Beach week and mementos. 

It all started with a piece of blue sea glass.

Blue and purple are colors you don’t typically come across on the beach. It’s always green and brown. On several occasions, white.

Then the odd, almost translucent rock that my 17-month old picked up with an excited “Rock!”

It had been exactly one year since I had last been to this beach. The last time, he was just five months old, and spent the hour we were there, sitting under our umbrella in his bumbo, his chunky baby toes in the sand, watching his surroundings curiously as I pointed out things. We had the beach to ourselves that morning. That’s what happens when your mom is an early bird. We are at the beach before everyone else is even starting to pack for their beach day.

Last year, it had only been a few short months that I had been back to work when his daycare closed for its summer vacation week. Because of that, I was unable to take the time off to be with him. It hurt, and it sucker.

This year, I was able to get the time off. The weathermen promised a full week of sun and warm. I knew one place I wanted to take my curious and busy child: the beach. And quickly, it became Beach Week.

But it also became so much more. Every morning, I packed us up, and we headed out. Every morning, we spent an hour, or a little more, at my favorite local beach. We explored, we adventured. We gathered. wp-1468725160050.jpg

Every day I came home with a few more mementos to tuck inside a small glass jar.

Pieces of the week I got to spend with my son, completely uninterrupted. No interference from work. No commitments. Nothing. Except my son and I.

I can’t fully put into words what this week, and being able to have this week, means to me.

What it means to my mental health. My anxiety. The existing anxiety, and that postpartum anxiety that leaves me with that driving want to put just the two of us in a bubble. That anxiety that makes it hard to even share him with my own family. That same anxiety that has made it sometimes near impossible to make conversations with people I’ve known my entire life. That anxiety, that even 17-months later, I sometimes struggle with.

It’s been especially hard over the past few months, because our coffee shop shut down (read the post about our little shop here). It became a casualty of Small Town USA and road construction. So, as the result, I have lost my one thing I used to decompress from all of the build up of the world outside our door.

Looking at that glass of our collected things on the mantle over the television, it brings me a sense of calm. The week has given me something back that had sort of, lost its way over the past several weeks. It has righted my ship, and has set me on a course of things that can become our new “coffee shop”. My safe place to decompress.

It’s also shown me the importance of making sure I do get my self-care in. For not just the sake of my mental health, but because my son and my family deserve to have the best me that I can be. And I can’t give them that if I’m not making sure that I take care of myself.

Taking the “Bad” out of Bad Yogi.

For the longest time (the span of roughly a decade), I only practiced yoga once a week. Usually Sunday mornings to stretch out all the kinks of the work weeks, the workouts I’d put my body through and just life stressors. It wasn’t until the middle of my second trimester that I began to implement a more regular practice.

But even then, I didn’t identify myself as even a decent yogi. I was kind of like how Alexander’s day went. Terrible, horrible, no good…

But was I really?

I saw all of these great yogis on social media, YouTube, yoga sites, bending and flexing with fluid, hypnotizing movements. My yoga was absolutely nothing like that. My transitions were jumbled sometimes. My movement stuttered and stumbled a bit.

I called myself a “bad yogi”, and it became my identifier. So much so, that once my head latched on to the phrase, it started giving me a pass to not push myself more, or to try harder. My thoughts cluttered around whatever movement I was doing in a flow, and got the best of me. I didn’t focus, my mind never cleared. I never fully let yoga “hug” me.

Then one day, I was on my deck, moving through sun salutations, and tried a pose I had seen on Instagram a few times, and loved. I thought it was beautiful, but no, I could never do that. I’m a bad yogi.

No. I’m just a yogi.

I failed the first attempt, and several attempts after. Bad yogi my ass, I was going to do this. Once I pushed the “I suck at this” out of my head, I was able to focus more clearly on my body, my breathing, my movement.

I removed the negative mindset “bad” was putting in my practice and suddenly, the doors opened.

And I did it.

I executed a beautiful, smooth flow and nailed the pose I wanted to do that day. I have it on my camera, and I’ll probably never delete it. It’s my first, genuine, open hearted, quiet minded flow.

The next day when I practiced, I approached it in the same quiet minded way. And saw the same results in my process.
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I became a BETTER yogi when I left cut ties with the bad.

