Monday, 8 December 2014

Prenatal Fitness Shoot

Here are some of the pics I've gotten back from my photo shoot last month.  Hopefully I'll have more to share soon :)

(Note to self: turn to the side for more belly shots next time!)

39 Weeks

Ready to pop!

I'm literally watching the clock these days, impatiently awaiting the arrival of our second little munchkin. I've been ready for weeks now, both mentally and physically, and I really just want this labour to start so I can get it over with and hold my baby girl!

How I'm feeling 
Last week I finally reached the point where I'm "done" being pregnant: I'm tired, my mobility is limited, my belly is heavy and sore, and my body is achy. Sleep is more annoying than it is restful as I can never seem to get, or stay, comfortable. At this point I feel weak and somewhat helpless in my own body, and I don't like that feeling. I do recognize, though, that I'm very fortunate to only have gotten to this point now - I'm sure many women feel like this much earlier on in their pregnancies, or even the whole way through. So I am thankful that my amazing body has carried me through to this point.

This week marked my last workout of this pregnancy; I've been losing interest in the gym lately, and it's been taking me much longer to recover from each session. I don't want to be dealing with muscle soreness during labour, so I want to take this week to just stretch and rest. I will continue to take long  walks though - I've been averaging about 90 minutes per day lately. Now that the weather has cooled down here we spend LOTS of time outside taking walks, playing in the leaves, and just looking at stuff (toddlers always find cool stuff to look at, don't they?) lol. So although I'm not in the gym, I'm still getting plenty of exercise!

My last workout was a really good one. The thoughts and images that usually fuel my workouts are generally very competitive, assertive, confident, and sometimes even angry in nature - I save the "feel-good" emotions for my cool-downs. It just works for me. But yesterday I went into the gym and couldn't seem to tap into any of those familiar emotions. So I went to a quiet room and took a second to ground myself and gather my thoughts. I started to think about how amazing it is that I made it 39 weeks without missing one single week of workouts. Sure, there were some weeks I only got in one or two sessions, but fitness has been a big part of this entire pregnancy, and I can both feel and see the results of that effort. So for every rep and set yesterday, I focussed on being thankful and in awe of all that my body is capable of doing. It was a "feel-good" workout, and it felt great :)

At this moment the song "Take Me to Church" by Hozier was on, which I feel is a very appropriate soundtrack for my relationship with the gym: it's where I go to be alone, to think, to get in touch with my body, and yes, even to pray. Can't wait to get back there in a few weeks :)

So this past week and weekend I kind of let my nutrition slip. Ok, it didn't just slip, it fell down and broke itself. There were some days I only got 1-2 servings of vegetables and all of my carbs were processed, and then I ate some sort of fast food probably 4 out of the 7 days. Yeah, bad. Then last night, after eating some chicken wings, I started getting some mild contractions. At the same time, my stomach started reacting pretty negatively to the wings I had just eaten (likely not a coincidence). I felt like absolute YUCK for a solid 2 hours, and was nervous that I was going to be in labour with a belly full of fast food. Message received, body. Message received. I decided then and there that I would re-devote myself to clean eating this week to ensure that I gave my body every possible advantage going into labour. It's going to be tough enough as it is, and I need all the energy and help I can get!

Having said that, I did manage to cook a week's worth of dinners and freeze them in anticipation of baby's arrival. Hopefully I can cook a few more before I go into labour. I found some great freezer-ready crock pot recipes online, and I especially like the ones on the Six Sisters Stuff website:
They may not be the absolute gold standard in clean eating, but they're complete meals and they will fill the belly! 

Note: For all you first-time moms, I HIGHLY recommend cooking and freezing some meals (and snacks) ahead of time if you have the resources and inclination to do so now. There will honestly be days in the beginning where all you eat are granola bars and juice boxes - cooking a dinner won't even be on the radar, and on those days it will be sooooo nice to just pop a meal in the crock pot and have something warm and delicious ready to eat at the end of your exhausting day. 

Well, hopefully this is my last blog post before the baby arrives! (Hah. Now that I've said it, she'll probably be 10 days late.) 

Yours in health and maternity,

Sunday, 23 November 2014

37 Weeks - Full Term!

I'm officially full term, and baby could technically, safely, arrive any day now :D

Baby girl has been busy moving and growing the past few weeks - I can tell she's bigger because all of a sudden EVERYTHING is harder/more awkward to do! Putting on shoes, adjusting the pillows in my bed, putting on a seatbelt, painting my toe nails (ok, that one isn't just difficult... it's basically impossible).... I must be quite the spectacle at the gym, busting out these great looking lifts but then struggling to get up from the floor or walk over obstacles, haha!

