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4 tips to modify your workout for pregnancy

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As my pregnancy progresses, I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m umm.. yeah.. pregnant! Ding ding.. This means that my usual workouts are getting harder, my body aches here and there from the relaxin hormone that comes with pregnancy, my growing belly gets in the way, and (tmi?) my bladder thinks I’m crazy to be moving at all.

Are ya on the same page? It’d be so easy to just give up workout out at all, especially with all the people who say you’ve earned it, you’re pregnant! Sound familiar?  But seriously, don’t we want to try to stay healthy while growing a little human?

Here are my top 4 tips to modify your workout during pregnancy so you’re still staying fit:

  1. Widen your stance.  For squats, lunges, even child’s pose, it’s helpful to widen your stance. You’re creating extra space for your baby belly, plus you’ll have better balance.
  2. Go for less or no impact. Are you used to doing cardio? Tone it down a bit. You’ve probably noticed that all that jostling of your body just doesn’t feel good after the 1st trimester.  The workout programs I do all have modifiers, so there are always low to no-impact versions of the moves. My current favourite is PiYo, which I am now having to cut out any little bit of impact there is. Another great program with easy-to-follow modifications is 21 Day Fix.
  3. Slow things down. You just may not be able to move as fast as you’re used to. Remember to slow things down in order to prevent injury.  Most of our bodies are more prone to pulling muscles while pregnant since everything’s a bit looser than normal.
  4. Go easy on the ab work.  Here’s one I’m struggling with. I want to push myself and feel like I’m working, but at the same time I really want to avoid diastasis recti (abdominal separation).. Yeah, SCARY! This is common, so it’s good to be careful of what you’re making those abs do while pregnant.  Pay close attention, and if you think you’re straining those muscles, modify or cut out that exercise all-together.
  5. (BONUS):  Set your ego at the door.  Yep.  I don’t think you should have a free pass to sit on the couch or skip exercise completely, but when you are working out, you need to remember that your body isn’t the same as a few months ago. It’s going through a lot of changes, and it’s expected that you may have to take things back a notch at some point. Don’t feel bad about that! You can add in more upper body strength work if you’re really feeling bad, but I like to think that the workouts I’m doing are still setting myself up for a healthy pregnancy and a much easier road back to being fit after my sweet baby is born.

Roast Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

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Not a Brussels sprouts fan?  Let me tell you, I’d only ever taken the required single bite at special holidays these last 30-odd years of my life, until I saw this recipe and just KNEW that it was my ticket to Brussels sprouts enjoyment.. and hey, I was actually right!  I’ll eat a plate full of these now! I’m not even exaggerating!  Tonight when I made them, they were sitting out still, and I kept going back for more to snack on.  They’re like the gateway to any other Brussels Sprouts that might get thrown in your path.

With Thanksgiving coming up, these are a perfect clean option. The maple syrup and balsamic vinegar add some tangy sweetness, and the pecans add some crunch.  I’ve also been known to toss in some dried cranberries.

Here’s what I did:

I washed up the lovely little Brussels Sprouts – I had just under 2 pounds.

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I trimmed off the ends, and cut the bigger ones in half.

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I tossed them along with 1/4 cup chopped pecans and 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

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I popped them into a preheated 450F oven, and baked for about 20 minutes, until I saw some nicely charred bits.

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I stirred up my 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup, then tossed the lot together.  I served them immediately. YUM!

