Approaching the holidays with a healthy mindset

December 19, 2016

Many would agree that the holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends over good food and happy conversation. It can also be a time when we want to throw in the towel on our healthy habits. But you can still enjoy the holiday season without completely derailing your diet or the progress you have made. And the best way to do that is to plan, plan, plan. If you face the holiday season with a healthy mindset and a smart strategy then you are less likely to give in to the What the Hell Effect.


If you are like me then it’s not enough to simply tell yourself, I’m just going to have a little bit or I’ll skip dessert. You need to get specific about what you plan to do and you need to come prepared with alternatives. Taking a few steps ahead of time can completely change the way you approach holiday gatherings and special events.

A Fit Mess

Here are four of my favorite strategies for maintaining a healthy mindset during the holidays:

1.  Plan your meals and have emergency snacks. 

If you are traveling over the holidays be sure to pack lots of snacks for when hunger strikes. You never know if your flight will be delayed or if you are unable to have a real meal. Toss some Larabars, Rx Bars, or nuts into your bag for those moments when you need to eat. If you are staying with friends or relatives, schedule a trip to the grocery store as soon as you arrive. This way you can be sure to have some healthy choices on hand during your stay.


2.  Bring your own food or dessert.

If you are not hosting the meal/gathering, check with the person who is to see what the menu includes. Offer to make or buy something that you know you will enjoy. I feel that it’s up to the host what he/she wants to offer. If it’s not something you can (or want) to eat, don’t feel obligated to eat it, but be sure to come prepared with an alternative. I think most people are understanding of dietary restrictions and wouldn’t feel insulted if you choose not to eat their meal.

Some of my favorite recipes and desserts are from PaleOMG and Elana’s Pantry.


3. Get movement in every day. 

A good way to stay ahead of holiday indulgences is by getting some type of movement or activity in each day. Plan a hike or a family walk. Find a good running trail. Check out a local yoga studio. Many gyms allow guest passes or drop ins (for a fee) for out-of-towners. Seriously, there is no better way to keep yourself in check than with exercise.

If you want some ideas for travel-friendly exercise, check out my workouts page.

A Fit Mess


4.  Avoid stressful situations and have a plan when they arise.

Sure, the holidays are meant to be enjoyable, but the reality is they can also cause an awful lot of stress. Shopping for gifts, preparing your home for guests, cooking and hosting meals can all bring about anxiety. Not to mention the family drama that can creep in on occasion. Let’s face it – seasonal stress is inevitable and often unavoidable. When possible, try to steer clear of situations that you know cause you anxiety. If it’s impossible to avoid, have a killer plan for handling it when it crops up. Just outlining your approach can be super helpful when those circumstances arise. Note: extra alcohol may not be the answer.


This year we are hosting Christmas at our house and there are some things giving me anxiety. I’m no where close to being finished decorating our house (our dining room is still a playroom for the girls), having a presentable home on Christmas morning is impossible, figuring out what to cook and having enough options for all. These things stress me out, but I’m determined to just relax and go with it. Casual and comfy is the theme and I really want to just enjoy the company.


What are some of the ways you approach the holidays? Are you traveling this year or staying home?

What’s your vacation style? Plus do-anywhere workouts!

August 18, 2016

Hey there. Happy Thursday! I can’t believe our trip is right around the corner. I’ve decided to get a jump on things and get the three of us packed and I’m just about finished. It’s funny – I put a lot of thought into what the girls will wear and the things they may need, but when it came time for my stuff I kind of just threw a bunch of things together. #momlife

A Fit Mess
Packing up the girls
A Fit Mess
And whatever mom can throw together for herself

This girls are doing really well with using the potty (they wear pull-ups at night and during naps), but I am a bit nervous about keeping up the routine while we are in a new environment. I’ve heard from other parents that sometimes travel can throw off your potty progress, so I’m going to be prepared with extra changes of clothes. I also packed 1,000 pairs of Minnie Mouse, Princess Sophia, and Elmo undies.

A Fit Mess

As for my stuff – comfortable is the name of the game. We’ll be at the beach so I’ll likely just wear loungey clothes. However, I made sure to pack plenty of workout clothes. I was glad to hear our condo has an exercise room, but I’m not sure what the set up is so I’ve started to plan a variety of workouts that can be done inside, at the gym, or on the beach.


Some people like to use vacation as a time to scale back on their workouts or rest completely. Personally, I find I can relaxed even more when I’ve managed to add in a workout to my day. I used to think this was odd, but my body really craves a good sweat and so I’m embracing this feeling. In a way it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and really sets the tone for my day. I’m planning on working out at least a few times while we are gone and I’m hoping to add in several walks on the beach.


Some of the fitness equipment I plan on bringing include:

  • TRX (so easy to throw over your door)
  • jump rope
  • resistance bands
  • tennis ball (for rolling out my feet)


Here are some of my favorite exercises to do while I’m travelling. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to travel/home workouts that are perfect for on the go.

