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5 Things I wasn't prepared for Postpartum

We all get a lot of advice during pregnancy whether we want it or not. It’s one of those special times of life when people feel like they can just comment on everything. During pregnancy I read all the books, all the articles, listened to all the podcasts, talked to all my sisters and friends, but I still had some surprises. In hopes to shed some light on the subject for those of you embarking on this child baring journey, these are 5 things I was NOT prepared for postpartum.

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Keeping my Fertility: Life after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery and Child birth

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, hormonal or fertility specialist. I am just a personal trainer and fitness instructor who healed my hormones naturally and recovered from hypothalamic amenorrhea. For more detailed information and an awesome resource on HA check out No Period Now What.

Over the last few years, my body and mind have been through a lot of changes. I went from living my crazy fit life, to discovering my Hypothalamic Amenorrhea diagnosis, to changing my whole world to recover, regaining my period, finally getting pregnant, and now a few months postpartum as a mom to a beautiful baby boy. What a whirl wind! (you can read more of that journey here)

While going through this journey, most of my focus was on the end goal of having a baby. I did it! And I can honestly say it’s brought more joy and peace (in a crazy roller coaster kind of way) to my life than I have ever felt. It was worth every heart ache and tear shed along the way. But now what lies ahead is the unknown. Now what? What does life look like moving forward? There’s a lot of unknowns, but what I do know is that I want to keep my fertility that I’ve worked so hard to restore. I’ve learned the importance of keeping a regular menstrual cycle and the impact that it can have on your over all health. I don't want to return to my HA lifestyle, but I’m ready to move forward from recovery, pregnancy, and postpartum mode. What does life look like with fertility and fitness for me?

I’ve reflected back on the things I believe impacted my fertility the most; Mistakes I made, mindset shifts that had to happen, and things I just had no idea were effecting me in this way. I’ve compiled these into my game plan for keeping my fertility and living my healthiest, most balanced life. Hopefully these tips can be helpful for those of you going through your own recovery process.

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  1. Learn to say NO and set boundaries. Stress is a huge contributor to HA. Your body shifts into a constant state of cortisol production, taking away from your bodies sex hormone production. Over the years I’ve discovered I’m a chronic “yesser” and a goal setter. Any others out there? Not saying that setting goals and saying yes to things is always a bad thing. However, I would often feel this overwhelming pressure to please everyone around me, making sure I never let them down. Somehow I made the connection in my head that saying no to an offer or task would make me a failure in someones eyes. It was the same with not having a constant goal I was working towards. I associated this with laziness and failure as well. These are common traits among women diagnosed with HA. Go getters with a lot on our plate.

    NOW: Learning to simplify my To-Do list and be ok with not having big goals at times has been huge with my recovery. This New Years was the first New Years I can remember that I didn’t write down a few pages of goals in several categories of my life. It was liberating! This hasn’t made me a failure or lazy. It’s helped me relax and even love myself more.

  2. Carbs are my friend. Looking back on what I was eating when I wasn’t having a period, I realized there was very little carbohydrates involved. Not a good combo with the amount of activity I was doing. Looking into research about HA and healthy hormones in women, I found that carbohydrates are crucial for women and our hormones! I was working out and staying active multiple hours of the day and trying to follow a low carb diet that consisted of maybe a piece of toast in the morning and 1 piece of fruit a day, then mostly veggies and protein for lunch and dinner. I was doing all the “healthy swaps” such as cauliflower rice instead of actual rice, lettuce wraps instead of any sort of bread or bun, zucchini instead of actual pasta, etc. Not saying that these are bad swaps, however if you have a sensitive hormone system and are experiencing a missing period, you’re body NEEDS healthy carbohydrates. And I would argue that women in general need carbohydrates to function their best. Yes, fruit and vegetables are carbohydrates, but my body was not getting enough.

    NOW: I make sure I have a serving of carbohydrates at every meal and snack. My favorites are Oatmeal or steel cut oats for breakfast, toast topped with avocado and eggs, peanut butter and banana toast, Loaded sweet potatoes, Rice or quinoa bowls with a veggie and protein, fresh sour dough bread with goat cheese, and I love all fruits throughout the day for a little pick me up snack or treat.

  3. Never workout fasted. If you’re following any sort of body builder’s guide to getting lean, then you’ve heard about fasted cardio. I’ve always been a first-thing-in-the-morning kind of exerciser, and I’ve always wanted to “get lean”, so this seemed like the right plan for me. For the most part I felt good working out on an empty stomach in the mornings, however my hormones did not. You see, with HA you want to avoid being in a caloric deficit for too long because that sends your body into starvation, stress, survival mode (more cortisol, less healthy hormone balance). Our bodies only have a finite amount of energy, and when we are in an energy deficit, our reproductive system is the first thing to shut down. When we sleep, we are in a fasted state, so upon waking we are typically in a neutral or negative calorie zone. When we workout first thing in the morning on an empty tank, we go deeper into that caloric deficit. Our body has to work all day just to get back to a caloric surplus where are reproductive system can work. The cycle continues and you can see how this can mess with our hormones over time.

    I would also add to this that any sort of intermittent fasting in general for women of child baring years is a bad idea. I don’t care if it’s the latest weight loss fad. If you want to have healthy hormones and fertility, fuel your body regularly!

