Category Archives: Motivation

Healthy Pregnancy 2 – 32 Weeks

How far along? 32 Weeks

Baby Size: A Squash! He’s over 4lbs at this point.

Weight gain: 26.5lbs

Maternity clothes? Rocking them daily and looking forward to warmer weather so I can just wear some dresses.

Belly Button in or out? Out

Best moment this week: Having one last ultrasound last Friday. He has gone from the 98th percentile to 60th percentile. I asked if that was a concerning drop but that doctors said that is much more normal based on my son’s birth and much more manageable from a giving birth standpoint.

Miss Anything? My limbs not falling asleep while I’m trying to sleep.

Movement: He is getting really crazy and loves to party from about 9-11PM. He also somehow manages to kick my bladder and the top of my uterus at the same time.

Food cravings: Oranges. Mangos. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Dying for a really good, huge, veggie sandwich.

Gender: Boy #2!

Looking forward to: Getting to our new home to settle in and meet the medical team that I will be with when I actually have this baby.

Preparing to Move

As we get ready for our big move in less than three weeks, I am pretty much sitting here feeling content. I know a lot of people get stressed about moving and my husband encouraged me to write about how I prepare for our moves. Mostly, how I plan to remain healthy during our move. I told him I have nothing to offer because it doesn’t stress me out, but he reminded me that it’s because I already have everything planned in my head.

I forget sometimes that planning is so second nature to me I don’t realize I am doing it. Here’s what I have done so far to prepare for our move.

I have already set up my doctor’s appointment for the day after we arrive. This gives me 20 days to get my insurance all caught up with my doctors, since that always seems to be a nightmare. I have also mentally decided some of the staples I will cook and freeze for after the baby arrives (banana muffins & pancakes, vitamin loaf, and chili to name a few). Those first few weeks of delirious exhaustion are no joke, and the only thing that got me through it with our first born is lots of help and nutritious food on hand. I can only pretend to imagine how much more tired I will be having two children to take care of, so my nutrition is extremely important to me.

We will have a 10 day trip to get from our house now to our new residence. We will leave on a Wednesday and stay in a hotel that night. I plan to do a workout at the hotel gym that evening after we have settled in and put our little guy down to bed. Normally I would workout first thing in the morning before a long road trip, but we will be at 9,000 feet elevation that morning and breathing is barely an option for me now, so I doubt I’ll function very well at that elevation. If we get in too late on Wednesday then I will do my weighted workout first thing Thursday morning before we leave. Thursday evening we will arrive at our family’s house, and I plan to have one or two sets of weights in the car with us. I can do my weighted workout first thing Friday morning before a day full of activities that I’m already planning. Monday morning I will do the same before we head north of LA to visit our friends. Since I will be visiting one of my friends who is also a Fitness With Kristen member, I know we will find time to get our workout in that Wednesday before I leave. My group also has travel workouts, so if I don’t end up bringing my weights with me, I know I’ll be covered with plenty of body weight workouts that I can do on the road.

Since I have an outline of my workouts, I know I will want to eat well because I don’t like feeling bogged down during my workouts. I always pack tons of snacks for our road trips, and when we stop I usually focus on getting protein and some veggies and/or fruit with each meal. This could look like a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon (or avocado), lettuce, tomato, and some fruit on the side. I might opt for a burger with lettuce, tomato, and a side salad. These are easy enough to get on the go and they fill be up without bogging me down. I also focus on getting a TON of hydration in to ensure I don’t have super swollen limbs by time we arrive to our destination. I’ll be 36 weeks pregnant when we arrive to our new home, so I would like to be as comfortable as possible when we arrive, which means hydrating well throughout the trip.

In terms of our arrival, I have already set our son up for swim lessons and put him on a waitlist for the development center. On the front end, I have already informed his school of his last day and sorted through all of the baby clothes we have in the house so that everything will be ready for when we arrive. All of the newborn clothes will come in the car with us in case there is a delay in household goods being delivered, or if the baby decides to arrive early. Otherwise, there does not seem to be much left for us to do except to finish all the perishables in the house.

Alexa Georgoulis Feature

I am really excited for today’s feature! I have been following Alexa (@alexa_georgoulis) on Instagram since I was pregnant with my son. I found it inspirational that she was safely doing Crossfit while pregnant, and was excited when I learned she had an impressive running background. I found that many of our thoughts align: no off limit or “bad” foods, don’t eat until you are sick, and look for the vitamins or micronutrients your food has to offer you most of the time. She has an almost two year old who attends many of her workouts, and she is training to qualify for the Crossfit Team Regionals. Her running background is so impressive and I know you will love learning about her training and nutrition as much as I did!

Can you tell us a little bit about your running background. When did you start running and how did you make the jump to ultra marathons?

I started out running track and cross country in high school. In college, I still ran to stay in shape and during my junior year, I decided to run my first marathon. As I was training for that I had met a group to train with and several of them ran ultras. It sounded pretty cool and different so I signed up for my first one, which was a mountain 50k a couple months after I finished my marathon. After complete a few 50k races, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could run a little further and so I ran a few 50 milers and then I tried to attempt a 100 miler. I ended up dropping at my first attempt due to injury, but then finished my first one a few months later. From there, I qualified and was picked to run the Western States 100 (which is a lottery based 100 and probably as prestigious as the Boston Marathon in the Ultra community). After running one more 100, I then applied and was accepted to run the Badwater Ultramarathon, which is 135 miles from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney in July when temperatures can get into the 120s. It’s ranked as one of the toughest foot races in the world. I ended up doing that race 2x and also ran its sister race, the Brazil 135 (which I think may have actually been harder). In 2014, I was accepted to run Badwater for a third time, however found out that I had the beginnings of another stress fracture in my foot and so had to withdraw myself from the race a couple months prior, which turned out to be a good thing because I got pregnant with my daughter shortly after.

When did you make the crossover from running to Crossfit?