I've still been taking leisurely walks every day (45-60 minutes), although I've only worked out a few times over the past two weeks. It's been nice to have some rest, but I do find that I start to get achy and sore if I don't exercise regularly - this body was designed to MOVE! By this point in my first pregnancy I had stopped working out altogether, so I'm considering it a big win that I'm still getting to the gym even twice a week :)  I have been taking advantage of the extra free time by finishing up our kids' rooms and packing everyone's hospital bags. We are officially READY!

Baby Girl's Room - Forest theme
Jayden's Room - Ocean theme

For my workout program, I've decided to do a 3-day split: two upper-body workouts (because my upper recovers faster than my lower), and one lower-body workout. I'm keeping the weight moderate and staying in the 10-15 rep range, and also being very very an** about my form - partly because I don't want to risk injuring myself at this point in the game, and partly because it makes the exercise that much more challenging when you don't "cheat".

Below are the workouts I've been doing. You'll notice that I've moved many of my exercises to machines; I would absolutely recommend that as your pregnancy progresses you start to use machines for your exercises more and more, especially if you're not an experienced lifter. As you get further along, your hips will be shifting more and more, and the hormone relaxin will be loosening up those ligaments making you unsteady. Your core strength will be compromised as a result of this, and the fact that you likely haven't been training it as rigorously as usual ;) Machines will give you that extra support (and safety, especially if you don't have a spotter) that you need. And you know, it's good to change it up anyways! :

Upper-Body 1
A. Smith Machine Shoulder Press
B1. Machine Lat Pulldown
B2. Machine Chest Press
C1. Cable Face Pulls
C2. Cable Tricep Pushdowns
D1. *T-Bar Rows
D2. Planks
E1. Barbell Curls
E2. Dumbbell Pendulum Swings

Upper Body 2
A1. *Bent-over BB Row
A2. Upright Row
B1. Cable Lat Pulldowns
B2. Cable Rear-Delt Flyes
C. Machine Chest Flye
D1. Bench Dips
D2. DB Hammer Curls
D3. DB Lateral Raises w/ 10 second hold on last rep

Lower Body
A1. Step-Ups
A2. Single-Leg Squats (onto bench)
B1. Leg Press
B2. Leg Extension
C1. Hack Squat
C2. Forward Falls
D1. Glute Bridge
D2. Glute Kickbacks
D3. Lying Leg Abduction
E1. Seated Calf Raise
E2. Lying Leg Raise

*After this week I think I'll stop doing all bent-over exercises as I found that they really cramped and fatigued my lower back. Instead, I will do some seated or standing cable rows with a rope (using a rope instead of a bar will give you a greater ROM as you can bring the rope around your belly).

* * * * * * * * * * *

Below is a comparison between my two pregnancies. Aside from being WAY more tanned this time around, I would say I also look more muscular - WOOHOO! My goal for this pregnancy was to lose as little muscle as possible, and I think that by continuing to lift heavy (well, as heavy as possible on any given pregnant day), I've managed to accomplish that :) For me, this translates to lower body fat levels both during and after pregnancy, and thus an easier transition to competition prep (ie. less dieting!). I'm telling ya, ladies, if you can, put in the work during your pregnancy and it'll make losing the baby weight SO much easier afterwards! Especially you first-time moms, you have NO idea how much more difficult it'll be to work out once the baby arrives - between recovery, scheduling, and sleepless nights, it's freaking TOUGH to make workouts happen some days most days. So take advantage of all your free time and whatever energy you have now!

37 weeks 2012

37 weeks - 2014

I am soooooo ready to meet this little cutie. I'm not-so-secretly hoping she comes a couple weeks early. But until she arrives, I'm also trying my best to savor these last few moments I have "alone" with my son; it's nice being able to devote all your attention to one person. I'm also getting as much SLEEP as I can while I can! Jayden was a fantastic sleeper right from the get-go, but mommy experience and wisdom has taught me that I can't, and shouldn't, expect the same from the next one.

I'd love to hear from all of my expectant mommy friends out there! (And there are quite a few of you!) How is everyone feeling? Have you been able to stay active?

Yours in health and maternity,

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

35 Weeks

It's almost Go Time! I know it's been a month since I've posted, so I'll get you all up to speed:

Measuring "Too Small"
At my last prenatal checkup, the doctor said I was measuring about 5 weeks too small (the measurement she's referring to is the fundal height - the distance between your pubic bone and the top of your uterus) so I was sent to get an ultrasound to make sure the baby was ok. I wasn't too worried, because there was really no reason that anything should be wrong, and because I know that I carry "small". Still, it was nice to see the baby one more time before D-Day :)

35 weeks. Check out those beautiful lips!
Of course everything was fine! Her growth is right on point - she just happens to be carrying in a way that's hard to measure. (I do have to chuckle every time someone here says I'm "tiny" or "barely look pregnant" though - I always say it's just because they never knew me pre-pregnancy. And because when I compare pictures of myself from early pregnancy to now.... 

..... I think I look pretty dang pregnant!)

