Pressed for time & space? Quick shoulders & back.

wwI have been home sick for going on three days now. Despite still working during two of those days, I hit stir crazy at the end of day numero uno. And I’m guessing by the activity level inside my stomach… Baby Rebel did too.

Ahhh, the pitfalls of coworkers coming to work sick. Add that to the wonky immune system courtesy of pregnancy: you are going to catch anything that passes your way. And it’s going to suck. Because it’s going to be bad.

Because of being so bad off on Monday, I missed my typical Monday night workout. Okay, fine, it can be done on Tuesday and I’ll just skip a day of yoga this week. Nope. After puking Tuesday morning, I knew it was a good idea to sit that day out completely too.

“Aren’t rest days for sissies?” or “Whatever happened to no days off?”

When you’re pregnant, you take the back seat and baby is in the driver seat. For real. That little thing growing inside of you becomes top priority. Sure, I could have still done my usual Tuesday yoga at night, or even gone to the gym that evening. By that afternoon, I was starting to feel better. But baby is first, and I don’t want to risk his/her health, just so I can go pump some iron for an hour, or work up my already high body heat in a prenatal yoga sesh. Nuh-uh.

Train smarter not harder.

So naturally, by this morning, my body hated me. My back and knees were especially screaming at me “You bitch! You haven’t worked out in almost three whole days! DO something!”

My body needs movement. It has been a huge coping mechanism not just with stress and anxiety in my life, but it has been immense in helping me deal with my spinal disease. I can tell, just how my body feels, how long it’s been since I’ve worked out. I don’t need a calendar.

Because people enjoy going to work sick, passing germs around and what not (then when you get sick from them, tell you not to bring those germs into work!), I felt it wise to spend one more down day at home. This time, since press day had passed, I could make the couch and three weeks worth of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Total Divas my sole days plan. I’d rather not, while I’m down, dealing with this sinus cold thing, catch whatever coworker-x has decided to bring into the office. Baby first, remember?

I can’t just sit on the couch all day, I needed to get some movement in. Thank the workout gods that I’m a personal trainer and have a crap ton of weights, kettles, bands, etc in my sunroom closet, my garage and in my car. Yay for home workouts!

Quickie Home Shoulder/Back workout:

Standing Kettlebell Overhead Press

American Kettlebell Swing

Bent-over Rear Delt Flye

Modified Warrior III Shoulder Raise (in Warrior III pose, weight in one hand, palm down, raise arm nice and high, over head, pause, then return to side)

Sitting Low Band Row (at hip height)

Sitting High Band Row (shoulders parallel to ground)

Pushups (pausing at top for 2 counts, and at bottom for 2 counts)

Tent Pushups

It’s not only a time friendly workout, but it’s a space conserving workout too. You only need about 35-minutes, and about the space of a yoga mat, so it’s great to have on hand for when you’re crunched for time, but need to get a workout in.

Foodie Friday: Eating for two.

This week’s is a special Foodie Friday blog. It touches on that infamous “eating for two” many, if not all, pregnant woman hear during their pregnancies.

Pregnancy brings out the worst in people. Really. It does. Just like with working out, parenting, driving, etc… Suddenly, the day everyone finds out your pregnant, you meet all of the “experts”.

So with voices coming at you, at all sides, how do you know what is correct information, and what’s just “expert” advice from those who just kind of need to take a pause, and maybe even back off?

First and foremost: Listen to your doctor, your midwife and even your doula if you have one.

Second? Stay away from the internet. For real. Those forum boards, chat threads, the endless articles about pregnancy? No. Just don’t even open that browser tab and search for it. Internet “experts” are the same as real life ones.

Unless they’ve had the education, the schooling, etc… Take everything anyone tells you with a giant, sparkling grain of salt.

As you can see, I am viewing my experiences in pregnancy, the same as I have my experiences in the fitness and nutrition world. The people who give their “advice” and “expertise” without prompt, make me batty. In any instance. I’ve been educated in my field, and I only offer anything when I’m approached by someone, seeking answers/guidance/etc…

I have yet to ask for advice, but man, have I gotten a lot of it. Most have been in regards to my still working out, and my eating habits.