Suddenly my progress started flowing like water from and opened dam. My balance has improved quicker. Flows that I would avoid because they were just too challenging for my level, no longer seemed impossible. Certain poses that caught my eye before became a part of my daily practice. After months of slow progress with my ustrasana (camel pose), only ever being able to reach my heels with them propped by my flipped feet — I opened my mind, and heart, and found myself being able to bend back with flat feet. Properly doing an unmodified ustrasana. With absolutely zero lean. Proving that my flexibility is coming around. I’ve also found that I am able to bend myself a little tighter. My flows are becoming more and more seamless…

Yes, I still stumble a bit here and there. Lose my footing. Roll off the side of my deck. But I’m not perfect, far from it. I’m also not a bad yogi, I’m just a yogi.

The Heart Doesn’t Quit.

This isn’t a post about being unprepared to do something – which I totally was not prepared to do this race on Saturday. I hadn’t run since March, and only 1.5-mile spits at that. This isn’t a post about motherhood. Or even my total time. Whether I ran it all, or walked some of it. This is a post about overcoming.

For years, my months were filled with doctors appointments, tests and medications. All working tirelessly to make my body function as it should so that we could have children. For years, at the end of every month, the anticipation of “what may be” had me chewing my nails down to my fingers. For years, I watched as friends around me got pregnant and had children. I celebrated with them in genuine joy, because not only did they all deserved to have that, but I was excited for them to start an incredible chapter of their lives. For years, I sought to stay on the positive side of what was a negative, heartbreaking road. I had nights where grief struck, hard, and kept me awake all night. I had days that were, in all honesty, nearly impossible to get through. Because, why couldn’t I have just ONE? I endured years of comments like “Maybe you shouldn’t work out so much”, “Maybe you shouldn’t eat this”, “You’re too skinny”, etc… Which were harder to deal with than the actual infertility itself.

There wasn’t anything I did to cause it. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome with high testosterone levels. My ovaries are cystic, and my body produces so much testosterone, ovulating almost never happens.

After all of those years, in April of 2014, we were given the biggest blow: Even with medical intervention, my odds of getting pregnant were almost non-existent. We were now faced with spending tens of thousands in treatments, trips to the doctor several hours away, for a very, very small chance.

We stepped back to catch our breath before proceeding with whatever decision we made. I steeled myself to the fact that I would probably never, ever get to shower a child of my own with love and affection. I chugged on.wp-1466475524671.jpg

A few months later, in June, I ran one of many 5-kilometer races in my life. Just another day for me, but it was a big thing for my youngest sister. It was her first. I was there to support her, run alongside her and push her to show off all of the hard work she had been doing in the months before. I ran that Summer Solstice race, not even knowing that the next day our lives would change – forever. I didn’t know that this race would become so meaningful for myself. The following day, just before bed, I had a niggling voice in the back of my head that said “Just test, it won’t hurt anything”. With shaking hands and filled with shock, we found out that I was pregnant.

Suddenly, that weekend became one of the most important, powerful and meaningful weekends in my life. In our lives.

The 5k took a special place in me, in my heart. We sat out last year, because at 4-months postpartum, my body (and pelvic floor) just was not ready. But, on Saturday, Moose and I hit the streets for our second Summer Solstice 5k race. While he may have quit on me just past the first mile marker, my legs didn’t. Just like my heart didn’t quit during all of those years.

For the (not so) love of Oatmeal.

One of the things that has happened in my adult life is an interest in trying new foods. I’ve tasted, and fallen in love with foods from all over the world. Some foods, that if you told my 18-year old self a decade and a half ago that I’d enjoy – I’d have laughed at you, then polished off the rest of my large pepperoni and extra cheese pizza.

There are, however, some things that I have tried and just cannot like. I’ve learned a lot about myself and food over these years of food adventures. For example: texture. It actually has come to play a huge role in, of course, the one type of food I just want to like already. Seafood.

It smells amazing. Looks amazing. But I just can’t get past that texture. And it’s horrible. And heartbreaking.

Which brings me to oatmeal.

Like seafood, I continue to try it every now and again. Hoping that something has changed.

…and nope. wp-1460642424421.jpg

After my son was born, I began living off of Jamie Eason’s Turkey Meatloaf muffins. Guess what’s in them? Steel cut oats. There’s a start, I thought to myself as I popped my 100th one in my mouth. (They were super easy to eat with one hand and hold a baby in the other, and momma needs to eat!).

