Love-Everyone says you will experience unconditional love when you have a child and I have definitely found that to be true. Parenting is friggin hard. Hard but wonderful. Caleb can push my buttons and make me crazy but 30 seconds later he can be the sweetest boy. I am definitely in what seems to be a ‘hot and cold’ stage as he can literally go from not listening to me, throwing fits to sitting in my lap telling me he loves me. No matter how much he challenges me, my love is completely unconditional and like a love I have never known before.
- A new sense of gratitude. This one is simple. I am thankful EVERY.SINGLE.DAY that both my children are healthy and thriving. No matter what kind of behavior issues we have had, battles etc. I am so deeply grateful they are healthy.
3. That I will always question myself as a parent. I constantly question myself, look to others for advice, worry if I am doing the right thing, wondering if I am allowing for bad habits, am I too lenient, too strict? Again, parenting is friggin hard. But just because I am constantly questioning myself, does not mean I lack confidence in my parenting. I know I am doing the best that I know how. Questioning myself means I care deeply about this job and I am scared of screwing up. I am trying my best, just as most of us are as parents and I think the fact that we do question ourselves just shows that we care about this job like no other.
4. Patience. This has never been my strong suit and I still work on this pretty constantly, especially with two fairly independent kids. I want to go, go, go all the time. I constantly want to be getting things done, marking off my to-do list. Yesterday, we rode our bikes to the doughnut shop for C’s birthday treat. The 1.25 mile trip each way took us about 45 minutes. My son rode both ways the whole way and I was beaming with pride but OMG riding that slow on a bike for me was a little painful. I had to constantly remind myself to slow down and let him do it even if it took that long. He also wants to do a lot of things by himself and though it would obviously take much less time for me to do it, what would be the lesson or the point? I have learned not to always rush him and therefore myself.
5. To love myself more. This one is hard to put into words but I know I love myself more since Caleb came into this world. I have blogged quite a bit about having kids as my catalyst for letting ago of many of my food issues but overall, I am not nearly as critical of my body or my abilities. Not that I ever feel I had major self-esteem issues but I think many of us go through times of questioning our self-worth and value. I grew and birthed a pretty awesome little boy who I know thinks I am pretty great. It just took me bringing him into this world to think the same thing.
Thank you Caleb, for these lessons and many more to come.
Happy 4th Birthday C, forever my baby you will be.