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Roast Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
1 1/2 – 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed, stems trimmed, and large ones cut in half
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Himalayan Salt, and Freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

I preheated the oven to 450F.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, I tossed together the Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil, and salt and pepper.
I roasted them for about 20 minutes, or until I saw some nice charred bits.
I whisked together the vinegar and maple syrup
I pulled the sprouts pan out of the oven and tossed them with the vinegar/syrup mixture, and served right away.

pumpkin-less healthy pumpkin spice latte

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Am I crazy? maybe maybe.  Today was one of those days where I just wanted to cozy up on the couch with a warm mug of pumpkin spice latte and not move a bit.  Tragedy – no pumpkin puree in the house!  Not a problem though, because this recipe is pretty dang good, and I don’t even miss the pumpkin.  Bonus: no having to open a full can or make your own when you’re just going to use a tiny bit anyhow.

pumpkin-less pumpkin spice latte

A cake and greens original
Makes about 12oz

1-2 shots of espresso, or 1/3 cup very strong coffee
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or a few drops stevia, to taste (I use maple syrup)
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
a dash of cinnamon

Pour your espresso or coffee into your mug and stir in spice and sweetener.  Steam or heat and froth your almond milk, and pour into your mug.  Top with a dash of cinnamon.

Enjoy!

pumpkin scones

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I’m a really strong believer in moderation, and in not just saying that half the foods I love are completely off-limits.  This gets pretty tough when I crave all the sugary baked goods that I can think of.  Today I finally decided to bake up a batch of the famed Starbucks Pumpkin Scones.  They’re amazing, and I’m hoping I can limit myself a bit.  It wouldn’t be a good idea to eat the whole batch, yahknow?

These are crazy delicious, like my favourite thing ever.. must not eat all.. Strategy? Give them to friends, freeze most for later.. I like to freeze them on a cookie sheet, then either pop them straight into a bag in the freezer, or individually wrap them.  That makes for lots of future pumpkiny deliciousness.

pumkin scones

This recipe is everywhere, but I slightly modified it from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.
Makes 12 servings

For the Scones:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (just under 1/2 cup)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into little cubes
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons cold milk
1 large egg

For the Powdered Sugar Glaze:
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoons milk, or to desired consistency

For the Spiced Glaze:
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat. Cut butter in with a fork, knives, a pastry blender, or whiz in your food processor for a few seconds, until it’s no bigger than small peas.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 4 inches by 12 inches. cut into 3 equal squares, then cut each square in an X pattern (four pieces) so you end up with 12 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

While the scones are cooling, make the powdered sugar glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. When scones are cool, use a pastry brush  or a spoon to spread plain glaze over the top of each scone.
While the powdered sugar glaze is firming, combine all of the ingredients for the spiced glaze. Drizzle over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (about an hour).

Try to eat just one and freeze the rest!

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healthy baked falafels

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Baking falafels.. I know, genius!  I didn’t come up with this myself, even though I should have.  I remember several falafel-making failures, where things were too mushy, my oil was too hot, and well.. too oily!  Black burnt falafels aren’t so great.  Solution? Bake them up until they’re perfectly cooked.

I love that falafels are full of so much flavour, and pack a lot of nutritional value from the chickpeas, garlic, and healthy oil.  These are great inside a pita, on a salad, or even by themselves as a snack!

You can use your favourite falafel recipe, or follow this one below, and bake em up.

Healthy Baked Falafels
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 cans Chick Peas (540mL each – low sodium), rinsed and drained
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 egg
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon melted extra virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

I preheated my oven to 400F.

I dumped everything except the flour and baking powder into the food processor, and pulsed until crumbly.  Then I added half the flour and baking powder, and pulsed a bit more to mix. I added the rest of the flour and baking powder, and pulsed a few more times.

I scooped balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and flattened them slightly into patties.

I baked them for about 25 minutes – until slightly crispy and cooked through, but still soft in the middle.

how i’m staying healthy while pregnant

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Oh the pregnancy struggle.. The one time in your life when everyone else gives you complete permission to do nothing and eat whatever you want.. but is that really the best choice for your body?  In my first pregnancy I started out trying to run 4-5k as much as possible, but that quickly became a bit of a joke.  Runs turned into walks, which turned into skipping it altogether.  Not this time!  I don’t want that feeling of absolutely dying when I try to play my first game of ultimate, or spending a year + wishing about my pre-pregnancy clothing.

I’m at 20 weeks now, and am doing pretty well!

