Thursday, July 20, 2017

Upper Body HIIT Workout (1)

Today I'm sharing an upper body HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout, plus a little cardio. Basically I'll be blogging workouts as I do them,and provide you with little video clips that will hopefully help you to understand how to do the exercises included in each workout- kind of like a workout guide! I find so many people ask me WHAT to do at home. I am bored by videos and turned to running because I didn't have to think too much- I knew I would get a workout in regardless But strength training is a vital part of fitness, whether you want to stay injury free or improve your physique. Eventually I hope to compile these posts and make them into a resource, but that will take some time. So here's what was on tap today:

Movement 1: Plank Dumbbell Rows- 3 sets of 5 for each arm. Rotate arms.
Movement 2: Dumbbell Snatch- 3 sets of 10 for each arm.
Movement 3: Bench press (may use dumbbells)- 4 sets of 5 reps each.
Finish with 2 moderately easy miles.

Movement 1: Plank Dumbbell Rows- 3 sets of 5 for each arm. Rotate arms.



Movement 2: Dumbbell Snatch- 3 sets of 10 for each arm.



Movement 3: Bench press (may use dumbbells)- 4 sets of 5 reps each.

Finish with 2 moderately easy miles. Whether you need to walk, jog, or can run just make sure you're pushing yourself. 



Monday, February 27, 2017

making your time work for you

Raising four young kids is a full time job for me right now. I had aspirations of working before baby number four was born, but now I see that's just not going to happen for me at the moment. Life is completely full and my attention spread about as thin as possible. Here's how I fit everything in.

morning:

Our day begins around 6:30 when the kids start waking up. I get up slowly as I listen to the kids start to get restless on the couch with Netflix playing. Once I know I have to get up (around 7) my first priority is coffee. One of my rules for the kids is no one has breakfast until Mommy gets coffee. I typically scroll social media for five minutes while I drink coffee and nurse the baby, catching up on events that happened while I was sleeping. I consider this time important because it keeps me connected. When you don't work outside the home social media can be a real life saver, connecting you to the outside world. After my coffee is gone and the baby is changed and fed, I make the kids a decent breakfast. I usually accommodate what they want- eggs, bagel, toast, fruit etc because I can. Sometimes Micah whines in his bassinet while I make breakfast because I had to put him down, and I don't feel guilty about that. It takes me ten minutes tops and using the sling while I do chores when he's this little is just a pain. Not worth it. After that I have the kids play for a while until it's time to get dressed for school. They dress themselves, I take care of their hair and make sure teeth are brushed and shoes are on the right feet. They're out the door by 8:30. Once everyone is at school, I just have the 3 year old and baby at home. If we're staying in (which I have to at least three days per week in order to get everything accomplished) I'll start a load of laundry. I fold and put away laundry twice a week, usually Monday and Friday, I make sure the kitchen is clean and the dining room table is wiped down as I start my day. I usually follow a daily cleaning schedule- vacuum one day, bathroom another day, mop a different day, sheets, etc. This would also be the time where I throw a bunch of food in the oven to cook all at once, or chop vegetables and fruit to have handy for the week.




afternoon:

Decluttering is a way of life for us. I can't afford to keep things floating around. If there's an extra sock I can't find the match to it gets thrown out. If there's a McDonalds toy no ones played with for a while, it will be donated or thrown out. I am ruthless about streamlining which means we don't keep every card that our kids are mailed and we don't keep school papers unless they're EXTRA special. Sorry kids! I try to be as low key as possible so they don't notice and they rarely do. A good chunk of my day is spent keeping things streamlined. Organization is important to me, so if it doesn't have a place its not going to stay around long. Another big question I get asked is about toys. My kids toys are kept generally organized. That means that they have bins where their toys go and they're easy to clean up. There aren't a million places where things have to be specifically placed, but all the girl's toys are put together in one big bin in their room that easily slides under the bed. I make it simple so that a four year old can clean up easily and not get stressed. I don't want to look at toys all over my house so they are VERY contained and I work hard so that they don't get out everything at once. Play in one area, then clean it up if you'd like to do something else. This has taken effort but for our sanity I feel it's worth it. During nap time (or if the kids are older, room time) I can either eat my lunch or if I've already eaten I can sneak in a workout. I can do a HIIT workout, run some miles on the treadmill, etc. To be honest it is very rare to find me on the couch during the day. Of course I have days like that (who doesn't) but in order for our family to be happy and healthy that really isn't an option. There isn't time. My time can be better spent organizing something while I have a TV show playing on the tablet, running while I'm watching my latest series, or folding laundry in the living room with my show on. That's my TV time... usually only happens when I am doing something else while it's on.






evening:

