5 Simple Ways Pregnant Women Can Take Care of Their Health

Hi There!

It’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me and with good reason….The past 6 months have been busy to say the least since Micah and I found out that WE’RE HAVING A BABY! Little Erin is expected to make her entrance into the world in July of this year! We couldn’t be more excited! She’s growing more and more every day.

With this exciting new adventure on the horizon, I’ve had to take a step back and look at my health. Sure, I still try to eat a healthy diet. (“Try” is the operative word.) I do exercise, but in spurts throughout the day. My workouts have changed a little bit, but now I focus on being active to increase my endurance and to feel good, as opposed to only getting faster or stronger.

So without further ado, Here’s some simple, yet effective ways that I’ve been able to stay healthy through the past 2 trimesters.

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner, and this post is not in any way intended to replace the recommendations of your practitioner. Please consult with your doctor prior to beginning any diet, exercise, or wellness regiment.)

Stay Hydrated
I’m not going to lie to you…I’m not the best about drinking plain old water. But this is something I’ve had to change as an expectant mother.Let me tell you why…If I don’t get enough water, then I feel completely drained and icky. I attribute maintaining a healthy body composition during pregnancy to water. You are over 70% water, so I would venture to say that it’s important for your little one’s growth and development too. I track how much water I drink by how many times I have to refill my water during the day. I also keep a glass by my bedside because having to take allergy medicine this time of year dries out my mouth and throat.It’s such a simple thing to do and pretty much anyone can do this…and it takes minimal effort…ok, so it is getting a little tougher to get up and down, but you get the idea. Add some ice cubes and a slice of lemon or orange and you’re ready to go!

Eat a Rainbow
Fill your plate with as many colors as possible. I know, craving fried foods is the temptation of every pregnant woman alive, but just think about the good you’re doing your baby and yourself by making a healthier choice. Recently, I’ve gotten addicted to Greek yogurt parfaits with berries and granola. This is such a great way to sneak in those antioxidants! I do still love salads too, I haven’t been much on cooked veggies, but I still love any veggies I can eat raw, so I monopolize on that when I can. Be sure to get sufficient protein too. Invest in a great-tasting protein powder and mix in a blender bottle with coconut or almond milk and the nut butter of your choice.

Get Moving
This might be a tough one, and please, check with your doctor to see what guidelines apply to your specific pregnancy. Remember, no two pregnant women are the same. My doctor recommended that I work up to 100 consecutive squats, but remember, I was in great shape when I got pregnant. Side-lying floor exercises might be a great option too, and don’t forget kegels…Walking is great exercise and dancing to music is fun too. Talk to a prenatal exercise specialist. You can break up 30 minutes of daily exercise into 3-10 minute segments. Make it happen once your doctor gives you the green light.

Rest
Get enough sleep. Take the day off work if you can. Never allow yourself to get so busy that you can’t unwind and relax. Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap. There is a little human being growing inside of you, so your body is working overtime.

Breathe
Take 5 minutes a day to focus on your breathing and nothing else. You will feel calmer and more relaxed, and you’ll be glad you had a moment of sanity. There are lots of studies out there that show the positive benefits of breathing on the immune system, the heart, and the brain, and stress levels.

I know the months fly by when you’re waiting for your little one to arrive. Frankly, I can’t believe it’s been 25 weeks already! This is a great time to take care of your health and prepare for setting an example for your child. I know for me personally, Erin is a great motivator for staying healthy, because I want to be a good example, as well as feel physically capable of taking good care of her.

Moms and expectant moms, what do/did you do to stay healthy during your pregnancy(s). Comment below!

Julie

My Top 8 Reasons for Working out and Eating Clean

Hi! It’s been a wild week!

