Life & Littles Podcast!

Exciting news!!!

Our own Dr. Annie is on this week’s episode of Doctor Mommy, MD’s podcast talking about second trimester of pregnancy. The Life & Littles podcast may just be your new favorite listen, friends!

Photo credit Fiona Margo Photography

“Imagine your best friend is a doctor and a mom, what questions would you want to ask her over a glass of wine? What questions would you text her in the middle of the night?” Sound helpful?

Grab a coffee or glass of wine and tune in on iTunes and subscribe to get all the upcoming fun times!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/life-littles-with-doctor-mommy-md/id1451847392?mt=2&i=1000429939961

You can also find Shelly on Instagram and Facebook @doctormommymd and should check out her gorgeous blog while you’re at it!

Xoxo!

Turn up the heat on your winter fitness routine

January, the quintessential month for fitness and health resolutions, is arguably one of the crappiest times to start a new fitness regimen. The New Year holiday notwithstanding, in much of the United States, January and February often land you right in the heart of winter when outdoor swims are completely out of the question, outdoor running and cycling can you leave you frigid (or on.your.face. – black ice is a thing, y’all), and the motivation to “just get out and walk” can be at an all-time low. Unless of course you live somewhere tropical. In which case we’re not mad, just jealous.

So,  if your are struggling with how to add some variety to your winter routine, how to stay motivated through a cold spell a polar vortex February, or how to propel your New Year’s goals past the winter doldrums (AKA February), you ARE NOT ALONE. And you can do it! We are here to tell you, wholeheartedly to

bundle up, but DO NOT give up!

Between us, we have 10 postpartum fitness recoveries, a marathoner, a couple of cross-fitters, a few yogis, and a personal trainer. Here are our favorite ways to stay on track through winter weather, whatever your fitness level or style.

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Hot Yoga

Don’t let the name scare you. This is nothing different than yoga in your living room except with a fancy heater.  There are now a variety of vinyasa or “flow classes” offered in heated studios as well as the traditional Bikram classes usually done somewhere between 84-110 degrees. Which, this winter feels about as close to a tropical vacation as we’re going to get. Several studios offer a weekly “community class” at reduced rates and offer student/military discounts.  As a former hater, “I sweat enough in regular yoga” I said… I have converted! I urge everyone to just GO. Don’t forget to pre-hydrate well and tell the instructor if you’re a beginner. Plus based on a 2018 Texas State University study, doing hot yoga can significantly lower body fat.* Which sounds on point for any New Year’s health resolution if I do say so myself. Take that, February.

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Spinning

No icy trails to hold you back, and all the calories to burn. Spinning is particularly great because you can pace yourself, and control resistance yourself, BUT still have the benefit of trying to beat everyone else in the room. (Wait, is that just us?) Spinning is an intense cardio session that will leave your heart rate high, your motivation soaring, and pretty much guaranteed… your T-shirt soaked. No snow days for spin bikes.

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Photo Credit: Sweat by Kayla Itsines

App based Circuit workouts

With great equipment-free workouts literally in the palm of your hand, your winter excuses run out. Lucky for you, there are several outstanding fitness apps that provide killer circuit routines with full equipment work-outs for the gym OR with zero equipment necessary for at-home use (Read: In your living room lunging with a child on your shoulders. Yea, it works.) A few of our favorite apps are featured in our Best Fitness App post, and lately we’re digging Kayla Itsine’s Sweat App and the free Daily Cardio App as well.  If you don’t want to subscribe to an app to do this training at home, let it be known that we fully support kitchen cardio-dance parties. (Cocktail, optional.)

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Phone a friend

Winter weather is much less likely to dissuade us if we know there is a friend holding us accountable for a missed workout. Ideally, we should all show up for ourselves. But especially when you are trying to set a new routine or if you know you have a tendency to sell yourself short, have a friend hold you accountable! Meet a friend at the gym or just ask someone to help hold you to your schedule by texting you to pony up when you say you will. You can also get this in a major way through class accountability. Crossfit, as one of many examples, has daily scheduled classes that help create friendships, workout buddies, and before you know it BAM….you have your accountability texts right there.