    NOW: I’ve changed up my routine so that I can have a nice and big nutritious breakfast within the first hour I wake up (usually toast with 1/2 avocado and 2 eggs or a hardy bowl of steel cut oats with nuts, seeds, and fruit). Then after I’ve given myself 30-60 minutes to digest my food I get my workout in. Somedays it doesn’t happen until after lunch and I’m fine with it. I actually LOVE not feeling like I’m starving during my workouts. I feel more powerful and energized! It feels good to know I’m fueling my body with what it needs.

  4. Learn to turn down the intensity. I was the type that hated yoga, barre, pilates, and walking because I felt it wasn’t intense enough for a workout. I wanted to sweat hard and breath hard. I always gave myself one rest day a week, but the other 6 days I was working my butt off. A missed workout felt like a wasted day to me. During HA recovery it’s advised you take out all intense workouts and stick to slower paced walking and yoga. This was SO HARD at first, but it taught me so many valuable lessons. First, I realized I didn’t lose strength and progress as quickly as I thought I would with not working out. Second, I learned to appreciate movement. Any kind of movement just made me feel so good no matter how intense it was. Third, my body needs rest. Simple as that. My body was craving the rest I wasn't giving it. This contributed big time to the hormonal imbalance.

    NOW: Instead of doing HIIT and Metcon (metabolic conditioning) type workouts 6 days a week, I’ve scaled back to 1 HIIT workout, 2 strength workouts that are much slower paced, 1 steady state cardio (under and hour), and 1 Metcon type workout each week. This leaves me 2 rest days a week. None of my workouts are longer than an hour, most are 30 minutes. I add a slow paced walk every day that is more therapeutic than anything, and it’s very leisurely, usually pushing the stroller. This schedule shifts around a bit week to week, but so far I’m loving it! I still like to push myself hard, but the variety has been so good for me.

  5. Listening to my body: “Be stronger than your excuses”, ”rain or shine - rise and grind”, “no off days”, just a few of the Pinterest quotes you may seem floating around to motivate your fitness game. This is the type of mentality I had. No matter how tired I was, or if I was feeling a bit under the weather, on vacation, Christmas morning, wherever I was and however I was feeling I never missed a workout. Dedication for sure, but also sort of missing the point. I wasn’t listening to my body. I wasn’t taking into consideration that my body maybe, just maybe, needed a break or some flexibility in my routine.

    NOW: I have my tentative workout schedule as I mentioned above, however, I wake up each morning and decide which modality of movement my body is feeling for that day. Some days I feel amazingly energized after a good amount of sleep and the right fuel and I’m up for going all out beast mode strength training. Some days I wake up and feel a little achey and I know thats the perfect day for some rejuvenating yoga or slower paced pilates. Somedays I just want to go on a beach walk with some friends. As I mentioned in my instagram, it doesn’t have to be All or Nothing, but Always SOMETHING.

  6. Avoid hormonal birth control (and be my own advocate): Birth control is a very personal subject, and there is absolutely no judgement here on what anyone chooses to do in this department. I’m simply sharing my experience to shed some light on how birth control relates to hypothalamic amenorrhea. The pill was suggested by my OB, and I didn’t know enough to say anything against it, so I followed her advice. Little did I know this was masking the fact that my body wasn’t naturally cycling! Yes, you have a withdrawal bleed while on the pill, but this has nothing to do with our body’s hormones and natural ability to do so on its own. No body told me this! There is so much misinformation and guidance out there, especially to young girls that are put on the pill for pretty much everything!

    NOW: If I want to stay in control of my fertility moving forward I need to monitor my hormones and how they’re naturally operating. At one of my last OB appointments before the baby came they were already asking me about birth control. It felt good to stand up for myself this time and let her know that I was taking care of it and wanted to avoid synthetic hormones.

  7. Disconnect my worth from my body: Throughout this process, I’ve reflected a lot on myself and my mindset trying to figure out what my motivation was for living the way I was. How did I get to the state I was in? I narrowed it down to two main driving forces. First, I truly do love exercising. I love feeling strong and fit in my body. I love sweating and working hard. It’s never been a chore for me, I genuinely love it and still do! Second, and harder to admit, but I thought my worth as a woman, wife, trainer, my whole identity, was wrapped up in this image I felt I had to keep up with. I was known and applauded for being the fit girl, and I didn’t really know myself outside of that roll. This process has taught me a lot (can read more here), but this is probably the most valuable lesson of all. I have value outside of what my body looks like, my body fat percentage, and my fitness level! I discovered all my loved ones still loved me, and even more than they did before. I could still be a great coach, and an even better Mom. This was a huge self discovery!

    NOW: I’m less critical of myself and less critical of others. This has sweetened my relationships. I remind myself each day of great qualities I have that are completely separate from anything physical. I express gratitude and positive affirmations each morning to help my mindset stay in that space. This takes constant work and some days I still struggle, but the progress I’ve made has changed my life.

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If you are approaching HA recovery, whether you want to get pregnant or just get your period back, know that there is life after HA. Not just an ordinary life, but a great life! I remember feeling so depressed about changing my lifestyle, thinking I would never be the same again and everything I loved to do had to be removed from my life. While there was a time of change and removing exercise, I now get to enjoy all the things I love to do again, but with a much more balanced approach. I fuel my body better, I take care of my muscles and weaknesses better, I move solely for the sake of feeling good and health, I have more quality time with the people in my life, and I absolutely LOVE being a mom.

This is still a big learning process for me. I’m still breast feeding so I’m not sure when my cycle will return. To be honest I’m still nervous about it coming back at all, but I feel much more empowered now that I know what to do. My body needs rest and relaxation. My body needs fuel, and a lot of it. It’s possible to be fit and fertile. Here’s to the next chapter of life!