It’s really hard to remember that not everyone knows of the studies and research that has been done to prove that exercise during pregnancy not only is okay, but something all doctors are encouraging now. So when I have someone looking at me like I’m about to drop my baby in front of the weight rack at the gym, I have to do my best to not chuckle or make a rude, snide remark.

Although, I did have to take that route one evening with a young man that tried to muscle me out of the gym that I have been going to for more than a decade — and he’s a new member. Sorry buddy, not sorry.

But the eating one is the one that gets me the most.


Should you really be eating for two while pregnant? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist say firmly and adamantly, no. It puts you and baby at unnecessary risks.

“Oh! You’re supposed to be eating for two! You shouldn’t skip those seconds!” And “Why aren’t you eating that? You have a growing baby in there, you need to eat for two now!”, so on and so forth.


Pre-pregnancy, my caloric intake was 3,300 calories a day. Those calories were consumed in 5 small, very well balanced meals a day. To consume twice that?! I’d be dead before I got the chance to meet my child. I’d smother myself to death consuming 6,600 calories a day, without increasing my activity level to match that intake.

Pregnancy isn’t the meal ticket to eat more and eat whatever the hell you want. If that’s your prerogative, so be it. It’s not a healthy one, and it certainly is NOT a smart one.

So what is best during pregnancy? Stick with the diet you’re on now. And I don’t mean diet as in what you do to lose weight. I mean diet as in: Eat a well balanced, whole diet of foods rich in nutrients, etc. You should NEVER diet to lose weight during pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, the only thing that should change is how much you eat. During that first trimester, especially if you’re dealing with morning sickness — don’t worry so much about getting a few extra calories. Just focus on getting what your body needs to keep that baby growing and healthy.

You’re looking at a 300+ calorie a day consumption. This is on top of what you were consuming pre-pregnancy. That’s right. Only a measly little 300 more calories a day more than what you had before. A far, far cry from the “eat for two” everyone will tell you to do. Except your doctors, nurses, midwives, etc. They’ll tell you DO NOT eat that much.

If you and baby are going through a fit pregnancy, then on your gym/workout/run days, you’re definitely going to need to consume a little more than that 300 calories a day extra. That’s where that little plus sign comes in. Keep track of your workouts, monitor what you burn so that you can replenish, and you’re all set.

Ideally, a pregnant woman, who was of normal weight pre-pregnancy, should gain about 25-35 pounds during. If she was overweight before pregnancy? Obviously less weight should be gained. More if she was underweight.

Another thing often heard during pregnancy is: Give in to those cravings. Baby wants it!

Just like without being pregnant, your body is craving that certain “thing” for a reason. No, it’s not because it wants you to pig out on ten hamburgers from Burger King or McDonalds. To spring for the large Blizzard at Dairy Queen instead of that little bite size one they have. Your body is telling you that it’s missing something. Missing, or lacking a nutrient that it needs to get through. That’s where our sweets cravings come from. Most of the time, we get the sweets cravings because our body wants fruit and the nutrients that come with it. NOT that Three Musketeers bar.

Babies are the same way. Our body needs more of all of the nutrients we need on a daily basis, and your diet might be lacking in some key spots. Which is where those cravings come in. Finding out what exactly it is that your body is telling you that it needs, can be like deciphering an ancient code some times, but it can be done.

That’s not to say that everyone once in awhile you can’t have a burger, some ice cream, a candy bar, etc… But treat it as you would before. No, it’s not a reward for behaving well on your diet. No, it’s not meant to be a treat or a cheat. Indulge, lightly, once in awhile. That’s how you stay on track with your healthy eating. Don’t deprive, but sample and don’t dive right on in either. A few bites once in awhile is okay.

Brings me back to what Jill Coleman once said on sampling: taste everything and binge on nothing.

In the end, eating right and exercising will not only help you get back into shape easier and even faster, but it will help you in that delivery room as well.

