5 ways motherhood has changed my views towards health and fitness

March 2, 2017


Becoming a mom shifted my perspective about a lot of things. Like other parents, my views evolved and I gained new insight into many areas of my life. In particular, my views toward health and fitness changed quite a bit when I entered parenthood. Today I thought I’d share some of the ways my outlook on exercise and health has evolved and what I’ve learned along the way.  


1.  It’s about quality over quantity.

I used to spend over an hour at the gym most days (much of that time doing cardio). I thought more time spent working out meant better results. And I felt that if I couldn’t dedicate at least a full hour of time then it wasn’t really worth it.


After the girls were born, my time became limited. My workouts needed to be short and smart. Because I didn’t have a whole lot of time, I needed to be more thoughtful and focused with my exercise. I soon realized it’s more important what you do than how long you spend doing it. A twenty-minute workout can be just as effective – if not more – as an hour spent in the gym if you know how to properly structure your workout. I’m learning this right now with CrossFit. An eight-minute workout can seem like an eternity!

2.  Strength training yields faster results.

When I started to consistently strength train, I couldn’t believe the change in my body. It’s absolutely true that increasing your muscle mass will give you the lean, toned look you desire. Strength training increasing your metabolism, burns fat, and improves bone density. Using free weights or even your own bodyweight are great ways to achieve results. HIIT and Tabata workouts can be short and effective. Plus, they are easy to squeeze in during naps or when you only have a small amount of time to spare.


3.  Maintaining my health has new meaning. 

Now that I have children I am motivated even more to stay in good health. I’m not just exercising for my own benefit—I’m doing it for my family. Growing up without a mother was really difficult for me and it’s something I never want my kids to experience. Maintaining my health will help ensure I get to be there for the girls’ future and watch them grow up. I never want to miss a moment!


4.  Exercise makes me a better parent and person.

Unquestionably, exercise makes me a happier, more focused, and relaxed person. As someone who has struggled with anxiety my whole life, I’m certain that exercising has been key to maintaining my emotional health. Working out helps me balance stress and gives me an outlet for releasing tension and anxiety. I have also noticed that I’m able to process and work through issues during a run or workout. All of this translates into being a better mom, wife, friend, and person.


5.  It’s not a big deal to miss a day or two.

As a parent you can never anticipate the random things that will come up during your day. Your child gets sick or has to go to the doctor. A nap is missed or your sleep was horrible the night before. Sometimes you have to miss your workout and that’s okay. Obviously, my family is my first priority so if I need to skip a day or two then it’s no big deal. That’s life and you just have to roll with it.


I would love to know how your views towards health and fitness have changed over the years. Share below. 




{Guest post}: 4 simple changes to better health by Matthew Alegre

February 28, 2017

Hi friends! I hope are doing well. Today’s post is brought to you by my husband, Matthew. When we’re not chasing after the girls or trying to break up an argument over Shopkins, we have some pretty interesting conversations. As you can imagine, they typically involve something about health and fitness, a podcast we listened to, a recent study that was done, Carpe Diem Personal Training stuff, or good food we want to devour. The other day we started talking about the challenges of eating healthy, the role stress often plays, and the little things we can do to get back on track. So Matt’s going to take it away and I’m going to make sure he doesn’t use any offensive language before hitting “publish.”

Common challenges we face when it comes to eating healthy


It seems like we have less time in our day than ever before. It’s difficult to try to balance all of our daily commitments (like work, family, and household tasks) and the various forms of stress that we face with proper care for ourselves. As a parent, I understand what a lot of my clients face each and every day – we are all incredibly busy.


In my experience, one of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to eating healthy is not being prepared. Between taking kids to school, chauffeuring them to various activities, working full-time, to maintaining your home there’s just not enough time in the day. Less time and more stress leads to poor meal choices. We end up eating whatever’s convenient or easy.


I try to encourage anyone who wants to establish better eating habits to focus on being prepared. This means spend a day on the weekend prepping food for the week ahead. Have real food on hand so you aren’t tempted by garbage. Use your crockpot for mid-week meals. Don’t buy junk. Have items that are simple and easy to make and can be thrown together quickly. Make and bring your lunch to work. Small changes can set the foundation for better longterm habits. 


Another common issue may be that the person who wants to eat better is met with resistance by his or her family. It can be difficult to get your whole family on board with a better lifestyle. Listen, I totally get the issue of trying to feed picky toddlers. However, this is where you have to show a little tough love. If you are making the meals then your family will just have to eat what you prepare. If they don’t want it then they can get their own food. One of my favorite expressions is lead by example. Show your kids that you care about your health as well as theirs. They will catch on to your actions.