Next came lactation balls to try to keep my supply up while I was nursing him. The recipe a friend gave me had oats in it. Now we’re getting somewhere…

Fast forward to yesterday. I got a few things of the Quaker Instant Oats on sale at one of my local stores about two weeks ago. I figured it was my perfect opportunity to try again.

Made up my oats yesterday around lunch time because I was feeling lazy that morning and instead of prepping something, I just grabbed the package and tossed it into my work tote. While they were “standing for 2-minutes” in scalding hot water, I worked on cleaning up our photo gallery online here at work, letting the smell of maple and brown sugar fill my nose.

Damn, these better taste as good as they smell!

After a few minutes, I dug in. Then promptly resisted the urge to spit them right back out.

The oats were sweet, and partly tasted delicious (does that many any sense at all? It did in my head…), but I just couldn’t. I managed to gag down about 2/3 of the cup before tossing it. And it lingered with me the rest of the day. Every time I even thought about them, or when I was recalling the “incident” to my husband later that day, gag. Legitimate gagging.

But, a sucker for punishment, I’m not ready to give up yet. Even if I have to hunt down a unicorn and steal it’s sparkle to sprinkle over the top, I’ll do it. (Same with seafood).

What is YOUR favorite way to have your oatmeal?

No more apologies. I am officially UNapologetic.

“I’m not flashy with my body in public.”

This was a text response I sent to my husband after he sent one to me telling me that I should get a string bikini this summer for the beach, after I daringly sent him a collage of dressing room photos to get his input on cut and color for new suit bottoms.

After getting his response, I raised an eyebrow and ran through my head the series of jumping jacks, running in place, miming dive bombs and whatnot that I had just performed in the tiny, cramped dressing room – for each suit bottom I tried on. My mission of the day was to finally find the bottom half to a swim suit in which I could chase after an active 15-18 month old this summer and not have to worry about my butt cheeks eating the suit bottom, the suit bottom coming untied… and avoid as much as possible: judging stares, which was the driving factor in my response to him. And tends to be the driving factor in a lot of my presentation of myself in public. Anything to avoid those stares, the glances, the hushed (but audible) passive aggressive remarks…

I could sit here and type out every single time instance in my life that makes me hesitant to send even my very own husband, a photo of me just simply dressed in a swim suit. I struggle to do so with shirts, pants, anything. But that’d take days, I’m sure WordPress has a word count limit, this isn’t a pity party for me, and there is always going to be someone out there reading this, judging me because in their eyes: I have no right to “whine”. About anything.

Remember, no one’s life is perfect. Just because you perceive mine to be…

But this is where it all stops. This is where I stop apologizing.

I am not sorry.

wp-1459799895429.jpgI posted this picture on Instagram the other day as part of a yoga challenge. I had just gotten home from a run, and I’m one of those who gets extremely warm when I run. The second I stop, get to that end line… If I could strip naked? I totally would. I’d strip naked and jump in a giant bucket of ice cubes. My brain goes into slight panic mode if I can’t cool myself down in what it deems as a quick enough time. This day, was no different. I got to my front deck and started peeling my layers off and stretching out from what was a tough run physically and mentally for me.

I remembered the challenge started that day, propped my camera up, and let it roll while I was going through my stretches, and eventually incorporating that day’s pose. Not even thinking, I took my screen shot, used the black and white filter because it looked, well, really cool that way, and posted it. Then I walked away from my phone for a bit, enjoyed time with my son, picked up the house, made dinner. Totally spacing out about it.

Later, when I picked my phone back up, I had likes, a few comments, and some private messages. Two in particular, were in relation to the post earlier. I was being unfollowed. Why? These particular followers wanted to let me know that they were decided in that I “was no longer an inspiration to them” because I posted a pose in my sports bra and workout pants. I was now, in their mind’s eye, just like every other “yoga person that does yoga in their underwear”. I was no longer “one of them”.

It’s particularly fascinating to me that I garnered this kind of response, when just weeks before, I had received messages saying that I should do yoga IN my underwear, because it was sexier.

Let’s go over this: I don’t want to be sexier. Especially to the general public. I also do a lot of yoga with my 13-month old son, so I will be doing my yoga clothed thankyouverymuch. And lastly, I am sincerely disappointed that in just one post, I lost followers because I was seen as no longer relatable.