I started Crossfit in 2010 a few months after finishing my first 100 miler and had found out that I was accepted into Western States 100. I really wanted to become a stronger runner and add in some cross training. Once I joined CF, I fell in love immediately. During the years I ran, I would do CF a few times a week to supplement my running, but was very competitive with it. However, during my pregnancy with my daughter was probably when I started to CF a bit more. I had to modify a bit as I got later into my pregnancy, however overall, the movements felt much better for me than running or even walking did. I had planned to start training for more marathons and ultras after I had my daughter, I just ended up being pretty burnt out. In 2013, I ended up having two surgeries in my foot, one to repair about 6 torn tendons and ligaments in my foot and then another to repair a torn plantar fascia and my foot just never felt the same after. Always running through injury had wore me out. On top of that, to train for more ultras would mean so much time away from my daughter, which I didn’t want to do. I had grown to love CF more than running and even though it was kind of a sad realization for me at first, I’m so glad I decided to make the switch over.

 I remember you were doing Crossfit while pregnant. Did you receive much criticism for making that choice?

 Not really. My mom was definitely the most concerned out of anyone though. Like I mentioned though, CF actually felt better on my body than running or even walking did and I feel like those are “pregnancy safe” exercises in most people’s minds. Even my doctor was fine with my doing CF. I think her only “rule” for me was that I shouldn’t lift anything more than 70 pounds over my head.. but I think she just probably made that number up lol. She was a pretty petite lady and so 70# is probably a lot for her. One of my best friends, who use to be highly competitive in CF and is also an EMT, was also pregnant with her first daughter at the same time and so we would workout a lot together and keep each other in check as well.

What measures did you take to maintain your milk supply while also training with Crossfit?

I make sure that I’m taking in enough calories and also that enough of those calories come from fat. Once I had my daughter I started doing flexible dieting and so keeping track of what I’m eating to make sure I hit my calorie/fat needs so I can keep up with breastfeeding has really helped. When we were exclusively breastfeeding I was taking in as much as 95g of fat per day and now I’m down to about 65-70g. Also, breastfeeding also has a lot to do with supply and demand so just nursing a lot in itself I think has helped a lot. Emelie will be two next month and we are still going at it. I’m trying to actually wean her to at least only night feedings, but she doesn’t really seem to be into cutting back.

 Now you are training for the Crossfit Team Regionals this year! Can you tell us a little about what that training looks like?

 Well, first we have to qualify for Regionals. The Crossfit Open starts at the end of February and will consist of 1 workout that everyone has to submit a score for for 5 weeks. The top 15 teams (which consists of 3 men and 3 women) in Southern California and top 15 in Northern California will then move on to compete in the California Regionals.

Training usually consists of 5 days a week and normally about 1.5-2 hours a day. Those of us training to try and make team at our gym will still do our gym’s WODs that the regular clases will do, but we will add a couple extra strength, gymnastics still work and/or interval work on top of it. On most days my best friend and I will get to the gym about an hour before the normal class starts so that we can fit in our extra work and then will jump in with the class for the WOD. On Saturdays we also have a L2/competitor class and that will usually consist of some sort of team or partner workout.

What about the nutrition for that? Do you follow a set plan or do you have enough of an understanding of nutrition to fuel without a plan?

I do flexible dieting and so I weigh/measure all my food and track it into My Fitness Pal and I love it. I have done the Paleo thing and its great because it gets people to eat more whole or unprocessed foods, but honestly I feel so much better mentally and physically with flexible dieting. I like that there are no “bad” or “off limit” foods. I’m not gonna lie, I have a huge sweet tooth and if you were to look in my food diary, I probably have at least 2 servings of chocolate chips a day along with probably some cookies or ice cream, but I also eat a lot of fruits, veggies, fish, lean meats, etc… stuff with higher micronutrient values. I’m also really luck that my best friend, Amanda, helps me a lot with the amount of macros I should be eating. She works with Jason Phillips, who is the creator of Mission 6, and she is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition. I’ve definitely seen a big difference in my performance since she has started helping me. 

I know you offer remote training. What kind of training do you offer (running, weight loss, etc)?

All my clients have somewhat different goals. I do have quite a few endurance athletes that I train. I also have some clients who like to do CF, but maybe are working out of a home gym or need some extra supplemental work and then I have clients who just want to be fit and healthy or maybe lose a few pounds. I’m down to help someone no matter what their goal is and it doesn’t matter whether they workout at home or in a gym.

 What final words of wisdom can you offer to readers?

Attitude is everything. I think this past year I have become a better athlete because I stopped comparing myself to others and thinking maybe I couldn’t hang with certain people in workouts. I try and go into workouts with more confidence and just give it everything I have for that day. Have a positive attitude and it will take you far.

2017 Goals

I am going to be blunt here and just say that this has been a giant middle finger of a year. We have certainly had our ups: Pat getting home safely from deployment, our little man growing and learning so much, and our little rainbow baby to name a few. It has also had its handful of downs. We have had our minor annoyances such as moving into a wasp infested house, which turned into a mouse infested house (such a debacle). We also had our heat go out for 24 hours when it was 21 degrees outside. Annoying but manageable stuff that everyone who lives in a house probably deals with at some point. On the heavier side, we have had very close friends and a family member both dealing with cancer, which has been heartbreaking to watch. Finally, we had our chemical pregnancy, immediately followed by a gut wrenching miscarriage. My Mom always says that everything bad happens in threes, so even though I am not the one who has been sick in most of these situations, it has not been easy to watch and I am looking forward to seven years of good things. That’s what happens when you get your three bad things right?

I share all of this to say, 2016 has truly been a giant middle finger of a year and I am looking forward to saying #byefelicia to 2016 and welcoming 2017 with open arms. I suppose things could always be worse, but I am not really interested in finding out. Instead, I want to look ahead with a positive frame of mind, and set some big goals for 2017 just like I did for 2016. I also wanted to share this because on the internet we can of course construct this perfect image of our life, and I am just so far from perfect it makes me laugh. I want you all to know that I work hard and I go through hardships and I am just this human Mom, Wife, and fitness enthusiast who believes you can be fit and healthy even when circumstances are not perfect.

