I need a hearty breakfast, but I often find myself hangry and shovelling something unfortunate into my face-hole by the time the kids are up and ready to eat. Praise the Lord and Pinterest for this recipe.
Hearty Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls
2.5 lbs. red potatoes, cubed
1 Tbsp olive oil
pepper to taste
6 large eggs
6 large egg whites
Olive oil spray
1½ cups salsa
1 cup (or so) shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut red potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
Put in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix to cover well.
Bake for 45 mins or until golden brown, stirring once.
Make scrambled eggs – whisk 6 eggs and 6 egg whites and add to pan with olive oil spray.
Sprinkle with pepper to taste.
Add potatoes, eggs, salsa if desired and cheese over 6 bowls.
Reheat 2 minutes in microwave, stir, heat for additional minute.
If I don’t make a plan for the week, my workouts aren’t going to happen. It’s just like homeschooling. I don’t get up in the morning and say “Hey kids! What are we going to learn today?” I lesson plan. I schedule. I prepare.
The last couple of weeks have been hectic and I’ve not had a good plan in place. This week? I’m planning, laying out clothes and snacks, and setting my alarm…becuase without a plan the workouts don’t happen.
No kidding – an index card will go in a gallon-sized zipper bag with my workout clothes for each day. Alarm set, Spark on the bathroom counter, outfit ready to go. I can stumble out of bed and be on my way to the Y before my brain knows what’s happening.
If you don’t know where to start, you can schedule a session with me by calling the Hamilton Family YMCA (423-899-1721). Otherwise, make a plan, lay out your clothes, and exercise before your brain figures out what you’re doing.
Since I last posted, I’ve gotten my personal training certification in addition to my group fitness certification, and started working for the Chattanooga YMCA!
My main focus during the school year will be teaching the Pedaling for Parkinson’s class at the North River Y. There is a special place in my heart for people battling Parkinson’s disease and to get to use my love of health and fitness to make their lives better is amazing!
When we are on breaks from school, I’ll amp up my personal training sessions (I’m eyeballing a little small group session between Thanksgiving and Christmas), so if you’re wanting a little motivation and instruction, keep me in mind!
Personally, I’m on week 2 of a 6-week training cycle. I need short-term goals and clearly defined workouts to stay focused, so right now I’m really working on my accessory muscles. No big lifts, no major HIIT workouts, or even specific toning – I’m just making sure all those muscles that are supporting my body are strong and ready to work! You can see the specifics of my workouts on my facebook page, but here are the basics:
I follow a lot of different fitness and nutrition related blogs, magazines, and publications, and many are just noise. “Eat real food” and “move your body” aren’t generally exciting enough to garner lots of online attention, so even supposedly health-oriented sites are going to engage in “click baiting” their followers. It is what it is.
Fitness Magazine is one of those Facebook pages that shows up in my feed, and I generally roll my eyes at whatever “get fit quick” scheme they’re posting about today, but this one kind of stuck in my craw:
Now, my complaint isn’t with Diary of a Fit Mommy. She makes sure to keep it real with her posts, reminding us that she does ” plan on trying bodyweight exercises possibly in a few days as my body allows. Right now, it is all about listening to my body and not overdoing it” and ” I am not too stressed about how I am eating right now as its all about eating enough to breastfeed my toddler and newborn, but clean eating has been what’s getting those extra pounds off in the meantime.”
Mamas (and mamas-to-be). Sit down. Look at me in my eyeballs. Are you listening? This is not a race.
Do you hear me?
You are not in a race to “get your body back” or “get back into racing shape” or “lose the pregnancy weight.”
It’s true that I managed to get into the best shape of my life after my third baby, but that was after three other pregnancies and a lot of trial and error. And it did not come without cost. So grab a cup of coffee (you know you need it) and let me tell you about my health and fitness journey.
