October Goal Check-In

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The end of October is always a little bittersweet, isn’t it? As exciting as it is to really settle into fall and celebrate Halloween, now we’re suddenly barreling towards the holiday season and a brand new year is just around the corner.

And has anyone else seen all the holiday commercials already?! I’m the first to admit I’ll be cranking up the Christmas tunes before too long…but October 26 was just too soon to start seeing ads about Santa and stuffing stockings.

All that aside, I’m still focused on sticking loosely to my 2016 goals before setting new intentions for 2017. So here’s an update:

1. Health & Fitness: In terms of a typical week, I’m now trying to move at least four or five out of the seven days. With a baby’s schedule and Portland’s rainy season to factor in, this means taking whatever I can get whenever I can get it: Namely stroller jogs, treadmill runs, cross-training on the Nordic Track (yes, you read that correctly; it was left behind by the previous owners of our house), plus a smattering of free weights.

And as much as I miss the accountability of a training schedule, it’s been refreshing to exercise for general fitness for a change. If there’s a day where a workout just doesn’t work out, it’s a relief at the moment to be able to take it in stride versus fretting about getting behind schedule.

2. Training: Speaking of schedules…just last month I mentioned there wasn’t a race on the horizon, but that may soon change because I’m mulling over a potential spring marathon. It’d be a change of pace from my usual summer training cycles focusing on fall races, and this time I’m also considering working under the general guidance of a coach to train smart and stay healthy while ramping up mileage.

3. Community: Our 2016 Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season has officially ended, and we celebrated with our annual party at Title Nine Portland on October 24. In addition to a fantastic group of community members joining us this year, I’m proud to say that we also managed to raise nearly $3,000 for Breast Cancer Fund.

As for next year, we’ll be changing things up a bit, so stay tuned for details! We’re opening applications for team leaders for the 2017 season in early December, so if you’re interested in getting involved with a dynamic group of women who are making a difference in the Portland area, along with getting in some great workouts and making new friends, like our Facebook page for updates.

4. Career: This has been an area where I’ve been feeling reenergized as of late. First, Fit4Mom Cedar Mill hosted a very cool “Mindful Mamas” event this month where we worked out together and then sat down with a life coach to talk about time management and priorities. Lesson learned: Make sure what you’re spending your time on is truly aligned with your goals.

Second, I signed a new boutique fitness client in the Portland area, and we’ve been hard at work on messaging, positioning and PR planning. I love working with business owners who understand the importance of connecting — not only with clients to help them get fitter and feel healthier, but also with the community to give back. So inspiring!

5. Life: Finally, I need to do a whole in-depth post on the glory that is ‘sleep training.’ But for now, I’ll just say this: If you’re having any trouble getting your little one to sleep — whether it’s through at night or just for regular naps, it’s a total game-changer. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best baby-related investment we’ve made because it provides the confidence to do what you need to do to help everyone get some more zzz’s.

The woman we worked with was simply amazing (parents, ping me if you want an intro), particularly because she specializes in minimizing the amount of crying during the process. I had heard horror stories of people having to camp outside of baby’s door enduring hours of screaming, but our experience was quite different. We had a total of 12 minutes of crying in protest the first night before Wyatt slept 12 HOURS.

There’s a lot that goes into it — both in terms of preparation and consistency in order to develop new habits, plus (duh) you’ll still have the usual hiccups now and then — but, overall, it’s been nothing short of life-changing. Chronic sleep deprivation (seven months, in our case) can leave you in a pretty dark place, so it’s pure joy to finally come into the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ready or not, here we come: Are you excited for the final stretch of 2016?

What’s in Your Body Wash?

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When was the last time you checked the ingredients on the back of your favorite body wash or hand soap? If it wasn’t recently, you may want to take another look.

Just last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned some over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body wash products, saying they’re no more effective than soap and water and could actually cause long-term harm. This affects around 2,100 products or roughly 40 percent of the over-the-counter antibacterial soap market that contains any one of the 19 ingredients that are part of the ban.

As an avid antibacterial user, I’ve been cleaning out my cupboards and replacing these products with natural and organic items. After all, what I put in, on or around my body isn’t just affecting me anymore; I want our son to grow up happy and healthy, too.

So after scouting out options for washing up safely, I’ve got a few new favorites I wanted to share:

Lavido Intoxicating Body Wash ($24 via Lavido.com)

True to its name, this body wash has a deep, musky scent that is mysteriously addictive and will add a luxurious feel to your regular shower routine. Maybe it’s the distilled Patchouli and Vanilla Oil extracts, or it could be the purified mineral-rich waters from the Sea of Galilee, which have been used since Roman times for their healing and recuperative powers. Either way, I can’t get enough of this body wash.