OK, enough babbling. Here are my goals for 2017. Since I will be pregnancy for 50% of this year, I decreased the amount of goals for the year, but made sure they were quality and that I have a plan to execute them:

  1. Run a half marathon in December. By then I will be 6 months post partum, which will give me three months to fully heal with no running if necessary and 12 weeks to train. My training program is only 10 weeks, so this gives me time to rebuild a base depending on how my recovery goes. I would ideally like to find a race that raises money/awareness for childhood leukemia.
  2. Continue to use weights and stay active throughout my pregnancy. Changing my mindset from fat loss and hitting new personal bests, to maintaining fitness for baby and birth always gives me a little run for my money. My weights will likely decrease by the end of pregnancy, and I will definitely need more breaks, but I want to continue to stay active as long as my pregnancy allows for it.
  3. Launch another successful boot camp once we leave Colorado. I love running boot camp, and love to see how much women’s views of nutrition and fitness changes throughout the course of boot camp. I cannot wait to be able to launch boot camp again and work people in person, in addition to our amazing online program!
  4. Commit to 1 month of a Crossfit class. I will probably wait until I am post partum for this, since I know my competitive nature will take over and I will put myself at risk of injury going too hard during pregnancy. I have been to a few classes, but I want to try 1 month of classes, to learn new movements and work in a different way. I know I will struggle with straying from my own programming
  5. GET SWIMMING LESSONS! This is the year! I really want to try a triathlon at some point in my life, but I tap out at doggy paddling. I want to get some lessons so I can properly swim, not just survive in water. Maybe I can find a Mommy & Me class, where my munchkin can learn at the same time that I get my own lessons.
  6. Go to prenatal yoga. I know getting in some prenatal yoga will be perfect for my aching joints. I want to be more committed to slowing down and doing more accessory work for injury prevention, and I know that yoga will be good for that. If I can find a class to attend once per week, that would be perfect for my schedule and needs.
  7. Focus on consuming nutritious food. Growing a baby and raising a toddler makes the temptation to eat quick, easy, junk food enticing. I know it is my responsibility to make sure our growing baby is getting all of the nutrients he/she needs to thrive though. I want to focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables throughout my pregnancy, as well as quality proteins, healthy fats, and slow digesting carbs. This will not only give me energy throughout my pregnancy and help my baby grow, but it will continue to model for my son how to properly fuel his body to feel energized.

Have you set goals for 2017? Put together not just goals, but steps for getting there. Dream big and plan.

Be Committed

One of the best things you can do for your health and fitness is be committed. I’m not even talking about being committed to your workouts (though that is important), but be committed to every aspect of your fitness. Commit to your workout. Commit to your nutrition. Commit to your hydration. Commit to your rest. Commit to your stretching. Commit. If you approach it this way, you won’t have to keep starting over, or keep spinning your wheels being stuck in the same place!unnamed-1

The consistency within your commitment is what will help you reach your goals. The biggest mistake I see people make is that they struggle with rest days. There is this need for “active rest” where they are still doing an hour of low intensity cardio, or something along those lines. That can increase your cortisol levels (your fight or flight hormone) causing you to retain fat and even look inflamed. Instead, try to commit to your rest. I’m not saying to sit on your butt eating Ben & Jerry’s on your rest day. I’m saying, just commit. Sunday is a total rest day for me. I don’t even think about working out. I get my weekly workouts done by Saturday morning and on Sundays I spend the whole day playing with my son, doing errands with the family, and not even thinking about working out. It makes my rest a lot less stressful. I do the same when I am not feeling well. If I need extra rest, I commit 100% to those rest days. I don’t put stipulations like “if I feel OK maybe I’ll go for a short run.” I used to do that, but it added more stress, and that causes imbalance in my hormones. Instead, I decide “tomorrow I will rest” and I get up and shower, and start working, and I don’t touch a weight or put on running shoes.

The misconception with rest and why some people get so stressed out is that there seems to be this belief that you will gain weight if you don’t work out, or if you’re not working out enough. The problem is, nutrition is 100% more important than your workouts. Your nutrition will determine if you gain or lose weight, your exercise will simply help the process along. Missing one or two workouts won’t make you fat. Missing two weeks of workouts because of poor prioritizing will decrease your fitness, but missing a few workouts because you need more rest will not change your body composition. As I mentioned, having this mentality and pushing yourself to workout more and more, will actually cause you to maintain or even GAIN weight. You will find it difficult to reach your fitness goals such as lifting heavier, running faster, or getting stronger, because your body really needs the rest.

This whole post isn’t about rest though. It’s about commitment. When you remain committed to your goals and your program, you will see progress; however, if your foot is half out the door and you’re only kind of following a program, you won’t see progress. Have you ever done a nutrition program like Shakeology or Whole 30 or something, and followed it completely and seen amazing results? That is because you were committed. You stuck to the plan as it was designed, and you saw results. You probably committed because there was an expiration date.

So, how do you commit to making health your lifestyle? Start small. Commit to ONE thing until you have it down, then work on the next habit. For example, say you already work out a few times per week, but you eat out 5 meals per week and you make poor choices over what you eat while you are out. Maybe you can’t change the fact that you eat out that often, but you can commit to making better choices when you eat out. Look for the meals with protein and vitamins. Vegetables/fruit always provide a lot of micronutrients, and protein will help keep you full. You could look for the fats and carbs too, but when you are starting out, keep it simple. Protein + vitamins – it can be that simple. Commit to making that a habit. When it no longer feels like so much work, move on to the next habit.

unnamed-7When you are looking to change your body composition, meet fitness goals, or literally just be a healthier person, you HAVE to commit. Below is a list that I gave my members today of habits to work on. We are going to COMMIT to working on one aspect until it becomes habit and helps us live a healthier lifestyle.