If you’ve read my bio or known me for any length of time, you know that I was always a skinny girl – small-boned, no boobs, big butt. It’s how God made me. Like so many other teenage girls, I struggled with body image, dieted because I thought I was supposed to, wasn’t physically active, and didn’t give my actual health a second thought. When I got pregnant with my first, I ate everything in sight. Everything I saw in the media told me that I could eat whatever I wanted because I was pregnant, I was sick as a dog and food made me feel better, and I was SO anxious for people to be able to tell I was pregnant! Lo and behold, 42 weeks and 60 pounds later…I was just fat. Thankfully, a light bulb came on and I knew that breastfeeding and nourishing my baby was more important than weight loss. Although I was desperate to fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, I was more concerned with my growing baby. With the help of a health-and-fitness-minded friend, I began learning about nutrition and exercise. I ate lean protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and low fat dairy. I walked and did VERY light strength training and/or yoga most days of the week and within a year I had lost 70 pounds.
I got pregnant again when my first baby was 11 months old, and this time around my healthy habits stuck with me throughout the pregnancy. He was a smaller baby with some kidney issues and was born 4 weeks early. I gained a mere 28 pounds. I was less anxious to lose weight this time around – likely because there was less to lose! – but I was also struggling with severe post-partum depression and the general chaos of two-kids-under-two at home. It was then, however, that I discovered running. Partly because I was getting more fit and the walking was getting easier, but also because running gave me endorphins and a chance to get out of the house without the kids; running was a saving grace. I continued eating healthy, breastfed for 20 months, and was much more concerned about fueling my running habit than fitting into my old jeans. I built relationships during this time. I learned what my body could do. I began to see my body as a tool to living a great life rather than an enemy to be forced into submission.
Then came the dark days.
When baby #2 was just over 2 years old, we found out we were expecting baby #3! When we went in for our first ultrasound, the doctor found fluid on the baby’s lungs. He said that it could resolve, or it could be a fatal heart defect that would lead to miscarriage around the end of the first trimester. At exactly 12 weeks, I had gone for a run with a friend and came home to find bleeding. When we went in for an ultrasound the next morning, there was no heartbeat. I was devastated.
My body again became the enemy.
I ate very little, drank a lot of wine, and ran. I ran miles and miles. I ran fast because if my body wasn’t going to give me a baby it was certainly going to give me SOMETHING. I decided I wanted to compete. I didn’t want to just run races, I wanted to win. So I did.
I consulted with coaches, followed their training plans, and met my goals. I brought home trophy after trophy, medal after medal. I ate well, I took my vitamins, and my body did what I told it to do. Physically healthy, sure. Mentally healthy? Not by a long-shot.
One thing I did learn from this time was what it felt like to really push my body to the max physically. So when I became pregnant again I knew how to back off my intensity to stay active during pregnancy but not push too hard. I ran throughout this entire pregnancy, even running a half-marathon at 14 weeks, and 3 miles the day before I went into labor. Check out this doozy:
Four days later I had that baby! Then I waited a WHOLE two weeks before I went running again! <insert eye roll>
What I had failed to learn while breastfeeding my other babies was that nursing needs to be ESTABLISHED before beginning any sort of diet or exercise routine. Rather than resting, eating, and recovering from childbirth, I was in a big old rush to return to racing shape. Baby was born on April 12. I was running again by April 26. I was doing a 6am boot camp class by May 28. By mid-June my little bundle of joy was a scrawny, screaming nightmare. With the help of our pediatrician and a fabulous lactation consultant, we discovered that my milk supply was down to practically nothing and baby #3 was diagnosed as “failure to thrive.”
We began supplementing with formula and I went to bed to eat, nurse, and try with all my might to get my milk supply back. Although we continued nursing until he was 20 months old, I was never able to get back enough supply to exclusively breastfeed. And for what? I sacrificed my baby’s nutrition (by unknowingly not giving him enough to eat…this isn’t a statement against formula feeding!) so I could get my body back? So I could get back into racing shape? Yes, I ended up getting in to the best shape of my life after baby #3, but even with my hurry it took almost two years. I ran two marathons, pr’d all my race times, completed Insanity and Boot Camp, tried Crossfit, and gained a passion for health and fitness that has led to me becoming a certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer. I will always look back with guilt and regret, though, at what I put my little nugget through. My child was hungry and it was my fault. That hurts.
Why was I in such a hurry?
I was in a hurry because of headlines like the one in Fitness Magazine. I was in a hurry because I let the appearance of my body determine my value. I was in a hurry because being “mommy” wasn’t enough.