So get out there and get your fitness goals on… the cold need not bother you, anyway!

Sources

*Effects of yoga interventions practised in heated and thermoneutral conditions on endothelium-dependent vasodilatation: The Bikram yoga heart study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29349832

 

b8fd0f48-abdd-41a9-9b27-0b537b307a55We are moms to 10 kids, marathon runners, yogis, spinners, cross-fitters, gym-buddies, and kitchen dance party enthusiasts that believe fitness should always be a part of your life, even if it is -7 degrees.  And even if you dance with a cocktail.

We are Real As A M*ther.

Strong Women Series: Tackling Addiction with Compassion

Every day, millions of lives are touched by the disease of addiction. Whether personally, or through the eyes of family members or dear friends, many of us have watched and hoped while those we love fight their battle with addiction. According to the Surgeon General’s 2016 report, Facing Addiction in America, one in seven Americans will experience a problem with alcohol or drug abuse in their lifetimes, approximately 20 million Americans have current substance use disorders, and 78 Americans are dying from overdose every day.  Addiction knows no boundaries, and touches all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses, from celebrity to poverty.

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Introducing Mary Page Shinholser

It is through this lens, that I am proud to introduce an amazing woman that I most definitely look up to, despite being almost 9 years older than her.  I first came to know Mary Page Shinholser through Crossfit, about a year ago, and found the more I got to know her, the more I admired her. I had only heard bits and pieces of her story, but I always found her energy positive and relatable.

One of the many reasons Mary Page is a hero to me is because she clearly answered a call from the universe to help, and teaches from her own personal experiences with addiction and empowers people to reclaim their world from its clutches.  Another is that she follows this call inexhaustibly, never failing to touch people and remind them that they are NOT ALONE. Ever.

In her words…

Here is Mary Page Shinholser’s story, in her own words:

Hello blog world! I’m here to tell you a little about me, what I do in the addiction and recovery field, and why it matters.

My experience in this world is long and personal. I have lost count of the funerals I have been to of those who have overdosed or had an addiction-related death. Some of the most amazing people in my life are in recovery. My father, step mother, three uncles, both grandfathers, a few good friends, two cousins, and a former boyfriend all are in recovery from Substance Use Disorders (SUD). They are kind, hard working, and compassionate people that as a child, I looked forward to spending the evenings with, either at Narcotics Anonymous meetings after school in a basement church, at cookouts, campouts, or holiday parties. I used to write some of my parent’s friends letters while they were in jail.  

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Me and my Father

I was always proud of the world I grew up in. I had a fantastic childhood. I vividly remember my very first drug talk at the age of seven, and my first drug test. Drug tests were kept on top of our fridge, and my first one was administered at the age of 12. I knew no different, in fact I was shocked to find out that most other kids didn’t grow up the way I did.

The first time I experienced the stigma attached to the disease of addiction (yes, disease, I’ll touch on that a bit later), was in middle school. I wanted to have a sleep over and my friend’s parents wouldn’t let her come over to my house because, she said “my mom said no because your dad is a drug addict.” I didn’t understand, and my little broken heart said “my dad is NOT a drug addict. He’s in NA, he is clean, and has been clean since before I was born! HE WORKED THE STEPS!” I was distraught. I cried, a lot. I guess that is where the educator in me was first born. 

Fast forward 15 years. I’m teaching 8th grade civics and economics and loving it. When I was told by the county that I wouldn’t have a job the following school year, I was absolutely crushed. Here I was, finally loving what I do and I was damn good at it. I had a 94% SOL passing rate, (do you know how hard that is to achieve with middle schoolers obsessed with Instagram and Fortnite?) I was coaching Track and Field, and I was making a difference. 

