Enough with the Excuses

There is one thing I know for a fact about being a mom.  If I don’t take care of myself, then I can’t take care of the rest of my family.  If I’m sick or if I’m laid up due to injury everything goes haywire in our home.  And here is the second part of what I know – if I’m sick or I’m laid up with an injury it’s because I wasn’t taking care of myself properly.

It’s not because of bad germs, bad genetics, or bad luck.  It’s because of bad choices.  Let me make that really clear – people get sick because people make poor lifestyle choices.  They don’t take care of themselves properly.  They eat crappy foods.  They don’t get enough sleep.  They don’t exercise enough or properly. They don’t stretch or work on their mobility.  They don’t take time for ourselves to support their mental emotional health.  They don’t make sure that their brain-body connection is clear with the help of chiropractic adjustments.

Speaking as a mom and a chiropractor, I have the unique and humbling opportunity to work with a lot of families.  I feel that I resonate well with families.  I can relate to the stress and frustrations (and on the flip side, the wins!) of wanting the absolute best health for your family.  Ensuring that kids get exceptional health care, healthy foods, enough exercise, good sleep, support at school and home, good relationships, and all else that as parents, we want for our children.

But here’s the thing – sometimes we put all of our energy into our children and we forget to put any energy into ourselves.

One of the many concerns I hear is “I don’t have time to exercise.”  I’m fortunate in the fact that I have created a lifestyle that allows me to get into the gym three mornings a week as well as set aside time to walk and/or run two days a week.  I realize and appreciate that not all moms or dads have the ability to get to a gym due to special circumstances with family, work, and more.  But for the large majority of people it doesn’t mean that time can’t be carved out each day to get a workout in.

Last week was a little crazy.  On Friday we left at noon for a long weekend away.  I knew I couldn’t get to the gym that morning because I wanted to get the kids down to the park to let out some energy.  So, while the kids got their shoes on, I threw on my workout clothes.  Off to the park/gym we go. 

This is what I love about kids.  They can workout and have fun at the same time.

photophoto copy 2

While my kids swung, climbed, dug, slid, and hung around I got a twenty minute workout in.  Admittedly Caleigh was my photographer and I think that if I asked for “one more photo”, she might have lost it.  She kept going back and forth between taking pictures and making sand pies.  They were really good – both the pictures and the sand pies (chocolate flavoured, yum!).

Here’s how to fit in a quick workout at the park.  Warm up with a 2 minute jog/run around the park.  Then get down to business.

1.  LUNGES.  Do a specific number on each leg.  Start off small and add more each time you work out.


Lunges – make sure your knee doesn’t forward of your ankle.

2.  SQUATS.  Keep your back up (my form is horrible in this picture).  I put my hands behind my head to help keep my form clean.  Try to get your bum as close to the ground as possible.  Start with a minimum of 10 and work up to 100 over a few weeks.



3.  PUSH UPS/PLANKS.  Women can do “mens” push ups as well as men can.  Focus on keeping your core strong and it will prevent arching of your upper back (see top photo).  A plank is holding the up position for as long as you can.  Work up to 2 minutes over time.

Push Ups & Planks

Push Ups & Planks

4.  SIT UPS.  Fun to do with a baby!  Put your little on in between your legs and play peek a boo each time you come up for a sit up.  Plant a kiss on the top of their head so that you make sure you’re breaking 45 degrees at your waist.

sit ups

Sit ups

5.  STEP UPS.  Pretty simple.  Step up onto a park bench.  Make sure you completely open your hips.  If this hard to remember, clap your hands above your head, which will automatically open up your hips in full extension.

Steps Ups

6.  JUMP UPS.  The next level up.  Jump up onto the park bench.  Start on two feet and end on two feet.  Remember to fully stand up so that hips are open at the end of the jump.

Jumps Ups

Jumps Ups

7.  TRICEP DIPS.  Keeping your legs slightly bent, bend at your elbows.  The deeper, the better.  Repeat.

Tricep Dips

Tricep Dips

8.  INCLINE PULL UPS.  Grab a bar at the park and pull yourself up over and over.

Incline Pull UpsIncline Pull Ups

There you have it.  If it takes you 20 minutes, I’d be surprised.  Kids can help by counting off the number of repetitions you do.  Or they can join in on the same moves.  They’ll have fun and the more they laugh, you’ll have fun too.  Promise.

