Archives for November 2011

Some ‘influential’ news!

I have some exciting news to share with you.

I’ve been selected to be an Ambassador for FitFluential Inc! To quote directly from their website;

FitFluential is a growing family of fitness fanatics spreading a positive healthy message year-round. Fitfluential is Fitness Found.

I’ll be joining the illustrious ranks of some of my favorite fitness and healthy lifestyle bloggers, including MizFit, The Angry Trainer, Freaking Fitness, The Business of Losing Weight and Fit Chick In The City (I love her blog name; blogger ‘chicks’ rule), to name but a few. (It’s going to take me a week to properly explore each of the Ambassador’s websites; I’ll let you know who else you should be reading!).

Along with getting to meet a whole bunch of new blogger friends, my relationship with FitFluential will open the door for me to test, review, recommend and giveaway (to my readers, of course!) new brands of fitness equipment, books and possibly healthy foods.

No worries, though. I’m not planning on selling out. I won’t be plastering my website with ads for new cars, weight loss supplements or hair replacement therapies. I’ll continue to write about the things that matter to me (and to you too, it seems!). FitFluential’s goal is to help connect bloggers with brands that their readers are likely to be interested in. Brands that reflect the bloggers core beliefs and way of life.

Along with the potential of reaching a wider audience, bloggers who become FitFluential Ambassadors have the opportunity to contribute content to the FitFluential website. How exciting!

If you’re interested in being part of the FitFluential community (you don’t need to be a blogger, just trying to live a healthy life), ‘like’ them on Facebook and join in the discussion!

Finally, I’d like to thank you, my readers, for making this possible. It’s your daily visits to and comments on this blog that paved the way for this exciting development!

Tell me something great that’s happened in your life recently!

My newest challenge? To accept no new challenges

If you know me at all, you know that I love a challenge! Having a fairly competitive nature (just ask my younger sisters), I thrive on tackling difficult tasks. Tasks that others might find impossible? Bring ’em on! Don’t think I can do it? Watch me! I love to push myself more, further, faster, higher.

This past year I’ve been involved in many, many challenges. Some knitting, some fitness, some nutrition, some professional. Most have been on-line (it’s so much harder to resist a Facebook challenge than one issued face to face) where the support and encouragement of the other participants makes it easier to get to the end.

Some I’ve successfully completed.

The 2 Week No Sugar Challenge (liked it so much I did it three times; two successfully, the last time, not so much)


Eleven shawls in 2011 (I’ve finished 10 and I’m pretty sure number 11 will be done by January 1st)

Some were just okay attempts. Maybe I didn’t finish, but I learned something along the way.

30 Days without Chocolate? Maybe I managed 5 in a row. (Thank goodness that one’s over on Thursday!).

One hundred pushups? After a valiant attempt, I got stuck at week 4, day 3 (my total number of full, on toe pushups was 120 over 5 sets; I was impressed, but my shoulder said ‘no more’).

Some were epic fails. Why I even agreed to them I cannot say. Bravado? Lack of planning?  Sheer folly?

Tour de Sock. What was I thinking? I mean, 6 pairs of hand knit socks in 60 days? (My all-time record was 1 pair in 12 days and this was on holiday). On a positive note, the entry fee of $7.50 went to a good cause, Doctors without Borders, and I did get 6 new sock patterns (that I’ll probably never knit up…).

Looking back, I realize that although these types of challenges are fun and help to keep you on track with your goals, sometimes life gets in the way and makes it impossible to finish them.

Sometimes life is challenge enough.

(If you haven’t been reading this blog for very long, read this post and this post and this post to get an idea of the particular challenges I’ve encountered over the past year; no worse than yours I’m sure, just unique to me!).

Come January 1st, I’m resolving to just say ‘no’ to any online challenges that find themselves staring at me when I check in with my Facebook (follow me at fitknitchick) and Twitter (@fitknitchick_1) friends. Not because I’m done with challenges. Not at all. Just because I need to focus my attention on new endeavors (see how I’m not even calling them challenges?).