Body weight + HIIT workouts (no equipment needed)

A Fit Mess


This HIIT is a quick and easy way to get your heart rate up and gain strength. Complete 5 rounds for a total of 30 minutes.

Mother's Day HIIT

HIIT Cardio Session from Jen Jewell

I love this workout so, so much. It’s a good one for sure. Each time I do it I’m exhausted after. If you don’t have a jump rope you can just simulate jumping rope.


Minimal equipment workouts

6 Dumbbell Exercises, 3 Full-Body Workouts by Tina Haupert  – I haven’t tried these yet, but Tina’s workouts are always great!

This simple upper body super set would be an excellent way to squeeze in a quick workout. Only a set of dumbbells required!

A Fit Mess


When it comes to diet, I also give myself some room to enjoy food and drinks while I am on vacation. Time away should be an experience we all enjoy so I’m not going to stress about being 100% clean or gluten/dairy free. But I always make sure I drink a ton of water while I am away to stay hydrated. And when it comes to managing toddlers on a trip, snacks are key!


Finally, I just want to thank everyone for sharing their comments and opinions after I posted about some of my hesitations regarding travelling with my kids. Your thoughts were very inspiring (and also funny). I appreciate your feedback and I loved reading your thoughts. I very much believe that traveling with kids is essential and that eventually things will get easier. But just as the girls will need to adjust to being away and learning to go with the flow, I also need to adapt to being out of my comfort zone and off my routine. The good thing is I will have a lot of help. And it’s going to be a lot of fun!


What is your vacation style like?

Do you enjoy working out when you travel or do you prefer to rest?

What are your favorite snacks to travel with?



Vacation recap (#nofilter)

April 6, 2016

Hey, hey. We’ve made it back from our trip to the beach and I’m finally sitting down to write a recap.

The trip had highs and lows – it was nice to break out of our everyday routine and the weather was beautiful, but we definitely had our struggles with the girls. Two year olds can be so…emotional (and that’s being generous!). Their sleep was off for most of the trip and we played musical beds every night. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. I keep reminding myself that this phase will pass. Toddlers.are.crazy.

So, let’s recap, shall we?

I took Friday off from work so I could pack and organize things for our trip. I’m glad I did because I didn’t feel rushed on Saturday morning. In fact, I was able to take my usual class in the morning before we left. I knew if I was going to be sitting for 3 hours I needed to get some movement in beforehand.


After class I showered and we all got dressed and piled into the car. As I mentioned in my previous post, the trip down was a breeze. I attribute our success mostly due to the fact that I had a bunch of snacks for the girls. I made sure I grabbed some things they haven’t had before to keep it interesting. I also hit up the $1 section at Target and got some toys on the cheap to keep them entertained. These sticky lizards were a hit!


I spent most of the car ride reading and studying. In fact, I finished reviewing my training manual! As you can see I didn’t have a whole lot of leg room.


We arrived at the beach around 11:30 am. Our house was super nice! It had been recently updated and there was plenty of room for us. The owners have grandchildren so the whole place was kid-friendly and toddler-proofed. You can see more pics in Monday’s post.

After checking out our digs we headed over to our friend’s place (they own the home across the street from us) to catch up. A random person in Whole Foods taught Maddie how to make that goofy face and now she does it all the time.

We eventually made our way to the beach. Saturday it was super windy which made the beach a bit chilly. But, hey, it IS April. Not complaining!

We spent some time at the beach and then our friends cooked dinner at our place. Shrimp and rice plus a salad. It was delicious!

Saturday was a bit of a rough night for the girls. They didn’t have a proper nap and I think being off schedule in a new place was tough for them. Many meltdowns and getting them to go to sleep was HARD. Do any other parents have this problem when they travel?

Sunday things turned around. After relaxing on the deck in the morning, we took the girls to Kure Beach to visit the aquarium. We didn’t realize we had to take a ferry over until we were almost there, but luckily it arrived quickly. It was the girls’ first time on a boat!

Seriously, the aquarium was SO much fun. The girls had a blast.

The aquarium also had an outdoor playground and cafe so the kids could burn off some energy and do kid-things. What a great idea!


On our way back from the aquarium the girls fell asleep. Yes! Rather than attempt to take them out of the car I sat in the front seat reading and catching up on social media. Seriously, how many times have I sat in the car while they napped?

After they woke up we headed down to the beach and spent around 3 hours playing. It was such a great time to be there – it was practically empty and super sunny. Check out that sky!

Ashlyn loved splashing in the water while Maddie enjoyed digging in the sand and “playing” paddle board with our friend (gotta admit she’s better than I am!).