  • Sleep
  • Water consumption
  • Working out HARD for a short amount of time
  • Rest/Recovery
  • Stretching
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Eat more real food (ditch the “diet” food!)
  • Stick to one caffeinated beverage each day

As always, if you are looking for extra support on your journey, join our amazing network of women who are supporting each other and crushing their goals!

 

Finding The Gray

The reason that nutrition and working out, and finding health can be difficult is because it is SO GRAY! What works for me, might not work exactly perfect for you. Some people find counting macros super helpful. I find it too rigid. I find eating mostly paleo/just eating real food balancing for me. Many people find it TOO restrictive. Some people calorie count. Others do the zone diet. Sometimes these things work. Often times there are too many rules.

Then there is working out. Do I run? Do I lift? Should I be going heavy all the time? Should I be going hard all the time? How often should I rest? When is the perfect time to workout? These are all valid questions, but often times, they aren’t super relevant unless you are training for something in particular. If your goal is just fat loss, or just being a health person, the time of day you workout is not the most important factor. That fact THAT you work out is more important.

img_9569What makes all of this tricky is finding your sweet spot. In the beginning of following a rigid program, it is nice to have that structure of “eat this, at this time” “make this food, you’ll see results” etc, and at the beginning that feels so helpful. Then, it becomes too much. You feel like you can’t go to eat with your friends, or you always have to bring your meals with your etc. OR, you swing the pendulum the other way and don’t want to be the weirdo being specific about your food or bringing your own food, so you get the “f its” and just eat whatever the heck you want. Both sides of this pendulum are an unhealthy place to be. How do you get to the gray?

It’s hard. SO HARD. You have to be so conscious about it. Here’s what is so hard too: in our society there is a total blur between what is “normal” dieting and disordered eating. If you suspect, even a little bit that you have disordered eating, please see a therapist. Get some help. If you’re caught up in our societies terrible diet trends, you CAN get out of that cycle. BUT you have to be conscious of it. You have to make a very conscious effort to change your perspective on food. The reason eating real food works for me is because I don’t have off limit foods. I reach for whole, nourishing food most of the time, but processed food isn’t off limits. I keep in mind how things make me feel, and I weigh out if it’s more important to me to eat something that makes me sick, or to not feel sick. Some days I choose to feel inflamed and unwell. Some days I choose to skip the food that makes me feel unwell. Most of the time I don’t realize I am doing this until I am talking to friends or clients. It has not always been that second nature for me though. I spent years making a very conscious effort to listen to my body and take care of my well-being. I made a conscious effort to change my inner dialogue.

Start here: Do you have “off limit” foods? Or do you label food as “good” or “bad”? It may be time for you to work away from that labeling. While there is food that is full of nutrients and others that are less nutritious, at the end of the day all food is comprised of: fat, carbs, and protein. Each thing you eat has one or a combination of these three macronutrients.

That’s not to say I recommend eating donuts or a full plate of nachos everyday. I think when you look at your meals it’s helpful to look at the vitamins you are getting from that meal, most of the time. As I mentioned, I start taking note of how certain food makes me feel and I eat it or not based on that.

Most whole, real food makes me feel energized. I noticed that if I have an excess of gluten I get stomach pains. It’s not an allergy, simply a low tolerance for it. I have noticed that when I am not eating enough carbs my energy is low and I crave sweets (this is normal). I have noticed that fake sugars cause inflammation (ok fine, gas) in my gut. I usually stay away from gluten and fake sugars where possible.

With that in mind, I don’t get crazy if I do eat something like that. Yes, I don’t feel my best, but the world isn’t ending. Usually with such black and white thinking, once a person has had something “off limits” they go ham and eat everything “off limits” in sight. Getting rid of these labels can slowly lead you to a place of balance.

One thing I do to minimize that feeling of deprivation without overdoing it is wait a day. If I want something that doesn’t usually settle well, I just wait one day. If I still want it the next day, I just have it. If I am no longer craving it, then I move on. We are all adults, which means we are responsible for how we feel. I don’t think food labeling or strict eating is the answer to a healthy, balanced life. I also don’t think that making yourself sick 3+ days of the week is healthy and balanced either.

Back to finding the gray. How do you find that? Really start listening to your body. Are you gassy after you eat certain food? Take a look at that food and what is in it. Try a day or two, or even a week without that food and see if there is a difference. If you do have something that doesn’t normally settle well, take a deep breath. The world isn’t ending and you don’t need to go crazy. Move on to your next meal. When you get to your next meal, choose something with more vitamins. Drink a little more water. This will help you to not spend the rest of the day overeating or “eating bad food”. There are no BAD food. There are nutritious foods and less nutritious foods. The less nutritious foods aren’t “bad” though. Your body doesn’t know the difference between breaking down bread with avocado and breaking down ice cream. It doesn’t say “I have these carbs and fats from ice cream so I’m going straight to the thighs” or “I have these carbs and fats from toast with avocado so I’m going to be used directly as food”. That is only happening in your head, not in your body. If certain foods drain your of energy, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth consuming. If other foods energize you, I always find it replenishing to consume those because who doesn’t love energy?

img_9576When it comes to working out it DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BLACK AND WHITE! 10-20 minutes is PLENTY of time to get your body moving and improve your fitness. I used to think this was a cop out. I genuinely thought people were bs’ing when they said this and using it as an excuse to be lazy. I am so guilty of that mentality and I was SO SO wrong. If you want to workout for 1-2 hours per day because that feels rejuvenating for you, that is fine. It’s not black and white. If you are forcing yourself to workout for 1-2 hours per day because you think that’s the only way to get results, you are misinformed. WHAT you do is more important than duration. Again, with the black and white thinking this can lead to “I don’t have an hour and a half to dedicate so it’s not worth it”, which isn’t rational either. Getting in 10 minutes of movement is still good for your body. It is still good for your heart and lungs and sanity to get in those few minutes of movements.