Photo Shoot
About 5 weeks ago I scheduled myself a prenatal fitness photo shoot, which took place this weekend. It was fun, it was educational, it was tiring... it was great! I hope to have some pictures back soon :) As soon as I scheduled the shoot I started cleaning up my diet - not for the sake of controlling my weight, but because I know that a body that's fed clean healthy foods looks very different from a body fed junk. I also split up my training to focus on the body parts I really love and wanted to show off the most: my arms, shoulders, and upper back. To my surprise, the round ligament pain I have been dealing with began to dissipate! Then, the week leading up to the shoot I upped my cardio and did a couple full-body workouts..... and back came the pain. So it would seem that full-body workouts are just a little too strenuous for my body at this point. I can take a hint. Back to splits for me, lol.

Going Forward
With my photo shoot out of the way, the next big event for me to prepare for is.... THE BIRTH! Soon I'll be 37 weeks, and at that point the baby could really arrive any time. My main focus for the remaining 5 weeks is to make my body as comfortable as possible: I don't want to be dealing with leg or back DOMS while I'm in labour, so I'll keep my weights on the lighter side, especially for back and leg workouts. I'll spend more time stretching post-workout and throughout the day, and may swap out one workout per week for a yoga class (oh, and my yoga challenge a few months back was a total fail, btw!). Finally, I'll limit activities that have been causing me discomfort in my hips/abs: no more full-body workouts, and a few short walks throughout the day instead of one long one. I haven't designed myself a program for the coming weeks, so I'll have to share what I did this week on next week's blog :)

Yours in health and maternity,

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Body Pride (31 Weeks)

Recently a friend of mine, who gave birth just 11 short weeks ago, was told that her belly was still huge, and asked why she still looked pregnant. No, the comment did not come from an unaware child, nor a mentally ill individual – it was just a rude man being a bully. Obviously it really upset my friend, and it infuriated me!! What a horrible thing to make someone feel ashamed of a body which has just endured one of the most physically, emotionally, and mentally difficult processes known to man (and woman) – a process which started with, and resulted in pure love. I’d like to think this man was honestly misinformed about how a woman’s body changes to accommodate a child… but I know that’s not always the case.

The current (non-scientific) sentiment towards how a woman’s body should handle pregnancy is, to my understanding, something like this: Once you get pregnant, you stop doing all activity aside from walking, prenatal yoga, and very light weight-lifting. You should eat healthier than someone dieting, but still put on a good 30-40lbs. Once you’ve had your baby, which only accounts for about half the weight you put on, you should be able to lose the remaining 10-20lbs within a few months, even though you shouldn’t do any exercise for 6 weeks after giving birth, and you should not reduce your calories for fear of your milk drying up. The weight, apparently, will just magically fall off from breastfeeding and kegels.

Mmmhhhmmm. As a woman, and as an athlete, this attitude makes me feel completely trapped. No wonder we are so frustrated, and even resentful of the daunting permanent effect of childbearing. Headlines such as “Get Your Body Back” don’t really help the cause either. To me, this line implies that women have somehow “lost” their bodies during the process of making a baby, but I think pregnancy is the time to finally find our bodies’ true purposes.

(Side note: I’m also starting to see a trend towards shaming mothers who have managed to get in great shape after having a baby, which is unfortunate. We shouldn’t be attacking women for having a toned tummy any more than we should be attacking women for having a soft one. As long as a person is healthy and happy with how she (or he) looks, then that should be all that matters!)

My intention with this blog is not to shame women into feeling that anything less than what I’m doing is unacceptable - not at all! I want to start a conversation about how we can make these life and body-changing experiences as healthy and positive as they can be. I want to let people (both women and men) know that pregnancy isn’t a time to retreat and pity yourself for the changes that are going on in your body – it’s a time to go out and celebrate the strength that you possess, and be in awe of all the adjustments your body is instinctively making to help you bring this new life into the world. I want to empower you with knowledge, because our society has been viewing pregnancy as a “condition” for far too long. Yes, it's going to be hard... harder for some women than others; we have very little control over how our bodies will react to pregnancy. It'll be painful, and frustrating, and overwhelming. But at the end of the day, what you are doing is nothing short of amazing. Please be proud of your body; be kind to it; look at yourself with the same unconditional love and approval with which you look at your children, and know that every single mark and scar has had a purpose; eat, exercise, and live in a way that makes you both healthy AND happy. And if anyone is rude to you about how your body looks as a result…. I have a few suggestions for that too ;)

Yours in health and maternity,

31 weeks!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Quick Tips for Exercise During Pregnancy

Staying fit during pregnancy is no joke: working out on a regular non-pregnant day can be a struggle, but fighting off fatigue, bodily discomforts, mood swings, and nausea to get to the gym takes serious willpower and dedication. Give yourself a pat on the back if you've managed to put on your sneakers and reach your destination - the hardest part is over! But now what? What are you actually going to DO?  Here are some things to keep in mind as you choose your exercises or develop your pregnancy workout program.