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My Fav Baby & Momma Products

Alright, if you’re pregnant or a new mom, and anything like me, you’ve probably looked at a million “registry list” articles for ideas on all the must have baby items. These lists are super helpful, especially going into a world where you have no idea what you’ll need or what it’s going to be like. Stepping into new territory can be terrifying but oh so exciting all at the same time.

I wanted to add my 2 cents with my favorite products I’ve discovered in my almost 8 weeks of motherhood. From peeing and pooping, to feeding and sleeping, these have made a big difference in my new little world. Some of these products are solely for me, some for baby, and some benefit the both of us (aka: a twofer :)

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Ivan's Birth Story

For months I envisioned how the birth of my son would go. I wrote down my “birth plan”, practiced visualization techniques, read tons of books on natural birthing, listened to podcasts, all gearing up for the big event. Throughout my pregnancy I exercised, did yoga, ate well, and tried to do all the prep work I could. At the same time, I’m the type to just let nature take its course, and I knew this was something I couldn’t plan out perfectly. I knew a birth plan was really just a wish, but I didn’t expect my birth story to take all of the crazy turns that it did!

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HA Recovery & Pregnancy: Why I'm GRATEFUL I recovered BEFORE I got pregnant

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HA Recovery & Pregnancy: Why I'm GRATEFUL I recovered BEFORE I got pregnant

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While going through my journey over the last few years of realizing I was infertile, changing my mindset and behavior to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA), becoming fertile again, and now about to have my first child, I’ve done a lot of pondering and self discovery. I’m a believer in things happening for a reason, and that our trials are catered to us and our specific needs to mold us into the best versions of ourselves. While finding out about HA I was frustrated. I couldn’t help but think “why does this effect me and not the other girl?” “Why can’t I just keep living how I’m living and get pregnant?” It didn’t really seem fair. I heard of women living a similar lifestyle to mine and getting pregnant naturally or with medical intervention, keeping their fitness level in the process. It seemed very appealing at the time. However, since going through this process, I have learned so much about myself and discovered that this trial was EXACTLY what I needed to become a better mother, a better wife, a better trainer, and just a better me than I would have been without it. I needed to be pulled out of my obsession. I needed balance in my life. I needed a wake up call. 

In this blog post I want to focus on why I wouldn’t change a thing. These seven lessons are why I’m grateful I recovered from HA before getting pregnant and becoming a mother.  



  1. I learned to overcome my fears & anxieties around weight gain. When I was in the depths of HA, one of the things that made me most anxious about becoming a mother someday was having to sacrifice my workout routine and possibly gaining weight. I’ve said it before, but gaining weight was literally my biggest fear. Seems ridiculous now, but at the time it was real! Having to face that head on did wonders for me. I learned that my marriage didn’t fall apart (it actually got better), my clients didn’t leave me (we actually got closer), and I wasn’t miserable (this took time, but now I’m happier than ever!).

  2. I learned to accept and love my forever changing body. Part of my HA recovery I went through was the mental work of detaching my identity and worth from my body, and loving myself aside from what the scale said. Since I put in this mental work before getting pregnant, all of the physical changes that come with pregnancy hardly even phased me. Ya I’m not 100% stoked on how my body looks all of the time, but I know that if I would have become pregnant without going through this process, pregnancy would have freaked me out! When stretch marks appeared on my boobs and my butt, I sort of smiled and thought to myself “sweet, I’m joining the club!” Rather than it seeming like the end of the world, I’ve realized that their are MUCH greater issues that people deal with than a few stretch marks.

  3. I’ve learned more patience. I’ve been fit and healthy pretty much my whole life and have never had to struggle through a process of trying to fix or course correct my health. Through HA recovery, I learned that adjusting anything to do with hormones takes TIME. It took my body three months of no exercise, eating 2500+ calories, and relaxing my mind for my body to produce a natural period again (and 3 months was on the quicker side compared to most). {check out No Period Now What for more details on this process} It took 6 months after that for my body to Ovulate on its own in order for me to get pregnant naturally. Because of this process I know I’ll be more patient and understanding with my body postpartum. Had I gotten pregnant without HA recovery, I know I would’ve jumped right back into my old ways, stressed about losing the weight, and possibly caused permanent damage to myself in the process. 

  4. I learned to love exercise & movement completely aside from weight loss. Pre-recovery, my workouts were usually focused on how many calories I could burn, how much I was sweating, and how dead I was when I was done. From taking exercise out of my life for a season, I learned how much I just craved movement. I learned to appreciate a simple walk around the block, or a light yoga session. It became more about mental clarity and functionality rather than numbers to track. I learned to love exercising with people again rather than being so worried about my own results. I know this mindset will benefit my kids, my husband, and myself throughout our lives. 

  5. I learned to be OK with days that I don’t get a workout in. Working out has always been ingrained into my daily routine, and ask anyone who knows me - I was not a happy camper if I didn’t get a workout in. I would be irritable and antsy for the rest of the day, and anxious around food. With this process I had to learn to cope with my emotions without exercise as an outlet. I’ve learned that somedays you don’t get it in and thats alright. Somedays your body says, “let’s take the day off, stay in bed and cuddle with your cute husband”. I’ve learned to cherish those mornings because the old me never allowed that! If I need to be in bed all day caring for a sick baby, I’ve learned that I can live with that and my workout can wait. There’s so much more to life that we can miss out on if we’re just worried about looking good in a bikini.