Throughout this period in my life, the opioid epidemic was at an all time high, and it really pissed me off. I heard this little voice in the back of my head saying, “Mary Page. DO. SOMETHING.” Well, the universe heard me. Soon after that, I had a recruiter reach out to me on LinkedIn and asked me, “Have you ever thought about teaching people about addiction and recovery?”

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Me with my Dad and Stepmom

“Well, Hell YEAH!” I thought, and a few interviews later, I received an offer that I just could not refuse. I landed a Community Relations role with a treatment center that truly is on a mission to provide the best high-level treatment and care in the field. #winningforeveryone

My job is to travel around the state of Virginia, let people know who I am, who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I get to talk to people in probation and parole, inmates, counselors, doctors, lawyers, politicians, school counselors, and beyond. I not only get to teach people about treatment, but I also get to give people hope. I get to tell people they’re not alone. I get to give people a first, second, third, or fourth chance at a better life. Most importantly, however, I get to educate people into getting the right treatment options for them. And if we are not right for them, I point them in the direction of the best fit for their recovery.

What is SUD?

SUD is categorized and defined as a disorder and mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association and is listed in the most recent version of the DSM-5. There are three subclassifications (mild, moderate, and severe) that fall into four major categories: impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria.

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Photo Credit The Recovery Research Institute

Addiction is not a one size fits all disease. There is no single treatment that works for everyone who walks through our doors. There is no chemotherapy, blood transfusion, surgery, or transplant that can cure it. It is pure hard work. Tackling recovery, whether it’s your first time or your twentieth, is majorly hard. It is emotional and it is raw.

In a way, I have found my purpose in life through this new role I am in. I want to educate people not only on addiction, but also on mental illness in general. There are so many diseases and disorders out there that people know nothing about, but cast judgement upon it, which makes it so much harder for people to reach out and get the help they need. If I can reach one small group of people, or even just one person, and let them know, “Hey, I see you. I will help you. I love you, and you are not nor will you ever be alone. I will fight with you and I will fight for you,” then I can sleep soundly at night.  

I want to end this post with two things. First, if you or anyone you know are struggling or even showing small signs of SUD, reach out and ask for help. It is out there and it is closer than you think. Second, be kind and be compassionate.

The human race has mastered the art of covering things up with a smile. You never know when you’ll be faced with SUD head on, but I can guarantee you this; this community is strong, this community is welcoming, and this community is filled with fighters.

I will say it again, so you can hear it. You are Not Alone.

Feeling Inspired?

Big thanks to Mary Page for telling her inspiring story! For more resources and further reading on SUD and addiction, check out the Surgeon General’s full report on Addiction in America, or this fantastic TED talk by Johann Hari. And please, pay your knowledge and compassion forward. Share the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website and free confidential helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) with those you love. The SAMHSA offers 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Let’s commit to saying it loud, together: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Stay tuned, because Mary Page has an awesome Podcast launching later this month entitled “Ment”. It will primarily focus on mental and behavioral health issues that fly under the radar. People who have suffered from these disorders will be given a platform to share their stories, how they reached a point to seek recovery, and how their recovery is thriving. The hope behind this new endeavor for Mary Page is to pay recovery forward. To allow people to know that you are “Ment” to be right where you are in your journey.  You can look for more updates as they come on our Real As A Mother social media sites.

 

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Kristy is a birth doula, massage therapist, homesteader, mother of two, and supporter of strong women in Virginia.

 

 

I Am Not a Part-Time Parent

I cannot believe we still have to have this conversation, but here we are. Someone recently made a comment to me that it must be nice to be a “part-time parent” because I, like my husband, work outside of the home in an office during the week.

I was pretty surprised at the comment. “Part-time parent?” I asked. “Yeah,” she said, “You basically only have a few hours a day with your kids and on the weekends. That sounds pretty part-time to me.”

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Once I was able to convince myself not to hurl myself at this person, I decided to put pen to paper on a few thoughts, juuuuuust in case anyone reading this has had the same misconceptions about what it can mean to be a working mother.