I saw the picture as me stepping out of my comfort zone a bit, because you could see my back. Which is considerably more skin that I show, ever. Typically I’m in my workout clothes, my pajamas, or even my clothes from the day (I still can’t figure out how I can nail crow in a pair of skinny jeans, but can’t in a pair of workout shorts….). I saw the picture, and see my muscles. The work I’ve put in with weights this past year. I see my inner strength as I stand tall and proud, having overcome SO much in my life, having risen above hard times, an abusive relationship, made it through deaths of loved ones and friends. That photo, putting truth the the “a photo is worth 1,000 words”, is so much more than tree pose for a yoga challenge on social media.

I started to type out that I was sorry… then stopped myself. I have always apologized. For who I am. For what I look like. For anything. No. More.

This is where leading by example for my son takes priority over everything. I don’t want him to be forced to apologize for maybe being tall. Or being strong. Or being fast. Just being anything either because genetics, in someone’s eyes, favored him, or because he put in hard work. I don’t want him to feel that he has to apologize for living his dream, or for even reaching for it to begin with.

So, I am not sorry you don’t like that I don’t do upward facing dog in my underwear. I am not sorry that I may occasionally do yoga in my sports bra and workout pants. I am not sorry that this summer I may even really step out of my comfort zone and post a yoga photo in my bathing suit. I am not sorry I am me. I am not going to come up with reasons, or make excuses. Not anymore.

And neither should you.

(Unless you’re doing something legitimately wrong, that is. But never apologize for what you look like or who you are.)

Motherhood and the Coffee Shop.

I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. Motherhood.

A little over one year into motherhood, and I’ve faced many challenges. Internally. Externally. With him. With myself. Things and people around me.

I’m the mother I always knew I would be, and it has been fascinating to see how who he is has let me be that for him. How this picture of how I am with him, who I am for him, what I represent hasn’t changed from the day I realized I wanted to be a mom.

I’m tapping this out, on my phone, from the floor of his bedroom. A rare moment, him waking in the middle of the night. My presence nearby gives him the comfort he needs to drift back to sleep. When that happens, I’ll save this to draft and wait until the next moment comes and I can continue.

Those moments are very few and far between. And that’s okay. My days are filled with laughter, fun and curiosity. When I’m not at work, I have a small audience of one (well, two if you count my dog). Everything I do is being watched. Because of that, I’ve made sure to lead by example.

But that can be a slippery slope. I want my son to see me as a strong mother, woman, human being, that can handle whatever comes her way. I want to shield him from the tears that escape in the dark. The moments of doubt. The moments of loneliness. Heartbreak.

I need to let him know, by showing him, that’s it’s okay to reveal those vulnerable moments. They are what makes us human. We can’t be strong all of the time. Despite our valiant efforts to try.

Tomorrow, when he wakes, we’ll slip downstairs and snuggle on the couch. We’ll watch a favorite cartoon or two before starting our day with breakfast and some playtime. If it’s nice out, we’ll maybe walk down to our favorite coffee shop, where we’ll sit on the sofa in the window, watch traffic and I’ll inevitably answer 1,000 “wassat?”s. It’s a big change from nearly a year ago when I’d sit in the same coffee shop with him sleeping against my chest in his carrier or tucked snuggly inside his stroller.1456526103304.jpg

The little shop has become our “thing”. A place where we can go, easily, that gets us out of the house and gives us time together. Just the two of us. And that time is ours alone. Almost like our little secret.

The coffee shop has become a place where I go to decompress. To sneak away from all of the demands around me. The demands that I be and do everything I did before becoming a mother. The demands of being a mother.

The demands of doing it all.

Not even Wonder Woman could do it all.

Why am I expected to?

I always leave the coffee shop, my little sweetheart in tow, feeling refreshed and ready. My mind is sorted. My shoulders feel a little lighter.

We always walk down to the harbor, where I say goodbye to any lingering stressors, then we head home. Taking our time to get there.

Because home is the place of piles of laundry that need to be folded. Toys need to find their homes. Dog hair tumbleweeds roll across the floor when the hot air heat kicks on, because I haven’t had a spare moment yet to vacuum. Cluttered tabletops and counters. Floors that have to be mopped, not just vacuumed. Where the shower is in need of scrubbing. Soon, I’ll be able to add the gardens to my list. Other outside tasks, like the someday vegetable garden so that we can be a little more self-sufficient.

A million things that loom just over my shoulder.

But while we’re at the coffee shop, or walking around our little sea captains village, are all tucked in the depths of the mind.