Train your back. As your pregnancy progresses your back muscles will be working overtime to keep your spine in good alignment. Strengthen your back muscles now to improve posture and help alleviate future back and hip pain.

Exercises to try:
-Rows using resistance bands, cables, dumbbells or barbells
-Supermans or Back Extensions (if this is still comfortable for you)
-Rear Delt Flyes using a machine, cables, resistance band, or dumbbells

Train your glutes. We often forget that our glute (butt) muscles are an integral part of keeping good posture; by strengthening your glutes you again help to improve your spinal alignment and thus reduce discomfort and risk of injury.

Exercises to try:
-Hip Thrusts
-Cable Pull-Throughs
-Kneeling Kickbacks
-Plie Squats

Train your core. Although it's popularly cautioned not to train your abs later in pregnancy as doing so increases your risk of abdominal separation, strengthening your transverse abdominis (the muscles responsible for core stabilization) early on will, again, help you to maintain good posture. It's also believed that women with strong core muscles "show less" which, vanity aside, will take some of the strain off your back by keeping your weight centered.

Exercises to try:
-Planks and Side Planks
-Russian Twists
-Lying Leg Raise
-Bird Dog (actually, this is a back, glute AND core exercise!)

Do your Pelvic Tilts and Kegels. Pelvic Tilts are a fantastic way of encouraging proper spinal alignment, improving core strength, and helping to get baby into a good birth position later in pregnancy. You can do them lying down, against a wall, or kneeling (aka. Cat-Cow). Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor which will help with pushing during delivery, speed up recovery afterwards, and help prevent you from "leaking" every time you sneeze or cough :P Try doing your kegels during sex - it adds a degree of difficulty, and your partner is sure to love it!

Stretch your hips. Although the pregnancy hormone relaxin will loosen your hips naturally, additional stretching will help alleviate any hip or lower back pain (I can personally vouch for this one!), enables your body to adapt more effectively to the changes it's experiencing, and prepares your hips for that grueling labour of love we call "child-birthing".

Stretches to try:
-Low Squat Pose
-Butterfly Stretch
-Spiderman Strech
-Pigeon Pose
-Runner's Lunge

Stretch your chest. As your belly gets bigger your body will try to slouch forward, thereby tightening your chest and exacerbating an already weakened posture. Take just one minute every day to give your chest a stretch. (I like to stretch in the shower while my muscles are nice and warm :) )

Stretch your neck. Because it feels amazing, and we should all do it more anyways!

Walk. Whether it's a casual stroll or a power walk, walking is one of the best and most highly recommended exercises to do during pregnancy. It's low-impact, it's full-body, it helps get the baby into a good birthing position, and it gets you outdoors! Just be mindful of your posture while you're walking - keep your tailbone tucked, shoulders back, and chin up.

Additional Notes
-As a general rule, you can continue doing the same activities now as you were doing before pregnancy.
-Keep safety top of mind during your workouts! Be mindful of your balance, intensity level, physical safety (ie. Is there a dude haphazardly throwing weights around nearby? You should probably steer clear of him), and stay hydrated.
-Beware of cookie-cutter programs. I don't like the "one size fits all" approach to workouts for anyone, let alone expectant mothers! Your body is going through so many changes, and no two pregnancies are alike (even within the same body!). If you need some help designing a program, seek out a prenatal fitness professional who will take the time to talk to you about your specific needs.
-Listen to your body. It will naturally slow itself down, so just listen to what it's telling you (ie. Lift less weight; take a week off; change positions; etc.) and respect that. Every day will be different, which could be frustrating... OR it could be a great opportunity to try new things!

Yours in health and maternity,

Friday, 3 October 2014

30 Weeks

30 Weeks

The last two weeks have totally flown by! Last week while hubby was out of state for work, I was in a minor car accident which ended up chewing up a lot of time between going to the hospital (just a precaution to make sure the baby was ok - she is!), talking to insurance companies, getting a rental vehicle.... WOW! This was my first ever accident - who knew they were such a major inconvenience? All is well now, though I'll be losing DH to a work trip again next week and I'm sure time is just going to keep on flying by right up until the due date, which is now just 10 weeks away.

I've got a few new exercise modification for all my pregnant lady friends :) Alas, I cannot take credit for coming up with these gems - they are courtesy of WBFF Pro Michelle Macdonald ( and IFBB Figure Pro Jessie Hilgenberg, who just so happens to be 30 weeks pregnant too!

Chest Elevated Lying Leg Curl: Depending on how big your bump is, this is a great way to use that lying leg curl machine at your gym (because sometimes the gym just doesn't have seated leg curls!). Make space for your belly by propping yourself up on your forearms, while maintaining a neutral neck and spine. Drive your hips into the bench, and try to minimize the movement in your lower back throughout the movement; reduce the weight if you need to in order to ensure strict form here.