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1. When I work during the day to help earn income for my home – to help pay the mortgage, lights, car payment, insurance, etc, I am being a parent.

2. When I stay late to try to close that deal or finish that project, so I can try to earn some extra income to save more for college for my kids, for example, I am being a parent.person holding pink piggy coin bank

3. When I show my kids that a woman can be equal to men with regard to financially supporting a family, I am being a parent.

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4. When I rearrange my day and client meetings to care for a sick child, take them to an appointment, or join for a field trip, I am being a parent.

5. When I do an entire presentation to a group of potential investors with baby spit-up down my shirt, covered by a suit jacket, without missing a beat, I am being a parent.  (BTW, this did happen, and I always felt like Michelle in One Fine Day with the dinosaur shirt on…)

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6. When I stay up late to study so I can propel my career forward with the dream of creating an even better life for my kids, I am being a parent.

7. When I get home in the evening, exhausted from a particularly trying day, and I help my kids with homework, clean up the dinner my husband kindly made, give the kids a bath and tuck them into bed with a kiss, I am being a parent.

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8. When on the weekends, I attempt to catch up on some piles of laundry and cleaning I couldn’t tackle during the week, I am being a parent. Yes, my house might not be perfect, but that’s not my priority right now. We all prioritize things differently, it’s what makes us uniquely ….you guess it…..parents.

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9. When I work on my laptop for a few hours on a Sunday to catch up because I had to pick up my kid from school because he was sick earlier in the week, I am being a parent.

10. When I take some time to go to the gym so I can set an example for my kids to prioritize their physical health, taking them with me to show them safe and effective examples of doing so, I am being a parent.

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Dear mamas, none of you are less of a parent if you work inside the home, work outside of the home, have a nanny, don’t have a nanny, or sit in a bubble bath in your spare time.

I am a parent 100% of the time, regardless of whether I am physically present with my children or not. No one can convince me anything about my parenting is “part-time” so don’t let anyone make you believe it either!

Also, let’s take this opportunity to remind each other to stop spending time with people who don’t feed your positivity. You know who they are. They are the women who smile to your face but are threatened by your happiness or success. They are the ones who will talk snidely about the fact that your house isn’t as clean as theirs or that you gained a couple more pounds than last year. These “Frenemies” have no place in my life and I hope you make a conscious decision to remove them from yours!! (See Discovering and Coping with Energy Vampires). In the words of Sophia A. Nelson:

Be a  woman other women can trust. Have the courage to tell another woman directly when she has offended, hurt, or disappointed you. Successful women have a tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Not haters. Not backstabbers or women who whisper behind their back. Be a woman who lifts other women.

People who truly love you will understand that your shining light never dims their own. They won’t call attention to your faults or your struggles. They won’t be jealous of your happiness and try to ruin it. They will highlight your strengths and your triumphs. Those are your people. And those people know there is nothing part-time about love.

Love,

Margo

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Margo is the silly lady in the blue dress, a full time mom of two, supporter of other parents and financial advisor.

 

Green Smoothie Wednesday

Yep, you read that correctly. GREEN Smoothies! Cue all kids (and arguably a large percentage of adults) tuning OUT. But stick with me. We all know that eating our greens is important for health and fitness reasons, and today we are blending up the original green superfood, spinach.

green leaves in white ceramic bowl

Packed with calcium, iron, and vitamins, spinach has boasted major staying power through diet fads and gleaned nutritional street cred from modern nutritionists to legends like Popeye himself.

The calcium in spinach can help strengthen your bones to fight against injury, and vitamins A and C, fiber, folic acid, and other nutrients fight against colon and breast cancers. Spinach also helps to lower damaging protein levels in the blood and can protect against high blood pressure and heart disease.*

Basically, spinach has nutritional benefits for all ages and all stages of life. The good news is there are much more fun ways to get your daily spinach in than a bowl full of salad every day of the week. (And whose children would ever do this BTW?!) Enter – the green smoothie. Delicious smoothies sneakily stocked with spinach.