Tasty Thursday: Spinach Ricotta Cheesy Chicken.

(Let it be noted that that’s probably not the name of this recipe. It came nameless, and it’s the best description of what I made and am passing along the recipe for…)

I have an aunt that’s really good at doing one thing with her Facebook… And that’s making me feel like I’m dying a slow, painful death from starvation.

She’s the queen food and recipe poster. It’s not just one or two things she posts that looks delicious and I feel I HAVE to eat, it’s all of them. Literally, all of them. Even the seafood ones. And I still, in my early 30s cannot do the texture of seafood. But, I’m willing to try for the sake of eating some of these dishes.

The other day, she posted one of those quick-flashing video recipes that had spinach, ricotta, chicken, cheese and paprika… It looked quick and simple to prep, and delicious to eat.

I learned pretty quickly last night that it was either REALLY small chicken boobies used, or they really skimped on the spinach and ricotta.

The recipe:photogrid_1456365128821.jpg

  • 1/3 cup spinach
  • 1/3 cup ricotta
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • A dash of salt
  • A dash of pepper
  • A sprinkle of paprika
  • 1 tbs olive oil

How to cook it all:

Pre-heat your oven to 400-degrees fahrenheit (about 200-degree celsius). Cook down the spinach in a small skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add in ricotta and mix well. Take the chicken breast and spacing each cut about 1-inch apart, slice “valleys”. DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Stuff in the spinach and ricotta. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Now, if you’re like me with cheese (very generous), I suggest putting the breasts in the pan (glass is best) first. THEN cover with cheese and sprinkle on the paprika. Bake in the oven for about 30-minutes.

What happened with mine:

For starters, I had to double the spinach and ricotta. So I used about 2/3-cup for each instead. Second, my boobies were about a half-pound each, so that made me need to adjust my cooking time to 45-minutes instead of 30. And I used fiesta blend instead of cheddar for more “oomph” in taste.

And taste it had. It was quick to prep, easy to cook, and even easier to clean up. In my household, anything that’s a win-win-win like that AND tasty to boot? Gets a repeat serving, without question. But maybe next time I’ll use pepper jack instead, give it some more zing instead of oomph…

 

Supplement education – family style.

Last night, in the middle of our first significant snowfall of the season (which feels weird to say that, given where we live… but a different story for another day), my son, while splashing around in the bathtub, sending Ducky sailing through the air to plop messily in the bubbly water, points to my phone perched on the bathroom sink and questions: “Zat?”

“I’m not sure who that one is buddy,” I reply. And I’m serious in my answer. Despite listening in on several conference calls over the past two months, I still cannot tell the difference between the voices I hear on the calls.

Back to kicking and splashing he goes, and back to tidying the bathroom up I go as I listen in on the recording of the missed call.

“Zat?” He asks again, pointing. Someone on the call has chimed in with a question. He listens for a moment, a thoughtful expression on his face. He says something in his curious baby language and go back to playing, again.

The conference call recordings have become a regular part of our household. Either playing while I’m making dinner, during bath time, folding laundry and even while I’m working out. Such is the life of a busy, working parent. I have only ever caught one live, during a rare afternoon when my day job was slow. But the rest have all been played either later that evening, or over the weekend while doing house chores.

The voices in the phone or coming from my iPad or computer have become sort of an integral part of our household.

Little did 1st Phorm supplements know, back in December when I was welcomed into their “phamily” as a Legionnaire, they were also being welcomed into ours.

Over the span of the calls, I’ve gained a knowledge about supplements I wish I’d had back in the initial forming of my fitness journey. The days when I’d stand in our local GNC, staring down the shelves of proteins, vitamins and the likes, trying to figure out which one had the most servings for the cheapest price.

Back when I thought protein was just… protein. That those shysters who charged $50 for a pound of protein were running a racket and getting rich quick. While there may be some truth to that, the past two months have been a huge eye opener for me.

It’s not only changed the way that I’m looking at my own supplement use, but how I talk to my clients about theirs.

It’s something that was never discussed in my nutrition classes in college. Well, it was, but in summarization. Like, a blip on the radar. Now that I know why that protein in the two-pound tub was only $19.99, I want to go back and kick myself in the shins.

In the two months I’ve been under some serious supplement education, and using the 1st Phorm supplements myself (protein and vitamins), I can say one thing: I will never use other again.