I just found out I’ll be starting a new job in 2 weeks! Yay! No worries though! I’ll still be here on the blog…I have no intentions of forgetting my health or writing…in fact I might enjoy blogging even more! Ok, so this post was inspired by a comment made by a someone I know recently. (The names are changed to protect the guilty….) LOL! Anyway, I’m using this as a mindset example….no worries, I once had this mindset myself and I’ve learned to change it. hahaha…I often refuse dessert when eating out or at church dinners….or often times because I just don’t have a particular taste for that type of dessert….anyway…the comment was made: You’re so little – eat some dessert….honestly, where’s the logic in that….I’ve wanted to respond to comments like this for awhile, well…I get tired of hearing that I need to eat junk or skip working out because…I have a smaller frame.) I replied to the comment by saying, thanks, but it’s not about looking good, it’s about feeling good! I don’t like it when someone tries to make me go along with what they’re doing, just because I make them uncomfortable…call me Captain Controversial, but I’m a grown woman, and I think it’s silly for me to be told in public that I “need” to eat dessert. I don’t need to eat dessert…I have gluten sensitivity, and while I do sometimes splurge….It is at my own discretion when and how much I should splurge, just because I feel, well gross later on…you see, it just makes me want to go to sleep….I do enjoy dark chocolate, and I do eat dessert, but my logic is….there will be plenty of time to sample desserts 2 weeks from now, and I need to maintain my focus. I want to have the energy to do what I personally have to get done in the next 4 weeks…well, 6 weeks…and I don’t have time to be sick…by the way, have any of you ever noticed that flu season hits its peak right after Christmas. I believe it’s because we run ourselves ragged and maintain no time for our health… Anyway I wanted to share with you my “why” for working out…and while cut abs and rock hard arms and legs are great…I do have plenty of other motivation for working out, which to tell the truth, is what gets me through my tough days. So here’s why I exercise and eat right:

1. More energy…I’ve had anemia in the past, and while no longer anemic, I can’t deny that I have much more energy on days that I eat lots of veggies and lean proteins, as well as healthy fats. If I have a sweets craving, I love to nix it with a half a pomegranate this time of year! For salty cravings, I like to have 3 cups (1 yellow container) of Orville Redenbacher’s Simply Naturals Sea Salt popcorn.

2. I fuel my workouts with my food intake. After working in the fitness industry for years, I’ve learned that there’s a wrong way and a right way to eat before and after a workout.

3. I feel better when I workout. If I go a few days without working out….I’m on the level of some of those crazies you see on Black Friday! Not that bad, but you get the point. I feel less stressed, and sometimes. I need to punch and kick at something. Moms who deal with kids and say there’s no time to workout: how have you not gone nuts?! Or maybe you do feel nuts…I have no idea.

4. Variety is the spice of your health regimen…yeah, I change up my workout schedule every 2-4 weeks to prevent burnout. You should be doing that too. Over training causes injury and hinders results. You can’t blast away at the same speed all the time. Find workouts that allow for strength, power, cardio, mind/body connection, and flexibility for results that don’t quit internally and externally. Try a new food once in awhile…some of my favorite foods now are things…I’ve randomly tried.

5. Injury prevention is key to be able to function in life…I’ve heard all too many times…I’ll wait until after the knee surgery and skip pre-physical therapy. Well, I have news for you, there will be no bouncing back. It will take twice as long to recover in most cases. I’ve seen too many people regret that decision, that’s why I stay active. I don’t want to be physically unable to dance or work around my own house.

6. My immune system…while in my 4th year of college, my immune system decided to take a mind of its own and completely rebel against my body…I burned a fever every day for 4 weeks during that semester, and eventually…I developed a grayish complexion, and my hair started to turn brittle…My heart was doing funky things as well…I had frequent migraines, and spent so much time combating depression and staying in bed from migraines that I did nothing but work and school, which did not help with depression, trust me. While I was dealing with apparent emotional issues…I somehow managed to hide most of the physical issues I was having, except weight gain between 35 and 40 pounds of it…did I mention my thyroid was acting up too…I’m a firm believer in being a good steward now, but I was not a good steward in anyway at that point. How could I expect God to bless me in my health and my finances if I was not doing what it took to get both under more control.