In our opinion, there’s no better way to keep healthy eating rolling through the new year than incorporating smoothies into your regular routine.  The great thing about using spinach in smoothies is that it actually has a very mild taste so it blends well with other ingredients. So, whether you are new to the pursuit of your daily greens, or a regular green-juice goddess, we’ve compiled a list of our Real as a M*ther all-time favorite green smoothies that are packed with nutrient-rich spinach and actually taste really good.

photo of milk near almonds

Nut-Butter Banana (and Spinach! Just don’t say that out loud) Smoothie

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup organic no sugar added nut butter of your choice (almond, peanut, and cashew butter all taste great)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional – omit to keep dairy free)
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (we typically use whole milk for our kids, but also love almond and coconut milk dairy-free options)
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: vanilla protein powder, chia seeds

Makes 2 large or 4 small smoothies.

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Green & Glowing At-Home Smoothie

Whenever we take our kids to Whole Foods, (which as you may know if you have ever taken 3 or more children to Whole Foods, is a frantic 2-hour endeavor with a $500 minimum) we all end up at the smoothie bar to fill up on one of their delicious Green and Glowing smoothies. When we are not at the store (hallelujah), we make this knock-off version at home.

  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen peach
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 -2 cups milk of choice (adjust for preferred thickness)
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: vanilla protein powder, collagen peptides (for the grown-ups “glowing” skin)

 

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Greens-on-the-Go Smoothie

We love this smoothie for the flexibility of its ingredients (basically whatever we have in the freezer actually works), the ease with which we can throw it together on-the-go (which is pretty much constantly – we have ten kids between us, remember?), and for the fact that it tastes vaguely like the most nutritious PB&J you’ve ever had.

  • 1.5-2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp nut butter of choice
  • 2/3 – 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 handful of oats
  • 1.5-2 cups berries of choice
  • 1 shot of maple syrup
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: A shot of maple syrup to sweeten it up for the kids, a 1/4 cup or more of yogurt for a creamier smoothie, and coconut oil for extra good fats and coconutty flavor.

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Chocolate Crush Smoothie

Ok, so this recipe doesn’t involve eating any candy. Womp, womp. Sorry folks, this is a green smoothie post, after all. But, the nutrition-packed ingredients of this creamy smoothie give it a chocolatey, nutty, flavor that is almost as good as having candy for breakfast (or lunch for that matter – this is Kristy’s fave weekday lunch) and always keeps us coming back for more.

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups spinach (or 1 cup kale)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 avocado
  • Optional add-ins: Anti-oxidant boost (Kristy uses Nerium’s Youth Factor Superfood Powder), coconut oil or flakes

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So Fresh and So Green Smoothie

This smoothie is a super-refreshing pick-me-up any time of the day. We love it particularly while dreaming of warm tropical days, or while recovering from an afternoon of chasing our kids around the house. The superpowers of spinach and mint combine to make this almost, just almost a better green alternative to coffee. TBD.

  • 1.5-2 cups spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp – 1/4 cup mint
  • Our favorite optional add-ins: vanilla protein powder, coconut flakes, chia seeds

green dessert

That’s a wrap on green smoothie Wednesday! Don’t forget any of these smoothies can be made into delicious smoothie bowls by decreasing the amount of liquid, and topping with nuts, fruit, and/or granola. Now, let’s see if Popeye was right about all this spinach. Watch out, 2019!

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Cheers, and Happy (green) New Year from all of us at Real As A M*ther! Moms to 10 kids, doctor, lawyer, doula/massage therapist, financial planner, and green smoothie makers.

 

 

 

Sources: * 4 Incredible Health Benefits of Eating Spinach by Melanie Rolland, @ guidedoc.superfooods

This Christmas, Invest in Yourself

This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to get to the tools that were helpful for us. We may get compensation from the links, but the point of the post is to share a personal journey, not to be an ad.