Workout Wednesday: Group Fitness Classes.

wwWhen I first started out as a personal trainer and instructor, I wasn’t sure if I would ever, not only decide to do fitness classes, but want to teach fitness classes. Personally, classes have never been my “thing”. Then again, I was always a solo gym goer right from the start. Sure, my husband and I go to the gym together, and I have several lifting pals I’ve made over the 12 years I’ve been going to the gym… But it’s still me, rockin’ the workout, solo, 90% of the time.

About a half year in, I started brainstorming all of these great ideas to help a lot of my mom friends and area moms get into fitness, learn about eating right, and how to finagle getting their families on board with healthy living. Something I have always seen my area lacking big time.

My area is financially tight for pretty much everyone. So how could I do it affordably? The answer was simply: Classes. Weekend FITT for those who were uber busy, had a hard time finding even a second to get in the gym (but had 20-40 minutes at home of some down time), was born. From there, MommyFITT, my first nutrition and fitness 6-week camp style class became a thing.

Then Body360. Then Better Your Body, my 50+/Seniors class.

Next thing I knew, I had more people in my classes than I did one-on-one training.

Now, with the start of my new class JumpStart, another round of MommyFITT coming up and the launch of UNBootCamp at my new locations… I can’t believe I ever once thought that I’d remain just a one-on-one trainer. Classes are great, I enjoy them a lot, and the benefits are even greater.

Top benefits of taking part in a group fitness class:

1. Proper Instruction
Knowing the correct technique of any workout prevents injuries and will maximize your results. The instructor will always be right there to help demonstrate the proper way to execute an exercise move, help you fix your form, and show you modifications to workouts should you need it.

2. Motivation
Going to a class with a friend or exercising beside a stranger is a great way to boost your ego. Being able to keep up with the class is great motivation for pushing personal boundaries and achieving goals, especially when the instructor is saying “just 5 more!” You are able to push yourself a little more to finish out the set with the rest of the class!

3. Make New Friends
In a group fitness setting you have the opportunity to meet new people, and make new friends. You get to meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet unless you were taking a class. And friends hold you accountable!

4. Affordability
Not everyone has the finances to afford that hourly fee, two to three times a week. Group fitness classes give you a workout at a fraction of personal training costs. And you get the same benefits in the end!

5. Push Yourself Further
When you are in a group setting you are more likely to push yourself and work harder.

And who can forget the best one?…

6. It’s Fun!
Working out in a group fitness setting is fun and takes you mind off of the work. Most classes have energetic music to keep you pumped up and get you going.

Why client talk is important.

This isn’t going to be a typical Workout Wednesday post. It’s Wednesday, and I did workout. I had quite a few different posts I’ve thought about working up for today, but this is something that I feel is a little more important.

Why is talking with your client important? Not only does it establish some type of comfortable relationship, but it helps you, as a trainer, get to know who your client is. It also gives you the opportunity to learn their “tells”, which is key in helping your client progress forward.

Each client appointment I have with my regular, weekly clients, I check in with them. I take about 10-15 minutes from each session just to chat with them. How was their weekend? Their week at work? Etc… It breaks the ice, makes them feel more comfortable with me, and gives me the chance to get a solid read on them as a person. This way, when I shift the questions to how they felt after the last session and the following days, I can tell better just how honest they’re being with me.

“Well… I was good.”

Some trainers may just brush that off, and just get on with the session. If they even take a moment to chat with their client and ask at all. Me? That answer doesn’t leave me feeling comfortable going into the session. The long pause. The only good, not great. No details as to how they really felt.

I have one client who answers this way almost every time. It takes some careful prodding with questions like “Only good? Not great?” or “Any soreness in the following day(s)?” and the likes to get more solid answers that will tell me whether or not it’s a good idea to proceed with the session as the program I designed for them or make some tweaks and changes.

We all think we’re invincible. Just as not everyone knows the difference between soreness from usage versus soreness from oh-crap-something-got-pulled/sprained-torn-etc. It’s my job as a trainer to find out how the client was feeling, in the best description possible, to make sure that it’s not an injury they’re facing. And if it is, help them with a new course of action.