  6. I learned to honor my bodies hunger cues and remove food guilt from my life. One of the most eye opening things about recovery was how much I had been unintentionally starving my body without even realizing it. I had been working out like crazy and depriving my body of the fuel it needed. No wonder I had a sweet tooth, my body was craving carbs so badly! I was used to this under fueling state, so when I did actually fuel adequately, or “over-indulge”, I felt like it was too much and there was some guilt associated with that. I would already be planning my workout for the next day to make sure I worked it off. With HA recovery, I was able to reset my bodies hunger triggers and I feel so much more in tune with what my body needs and am willing to provide that. I know this step has been so important for a healthy pregnancy, and will help me through breastfeeding and just being there for my baby with full energy. 

  7. I learned to be less judgmental and critical of myself and others. In my naive HA brain, I would see mothers gain weight with pregnancy and then be surprised when it didn’t just come right off afterwards. I thought it was just laziness and lack of dedication and discipline. I would look at myself and compare my body to other trainers and was rarely content with my current state. I’ve since learned how dumb I was. First of all, the “extra” weight on a women is exactly what a baby needs to grow and thrive. Not even just the baby, but our bodies thrive best with some extra cushion. When we have “a little weight to lose” we’re probably in a great spot as far as hormones, energy levels, sex drive, and mood are concerned. I’ve learned to view this as a badge of honor. I believe one of the best gifts we can give our children is a healthy relationship with ourselves. Showing them that we care for our bodies and health without criticism will go along ways! 



So there you have it. Seven lessons I would have never learned had I not faced Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery head on. At times during this process I was far from grateful for it, but now I can honestly say I am so grateful I went through this and the person it’s helped me become. If you’re struggling with a missing period or infertility due to over exercise, under fueling, or over stress in your life, then I highly recommend the recovery process. If you’re like me and want to start a family, I know that this process will do nothing but good for you and the sweet baby waiting to call you Mom.

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How to Accept Weight Gain

When the time came that we finally wanted to start a family, I tried to blame my infertility on anything but my high level of activity and low body fat for about a year. I didn’t want to change. For about 3-4 years prior to that, I lived in my happy little bubble of “when I need my period I’ll just get it back, and getting pregnant will be a breeze when I want to.” I was convinced my body was just like the women I saw at the top of their fitness game while popping out babies like it was no biggie. No way could my lifestyle have a negative affect on my health, I thought. I was doing all of the right things! I wanted to be in the best shape of my life when I got pregnant and be able to bounce back like nothing had happened. I worked hard on my physique and thought that would work in my favor. 

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Being a Trainer without the "Trainer Body"

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Being a Trainer without the "Trainer Body"

I feel we live in a culture that as morphed the terms weightloss, thin, fit, lean, shredded to mean the same thing as healthy. Along with that, we link anything to do with fat, body fat, and weight gain to mean unhealthy. To some, healthy has become this measurement of how many times you workout in a day, how lean you are, and how well you stick to your macros. Whether you're a trainer, some sort of health and fitness professional, or just a human being in this world pursuing health, this is for you. 

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Do you REALLY need to lose weight??

This time of year is when the resolution and goal setting motivation is at an all time high. This past year has given me a new perspective on health and what goals I should be striving for. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, HEALTH LOOKS DIFFERENT ON EVERYONE, and at all different stages of our lives. A fitness goal your best friend is working towards, may sound great, but quit comparing! Her goal may not be the best thing for you and your health. Sometimes our goals need to go against the grain, and that’s OK!

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Changing the Conversation of Body Shame to Body Love

Quite body shaming, and show some love. From my experience it only takes one body shaming comment to trigger a whole room of women talking about what they don’t like on their bodies. Let's change this. Redefine Beauty, refocus your attention and praise, contribute positivity to the conversation, Strive for YOUR healthiest self, and don’t compare

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10 Lessons I've learned through HA Recovery

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10 Lessons I've learned through HA Recovery

Tuesday, November 7th, almost 3 months on the dot from going “all in” I got my period back. Meaning my first NATURAL period in over 5 years!!!! Whoo hoo! However, my work isn’t done yet. Now comes the fun of finding the balance with exercise, fuel, and keeping my cycle. But this has been such a relief I can’t even tell you! Hard work, patience, persistence, faith, prayer, and trust in my body has all paid off. And of course the encouragement and example from others was a game changer. The past 3 months have honestly been the hardest and longest 3 months of my life.

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How do you define Healthy?

Well what if I told you that you can’t panic your way thin. I heard this in a podcast recently and I really liked the concept. Often times we approach weight loss and fitness with the mindset that if we look at ourselves and point out what we need to change, try to burn as many calories as we possibly can during a workout, torture ourselves, limit our calories from food, we’ll get there someday. We think that If we put enough hate, stress, panic, and pressure on ourselves to get a certain body that we think we need to have in order to be beautiful, then we’ll have success and life will be better. Even if we’re miserable while doing it.

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10 tips for eating out and staying fit

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10 tips for eating out and staying fit

For today's post, I'm bringing you a little collaboration with my friend and fellow Fitness loving Foodie, Chandler. She's the brains behind the go to food blog and instagram of Spokane, SpokaneEats. One major mutual belief - Life is too short for mediocre food! 

As a fitness coach and personal trainer, a few of the common question I get asked are “what do you eat? How do you eat perfect all the time? What should I eat? How can I eat healthy if I don’t like to cook?” And on the flip side, some of the questions that Chandler gets are “how do you eat out all the time and stay in shape? How often do you work out to balance out all the good meals? What’s your secret to staying fit with a food blog??”