A Fit Mess

Small changes can yield big results down the road. Here are a few, simple steps you can make today for better health tomorrow: 


1. Eat your first and final meal within a 12-hour window.

This means if you eat breakfast at 7:00 am, then you shouldn’t be eating anything after 7:00 pm. This is beneficial for several reasons. First, it encourages more consistent and fulfilling meals. It also supports liver function as well as digestion. Finally, it hinders snacking throughout the day and bingeing at night.


2.  Cut out processed foods and anything that comes from a box.

Learn to cook real food.  Your meals don’t need to be elaborate. Prepare simple, healthy items. Meat, nuts, and vegetables are great choices. Contrary to public opinion, meat and fat are not bad. You don’t need to follow a Standard American Diet (SAD) simply because that’s the norm. Otherwise, you might end up like Joe Schmo Couch Potato.


3. Plan! Success comes from being prepared.

If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. Make your food in advance, carry healthy snacks, and stock your fridge with whole foods. Be sure to eat every 3-4 hours. When you go too long between meals your body can’t function properly. You get tired, moody, and hungry which makes you more likely to grab junk food.


4.  Understand your food triggers.

Stress is a huge contributor to poor eating choices. If your cortisol is high then you are going to crave foods that spike your insulin (sugar, carbs, etc.). Ask yourself: what are the sources of stress in my life and how can I find ways to reduce them? When you feel stressed at work, do you want to hit the vending machine? Understanding your triggers is a huge part of redirecting your habits. Once you are aware of what may set you off then you need to figure out how to combat them. One small trick I use to curb sugar cravings is to mix 2 teaspoons of L-glutamine with a glass of water (or a small amount of heavy cream). It’s an effective way to satisfy a sweet tooth.


Additional links:

Carpe Diem Personal Training, Inc.

Poliquin Group Supplements 

Friday faves 6: My go-to health and wellness websites

June 24, 2016
A Fit Mess

Heeeeyyy. I’m extra excited about Friday to arrive because I have some fun things planned, including a massage this evening. I’m also getting together with a friend and plan to spend time with the girls at the pool. Let’s hope the weather cooperates.


Today I wanted to switch things up with my Friday faves series and talk a bit about my favorite online resources for health and wellness. There is so much information available on the internet these days and you’d be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t conflict with something else. It can be overwhelming to try and make sense of everything in order to make informed decisions.


Fortunately, I have found some reliable sources that consistently provide sound, unbiased information. If you are joining me on this path to wellness and healthy living, then I encourage you to visit these sites and bookmark them for future reference.


PubMed Health

A Fit Mess

PubMed Health provides information and research for consumers on prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions. I have come to really rely on PubMed Health for answers to some complex health questions. They provide detailed reviews of clinical research, medical findings, and short summary reports in everyday language. (They also have the full technical reports for all you scientists!).

PubMed Health is a service provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) – the world’s largest medical library. Among other things, the NCBI provides FREE, public access to information through resources like PubMed and PubMed Health. You can find literally millions of articles on medical research and health questions – all just a click away. I love the search box feature and the “for consumers” tab. Seriously, there is an unlimited amount of data here. I have yet to have my search come back with “0 results found.”


Environmental Working Group (EWG)

A Fit Mess

The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Their mission is simple: to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. They use breakthrough research and education to drive consumer choice and civic action.

I’m almost positive EWG recently upgraded its site. It’s much easier to search and find information and their website layout is really helpful. I especially like their consumer guides section where they rate thousands of products for safety and toxicity and offer tips from shopping healthy on a budget to choosing the best sunscreen for your kids.  I regularly reference their dirty dozen list on the top produce with pesticides (always buy organic for these) and their healthy cleaning guide.


Wellness Mama

A Fit Mess

Katie (AKA the “Wellness Mama”) started her journey to better heath over a decade ago. She’s a mother to six (SIX!) kids and somehow finds the time to be an award-winning blogger, author, and health advocate. Her mission? To provide simple answers for healthier families through practical tips, real food recipes, natural beauty and cleaning tutorials, natural remedies and more. What I love about Katie is that she is a completely real and honest. She has dedicated a significant amount of her time to research better, healthier ways of living for you and your family. And she shares all of this knowledge and information for free simply to help others live a happier, more natural life. I am addicted to her podcast, too.