More stretching? Take a break all together? A short break? A long one? Change up their program some so that they don’t experience the feelings they are post-workout? There are a thousand and one reasons why talking to your client is key. Their safety and health is priority. Not that paycheck you get at the end of the month.

I have a client who currently only lives here for six months out of the year. The first month we worked together, he was confused as to why I would always ask him about how he felt after our session. Ask him about how he felt getting out of bed, just doing his daily activities. Then, as I began making small changes here and there to his program, he realized that I was adapting the program to best suit his needs and help keep him safely on track for his goal. He noted that his trainer where he lives during the winter months has never once asked him the questions that I do. And in my mind, I can’t help but wonder why not?

No, a personal trainer isn’t a doctor, but at the end of the day, us trainers are responsible for the well being of our clients. It is our job to make sure that they are okay and doing okay. We should never just assume that because they showed up for their session, or didn’t cancel, that they’re alright.

Assuming is never a safe thing.

Foodie Friday: Crinkle Cookies.

wpid-img_20140919_143056775_hdr.jpgThe hardest thing about baking right now is: Remembering to stay out of the cookie dough.

I know, I shouldn’t be eating raw cookie dough anyway, regardless if I’m pregnant or not. It’s just not good for you. Oh well…

I’m a part of a cookie swap thing with a group of women all over the country that I know. It’s a fun idea, and it keeps us all connected in one way or another. Last year, I made the super delicious Red Velvet Chocolate Chip cookies that made the adventure to Pennsylvania, and were well loved.

This year, it was Chocolate Crinkle cookies. I can’t say where they’re going yet, because they won’t go in the mail until tomorrow and it’s sort of like Secret Santa. You don’t know who made you cookies until you get them. So shh…

I love to cook. But baking and I are a different story. I make a hot mess either of myself or my kitchen. This recipe since I couldn’t find my ice cream scoop, and involved confectioners sugar, did both.

Word of advice? Find your ice cream scoop, or something similar before you even start this recipe.


Unbaked, before the “crinkle”

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. I like to use a number 50 size scoop. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Workout Wednesday: New Shoulders & Back.

Mentally last week, in the gym for my leg day, I was at odds with how I wanted to approach the workout of the day. I wanted to do what I call an “eyeball” workout routine that day. Switch it up a little. But, sometimes when we’ve been at it in the gym for a long time, the mindset creeps in of “I can’t do just body weight exercises, I’ll lose my gains.”

We’ve all been guilty of it from time to time, and I can admit that I have. Just as we don’t really want to drop our weight down (that’s called vanity folks, but really, don’t worry what others in the gym think, focus on you). In some instances, you have no choice. And pregnancy is one of those. So if you’re pregnant and in the gym: don’t reach for your max, or worry that you’re going to get looked at funny for doing a lighter weight. Remember, you’re growing a baby and you don’t want to do anything to harm him or her. It’s about their well being for the next 9-months.

… And back on track… An “eyeball” workout routine is when you walk into the gym, stand there and take in your surroundings. Free weights, bands, balls, machines, etc. You mentally perform each exercise in your head briefly, putting together a new combination that will accomplish what you want to do that day. Basically: You walk into the gym and wing it. No pre-planned exercise, no program. Just go for it.

My splits have been messed up my entire pregnancy. I think I’ve made it to the gym maybe three weeks total in which I could focus on my splits regularly as I did before getting pregnant. I’m making it to the gym three times a week, so my typical 4-day split has gone into the drain. I’ve contemplated doing three different full body workouts each day I’m in there, but I’m not fully to that stage yet, so I’ve set up my new split like this:

Shoulders & 1/2 of back day
Legs & Chest
Bi/Tri & 1/2 of back day

On the other days, I do yoga at home and when it’s nice, I’ve hit the water and done some kayaking.