Scientific Organics Citrus Kombucha Body Wash ($44 via emerginC.com)

Kombucha is the latest yogi health-drink craze, so why not see if it does as much good on the body as it does in it? Said to help improve skin tone, moisture and radiance, this body wash is formulated with fermented tea, grape stem cells, aloe and spirulina — a veritable “super-food” cocktail for skin in need of some TLC. Science aside, I love its energizing scent and the fact that it’s 100 percent natural.

Art Naturals Anti-Fungal Body & Foot Wash ($18 via ArtNaturals.com)

Natural Oils have been used for centuries due to their antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties. This body wash just so happens to be the best of both worlds: Not only does it contain a powerful, yet gentle blend of Tea Tree, Jojoba, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary Oil to help aid common skin conditions, but it also effectively removes dirt, excess oils, fungus and bacteria. Put simply, it’s a morning shower must-have.

Have you made the move to all-natural skincare products — why or why not? 

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a sucker for anything pumpkin, regardless of the season. The same goes for chocolate, so it was love at first bite with these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

With just a few small tweaks, I made them a bit healthier (less sugar, some wheat flour) and even tastier — there’s nothing like a little salt in sweets.

They’re not your typical crispy-chewy cookie; the consistency is much softer and more moist. But they’re delicious and (somewhat) nutritious, thanks to the oats and pumpkin.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teastpoon salt
  • 1 15-oz can of pumpkin
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Combine the flours, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; stir into creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin.
  3. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.
What do you think about pumpkin — worth the hype, or overrated?

Fit Mom: Valerie Marshall on Finding the Balance in Motherhood

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One week overdue with baby number two (left) & just five weeks postpartum (right)!

Most of the time I dedicate my Q&A’s here on the blog to athletes in pursuit of race goals, but this week I’m talking to a now-mom-of-two with some pretty awesome athletic achievements of her own.

I did a double-take when Valerie Marshall posted her pregnancy transformation shots (below) a few months back and was curious to chat with her more about her post-pregnancy journey.

While Val’s results may not necessarily be the norm (case in point: I’ve still got a few pounds to lose seven months out, but I’m in no hurry), they’re a testament to her hard work and dedication.

Yes, Val looks fabulous, but what I particularly love is that she embodies how pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood can be incorporated into a lifelong pursuit of health and fitness instead of approaching them as if you’ve reached the end of the road.

Read on for more of her philosophies, as well as Val’s top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life…

Your transformation picture after your first pregnancy is impressive! What was your motivation for getting back into shape post-baby?

My motivation for getting into shape postpartum was easy and natural for me; I just wanted to exercise the way I did prior to pregnancy (and breastfeeding definitely helped). Before I was pregnant with Roman, my first pregnancy, I was training for my fourth marathon and I so badly wanted to get back to that place.

Did you do anything during your pregnancy that you think allowed you to bounce back more quickly after?

During my pregnancy I continued to exercise, but I modified high intensity workouts to medium or low intensity. As third trimester approached, I started to walk instead of run and do yoga or barre instead spin class. I believe that I bounced back so quickly postpartum due to exercising regularly before and during my whole pregnancy.

You attribute it to physical and nutritional work, but also a balance of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical – can you elaborate on what that means to you?

I attribute my overall well-being postpartum to the whole spectrum of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical.

Social: Within days postpartum I had my very first date as a mom with my husband, just the two of us. I had a difficult time leaving my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am not only a mom, but a wife, too. About a week postpartum, I had my first girls’ night since being a mom. Once again, it was difficult to leave my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am an individual as well as a momma. Plus, it was great bonding for my son to spend one-on-one time with his dad. From that first week on until now, I make sure to schedule out time for my husband, myself and friends and family; it’s all about balance in life.

Emotional: I was very emotional when I first became a momma, and throughout pregnancy; mainly due to hormones and lack of sleep, but also do to a changing lifestyle. To help keep myself in check, I went to yoga/meditated, exercised, and journaled.

Spiritual: Spiritually, I am a Christian and love to worship. So I made sure to set aside time for God, whether at church, in the car, or at home (usually while breastfeeding).

Environmental: This does not directly relate to how I bounced back postpartum, but I do try to use all organic products and organic/minimally processed foods. I enjoy the great outdoors and breathing in fresh air (I love living in Bend where recreational fitness is all around).

Occupational/Intellectual: Prior to being a momma I was a working-woman with a degree in Fitness and Nutrition. I made it a point to keep up on educating myself, so that one day when I do enter the workforce I will not be lost in the dark. I also really love learning about wellness and educating not only myself, but friends and family, as well.

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Val gained 40lbs while pregnant with her first baby (upper left), then had 10 lbs and muscle left to gain one day postpartum (upper right). She credits a “proper balance of wellness” to her results nine mos later (bottom)!

Walk us through some highlights of typical days of exercise & nutrition – immediately after, then 3, 6, 9 and 12 months out from being pregnant.