Ignore the Critics

Some people will always be a critic.  A critic justifies their deficiencies by telling you that you’re wrong.  Regardless of what you choose to do, how well you succeed, and regardless of all the amazing things that come into your life as a result of your choices, they will be critical.  They will point out what they would have done differently.  They will claim they could have done it easier, faster, better.  And they’re not going to change.  They will always be a critic.

You’re not going to silence them.  But you can ignore them.

I hear about these critics when I practice.  Stories from people I have the opportunity to work with.  Stories from people who are making BETTER choices in their life to create a HEALTHIER lifestyle.  Stories from people who are no longer willing to live a life that is less than that that they deserve.

“My co-worker thinks eating by design is wrong.  She thinks it’s just a fad and that any ‘diet’ that eliminates food is wrong.”

“My husband doesn’t believe in chiropractic.  He says it’s a sham.”

“My best friend heard that CrossFit causes too many injuries.”

“My wife thinks it’s pointless to wake up at 5AM just to work on myself.”


All you can do is ignore these people.  Because even when you do see the success come into your life that is a direct result of all the hard work that you do to create more exceptional health for yourself, the critics won’t care.  So just ignore them.

I’m more proud of the way I feel, the way I look, and the way I function NOW more than any other time in my life.  I’m healthier.  I’m more vibrant.  I’m feeling awesome.  My body is working better than ever before.  I’m stronger.  I’m happier.  I’m all of these things because I choose to make better lifestyle choices.

I move by design.  I move every single day.  And I lift heavy stuff at the gym three days a week.

I eat by design.  I don’t eat grains.  I limit sugar and dairy.  I eat  protein, vegetables, fats, and a bit of fruit.

I think by design.  I get up for a morning power hour.  I read.  I journal.  I play.  I practice gratitude.  I serve.

I am powered by design.  I get checked, and often adjusted, weekly by a chiropractor.  My brain-body connection is optimal and my mind and body loves me for it.

So critics can be critics.  They can look at the my lifestyle and think it’s for not.  But in my own life, I see the outcome.  I see how much healthier I am.  And so to the critics who think that it’s too much work, too strict, not backed by research, and crazy….keep on with your thinking.  It’s okay.  I choose not to listen to you.

But have an awesome day.

Tough Mudder Strategy (all because of 10 pounds)

Ugh.  So for weeks months I have had this thing that during WODs at my local CrossFit I have done all lifts using 55 lbs.   I’ve never gone over it, regardless of the WOD.  I don’t know why.  Well, actually maybe I do.  It was a psychological barrier for me.

I felt comfortable at 55 pounds.  Not long ago, I injured my neck, shoulders, and upper back when I lifted some heavy weights overhead  (like couldn’t move more than a few degrees in any direction without causing major pain and muscle spasms….truth be told it sucked).  Looking back, it wasn’t so much the amount that I had lifted as it was the poor form.  But in my head I made it about the weight.  So I had this mental block at going over 55.  I knew I could handle it without causing more pain.  55 pounds became my weight.

It also became easy.  And I get bored with easy things.

So this week I did something a little crazy.  I went up to 65 pounds.

And it was AWESOME!  It unleashed this excitement inside of me for CrossFit again.  I never lost the love for CrossFit but it invigorated me once more.  Thanks to one coach, Raul, I finally figured out how to do a proper hang power clean and hang squat clean (bend OVER the bar….it’s not a freakn’ deadlift!) and thanks to another coach, Mitch, I attempted my first rope climb and actually got halfway to the ceiling.

I’m pretty pumped.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but I managed to corral five other AMESOME women in my life to compete in Tough Mudder in September.   I’ve been training through CrossFit and doing some running here and there.  Truly though, I’m not feeling prepared.  But just the last two days at the gym have really given me a boost to get out there and train with much more determination than before.


I set up a schedule for the next sixty days until Race Day.