Glute Kickbacks on Lying Leg Curl Machine: I mentioned in an earlier post that the Glute Kickback Machine wasn't exactly pregnancy-friendly, as the "chest" pad hits right at belly level; an alternative is to do your kickbacks using a lying leg curl machine. Get onto all fours behind the lying leg curl machine. Place your working foot on the underside of the ankle pad, and drive through your heel to kick back. You may need to fiddle around with this one (both the machine and your body placement) to get the right alignment and motion.

Dual Cable Lat Pulldown: If you're finding that the knee pad on the lat pulldown machine is getting uncomfortably cozy with your belly, you can do your lat pulldowns using a dual cable machine instead. You could use a regular bench/seat to sit on during the exercise, or I have done them just kneeling on the floor. You could also use a stability ball, which would have the added bonus of incorporating some core work!

I've really enjoyed following Jessie on Facebook and reading her articles, which can be found here:

Some other fit mamas I love are:
Jamie Eason Middleton -

Natalie Hodson -

Melissa Cunningham -

Angela Liddon (food blogger) -

Yours in health and maternity,

Friday, 19 September 2014

27/28 Weeks - Third Trimester!

Ok, third trimester, bring it on! Back aches, sciatica, heartburn, kicks to the ribs, difficulty bending/twisting, difficulty breathing, hip pain, strained ligaments.... do your worst, because I now know that it will all end all too soon, and when it does I will have another little blessing to show for all my hard work and suffering :)

As my baby bump is getting bigger, I'm finding it's getting "in the way" of a lot of my exercises and stretches, so the majority of the modifications I've had to make to my program lately have been to accommodate my growing belly. Here are some of the exercises and stretches I've had to switch up:

Pigeon Pose --> just don't have the space anymore to fold over my front leg, so I stay sitting tall and have been instead working on bringing my foot parallel with my knee.

Squats, Deadlifts, and Leg Presses --> are all done in a wide stance now, or "plie" position.

Seated Twists --> I find it's easier to do my twists standing now, or with my knees below my hips.

Preacher Curl --> where I would usually do these facing straight forward and using a barbell, I've started turning my body to a 45 degree angle and working just one arm at a time with a dumbbell.  I'm actually really liking this tweak, as it allows me to hit a different angle of my bicep than I usually get with this exercise :) Just make sure your elbow is still in line with your shoulder to avoid injury ;)

Boom! Arm pump and baby bump.
The biggest modification I've had to make this week though was to cut down on the duration of my daily walks.  Last week I took a long 2 hour walk and ended up straining my round ligament (ligament that connects front part of womb to groin). Go figure - I can workout for 2 hours every day and feel completely fine, but I take a 2 hour walk and it totally destroys me! lol So I've been trying to follow the internet doctor's advice by resting it, gently stretching it, and not making any "rapid movements", you know, like chasing after my toddler who has taken off in a parking lot, or jumping up from my seat when said toddler is about to climb onto something dangerous..... *Sigh* I guess being a mom is not really conducive to "rest" :P

Has anyone else out there strained this ligament before? If so, what did you find helped speed up the recovery?


Thursday, 18 September 2014

4 Tasty Recipes :)

Sooooo I've been gaining weight a little more rapidly than I'd like lately. Nothing crazy, but it is a signal to me to check myself, and I've therefore been cleaning up my diet a little bit this week. **Notice I didn't say I was cutting calories! Unless you started your pregnancy overweight, you should not diet while you're growing a tiny human.** Because not all calories are created equal, by simply shifting some of those existing calories away from sugar and carbs and towards healthy fats and proteins, you can actually dramatically change the look and function of your body.

Here are four of the recipes I've made devoured this week. Notice the very strong pumpkin and sweet potato theme... I'm hoping that by cooking these fall-type foods that I'll manage to bring some of that cool Canadian weather down here to Florida. Hah!

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash (from Shared Appetite)
*Makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are!
*Cooking time: 30 minutes

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4" cubes
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green and 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 large handfuls baby spinach
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
4 eggs
EVOO and Pam

1. Heat 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in the sweet potatoes, onion, bell peppers, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are cooked through and tender, about 15-18 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cook your eggs in a separate skillet over medium heat. I suggest sunny-side up, poached, or over-easy so you can get all that oozy yolky goodness mixed into your hash.
3. Toss in spinach for about 1 minute, or until wilted. 
4. Divide the hash among plates, topping each with 1-2 eggs. Top with some hot sauce or ketchup if desired ;)

Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes with Frosting (from Tiffany Doorbal's Facebook page - check it out!)
*Makes 1-2 servings
*Cooking time: 10 minutes

2 egg whites
2 tbs vanilla protein powder
3 tbs canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup rolled oats
unsweetened almond milk (about 1/4 - 1/3 cup, but enough to thin the batter)
Dash of pumpkin pie spice
Dash of stevia
Splash of vanilla

Cashew nut butter, plain Greek yogurt, stevia, cinnamon, and vanilla extract (just eyeball it and adjust to taste). Whip with fork until it's a smooth and fluffy.