As parents, we all know that our children are our priority.  So much so, that we often sacrifice taking care of ourselves (usually without even realizing it).  I am certainly no exception, and I’d like to share a personal journey of mine here today in the spirit of the holidays.

As a financial advisor, I’m here to give you permission to not only spend some of your hard-earned money on yourself, but to also call it an investment.  Because it is!  It is the BEST kind of investment, in fact.  Investing in yourself pays dividends in ways you can’t even imagine, and benefits ALL of the people around you, including the little ones in your life who deserve to have a HAPPY, HEALTHY mother.  Repeat this ladies:

My children and family will benefit when I am happy and healthy.

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It was this time last year that I realized that I wasn’t in ideal shape. Having kids changed my body and changed my metabolism. I stepped on a scale for my annual physical and was shocked!! Somehow, while all of my friends lost weight while breastfeeding, I managed to gain it and keep it on. Ugh!

You may be thinking: “Margo, how could you have not realized this without going to the doctor?”  Well, for starters, I have a wonderful husband who loves me 100% of the time no matter what I weigh, and would never EVER call something like this to my attention.  Secondly, before kids, I was mostly a slim person who didn’t really have to exercise to maintain a certain weight (annoying, I know, but stay with me), so I was not used to paying attention to these sorts of things.  I didn’t even own a scale.  Alas…  Here I was:

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I decided I wanted to get back to my best, healthiest self. But how? I started slowly but didn’t really see results – Now I know why. I didn’t know what I was doing! I know about finance, but I didn’t know about nutrition or exercise. There were 3 key things that turned it all around for me and I wanted to share with you all what worked in case it can help any of you struggling the way I was.

Step 1: Nutrition

So, in April, I decided to get serious and call in an expert. I started with Amanda Kettering and did The Arbonne 30 Challenge. Little did I realize it would be an entire lifestyle changer!! I started to learn how to eat healthier without sacrificing my happiness or sanity. The results were immediate thanks to the program and to Amanda’s coaching. In the first month, I lost 15 lbs. In the next 3 months or so of continuing the program 80% of the time, I lost 10 more lbs. That’s 25 lbs total ONLY with changing the way I eat.

This was without any exercise. If I, as someone who is horrendous at cooking with an insanely busy schedule can make this work, anyone can.  If you are committed to following the plan, you will succeed.  Yes, even if you don’t cook.  Yes, even if you are busy.  And yes, even if you’ve failed at other “diets” in the past. Want to access it?  Click here.  Have questions?  Send us a message, and I’ll tell you the honest truth about all of the good, bad and challenging.

Step 2: Exercise

After 4-5 months of this, I decided to tackle exercising. I made a huge leap and joined True Core CrossFit in Annapolis thanks to urging from my friend Andrea. She convinced me I could do it. I had heard about this place from my friend Patrick, but wasn’t convinced I was cut out for CrossFit. This was the girl who avoided any kind of weight lifting, other than her own children… Really? CrossFit? Little did I realize what enormous, amazing community I was joining. I not only got incredible education and hands-on personal help during every class, but I made a ton of wonderful friends who celebrate every success of mine as if it is their own.

True Core also gave me individualized nutrition training, followed with constant encouragement and feedback. It should surprise no one that the nutrition support closely aligned with all I had learned in Arbonne, with some modifications to support the health of someone aggressively lifting weights and working out in the CrossFit program. I also started doing intermittent fasting during this time (safely, according to the program and with the help of Kristy and Brandon). If you want to know more about intermittent fasting, see Kristy and Brandon’s post here: The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting.

The owner of True Core, Shannon, and every single one of her coaches helped me lose another 20 lbs in three months. And would you believe I am enjoying it???? Coming from someone who hates to run and usually wanders aimlessly around a gym, it should mean a lot to you all that I actually LOOK FORWARD to going to True Core 3 or 4 times a week. (Thanks to my mom Cece and my wonderful hubby for making it possible for me to make time for this!!)  Live in the Annapolis, MD area and want to check out True Core?  Click here and schedule a free intro session with one of the amazing coaches.  I’ll be there to cheer you on!