Monday AM             CrossFit & mobility

Tuesday AM             CrossFit & mobility

Wednesday PM       Run (up to 10K) & mobility

Thursday AM            Sprints & mobility

Friday AM                  CrossFit & mobility

Saturday                    Rest

Sunday AM               Hill training & mobility

It’s funny how changing one small brain block (55 lbs) can propel me into action in so many other ways.  Other strategies I am putting into action to get into exceptional shape by September 28 are:

  • No alcohol (except for a celebratory glass of wine on our anniversary in two weeks)
  • No cheat treats (read: no chocolate chip cookies or chai tea lattes from Starbucks, my not-so-secret Achilles heel in the food & drink world)
  • Biweekly massage to help my muscles
  • Schedule weekly adjustments instead of getting adjusted when my time allows
  • Plan for 7 hours of sleep each night, with hopes that Maggie co-operates
  • Tough Mudder weekly email accountability with the AWESOME Katherine, who has some very specific goals herself as well as the rest of  Team Dirty Skirts via our Facebook group.

I’m pretty damn excited about all of this.  Plus having all of you who will be (in my mind) cheering me on to accomplish all of this makes it feel all that more paramount.

All because of a ten pound difference in a WOD yesterday.  Yea me.

Increasing my level of awesomeness

I love the word “awesome”.  I’ve loved it for a long time and there is something about it that makes me smile.  It’s such a perfect response to so many beautiful things in life.

“Dr. A, I’m functioning so much better today!”  That’s AWESOME!

“Mom!  I scored a goal!”  That’s AWESOME!

“My baby slept through the night for the first time after her last adjustment!” That’s AWESOME!

And so with my profound love of the word AWESOME, I am constantly acknowledging ways that I increased my level of awesomeness in a day.  Which is honestly just ways to live a healthy, vibrant, most fantastic life.

  • I didn’t eat sugar today.
  • I got a solid 7 hours of sleep last night.
  • I read another chapter from “The Charge” by Brendon Burchard
  • I played tag with my kids
  • I drank nothing but water today
  • I wrote in my journal
  • I spent an hour with my mom
  • I listened to an inspiring podcast
  • I set a personal record at the gym
  • I went to the gym, despite feeling tired

….the list can go on and on and can incorporate your own ways.  I started off my day with a bit of a sleep-in as I’m feeling under the weather.  Scratchy and sore throat.  A sign that my sleeping patterns have been in the tank with Maggie’s teething and so I needed an extra hour this morning (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Fried up three eggs with some cracked pepper along side a handful of fresh raspberries (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Journaled about my awesome date night with my husband last night where we got to connect and spend time together and how AWESOME that felt (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Then threw my stuff in a bag and walked a mile to work (increasing my level of awesomeness).  Get to do what I love to do today by adjusting a number of families this morning and then get adjusted myself (increasing my level of awesomeness).

So, I ask you.  What did you do today to increase your level of awesomeness?

My walk to work this morning.  The sun at my back, the moon out in front.  It was beautiful!

My walk to work this morning. The sun at my back, the moon out in front. It was beautiful!

Taking Care of Me

This post is about me.  I’m making sure I’m taking time for me.  I find that in times when I have my greatest amounts of stress is when it’s very easy to let the most important things in my life fall to the wayside.  Like my health.  Sound familiar?

Everyone has their stuff.  I don’t think it should ever be a competition about who has more on their plates.  Besides which, different people react differently to different levels of stress anyhow.  I think, however, many of us sometimes have difficulty realizing we have too much on our plate until it’s too late.  Increase in stress.  Not taking care of ourselves.  Symptoms manifest.  And then we ask “why did I get sick?”


Whatever state of health we are in is a direct result of the life choices we make.  Tough pill to swallow (pun intended) but an important concept to understand and respect.

So, as I started out this post saying, it’s about me.  While I have a lot of plates spinning right now, I’m making a point of carving out ME time each day.  I’ve been judged for being selfish or told that it “must be nice to have so much free time to be able to do this” but it’s neither of the above.  These are essential steps for me to be at my best, even when I feel like I’m at my worst.