1. Add all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until smooth.
2. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and spray with Pam cooking spray.
3. Pour half the mixture onto the pan and cook on one side until bubbles appear. Flip the pancake, and continue cooking for another 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining mixture.
4. Meanwhile, whip up your frosting.
5. Top your pancakes with your frosting (or some classic maple syrop) and enjoy :D

Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce (from Martha Stewart)
*Makes 4 servings
*Cooking time: 1hr

Martha's picture
My picture

1/2 roasted chicken, skin removed, and shredded (I usually use the pre made ones from the grocery store)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
coarse salt & pepper
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeño chile, quartered and seeds removed (*Note: if you're making this for kids, you may want to reduce the amount of chile you use. It's not a particularly spicy dish, but some kids may not like it).
1 tsp chili powder
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine chicken and scallions and season generously with s&p. Set aside
2. In a blender combine pumpkin, garlic, jalapeño, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Puree until smooth. Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch or shallow 2-quart baking dish.
3. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the tortillas. Roll up tortillas, and place them seam side down into the baking dish.
4. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet, and bake about 25-30 minutes until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling.

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie (from Taste of Home)
*Makes 3-4 servings
*Cooking time: 1hr

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1lb lean ground beef or turkey (or half and half!)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup low sodium tomato sauce
Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
2 tbs each milk
2 tbs butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water and cook until tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef and onion until beef is cooked through. Drain any excess fat. Add corn, tomato sauce, and spices.
4. Spray a 1-quart baking dish with Pam. Spread the beef mixture in the bottom of the dish. Set aside.
5. Drain the potatoes. Add the milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Spread evenly over the beef mixture.
6. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through.


The best part is that my 21 month son ate ALL these meals, so they're kid-approved!! Now THAT makes a mommy happy ;)


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

26 Weeks

Depending on who you ask (but according to me), this is my last week in the 2nd trimester :) I'm sad to be leaving the golden trimester, especially since I know very well what discomforts await me in the 3rd, but I know time is going to fly by and very soon now I'll be holding my little girl in my arms :) I now often find myself daydreaming about the delivery room and those first few hours together.

My workouts are going well (I'm still doing the functional training), but in my heart I'm not a functional fitness type of gal - I'm a bodybuilder, and I find myself itching to get back to my regular workouts. The thing is, my body has been feeling so great since starting this functional training that I don't want to give it up completely either! I'm going to try and make a compromise and incorporate elements of both within the same workout: I'll start with 30 minutes of functional, full-body movements that especially target 2-3 muscle groups, and then I'll finish up with 30 minutes of isolation exercises that'll hit those same muscles. 

As an example, here's what I'm planning for Glute & Shoulder day:

Walking Lunge with Reverse Punch
Plie Squats with Upright Rows
Med Ball Squat Throw
KB Swings/Hip Thrusts
Cross-Over with Side Leg Step-Up/Quadruped Leg Swings
DB Military Press/Front Raise/Side Raise
Cable Reverse Flye

*"/" = Superset or Giant Set

I haven't done any research on this method at all, so we'll see what happens! I also haven't been planning or tracking my reps/sets/weight as this changes with my energy from day-to-day; I pick a weight and go until I'm tired, then increase or decrease the weight depending on how I felt the set went. This is all very much "intuitive training", which I think has a very important place in any program, but is especially important during pregnancy. There are many roads that lead to the same destination; keep your mind open and your goals in sight... you'll get to where you're headed :)

A different kind of belly pic :P Jayden is "drawing our neighbor's cat" while I work on my new workout. The dog is trying very hard not to chase the cat! lol


Thursday, 4 September 2014

25 Weeks

25 weeks - baby is the size of a cauliflower

Oh wow, approximately 100 days until this little kicker makes her grand debut! The excitement this time around is different than with our first; there seems to be less scrambling and Googling and  cramming of information. All we really "need" to buy for this baby is a box of NB diapers, and all we really need to do is set up the bassinet and pack a hospital bag. It's nice not having to stress too much about making preparations, and instead being able to put all that energy into just being excited to meet her!

FYI, next week's post will be a more information-based post (I'm taking time to gather my sources and thoughts) but this week is purely a personal reflection.