Monday morning I worked out at the house (I went with this one and it took just over 30 minutes). Then we took the girls into Southport and walked around the town, hit up a toy store and then the playground. Don’t let these smiles fool you! I shared on Instagram that this picture was taken just moments before a massive double-meltdown.

The girls napped when we got home and I enjoyed one of the most glorious (and silent) hours on the deck, reading and drinking coffee.

The day concluded with more beach time and popsicles. I was way lenient on this trip with snacks and treats, but that’s how it goes on vacation, right?

The evening concluded with Frozen, a new to us movie. (Can I just say we are officially obsessed over here? And I totally get the hype!)


We said good bye to the beach on Tuesday and headed home.

After we got back, I grabbed groceries at TJs, did 100 loads of laundry, unpacked and repacked my suitcase, and somehow persuaded the girls to take a nap.

Today I leave for a work trip to St. Louis. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to being done with my travel. Plus, as much as these two girls drive me bonkers I will miss them like crazy.

Any parents out there have some tips on how to keep a routine while on vacation? Is anyone else planning a trip this spring with their kids?

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Packing for the beach

April 1, 2016

Happy FRIDAY! It’s finally here, my friends.

Well, I managed to start organizing things for our trip last night. I’ve been keeping a running list of the items I need to remember to bring, particularly for the girls, and it has helped me stay focused as I pack. I plan on just throwing casual stuff along with workout clothes in a bag for myself. Here’s what I packed first (surprised?)…


Even though we are traveling by car, I don’t want to over pack, so I’m trying to keep things to a minimum. Plus, our house has a washer and dryer so I’ll be able to do laundry at some point. I can never escape it!

Here’s what I’m planning to bring:

GIRLS – clothing and shoes:

  • nightgowns (3 each)
  • outfit for travel + a change in case (2 each)
  • outfits (4 each)
  • socks
  • bathing suits (4)
  • flip flops (2)
  • sandals (2)
  • hats (2)
  • sunglasses (2)
  • light jackets (2)


GIRLS – toiletries and accessories:

  • shampoo
  • tissues
  • toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • beach towels (4)
  • wipes
  • diapers + swim diapers
  • sunblock
  • lovies
  • travel white noise maker
  • bibs (AMAP)
  • multi vitamins (8) and probiotics (8)
  • combs (2)
  • bows and hair ties
  • beach toys
  • floaties (2)


GIRLS – entertainment (car):

  • activity books (2)
  • crayons
  • toys
  • DVDs (in case!)
  • books


And snacks:

  • bananas
  • apples
  • trail mix
  • Larabars
  • Justin’s travel almond butter pouches
  • Cheerios (not shown)
  • fruit + veggie pouches
  • crackers
  • AB&J sandwiches (2)
  • water bottles (for all of us)


  • phone chargers (!)
  • supplements
  • laptop
  • personal training book and study guide materials
  • potty training book (fun stuff!)
  • contact lens (+ extra pair)
  • glasses
  • sunglasses
  • hat
  • beach tent
  • cooler
  • coconut cream
  • coconut oil
  • almond oil
  • coffee + filters
  • hair iron

In the end, if I forget anything it really isn’t a big deal. We can make do.

Matt came home with one of his old anatomy books for me to use as I’m studying. I’m actually excited to read it!


The tricky thing about this trip is the morning after we return I turn around and fly to St. Louis to attend a work conference. I’m looking forward to it, but it will be an interesting transition to go from vacation right into work mode. I’ll be living out of a suitcase for awhile! I’m also going to miss being with the girls for a few days. But I’m not going to think about that.

I’m just going to think about this:


I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to be with my family for a little while. Matthew’s schedule is quite busy and being a small business owner means he really can’t take time off. Well he can, but he doesn’t get vacation or personal time like most. So taking time off for him is a big deal.

I’m also grateful that we are going to a place that is very special to me. I grew up going to the Outer Banks, NC as a child and it’s one of my very favorite spots. I have so many happy memories of being with my aunts, uncles, and cousins every summer. We have a big family – there must have been at least 30 of us there!

Duck - wild horses

Matt and I have agreed to continue going to the beach (hopefully OBX) every year with the girls. I want them to experience the same joy and excitement I did about going to the beach. Hopefully the big waves won’t scare them!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend! I have some posts planned for early next week so you’ll hear from me soon.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some entertaining articles I came across recently:

The 10 Worst Exercises You Were Forced to do in PE <– Ugh. Waiting to be picked for a team was the WORST!

True Life: I Went to Pure Barre and It Was Effing Miserable <– One man’s account of Pure Barre. Hilarious! And oddly makes me want to try it.

These Healthy, Chewable Coffee Cubes Might Just Replace Your Cup of Joe <–Sorry, but there is absolutely NO way this is the future of coffee. Anyone who loves coffee knows most of the enjoyment comes from the ritual of drinking the coffee.

Do you have any spring break plans?

I’d love to hear about them! Any tips for traveling with kids?