There also seems to be this mentality of “if I can’t give it 100% it’s not worth it”. While it is important to work hard during your workouts, you don’t HAVE to every time. Goals are great, and you have to put in a certain amount of work to build strength or lose fat, or run faster – whatever your goal is. Of course, you have to put in the work; however, if you’re just an everyday person who simply wants to be healthy – have decent mobility, feel energized, and just feel confident most days, it doesn’t have to be that severe. It is more important to stay consistent (do your three workouts each week) than to give 1000% every time. Getting in 10 minutes at 50% will do more for you than getting in 0 minutes at 0%. Over time, you will be able to push yourself more. You will build up confidence in your ability to push harder. Again, I am not saying you can just do 10% effort all the time and see results, but 10% effort 70% of the time will still keep your more mobile and fit than 0% effort for three weeks.

In sum, finding the gray in your health is difficult. Take baby steps. Manage your expectations. Identify when you have black and white thinking. Maybe you can’t get in an hour at the gym today, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat a pint of ice cream because you feel bad about it. If you really want to get in a workout, set a timer for 10 minutes and do 30 seconds of squats followed by 30 seconds of rest. You could even do that for five minutes! Or hold a 1:00 plank. It may sound small and silly, but it will also help you break through your black and white thinking. Remember that just because you eat a piece of pizza, doesn’t mean you need to eat a whole cake too. It does not have to be all or nothing. Keep reminding yourself that the overarching goal is LIFESTYLE not a quick fix. Keep reminding yourself that you can eat a piece of pizza without gaining 10lbs (seriously, you won’t gain weight from one slice of pizza). Remind yourself that consistency counts. Remind yourself that nothing else in life is black and white, so food and fitness don’t have to be either. Remind yourself that when you are tired you should REST! Remind yourself that you are worth taking care of. Make a conscious effort to listen to what your body is saying to you. Ask yourself if what you are doing is sustainable.

What I Am Struggling With Right Now

Here’s the thing: I write a fitness blog, which I hope is a resource for many when it comes to all things fitness. I write a lot about past struggles and I write a lot about overcoming struggles. It is usually after the fact though, and sometimes that can be hard to relate to. My goal with this post is to show you that I too am human, and I struggle. I struggle with aspects of my fitness, and my life in general. Whenever I encounter a struggle, I like to solve the problem by putting together a plan to resolve the issue at hand. Honestly, a lot of this is second nature and I don’t always realize I am doing it. Also, in the interest of full disclosure: I like to problem solve and talk issues to death. I do not like when Pat problem solves my struggles, even though I always want to solve his problems. This is 100% irrational, unfair, and I am sure infuriating. I try my best not to be close-minded when he does troubleshoot my complaints, but this can probably be added to the list of things I struggle with right now. On to my current struggles and what I plan to do about them!

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Running – In May I ran my first marathon. I respond really well to a set training plan, so race training always gets me super excited about running. When I am not race training I still love running, but I have a harder time making it a priority. Once we moved, the elevation took its toll on my ability to run with any sort of speed. We also travelled a ton when we first moved here, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to adjust to the elevation. Then I got sick for the 29078094385 time in a one month period, so I just took 5 days off of working out altogether to really just let my body recuperate. It has been a long journey with some awesome runs, and a lot of terrible or non-existent runs. We also live in an area that is great for running, but not superb for stroller running. Where I used to sometimes just take my son for an afternoon run, we really only have a one mile loop here where that would be feasible. I could always run it a few times, and some days I will end up doing that. It has simply been an extra obstacle for me.

I told Pat last week that I want my running to be more of a priority. He is always so supportive of my goals, so when I put it out there I feel more accountable because I do have that extra support. I am not looking to run any really long distances or train for any long distance races. I am looking to get back to my four consistent days of running, and running those without feeling terrible after. I have signed-up for a 5-miler trail run, just to have something to work toward. Right now, I am working back toward my four days per week of running. From there, I will add in some speed work so I can actually race!

unnamed-1Being A Good Mom – I 100% know I am not alone with this, but man it is so hard to feel like a good mom. I don’t even know what a “good” mom looks like. I mean, I keep my kid alive, and I am kind to him. Is that enough? Not for me. I know I will probably get a slew of responses saying “you’re a great mom!” and it is not about the validation. It is just that, in general I question my parenting decision every single day. I don’t know if men do this, but I have never spoken to a mom who doesn’t do this. Our son goes to day care half days, four days per week. I struggle with this of course, because I don’t feel I work enough to justify this, but I also know it is beneficial for him to be around other kids his age. I am seeing that benefit because skills that I have been trying to teach him for OVER A YEAR (bangs head against wall) he is finally starting to do, and it is probably because he sees other kids do it. When he comes home, he naps (haha, that’s the goal anyway) then we spend the afternoon playing. I usually try to bring him to the library, or the park, or somewhere fun. On his day off from daycare we usually go to the aquarium or children’s museum, etc. Here again I get torn. I worry on the one hand that I am not spending enough time with him, teaching him, exposing him to experiences. On the other hand, I feel like I am spoiling him – setting an expectation that we will always do fun activities. It is such a crazy spiral! I am sure some of it has to do with the fact that he is my first kid. I get that. I am also sure some of this is just the crazy cycle that we as moms (and probably dads too, I don’t know) plunge ourselves into.

To combat this, I remind myself that my parents were also human. Nothing was more jarring than the realization that my parents were in fact just doing the best they could, and were probably as clueless as I am in how to raise kids. I am not sure if this is a common “a-ha” moment or not, but I was sitting with my son when he was younger, feeling completely unprepared (I have read every parenting book and blog under the sun) to adequately raise a child. Then I realized, my parents did not have the internet when my brother and I were born, and we both turned out pretty decent. My parents must have been in over their heads! We survived though, and we still like our parents! It was comforting to me to realize that my parents weren’t superhuman, and that they just did the best they could. That’s all you can ask.