By the time baby #4 came along I, and my mom squad, had learned a valuable lesson. My friends watched out for me, took care of me, and reminded me what a magnificent thing my body had just done. I was reminded to rest, eat, and soak in all those tiny, baby moments. Those newborn and infant days are so short. I have the rest of my life to be thin or fit or strong (or all three!). I am now 14 months out from the delivery of what will likely be my last baby. I am almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight, not quite back to my pre-pregnancy fitness level, but far past my pre-pregnancy wisdom.
I took things slow this time around, remembering all along the way that this is a season. It is a very short season. It seems like just yesterday my 9-year-old was a chubby thing with a pacifier in his mouth. Last night he ran in his first cross-country meet. My soon-to-be-8-year-old, the tiny one with kidney issues, is now a video game loving, tender hearted boy who adores his kitty and is begging for a pug. My “failure to thrive” baby? Well, his last check-up showed us that he is a BIG boy, destined for offensive lineman (if I’ll let him). Baby #4 isn’t a baby anymore, but a toddler.
Mama, take care of yourself. Most of all, soak up these moments. Linger in bed with that newborn and just breathe in his smell. It’ll be gone before you know it (and replaced with some of the foulest odors you will ever encounter, but I digress). Look at your body and know that by giving life, it has done something amazing and monumental. Any outfit, number on the scale, or fitness accomplishment will pale in comparison to growing a human from scratch.
When an athlete crosses the finish line at the IronMan event here in Chattanooga, you don’t ask “so, what’s next? Because there’s this Crossfit competition in two months that I think you’d be great in. You should hurry and get ready!” You let them enjoy the accomplishment. You let them rest. You let them eat and stare at their medal and relish hearing “YOU are an IronMan!” Then we let them sit the heck down because they are tired.
Let’s do this for mamas, shall we? Let’s stop assuming that there is some urgency in returning to “normal.” Let’s look at new mamas and say “you’ve done an amazing thing. Enjoy it, rest, and let me bring you something to eat.” Because friends, making these guys is the greatest thing my body will ever do…
There are oh-so-many tricks I use to get me out of bed in the morning to workout NO MATTER WHAT. One of them usually works. Usually.
Today I slept in, which led to this text exchange with my workout buddy:
Me: “I want to bottle this feeling. This feeling of being sad and behind all day. So that I will remember it the next time I think it’s a good idea to sleep in and not go to the gym first thing in the morning.”
Workout Buddy (WB): “Deal. I’ll guilt you into it.”
Me: “Please do.”
Tomorrow morning, there will be no hiding from the onslaught of text messages from WB who will blow up my phone nonstop until I get up and get in my car to go move my booty. Because that’s what friends do. Partly because she doesn’t want to get whiny text messages from me all day if I do sleep in.
I get it. Not everyone is a morning person, and not everyone can or even wants to work out first thing in the morning. But, listen, mamas: what other time do you have every day to yourself? For me, my days are chaotic from the time my kids get out of bed until way after they go to bed at night. There was a time I could squeeze in a workout during naps or after the kids went to bed, but with two older kids who no longer nap and two younger kids who are total spazzoids about going to bed at night, those precious hours before they wake up in the morning are it. There’s a reason Proverbs 31 talks about how she “rises while it is yet night…” It’s the only time that poor woman had to herself!
So. Tip #1: just do it. Set your alarm, get up, and DO IT. I read recently that you don’t need motivation to do something. It’s not a requirement. I rarely feel “motivated” to change a diaper or take a shower, but I do it anyway. It’s the same with working out. Forget motivation. Just. Do. It. I promise, you’ll never ever regret it.
Tip #2: get fit with friends. For years I’ve said that the main source of my fitness success is the fact that I have friends who keep me moving. It’s a lot harder to bail on your workout if you’re going to meet someone who will make you feel like a chubby sack of goo if you bail. If you don’t have friends who work out, join a gym. That’s where a lot of us crazy people hang out. If you’re in East Tennessee, you can work out with me. I’d love to bring you in to my little world (as long as you’re not a psycho-killer. If you are, I want you to know that I have my concealed carry permit and my husband is skilled in Krav Maga. You don’t stand a chance.) If all of your friends are completely exercise-averse, just meet up for a walk once a week. Then make it twice a week. Just walk around the neighborhood while you chat instead of sitting at a restaurant or on the couch. One fit friend strengthens the bunch. Be that friend.