This past week has been a good change of pace. So far my yoga challenge is going so-so.... I've gotten about 5/10 days. Not perfect, but a significant jump from my usual once per two weeks or two months, and I'm happy with that. Remember that progress is not contingent on perfection, but  persistence :) The full-body workouts are kicking my butt in a very good way! It's always amazing to me how just changing the type of workout you do can wake up your body, or reach muscles that have been hard to get to lately. I'm using lighter weights, doing fewer sets per exercise, and spending less total time weight training, but I have been S.O.R.E. all over the place since making the change. Of course muscle soreness isn't the only indicator of a productive workout, but the masochistic lifter in me still really likes it :P

Now that I'm really showing, I'm starting to get more questions and comments from people about the baby and my bump. I won't lie, it's nice that I'm able to share our news with the world without having to actually tell people, lol. I love talking about babies and pregnancy... new life elicits such joy and excitement in just about everybody. But I have noticed that in addition to the usual "Congratulations! Boy or girl? When are you due? Is it your first?" there are two comments that I get from just about everyone: "You're so tiny..." and "you make pregnancy look so easy!" Funny, I still don't really know how to respond to these two statements that sometimes seem to really be (judgmental) questions in disguise.  HOW are you so small? WHY is this easier for you than it was for me?  Sometimes I give the short answer of "Yeah, I'm pretty lucky that way", and sometimes I decide to go with the long answer. The real story. The truth that me being "small" is likely a combination of genetics, fitness, and dumb luck, and that nothing about being an active pregnant mother is EASY. Grocery shopping 2-3 times per week; cooking every meal every day; coordinating schedules and car rides with my husband to make sure he gets to/from work and I can bring our kid to daycare for just a couple hours (an effort in itself!) all so that I can workout at a time other than 4:30am; finding gym outfits that aren't too warm or tight on my belly, and aren't too sexy for my conservative gym (:P); playing with my son even though I'm sore and tired from my workouts; dragging my butt to the gym even though I'm exhausted from growing another human..... not easy, peeps! I also make an effort to ensure my weight gain is gradual and minimal, not only because carrying an additional 50lbs would be tough on my back and legs, but because I'm a competitive athlete and I'm always thinking to my next show prep. But this fight for balance is the story of every fit person, and especially every fit parent. And although it's not easy, I strongly - no, passionately - believe that the alternative of living with chronic fatigue, pain, and illness that comes from a sedentary lifestyle would be far more difficult... especially while pregnant, when it seems like all your body's weaknesses are exacerbated. (Also, I would go crazy - literally CRAZY - if I didn't have my daily dose of "therapy" lol.)

Hmmm, not really sure how to end this blog post as I was a bit all over the place in this one :P Thanks for listening to my random thoughts and following me along this up-and-down ride that is pregnancy and motherhood. OH, I know, I have a quote to leave you with:

"A man become a father the moment his child is born; a woman becomes a mother the moment her child is conceived."


Sunday, 24 August 2014

24 Weeks

Yup, I've officially "popped" :)
I've said it before and I'll say it again: one of the greatest benefits of being healthy and active is the relationship and understanding you build with your own body.  Under normal circumstances, I'm able to pinpoint any trouble spots in my body, figure out (somewhat accurately) what I did wrong, and then develop a suitable action plan for recovery. The problem with pregnancy is that there's a whole new component to your body that you are not in control of - or sometimes even aware of.  For me, relinquishing some control over my body is the part that I'm most frustrated by, but the process I'm most in awe of.

Last week, a few odd things happened:
1) I lost almost all interest in going to the gym
2) My usual recovery time of 1-3 days per body part was dragged out to 4-6!
3) I got SUPER tired and nauseous for no apparent reason for a couple days (though, my mother suggested that this was probably due to baby having a little growth spurt.  Makes total sense. Leave it to the woman who's had 7 pregnancies to know what's up with my body lol).

Still, what these things signaled to me was that it was time to change up my gym routine; not just a simple change of exercises... a complete overhaul!

At the centre of my new program is a 90-day yoga challenge, which should absolutely help with my recovery time. Some days will be in-studio, but most will be at home, and I'm committing to at least 45 minutes per session. I'm also moving into a functional style training program.  I find after a few months of training all my body parts separately that my body starts to feel disconnected - like it's not operating cohesively. This functional phase will have lots of full-body movements, which totally revs the metabolism, but more importantly will generate some interest in workouts again. *Part of the reason trainers recommend changing your program every few weeks/months isn't just to make you pay them more money... it's to ensure you don't lose interest in, and thus bail on, your workouts.*

Some of the exercises I did this week and will be doing for the next month or two include:
-KB swings
-KB windmills
-Med ball throws and slams
-Walking lunges with front kicks
-Walking plie squats with side kicks
-Single-leg squats and deadlifts
-Shadow boxing, katas, and weapon training (if my gym will allow me to bring in weapons lol)
-Battle ropes
-Burpee chinups
-Inverted rows
-Renegade rows with pushups
-Cable wood chops
-Cable squat & strike
-Cable power punch
-Cable pull-throughs 
-Bear crawl
-Clean & snatch (light weight)
-Split jerk (light weight)
-Dynamic prone plank
-Planks and any kind of plank variation you can think of!
-Box lateral shuffle
-Frog jumps
-Box jumps (low box)

Please note that this is simply my own personal list of exercises, not an exercise prescription for pregnant women. If you'd like more information about functional exercises during pregnancy, I HIGHLY recommend this website/article which is full of practical, helpful, reliable information for preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum. It is absolutely worth a very thorough read-through.