Fitness
This time around, I have a plan for fitness.  I’ve jumped into the PiYo workout program, and have found that it’s PERFECT for pregnancy.  I’d never been into yoga or pilates, but this is faster paced and upbeat, plus I just plain feel GOOD after I do it.

It’s easy to modify!  In the videos, there’s a modifier that is so easy to follow.  I just love her.  You bet I’m modifying already, and will likely be a whole lot more as the weeks go on, but I’m not just going to quit.  I don’t want the terribly hard road back to fitness when I have this baby. I have high hopes that it’ll be easier than last time because I’m not spending a year or two inactive.

Other bonuses: No impact, increased strength and flexibility, and I can do it whenever I have a bit of time at home. No heading to the gym.  I still try to get it done when the little one’s sleeping, but sometimes she just has to sit and play or eat while watching me. Even better is seeing her attempt the moves along with her mama!  Plus, some of those workouts are less than 20 minutes long!

Nutrition
I have a nutrition plan too, although let me tell you, this has been a STRUGGLE for me.  My cravings are strong and my willpower doesn’t exist right now.  Do I want to make a million cookies? Totally.  Do I do that sometimes, and then eat most of them? Yep.  Still, I keep pulling myself back towards my plan, which has got to be better than no plan at all.

This is where the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan comes in (the workouts are amazing too, but I’ve delved deep into PiYo).  There are easy to use containers for portion control, and food lists.  I have so much fun combining foods and making delicious meals that work with the plan.  Healthy can be good.  My favourite part is that there’s room for things like chocolate! YES!

Want to join my next challenge group for either of these programs, or have any questions? Send me a note here.  I’d love to help get you started on your journey too!

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P90 giveaway

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You may or may not be familiar with my fitness journey, so I’ll give  you a quick recap…

I’ve always played sports, but never done anything extra, so I couldn’t ever say I was fit.  The thought of going to a gym seemed like craziness to me growing up. Whyyyy? Then, before we got married, my husband challenged us both to a round of P90X, and I started to lose weight, get in shape, and feel stronger!  It was great, but short lived.  Kids came along, so you’ve gotta be crazy if you thought I had time for those intense LONG workouts!  The yoga one was like 90+ minutes!  Insane.

I’ve always loved Tony Horton, his kindness and passion for what he does.. plus his over the top cheesiness kind of grows on you.  I’m pretty excited for his latest program – P90. It’s a complete overhaul of Power 90, and my team’s so excited about it that we’re giving away a free copy!

Whether you used to be in shape and feel fitness has now passed you by, or you’ve never worked out a day in your life, Tony Horton’s P90 workout is your easy-to-follow way to lose substantial weight, have the energy to run and play with your kids, and feel better in everything you do—without the agony of high-intensity exercise.
In as little as 25 minutes a day, P90 will help you completely change your body—not by working you harder—but by keeping it simple. Simple cardio. Simple resistance training. A simple approach to portion control.  This is what we all need!

I’m not saying it’s all easy, but it IS doable.

To enter:

  1. Make sure I’m your coach. If I’m not, sign up here.
  2. Fill out this google form. We will make sure you get added to the group with updates and more details on the upcoming release!

healthy pumpkin spice latte

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The leaves are changing and it’s getting to be fall. OK, so maybe the leaves here are just falling off because we had such a hot dry summer.. but still, I’ve been itching to wear boots, jeans, and scarves, and sipping on a yummy pumpkin spice latte, and I know they’re at Starbucks now.. but I really don’t want whatever yuckiness they put in theirs, especially not when it’s super easy to whip up at home. You can even skip the pumpkin puree in my recipe and it’ll still taste great. All unprocessed, all-natural ingredients, if you’re fine with coffee.

It’s sweet, decadent, and tastes like fall in a warm mug.

healthy pumpkin spice latte

Recipe adapted from beachbody
serves 1, easily doubled or more

3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons maple syrup, or 2 –3 drops liquid stevia (I used syrup)
1 – 2 shots espresso or 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
dash of nutmeg or cinnamon to taste (optional)

In a mug or saucepan, stir together the almond milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup, then heat in the microwave or on the stove until quite hot but not boiling.