The bloat I felt after drinking my post workout drink is a thing of the past. They sit better with my body. My body digests them better. My body is certainly happier that I made the switch, that’s for sure. Not to mention, my training results have taken a completely different, and much better turn (that’s honest truth right there, that’s not me trying to get you to buy into it. I didn’t think this was a thing, but I’m finding out that it is – and I’m angry with myself for being fooled and not knowing that there was a difference).

What’s the difference? Is it worth the price? Hands down it’s worth the price, and the difference is easy – more bang inside that tub of powder.

The easiest way to explain it is with chicken. Chuck a piece of chicken breast on the grill, move that thermostat up to the highest temp setting and cook it. It’s gonna cook quick, it’s going to shrink up, dry out and probably char. Do you think that piece of chicken is going to hold any nutritional value for you? Maybe just a little.

Now, take a piece of chicken breast and toss it in your slow cooker. Set it to low and let it cook for awhile. Sure, it’ll take longer, but when it’s done, you’ve got a nice, juicy piece of chicken to enjoy. It’ll be packed with all the nutrient greatness that we know chicken to have.

It’s the same way with protein. 1st Phorm is low temperature processed, never exposed to high temps during the process. What does that mean? It means that you’re going to get the max integrity of the bio-active protein fractions – further meaning: your body is going to be able to utilize the highest amounts of protein possible. Which will help you repair your muscle, and develop lean muscle tissue.

Break it down in fitness speak: less suffering of the dreaded DOMS and more gains. Bro.

Since making the switch, gone are the super tight and sore muscles the day after. I get some soreness, I won’t lie. But I no longer feel like I have to hug the elevator walls the day after leg day.

Fueling your body properly, and with the proper tools is essential. Not just for someone like me who has powerlifting meets quickly approaching and needs to really buckle down, but for someone looking to lose weight, or just live healthier (supplements aren’t just for people who workout! #breakingnews?) Sometimes we just can’t eat all of our macronutrients our body needs (I’m not the only one with an insanely busy schedule who may need to reach for the shaker and drink their nutrients in a shake/smoothie), and that’s where these supplements come into play. To fill in the gaps where/when needed.

Most of us can gather an idea of sort of what we need, but we don’t really know exactly what we need in order to best succeed. Break that plateau.

It wasn’t until just a few months ago that I even really knew the answers. As a trainer and nutritionist, that hurt my pride that I couldn’t answer that. But now I can. I can help my clients that I have now, I can help people who may shoot me a message over social media after seeing one of my training posts. I can help new clients coming in. I can help you.

Let that change for a better you, get that progress going again, today. Seriously.

 

Program changing. Need to stay focused because: Shoulders.

I’ve always enjoyed dabbling in other programs. Ones either created by a trainer friend of mine who lives in my town, or some of the fit pros I follow on social media. But, pre-baby, even during my pregnancy, I loved most the programs that I created for myself.

Because I can write a mean program. Both literally and figuratively.

However, I’ve found myself a little lost since having the baby and getting back on track with working out. For my first stretch, I kind of wandered. Easing back into everything. Then I jumped in with both feet to Jessie Hilgenberg’s Home Edition when it was released back in June-ish. It helped me out of my funk. I found myself on solid ground again — for myself (at this point I was still writing up programs for clients, easy peasy).

When I ended the Home Edition, I set to work on a strength program. Set up my splits, and merrily went on my way…

At week 10 of 12… I faltered.

Switched things up.

Two weeks in, it happened again.

What’s going on?

I’ve admitted before, I get a little ADD with my workouts. I loose focus on some, and mostly that is because throughout that program, I’ve found errors or things that just didn’t jive with my body. Things that didn’t blend with my body and how it works muscles, creates muscles, and functions day-to-day. Certain workout types just don’t work for certain people, and it takes a little bit of time to realize that.

It’s why, when I give a program to a client, I always tell them to not be surprised if we have to tweak it some as we go. We have to find the right tools to put on the workbench to get us the final build product we’re looking for.

In my situation, I’m learning what worked for me before: doesn’t work for me now.

Between how my body has changed after having a baby, and muscle maturity starting to set in, my body is building muscle in a different manner and at a different rate than before.

But my shoulders…

If you’ve been with me awhile, you know those suckers and I just don’t get along.

Splits and I are still best pals. My lower body is still my most responsive, so obviously I don’t want to train it more than once a week. My back and chest are still on par, so those are only a once-a-week. My arms have become a once-a-week. The muscles are responding on a faster track than they did pre-baby.