Last week, I started doing the “wing it” in the gym. First with leg day, a light weight, mostly body weight workout. Damn did I feel it the next day. And since I had such a “glowing” result from that, that’s how I’ve been approaching my workouts lately. It makes it easier, because I don’t always know how I’m going to feel that day. The thing about pregnancy is: It’s a giant yo-yo. You just never know. So taking the time to put something together for x-amount of weeks just isn’t feasible right now. Yesterday was shoulders and half of my back day, and here’s what it ended up looking like:

**Tip for pregnant women: If you’re experiencing balance issues, use a seat or a bench for the raises and flyes. The face pulls can be done on a ball or even a bench if you need to grab one too. Be mindful of the weights you use, your posturing (and support), and remember to breathe through each rep of each set! And remember, it’s all about maintaining right now, you’re not in competition mode, She-Woman mode, or any of that business right now. Staying fit and healthy, but keeping baby healthy is key and priority.

**Everyone else: When doing drop sets, or multiple part sets, be mindful of that weight you’re choosing. With drop sets, sometimes you can go a little heavier than you would for a normal set, but still be careful. If you find that on that first round, that heaviest weight was a little too much, ratchet it back a smidge for the next round. Same with multiple part sets. If you do one rep and know that you won’t be able to follow through, executing the exercise PROPERLY for the remaining sets and parts, then don’t do it. Pick a different weight that you can execute the exercise with.

Sausage and cucumbers. Together?

I know I’ve got the category Foodie Friday. And I know I’ve tagged this post in it… But it couldn’t wait. This was just too yummy to keep to myself any longer (I made it two weeks ago).

Just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone out there who thinks you should be sitting on your couch, doing nothing, and eating bonbons. Gaining 100-pounds in the process.
No. Being healthy is the most important part of pregnancy. Eating healthy and staying moving (as long as you can) is key. Not only does it make your pregnancy easier, but it will make labor and your “down time” afterwards a lot easier as well.

A friend of mine has just started venturing into the world of cooking. She found a healthy cookbook that she loves and she’s tearing up the pages cooking up a storm. I told her to just wait until she’s been at it for awhile, before she knows it, she’ll be just like me. It seems that the toss and cook approach to cooking after you’ve gotten the hang of it is the common way it goes…

I’m notorious for thinking throughout the day how this will taste with that. Or can I cook this and add that? There are times when I open my refrigerator and look at what I’ve got in there and go “If I take that jar of what’s left in that, add it to this and then throw in what I’ve got left of that… I wonder…”

99% of the time, I nail it. Then I have to struggle to remember exactly what I did and even a rough idea on just how much of what I put in. It takes me a few hours sometimes to remember remotely enough to make it again.

The other night, I saw the cukes and the package of sausage sitting next to each other and the gears began working. The end result was delicious. The other half went back for thirds, so that’s when I know I’ve done something right.

I’ve just gotten my “spicy” back in my pregnancy, so I attacked it head on with this recipe. The cukes were perfect because they give you a little bit of crunch, some juiciness and they absorbed the sausages spicy to that “just right” amount.

It’s a good one-dish kind of meal (which I clearly love), and it’s NOT packed with a lot of calories, but it’s packed with all of those good things you need for your body and your baby (or babies) need. It’s not heavy, so you won’t feel bloated after. And it’s great reheated for left overs!

_20140819_210729The question here is: Can you multitask at the stove? This is best done with both portions of the recipe cooking at the same time. The orzo will be done about the same time it needs to be a added to the sausage.

The “main” dish portion:
2 medium cucumbers (or one large), sliced, peeled and cut into 1/4s
1 package of Al Fresco Spicy Jalepeno Chicken Sausage
2 handfuls of chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 tbs of capers (with juice added in)
2 tbs of olive oil

In a large skillet, add olive oil and warm on medium. Add in cucumbers and shittakes. Let cook for 5 minutes. Add in capers and caper juice, then after about 2 minutes, add in sausage. Turning them temp up to medium-high, let cook for about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally to keep flavors cooking together and blending. Turn down to low.

For the pasta portion:
1 cup uncooked Orzo
2 cups milk (1%, whole, doesn’t matter, just don’t use skim)
3/4 cup salsa

Combine all ingredients into a pot and cook on medium until orzo is cooked. Once done, add to sausage and mix well. Let all contents cook on low for about 5 minutes.