  • Getting adjusted.  Hands down the most important thing I can do is get my brain body connection checked.  The more stress I’m under, the more often I get checked.
  • Power Hour.  Still happening.  Although I do admittedly deviate from the 5AM hour based on the amount of sleep I get.  But certainly I start it at the latest 5:45 in order to get a good hour in before the rest of the family gets up.  I’m journalling a lot lately during this power hour of mine.  I’ve been inspired by an amazing woman (Melissa ) who has reminded me of the benefits of journalling lately.  And I find that by writing down my thoughts, I am feeling more connected, more on purpose, and more organized.
  • Eating Paleo.  With a little more chocolate than usual thrown in.  Vegetables.  Proteins.  Fruits.  Fats.  It’s really that simple and is necessary.  If my eating gets off track, then everything gets off track.  The chocolate, however, keeps me sane right now.
  • Moving regularly.  The last month I’ve averaged twice a week int the gym but I’ve been doing tons of mobility work as well as walking.  Like with my eating, if my activity levels go to the wayside, I don’t keep up good habits in other areas of my life.
  • Hugs.  I don’t know about you but when I’m under stress it is easy to not put focus on the relationships with people you value and care about the most.  Extra hugs for my husband and my kids are needed and appreciated.
  • Meditation.  I am TERRIBLE at meditating.  Really truly.  Same with yoga.  Anything that makes me sit still and be with my thoughts makes me bored.  This is why I know it’s something I need to be doing more often (both meditation and yoga) so that I can learn to appreciate aloneness as well as the art of achieving a zen-like calm.  I have simply been focusing on calming different parts of my body from the tips of my toes and working my way up to my scalp.  It’s a small step but a step in the right direction.
  • My Accountability Group.  I am so grateful to Karen and Amy who keep me on track and help me keep on purpose each Wednesday morning during our call.  I am so appreciate of them.  A couple of weeks ago I was having a really tough time and they ended up texting me back off the ledge of feeling like a failure in both the professional and family aspects of my life.  Amy wrote about how tough it is being a working mom in this blog post and I am forever grateful for women who can be honest and bare their souls through paper and blogs.  I think we are definitely stronger for admitting when we need help.

So, this intended to be a short post but apparently it became a cathartic release for me to be able to share what I know helps me in times of high stress.  Keeping my family healthy and organized starts with me being healthy and organized.  If I fall apart, my family falls apart.  This I’ve learned.  So it’s not selfish to set time aside for yourself.  Far from it.  It’s vital.  And removing whatever guilt that might surround this time for ME was crucial for me to be able to enjoy, appreciate, and respect the time I create for myself.

We all have 24 hours in a day.  It’s how we choose to spend those 24 hours that matters most.



Let them get dirty

This afternoon was beautiful.  And by beautiful, I mean above freezing.  We took advantage of it by going for a pre-lunch walk to a local wooded area.  The rain from last night had created some very tempting puddles for Blake.  Since I knew that wet, cold boots and pants would certainly create some complaints and honest discomfort during the walk (and potentially kibosh the entire hike), I made an agreement with Blake.  If he walked with me to the woods and back, without whining, he could splash in the puddles on the way home.


20 minute walk out.  20 minute walk back.  The last five minutes were pure bliss for my little man.

Puddle Monster

Puddle Monster












Let them get dirty.  And wet.  It’s nothing that a little soap and water won’t fix.

March Madness

Basketball?  No way.  March Madness should truly be described as the feeling any mom has with three kids at home over March Break.  I can’t imagine what it will feel like after all three of them are at school and then at home for the week (or summer) but right now to have three at home during the week is crazy hectic.  I go between loving it and getting overwhelmed.  Loving the opportunities to be with all three of them, going on adventures each day, and spending quality time together.  Feeling overwhelmed at the insane energy of the two older ones (Maggie is pretty chill for the most part) who are off-the-wall excited over March Break.  I don’t even think Blake knows what March Break is but many a time I’ve heard the chant of “March Break!  March Break!  March Break!” wafting up from the basement as the two are playing tag.  Yikes.

So, for dinner tonight (because it’s Wednesday), I had this:



Just kidding.  Kind of.  I did have a glass as I prepared dinner (after taking 45 minutes to put Maggie down…totally unlike her but likely due to two 5 minute naps today).  And now I’m enjoying a second glass as I am writing this post.  🙂

But in all honesty, what was for dinner was something much more filling.  An incredible grilled steak (with a dry rub of salt, pepper, parsley, cumin, cayenne pepper, chill pepper, & tumeric – Tom’s amazing concoction that we use regularly), sweet potato fries (tossed in olive oil, salt, & fresh garlic), and a fresh salad topped with avocado, red onion, tomato, and roasted slivered almonds.  I made a really light homemade salad dressing of 2 parts olive oil and 1 part rice vinegar with a sprinkling of spices – oregano and basil.  Really simple because the steak was unbelievable and I didn’t want to take anything away from it.  This is the final dish and it was awesome!