My biggest struggle right now is that my youngest – now almost 5 months old – still isn’t sleeping through the night. I’m nursing, so I feed him around 7:30pm, 11pm, and 5am. He was still wanting to get up and nurse around 3am, and my refusal to let him eat at that unGodly hour results in loud, baby anger. I’m typically in bed by 8:30 or 9pm, but those frequent wake-ups take their toll.
There are a few things I do to battle the constant exhaustion. Caffeine is one of my very best friends. I know, it’s probably not THE healthiest solution, but with three older kids “sleep when the baby sleeps” isn’t an option. I’m a huge fan of Advocare Spark, and down a double Spark as soon as I roll out of bed in the morning. I seriously leave the canister and my shaker bottle on the bathroom counter, so I only have to stagger about 20ft for my wake-up drink. That gets me the energy to get dressed and get out the door. Then the endorphins take over. I know it sounds nuts, but its true that exercise gives you energy. All the caffeine in the world doesn’t get me going like a good 30-minute workout. There are some upper-limits to that, by the way, but that’s another post for another day.
Tip #3: Caffeine in moderation. Like anything else, too much is a bad thing, but a little pick-me-up to get you moving certainly beats staying in bed and not working out at all. So use what the Good Lord gave us! We can talk about coffee, too. Spark is definitely my workout drink, but I love good coffee and would be happy to share my faves!
Tip #4: A healthy diet. Don’t worry about counting calories. You have enough to worry about! I do keep track of my food intake because I’m a little obsessive AND I need to make sure I’m eating enough to maintain my milk supply, but for most of you, that’s just not necessary. Here’s my rule: if God made it and man hasn’t messed it up, eat it. I can’t even begin to tell you the difference in my energy level when I eat a muffin for breakfast vs. when I eat a bacon egg and cheese burrito. I’ll be sure to share some of my easy, go-to breakfast recipes in the coming days because it really is the most important meal of the day! Keep fresh fruits and veggies around, along with nuts and hard-boiled eggs and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your energy level fairly even throughout the day.
(and just to prove I practice what I preach…)
Tip #5: rest when you can. I always always ALWAYS rest on Sunday. I sleep late, eat a leisurely breakfast, make sure I have lunch in the crock pot for after church, and at least spend the afternoon laying around, even if I don’t get to nap. I don’t work out, I don’t do housework, I don’t do any labor-intensive cooking…I rest. If there are other days during the week when I’m feeling run-down, I’ll make an effort to teach school from the couch, or talk the boys into a movie and/or snuggle so I can catch a few extra zzz’s, but I try my best to maintain my workout routine. One missed day turns into two and then, well, you saw the text exchange at the beginning of this post…it’s just not worth it!
And finally, tip #6: don’t try to do it all. I may get up at 5am to work out and do lots of other things that may seem super impressive, but there are A LOT of things that I don’t do. I’m a homebody, so I don’t go out and about very often. I don’t wear makeup or fix my hair or, let’s be honest, change out of my workout clothes. I say “no” to evening invitations and I only enjoy a glass of wine (or three) on Saturday night when I know I don’t have to get up early. You can’t do it all. There aren’t enough hours in the day or energy in your tank, so choose what’s important and do THAT. For me, being fit and healthy is a priority, so things that interfere with that are going to get the boot. Right now my focus is working out, eating well, teaching my boys, and taking care of my home and family. If it seems like my life is well-lived, it’s because I’m only doing what needs to be done during this season. Figure out what your priorities are for now – because those priorities are going to change with your seasons of life – and make those things happen. Do them, and do them well.
I mentioned in my last post that I’d gained 37 pounds when pregnant this time and had lost 18 pounds so far. I want to be completely open and transparent about my journey so you know exactly what I do, what my challenges are, and how things have changed after each of my four children. So let’s go back to the beginning.
I was NEVER an athlete. I would diet because that’s what girls do, and I would go through phases when I would do some sort of exercise because I thought I should, but I was never anything even close to healthy and active. I was naturally thin and, apart from a few years here and there when I weighed more than my “normal,” I stayed around 130 pounds. For a 5’5″ woman, I was fine as far as those BMI charts go, but I certainly wasn’t fit or strong nutritionally.