Well I’ve come up with 10 tips to help you out. Whether you’re a food lover, fitness lover, or both, there’s a way to have your cake and eat it too.

1) Decide on a healthy lifestyle.

This means leave the “Diet” mentality behind. Healthy eating is not something you start on Monday and end on Friday. It’s balance. It’s something that is easy to maintain if you’re doing it right. If you’re on a “Diet” that makes you miserable and you can’t wait until the 30 days are over so you can end it, then something’s not right. The advice I give my clients is to start where currently are and make baby steps towards a healthier you. Don’t jump into anything extreme that seems daunting. By taking smaller, manageable steps, you’ll create a healthy lifestyle overtime.

2) Prioritize what’s worth it

This is about learning to pass up on mediocre food just because it’s there and enjoying the whole experience when you do splurge on a meal out. For me, part of what makes a splurge worth it comes down to what I like to call a “foodie experience” (which my husband loves to tease me about). This includes the good company I’m with, the location we’re eating, if it is something unique on the menu, or that you can’t find anywhere else (like voodoo donuts in Oregon), if it’s a special occasion or holiday, and how satisfied I’ll feel after eating it. If I don’t find at least one of these factors, it is NOT WORTH IT, and I’ll move on. (Read more about prioritizing your plate here, and when to splurge here)


3) Learn to cook healthy from home

As fun and convenient as eating out is, part of eating out and staying fit is not eating out for every meal! If you’re passing up on mediocre, not worth it food, then you better learn some kitchen skills. Nowadays it’s so easy to cook quick, healthy meals from home. With things like riced-cauliflower and spriralized veggies, you’ll be well on your way! (If you need some more guidance in the area of meal planning, cooking, and prepping I got you covered. Check out my Meal Guide services here. Need some healthy recipe swaps? Find them here)

 

4) Eat extra healthy for Non-social meals

When you prioritize what’s worth it, and learn some basic skills in the kitchen, you’ll be able to enjoy the meals out and eat extra healthy when you’re on your own. This becomes a bit of a balancing skill. If you know you’re going out for a friend’s birthday Thursday night, and your favorite ice-cream shop is involved, keep the sugar content down for your other meals throughout the day. Try a two egg veggie scramble, or a green smoothie for breakfast. For lunch, lighten things up with a salad and leave out the big sandwich, and definitely limit the processed carbohydrates in your daily diet. I talk more on this subject in my “all you can eat” blog post here.

 

5) Schedule in your workout

You’ll feel awesome, and your body will respond to a few extra calories so much better if you’ve had a good sweat session in your day. It can be hard to make our way to the gym or get in any form of exercise if we haven’t actually planned it in as part of our day. I tell all my clients that the best way to make exercise a part of your life is to schedule it in, just like you would a hair appointment (but hopefully much more often than a hair appointment!) We all have time for at least 20 minutes of exercise each day, we just have to make it a priority and plan for it. (for more tips for sticking to a workout plan click here!)

 

6) Sharing is Caring

I would say 90% of the time I eat out, I have enough food for two. If I don’t split my meal with someone, I end up saying “wow, I’m stuffed, I totally could’ve shared that!” So I’ve learned to listen to that. Remember that you can always order more food, but the chances of you needing to are slim. Restaurants typically have large portions. Especially when ordering a dessert, usually a few bites will do the trick! You can also try going halfsies with someone on a splurge & something lighter like a salad. Splitting something like a burger or pizza with a salad is always a good choice. That way, you can try more things, but not over stuff yourself with the indulgent dish all to yourself.

 

7) Don’t forget you can customize your plate!

Usually when I eat out, I like to enjoy the dish the way the brilliant chef designed it to be. However, there are times when I don’t want chips or fries on the side, and I would rather splurge somewhere else. In those instances I always ask for a different side option and most restaurants are accommodating! You can always get some sort of vegetable or salad instead of the chips, French fries, or mashed potatoes. Don’t forget you have control when it comes to whether your meat is grilled, fried, breaded, etc. Opt for grilled when that is available. You can also ask for extra greens instead of a grain base if you’re feeling like really lightening it up. Go into the situation with a game plan, knowing you always have options to “healthify” your meal!

 

8) Walk more, sit less

This one may seem super simple, but I find it makes a big difference! As this directly ties in to eating out, try parking far away from the restaurant so that you get a little walk in before and after your meal. If there’s a wait at the restaurant, walk around while you wait rather than sitting on the waiting bench. If you have a lunch break at work, take a walk! These are just good healthy habits to incorporate into your daily life. Train yourself to walk more, stand more, and sit less, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you. (Get my tips for more daily activity here)

 

9) Cut out the Extra - Unnecessary Calories

When dining out, most of us will end up eating more calories than we anticipate. These sneaky calories come from the bread basket, the basket of chips, the bottomless fries, the extra sauce, the drink, the loaded dressing… the list goes on. Most of these “extras” aren’t going to make or break our eating out experience, but it’s just there so we eat it. Unless it’s a restaurant that’s known for its fresh, homemade bread, then I'm passing on the bread basket. The bottomless chips & salsa at Mexican restaurants is one of my down falls for sure. I try to drink lots of water and wait until my meal gets there at least before I go to town on the chips. When ordering a salad, always ask for your dressing on the side (they typically put double the dressing than I would ever put on my own). Also, avoid the tasteless liquid calories. One glass of lemonade has over 50 g of sugar!! By cutting out these unnecessary extras, you can focus on the good stuff and still leave feeling satisfied.