I also used to go to a new parenting class run by a therapist. She talked A LOT, but one piece of advice she said really stuck with me: “No matter how hard you try, you cannot be a perfect parent. No one is. And no matter what you do, your kid will dislike you at some point. It is just a reality.” She wasn’t being mean spirited, she was simply stating that it is pointless to make yourself crazy about whether or not your kids will like you. Whether you are a strict parent or a super laid back parent, your kids will probably take issue with SOMETHING you do as a parent. That’s OK. There is no perfection. Breaking down that standard has definitely helped me to stress less about all of therapy bills I constantly assume my son will be racking up. Mom guilt is so real and so ridiculous, but I totally buy into it.

unnamed-3Meal Prep – Irony is so real here. I preach all the time about meal prepping, but I have been AWFUL about it recently. I have just not been prioritizing it, which makes my weekdays way more hectic. I still prioritize my nutrition, but I have been making the world’s laziest meals lately (caulirice and meat with taco seasoning has been our tune this week). Part of it has been that on the weekend when we normally have a little extra time, we have still been moving into and organizing our house. Part of it is that I usually will make a casserole or something early in the week for dinner, that we can have as leftovers, but my son has taken to crying at my feet the second I walk into the kitchen, and I just don’t have the energy for it. Also, our oven is garbage. I cannot cook anything over 250 degrees (per the oven face) because the oven continues to heat and is off by 50-100 degrees!! We have discussed this with our landlord, but these things take time.

To combat this, Pat and I have already discussed setting goals for this weekend. We have been tackling one big project per weekend (i.e. organizing the garage, organizing our bathroom, etc). This weekend we have separate projects we want to work on (mine being meal prep) and I think having that extra time this weekend for meal prepping will be helpful in getting me back into a meal prep routine. I also have to get over my frustration with our oven, and just work around the problem until it is resolved. I also plan to remind myself how good this is for my son. He is better set up for growth and development when I have food on hand that nourishes him. It makes our mornings and lunchtime much smoother and happier. Less tears and screaming from him also make me much happier.

Overall, we all struggle. EVERYONE! EVERY SINGLE PERSON you know struggles with something! If they tell you they aren’t, they are lying. I have always been a problem solver, so I try to be proactive about my struggles. If I am struggling with something and it is really impacting how I feel about myself, I like to make a plan to change that. I have no interest in being a victim to my circumstances. I am always striving to change what makes me unhappy. It is not easy, but it is my reality. I encourage to look at what is making you unhappy right now. If it is something that you have no control over, accept that; however, if it is something that you can work toward changing, make a plan!

Are You Selfish?

I was talking to my Mom the other day and she said “you know, I am just going to have to be selfish and take care of myself.” I immediately got defensive, and it isn’t her fault. I just hate that our society has skewed things so that when we take care of ourselves it is considered selfish. It isn’t that this is a new trend, it is just that I am more aware of it, and I despise it more the older I get.

unnamedYou know what’s selfish? NOT taking care of yourself. Not eating well. Not moving your body. Not taking time for yourself. Not resting and recuperating. Knowingly engaging in these activities: that’s selfish. It is one thing if you are trying your best to eat well but are simply misinformed. It is another thing to know you should take some time for yourself, but not doing that. It is one thing to eat a cupcake or some nachos from time to time. It is another thing when you know that sitting down and eating a pack of Cinnabons is terrible for you, but you do it on the weekly.

When you don’t take care of yourself, someone else will eventually have to take care of you. When you don’t take the time to nourish your body, your kids and family will miss out on time with you. When you don’t take the time to de-stress, you have less tolerance for those around you and have a shorter fuse. You are also probably spinning yourself into a ball of stress, making you pretty tough to be around.

Outside the logistics of being a normal human being, is it selfish to train for big events, such as a marathon, Ironman, Crossfit regionals, or really any kind of competition/race? I think it definitely takes a level of self-absorption, but why is that negative? Training is very consuming. If you don’t train properly your biggest risk is injury, and you are also looking at a longer recovery.

For example, when I trained for my marathon, there were several aspects of my life that were impacted. I had less time to work, but I had a lot more time to brainstorm (when you are running at least an hour most days, a lot of brainstorming happens. Especially when you run without headphones). At the time, I was only able to do exactly what needed to be done to keep my business afloat, but at the same time, I have implemented so many new programs and ideas since training, which I thought of during my training. My family was also impacted. I spent 2-3 hours running on Saturday mornings. Even though I would leave early in the morning, I was usually returning right around the time my son was going down for a nap. Then I had to stretch, shower, eat, and hydrate. Our Fridays also revolved around my runs. This takes a lot of time away from my family, but it also gave my husband and I time to ease back into living together after 6+ months of him being on deployment. When we had discussed it, I thought I was choosing a poor time by not devoting all of my energy to his return. He disagreed and thought it would be good for him to spend time one-on-one with our son. This worked out great for our son. He got special time with Daddy; he got to see his Mommy put in the work to meet her goals; and he got to see us being smart about our time back together. So yes, there is definitely a level of dedication and self-absorption that comes with training for something, but I don’t think that is entirely selfish, or that the level of self-absorption is negative.

unnamedI think it is so important that we as adults put in the time and effort to take care of ourselves. Where else will our kids learn to care for themselves? Our kids learn from what we do (not what we say – very disappointing, I know). I am not saying you need to make fancy, gourmet, healthy meals every night, or that you have to spend six hours on Sunday making 30lbs of grilled chicken to have with steamed asparagus and brown rice everyday. I am saying, eating General Tso’s chicken EVERY NIGHT because you can’t be bothered to find something more nourishing (whether you find it eating out or cook extras throughout the week) is selfish if you know you don’t feel well after and that it is not good for your health.

I am saying that it is not selfish to take 30-60 minutes most days for yourself. Whether you use that time to workout, or just relax, everyone deserves time to de-stress and that is not selfish. I am saying that despite the level of dedication it takes to train for a big event, as long as you have an honest discussion with your family before plunging in, it is not selfish to set a goal and work toward it. I am saying that it is appalling that when we decide to take care of ourselves, we feel the need to apologize.

What do you think? On some level is it selfish to take care of yourself, or is it more selfish to disregard yourself and take care of others?