Stay tuned for some exciting news…

Do you participate in online challenges?

Which one/ones were your favorites?

Rookie of the year makes nutrition no-brainer

Today I made a rookie mistake. One I haven’t made in a very long time. Fortunately, it all turned out okay (well, sort of okay).

I started the morning in the usual way. Coffee, water and a healthy breakfast (veggie and egg white scramble with raspberries on the side). Fed the kids and packed their lunches. Filled my cooler with lots of clean eats to get me through the day.

A whole-made pumpkin and oat protein bar for mid-morning (and pre-workout) snack, veggie, quinoa and chicken salad for lunch (and post-workout fuel) and an apple for a late afternoon snack,  while en route to picking up children from school.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

On most days it would be. But today, after a two-week break from the weight room, I started a new program. It was difficult and I couldn’t finish a couple of the sets with the loads I had chosen. Bummer.

After a quick lunch (and lots of water), I headed to Superstore for a long-overdue stock-up grocery shop (don’t have a Superstore near you? Think big-box, carrying everything from food to electronics to clothing to tires). I knew that I’d be there for awhile and that the cart would be heavy (and difficult to navigate; I seem to always get the one that has a wheel with a mind of its own…) by the time I reached the checkout.

After about 45-min of pushing the (stubborn) cart up and down the aisles, I started to feel sweaty. Not workout sweaty, low blood sugar sweaty. My hands started to shake and I felt light headed. My concentration was shot and I was having a hard time making sense of my grocery list. This has happened to me before (I had chronically low blood sugars in my early 20’s, back when I thought the way to stay thin was not to eat :)) and I usually have an emergency snack on hand for just these occasions.

Not today. My apple was in the car and the little bag of almonds that I always carry in my purse was empty.

I guess there are worse places to be than a grocery store when you need to eat.

My first thought was chocolate. But, there are still five days left in the “30 days without chocolate challenge” (don’t ask me if I’ve cheated already; I have!) and besides, the sugar would just leave me crashing in another hour or so.

I headed over to the ‘natural foods’ aisle thinking that I might find a protein bar to tide me over. Who knew there were so many brands to choose from? Somewhere in my brain was the formula for a ME-approved bar (grams of carbs – grams fibre – grams sugar alcohols should be less than 10), but I couldn’t access it in my low-sugar state, so I grabbed one that wasn’t too high in calories or sugar. (It also happened to be chocolate, but cocoa, not chocolate per se; does that count Kirri?)

Not great, but not horrible either.

Only 10 g of sugar and 180 calories. Protein content was moderate at 8 g and the wrapper says it’s a ‘Whole Nutrition Bar for Women’, so that’s gotta be good too, right?

I felt better almost immediately and was able to manage unpacking and bagging and loading my groceries in the car without too much difficulty.

But I felt tired for the rest of the afternoon. A common response to out-of-whack blood sugars. The reason I eat frequently and minimize my consumption of processed foods is to keep my blood sugars stable. Unstable blood sugars lead to over-eating, over-consumption of simple sugars and a blunting of your body’s insulin response. All three lead to fat deposition and weight gain.

Time to re-pack my emergency food kit. Dried fruit, nuts and a bottle of water. Maybe a pre-packaged protein bar or two. No more rookie mistakes!

Do you keep snacks in your purse or car for ’emergencies’?

What’s your favorite brand (and flavor please!) of protein bar?

Blogiversary giveaway winners!

Sorry to post so late in the day. It’s been a full one with teaching and volunteering and meetings and dental appointments. I’m so ready to sit down with a cup of tea and my knitting!

First of all let me say thank you to all of you who read and commented on Sunday’s post (and to those who also read, but were too shy to comment ;)). I’m so thrilled that you’re enjoying reading my posts as much as I’m enjoying writing them! Please keep your comments coming; my goal is to create more interaction and discussion in response to my posts.

Without further ado, I’ll tell you that I received 23 comments and my random number generator chose commenters 2 and 6, Melanie and Jennifer. Congratulations!