I got pregnant with my oldest when I was 25. I was in my last semester of college and weighed 133 pounds. Thanks to tv and movies, I thought that I could eat for two full-grown adults and did. No joke – one ice cream cone for me, one ice cream cone for the baby. On the day I went into labor in January of 2007, I weighed a whopping 195 pounds. I honestly believed that the weight would just fall off, as everyone said “oh, breastfeeding will make that weight come right off!” Lies.
By March of 2007 I still weighed in at 175 pounds, was wearing a size 12, and miserable. I hadn’t a clue how to lose weight as I’d never done it before, and turned to a good friend (who’d just had her second baby) for advice. With her help, I learned about nutrition and being active and lost 50 pounds without counting a single calorie. I focused on eating lean protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and low-fat dairy and moving more days than not. By the end of 2007, I weighed 125 pounds…and was pregnant again!
I learned a valuable lesson the first time around and managed to only gain 28 pounds with baby number 2. I walked and ran and did some sort of strength training throughout the pregnancy and made sure my diet was reasonable (i.e., no double doses of ice cream cones). Even through vicious first-trimester nausea and insane carb cravings, I kept myself in check and remembered well how hard it is on your body to gain so much weight in such a short amount of time. Lego Boy 2 arrived in August of 2008 and I regained my shape fairly quickly. I started working out again around October of that year – walking/running on the treadmill and using a dvd to work out with a kettlebell. By January I was doing more running than walking, and that same healthy friend talked me in to signing up for my first 5k.
In March of 2009, my two friends and I ran a 5k together. Our goal was to finish without walking and we did. It was the first time I’d ever really competed in any sort of athletic event and it was wonderful. Empowering. Exhilarating. I wanted more.
My friends and I continued to run together over the next couple of years, tackling countless 5k’s, 10k’s, and half-marathons. It was our time to hang out and chit chat and take a break from the day-to-day journey of being moms. Running was something we did for ourselves – often the only thing – and we cherished the time together and how great the physical challenge made us feel. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without those women. I look back on those runs with a fondness I can’t describe.
By late 2010, health and fitness was as big a part of who I was as being a mom or a Christian. I pushed my boys in the jogging stroller when I ran, went on bike rides with my other mom friends and pulled the boys in a trailer; we ate healthy together and we were active together. I was a fit mom. 🙂
I found out I was pregnant again in late October of 2010. I lost that baby in January of 2011 at 12 weeks along. I was devastated. My attitude at that point was “Fine. If my body won’t grow a baby, it’s going to run FAST.” I made it my goal not to be “just” a runner, but to win. I wanted to run fast and win races. That competitive drive got me out the door and focused on something other than the emotional pain. My training became more serious – more than hanging out with my mommy friends, running became something bigger. I cherish that time, as well, because I learned that I am a lot tougher than I ever thought.
I became pregnant again in August of 2011 and I was in the best shape of my life. I completed a half marathon when I was 14 weeks and continued to run until the day before I went into labor in April 2012. When Lego Boy 3 was born, I was in a super duper rush to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight and fitness level. I’d gained 32 pounds and slowed down significantly with my running. I made a huge mistake and started dieting and exercising way to hard, way too soon. My milk supply plummeted and I had to supplement him with formula, which was tough for me to accept. Again, I felt like my body had failed.
Despite our nursing troubles, I maintained my fitness routine and continued making healthy living a priority. I ran my first marathon in January of 2014 and quite honestly, that burned me out on running for a while! I signed up for an Insanity program at the gym and decided to focus on getting strong all over. During that time I went from 123 pounds and 17% body fat to 122 pounds and 13% body fat. Then, guess what?
I got pregnant again! This time around was incredibly different. I was 34 years old with three boys already, homeschooling the older two, maintaining my home and fitness…y’all, I was tired. I got up early and worked out, homeschooled my older boys in the morning, and napped with the toddler in the afternoon. My eating habits were far from the organic, whole foods of pregnancies past, but life has a way of changing things.