Love BBQing in the winter.

Love BBQing in the winter.

This week had some amazing plusses.  I was back at CrossFit on Monday for the first time in three weeks.  I’ve had some really angry trap muscles that were overworked 3 weeks ago.  As a result, spasm.  And lots of them which kept me out of the gym and working on strictly mobility and restoring the brain body connection with chiropractic.  Adjust, adjust, adjust.  🙂

Being back at the gym on Monday and Tuesday was hands down awesome.  I MISSED feeling strong.  This is something I’m not willing to compromise on with my health, up there with all of Life by Design.  I find that if I drop out of my routine of working out, eating well, my morning power hour, or getting adjusted – the rest of it all unravels.  I truly do have to do all the right things at the same time in order to see the benefits.  My psyche just tanks.  And for the last three weeks, even though I’ve been uber careful with how I eat and how I think, my physical health was making me frustrated.

If you remember from a previous post, I am not a lover of sit ups.  I think it’s probably because my basic core strength is building back up after having Maggie.  She was born as a gentle cesarean but being it my third cesarean birth, it did take a toll on my body.  I’m happy to have that toll – it’s an amazing reminder of the incredible kids I have.  And while I can sometimes feel anxious of the lack of core strength I have NOW, I realize that it will build back up and I need to be patient and supportive of my body in getting back into shape.  Tuesday’s workout included 100 sit-ups (between double unders – jumping once but bringing the skipping rope over your head twice- and push jerks – basically taking a 40 lb bar and lift it over your head multiple, multiple times) and when I sneezed earlier this afternoon,  I winced from the strain on my abs.  Grrrrrr.  Must.  Work.  On.  Sit-Ups.

Prior to those bloody sit-ups, we had some walking lunges to get through.  Have baby?  Must train.

Me & Mags.  Working the "walking lunge".

Me & Mags. Working the “walking lunge”.

To all the moms and dads out there who think that their health isn’t a priority.  Please think again.  You are enough of a reason to put a priority on working out, eating well, and focusing on your purpose in life.  I love this picture.  It’s a picture of a strong mom who is doing her absolute best to be healthy for not just herself but also her kids.  I’m proud of this picture.  Because it represents the vision of a mom I want my kids to be proud of.  A healthy, energetic, fun, inspired, and awesome mom.  And each day I make choices to create that vision I have for myself.  It’s coming along….slowly but surely.  But that’s the fun part of goals.  It’s a constant, never-ending process that will always be in a state of evolution.


Tuesday morning I did a very cool thing.  For the first time ever I RX’d a WOD at my CrossFit.

What is RXing a WOD?  A WOD refers to a Workout of the Day.  It is THE workout of the day that everyone does when they show up that day at the gym.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what time you’re there, you do the WOD.   WODs are scalable.  Meaning, that whatever the prescribed (RX) WOD is, you can scale it to suit your capabilities.  For example, if the WOD is to do box jumps on a 24 inch box jump and you can do them on a 20 inch box jump, then your WOD is “scaled”.

In the 21 months I have been training at CrossFit, I have always done a scaled workout.  Partly because nine of those months I was pregnant.  It was one of my goals in 2013 to RX a WOD.  Who would have thought I would actually do that on the eighth day of the year.

The WOD was a timed work out (in other words, go as fast as you can to complete the following):

100 sit ups

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 of:

Overhead lunges (with a 25 lb plate above your head)

Kettlebell swings (with a 16 kilogram  – 35 lbs – kettlebell)

Overhead Weighted Lunge

Overhead Weighted Lunge

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

I looked at the sit ups and knew I was in trouble.  100 sit ups is a lot.  Especially when one had a baby 10 weeks ago.  I winced at the thought.  Sit ups are one of my weaknesses in the gym.  I actually have a lot of weaknesses, which are not so much weaknesses as they are opportunities to improve on a skill.  And my skill level with my sit ups need a LOT of improvement.  So, I knew they would be slow.  Plus, the kettlebell swings at 16 kg is heavy…and at first I grabbed a 12 kg, until I got a push from Eugene (the coach) to go for it.  So I did.