7. My hubby. ok, ladies, don’t give me the excuse that your husband doesn’t want you to be healthy, because if he values you, he values your health and well-being. That being said, I find it staggering that more women use their husband as an excuse., which may be true in some cases, but not the large majority. Personally, can I say something from one woman to another? Why is it that we ladies will try every cream, pill, lotion, gel, or  wrap known to woman, but we refuse to exercise and eat healthy….this focus on the external will only drive you away from reaching your goals. Maybe it’s not that your husband doesn’t want you to get fit, maybe it has to do with he doesn’t want you falling for a magic pill. Advice, write out your plan and your goals and then show it to him. He’ll invest. Trust me. He might even join you! In addition to looking and feeling better, you’ll gain self-control and confidence.

8. To have children someday. Hey, you have to keep up with the kiddos right? I’m an active person and have been since birth, according to my mother. I have two speeds: wide open, and fast asleep. My kids will probably be the same way. I want to be able to take them places – to the park, iceskating, hiking, you name it. I can’t have the energy to keep up with them if I don’t eat properly, and they will learn eating habits from me. Right now, I’m practicing. Plus, meal prep, healthy or unhealthy, is a beast.

There are lots more reasons that I work out, but these 8 really stand out to me. I don’t plan on being the world’s strongest woman. Although, I really want to knock out pull-ups like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. I can tell you it’s strengthened my walk with the Lord, and He’s used it to teach me self-discipline. Maybe it’s time to reflect on why you really need to get fit….if it’s about weight….you can reach a peak and then go no further, within healthy boundaries. This is why there has to be something more. Have an awesome workout today, and treat yourself to a healthy dinner. 🙂

-Julie

This week’s Post: Friday Five

This week: it’s been a little crazy…ok, maybe very crazy, but I have to say, I’ve finished the week stronger than I was when I started. Micah’s grandmother fell and broke her shoulder Sunday night, and then fell again Wednesday, so I’ve been a little preoccupied. I’ll be posting the strength training tutorial of the week this weekend. Since it’s fitness Friday. I thought I’d take a moment share 5 reasons that I exercise, and maintain healthy habits. Sometimes, it’s good to take a step back and reflect on why we do what we do.
1. To gain discipline that I never had before. If you learn to master your health, and your spiritual health, you can become displined in every other area of your life.
2. To feel healthy. I really don’t ever care to look like a runway model. Starvation is not the key, proper nutrition is. When you feel healthy, your outside will show it.
3. To be a better wife, aunt, friend, and daughter and employee. I’ve struggled with anemia, and hypothyroidism for awhile now, and if I didn’t take the time and resources to invest in myself, I would never be able to keep up with all that goes on. I have the energy to do my job, take care of others and serve. People can hate on Maria Kang all they want, but if she’s anything like me she works out to take care of her three sons. It doesn’t take hours in the gym, just 30 minutes. My butt got kicked today in a 30 minute workout.
4. To manage stress. Ladies, I’m talking to you…take all that energy and time you waste thinking about what will never happen and take time for you. It can be one minute of jumping jacks at a time. But seriously, your hormones and your mind will be more balanced.
5. To be able to say, I can

 …what’s holding you back?

See you soon!
Julie

Monday Motivation: Balance and Moderation

How many of us ate until we were stuffed and enjoyed every minute of it? I did!!!! Yes, my husband eat clean at home, but we enjoy splurging at family gatherings. With the holidays advancing, I’d love to approach this often controversial topic: balance and moderation. We here these terms used in vague and generic ways in the fitness industry, but I’d like to discuss this in no uncertain terms.

How much is moderation? Well, for some of us it is a lot less than we think it is. For example, we had 2 thanksgiving feasts in one day. My dad has to be careful with certain foods because of inflammation issues, so we cooked pretty healthy for lunch. I made a g-free, almond-crusted sweet potato casserole, and healthier green bean casserole, but we still ate traditional stuffing with the turkey….you see, we knew our limits. None of us wanted to feel wretched later either. haha….The food was good, and we enjoyed some of our favorite foods without overdoing it. I even had a slice of  pecan pie. (gasp).

