The other day I was catching up with a long term client and friend, and we were talking about when to know whether you should push through a workout or take a rest. Over and over again I hear this from fellow mamas...especially those in the 35-50 age range.
This is a particularly overwhelming time where we are sandwiched between the chaos of raising young children, the ache of aging parents, the intense pace of growing careers all while holding tightly to the memo of our generation which beats like a drum in our mind: "You can HAVE it all. You can DO IT all."
This memo has become a dangerous mantra. It has spun a tale in the minds of mothers everywhere that we should be able to do more than we are doing. It spins in our minds in the middle of the night when we have been woken up by our children and can't get back to sleep. It fills us with FOMO when we see picture perfect images of fit moms and matching outfits and Pinterest worthy birthday parties on social media. We think,...
It was a milestone I wont soon forget.
Almost 13 years ago, giving birth to our daughter, I had an unexpected complication. An unknown case of placenta accreta launched me into a serious postpartum hemorrhage that rushed me into emergency surgery to try and stop the massive bleeding and a significant blood transfusion was required to save my life.
I was lucky...my OBGYN said that if I had had the baby outside of the hospital, I may not have survived. That women in less privileged countries die frequently from this. I have never forgotten that. It lived in me every time I saw an advertisement or sign for blood donation. I thought about it every time a mother told me a scary labour and delivery story.
For years now I have tried several times to donate blood, to pay forward what saved my life, however I had begun to struggle with low iron and time and again my iron was too low to donate. After a similar (but less scary) haemorrhage 3 years later when my son was born, I was advised that...
Have an attitude of gratitude...
I see it everywhere. On journals and memes, on tank tops and mugs, on water bottles and hoodies and morning checklists.
"List 3 things you are grateful for."
Yes...gratitude is important. Being thankful for what you have can go a long way with reminding us to be present, humble, considerate and find reasons for happiness during tough times.
But lately, talking with other women and clients about life and all that is going on...I have started to notice something.
Many women, in the throws of life: raising children and caring for parents, building careers and managing an evolving and bustling household...are left with a little something extra from their gratitude...I couldn't QUITE put my finger on it...but then, like a name finally coming to you 2 days after you couldn't recall it...there is was.
Can I have a side of guilt with my gratitude please?
Inside of you, you want more, you want better, you want different.
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought "there she is."
6 months ago, I couldn't tell you when I last saw myself.
Deep in the year of the pandemic, every time I looked in the mirror I thought...
"Why do I look so tired? Why do I feel so tired? Is my skin aging faster than usual?"
...or I thought of all of the things I had to do that day, or wasn't going to get to, or wasn't doing very well.
But I never thought "here I am."
It's a funny thing realizing you are lost...not in direction outside of yourself, but in direction INSIDE of yourself.
You check the boxes as you go...
Seriously….do you ever notice how your energy and motivation waxes and wanes like the moon?!?! Well sister…apparently it isn’t just in our heads…it is in our HORMONES, and TRULY happens! There is a REASON we feel like we can TAKE ON the world as our period wraps up and like we can barely get out of bed (unless it is for chocolate) the closer to Aunt Flow’s visit.
In FACT….there is actually something called CYCLE SYNCHING that is a proven and researched method for working alongside your hormone cycle to get the MOST out of your workouts….Now as much as I am SURE you would love to get lost down a rabbit hole researching all the info you can on this (notice the sarcasm) I know that if you are like ME…YOU DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT INSANITY….so, I am going to summarize this stuff for you quick and dirty so you can take advantage of these perks and know what workouts to do when Aunt Flow visits and when she says ‘peace...
I want to stand too close to you.
I had something inspiring to share with you but when I looked in my heart this is what I found...
At my best I want so much for you...
I want peace, I want health, I want love over fear, I want safety and freedom...
But today, I just want to stand too close to you.
I want to travel to my northern hometown
walk the cold winter streets arm & arm with an old friend
legs frozen and cheeks rosy,
step into a café
and stand too close to you
I want to go to a busy bistro with my husband and have to lean in so I can hear him better
because the place is so packed,
I’m having to stand too close to you
I want to go to a concert with more than 50,000 people
lose myself in the energy of the music
while I stand too close to you
I wanna take my children to an amusement park or an indoor play place
watch them exhaust themselves while they bump in to other children and laugh
and I want to smile quietly to myself while I stand too close to you
So yes, at my best I want...
I was scared to take my foot off of the gas pedal and do less in my workouts in case what was already feeling out of control, begin to snowball.
I don’t ask ANYTHING of my body more than yoga or walking at least 10 full days out of the month. I don’t permanently go off of any food groups (well except meat bc I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons.) I don’t have an elaborate fitness and nutrition plan. I don’t have a perfectly sugar free or alcohol free diet. I don’t have an unusually fast metabolism (in fact I am a SLOW burner.) I don’t say no to a cocktail at the top of a mountain, or a homemade cookie that anyone made and looks delicious. I nap any chance I can get and binged watched all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones in 6 weeks recently.
I don’t follow a lot of the typical fitness and nutrition “programs” as they are laid out.
4 years ago I started to notice a trend in my clients where they either were working hard...
I didn't need to step on the scale to know. I FELT lighter. In my body and in my mind.
In my personal training and health coaching practice I was beginning to notice a pattern of women over 35 doing everything they could to lose weight. Calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, dozens of various diets and nutrition philosophies paired with consistent, high intensity interval workouts. This was the way to lose weight wasn't it?
But instead of losing weight they were gaining weighting, or feeling stuck and more depleted than ever.
I was baffled.
Everything I knew as a trainer and coach was working backwards for my poor exhausted, peri-menopausal clients.
Then some time around the age of 37, I noticed a very similar shift in my own body. My same HIIT workouts were leaving me depleted. My afternoon‘s plagued with brain fog, my skin felt like it was rapidly aging before my eyes and I noticed excess weight gain around my belly that hadn’t been there before.
She asked me "What is the best workout to target belly fat?"
It's a question I have been asked hundreds of times...and even though I have a few clarifying questions to be sure, chances are, I already know the answer.
As in, do NOT workout.
Her shocked and sceptical response no longer surprises me. I felt the exact same way when I learned this information and have seen the same response from hundreds of women when I give this answer.
It wasn't that long ago I was feeling frustrated with my own pants starting to feel tighter. As a personal trainer and avid fitness lover for more than a decade, I found myself scrolling through my favourite online workout platform wondering which ab workouts to add on to my routine to target the extra fluff that had been starting to make my high rise leggings feel a little uncomfortable lately as they pressed on my belly.
Was I going to have to give up my weekend love affair with Ben & Jerry? Or the blissful few nights a week...
I walked into my doctors office, looked her straight in the eye and said “I think I’m in menopause at 38.”
I was certain something bigger was going on. I had been struggling for so long with various symptoms such as extreme fatigue, brain fog, what felt like teenage skin one week and rapidly aging skin the next, hot flashes at night and chilled all day. I had started to have insatiable afternoon cravings, stubborn excess belly fat, strong insomnia episodes and the final straw that broke the camels back, irregular periods alongside PMS that felt like it was lasting all month long. It was everything I had heard in my life about how menopause began.
My doctor politely asked me a couple questions and then kindly smiled and said “no you’re not in menopause…you are the picture of good health.”
Since that day I’ve learned a lot of things. First, I learned that peri-menopause technically begins for all women around 35-40...