The clock started and the ten of us in the gym started to bang out sit ups as fast we could.  By 25, I was feeling the burn in every party of my abdomen and low back.  And I was only a quarter of the way.  When I got to the halfway mark, I saw the first guy finish his sit ups and move on to the 10 overhead lunges.  I, along with others, applauded his efforts and yelled out “Way to go, Matt!” (see why I love CrossFit so much?  The camaraderie is huge.)  In my head though, I thought “Already?” and onto sit up #51 I went.

I'm pretty sure this is what my face looked like each time I did a sit up.

I’m pretty sure this is what my face looked like each time I did a sit up.

Slowly but surely, I saw everyone else complete their 100 sit ups.  Guys and girls…finishing up as I plugged slowly away.  I was only on 70 when everyone else in the gym moved onto the next part.  The coach was encouraging to me: “Andrea, you’ve got this.  Keep going!”  And I did.  75.  80.  82.  84.  85.  Omigod. I was so sore, so tired.  And I still had overhead lunges and kettlebell swings to go.  A thought went through my head.

“If I did 90, no one would know.”  86.  87.  88.

“I could be done these freakn’ sit ups in 2…and no one would be the wiser.”  89.  90.

Except that I would be.  I would be the wiser.  My name would go up on the board with a completed time even though I hadn’t completed the WOD.  I would know.

91.  92.  93.  94.  95.  96.  97.  98.  99.  100.

100 sit ups.  I did it.  I got up and went onto the overhead lunges.  10 of those and then 10 kettlebell swings.  Then I worked my way down to 1, as everyone else on the floor finished up.  I had at least 5 rounds to go when I’m pretty sure everyone else had completed the WOD.  But then the part of CrossFit I love so much happened to me.  They all started to cheer me on, and let me know that they were there until I was done.  Three more rounds, two more rounds…and then the beautiful moment when I picked up the 25 lb plate above my head, did a lunge, and then swung the kettlebell for the final time.  Done.  The whole thing.  RX’d.

The lesson?  I will only get better if I push myself to do the whole workout.   I could have shaved 10 sit ups off.  But I held myself accountable to finishing it up even though I was sore and way behind everyone else.  Integrity is a high value of mine and certainly my own integrity would be less if I hadn’t completed the whole thing.  So from this I get the internal sense of satisfaction for completing the WOD, prescribed.  A sense of pride for the day…okay, okay, that pride has lasted an extra two days (mainly because two days later my abs are still sore from those damn sit ups)…that will last until the next time I walk into the gym and I see the next WOD.

Halfway there

I”m halfway through my Life by Design 30 Day Challenge.  I’m feeling really great, despite a few hiccups (read: cheats…you’ll read about it later in this post) along the way.  But I would say I’ve been about 90% By Design for two weeks, which really is impressive considering what I’ve had going on in life the last few weeks.  I’ve heard it a lot from people in the last bit….”Why are you so focused on this challenge with a new baby?” and “You’ve got three kids so how are you doing this eating by design thing?” and “Don’t you have enough stress right now to not add in a month long challenge?”

Here’s why – we ALL have stuff going on in life.  Whether it’s a new baby, a crazy job, family stress, money stress, holidays, blah  blah blah.  It’s all stuff.  And so MY 30 Day Challenge is no different from YOUR 30 Day Challenge in that my stress is mine, and yours is yours.  Stress isn’t a reason to not live a healthy life.  If anything, it is THE reason to live a healthy life.   My reasons are abundant – my

My reasons for focusing on extraordinary health.

own life, my kids lives, my husband’s life, my desire to be a chiropractor and help people, to play, to have fun, to travel, to enjoy, to thrive, to learn, to grow….I could come up with a thousand reasons to focus on my health every day of my life.  It takes one walk through the grocery store or a mall to give me a push to focus on more extraordinary health.  I see people who are slowly walking around with a negative cloud over their heads and playing the victim in their lives.  Everything is someone else’s fault and they take little to no responsibility for their lives.  It’s depressing to me.  And I refuse to be a victim, refuse to accept mediocrity, and refuse to live a life that is less than extraordinary.

So, back to my 30 Day Challenge.