 

10) Learn to Live the Moderation Life

For me, the key to living a healthy lifestyle and staying fit while eating out comes down to moderation. I know this word may seem a bit overused, but just hear me out. I often have clients tell me that they are “all or nothing” and they could never just stop at 2 bites, but I’m not buying it. I believe you can train yourself to be a moderator. It may take some practice at first, training yourself to stop when you may want to mindlessly keep going. When we master moderation, we can enjoy a night out on occasion, we can have a few bites of dessert, we exercise a healthy amount, we have the desire to move more, and we don’t have to feel guilty or depressed after a little indulgence. (read more on my views about moderation here)

 

Food shouldn’t be feared, it should be enjoyed. It is fuel for our body to do all of the amazing things it’s capable of doing! The more we embrace this perspective, the easier it is to adapt to a life of healthy moderation.

 

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Fitness and Fertility: The road to regaining my period

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Fitness and Fertility: The road to regaining my period

Today I decided I’m going to get personal and share something I’ve been struggling with and have been scared to write about. My hope is that I can reach someone going through the same thing and give them hope and encouragement just like I received from a friend who was vulnerable and brave enough to share with others. The selfish part of this is to help me get through it and not feel like I have to put on a fake presentation for people with hope that they may have a little more understanding for what’s going on. So here it goes…(deep breath)

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Fellow Foodie: Kiwi and Carrot Guest Post & Recipe

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Fellow Foodie: Kiwi and Carrot Guest Post & Recipe

Southwest Turkey Burgers with Chipotle-Lime Sauce

I'm so excited to introduce you guys to my friends and fellow foodies over at Kiwi and Carrot! I've known these two amazing gals for many years and I was so excited when they started this blog. They share my love for health, fitness, cooking and for eating :)

Today they're sharing one of their mouthwatering recipes with us. Since we're coming up on July 4th, make sure you add these burgers to your BBQ menu! 


Hello from Kiwi and Carrot! We’re Sarah and Elizabeth, a mother-daughter cooking duo based in Salt Lake City, Utah. We started our food blog, Kiwi and Carrot, a few years ago because we LOVE sharing our (mostly) healthy recipes with YOU! And we love to eat. Like, we really, really love to eat. 

A little about us:

Sarah: Britt was one of the people who inspired me to become a personal trainer, so I love following all of the awesome things she’s doing! A little about me: when I’m not photographing food or whipping up a new recipe with my mom, I’m working as a personal trainer, traveling with my husband or filming for our media company. I feel very strongly that nutrition and exercise should be used in a way to make you feel healthy and strong, rather than restricted and run down. Moderation is everything!   

What I’m into right now?  Epic bars and rock climbing. 

Elizabeth: I've known Britt since her jr. high days, and she continually inspires me! Me in a nutshell: Family, God, Food, Travel, Books, Outdoors. I am passionate about everything FOOD: cooking, eating, and especially discovering flavors from different cultures. I love living in a place where I can get outside and MOVE year-round! Exercise is like a job: If you find something you love to do, it's not really considered work. Hike, swim, run, bike, just get out there and move! 

What I'm into right now? My kitchen garden, body-weight workouts, my kids (always!)

When it comes to food, we’re all about using fresh and natural ingredients. We love our fruit and veggies! We try to create recipes that are simple to make, use healthy ingredients, but taste fresh and delicious. 

These Southwest Turkey Burgers with Chipotle-Lime Sauce (PDF download) are one example of a healthy dinner that can be on the table in 30 minutes. You just chop up some veggies, open a can or two, mix it all together and throw it on the grill!  

For more healthy recipes, check out our blog at http://www.kiwiandcarrot.com or find us on social media: Pinterest , Instagram , Facebook 

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How to Cut Ties with your Unhealthy Habits

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How to Cut Ties with your Unhealthy Habits

I’ve been thinking about what keeps us from reaching our goals. Part of my day to day job as a trainer that I love is taking a look into my clients lives and figuring out together how to better reach their goals & create a healthy lifestyle they can maintain. With lots of contemplating and discussing, I’ve decided that one of the biggest stumbling blocks are the unhealthy habits that have become a part of our lives that we may not even recognize as habits. 

Let me shed some light on what I’m talking about. Maybe you always set your alarm for 30 minutes before you have to leave out the door, therefore leaving you with no time to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Maybe you always put the chips in the most convenient cupboard so you know exactly where to go when the salty craving hits. Or you always go with a friend to the gym who just wants to chat the whole time so you never really get the workout you want, haha gotta love those chatty friends! It could even be just going to the same grocery store you always go to, and walking the same route you always do, which conveniently leads you right to the ice-cream isle or the dang Oreo section! Then we buy them, and then we have to eat them.

The point is that these un-healthy habits are the things we do throughout our daily/weekly routines without even realizing we’re doing them. We’re probably looking beyond the mark with what we think we need to change to reach our health and fitness goals, when it could actually just be simple and right in front of us. 

My suggestion for breaking through this road block is CHANGING THINGS UP. Shake up your routine. I’m going to give you 3 suggestions that I’ve given to my clients to help detach from those un-healthy habits keeping us from our goals.  

Ok but first things first, let’s define a habit: it’s a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. Dig deep and think of an un-healthy habit that is part of your life right now. If you think of how to get rid of a bad habit, doesn’t it make sense to change your routine! This brings us to my first suggestion.