Skin Deep

A Fit Mess

This is an offshoot of the EWG’s main site, but I regularly check products on this site. Not all of my personal care items have been given the best “score” by EWG, but I believe little changes can make a big impact. It really helps to stay informed and understand what’s being put in our products. I’m not saying you should toss out all of your non-compliant products, but maybe switch out a few here or there or try some natural alternatives for personal care items.


Chris Kresser

A Fit Mess

Chris Kresser is the real deal. He has taught me a lot about health and wellness because his knowledge is so extensive and comprehensive. I secretly wish we were best friends. Chris has a really impressive background and I encourage you to read about him on his website. He teaches and practices functional medicine, a personalized approach to health care that recognizes the biological uniqueness of each patient. What I appreciate about him is that he doesn’t say, functional medicine is the only way to better health. Rather, he recognizes that traditional medicine has it’s place and is important for many reasons. However, he encourages you to be your own health advocate and to look at other ways of curing disease, overcoming illness, and living an informed lifestyle with a more natural approach. I listen to his podcast Revolution Health Radio on my way to work. Highly recommend!


What are your favorite health websites? I would love to know what your go-to resources are!

Interview with Dr. Charles Hecht

June 13, 2016
Hi friends! I hope your week is off to a great start. I’m very excited to share a recent interview I did with Dr. Charles Hecht, chiropractor and owner of Partners in Health & Wellness, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Charles has been practicing chiropractic care for almost two decades. In addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, Charles holds several post-graduate degrees in acupuncture and he’s the only Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician in Chapel Hill.
On a personal level, Charles has helped me through several injuries and nagging pain, most notably my torn hamstring and hip problems post pregnancy. He’s extremely knowledgeable and strives to take a holistic approach to treating injuries and pain. What distinguishes his practice from others is that patients can come and receive multiple types of treatment and care to maximize their health and lifestyle including massage, acupuncture, and personal training. Apart from all of this, Charles is genuinely a nice guy. He’s sympathetic and helpful. Always understanding and welcoming. Exactly what you are looking for in a doctor and health partner. Enjoy!

Interview with Dr. Charles Hecht – Partners in Health & Wellness

How did you get started in chiropractic care?

I wanted to become a chiropractor after suffering with a herniated disc in high school.  I had tried PT and was scheduled to have surgery. However, I tried chiropractic as a “last possible solution” and got full resolution of my problem and was able to avoid going in for surgery.  Since that time, it has been my “go-to” for musculoskeletal issues like back and neck pain, elbow tendonitis, headaches and much more.

How long have you been in business?

I received by chiropractic license in November 1999. Soon after, I started practicing in Virginia before moving down to North Carolina.  I opened my current practice in Chapel Hill, NC in March of 2001.

What are the top issues you treat?

The most common issue I treat is lower back pain, followed by neck pain/headaches.  However, in the summer, we have an increase in sports injuries like shin splints, hip pain from running, and tennis elbow.  Also, I treat the occasional gardener who over did it tending their crop.

Are there any issues that women are prone to?

Yes.  Many women have a unique series of posture issues that usually result from post-pregnancy changes.  Most common is the rounding of the shoulders and upper back because of how they hold/feed their child during the early years. Unfortunately when this problem is not corrected, it can lead to upper back pain/burning, as well as neck pain and headaches.  In addition, women who run tend to have more hip flexor and sacroiliac issues as a result of these weak middle and lower trapezius.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care for individuals who exercise regularly?

Regular chiropractic care is fantastic for individuals who work out.  It is one of the many reasons I have a trainer in my office.  I encourage all of my patients to do at least 3-4 days per week of 20-25 minutes of exercise.  Unfortunately, if you do “the same old routine” over and over, then it can cause muscular and joint imbalance creating pain.  With chiropractic, I analyze a patient’s spine for normal movement, their muscular patterns for imbalances, and the health of their joints for longevity.

For example, I treat many runners (of all levels) in my office.  The two most common reasons they come to me for help is hip and sacroiliac pain.  There is a predictable pattern of overuse.  First, the individual is usually someone who has run for many years.  Often, they do not take “rest” days. Finally, many of these patients will sit all day at a computer which causes the glute muscles not to function and leads to hamstring shortening. Partnering chiropractic care with exercise will help you “stay in the game” and avoid injuries.

If there is one piece of advice you could offer everyone, what would it be?

Look at the big picture!  When you are training for an event that “you just have to do” but have nagging injuries or worse an acute injury, cancel the race.  Consult with a professional that will help to treat the ailing issue, then return to the activity healthy. Avoiding these warning sides will lead to more time out of exercise versus just missing “one race”.

You can read more about Charles and his work on the Partners in Health and Wellness website. And be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter. I love the tips he regularly shares!