This weekend was an awesome weekend.  I was up a few times Friday night through Saturday morning feeding Miss Maggie and it was fascinating to watch how the snow blew in.  At 11PM, it was merely a bit of a blowing of snow across our front yard.  At 3AM, the flakes were coming down, big fluffy flakes that were lit up so beautifully by the street lights, and accumulating quickly on the ground.  At 6:30AM, when my son so kindly woke me up by yelling at his sister “Caleigh!  CALEIGH!  I woke Mommy up because she has been sleeping for hours and hours!” (oh, the irony), the yard was blanketed in a good six inches of the white stuff.  It was pristine, untouched, and absolutely beautiful.  I love the first snow fall of the season.  My kids were beside themselves with excitement and flew through breakfast in order to be outside playing as quickly as possible.  And I cuddled up at the bay window with Maggie and watched as her older siblings tumbled, ran, somersaulted, dove, and dug through the snow.  It was a brilliant start to a lovely weekend and between the laughter and play that I soaked up with the kids and Tom, I also read more of “The Greatness Guide” by Robin Sharma (my book of the month).  Great tip for busy moms, TGG is a great book to read because the “chapters” are three pages or less long.  No excuses to get a flash of inspiration each day!

Dinner Saturday night was at a friend’s home, and it was a delicious potluck with lots of different foods.  In general, I think my friends think I’m beyond crazy with how I eat.  In fact, there is one friend who takes every opportunity to give me a hard time and tries to tempt me with Cheezies.  First off, they are Cheezies.  It’s about as far from food as possible so it’s not at all a test of my will power.  If he knew me better, he could tempt me with some chocolate and caramel and I might cave.  With parties or dinners though, I pick and choose what I’m going to be eating based on my By Design choices.  I will pass on the bread and load up on the meatballs.  I choose the cut vegetables over the tortilla chips.  It’s not ALWAYS going to work in my favour but most times I can be sure that I can eat By Design when I’m out at a party or a restaurant, and walk away from the event feeling good about my choices versus feeling like I fell off track.

The rest of the weekend was super easy to keep track of as we hung out around the house, decorating for Christmas and playing with the kids.  I snapped some photos for our Christmas card.  I made a huge vat of beanless chili and a huge pot of chicken and vegetable soup.  That’s one of my tricks for EBD, make large portions of food that can be reheated over and over throughout the week.  I mean, can you beat a bowl of chili topped with a half of avocado chopped up and a dollop of full fat Greek yogurt?  Me thinks not.  Other foods this weekend included omelettes,  almond flour waffles, fruits, cut vegetables, bacon, roast beef, and sweet potatoes.  I did fall off track a bit with a couple of chai lattes from Starbucks.  They’re loaded with sugar (42 g of sugar, holy crap) which is why I am always saying I’m going to cut them out completely but like an addict, I do go back occasionally.  Here’s my confession…I had two this weekend.  RIDICULOUS.  I know.

Moving by Design…wasn’t a huge focus this weekend.  Some mobility work and a bit of walking.  I had planned on doing some more body work in getting ready to go back to the gym but that didn’t work as I had planned.  It didn’t stop me from getting back at it Monday morning.  Although I have to admit, it would have been easy to take a day off on Monday too.  Maggie and Blake both have this crazy cough and so instead of taking them out of the house, I stayed at home.  Didn’t stop me from hitting the basement and doing a modified and shortened training session.  I spent 20 minutes doing lunges, squats, sit ups, push ups, and burpees in Tabata fashion, which means 20 seconds of movement, 20 seconds of rest.  So, imagine 20 seconds of sit ups and 20 seconds of rest and then repeating multiple times.  Short, intense, and I didn’t use “no gym time” and “sick kids” as an excuse.  My health is a priority to me!

So, that’s it.  My weekend during a By Design Challenge which is truly just like any other weekend.  There is no difference in living a lifestyle that is full of healthy choices and living a lifestyle that is full of unhealthy choices.  Let’s be honest – it’s a choice.  Whether you choose health or not, it’a lifestyle.  My lifestyle is NORMAL for me.  Would it be easier to eat McDonald’s and sit on the couch all weekend?  Sure.  Would I live as long a life with as much health?  No.  So for me it’s worth the investment in both time and money to make healthy choices NOW so that I can enjoy the rewards throughout my life.

