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NOTES FROM DEANNA

I know you’re exhausted…this will help

If you’re feeling like you’re barely surviving right now, you’re not alone. Most of my clients and the women I speak with daily feel this way year round, but then the holidays roll around and it’s exhaustion on steroids. There’s just so much to do and not enough time to do it.

But a few years back after I had my fourth child, I discovered a concept that I had never been aware of before, at least on a conscious level:

Energy management.

Sure, I’d heard the term thrown around here and there, but it had never even dawned on me to attempt it in my life as a mom. After all, I had just assumed that surviving my days was the best I could expect and if anything was leftover for me, then great.

(Spoiler alert: There was never anything left over, guys.)

The thought was spurred when I was listening to Ariana Huffington speak in an interview about how she had worked herself into such a state that she ended up waking up in a pool of her own blood, collapsed from exhaustion. She had been surviving her days, focused solely on how much work she could pack into one day, and neglected herself and her staff.

This experience made her realize that she was not being proactive about her own wellness and health, and not only that, was not producing the best results she could because she was operating from such a state of exhaustion.

She was speaking about running her media company, but I thought it was applicable to motherhood as well.

The responsibilities that fall into our laps during new motherhood are sometimes so great that they are almost laughable. I remember being in a grocery store with my three young kids once – one was grabbing things off shelves and putting them in the basket that I didn’t want, one was throwing a temper tantrum in the seat of the cart, and the third was walking beside me and lifting up my skirt for the world to see. I remember bawling my eyes out the whole way home while simultaneously bursting into laughter at how ridiculous the whole motherhood gig was.

But here is the inescapable truth – it IS hard, but it is ours. And if we think that we’re going to handle these responsibilities best with a “survivalist” mindset, we’re going to end up face down on the floor wondering what happened.

I know that it seems impossible to think of adding in any type of self-care, but that’s because you’re probably thinking a) it has to take tons of time and b) it will take away from your family/work instead of giving to it.

Remember: this is NOT another thing to feel guilty about. Do not read one more word of this article and feel bad about what you have not done up until now. Most of us default to survival mode because we don’t know any better!

With the right energy management, you can CREATE energy for yourself for your life rather than take away from it. The secret is to invest time and focus into the things that give you the HIGHEST return of energy in the least amount of time. And then, instead of those things falling to the wayside each day, the things that actually drain your energy will be expendable instead.

Here is exactly how to do that:

Step 1: Make Lists

Make a list of non-mandatory tasks you perform each day and also some self-care tasks that you may or may not already be doing. Your list may look like this:

  • Check emails
  • Fold laundry
  • Exercise
  • Grocery shop
  • Prepare healthy food
  • Read
  • Check social media
  • Clean the house
  • Pick up lunch
  • etc.

You can be as detailed as you’d like.

Step 2: Time Inventory

Write down how long, on average, each of these tasks takes you daily.

Step 3: Rate energy drain or return.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 = drains tons of energy and 10 = creates the most energy, rate each item on the list. Remember to think big picture: while something like exercise may drain your energy temporarily, it may GIVE you more energy exponentially the rest of the day/week.

Step 4: Compare and re-prioritize

Now you’re going to create a brand new list. The things with the HIGHEST energy score that take the LEAST amount of time go at the top, followed by the highest scores that take more time, etc. The items with the LOWEST energy score (draining) that take the MOST time go at the bottom.

And this is your new priority list.

Now that you have this list, make a deal with yourself that NOTHING lower on the list happens before the things highest on the list are done.

So if your new list looks like this:

  1. Workout
  2. Healthy food prepped or eaten
  3. Read 10 pages
  4. Clean up
  5. Grocery Shop
  6. Check emails

…then checking emails does not happen before everything higher up has been checked off the list for the day.

What does this accomplish?

You’re now investing your time and your focus on the big dial movers that actually make you feel BETTER and have MORE energy instead of getting zapped of it right off the bat. Now, when you’re in the grocery store with your three little ones who are throwing things in your basket or just throwing tantrums, you’ll be better able to handle it. You won’t already be at the end of your rope. You’ll feel more clear, calm, and focused.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – think in terms of spectrums. You don’t have to workout for hours – taking 5 minutes to stretch is better than doing nothing at all, or you could do a short but intense HIIT workout like we do in #FastFitMoms. A breakfast with a little protein is better than no breakfast at all.

I would love to hear how your priority lists change when you re-structure them in this way, hit reply and let me know!

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Stepping on the Scale

There was a period of many, many years where I would wake up in the morning, get on the scale, and the number reflected back at me would either make my day or ruin it.

Each morning, I would hold my breath and feel the fear in my body as I stepped on and whispered “pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease”.

The times when the number was what I wanted or expected, I was elated. I would take pictures and send it to my friends. I would pat myself on the back for a job well done. I would float through my day feeling confident and maybe a little superior (ugh, so embarrassing).

And then there were the times when the number was not at all what I wanted or expected. Some days it was just a shot in the gut, but most of the time it was absolutely devastating. The number would send me spiraling: it wasn’t just a number, it was a representation that I was not in control of my body. And if I wasn’t in control of my body, I felt afraid.

I wasn’t always sure exactly what I was so afraid of, but looking back, I think I was afraid of being rejected. Being laughed at or not taken seriously. Not being good enough. Not being loved.

This fear was REAL and it was all-encompassing. The number and what I was going to do about it was the only thing on my mind for the rest of the entire day and many times, week/month.

The problem with this attachment to the scale, other than the incredible emotional energy drain it brought me, was that it wasn’t actually helping me make any changes. I would get stuck in this cycle of:

  • “oh no, the scale!” —>
  • “must control body” —->
  • miserable dieting or exercise —>
  • step back on scale —>
  • “YAY I CAN STOP! IT WORKED!” or “THIS ISN’T EVEN WORKING, I GIVE UP” —>
  • return to regular habits which did not include self-care —>
  • “oh no the scale!” repeat repeat repeat —>

This is no way to exist, especially when your emotional energy is in such high demand as a new mom.

I had to break up with the scale in order to break this habit, because my attachment to it was so unhealthy and keeping me stuck. I made a shift in thinking and got re-focused on my daily habits rather than the results of those habits, and this changed everything.

So now, anytime I am tempted to hop on the scale and see what my number is, I ask myself these self-care questions instead:

Am I getting enough nutrition?

Are my nutrition bases covered? Am I getting plenty of vegetables and protein? Am I eating at regular intervals throughout the day so my blood sugar is stable?

Am I getting enough sleep?

Am I going to bed early enough, or am I staying up way later than I should? Am I taking opportunities to nap if needed, or am I prioritizing less important things?

Am I balanced or am I leaning to an extreme?

Am I feeling restricted, staying on the “perfect food” end of the spectrum too much, leading to compulsive eating later? Or am I over-indulging in fun foods, not giving myself enough nutritious foods? Am I enjoying all of my food?

Am I pursuing a purpose and feeling fulfilled?

Am I looking for pleasure in my food because my life is currently lacking purpose and meaning? Am I pursuing my interests and dreams? Do I feel like a whole, complete human being right now or am I just surviving my life?

Am I dealing with my feelings and emotions?

Am I using food to numb out my feelings rather than dealing with them or feeling them?

 

These 5 questions are going to give you the answers you need to course-correct WAY more accurately than the scale will. They keep you in a self-care state of mind, which is forgiving and self-compassionate and therefore much more sustainable long-term without keeping you stuck the way self-control does.

THIS is how I got the results I wanted while also feeling happy and at peace.

Self-care gets you to the root of the problem. Self-control sticks a band-aid on it.

What do you think? Are you an emotional slave to the scale? Are you ready to ask yourself better questions?

PS-I’ve never done a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale before, but this year I’m going to be offering a BRAND NEW program at an amazing discount. This is going to be exactly what you need to feel balanced and committed to your self-care through the holidays, so keep an eye out for that on Friday, November 23rd!

 

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What is Intuitive Eating and will it help me lose baby weight?

My coaching practice is almost wholly made up of me teaching women how to do one thing – eat normally.

It’s an epidemic: diet culture has stripped away of our inherent, naturally-balanced eating habits and made us more confused than ever.

If you’re like the women I speak with daily, you’re probably confused and frustrated by the “rules of eating”. High carb? Low carb? No carb? High protein? Dairy-free? Gluten-free? Fruit or no fruit? Don’t eat at after 7? High calorie or low calorie? Reverse dieting? Nutrient timing?

What is ACTUALLY best for our bodies, and who is telling the truth?

Throw out the rules

Dieting was created for selling. It is a generalized plan that takes no personalization of physiology or psychology into account and offers an easy, seemingly FAST answer to an incredibly complicated problem. It is a marketing DREAM. This is why the diet industry brings in over 60 billion dollars each year from Americans alone.

Yet…according to multiple studies, diets have a staggering 98% failure rate. This means that only 2% of the people who try a diet actually stick to it long-term. Do you know of any other industry with such a shocking failure rate that is this successful? I can’t think of one.

This is true of ALL diets. When there are strict rules involved that are based on external reasons, our brains go into scarcity mindset and all rational thinking goes out the window. We lose the ability to make good decisions for ourselves and divorce from our own intuition. Essentially, the minute we start the diet, we set ourselves up for failure.

So how can we be healthy and reach fat loss goals without dieting? Enter intuitive eating.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is a big picture way of life, unlike dieting. It is operating from a place of self-compassion and self-care. It is the process of getting in touch with your bio-feedback, understanding your own psychology and how to work WITH your brain instead of against it, while making self-care based decisions around what to eat instead of trying to control yourself with food.

It is exactly how it sounds: choosing what to eat based on your own intuition.

Intuitive eating offers freedom surrounding food and your body. No longer are you subject to someone else’s rules or external feedback like calorie budgets and meal plans. You create your own guidelines for eating using an abundance mindset, your bio-feedback, and gentle nutrition.

This process can be long and complicated, and unlike dieting, it is highly individualized based on previous dieting experience and current needs and habits.

But here is a rough blue-print of how I guide my clients through this process:

  • Step 1: Food freedom – foods are no longer labeled good or bad, and nothing is off-limits for arbitrary reasons like weight loss or diets. If you crave something, you eat it. This lets your body know that nothing is going away again, and you do this as much as you need to until you reach an abundance mindset (the food is always there). We do not worry about weight during this phase as it can distract from the important foundation of healing your relationship with food.
  • Step 2: Tuning in to body signals – what makes your body feel good, and what is making it feel bad? How much of the “fun” food can you eat before it negatively affects how you feel? Rather than set rules and beat yourself up for any over-eating or binge eating, you simply investigate it like a scientist would and ask questions to figure out what your body is trying to tell you. This requires complete trust in your body and the process, and further improves the relationship you have with your body.
  • Step 3: Balance it out – meet nutrition goals at each meal in a satisfying way to make you feel your best and improve/maintain your health, and the majority of the food you eat is whole and nutrient-dense. You will sprinkle in fun foods each day to keep you in an abundance mindset. You eat what you want at restaurants and social events, keeping your energy levels and physical comfort in mind.

Result: the intensity behind food disappears. With an abundance mindset around food, you begin to make rational decisions rather than feel compulsive about what to eat. You feel free and food just becomes part of the day. And as a bonus, now that you aren’t bingeing or overeating, your weight naturally shifts to a healthy place for your body.

Intuitive eating is how I live my life and feel free around food (and exercise). There is no more stressing about what I’m going to eat when I go out: if there’s something healthy that sounds good, great! If I want something that isn’t necessarily healthy but it sounds good, that’s great too! I feel free to eat, so I don’t over-eat because I always know that I can have more later, or next time. I am in touch with my body, so I stop eating when it makes sense – I haven’t felt stuffed in years.

And because I know you want to know if it works for postpartum fat loss, here are my current results with intuitive eating:

While I’m not the leanest I’ve ever been in my life, I’m absolutely the happiest. My life no longer revolves around food. My thoughts and energy are freed up to invest in more important things. The food in my life runs on autopilot.

How about you? Do you feel free when it comes to eating, or do you feel stuck? Let me know in the comments!

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If you’re gaining too much weight during pregnancy but eating healthy

Is weight gain during pregnancy such a bad thing?

There is a major disconnect happening between some doctors and their patients seeking their care during pregnancy, and it’s time for it to stop.

This article is sparked by the absolute FURY I felt for my client yesterday who contacted me still in tears after having not one but TWO doctors shame her for the weight she has gained during her third pregnancy.

K and I have worked together for well over a year now. She came to me after her second baby was born, and then hired me again to help her through this pregnancy. Together, we have created and executed a plan for sustainable healthy eating, we have conquered and removed all disordered eating patterns and tendencies, focused on sustainable movement that feels good for her pregnant body, but most importantly we’ve improved her body image and self-compassion.

The vast majority of her daily diet is whole, nutrient-dense foods. Around her second trimester, her pregnancy forced her to stop all intense workouts because of pain in her hips and back. It was disappointing, but we worked to use a shades of grey mindset to remember that all that mattered was that she moved. She began daily walks that she enjoys and has kept up her entire pregnancy.

She enjoys snacks from time to time, doesn’t restrict, and this makes it possible for her to maintain and adhere to her healthy food habits.

She is in a really good place.

But a few weeks back, a doctor at her practice told her she was gaining too much weight according to their chart. She was rattled, we talked through it, and hoped that this particular doctor was ignorant and wouldn’t see her again.

And then yesterday on one of our monthly calls, K tearfully told me about her last appointment with yet a different doctor in her practice who came into the room and laid into her. She told her that she had to stop gaining so much weight (at 26 weeks, she has gained 24 pounds). That at this rate, she would gain “too much” weight by the end of her pregnancy. That she needed to stop eating so much sugar and unhealthy food and start working out more.

At this point K began sobbing, triggered by her previous struggles with body image and disordered eating patterns. Thank goodness her husband was there and interjected the exact argument that I’ve been encouraging K with this entire pregnancy:

WEIGHT IS NOT THE END-ALL BE-ALL PREDICTOR OF HEALTH EVER, BUT ESPECIALLY DURING PREGNANCY.

It’s not about the weight. Repeat with me. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FREAKIN’ WEIGHT.

It’s about the habits and the actions.

K is tiny. With each of her three pregnancies, no matter what she has done, her body has put on about 40 pounds. This is just what her body does.

She’s not eating tubs of ice cream and laying on the couch. Her blood pressure is good. Her vitals are good. She feels great. She is practicing daily healthy habits, and she feels incredible during this pregnancy compared to her other two.

In fact, when going through her notes, she found a list of questions for her doctor that she had written down for one of her previous pregnancies, where she had not been quite so focused on her health. Subjects to ask the doctor about included “extreme exhaustion” “extreme back pain”. It reminded her that her commitment to her own self-care and health during this pregnancy IS paying off, as she feels better than she ever has.

But this doctor did not care about any of that. In fact, simply because K was not following the official weight gain chart that apparently every pregnant woman’s body – no matter it’s individual DNA or makeup – is supposed to follow, the doctor did not believe her.

That’s right.

This doctor had the audacity to say to my sweet, sensitive, 6 months pregnant client who was sobbing on her table that her blood glucose test would indicate “whether or not she was telling the truth.”

It took two hours of sobbing and reassurance from her husband to calm down from this encounter with the doctor, and had we not already discussed the reality of pregnancy weight gain, K admits she likely would have left and resorted to her old restrictive ways. So the doctor did not accomplish anything with her beratement except to trigger previous disordered eating habits that luckily this one patient was aware of and actively working on.

Which made me ask the question to myself….how many women out there don’t have someone in their corner reminding them that weight isn’t everything? That it’s the habits we practice that predict our health? That it’s better to gain weight living a healthy lifestyle than to practice unhealthy, disordered eating just to slow weight gain down?

Fat on your body does NOT automatically indicate poor health, laziness, and dishonesty.

It’s time for the medical professionals who work with pregnant women to begin putting their focus where it should be: on HABITS, not weight.

With the attitude of “weight is the only thing that matters”, these practitioners are missing an important opportunity to address the CAUSE rather than the symptom. Telling someone to just stop gaining weight isn’t helping if you don’t address how they gained it in the first place. Was it truly unhealthy habits, fast food, and lack of exercise? Or is just the way their body works?

And if your patient says it wasn’t from unhealthy habits, why aren’t you believing her?

And have you considered that if your patients are in fact lying to you about their habits, might it be because they are afraid to experience the shame that you’ve been dosing?

What good does this do anyone?

Ladies, if your medical professional treats you in this way, I challenge you to do the following:

1 – Insist that your doctor discuss your HABITS with you, not strictly or exclusively your weight. If your habits are good and you feel good and are healthy, your doctor should dismiss what they consider excessive weight gain. Your doctor should also support that your psychological health is just as important as physical health and not insist on extreme diets or behavior simply in response to gaining weight.

2 – If your doctor accuses you of lying either subtly or blatantly, GTFO of that practice and don’t look back. You deserve respect no matter what you have been eating or how much weight you have gained. Period.

3 – Remind yourself and your medical professional that you are an individual and charts are averages. You should be treated as an individual, not as an average or statistic.

Of course this is likely a case of a few making a bad name for the majority. Did you have a good experience with your medical professional? Or were you shamed over weight gain? Let me know in the comments, I want to hear your story.

And then please do me a huge favor and share this article with women who need to hear it. This is happening far too often and I’m ready to start a movement!!

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Can I love my body and still want to lose the baby weight?

I wanted to get a little vulnerable today and tell you about a struggle I have as a body-positive fitness professional.

I have now been a pregnancy and postpartum coach for three years, and have coached hundreds of clients. My  website has now reached over 3.5 million women in the past 5 years.

And I still struggle with my message.

I do not want to be another voice in the diet and fitness industry that conveys the message that you aren’t good enough or worthy enough the way you are right now. That there is something wrong with you if you gained more than the recommended amount during pregnancy or if you haven’t bounced back by 2 months postpartum.

This is one of the reasons I have chosen not to post “before and after” photos of my clients, why I struggle showing before and after photos of myself, and why I cringe every time I type the words “weight loss” or “baby weight” (as I did just in this subject line).

I am passionate about creating a space for women where they do not feel societal pressure to change and understand that they are so much more than the shape of their bodies.

But then I was finding was that the women who hired me and trusted me were starting to become afraid to tell me that they actually were interested in losing weight. They wanted to be body-positive, but felt that body-positivity and body transformation might not co-exist.

So I think I need to re-iterate and make it totally clear that you, my friend, have complete and total body autonomy and if you want to transform your body, I am here for it. I know how to do it. I will help you with it. But I want that to be YOUR decision, and I want you to understand that if you never lost another pound, you would still be worthy and beautiful and amazing. 

So how can we, as women, rectify loving our bodies, but also wanting to change them? Is there a body-positive way to create physical transformation?

The answer is yes, and that is exactly how I did it and now coach my clients through it.

Here is how:

1-Question your motivation. Are your thoughts about your body being dictated by society’s expectations, or are you truly not feeling comfortable in your current body? Do you want to get lean to become worthy in other’s eyes, or do you want to empower yourself by reaching a goal? Do you want to look like someone else, or do you want to see how strong you can get? Are you motivated from a place of loving yourself and wanting the best for yourself, or are you motivated from a place of hatred and disgust?

If you are motivated from a place of hatred, you’re not alone! Most women come to me in this place. But it IS possible and it is LIFE-CHANGING WORK to change that mindset and begin practicing compassionate self-care that results in body transformation.

2-Recognize empowering behaviors over punishing ones. When I worked out in my 20’s, it was mostly for negative reasons: to undo poor eating, to change a body I hated, to punish myself. Because it came from this place, it never lasted long anyways.

Now I exercise for FUN, for enjoyment, and to see what my body is capable of. When I set a PR, I am so intrinsically proud of myself and empowered in the knowledge that I can do anything I set my mind to.

3-Practice TRUE self-care. The word self-care gets thrown around a lot, and I think might be misinterpreted sometimes as just having fun or being completely self-indulgent. But true CARE means identifying your needs and tending to them. For example, a recent act of self-care for me was finally getting a year-long overdue mammogram. It was no fun, but it needed to happen and I felt relieved when I had taken care of it.

Self-care is going to change all the time. It’s answering the question “What do I need to be well and feel my best, mentally physically and spiritually?”

Most of the time it will be rest, nutrition, activity, hydration, connection, production. But as someone practicing self-care, you’ll identify exactly what is needed in the moment and you have to trust yourself to do it. That’s where the self-love part comes in.

4-Recognize that your body is not your worth. Changing your look can be fun, it can be exciting, but it can’t be EVERYTHING. You are mind, body and spirit and all three of these aspects are equally important in your experience of this life and your happiness.

This process is how I naturally ended up at my healthiest weight. It took some patience, both with myself and my body, it took some healing, but it was one of the most worthwhile journeys of my life. And I know now that if I ever ended up in a place again where I wanted to change my body, I could do it without losing my self-worth. If my clothes get tight, I ask myself “Do I need new pants, or is my self-care suffering?” It’s not a big deal anymore.

XO,

Deanna

PS – If you haven’t already, please join me and tons of other INCREDIBLE women just like you who have signed up for my FREE 7 day #FastFitMoms workout challenge! We start on Monday, and you can experience what it’s like to workout in a body-positive, empowering way right along next to me. 5 short but intense workouts in 7 days, can you do it? I know you can. All you have to do is sign up at the link below to be added!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN #FASTFITMOMS FREE WORKOUT CHALLENGE

 

 

 

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Why “No Excuses” Doesn’t Work Postpartum (or ever)

If you know me or have been in this space with me long enough, you probably know that I hate the phrase “no excuses”.

I hate it so much that I have banned it from my Facebook groups. It’s literally rule #6. And as a coach, I am CONSTANTLY working to un-do the damage that this societal attitude has caused the women I work with.

If you are someone who finds the phrase “No excuses” inspiring, I don’t blame you – I understand what it can mean to some people, and I apologize for jolting you with my distaste for the phrase. Let me explain:

“No excuses” implies that I’m making excuses to someone else for my behavior – that I owe the world an explanation for the state of MY body. It invokes shame and guilt. It is condescending in nature: I found a way to be fit, and therefore you have no excuses not to be as good as me. It erases all autonomy and individuality, assuming that all of our lives and bodies are exactly the same and that just because someone appears similar to me on the outside that we’re living the same circumstances.

Whether or not that is the speaker’s actual intention is irrelevant: this is how it feels.

But there is no time that this attitude is more damaging than during pregnancy and in the first two years postpartum (really…all of motherhood). Most of us are overwhelmed with guilt, responsibilities, and leveled by the changes to our body and our lives.

We actually have tons of f-ing excuses. You really have plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t be pushing your body into the ground.

The first is sleep – or lack thereof. Exercise is actually a two part process: pushing and resting. The rest part is just as important as the pushing part. Without it, you’re just tearing your body down with no chance to recover. If you aren’t sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time at night, then intense exercise might be doing more harm than good.

The second is that you don’t owe the world a reason why your body hasn’t bounced back. Your body is yours and you are the only one who lives in it. You know what you can mentally and physically handle. Things are going to get easier as your baby grows, and you’ll be able to tackle more and more – IF YOU WANT TO. But no one is watching and judging you, and if they are, that is THEIR issue not yours.

This is the time to practice radical self-care. I liked to ask myself the questions, will this workout make me feel better or worse? If the answer was worse, I went for a walk or took a nap instead.

You don’t need the drill sergeant mentality right now, you need self-compassion and self-care. You need to learn to listen to your body and your intuition, and make decisions from a place of love. You need the same loving decision-making that you provide your children.

If this self-care mindset is unfamiliar to you, or you need help with your self-care game in general, then it’s not too late to join us in the #SummerSelfCare Challenge! 

This free challenge will teach you my MOST EFFECTIVE self-care tools and together, we can build momentum towards your healthy habits in a body positive way.
I’ll be sharing short video lessons with you with accompanying “homework” to help you FEEL the difference self-care makes. I’ll also be coaching in a private Facebook group, giving feedback and helping you with your questions.
By the end of 5 days, you’ll have a clear direction on how to implement radical self-care in the face of all of motherhood’s challenges.
To sign up for the challenge, all you have to do is CLICK HERE to sign up! It’s totally free so you’ve literally got nothing to lose! 😊
Hope to see you there,
Deanna

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How I almost died of self-neglect

One morning at 27 years old, I went to take down a phone number, and found that it was difficult to grip a pen.

Within hours, my legs felt so weak that I was doing this strange double-limp to be able to walk.

By the next morning, I was unable to walk without assistance. This mystery weakness deteriorated rapidly until the next day, I found myself clawing down my stairs, on my belly, to get my phone so I could call 911.

The paramedics arrived and had to break down our door to get to me, finding me face down at the bottom of the stairs. I had given everything to get the phone, and I had nothing left.

Within 24 hours, I was whisked to the emergency room and admitted, where after multiple tests and specialists, I was finally diagnosed with Guillaume Barre syndrome: a rare but deadly condition in which your own immune system attacks your body.

Leading up to this hospitalization, my life was in turmoil. I had given notice at a job that I absolutely hated, but one that provided my family of four with stable income and health insurance while I supported my then-husband through pharmacy school. I had taken a leap of faith to start my own business, but I was terrified of failure or not being able to provide for my young children, who were 1 1/2 and 5 at the time.

I was working miserable hours at my day job, then coming home, taking care of my children while my husband went to school, and then working on my side hustle until 2am. Every. Single. Night.

I was living on processed food, not exercising, not sleeping, and not addressing my stress levels. I was living chronically in survival mode.

So it wasn’t all that surprising when the specialists, standing at my bedside explaining Guillaume Barre Syndrome, told me that while the exact causes of GBS are unknown, it is possible that extreme stress could trigger your body to do crazy things like attack itself.

Even when my body was obviously breaking down in the days leading up to my hospitalization, I didn’t stop and say “Hmm, maybe I should rest.” The pen I tried to grab? That was for work. Walking with a limp? To take the kids to their activities. Walking with assistance? To a work gig that I refused to cancel just because my legs had stopped working. Clawing my way down my stairs on my belly? Because I had refused help when my husband was still at home and had shooed him off with the kids.

I know that my version of this story is an extreme version, but after working with thousands of women for years now, I also know the underlying theme to be universal.

We tend to take care of everyone around us first before we ever address our own needs, to the point of complete self-neglect. We would rather claw our way down stairs on our bellies than let others down, because we think we can live with disappointing ourselves.

But not them.

What kind of mother puts herself first? Well let me tell you, because now, I do.

I wish I could say that this experience left me a changed woman, that it was so shocking and eye-opening to neglect myself almost TO DEATH, but this was not it. It was 5 years before a divorce and my dad’s brain tumor (I know, I’ve been through some shit guys) woke me up enough to realize I had to take care of myself if I wanted to take care of everyone around me.

I just literally didn’t know another way. But now that I’ve felt the difference, I can’t believe it took me so long to get here.

Taking care of myself means I’m happier, healthier, more present, and have more energy.

This means that Austin, Gabby, Maddy, and Mike’s mom also is happier, healthier, more present, and has more energy. And Tony’s wife. And my clients’ coach.

If I’m feeling great, I can give more to them. And you know what? I just like feeling great!

What about you? Are you clawing your way through your life as a mom, or are you taking care of the caretaker?

Just like the oxygen mask goes on us first on the airplane, we have to be functional in our daily lives if we are to give anything, much less our best.

And I can guarantee, you will love how it feels.

XO,

Deanna

PS-If you are living more of a “clawing through life” existence and want to create more self-care in your routine but aren’t sure how, I just launched a brand new FREE 5-Day challenge called #SummerSelfCare. It’s for moms who WANT to get on the priority list but are struggling with it. If you are ready to take action towards creating energy and making yourself a priority, all you have to do is CLICK HERE to join. I’m so excited to work with you!

 

 

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Whose Body Is it Anyways?

Body autonomy: the concept that my body is my own.

“Of course it’s my own”, you may be thinking (or maybe you’re thinking, nope it belongs to my baby/kids, but that’s a different article😉). But maybe, like me just a few years ago, you’ve never stopped to consider all the pervasive ways we have been conditioned to believe our bodies are public domain.

How many of these ideas (and sometimes conflicting stereotypes) have you been subjected to in your life:

  • women shouldn’t look like men (have muscle etc),
  • women should not take up space,
  • women should have curves,
  • women should be thin,
  • women should be toned but not too muscular,
  • women should wear makeup but not too much, and never at the gym
  • women are selfish for taking time away from our children for self-care,
  • women should “bounce back” after pregnancy,
  • women’s pregnant bodies are up for constant commentary and touch
  • women “deserve” to wear a swimsuit or shorts or tank tops, or we don’t
  • we should hide our bodies or we should flaunt them
  • our stretchmarks should be covered
  • our bodies and our worth are judged on whether or not we are found attractive to the opposite sex (a common insult against women is “wouldn’t sleep with her” or a “compliment” is “I’d do her)

And while I can tell you to love your body and practice body positivity until my face turns blue, that can be pointless if you’ve never examined where the negative self-talk is growing it’s roots.

Chances are, it’s from one of these societal stereotypes making you feel as though you don’t fit in or you aren’t good enough.

Your true power starts the day you decide that you are going to figure out exactly what it is that YOU want from your body, based on your own likes, preferences, and happiness rather than what is expected of you.

This concept is known as body autonomy.

How do I know what I want and not what the world wants from me?

There is an exercise I follow when I am getting to the root of what I want for myself and my body, and it’s simply to ask this question:

“If I were the only person in the world and my objective was enjoyment, fulfillment, and health, what would I choose?”

For ME, this means I wouldn’t be putting myself on strict diets to try and lean out, and I wouldn’t be counting any calories. I would still eat healthy food the majority of the time, because my health is one of my main goals and affects the quality of my life, but I’d enjoy fun food too.

I’d still be strength training and running because I love how both make me feel.

Whatever my body looked like as a result of these habits would be fine with me.

I’d wear makeup sometimes because I do enjoy the artistry of it, but those occasions would be rare.

I’d wear a bikini to the ocean, even though my stomach has stretchmarks and loose skin from pregnancy, because I hate the feeling of a one piece in the water.

I’d wear the most comfortable clothes, and I’d dress up sometimes for fun.

Of course, there are going to be some choices that you *can’t* make because it may have negative effects on your career, etc. For example, you may feel your best wearing sweats everyday, but that isn’t acceptable in your workplace, so you have to balance your own autonomy with the greater good of your career.

But if you can ask yourself this question, and then make a soul-searching, honest comparison of your answers to the way you are living your life, you can have the chance to find alignment. This alignment will be the beginning of a peaceful, happier way of living in which you only seek your OWN validation and don’t have to wait for someone else to do that for you.

This can also help you with negative self-talk. Ask yourself, where did this idea come from? Is this what I want for myself, or what I think is expected of me? Once you identify it, this takes so much of the power away over you.

What does it look like to achieve body autonomy?

  • you start to choose exercise based on the joy, the health benefits, and feeling it brings you rather than the amount of calories it burns
  • you might decide you want to have big strong muscles and get into Olympic powerlifting because it makes you feel empowered, even though you’ve always been afraid to “bulk up”
  • you might enjoy more desserts without any guilt
  • you might eat more healthy food just because it feels good
  • you may choose to just leisure walk for your first year postpartum because it’s all your body can handle
  • you may choose to run a marathon your first year postpartum because the feeling excites you
  • you may choose to wear a bikini to the beach because you like how it feels
  • you may choose to cover completely up at the beach because you prefer the privacy
  • you wear lots of makeup because you enjoy it and the artistry of it
  • you wear no makeup because you like the feeling of a bare face or you just don’t care
  • you choose your clothes based on what you like. Whether or not it’s attractive to your partner or others is either a bonus or a non-issue (their issue).
  • you let others touch your pregnant belly because you don’t mind it, or you don’t because you do mind it.
  • you cover up while you’re breastfeeding because that’s what make you comfortable, or you don’t because covering makes you or your baby uncomfortable.
  • you call your co-worker out when they comment on the size of your pregnant body.

Best of all, you begin to cheer for other women when they make their own choices, even if they are different from yours, because you recognize their own #bodyautonomy in motion.

How does this feel to you? Can you imagine throwing out the ideals of the world and practicing autonomy? I want to hear your thoughts.

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What to do when people comment on your pregnant or postpartum body

Recently, I asked my Active Pregnancy Facebook group about the comments they received about their bodies during their pregnancy. These are just a few of the responses:

“You look huge!”
“Should you be working out that hard?”
“You look so little.”
“You’re all belly.” (All 4 of these were to the same person)

“You are so TINY, is your baby okay? Are you sick? Do you even eat?”

“Oh man, constantly asked if it’s twins. I had a co-worker tell me that my doctors must’ve messed up my due date because there’s no way I’m this big and still have 8 weeks to go. It’s like I’m 5’1″, my belly can only go out lol!”

“I literally have about three males at work that greet me with ‘Hey Fatty’.”

“I can tell you’re carrying a boy b/c you look tired, instead of glowing.”

“I was also told after I disclosed to everybody at work that it was no secret, as some could tell I was pregnant because I had ‘Pregnancy lips’, whatever that means.”

“Girl, you need to get bigger clothes”

“‘You’re having a girl because your butt is wide.’ -Complete stranger at a Walmart”

“I keep being told I’m not nearly big enough to be full term. (Opposite of the comments in my last pregnancy) This baby has been measuring very small requiring a lot of extra monitoring. The small comments are not helpful.”

“YOUR BOOBIES HAVE GOTTEN SO BIG.”

“When I feel fine and someone is like ‘oh you look so tired’! Maybe it was me being sensitive but I sort of hear ‘you look like crap'”

“Wow! You really do like donuts!”

“One of my most recent when I wore this purple tank was “You look like a Grape!!””

“I never had someone say anything negative while pregnant, but after my first daughter was born I went to the store to go buy some clothes about 4 weeks after because I had nothing to wear and this random lady came up to me and asked if I had just had a baby, and I excitedly replied that yes I did and she was only 4 weeks old. The lady smirked and said “You need to be wearing a girdle” and then walked away. I was 19, new mom, on my own, and had gained 60lbs during my pregnancy. It took a long time to get over that.”

“That it’s becoming obvious I’m super pregnant from how wide my nose is getting.”

Permission to Comment on My Body?

Whew! I get ragey reading these, and this was just a small sampling. I know that society seems to believe that women’s bodies are here to please everyone else. But I’m not sure why the condition of pregnancy and post-pregnancy seems to be like wearing a sign that says “Please! Comment on my body, I beg you!”

No other time in my life besides pregnancy has anyone ever felt the need to comment on my changing body. Even with my healthiest pregnancy, I was greeted with “You’re just so big!” It’s like people forget that we are LIVING in there and the incessant observations, even the well-intentioned ones, are just plain hurtful, invasive, or embarrassing. Feeling evaluated never feels good, but feeling evaluated based on the shape of our bodies can feel like crap.

We’re not going to be able to stop the comments from being said, but we can learn to handle them in a way that stops further commenting and keeps our self-respect in tact. Follow these four steps when someone makes an unwanted comment about your body:

1. Decide what the situation calls for

Is the person commenting a stranger, or someone you’ll see more often? If it’s someone you won’t be seeing more than once, you may choose just to blow it off and move on. However, if it’s someone whom you’re coming into contact with more often, or the comment was especially invasive or hurtful, you may decide you need to speak up.

Remember, you are worthy of respect no matter what your body currently looks like.

2. Using “I” statements, set your boundaries

It may be tempting to comeback with an insult, but this won’t make you feel better. Once, someone I worked with said I was sooo big, and I was grumpy and overdue, so I said “I’m 9 months pregnant, what’s your excuse?”😬 In the moment it felt like a great burn, but as the adrenaline wore off I felt lower than before her comment, because now I was big AND I was mean. I regret it to this day.

Instead, you’ll want to preface with a disarming statement that keeps the other person from going straight to the defensive, something like “I know you don’t mean anything by that…”, and then clearly state how the comments are making you feel by using an “I” statement so that you are owning your feelings: “…but I feel hurt when you call me big because it feels invasive to hear comments on my body.” or “I would prefer not to hear any comments, whether they are positive or negative, about the shape of my body.”

You can follow up with this statement by giving them an example of what you are ok with: “I always love hearing ‘You look great!’ or when you ask me how I’m feeling!”

3. Practice these statements ahead of time

In the moment, you’re probably going to fumble your words just out of shock at what was said. But if you have thought ahead of time about what to say, it makes the situation a little easier to handle.

It’s not easy to speak up in that moment, but you will feel so much better after you hold your ground, especially if it stops future commenting from someone you see often.

4. Don’t take it personally

Easier said than done, but if you can rise above the hurt and try to understand that all judgements come through the lens of the person making them, you’ll know that this wasn’t really about you (even though it was directed at you).

More than likely, the person feels that they’re commenting on pregnancy in general, or they’re trying to relate to you (and failing!). If they are being intentionally hurtful, this says everything about them and nothing about you. Hurt people tend to hurt people.

Our love for ourselves can’t be dependent on what others think of us, so take this as an opportunity to practice radical self-love and acceptance. After all, we are the only ones whose opinions and thoughts we can control.

Has anyone ever commented on your pregnancy or postpartum body? How did you handle it?

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Healthy Meal Prep Tips for Busy Moms Who Have No Time + Free Printable Guide

10 Tips for Making Healthy Freezer Meals (with Recipes) | Fit To Be PregnantHealthy meal prep is something us moms want, but we are busy, busy, busy. We have careers, children, new babies, appointments, unpredictable schedules and sleep. But we *know* we need to take care of our health. We *want* to eat what is good for us and promotes a healthy pregnancy or healthy postpartum weight loss.

I get it. I have four kids and my husband and I run two businesses together. I am a volunteer head coach for Girls on the Run, I professionally coach 20+ women every week, I am studying for upcoming certifications, I have after-school activities and practices and doctors appointments to run kids to daily.

I am always on the go.

So how do I manage healthy eating not only for myself, but for my family? And how do I teach my clients to manage their own busy lives and healthy meal prep?

(Be sure to scroll down for a free printable healthy meal prep guide!)

Here are my 6 best tips for healthy meal prep for busy moms:

Commit

I am absolutely, 110% committed to healthy meal prep for myself and my family every single week. I understand, not just in theory but through experience, that 80% of my results (in this case, my improved health and fitness) will come from 20% of my actions. In other words, some efforts bring you a much bigger return on investment than other efforts, so put the majority of your energy into those actions.

And from experience, taking the time to meal plan and prep every single week has brought me by *far* the greatest return on my time investment. Because of the one to two hours I spend planning and prepping food, I am well-fueled with healthy and delicious food 95% of the week. I never have to worry about what I’m going to eat or what my family is going to eat. I’m never scrambling through the grocery store at the last minute, desperately trying to make something work and wasting precious energy. I’m never hungry because I don’t have food. I’m never grabbing something at a drive-thru because I didn’t know what else to do.

This commitment on my part is rock-solid because I know how much time and energy it saves me, and I won’t tolerate the chaos and energy drain in my life.

Do Some Research and Find Simple, Healthy Meals

I actually really love to cook (mostly because I really love to eat), but I save my complicated and time-consuming recipes for special occasions and holidays. It took me some time researching and experimenting before I narrowed down the healthy meal prep meals that were easy to prepare AND so delicious that I wouldn’t mind repeating. This was a time investment that has paid off for years and years.

It started with just a simple internet or Pinterest search, looking through healthy recipes that sounded good, then trying them out. If they were too complicated, they were never made again or saved for special occasions. If they were boring or bland enough that I got sick of eating them quickly, they were out.

This is going to take a little bit of time and energy, but the time and energy it will save in the future will be one-hundred fold.

Here are 50 healthy meal ideas to get you started with your research.

Create a Ritual

Every Sunday, I sit down at my desk and plan our meals out for the week, both for the family and for myself. I look ahead to the week to see if there are any evenings that are especially crazy and need extra simple meals. I then write down what we will eat each night, what I will be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then use a shopping list app to organize what ingredients I need for everything. Then I order my groceries online (we use Kroger Clicklist) and my husband picks them up. This entire process takes about 30 minutes to an hour (longer when I first started, now I have it down).

Once the groceries are here, before they ever are put away, I get everything ready that I can. If I’m having a salad for lunch that week, the veggies get chopped and chicken gets baked and diced and stored in airtight containers. If there are dinners that call for shredded chicken, I go ahead and cook the chicken, season it, and store it in the fridge. Anything I can do in that hour to make the rest of the week’s cooking and eating easier, I do right then and there.

I only have to get things out, prepare, and clean up the one time. The rest of the week is just throwing the prepped ingredients together.

The process is going to feel out of your comfort zone at first, but the more you do it, the more it will become second nature. Soon you’ll be coasting on auto-pilot.

Repeat As Much As You Can Take

Wouldn’t it be great to have something new, exciting, healthy and delicious to eat at every single meal? While the thought might be lovely, for most of us with busy lives, it’s going to be more important to have sustainable, *familiar* routines in place. When you repeat meals, you become so familiar with the ingredients and the process of meal prep and cooking that you could do it with your eyes closed. There are no decisions to make, no thinking. This saves precious energy and makes the process easy; and when something is easy, we’re more likely to keep it up.

Keep it simple. Find the meals as stated above that meet your criteria, and repeat the hell out of them.

I have been eating a simple chicken salad for lunch for years. Every so often the small details might change – bell peppers and almonds instead of cranberries and walnuts, or seared tuna instead of chicken – but the idea stays the same. I love my daily salad, I love how it makes me feel and I look forward to it every day. And after all these years of making it, I could prepare it in my sleep.

My kids are a little tougher to please – so I rotate through several dinners a week. I keep a list of about 8-10 that I know are healthy, simple to make, and that everyone enjoys, and each week I simply go down the list. Some dinners are just thrown in a slow cooker and served with a side of roasted vegetables, so I save those for crazy nights with late practices and meetings.

Every six months or so, I’ll do a little research and see if I can find something new to add to my repertoire, just to keep things interesting.

In order to maximize on my time investment, I work with my brain rather than against it. I minimize decision-making and learning curves by repeating what I know.

Cook in Bulk

10 Tips for Making Healthy Freezer Meals (with Recipes) | Fit To Be PregnantWhenever you see an opportunity to cook in bulk, take it. It takes just as long to shop for and prepare 3 lbs of shredded chicken as it takes to prepare 1 serving, and you only have to prepare, use your appliances, and do dishes once.

Leftovers are your very best friend when it comes to always having healthy food in your home. On the nights when you have the time and energy to cook, cook in bulk, refrigerate or freeze the leftovers, and eat those on the nights when you don’t.

If re-heated leftovers aren’t your favorite, you could at least use your time to prepare multiple batches of food, portion it out, and have it ready to throw in a skillet or the oven. For example, chop up a ton of vegetables but only roast the ones you’re eating that evening, save the others to throw in the oven the next night.

Have Last Minute Backups in the Freezer

Balls will drop and plans will crumble, so I keep a stock of healthy-ish backups in my freezer for the evenings when I was planning for a healthy meal but couldn’t make it happen. This is usually a pre-made meal from the grocery freezer section. My criteria for healthy-ish:

  • less than 500 calories a serving,
  • at least 10g of protein per serving,
  • includes some sort of vegetable,
  • list of ingredients is mostly recognizable as food (less preservatives, etc)

Amy’s, Kashi, Evol, Healthy Choice, DiGiorno, and Trader Joe’s all make frozen dinners like chicken and pasta, burrito bowls, turkey burgers, zucchini “fries”, seafood paella, etc. that would make acceptable back-ups in case the need comes up.

As a bonus, I’ve created a printable healthy meal prep guide to walk you through the exact process I use to plan my family’s and my client’s meals. Click below to download:

 

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