Highlights of typical days of exercise and nutrition: We all love to have our cake and eat it, too. I am a huge believer in rewarding yourself whether that be with food or not, but for me, I definitely reward myself with desserts. Plus, breastfeeding made me extremely hungry all of the time. I try to eat a “balanced” diet most days of the week to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and for a healthy future.

Nutrition is not only for weight, but is also for prevention and treatment of many diseases, so I try to keep that in mind when I am planning my meals. Meal planning was extremely important for my nutritional habits postpartum. It is so easy just to snack and graze throughout the day or to go long periods of time without eating. I would meal prep and prepare meals usually on Sundays or even just the night before. This definitely takes time out of your already busy and tiring day, but it is so worth it. I could talk days and days about nutrition, it is a true science to find what works for your body and lifestyle.

0-3 months: Due to nap schedules and lack of sleep, I exercised whenever I could find time. During those first three months I spent a lot of time walking, running and doing Barre3. At the local gym, there is a Baby and Mommy cycle class, where I could bring Roman in with me. This class was awesome, I was able to do an hour cycle class and he either napped in the stroller right in front of me or he played on a blanket on the floor.

3-9 months: I was not quite ready to introduce Roman into gym daycares yet, so I continued to exercise at home or when my husband, mom or best friend could watch him. During these months I ran, went to Baby and Mommy cycle class, started cardio yoga and did p90x.

9-12 months: I was finally ready to introduce Roman to gym daycares, which he loves going to. Roman started walking at 9 months, so he was on the move, which made it difficult to exercise at home. At the gym, I participated in HIIT classes, cycle classes, cardio yoga and some light lifting in the weight room.

And baby no. 2 (the adorable Kennadi) is a girl – congratulations! How was your second pregnancy? What’s the same & what’s different this time around?

Pregnancy #2: I was so excited and much more relaxed with this pregnancy. I had a lot of energy, thank goodness, since I was chasing after a toddler all of the time. I exercised and did my prenatal stretches most days of the week to prepare for the arrival of baby girl. I had a much more difficult time eating “healthy,” however; all I want to do is eat cookies and bagels with cream cheese!

My plan was to just play-it-by-ear for the first month or so when it comes to setting any fitness goals. Basic fitness goals of mine, with no set timeline as of now, would be to run a few more full marathons and maybe even my first sprint triathlon. Physically, I would love to get my body back to where it has been in the past, but I have a feeling that will take more time this round than it did when I was just a mother of one.

What’s your top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life, as you call it?

My top tip is to set goals, make a schedule, have a plan and stick with it. Most importantly, remember that you are an amazing mother, but you are not only a mother; you have so many more roles in life and they should all be given special attention.

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The Baggs family: Roman, Tim, Val & Kennadi

Thanks for your time, Val — and congratulations again on your beautiful new addition!

Fit mamas, I’d love to interview you! Email me at info (at) kineticfix (dot) com for info. 

September Goal Check-In

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Last month’s check-in was about re-prioritizing and not beating myself up about it. So in September I committed to following through on that — not just in words but with action.

So here’s how the past 30 days panned out:

1. Health & Fitness: Ah, glorious sleep. Not that we’re getting a full night’s rest yet by any means, but the fact that I’m only having to get up once or twice is a game-changer. Which is why regular workouts are slowly making a reappearance; more zzz’s means actually having energy again!

2. Training: There’s no competitive racing on the horizon just yet — but that doesn’t mean I can’t scratch the itch just a bit in the meantime. I’m officially on the lookout for some shorter distances (5k/10k) to start testing my legs after the whole having-a-baby hiatus.

3. Community: It’s that time already; we’re winding down our 2016 Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season — but not before celebrating at our last practice on October 24th! We’re also planning ahead to next season and talking about how we can get even better and make a bigger impact.

4. Career: Figuring out my roles as “entrepreneur” and “mom” continues to be a balancing act. I did, however, get some great advice from a colleague: Be the best at what you’re doing in that moment. When doing it all isn’t an option, you do what you can when you can.

5. Life: An infant’s schedule is a moving target. But Wyatt and I have gotten into a pretty good daily routine, and having just that little bit of predictability feels wonderful. Next up, sleep training to nail our nap time routine and middle-of-the-night wake-ups!

In the process of mulling things over this month, I also came to a few realizations about the intersection of endurance athletics and motherhood (which is also, arguably, an endurance event in and of itself!):

#1 – It’s not about you. Whereas my old training days were divided into two segments (Before the Long Run & After the Long Run) there’s no longer time to prep and wait for the perfect moment, let alone take an ice bath and chill on the couch with a protein shake and legs up after. The opportune time for running is whenever you can — and you’re grateful to be able to make the most of any amount of mileage.

#2 – Celebrate consistency. I used to need something to be training for, building toward and looking forward to…but now I recognize the sense of accomplishment in just getting out there and moving regularly. In fact, sometimes that’s even tougher because there’s much less accountability and motivation without a race-day deadline looming.