Once everyone is home from school I let them have an after school snack and we go through backpacks, sorting things out and figuring out what homework needs to be done and papers need to be signed. I keep a handwritten planner because that helps me with appointments and deadlines. If Andrew is home early after work, I will get an outdoor run in. Dinner for the kids is around 5:30, and we are rarely able to eat with the kids. In fact some nights I don't even let the kids eat together, I stagger their meal times because the fighting and noise gets to be too much. Not worth it during this season of life. Since I meal prep I can get their dinners together in about 10 minutes, then it's bath time. The girls are bathed together and then Isaiah afterwards. Baths, maybe a family game or books, bed time snack, teeth brushed, and in bed by 7. They're allowed to watch YouTube in bed with their tablets for a half hour and during that time Andrew and I eat. Again, I meal prep so we rarely eat the same thing. We have a glass of wine and catch up on our days since it's pointless to try to talk until then, and get things together for the morning. I'm nursing the baby and asleep usually by 8:30 because he's up all night and sleep is precious. Then we do it all over again.






So that's how we do it. I can honestly say we've settled into a routine and it's taken time to find what works for our family. This keeps everyone happy and generally healthy. I take time to do things for myself that keep my tank full so that I am able to give as much as possible to my family. It's not selfish to take care of yourself. Check in to make sure you're happy because that's one of the most important things for our children to see.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why You Shouldn't 'Support' Breastfeeding

Here's why: breastfeeding isn't an issue to either "support" or "not support." It's a way of feeding a little human being, not a political stance. There's nothing political about nursing a child. I hear people say things like, "I don't mind if you do it, I just want you to cover up and I don't want you to do it in front of me." I actually feel the same way about the top you're wearing, with your chest exposed for  my young ones to see. Or about the Victoria's Secret ads in the mall. If it bothers you, then don't watch. You can look away just like I can look away from advertisements. I'm sick of everywhere I look, seeing a woman's body be hyper-sexualized and when it's used as it was intended the general public gets all upset.

So no- I don't want you to support my decision to breastfeed. I don't need support. I need it to be normal and not a controversy. I'm not nursing in public to make you angry or to be dramatic or get attention. I'm nursing in public because my baby's hungry and I'm sick of hiding in the bathroom to feed my son his breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm sick of standing up in disgusting smelly department store restrooms with a two year old hanging on one leg and my newborn baby in my arms, trying to nurse.

As far as covering up, I do, in public. You might try to use a religious argument about women not needing to unnecessarily expose themselves and "tempt" (???) men, so to prevent that conversation I do cover my baby. But I will say this: she shouldn't have to eat underneath of a hot blanket, especially in the summer. Try drinking milk in 90 degree heat while covered up. And any skin you could see while I nurse is nothing compared to what you see in a woman walking down the street wearing a low cut top. Just look at these vintage photos (below) of breastfeeding mothers in recent history. And notice how surprisingly *not* scandalous they are. I hope that by the time my daughters have children this won't be an issue- but until then...


She's having a conversation with a man who may or may not be her husband while nursing. Seems to me that he's looking at her face.


Precious moments with baby, 
and how special it would be to have a shot like this of my kids and I.



Everyone's smiling- breastfeeding isn't as horrifically painful as they say!





Images via http://www.buzzfeed.com/southerndisposition/25-historical-images-that-normalize-breastfeeding-jlw6?sub=2969934_2378656

Monday, June 13, 2016

the best way to start a day

Confession: this post is 110% for me- but I hope it can be useful for others, too! Sometimes I find myself getting stuck in a rut in the morning. The kids play or watch a show and I have my coffee and just kind of sit there, wandering aimlessly on social media or in a half-sleep kind of state on the couch for 45 minutes. But what if I had goals in the morning? Would my day run more smoothly? Would I be happier, healthier, and more productive? I bet you can guess the answer. I narrowed down a list of seven things to do within the first hour of waking up for a better day.

1. Drink something. Coffee, tea, or just a big glass of water. Wake yourself up and hydrate from a night of sleep (or lack thereof). Take fifteen minutes and check Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, texts, email-- whatever it is you use to connect with the world.

2. Make your bed. Sounds weird, but when I make my bed my day is almost guaranteed to go better and be more productive.

3. Start a load of laundry. If you're all caught up, tackle that one thing you've been avoiding. Maybe a pile of clothes on the dresser or an overstuffed drawer. Just find something to accomplish.

4. Make breakfast... not just for the kids! If I eat in the morning with the kids I'm 120% less likely to be grumpy and lose my patience with them. Maybe its an egg, maybe its oatmeal, maybe its a shake. But if you start off with a little protein you'll have the energy to tackle the rest of this list ;) Breakfast tends to be the biggest indicator of how my day is going to go, so often I use Instagram as an accountability tool to document and make sure I'm getting off to a good start. I aim to eat (and feed my family) something whole grain, something fruit, some vegetable, and some form of protein. Of course there are those frozen waffle or cereal days but having the goal of a balances meal sets you up for a greater chance of success.