But my shoulders…

Still a twice-a-week there. BUT – there IS hope.

Tying my hair up in the mirror before brushing my teeth the other day, I saw shoulders. Wait. When did those get there?

I’m four weeks into my hodge-podge of a program, where I’ve given Samantha Leete’s shoulder workout from BB.com a go.

On shoulder day one, I’m hitting the workout as written. On shoulder day two, I’ve been dropping the third exercise in each triset and making it a superset, then adding in a little shoulder burner I saw once on Sarah Bowmar’s Instagram.

And it’s proving to work quite nicely, because, shoulders. Barely a month in, and I’m seeing progress already. So, yes, shoulders. Can you tell I’m excited?

What’s even more great about it (and just focusing on splits all around) is the time. It takes me less than an hour to hit both variations of the workout. Which means: it’s easy enough for me to squeeze it in either during the early evening nap-time, or even some days before I leave for work.

Here’s what the layout is (detailed instructions for reps and sets, plus a demo on each can be found here):

  • Machine Reverse Fly
  • Upright Row
  • Handstand Push-up
  • Face Pull
  • Lateral Raise
  • Walking Plank
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Dumbbell Front Raise
  • Shoulder Tap

The second run of the workout for the week, I’ll drop the Handstand Push-Up, Walking Plank and the Shoulder Tap and perform what’s left of the trisets as supersets. Resting about 45-seconds between each round. At the end I’ll do this little gem:

  • Front raise sweeping right out to a lateral raise, sweeping to a front, then overhead raise. From the overhead raise, the arms come straight out and down behind the back. Bringing the arms up, turn your hands facing you (this is important in preventing injury), and in a sort of dragging motion, bring the arms down the front and repeat. Do until failure.

The key with the burner is to grab a lighter weight. One even lighter than you’d think to grab. Trust me on this one. You’ll be able to do a few extra, but you won’t hurt yourself doing it. (The IG video can be found here).

So, if you’re like me and lacking in the shoulder department, give this a go and see what it does for you. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t give those shoulders a little growing boost, because the key thing to remember is: It may not work for you just because it does someone else. Although, it’s always worth a shot. Every exercise is when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it. Because, if you don’t try it, you won’t find what does work for you!

Meatless Monday: Gnocchi aioli.

When I’m in the heat of playoffs at work, life can get a bit insane. It’s often during that time, I’m either leaning heavily on the use of the crockpot, or I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive about food prep on Sundays. If I even have Sundays for food prep. Sometimes, when we have a record number of teams getting sent off to playoffs, and continuously advancing, I don’t even get Sundays. Which is what I just recently learned.

So… When that happens, I pull out my go-tos for speedy-fast meals that take less than 25-minutes.

My husband was quite funny the first time I slipped aioli in something I cooked for us. If I remember correctly (I was very pregnant at the time, so my memory is a bit, spotty, to say the least), it was toasted roast beef and cheese sandwiches. Instead of mayo on his, I put a little bit of the peppercorn and chive aioli I had bought earlier that day into it.

Needless to say, I’ve concluded he has absolutely no taste buds. It wasn’t until I asked him if he’d noticed anything different about his sandwich, that he had realized his “mayo” had a bit of zip to it.

For those that have never had aioli, it’s essentially just a fancy mayonnaise. No, I don’t make my own. I’ve got a few recipes that I’d love to try, one from Bon Appetit, that sounds perfect for Spanish food, another from Taste of Home that could be perfect with Italian. The ingredients are pretty basic: usually garlic, always egg; sometimes mustard, always olive and veggie oil. A lot call for lemon juice. And you can add things here and there to tailor it to your desires. The one that I used in today’s Meatless Monday recipe has chives and peppercorn in it. It’s a good anytime aioli.

Without further ado… My Gnocchi Peppercorn & Chive Aioli contribution to MM…

wpid-1447076660203.jpgWhat you’ll need:

  • 1 package of potato gnocchi
  • 2 handfuls of chopped baby spinach
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2tbs of peppercorn and chive aioli

Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. While gnocchi is cooking, in a medium frying pan, add tomatoes, onion and peppers. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add cooked gnocchi, chopped spinach and peppercorn and chive aioli. Mix well. Cook on medium-low for 5-8 minutes. Serve.

*Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over for added yumminess.