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This is me: 45 lbs less than I was a year prior.

Step 3: Skincare

There was one more problem for me… I had consulted a plastic surgeon at the beginning of all of this who said if I was able to lose my goal weight in a year, going under the knife was the only way to tighten that saggy belly skin I’d be left with. But I had a secret weapon, Dr. Annie and Kristy convinced me to try Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream. If Annie says something works, I’ve learned to believe her. And just LOOK! It’s absolutely amazing!!! Dare I say my stomach looks quite close to how it looked during my college years (after a few beers…lol)? Sure, I have a few pregnancy stretch marks but I kinda love them. The Firming Lotion lightened them significantly. Even though I love what they represent, I also love that they are lightening! This company sells only clinically proven products for wellness and anti-aging developed with a Princeton-affiliated biotech company, Signum Biosciences. Click here to get Nerium Firming AD Contour Cream for yourself.  I’m a believer!img_5613.jpg

I am here to tell you that you can BOTH love your body and be proud of what it did in pregnancy and postpartum, and also want your skin and stretch marks to look better.  I look at that before picture and feel that love and admiration for my body, AND I look at the after picture and feel love and admiration for the hard work it takes to help heal this body that grew two tiny humans that I love more than anything in this world.

I feel such enormous gratitude and admiration to these experts and friends that I feel compelled to tell you all and shine some light on their awesomeness. As you are considering Christmas gifts, don’t forget to invest in yourself. Don’t forget to call in the experts. Don’t forget that the value of these all FAR outweigh the costs. Plus, you’ll save your partner or family members the trouble of coming up with gift ideas – tell them you want this, make it easy on them, haha!

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I’ve still got work to do – more goals to hit and more milestones to celebrate, but at this point I am in the long game, and can’t wait to enjoy every minute of the adventure.

Don’t underestimate the power of consistency and desire

Your imperfect friend,

Margo

 

The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting

This post is not meant to replace the advice of your personal health care provider, but to give information and personal experiences. Always consult your health care provider if you’re not sure about a health decision being right for you.

Kristy here at Real As A M*ther! We like to give you straight-talkin info on #RealLife. A lot of people are talking about different diet options – especially this time of year – and Intermittent Fasting is one that is currently buzzing. However, turns out many people have no idea what it means. We are here to give an overview!

Okay, so there isn’t a huge surprise here. We’re talking about a lifestyle that changes you. We’re not saying it’s a “miracle diet” or even saying that it works for everyone, but my husband and I (and Margo) are just really excited to share with you what type of eating lifestyle has helped us reach our ideal mind-body goals: It’s called Intermittent Fasting and here is why we think it’s frickin’ amazing.

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What is it?

Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating,  where you eat within a specific period of time through your day, and fast for the rest. Essentially, you have a feeding window, when you’ll get your calories in, and a fasting window, when you don’t eat anything. Pretty self explanatory, right? The most common eating/fasting ratio is 8 hours of eating and a 16 hours of fasting. There are also those who go a whole 24 hours on/24 off, sometimes longer.

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But…. why?

Why does the timing matter? How does your body do different things as a result of not eating for an extended period of time? Well, we don’t claim to be registered nutritionists, (But folks like Thomas DeLauer do, and he shows in this video that he knows his crap.) but it’s like this: when you eat, your body throws everything it’s got at breaking down food, taking the contents of what you ate, all the nutrients and calories and carbs, and doing what it needs to with them. And after that, what it’s SUPPOSED to be doing (if you fast) is to spend some time cleaning house, recycling cells, building tissue, eliminating bacteria… Seem too simple to be true? Keep reading…

The Deets (getting sciency here, so skip if you want)

To understand the physiology component of the lifestyle, we must first understand a term called autophagy. This, according to Japan’s Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi (who won a Nobel Prize in 2016 for studying this stuff), is when the body goes into self-cleaning mode. When we allow ourselves to go into a state of “starvation” (aka fasting), damaged cells, proteins and toxins are recycled and removed. All of this burns calories and your metabolism also picks up! It starts burning fat into the glucose your brain and muscles need while you’re not taking any in (aka gluconeogenesis). This results in – yep, you guessed it – body fat loss.