Mom of Strength

In July of 2011, I started my CrossFit journey.  My girlfriend and colleague, Amy, wrote an amazing blog post on being a CrossFit Mom a few weeks back.   She touched upon all the reasons that I too fell in love with CrossFit.

1.  Movement is a requirement for life.  Even at the most basic level of breathing, it requires us to move our rib cage in and out.  The more we move, the more we reinforce our health and our life.  It’s one of the reasons I teach Move by Design at our office, because every single person needs to work on movement.

2.  Pushing one’s self at a new sport builds strength and capability.  What I have gained from CrossFit, I never gained from my years in swimming, running, or working out at other big box gyms or community centres.  I gained an inner and outer strength, my inner strength was just as important as the outer in that not only did I look better, but I functioned better.

3.  Anyone can do it.  What I used to think was impossible or unreachable – getting strong but not bulky, Olympic lifting, doing a pull up, etc. – has proven the opposite.  I trained pregnant and did a dead lift of 120 pounds in my 8th month.  I train with men and women of different sizes, different body shapes, different ages, different capabilities, and at different stages in their lives.  To say “exercise isn’t for me” is a fallacy.  It’s not only a complete contradiction to what your body requires, it’s an excuse.  And it wasn’t until my eyes were opened at my local CrossFit gym, that I put aside all the years of excuses bottled up in me that kept me from being the best version of myself.

4.  I needed a coach.  For years, working out at a gym or running on my own was my way of training without having people pay attention to me at the same time.  I could blend in at the gym on the machines or go unnoticed on the road as another runner slogging through her miles.  But the years of not asking for help and “doing my own thing” ended up year after year with the same results – limited muscle tone, still overweight, and no real change in my basic health.  I ran marathons and half marathons and still carried around extra weight!  From the moment I had my first Foundations class at CrossFit, I spend my entire sessions with a certified coach.  And six months later, I could not believe the difference in the level of my health – measured in strength, stamina, flexibility, mobility, lung capacity – because of that coaching.

5.  The Community.  Unlike anything I have ever experienced in another sport, the love for CrossFit by CrossFitters is almost cult-like in the best definition of the word.  Just ask someone who is hooked, and you will discover the love/hate relationship we all have with it.  The HATE is when you walk into the gym (the box) and see the WOD (Workout Of the Day) for the first time and a deep sense of dread takes over your body.  A combination of Olympic lifts, burpees, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, wall balls, kettle bells, hand stands, sprinting, gymnastics, and more in a dizzying WOD that makes you wonder (EVERY SINGLE DAY) whether or not you’ll complete it without passing out.  But the LOVE is that high, that sense of accomplishment, that overwhelming exhaustion that has you lying on the floor after you’re done.  I live for that LOVE.  CrossFitters are a different group in that we also support one another through the workout.  Classes are small, no more than 10 people, and we are all there to cheer one another on and make sure we finish.  Not one person leaves the gym until we are all finished.  And as we finish, a round of applause and cheers breaks out to congratulate all of the finishers.  And then we all come back within a day or two to do it again.

So, yesterday, I returned to my CrossFit Journey after taking six weeks off.  Two weeks prior to baby M coming, I found that the training sessions were becoming too much for my body and I was more cranky in the workouts than I was happy.  And it took me four weeks after having her (she was a gentle cesarean birth) that I felt comfortable getting back and committing once again to training.  I spent a half hour in the gym working mainly on mobility and some basic strength movements – rowing, foam rolling, stretching, push ups, squats, lunges, and step-ups on a box jump.  It was far from what I was used to doing in the gym (first time I was able to leave the gym without breathing heavily and getting my heart rate back to normal) but it was a first step back.  I recognized my limitations after having a baby and respected them but also started pushing myself a bit.

This morning I’m feeling it.  Sore legs, chest, and arms (hello lunges, squats, and push ups).  It’s the Best.  Feeling.  Ever.  I missed that soreness knowing I’m doing something awesome for my health.  The goal?  A WOD in two weeks.

And how did M feel about her first training session at CrossFit with her mom?  Maybe not too impressed, but like Amy, I look forward to hearing “Wow, Mom!” in a few years.  There is something incredibly empowering showing my kids that their mom, like their dad, can be strong and capable.