Lego Boy 4 was born in June of 2015…and that’s where my next chapter will begin. Getting back into shape this time has been drastically different than times before, but I am determined that the lessons I’ve learned in the past will make for a fitter future – for me and all the Lego Boys!
I’d been running for less than a year when my best friend, Joy, said “there’s going to be a half-marathon in Kingsport. We should totally do it.”
She was serious.
She talked me into it and we started training together. We had no earthly idea what we were doing, but I printed off a plan from the Runner’s World Smart Coach website and we followed it. We ran in the rain, from my house and hers. We left our husbands with the kids and food for the grill and we’d run and talk and laugh. Those miles hold some of my fondest memories.
In October of 2009, Kingsport had it’s first Haunted Half and Joy and I crossed the finish line together.
In 2010, Joy was in Law School and not training as much, so I ran the entire half marathon and she ran a leg of the relay. This was going to be our new tradition!
In the Fall of 2011, after running together all summer, Joy was working towards her first full marathon. I was pregnant with my third and happily jogging along, still planning on doing the half with her. Then Joy was diagnosed with brain cancer. On the day of the Haunted Half that year, Joy had been in a coma for three weeks. I visited her in ICU just before I headed to the starting line. I rocked my “Run for J Lowe” t shirt and a baby bump and I finished that half for her!
Joy passed away in August of 2012. The Haunted Half that year was bittersweet. Six months after the birth of baby #3 and just over two months since losing my best friend, those were some hard-fought miles. With friends by my side, another one was in the books.
2013 was an amazing running year for me. I stepped up my training and started bringing home trophies. I had my sights on a full marathon in December and planned to use the Haunted Half that year as the tempo portion of an 18-miler. I destroyed that race. I crossed the finish in 1:49:38, collapsed and cried, knowing that Joy was there with me.
I’ve run the Haunted Half since it’s first year, and I will run it every year for as long as I’m able. This year I am in great shape overall, but not the best running shape. It was a tough year, but for the first time since 2009, I ran the entire race with a friend. In all the years prior, I’ve started with my buddies and we’ve drifted along the course…those of us feeling good will pick up the pace, while those not having the best race will hang back. Rachel and I both felt pretty awful from early on. We weren’t even to the halfway point when we decided to stick it out together. Even though my performance was disappointing, I will never regret those miles, because they were miles I spent with a friend…just like I did that very first year.
Now, just so we don’t get too sappy (Joy would’ve HATED that), I’d like to point out Jenn in the pic. She started with us, but she’s a sucker and suffered alone. Ten minutes ahead of us. To be fair, I don’t think Jenn would have been able to handle our whining, so it’s probably good she dropped us. Punk.
For the record, any weekend that you run a half marathon or longer, you get to eat whatever you want. It’s a rule. I hopped back on the healthy food train on Monday and will be posting my food and workout plan shortly.
I am taking a break from my regularly scheduled Workout and Meal Plan posts…partly because these last couple of days have been insanely busy and I have no idea what I’ve shoved in my face hole.
I also feel like, since this is my blog, I can talk about whatever I want. This does have to do with health and wellness and little encouragement (I hope), so it fits. It’s also personal, although I’m not really comfortable sharing to what extent.
In different communities, there are different beliefs about mental illness. Medication is hotly debated, as there are some who feel that they absolutely could not function without some sort of chemical help, and others who believe its a spiritual problem, or something to be solved with counseling, or dealt with through alternative means. I’m curious what you think and why.
When I say mental illness, I’m referring to any disease of the mind, from depression and anxiety, to learning disabilities and addiction, personality disorders, and the like. You don’t have to share personal experiences if you don’t feel comfortable with that, but I would love to know why you believe the way that you do. Please, be kind. Remember that, although you’re sitting in front of a screen, you are talking to real human beings, made in God’s image, so don’t type anything you wouldn’t say to your closest friend.
I’ll say that I fall somewhere in the middle. I absolutely believe there is a time and a place for medication when it comes to mental illness. It seems, though, that we face a few very specific problems in our country: we over-diagnose “mental illness,” many people expect an easy out in the form of popping a pill, and many mental issues are actually spiritual problems.
So, talk to me. Show me your side. Be encouraging.
And know that, if you are suffering from any sort of mental illness, there is hope.