Micah’s family is much more diverse, they oftentimes have up to 3 types of stuffing, a salad, and several casseroles, and several turkeys….yes, I said several turkeys, there’s a lot of Aulers, Coulters, and Williamses when you throw us all together. I didn’t pig out on everything, but I definitely enjoyed a variety. This brings me to my point. There are many people out there that think that moderation is avoiding everything….really??? This accomplishes nothing. You get so wrapped up in what you’re eating that you can’t enjoy any of the festivities. Does it mean trying everything, no, you don’t have to try everything. Moderation is using self-control, and knowing where your limits lie, and purposing in your mind that you will be back to your healthy eating habits the next day.

Some healthier options for getting rid of those leftovers include: fixing a fresh salad to go with turkey, making a turkey chili, drinking water with your leftovers instead of sodas. There are lots of options. Micah and I have made healthy food choices a lifestyle, so getting back to our regular routine wasn’t a stretch. It’s not about crash dieting, it’s about healthy habits.

Motivational Monday: what challenge do you face?

So, it was a tough week last week. Learned a lot, laughed a lot, and cried a lot, but definitely am better for it.If you haven’t figured out by now, it’s been a pretty rough six months for me. There, I thought I would just spell it out for you. It’s been difficult to get workouts in when you carry a lot of responsibility, but a word to my procrastinating friends, it is worth every second. Between all the fixer-upper projects around the house and Micah finishing school, some days, I feel like my brain and heart want to explode. One thing God has taught me through all this is perseverance, and to keep pressing on, no matter what anyone else says, what He says matters more. Here we are, 20 days from the finish line, and I look at how many prayers have been answered, how many tears have been shed, and how much this time of growth has been a blessing. My challenge to you this week is look your obstacle straight in the eye. Stop pretending it’s not there, stop trying to get around it; work through it. It could be not wanting to confront an eating habit that is wrecking your health. It could be not making any time to exercise. Whatever it may be, you can either decide to give up, or you can become stronger through it. My next advice is practical. Write down steps to your goals. I’m not exactly perfect at executing these plans myself yet, but there are tools out there that can help you. Stop saying you can’t keep a planner or even write down long term goals. Just stop it. The book, Home School, High School, and Beyond by Beverly Adams-Gordon has great resources, not just for high schoolers, but for anyone who needs a little direction, I’m an artsy type, so I need a lot of it. She helps you break down your long-term goals into short-term goals of 5 years, 2 years, 1 year, 6 months, and quarterly goals, and even weekly goals. My point is, it is worth the time, effort, and resources, to look at ways to overcome obstacles. There are tons of organizational forms on Pinterest. There is something out there that will suit your unique personality, but the first step is just do something, even if it involves notebook paper and a pencil, start writing down what you want to accomplish. It’s worth it. Hiding does not make the obstacle your facing go away, but creating a battle plan helps you to overcome it. There, that’s my motivational soapbox for the week. Anything worth having is worth working hard for.

All or Nothing

So, this week has been a strange one…and when I say strange, I mean…STRANGE… phone not working, email not working. You name it. Miscommunications right and left, people showing up early, late, or not at all…*sigh*. One of THOSE weeks. It’s one of those weeks where my prayer life has been dramatically increased by 200%. Those of you who are reading are probably laughing hysterically by now, at least some of you are…unless this week has been that way for you. Between planning a major fundraiser for work, balancing home life, and trying to carve out just a little time for myself, between wasted hours waiting for people…who don’t care…my “grace-o-meter” is just “plumb tuckered out”. Friday, I went into the gym, determined to work hard and fast…I only made it through 2 sets of three exercises before I had to clock in for work, but man have my glutes and lower body been sore today…mission accomplished. The point is when you put your mind and heart into your training, you can make it work, no matter how little time you have, but if you just mindlessly work your way through exercises, it doesn’t matter how many you do…you won’t feel that “reward” the next day, and by reward, I mean delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). A study by the University of South Carolina Upstate states that when told what muscle to squeeze during an exercise, participants experienced 25%  more muscle gain from their workouts. Amazing! 25%! That’s a huge number! The bottom line is it’s all or nothing. You can’t go through life giving 80%, if that’s your philosophy, then you will fail at careers, marriage, parenting, relationships (with God and others), but if you truly commit with your mind, not just going through the motions (no pun intended), then the rewards are endless.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Phil. 4:13

Try this exercise for easing low back pain and strengthening the muscles surrounding (glutes and hamstrings).
Hip lift/Bridge
Lie on your back, palms down and  heels pressing into the floor, close to seat, with feet hip-width apart.
scoop your abs in,and squeezing glutes, lift hips into the air.
Hold for 2 counts then lower, barely touching the floor.
(This exercise also stretches the hip flexors/psoas.)