Remove from heat and froth or whisk well.

Pour espresso or coffee into a mug, then pour milk mixture on top.

Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Enjoy!

tips to start and keep working out

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We’ve all been there.. With a workout program sitting there collecting dust on the shelf.. Maybe you’ve never even opened it, or maybe you got a few weeks in and then life happened. Right? Lots of excuses.

You work too many hours, your kids keep you from working out, you’re too tired, it’s too hard, you don’t love it, your nutrition sucks too, so why bother.. Yup, lots of excuses. You should be able to counteract ALL of those with some great little tips and tricks.

4 ways to set yourself up for success long-term:

1. Remember your great big goal. Where do you want to be? Do you want to lose weight? How will it FEEL to fit into that cute dress? Or how will it FEEL to be able to keep up to your kids, or be able to run 3 miles? Pretty amazing, right? Stick a picture of what that goal looks like to you somewhere you’ll see every day.

2. Not enough time? Try a short run or bike ride. You can just get out there and go! Or try one of Beachbody’s awesome 25-30 minute workout programs, like T25 (I got crazy results with this program, as you can see above!), the 21 Day Fix (30 minute workouts and fabulous nutrition tools), P90, and P90X3. There’s something nice and short for everyone!

3. Kids? Get them involved too. You can do this outdoors, or even at home using a fitness DVD. From an early age, I’d set my daughter up with a snack or breakfast, and get going. Yes, there were some interruptions, but I always found a way to get the workout done. The best part is you’re modeling great healthy behaviour, and seeing your kids start mimicking you.

4. Too tired, or it’s too hard? I don’t know anyone who regretted working out. If you’re feeling wiped out, just start. Tell yourself you’ll do at least 5 minutes. You may surprise yourself and get through the entire thing. If not, wrap it up but know that you at least tried! You’ll feel better than if you hadn’t.

8 tips to get that workout started each day:

1. Set out all of your workout clothes the night before. Put them where you’ll see them when it’s time to work out. I put mine in the bathroom so they’re the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning (after the stumbling steps down the hall).

2. Home workout program? Pop that DVD into the player and set out whatever other gear you’ll need so there’s no wasting time and no excuses! You don’t want to be running around at 6am searching for your sneakers or trying to find your beloved water bottle. Those seem like silly little excuses, but I hear people use them all the time.

3. Play some energizing music. If you’re just not feeling it, pop in some energizing music and bop around the room. That should get you going enough to get started.

4. Take it 5 minutes at a time. Like I said above, start with 5 minutes. If it still seems hard, just go for another 5 minutes. See how far you can get.

5. Stick your calendar on the wall. Make a workout schedule, or use the one that came with the program, and stick it on the wall or fridge. Mark off each day after you’ve completed it. This feels so good and is great motivation to keep going

6. Schedule it in your calendar just like an appointment or something else important. Make sure you schedule it in for a time that actually works for you!

7. Tell someone. Tell a workout partner, friend, significant other, or accountability partner. When someone else expects you to do your workout, you’re more likely to do it! Get them to make sure you check in each day

8. Join a challenge group. I’ve got lots of different challenge groups on facebook that are great for motivation, support, and accountability. Others are on their journey right along with you. Send me a message if you want to join a group!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

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I find it oh-so satisfying making my own vinaigrettes from scratch. It’s one of those ways in which I feel like I’m taking an extra little step in nourishing my family, and it’s super easy! Often all you need is a jam jar to shake shake shake.

This recipe requires a blender or food processor, and the result is a tangy-sweet strawberry delight that livens up any salad. I love making it with blueberries (frozen even, if that’s what you have!) too. I had it the other night on a yummy kale salad mix. I’ve been making batch after batch of this with fresh local berries, while I can still get them!

Fresh Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (or blueberries)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Blend everything together in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

Source: slightly adapted from Karma Chow

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