But this can only happen when you allow your body to do it. By not forcing it to constantly process meals and spend all of it’s energy in the digestion process, it can start taking care of itself and mending and repairing. Eating constantly is a little like trying to clean your house while also hosting a play-date with 6 kids under 6… Not efficient to say the least.

The level of “clean up” your body can accomplish with constant calorie intake…

What’s it like?

So what should you expect if you decide to try it? Well, for starters, you’ll probably be hungry. But only for a little while, until your body gets used to the lowered insulin levels. The first 8 hours of your fast is after dinner/sleep, so that’s a freebie! If you’re done eating at 8pm, you’ll be fasting till noon.

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

I personally was never a big breakfast eater, because of 6am workouts and early work days. So I kinda skipped the hunger phase adjustment. But yeah, you’ll probably be hungry. Does that mean you take in nothing?? No, you can have black coffee (has to be black. NO calories. NO creamers). Or, you can drink some unflavored seltzer water to make your gut feel full. And always drink lots of water during your fast. Your daily aim is to take 1/2 your weight in pounds and drink that many ounces daily. You should have half of that by noon.

Water intake: If you weight 140 lbs, aim to drink at least 70 ounces water daily, 35 ounces by lunch.

You’ll be trying to make it till noon, or 1. Or 2! Then, eat. And eat well. Aim for lots of protein, fibrous veggies, and plenty of healthy fat! You’ll have 8 hours – noon to 8pm (if you’re doing the typical 16/8 I.F. method) to get in your calories for the day in this “feeding window”. You should not try to ‘cut calories’ during this time, you won’t have enough fuel for fasting time. You’ll notice once you’re used to it that during your fasting window, you’re sharp as a tack, and awake, and alert, and focused. If you remain hungry in your fast, it means you’re not eating enough fat, protein and fiber during your feed and this will. not. work.

Is this just another fad?

Admittedly, it’s certainly got the looks of one, considering that it’s the new hot thing to do. But think about the religious significance around fasting that dates back millennia. And then consider that, in the wild, animals fast. All of them do. Watch National Geographic and tell me when the lion takes a break from it’s day to eat easily prepared meal #3. Animals often go days without eating.

And I’m not saying that this is a cure for cancer (although during autophagy, induced by fasting, cancer cells can be found and eliminated according to this Oxford Academic Article), but we don’t see many animals in the wild with tumors. True, we don’t see many animals in the wild eating GMOs and processed food, but consider the connection between the natural process of autophagy and animals being in the wild.

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I’d argue that the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” thing was a fad at one point. One based on not a whole lot of science. “Three square meals a day” is a Western cultural construction. It’s an old one, yes. But at one time, humans ate when they found food, when they got their kill, or maybe when they found a fruit bearing tree. Feeding the body lots of times through the day, including forcing yourself to eat in the morning even when you don’t want to, is a brand new fad when you look at the grand timeline of our existence. Pssst…… so are most of the diseases we deal with that relate directly to obesity, which is a direct result of calorie mismanagement.  

So let’s sum up the potential benefits:

  1. Weight Loss, usually quite efficiently, combined with an increase in lean muscle mass integrity
  2. Anti-Aging properties due to the autophagy process.
  3. Potential disease prevention, currently being investigated for cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, and diabetes
  4. Increase in and stabilization of energy for the day
  5. Improved mental sharpness – losing that afternoon sugar-craving-sleepy-slump
  6. Decrease insulin spikes from calorie intake, which increases insulin sensitivity

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I’ve seen the results in myself and my friends to prove it can be wonderful. What questions do you have? We would love to help!

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Brandon Wright assisted as guest co-writer. He is a passionate advocate for food as fuel, woodworker, and husband of Kristy in Virginia.