  1. Change up your daily routine. Shuffle things around. Get creative and go crazy with this. If late night snacking is your issue, change up your entire nightly routine. This could be saving your plate of dinner until after your kids are asleep so that you have it ready to eat instead of your snacking habit. By shuffling your routine a bit, you’ll have no time to snack on the bad stuff! If a good nights rest is your struggle, maybe try sleeping on the opposite side of your bed away from where your phone is plugged in so you get a better sleep. Totally guilty of this! Maybe it’s going to the grocery store in the morning instead of the end of the day when you’re tired and hungry. Or if those tempting drive throughs get ya, try even changing the route home you take so that you don’t have to pass all those luring signs. Small rituals we have may trigger bigger behaviors, so best to just mix it all up!

  2. Out with the bad and in with the good. When you get rid of something in your life, it makes sense to replace it with something better right? This step is in hopes of avoiding the empty hole that can be left when we remove something that’s been a habit. Say you want to stop drinking soda. Well you’re still going to reach for that can of soda habitually unless you have something else to replace it with. Try a La Croix drink or some sort of sparkling water to get you that same fizzy goodness. 

  3. Learn to control what you can, and deal with the rest. There’s a sense of power that comes from being in control of our lives and decisions, rather than letting life just happen to you. Sometimes things our legitimately out of our hands, and the important thing is to do our best at bouncing back. However, I argue that In any situation we have some aspect that we can control. Even if it’s just our mindset, we have control over that. You may not be able to have control over your crazy Tuesday schedule of carpooling kids back and forth and them screaming in the back seat because they’re hungry after soccer practice, but you do have control over prepping some healthy snacks for you and the crew in the car to have amidst all the chaos. You may not have control over where your family chooses to go out to dinner, but you do have control over making an educated healthy choice off the menu (avoiding a sugary drink, getting your meat grilled, not eating the whole bread basket, etc.) Flexibility is key here as well. Don’t forget to live life. If a friend brings you her homemade banana bread, you say thank you and enjoy it. Then you just bounce right back into your healthy routine. 

A final thought is to be patient with yourself. If you think about it, habits aren’t created overnight, good or bad. If you’ve been doing something a certain way for 15+ years, that behavior isn’t going to just change over night. These adjustments take time. All that matters is that you’re moving in the right direction. Even if you take 3 steps forward and a couple steps back, you’re still better than you were when you started! 

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Compounding Interest and your Health

Reaching your fitness goals 1 healthy habit at a time

The last few months, my husband and I have been doing a lot of financial research, getting our spending and saving in order, and setting long term financial goals. Working towards financial independence can be a long road, so the sooner you start the better, and consistency is key! So naturally my mind went directly to create a health and fitness metaphor, duh. I received the inspiration while listening to a podcast where compounding interest was mentioned. It had me thinking, it’s the little daily things that we do over a long period of time, for a life time, that lead to our healthiest selves. Just like compounding interest with money, small, daily, healthy habits will build up over time and result in big results, big change that we may not see through the process.

When it comes to health and fitness, a lot of the time we over complicate it, or think it has to be this big change, this big diet, extreme exercise program, a magic juice cleanse, and with this big change we want big results. Either that or we underestimate the power of consistency. To some of us, the big change or the extreme plan may seem easier. Ripping the bandaid off, rather than the slow and steady, daily persistence of small and simple healthy habits. If we don’t meet our goals in a certain amount of time than we become disappointed and quit (similar to not seeing your money grow, and pulling it out prematurely).

We live in a time of instant feedback, we want to see results now! But that’s not how compound interest works. We put in a little bit at a time, consistently, and over time that money grows. Not only does it grow, but it begins to grow at an increasing rate. Can you see the correlation here? Just like with saving money & being financially healthy, with our physical health, the sooner we start the better! And the trick is to never stop, just keep on chugging along. Where we start is different for all of us. Our goals need to be maintainable and realistic for us. As we start where we’re at, creating daily habits towards a healthier lifestyle, we will start to experience benefits to our health, and our fitness will improve. As with compound interest, the results may not be noticeable right away. This is where patience and consistency come in. Building a stable healthy habit foundation that we’re solid with will be key for the long term. Over time we build up our will-power, our cravings and pallets adjust, and we can become better in tune with determining hunger, satiety, and body awareness.

It’s easy to get a little distracted with all the “get rich quick” schemes out there, or in the health world all the fad diets and quick fixes. This is why I recommend baby steps with all of my clients! You wouldn’t dump every single penny you own into an investment account right? But a few dollars out of each pay check isn’t so bad. You catchin my drift?

So to put this into play, here’s a little continuum for healthy habits I came up with. Check it out and see where you’re at right now. From where you are, figure out the next little step towards a healthier you would be. Don’t think you have to be making all these crazy health concoctions you see posted on instagram if you’re still working on your water intake. You do you. Keep it simple. Before you know it, you’ll be living a long healthy life. A lifestyle that’s maintainable and that you love living!

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Carob - Healthier than Chocolate?

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Carob - Healthier than Chocolate?

First off, what is Carob? Carob comes from the pod of a tree that grows along the Mediterranean Sea. The pod contains a sweet, edible pulp. Once dried and roasted, the pulp is ground into a powder called carob flour (but more commonly referred to as "carob powder"). It's similar to cocoa powder in color and can be substituted one-for-one in recipes, but carob is unique with its own special flavor and texture. You may want to swap out your Cacao for Carob if you are sensitive to caffeine or theobromine. Carob does not contain either of these like chocolate does. 