What I Did To Finally Reach My Goals

It took me a long time to truly find balance when it came to living a healthy lifestyle. I have always wanted to have a fit look about me, and I spent a long time counting calories and spending hours working out. I also spent time attempting “body acceptance” where I just ate whatever I wanted and accepted that I would just never be fit again. Neither of those extremes worked for me. What did work for me was accepting where I was in my journey, while working toward a stronger, healthier self.

unnamed-6This will sound so basic, but the first thing I did to accept myself and move forward in my journey, was to buy clothes that fit me. For pretty much all of my life, I would hang on to clothes that used to fit, in the hopes that they would fit again someday. There’s nothing terribly wrong with doing this, but I was hanging on to clothes for 5 years at a time that still did not fit comfortably. I was shaming myself for not fitting into my old clothes. Once I let go of that expectation and bought clothes that fit me comfortably, I stopped feeling so uncomfortable. This is so basic, and yet such a difficult step! Nobody wants to buy bigger clothes. Sometimes though, getting clothes that fit and help you feel more confident, help you to have the courage to take control of your situation.

The next thing I did was take responsibility for my actions. I am responsible for what I put in my mouth. I am responsible for the excuses I make or for pushing myself beyond reason. I am responsible for my rest. Nobody else. These are my responsibilities for taking care of myself. I am not responsible for the insecurities others may feel when I take care of myself. This was the biggest phenomenon for me. I worked at a gym where I was constantly criticized for bringing in my own meals and nourishing myself. It made me feel really small and like I had to change my habits. Then I realized I should not be apologizing for taking care of myself. I should not feel bad for eating healthy food, for eating a lot of food, and for moving my body. This was so so hard for me to learn, but I did eventually realize that I deserve to take care of myself. I should not make myself smaller because taking responsibility of my life made other people uncomfortable.

Next, I got real with myself about what I wanted and buckled down. There seems to be this trend where wanting to look a certain way or wearing make-up or taking care of yourself is shameful. I think it’s OK to want to look pretty. I think it is OK to take 45 minutes to do your hair if you enjoy that. I do not thinkthat taking care of yourself to feel your best should cause shame. I may not wear make-up or do my hair often, because that is not where my priorities lay; however, meal prepping and working out are priorities for me. I decided that I wanted to have a strong look, and that I wanted to see what kind of limits I could take my body to. I like to run, but I decided to run a marathon because it just seemed crazy. I still have so many things I want to try because I am unsure if I can do them, and I just want to continue to push my comfort zones. Also, I just want to look good (my version of that for me). I want to feel strong and have an outer shell that reflects that strength. Again, for a long time I was not real with myself about this.

unnamed-3Be intentional. My number one priority is always to feel my best. I cannot be a good mom if I feel lethargic most of the time. I cannot be a good wife if I am consistently in a bad mood. There have been times where I tell Pat “I think I will cut back on this part of my workout, but I will probably still run a few days per week” to which he usually responds “please do.” Running genuinely affects my mood that much. Not because I feel like I have to run or I will get fat, or any of that. It just really does give me those endorphins that help me to be a more patient person (I need all the help I can get when it comes to patience). Back to the point though: be intentional. It is all well and good to decide you want to be healthy, but you cannot just wing it. You cannot decide that some days you will eat well and other days you will eat an entire pizza in one sitting. The first few months you have to be really intentional. Write out your meals. Prepare your meals. Write out your workout schedule. Don’t skip it. Get all of your workout gear ready the night prior. Get your post workout meal ready the night prior. Actually sit down and eat your meals instead of eating on-the-go. I know that sounds like a lot, and at first it can be overwhelming. Be intentional about your goals though. If you want to be healthy, take the time each day to being a healthier person. If you have 30 minutes to watch TV or 10 minutes to be on Facebook/Instagram, you have 10 minutes to sit down and be intentional about what you are putting into your mouth.

Crowd out less nutritious food. I have watched a ton of food documentaries and one of the best bits of knowledge I took away from these was to crowd out your less nutritious food. First of all, I don’t like to label food “good” and “bad”. That gives food too much power and it’s just not that serious. If I want to have some nachos, I will make the choice of whether or not I will eat them, then I will stop when they are no longer satisfying. It does not have to be all or nothing, and food does not have to be so black and white. Certain foods nourish me more and give me more energy, so I prefer to eat those most of the time. What I did for food crowding was I began filling my plate with nutritious food first. I always start with my veggies, piling them on. Next, I add my protein source. Next I add my carb and fat sources (generally my fats come from the generous amounts of oil in which I cook my vegetables). Now I have vitamins, as well as all of my macronutrients. From here, I will add in anything extra I may want. Say some chips, or an after dinner dessert. I listen to my body first though. Am I full? If so, I will hold off on dessert. I won’t die without the dessert, and it will be there tomorrow. If it isn’t there tomorrow, I am sure I can find it or something similar.

unnamed-2Overall, being honest with myself and listening to my body is what helped me the most. I would always read people saying they just lived this lifestyle and they did not want a quick fix and I thought they were smug. Truly, I hated reading stuff like that because I just really could not relate. I wanted to lose weight first THEN work on the lifestyle. Once I was finally able to change that mentality, it really helped me to reach my goals and become a much healthier person. One of the questions that I often ask myself is: is this a life or death situation. I know that seems extreme, but putting things into perspective like that really helps. Eating Doritos on the couch all day everyday, that is life or death, because it will not help you live a nourishing life. Missing dessert once in a while isn’t life or death. Gaining 5lbs over two months isn’t life or death. Your jeans fitting a little snugger over a long period isn’t life or death. Missing one workout isn’t life or death. Consistently engaging in some of these behaviors can definitely take away from your health, but giving it perspective may help you not get the “F its”. You know what I’m talking about. “Oh, I already had a piece of pizza. F it, I might as well eat a whole cake too.” One piece of pizza won’t make you fat. Having this mentality everyday, will. This takes away from your health and your energy.

Have you tried any of these in the past or are you currently trying any of them now? Let me know what has worked for you!