#3 – Go with the flow. ‘Nuff said. This is pretty much the mantra of any parent because you’ve always gotta be ready to change course and problem-solve on the fly.

#4 – Throw expectations out the window. Again, pretty self-explanatory. Some days you’re on your game, others you feel like a total failure, but it’s the effort that counts most when you’re looking at the bigger picture.

#5 – Define ‘success’ in your own terms. Run your own race, whether it’s completing a marathon or chasing after your kiddo. We’re all here just trying to do the best we can and feel good about it at the end of the day. So cut yourself some slack, and remind those around you to do the same!

Is there anything you’d add to the list?

Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

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When life hands you lemons…MAKE MUFFINS!

It’s good to have a go-to recipe in your back pocket, whether someone stops by unexpectedly, you want to take a crowd-pleaser to an event or you’re looking for something special — yet simple — on a weekend morning.

Mine just happens to be lemon blueberry muffins; not only do I always seem to have the ingredients on hand, but they’ve never earned less than rave reviews (seriously, yogurt is the secret to tangy, moist, yummy muffins).

No blueberries? No problem. I experimented recently with a raspberry version that’s just as lovely — plus it’s lower in sugar and includes some extra nutrients and fiber thanks to the addition of wheat flour.

Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

(recipe adapted from Running with Spoons)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 medium lemon
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray or greasing them with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt and sugar, mixing until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes smooth. Add oil, honey, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mixing until well incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to yogurt mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in berries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Batter will be on the thicker side, so use a spoon to scoop it in. Sprinkle with additional berries, if desired.
  6. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes, or until top is firm to the touch and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Got any go-to recipes that you’ve relied on over the years?

StitchFix Shipment No. 11 Review

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After ending up with another pair of jeans from StitchFix no. 10 (read about it here), I had high hopes for my next shipment to include some more unique pieces for the upcoming season.

Shape-wise, I may not be back to my pre-baby fighting weight (breastfeeding isn’t always the miracle celebs claim it to be, just FYI), but I’m not too worried about it at this point; however, I am ready to get out of my mom-sweats and into some cute clothing for fall.

I didn’t give my stylist too much specific direction other than A) please don’t send any more polyester tops or jeans, and B) please do send some stuff that’s trendy yet mom-friendly — aka able to be washed when I inevitably get puked, pooped, peed or drooled upon.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Let’s take a peek at what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Kut from the Kloth Simmons Bootcut Jean ($88). Wait – WHAT?! Another pair of jeans?! This did not bode well. I started wondering if my stylist even read my requests…

Nevertheless, it’s hard to resist denim because it’s such a wardrobe staple, at least for me. And I did like the wash and fit of this pair, so they weren’t automatically ruled out.

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Next was the Market & Spruce Carlee Knit Jumpsuit ($78) and the Bancroft Dante Cut Out Metal Oval Layered Necklace ($32). Now we’re talkin’!

I love a good jumpsuit, but I’ve always just admired them on other women; usually they’re not as flattering on an athletic build. But this one is a soft jersey knit (read: feels like you’re wearing pajamas), which I knew would be tough to resist if it ended up actually fitting.

As for the necklace, I’m more of a dainty jewelry fan instead of large statement necklaces, which tend to overwhelm me. But I really liked how this worked with the jumpsuit. My stylist was slowly redeeming herself…

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After that was the Market & Spruce Benni Crossfront Knit Top ($48). My stylist included it because she said it’s a mom-friendly (aka easy-access, haha) top with a punch of color.

Again, I love cross-front tops…but they typically they don’t hang well on me. This one, however, fit like a glove and the color is awesome. It just might be a keeper!

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And last but not least was the Kut from the Cloth Benter Mixed Material Top ($58). Another easy-care top to throw on with jeans so I could feel somewhat pulled together when stepping out.

Totally my style + fun prints + super comfy materials = a win. Unless the fit was way off, this shirt and I were destined to be together.

So what did I end up keeping?

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Shocker — the whole box!

Although I wasn’t completely sold on the jeans and the necklace this round, I figured they’d be good basics to add into a fall wardrobe rotation. Plus there’s a 25% discount when you buy all five items, which worked out to a savings of $76.

I mean, that’s like getting one thing free, right? At least according to my shopping justification math…

The best part is that I’ve already worn three of the items: the jumpsuit and necklace out to anniversary dinner with Ben, and the cross-front top while wine tasting that same weekend. And as soon as the weather gets cooler, you can bet I’ll be busting out the floral top and jeans.

My next fix is scheduled for around the holidays and my well of wardrobe creativity is running dry at the moment, so I was hoping to pick your brains for inspiration. What should I request? Leave a comment below, and I’ll put your ideas in the next note to my stylist!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix!