The 3 Biggest Mistakes Busy Mom’s Make When Trying to Get Fit and Healthy

     about meI do not know a mom out there that does not desire to be fit and healthy.  It is not always easy to get fit and healthy or stay that way.  It takes knowledge, preparation, and setting aside time.  With that being said, I often find that new clients are making it much harder to achieve their goals.  Before I get into the top three mistakes that I find that my new clients have been making, I want to confess some of the mistakes that I used to make.  My top mistake was believing that more was better.  I would easily spend 1-1.5 hours, 6 days a week doing steady-state cardio and 3-4 days a week lifting heavy weights for 1-2 hours!  I almost lived at the gym and loved it!  I was competing in natural bodybuilding and thought that was all necessary.  Sure I was muscular and lean but I was also run-down and ended up with fertility issues in my 30’s. 

     One of my other mistakes was thinking that I could eat whatever I wanted and use cardio to burn off the extra calories.  The best thing to do after a spurge is to drink lots of water, have a short but intense exercise session, and pick right back up with healthy, fat-loss eating.  My choice left me tired, out of hormonal balance, and made me susceptible to injury.  Needless to say, as I got older, had children and less time, and began my certifications from Metabolic Effect in personal training and nutrition; I stopped making these mistakes.  But it is interesting to note, that in times of stress, I do have a tendency to want to perform steady-state cardio for hours on end.  But enough about me, here are the top mistakes of many of my new clients.

  1.      The top mistake my new clients are making is being reliant on a number on the scale.  There are several problems with the scale.  The first of these is that a person’s weight varies considerable from morning-to-night and from day-to-day.  Also, the number on the scale does not tell you what kind of weight you are losing (water, muscle, or fat).  Loss of muscle is detrimental to metabolism and health.  Finally, determining success or failure based on this number can also be very demotivating/discouraging and cause some to give up.  I teach my clients to weigh once a week, complete measurements in addition to weighing, and that progress is not always a straight line.
  2.      The second mistake that new clients often come to me making is using exercise as a primary method to lose weight.  There are several problems with this.  The first of these is that the calorie counters on exercise machines are often inaccurate.  Second, too much exercise causes a hormonal imbalance; it can cause an elevation in several hormones that can inhibit fat-loss.  Third, as busy moms, they often believe that they need to exercise for a longer period of time than they have available and will then choose to do nothing.  To remedy this mistake, I teach my clients to use fat-loss nutrition for weight loss and exercise to maintain muscle, improve body appearance, and further balance metabolic hormones.
  3.      The third mistake is having a dieting mindset instead of a lifestyle mindset.  They follow a strict meal plan and are either ON or OFF the plan.  The problem with this is that it will not work long-term.  Just as you want to be fit and healthy for life, the nutrition and exercise for this should become a LIFESTYLE, not a DIET.  This requires you to become a detective, not a dieter.  I help my clients scope out their own unique tendencies, which include foods that decrease cravings (buffers), foods that increase cravings (triggers), and the amount of starchy carbohydrates that their body needs to have energy but not gain fat (carbohydrate tipping point).  They practice finding the line between not eating everything they want and not feeling completely deprived.  I also teach them to use their own bodies’ biofeedback (hunger, energy, and cravings) to find their own perfect metabolic formula.  Finally, I teach them what questions to ask themselves related to their bodies’ response and relationship to food.        Are you making any of these mistakes or have you made them in the past?  Are you ready to stop the dieting and weight loss/gain?  I would love to work with you, help you discover your personal metabolic formula, and help you to learn to make changes in your nutrition and exercise over time to maintain a fit and healthy body for years to come.   You can find out my current program offerings here.  If you are interested in the Fit and Fabulous for the Holidays program, be sure to sign up soon.  It starts Oct 7th and is a great deal.
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My Humbling Summer

postI titled this post as “My Humbling Summer” but honestly it would be more accurate to say my humbling year.  I choose to focus on the summer because this is when things started to turn around, fall into place, and I was once again comfortable with my life and in my own skin.  The story ends with a photo shoot to celebrate getting “myself” back and being on the road to recovery.  But before I explain that further, let me (as briefly as possible) give the events that led to that point.

Last September, my beautiful fourth child was born.  I typically have miserable pregnancies but bounce right back after the birth.  This was true for the birth of Brooke in the beginning and I even ran a half marathon 2.5 months after she was born.  But my knees ached a lot with that run so maybe my body was not doing as well as I thought.  Then, fast forward to early 2013.  I went back to my weekend work as a physical therapist and started my nutrition and exercise counseling business, Nurturing Fitness.  I was feeling a little tired and drained but chalked it up to having four kids (2 of which I homeschool), my own business, and working weekends.  In March 2013, my sweet six month old daughter decided breastfeeding was not her thing because she would rather watch the entertainment (my other three children) like she could when Grandma gave her a bottle.  So, I reluctantly decided to stop breastfeeding (I had breastfed my other three until they were one).  At that point, all kinds of stuff started happening.  I was having problems sleeping, I was tired all the time, exercise became hard and a chore, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, I had joint/muscle aches, and my clothes were starting to get tight.   The weirdest feeling I had was that I wanted to/needed to crawl out of my own skin.  At this point, I decided to have my adrenal function/cortisol levels checked because I have had issues with that in the past.  I did not think that was the problem because I had remedied that problem with the same nutrition, exercise, and supplementation that I was currently using.  The tests showed that overall my adrenal function looked normal.

So, receiving no answers, I decided to go for further blood work/testing but could not get in until July.  By this point, I was feeling depressed, scared that I would always feel this way, and embarrassed because (as a fat-loss coach) I was helping all my clients make great progress but I could not help myself.  During my initial visit, the PA noted the white film on my tongue likely indicated a systemic yeast over-growth and that my symptoms sounded very much thyroid related.  Two weeks later, I got the results of food sensitivity testing and it indicated an issue with yeast as well as sensitivities to over fifteen foods.  So, I immediately began medication for the yeast, eliminated the foods that were irritating to my gastrointestinal system, and healing my gut.  It is ironic to me that I had such digestive issues because I did not have gas, bloating, cramping, ect.  It is also ironic because I had already treated many clients successfully for gut restoration but had no idea I needed it myself.   The amazing thing was that within a couple of weeks, my clothes were a little better fitting and the strange symptom of swollen fingers upon waking (that I had complained about for many years) was almost gone.  A month after that initial visit, I found out that my thyroid function was very low and I was put on Nature Thyroid.

It is now almost a month after I started the thyroid medication.  The PA told me that I would feel better to a point but that I would need a higher dose because my function was so low.  I go back for that in October.  As of right now, I honestly feel much better than I have in years.  I am actually almost a morning person again, I am sleeping much better, my clothes are fitting, and my workouts are much more tolerable.  I still have some symptoms periodically, but I am happy again and feel comfortable in my own skin.

I debated about whether to share my experience because I am a fairly private person and because I have some feelings of embarrassment that, as a fat-loss coach (who counsels clients in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle), I needed help.  I decided to share my story because ultimately I am proud of where I am now and this personal experience only adds to my knowledge and ability to help my Nurturing Fitness clients.  I also wanted to share my story in the hope that some of the lessons I learned may help my readers and clients.  So, here are the major lessons I learned.

  1. Coaches/experts do not always have everything figured out and this is OK.  I have a lot of knowledge and certifications in the areas of physical therapy, nutrition, and personal training.  I also have a lot of years of experience under my belt at being fit and healthy.  But I will never know everything.  The amount of knowledge I have gained from this experience is enormous.  It has taught me that the only shame in not knowing is if you do not seek answers/help and the rewards of seeking help can be very great.
  2. You should trust yourself and your gut.  Our bodies and minds talk to us!  Listen to the signals your body is giving you and seek answers.  Some of the symptoms I had been seen for in the past and dismissed by other doctors.  Find a medical professional that will listen to you and work to treat the root of your problems, not your symptoms.
  3. Do not resign to being unhappy and feeling bad.  It is not normal to walk around this world feeling depressed, hurting all the time, and feeling very unmotivated.  Life is too short to live this way.  I know it is hard as a mom, wife, and often employee to find the time to take care of yourself, but you owe it to yourself and your family.  Answers are not always easy to find but do not give up.
  4. It is essential to take time for yourself in order to be the best mom you can be.  Self-sacrificing your health and well-being for your family or a job will only decrease your optimal performance.  Take care of yourself and you are both teaching your children to value themselves and will be able to provide much better care to them.

I hope my story is helpful to you.  I would love to hear from you or if you might like to work with me.  You can email me at info@nurturingfitness.com.

ARE YOU FATIGUED OR JUST TIRED? LEARN THE DIFFERENCE AND WHAT TO DO! Interview with Dr. Amber Golshani

fatigueA lot of the topics that I choose to write about are ones that my clients have asked about or are suffering from.  Sometimes I choose topics because it is an issue I have dealt with.  Today, I am choosing a topic that is often a problem for my clients and something I dealt with this summer.  So, let me tell you a little about my experience first.  My youngest daughter was born last September and as I usually do, I bounced right back from the birth.  I had great energy and mood, even while breastfeeding and getting up with her at night.  But then when she was about 6 months old, I found my energy levels were decreasing and I was often moody and irritable.  By the time this summer rolled around, I knew something abnormal was going on.  I was always tired and wanted to sleep all the time, but sleep never made me feel rested.  I also did not want to do the fun summer activities that you do with your children (swimming, parks, ect.).  Everything felt like a chore!!!  I was no longer just a little tire; I was fatigued all the time.  It was very frustrating to me because I am a nutrition and exercise coach and I know the correct ways to eat, exercise, and manage stress.  To make a long story short, there are some awesome naturopathic physicians and integrated physicians in my area.  They helped diagnosis some digestive issues and hypothyroidism.  I have been being treated since early August and my progress has been amazing to me.  I am (almost) a morning person again, I no longer dread working out, I want to play with my kids, and I feel blessed and thankful.  Because of my first-hand experience and issues my clients have had, I wanted to interview an expert on this topic and give some practical solutions.  As you will see from the interview, fatigue can be very much lifestyle related and not related to an underlying medical condition.  Fatigue is not mandatory for all moms!!!  So, below I share my interview with Dr. Amber Golshani and some information on her background!

I’m Dr Amber Golshani, integrative doctor, woman’s fatigue expert and author of Radical Energy Recovery (www.beatyourfatigue.com/rer). I choose this area to focus on mostly because it’s something that I have battled with myself. At 22 years old, I was tired, overweight, cranky and had all sort of various menstrual problems. The doctors wanted to put my on birth control pills to ‘fix’ my period, but offered no other advice about my increasing weight, mood swings and energy crashes. I took matters into my own hands and booted up the ol’ dail-up internet, bought some books and basically pieced together a plan to help me feel better. You can read more about that here if you want. (http://drambergolshani.com/confessions-from-a-former-fat-girl-me/).

To make a long story short, it took a long time, lots of effort, learning and education, but I figured out how to make my body work—stable moods, good balanced energy and even my periods got better. Yay! J  My quality of life is so much better now…my fatigue, or cramps, or whatever,  don’t stop me from doing everything I want and feeling great while doing it. I even did two obstacle races and two triathlons in the last two years— if you asked me 15 years ago, I would have said you are crazy, I can’t do that!!

The thing I am most proud of is that I have two kids, in addition to running two businesses, a household, volunteering and a marriage.  I honestly feel excited about my life and have the energy to get everything done I want to. And I do it happily-not saying I never loss my cool, but I can only imagine how hard it must be to not feel good, to never feel like you have enough energy to go kick the soccer ball with your daughter, or have the energy to cook the healthy meals you want to. Not feeling like you are living anymore, but just surviving can definitely bring you down.

And that’s why I love working with woman who are tired. When they feel better, EVERYONE around them feels better too. Kids (and spouses) get better care and more attention. When you are not worried about your health you can go out in the world and shine.

1. How common is fatigue among women, especially moms? (not sure is you know any statistics but some info about what you find in your practice would be fine)

Fatigue is very common in women, especially moms. It is one of the most common complaints to medical providers. And motherhood adds a new layer of responsibility onto our already busy lives. Many of the women I work with are not just physically tired and worn out, but mentally and emotionally too. I would say that 70-80% of the women I work with take no time to relax, no time for stress management or even exercise. One patient asked me if the 1 minute she spent peeing (alone) in the morning counted!

2. What are the consequences of chronic fatigue for a woman’s health?

Fatigue is a daily feeling of a lack of energy that inhibits your ability to perform normal functions. Everyone gets tired sometimes—late at night, or if you had a bad night of sleep the night before, or after you run 10K. These are examples of ‘normal’ tiredness. Fatigue is a feeling that is with you day after day.

The other-side of fatigue, is, then paradoxically many woman find they can’t calm down or relax at night. I call this the “wired but tired” syndrome and this is where I see MOST of my moms. Running around all day, taking care of others, fueled by coffee, teas, sugar or energy drinks, and then when it comes time that they can actually rest their weary bodies, they can’t. They are up cleaning the counter, folding one more load of laundry, checking their email. “I know I should relax, but I can’t!” is something I hear all the time!

What we are talking about here are symptoms though. Fatigue, or tension, or “up-tightness” (it’s a word, trust me!), are all symptoms of some underlying causes. It’s my job to figure out what that is for each individual woman and then work to correct that. It may be a food intolerance, it may be circadian rhythm disruption from reading too late at night, it may be a thyroid issues, sleep disruption or doing a job you hate. The list goes on. But until that underlying reason for the fatigue is fixed, everything else is just a band-aid-the coffee, the herbs, the sugar, etc.

3. There are several of my clients with young children that may be up with them multiple times a night, what is the best way for them to deal with this?

Speaking of sleep, for mothers of young children waking at night, the number one best advice I can give is to keep things as dark as possible. Do not turn on any lights (even night lights) if possible. Even a little light can disrupt your nighttime hormone secretion that helps you sleep deeply and wake rested. This is even good advice for your kids. Growth hormone is released at night and those nightlights may be inhibiting optimal secretion.

4.  What are the causes of fatigue?

The 4 main causes of physical fatigue are blood sugar issues, what you eat (food intolerances), adrenal issues, and thyroid issues. My BEAT Your Fatigue program is dedicated to correcting these underlying issues, but one them that runs through them all is the importance of what you eat. There are some foods which can help fatigue, depending on what is going on. One little nugget of advice I can give, is that many women simply aren’t eating enough protein to sustain their energy and moods.

5. What are your top tips for moms to start using now to increase their energy?

Top 10 Fatigue-Proof Life Tips

This checklist is meant to address some of the potential underlying causes of fatigue that come from lifestyle issues. It is not exhaustive or complete. That is beyond the scope of this two page report!

These ‘to-do’s’ are lifestyle changes that will help to increase the overall function and performance of your body and not treatment of any specific illness or disease. This is not meant to take the place of a doctors visit and diagnosis.

□ Drink lots of water.

□ Eat real, whole, unprocessed foods

□ Have protein and veggies at each meal

□ Get some sunshine every day

□ Rise in the morning and retire at night at the same time everyday

□ Take deep, full abdominal breathes

□ Say “no” when you need to

□ Aim for 8+ hours of sleep a night

□ Make sure your bedroom is completely, 100% dark

□ Adjust your exercise: If you aren’t doing any, start. If you are doing too much, slow down.

If you want more tips, tools and info on how to Fatigue-Proof your life, sign up here.

If you want more info about the BEAT Your Fatigue Program (coming October 2013), get on the early-bird list here.

AS THE DOCTOR MENTIONED ABOVE, DIET AND EXERICSE CAN PLAY A HUGE ROLE IN YOUR ENERGY LEVELS AND ARE SOME OF THE FIRST THINGS TO ADDRESS!  I AM A FAT-LOSS COACH THAT WORKS DIRECTLY WITH CLIENTS DEVELOPING PERSONAL NUTRITION AND EXERCISE PROGRAMS THAT OPTIMIZE NUTRITION AND EXERCISE FOR BOTH ENERGY LEVELS AND BODY COMPOSITION.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT info@nurturingfitness.com.

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