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WHY YOU SHOULD ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE

WHY YOU SHOULD ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE (and not just to change your body)

From my observations, there’s a few different approaches people use when creating a fitness routine. There’s the dabble a little bit here and there with a few different classes, trying out new things, a little surface level with everything from kickboxing & crossfit, to yoga and barre. Then there’s the hard core, all in-never-looking-back approach. From the crossfit every day and strict paleo dieter, to the ultra marathoner, running every day, never touch a weight type of person. Of course I’m using extreme examples and total stereotype language, but just trying to paint the picture for you. There’s also the “variety with a purpose” approach, which I personally recommend and use myself. 

There’s lots of different opinions out there, and everyones a little bit different with their views on what’s “healthy”, but here’s why I believe that a balanced routine, intentional variation, is the most effective approach towards the healthiest, fittest, happiest self!

First of all, let me explain where I stand before I get into the benefits of the approach. I’m a believer in sticking to something you put your mind to, and giving something a fair enough amount of effort and a chance before you quite on it. I have a lady that comes to my TRX class every week even though she’s always said she hates TRX, but she knows it’s an awesome workout and it’s targeting her weaknesses that she knows she needs to work on.  I believe that exercise should be enjoyed, but also balanced with things that push you. Sometimes the things we hate to do are what are bodies need to be doing. And that doesn’t mean that we should drag our selves through a miserable workout every morning. But find a balance between challenging yourself, and then just moving for enjoyment. I also believe that it’s good to get into something you’re passionate about, whether that’s crossfit, running, yoga, dance, or rockclimbing. Just remember to mix it up every once in a while, and here’s the reasons why.

  1. The body shock effect. This may be a more commonly talked about reason for changing up your workout routine. Our bodies are smart. They are built for efficiency. The first time we lift up a pair of weights and do some bicep curls, chest press, and lunges, we may be very sore the next day. However, if we continue doing that same routine over and over, our body knows whats up and what to expect. Our bodies our made to survive so they will put out as little amount of energy as they need to if it’s something it already knows how to do. When we change up our routine and keep it fresh, our bodies improve, we get stronger, burn more fat, improve certain skills, neuromuscular patterns improve, and we’ll see faster progression. 
  2. The mental stimulation. I don’t know about you, but exercise is not fun for me when I’m doing the same stuff day after day. Without goals, challenges, and new skills to practice, I can get bored and demotivated pretty quickly. Even just a change of scenery helps so much! If you feel a lack of love for working out, try changing one element of your exercise routine this week! Whether its trying a new area of the gym you go to, adding some hills to your usual running route, trying a new class, even just changing up your playlist or outfit can sometimes help. Boredom kills the fun and motivation, so keep it fresh and your outlook will follow.
  3. To be more functionally equipped as we age. Alright, the thing we all have in common that’s inevitable is that we are all getting older. And a lot of the time with aging, we get more and more stuck in our ways. We all know someone who’s older who has had a bad fall and hurt themselves. The first thing to go physically as we age is our balance. At the same time our muscles & bones lose mass naturally with age unless we do something about it! I’m a strong believer that with a life full of variety, especially in our exercise routines, we will be more functionally ready to take on the physical demands of life as we age. Our balance will stay sharp, bone density and strength can be maintained, and our mind will be ready to send the right messages to our bodies. Whens the last time you stood on one foot for more than 5 seconds? Give it a try! 
  4. To experience your body in a way you never have before. This one’s a little bit deeper, and may take a bit of explaining. I want to direct it to the people who either just lift hardcore, get yoked or die and rarely take time to stretch, practice body awareness through yoga, or let their mind roam on a long run. And on the other end, people who stretch, practice yoga, participate in lots of low impact, low intensity training, who may not push themselves out of their comfort zone too often. There’s good to both sides, and I’m definitely not saying one is better than the other. But let’s find the balance. For me, I feel powerful, confident, and strong when I’m lifting weights. I get this rush from pushing myself hard, through small bouts of pain, and seeing results with how my body looks, and how I feel. On the other hand, when I practice yoga, or go for a run, I feel so in tune with my body and more aware of the mind - body connection. It’s a peaceful feeling and trains my brain to tune in more without distractions from the world. Then there’s the experience of completely new exercise which is a challenge that’s invigorating, self fulfilling, and humbling all at the same time. I think we need all of these things that the variety has to offer. Power, confidence and strength, awareness and peace, challenged and humbled. Some of you may get these things from different types of exercise than I do, but you get the idea. 

To give you an idea of what a “variety with a purpose” training plan might look like here’s an idea:

  • Monday - Upper Body Weight session with HIIT cardio between sets
  • Tuesday - a 3-6 mile run outside + some stairs
  • Wednesday - Leg day with the weights 
  • Thursday - an intense 45 minute spin class
  • Friday - Full body Pilates Reformer class or TRX class (body weight strength workout)
  • Saturday - 45 minute yoga + 2-3 mile run or bike cruise or swim
  • Sunday - rest day, go for a walk or hike

Obviously it doesn’t have to look just like this, adapt it to what you like and your current fitness level. Try new things, practice things that are hard for you, stretch yourself, set goals that scare you a little bit. Even if you don’t want to change your body, do it for the mental benefits, and functional well-being. 

It always helps to have a workout buddy, or a coach to push you through things you may not do on your own, and to broaden your perspectives. Grab a workout buddy, and if you need a coach I’m here for you! If you’re in Spokane lets meet up in person, and if you’re somewhere else in the world, I can add variety and change to your workout plan with any of my online training programs. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you. We can start creating the perfect plan to fit your individual goals, give you variety, and work with your circumstances whatever stage you’re at in life. 

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