This blog is no substitute for supervised exercise. Always consult a physician before beginning any physical activity regimen.

How Determined Are You?

Committment: This word is one that probably holds less meaning than any other word in the dictionary, to the current generation. We are a society of instant gratification. Period.We want our fast food, entertainment, and our lives to be well, uh, faster. Never mind who we hurt in the process…who cares about learning the value of people…we must get to where we’re going…AND FAST. The most appreciated journeys are just that. It is so important to enjoy or at least learn from our journeys…when you’re at a destination, yes you’re there, but your deepest memories of the experience will come from the journey itself, not the destination. So many people look at a destination, i.e., competition, wedding, weight loss, and think the result is amazing, so they sign up for change, and then get frustrated and quit, after the first roadblock. CHANGE is UNCOMFORTABLE. But through change, you have the opportunity to learn something you never experienced before. So before you decide to make a change, count the cost, and purpose in your heart to make that change happen. You will spend less time backtracking and spend more time headed in the right direction if you do some serious soul searching BEFORE you begin. When you begin to take those next steps in you fitness journey, enjoy the process. Find a class you enjoy, a trainer you get along well with, healthy meals you actually like, a time amount that is challenging but reasonable for you to devote to your routine, and stick with it. Don’t look back.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3,4

Motivation:When it’s tough to move on

       Let’s be honest…The past few weeks have been difficult for me to get motivated….You might think, “But you’re a fitness professional…you’re immune”. WRONG. I’m not immune. Let’s banish the thoughts of fitness professionals who claim to never eat sweets, bread, alcohol, or other such temptations…It’s not a realistic picture. I learned a long time ago that if I never treat myself, then I’ll crash and man, will I crash hard and quickly. And I’ll crash for hours, maybe days, maybe weeks…lol, but really, that picture is not pretty. Life happens, that’s the blessed truth. But one valuable lesson I’ve learned is to make the most of the times when I’m at home…It’s MY time, my clean meals, and my fitness routines that matter then, no one else’s. I was asked recently by someone what it would take for me to give up my health and fitness regimen. I looked at that person and said, “You’re asking me to give up the one thing I do for me – that’s not going to happen. If I don’t get that time in, then what you want from me is not going to happen.” Really though, some women go shopping, some love pedicures (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that), some women have other hobbies. The one thing I do for myself, and my hubby is we try to indulge in healthy foods and exercise. Next to my quiet time with God, then time with Micah, this is the most critical part of my day. If I don’t get that 15 min. – 1 hr., then I’m one cranky caterpillar. Here lately, fitness has helped me deal with stress, with emotional pain, and brother has there been a lot of it.

       Micah’s grandmother passed this week. But she wasn’t just his Nana, I claimed her too, even for the short time I knew her. After both of my grandmothers passed away last year and my husband and I started dating, Nana adopted me. It has been during the past month as she digressed that I spent a lot of time on the recumbent bike, praying that we’d get to love on her just one more time. My thoughts would be so blurry and scattered to the outer edges of my mind, but something about hopping on that bicycle became my prayer chair, and the place where I could clear my head…I took out stress from work and other areas on that bike, and honestly, it helped. But oh, how my goal of working towards that fitness contest in November was not as all important for me. I had to find another reason to train in addition to that. Strength training makes me feel like a valkyrie…just kidding…but pretty close. I needed to feel strong. The tension I felt in my mind began to fade as a contracted my muscles to the max…the more I thought, the more I placed the tension in my muscles. Now I’m back working towards that contest, but more importantly, I’ve persevered….I didn’t just stop…I still kept going. I pity those who think they can not deal with the physical because of the mental and emotional issues they face. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators affect each other… so Persevere.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7