Don't forget your kegels and pelvic tilts, ladies! 


Sunday, 3 August 2014

21 Weeks & A Ramble About My Nutrition

Disclaimer: this post is quite the ramble! If you’re set on reading the whole thing, I suggest you find yourself a comfortable chair :)  But first.... bump pics! (Yes, I realize I am wearing the exact same outfit, and yes it is a complete coincidence, lol.) 

21 weeks - baby #2
21 weeks - baby #1

Ok, so I haven’t talked too much about my pregnancy diet yet because, well, I’m not really following any sort of “diet” per se.  I don’t give myself too many rules while I’m pregnant, and I actually find that this helps me to control my cravings better.  I’m the type of person who, if I’m told I’m not allowed to have a certain food, I’ll binge on it, lol. I really struggled with my eating for my first two fitness competitions, and it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first baby that I started to change my relationship with food: I told myself at the beginning of my pregnancy that I could indulge in any strong cravings I would have, with the only stipulation being that I had to nourish my baby with predominantly healthy foods. Now, in the back of my mind, I also had the intention of doing a fitness show soon after the baby was born, and as a result I found myself simply not wanting to indulge too much because I knew the more weight I gained during pregnancy, the harder and longer I would have to diet afterwards.  I also knew that I would be having more kids down the road, and that I would have plenty more chances to indulge in the future.  By framing it like that in my mind – in knowing that this piece of pizza staring me in the face right now would not be my last chance to ever have another slice of pizza again, I didn’t feel so desperate to eat it. And once that desperation was removed, I was able to think logically: do I really want pizza, or do I just need something salty? Can I replace it with something healthier, like smoked salmon? Am I thirsty? Am I tired? Have I eaten healthfully enough today that I can afford to eat this pizza? If those answers all lined up and I found that I still did want that slice of pizza, well then I ate it! And I never felt guilty. I felt heartburn, but not guilt, lol. And if there was a day that I over-indulged some, then guess what, there’s always tomorrow to do better (although the trick there is to actually follow through and eat better the next day!).

I do have some general guidelines that I like to follow, not just during pregnancy but always:
-eat 20-30g of protein with every major meal, and try to incorporate at least 10g with snacks
-minimum 3 servings of veggies per day, and 1 serving fruit
-one serving nuts/seeds daily
-at least one of my carbs should come from an unprocessed source, like rice, quinoa, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, or beans
-don’t start the day with sugary foods 
-drink lots of water!

Typical breakfast: oatmeal with raisins, almonds and maple syrup, egg whites with mushrooms, and a big ole coffee! Not too different from non-pregnancy, except there's more food on the plate. And not too different from competition diet except.... there's WAY more food on the plate! lol

Aside from that, all’s fair. I don’t monitor my calories at all, but I do respect my appetite (not doing so usually has terrible consequences for me: excess hunger leads to nausea, and overeating leads to serious heartburn), and thankfully I do have a pretty firm grasp on portion sizes. Some of my favourite meals and snacks lately are:
-smoked salmon on crackers
-hot chocolate (made with real cocoa powder, NOT the stuff from the box)
-home-made Egg McMuffins
-grits with butter and turkey bacon
-veggie straws
-freezies (hey, I’m pregnant in Florida in the summer… I need me some freezies!)
-raw carrots
-ants on a log
-home-made sweet potato fries
-scrambled eggs with mushrooms
-granola bars (store bought or home-made)

As you can see, not too many veggies on that list :S Outside of pregnancy I try not to “drink my calories” too often, but during pregnancy whey protein shakes and powdered greens drinks become staples as I sometimes (ok, often) just can’t choke down my baked fish, or bring myself to eat a salad.

I’ve also purposely kept away from mentioning my pregnancy weight gain as I think talking about the numbers freaks people out more than it helps. In the end, the only people your weight gain is relevant to are you, your baby, and your doctor.  Most experts will say that a healthy weight gain for women of a normal starting BMI is 25-35lbs; some people gain more despite all their best efforts, and some people gain less with no effort at all. The most beautiful and scary thing about pregnancy is the lack of control you have over your body, and that includes how it chooses to put on weight – not just how much, but where! My personal feeling on the issue is this: if you are eating NUTRITIOUSLY and are exercising to the best of your abilities, then “que sera, sera!” If your weight gain (or lack thereof) becomes a concern, your doctor will bring it up and the two of you can discuss an appropriate weight management plan.

Oh, and for those of you who missed it (and have managed to get to the end of this post), we are having a girl!