5. Read a morning devotional. If I were to just open my bible and start reading, I might not know where to begin. This is where devotionals come in. A one page passage reading to center your mind and heart on truth can give you something to meditate on all day. Something positive, something encouraging, something to help you look both inside and outside of yourself. For me this is invaluable. Do it over breakfast!

6. Schedule a workout. Plan out when your going to get some exercise- a walk, a run, some weightlifting. Whatever it is you do, commit now to a time to do it. Endorphins are real. your confidence will get a HUGE boost. You'll feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

7. Get dressed! Again, everyone! Not just your kids. Even if its just another pair of yoga pants, change and start a fresh beginning for the day. Take a five minute shower. Put on a little make up. Comb your hair. You've got this, Momma!


Sunday, May 22, 2016

How to be steady, even when life happens.

My friends and I have a thing we say, "This is Life." I'm not trying to take 100% credit but I think I started it. Somebody has a situation at work, their four year old won't potty train, they go through a divorce, their baby gets sick. I've seen all of the above in the last few years. And every time, again, somebody says it "Wow, this is hard but... this is life." And everyone just has to nod in agreement, no matter how painful the situation is. Life happened. A bad and hurtful thing happened. We prayed, hoped, and believed but then the bad thing happened. Somehow it's strangely comforting to know 'life happens' to all of us. God isn't punishing us or teaching us a lesson. It's a universal truth... Just show me one person who has everything fall into place 100% of the time. Even Jesus said it!- "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Maybe our trouble isn't being martyred for our faith at the moment-- and it's important to keep the perspective that there are people around the world with bigger problems than we have-- BUT things can feel pretty hard at times. My goal in the midst of my life as it happens is to be faithful... to be still and steady. To believe Jesus when he said "Take heart! I have overcome the world!" and to grow even closer to Him than before.
When I was in college I thought it would be wise and fun to go into a strangers basement and allow him to tattoo my upper rib-cage. For some reason I chose Psalm 46:10- "Be still and know that I am God." I had no idea how meaningful it would be for me. In the past my personality has been one that wants to have some form of control over everything around me- my environment, relationships, appearance, etc. One day I woke up and realized I was going to drive myself crazy. Life happens, and you have no control over that...in this world people hurt one another. In my most anxiety ridden moments I would try to talk and figure things out, manipulate and control my situations. Tears, silence and hysterics often ensued and they were my tools of the trade. Now I know none of that leads to a healthy place. My kids will misbehave, I have disagreements with my husband, and friends and I go through a misunderstandings. I have zero control over what others do, but what I can control is how I respond. When things go badly, as they do, God has been teaching me to be still... to know that he is God and he is safe, no matter what our circumstances look like around us. People fail us, we lose jobs, and everyone dies some day. BUT I know this- I don't have to be shaken by it. God has given me the ability to be still... not to panic or to become hysterical... but essentially to be an adult and one of the 7.2 billion people who will experience difficulty- and to come through still loving God and still loving the people around me. I can be happy in the midst of hard things, because I know He loves me and the plans He has for me are good. In this world I will have trouble, but I know I have the ability to take heart, to stand up and face tomorrow with a smile. I can be still when a storm is going on around me because even the wind and the waves obey Him (Mark 4:41).
Once when I was in the middle of a somewhat serious conflict, someone smiled and said to me "Jessica, this is not all a terrible disaster. This is life, honey, and you are going to make it and be just fine." Yes, it's a battle we're in and definitely a fight at times, but we are able to handle any situation we find ourselves in because God's ultimate plan is bigger than any of the struggles we'll face on this side of eternity. I thank Him for the supportive people around me- my husband and friends and family- and the encouragement they have provided throughout the ups and downs. We can hold on to truth and finish well, not avoiding pain but allowing it to teach us and push us closer to God.
This is life, and I'm determined to live mine with joy and peace, no matter my circumstance. Who's with me?

Encouraging Verses for Difficult Times:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

"He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Banana Bread Power Pancakes!

For a change of pace on the weekend (or if you're feeling super peppy on a weekday morning) these power pancakes will be a hit. I double the recipe and put the leftovers in the fridge to serve a second morning. Here's what you'll need:

1 cup whole wheat (or white) flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (or more, if you like)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbs Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
1 packet of oatmeal, prepared (or one cup, cooked)
1 banana, sliced

plus: whatever mix-ins you like! I added 1 tbs chia seeds, 2 tbs shredded coconut, 1/3 cup chopped pecans.