Upcoming Goals

It has been a super busy weekend of getting settled, birthday festivities, and fan girling. Pat and I spent all day Saturday unpacking the last few boxes we had left and setting up the garage – mostly my workout section. We worked hard all day so we could play all day Sunday, which is exactly what we did. I started the day off with my 30th birthday workout, which I will share below. After that, we headed down to Denver to enjoy brunch at Snooze, which was amazing. They had cream cheese hollandaise, which is life changing. I had an eggs benedict variation with salmon, capers, and gluten free toast, with a side of hash browns. After my workout I probably could have eaten 5 more eggs! We spent the rest of the day at a street fair and hanging out on our back deck chatting. Yesterday, I got to meet Juli Bauer from Paleomg and it was so fun! Pat set up a coffee meeting for us and we got to chat and I picked her brain a little bit about her business. I tried not to be a totally crazy fan, and I think I was pretty collected for most of our time together. She really was just as fun and nice in person as she is on her blog and social media.

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Of course, turning 30 got me thinking about future goals I have: for my family, my fitness, and my business. I am so proud that my fitness is far superior to where it was even three years ago, meaning age is just a number. I know so many people get caught up in their age and use it as an excuse, but it is not a great excuse. The older I get, the more important I feel it is to take care of myself. I find it important to eat healthy and make sure I am eating enough, because I want to have the energy to be around for my husband and my son. I want to be able to keep up with my family!

As far as my business, I want to continue focusing on helping people gain confidence and strength. With my online community, we have a program and support forum designed specifically for fat loss and strength, including added core strength. Through that, I want people to gain the confidence to try things they have never been brave enough to try before. We have members who began playing hockey after a few months in the community. Other members have signed up to run races. Still others are literally gaining the confidence to invest in professional and fashionable clothing outside of leggings (no judgement here – I live in yoga pants). I hope to continue to grow our community in such a way that lifts these members up and boost their confidence while continuing to offer the resources and tools they need to be successful long term.

I have completely overhauled how I work with my online clients, and they seem to be extremely pleased with that. There is a lot more interaction and dialogue, and it is helping me to make a program that is more suitable for them. We have found a way to work toward their goals, stay in communication, and keep things fresh. I want to continue making this as easy to follow as possible while helping clients get the results they need.

Finally, for Fitness With Kristen, I want to put together some more at home programs like I have with my PR Half Marathon Training Plan and Lean Body e-book. My goal is to get an understanding of what people need, and put together comprehensive resources so that people can meet their goals!

Moving on to my fitness goals. Now that I have checked a marathon off of my list, I want to train for a triathlon sometime in the next five years. I realize that seems like a lofty amount of time, but when I train, I train 100% and I am unsure when we will have the time for that type of dedication any time soon. I also want to sign-up for a few races in the next few months, just to experience the excitement of running and racing again. I really love to run, but it is lowest priority when I don’t have a plan in place. From November through May I ran my little heart out getting ready to train, then training for my half marathon and marathon. Getting a few short races on the books will help me prioritize my running better. I also want to try Crossfit again! I have been to a few classes, but if I ever have time I would love to get into a class once per week or so to supplement the workouts I am doing at home. I just genuinely do not feel like I have time to dedicate one hour to a class, plus the time to shower and be a respectable human afterward.

unnamed-1Overall, in the next few years, I want to grow my fitness, family, and business. I want to grow my business in a way that is helpful for others, not just profitable for me. I want to empower others to be the best version of themselves, and I want to continue to push my own limits to find out how strong I really am!

Here is my 30-year-old celebration workout, including the weights I used:

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2 rounds for time

  • 30 Barbell Thrusters (just bar)
  • 30 Air Squats
  • 30 Burpees
  • 30 Kettlebell Swings (25lb KB)
  • 30 (total) Overhead Walking Lunges (25lb plate)

Finished in 20:37. Let me know if you try this workout!

The Three Steps You Need To Take To See Results

Fall is looming and summer travel is becoming a thing of the past. If you have been working hard all summer and not seeing results, you need to take these three steps to reach your goals. If you have been easing up over the summer and you are looking to get back into your routine, keep these three steps in mind and you work toward your goals!unnamed

  1. Push Yourself Harder (faster and heavier weights) – DURING your workout you should be pushing yourself. Do not be afraid to use heavier weights. You want to be using a heavy enough weight to challenge you without compromising form. If you have higher intensity workouts, push yourself to work faster. Move away from pacing yourself. HIIT workouts are all the hype because they WORK. Crossfit is so popular because IT WORKS. You push yourself really hard, in a short amount of time. Knowing that your workout won’t last for two hours helps you to push harder. Either way, pushing outside your comfort zone is how you yield results – whether your goals are distance running, fat loss, strength, etc.
  2. Nutrition – Take a good hard look at your nutrition. Are you actually eating well? Are you energizing yourself and nourishing yourself? This means eating ENOUGH food – not overeating and not starving yourself. This means consuming vitamin filled, nutritious food most of the time. Ditch the diet food, the shakes, the detoxes, and eat real food. Your body is designed for real food. Take a hard look at what you are consuming and determine if it is actually energizing you.
  3. Rest – Pushing yourself DURING your workout is important. Pushing yourself all the time is counterproductive. In fact, if your goal is strictly fat loss, your cortisol levels are going to play a huge role in your ability to lose fat. In order to keep those levels balanced, true rest is important. Further, if performance is your goal, you STILL need rest. Your body HAS TO recover from the strain of difficult workouts. I see people all the time saying “I was supposed to take a rest day, but I worked out anyway”. I know that seems hardcore, but in reality you are hindering your fat loss and performance goals by decreasing your body’s ability to recover and thereby work harder during future workouts. Lack of rest also leads to burnout. If you push too hard all the time, you will burnout and your adherence to your program will decrease or become non-existent.

Implement these three steps this month and watch your goals become a reality. Be honest with yourself. If you need extra support join our Fitness With Kristen members for monthly workouts, encouragement, recipes, and nutrition help.