Mix the dry ingredients first then add the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Heat a skillet to just under medium heat and spray with cooking spray or grease with butter. I used some coconut oil spray I got from Aldi (exciting new product alert!!!). Pour a half cup of batter in a pancake shape. Put four banana slices on top and flip, waiting until the edges start to brown slightly. I topped ours with a few mini chocolate chips and extra banana slices and the kids were crazy about them! 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What you REALLY need for your new baby- my comprehensive list.

Trust me when I say I've learned the hard way that one high quality baby purchase is better than buying ten cheap products that are going to fall apart. This applies to bottles, pacifiers, clothes, and gear. After having three kids, I really am starting from scratch for most of my baby things. Thankfully I have found that there really isn't all that much that I need! Here's what I recommend having:

1. A great stroller
2. A high quality white noise machine
3. Ten really adorable non-white outfits
4. Ten long sleeve and ten short sleeve white onesies
5. Receiving blankets
6. The Rock n Play Sleeper
7. Diapers
8. A Pack n Play
9. A crib
10. A baby carrier


1. A great stroller. Sure Graco makes decent strollers, and that's what we registered for, but in the end you're going to wish you had chosen something a little nicer. My recommendation is find something high quality second hand (gently used) from Craig's List if it isn't in your budget. If this is your second baby maybe invest in a double stroller.

If I could choose a new stroller that fit my budget- here's what I'd pick. And it's on sale! Britax is probably my favorite car seat brand and this stroller gets great reviews.


2. A high quality white noise machine. We've been using these with all of our kids and it makes a huge difference in their sleep. You don't need to tip toe around the house after bedtime, and if one of your other children wakes up the baby is less likely to hear. All of my kids sleep with white noise... they might be fifteen years old before I wean them off. Disclaimer- since you use these for about 14 hours a day, they aren't going to last forever. Either buy the $100 model or be prepared to replace them yearly.

Here's the one we have. $24.95 on Amazon.


3. Ten really adorable non-white outfits. I say non-white because your baby is going to vomit and poop all over them. Just being real. Let this be your warning. Choose something you can wash and that your baby won't ruin in one wear. I recommend picking several high quality outfits that you really love- maybe its Baby Gap or Janie & Jack. YOU pick them, not Great Aunt Mildred. Stay away from Target, Walmart, or discount brands. I found myself dressing my babies in my five favorite outfits constantly, while much of the rest of their wardrobe went unworn simply because I didn't like it.

4. Ten long sleeve and ten short sleeve white onesies. This is important. Have these stocked and ready to go, you'll go through them like crazy. Like I said, poop, vomit and drool are going to take their toll. Be prepared!

$10 for five on Amazon. Gerber is the way to go.




5. Skip burp cloths, go straight for receiving blankets. I know this sounds kind of crazy... in the beginning I really don't think you need them. Go straight for some great, generously sized receiving blankets in prints you really love. They double as burp cloths, swaddles, blankets, nursing covers, instant changing tables, and play mats.

Well these are cute.



6. The Rock n Play Sleeper. This is a MUST HAVE! The first three months I tend to sleep on the couch in the living room with our babies, because I feed them on demand through the night. So if they're crying, I'm pulling them onto the couch nursing them. This is just what works for us... Andrew doesn't wake up, the kids are less likely to hear, and I can put on Netflix to keep myself awake. (Memorable series I've watched with newborns have been Parks and Rec (complete series), Heartland (complete series) and Hart of Dixie (embarrassingly, complete series, ugh). Anyway- I set up the Rock n Play next to the couch, and grab the baby as needed to nurse. Then they get swaddled as tightly as possible and put back in the Rock n Play after nursing.

Here's one from Target, $53. 


7. Diapers. Um...duh. I did cloth diapers for a while but after two kids couldn't keep up with it. Pampers Swaddlers are what they give you in the hospital for your newborn and you will never forget the smell. Every time I have a newborn it brings back so many memories. So stock up on those, I think they make them up to size two. It pays to have a high quality diaper at first, but after their poop is more solid (6 months-ish) there is no reason that child shouldn't be in Target/Wal-Mart brand unless you're Jessica Alba. Babies r Us diapers are terrible, FYI. So skip those.

Available everywhere, but here's the link to Target.

8. A Pack n Play. If you go on vacation or leave your house overnight, these are useful. Graco brand is totally fine for this since it isn't in use every day. Mine has lasted through three kids and I'll use it with my fourth.



9. A crib. Again, duh. And I've used the same white Target crib with all of my kids. I believe its middle of the road priced. Yes they've gnawed on the rails so if that bothers you get something in a composite material. Honestly, no complaints here and this is based on your taste so you really don't need to spend a ton.

They still sell our original crib! $200.


10. A baby carrier. I couldn't have functioned without my Mei-Tei wrap. My three year old still rides on my back in it sometimes. This one is affordable and has lasted through all three kids with daily use. And if it wears out... it's only $30!

The Infantino Sash Mei Tei $34


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