Since neither of you indicated whether you preferred the book (Hot(Sweaty)Mamas) or the yarn (Saffron Dyeworks), by default, Melanie wins the book and Jennifer the yarn. If I’ve got it backwards, please let me know when you send me your full name and mailing address via email (

I’ve got lots of new and exciting content coming in the weeks leading up to the holidays. And a few new things that are brewing too. Stay tuned!

Are there specific fitness, nutrition and knitting topics that you’d like to see me write about?


On mindful eating; what a hospital stay can teach you

Today’s the last day to have your name entered in my first year blogiversary giveaway. Go, read, comment and hope to win!


Last week I spent six days largely confined to a hospital room. No, not mine, I’m fine thank you. My 9-year old daughter’s. She had pneumonia (better now, thanks again) and was stuck in bed on oxygen and IV antibiotics.

To say that my usually full schedule was thrown for a loop is an understatement. Not only did I miss a week’s worth of workouts (in retrospect, I’m referring to it as a ‘planned rest week’), but I also desperately missed my refrigerator and kitchen cupboards.

I’ve been in hospitals enough this past year to be completely familiar with the cafeteria’s offerings. Heavy on the starchy carbs, fats and processed sugars with very few ‘clean’ meals available. The irony of a place of healing serving such unhealthy food never ceases to amaze me. (Immediately after childbirth, new moms are continually hounded by the nursing staff as to whether they’ve had a bowel movement; certainly a lot harder when the only fruit you’re served comes wrapped in jello and veggies are canned and overcooked. But I digress.)


So I did what I usually do when I’m out of the house for the day. I pack my cooler in the morning. Lots of fresh veggies, cut and washed. Two servings of low sugar fruit. Cooked chicken breasts and hard-boiled eggs. Some unsalted nuts and a bit of brown rice or sweet potato to fill me up. And water, of course. Plenty of water. (And my sister brought me a ME-approved protein bar which I absolutely loved; thanks sis!)

I ate my planned meals and snacks when I was hungry, as opposed to when the clock said I should. I drank lots of water (why are hospitals always so dry?) and minimal coffee (if it’s not Italian espresso, it’s not worth sipping :)). Most nights I went to bed a wee bit hungry (can’t remember when the last time that happened was).

At the end of the week, I came home and hopped on the scales. Down 3 pounds in 6 days.

Pretty sure that it’s neither water weight (light colored pee, you know) nor muscle (no measurable change in strength according to Sunday and Monday’s workouts). Plus, my belly is flat(ter).

What happened? I know exactly what I did differently.

Without continuous access to my refrigerator and pantry, I ate only the foods I packed for myself in the morning. In the morning. When I have complete control of my faculties and am determined that ‘today’ is going to be the cleanest day yet.

There was no opportunity to grab another handful of nuts or a (home made) protein bar or a piece of bread. Those little extras are never consumed mindfully; sometimes I catch myself eating without even realizing that I’ve opened the refrigerator or cupboard door. Without ever having felt hungry in the first place. Without thinking about how those additional calories would impact my fitness and nutrition goals.

This week, back at home in my kitchen, I’m taking extra care. I’ve returned to planning my nutrition a day in advance. Packing up single servings of leftovers to eat for lunch the following day. Thinking hard about whether or not I’m hungry when I venture into the kitchen for a snack.

Thankful to a hospital stay for the reminder to eat mindfully again.

Have you ever found yourself eating something and been unable to remember the act of preparing it or removing it from the fridge or the cupboard?

What time of day do you find it most difficult to be mindful of your nutrition? 

Do you have any strategies that you use to reduce mindless eating? I’d love to hear them!

Happy 1st Blogiversary fitknitchick! Cake and a giveaway too!

One year ago today, I nervously sat down at my computer, wrote a short essay about fitness, nutrition (and knitting; see if you can find the reference) at holiday time (it’s still relevant; Christmas is only 5 weeks away!) and hit ‘Publish’ for the first time.

As some of you know, WordPress rewards each new post with a cheerful announcement telling you how many words you just wrote and how many posts in total you’ve written. Groovy!

They also give you some ideas for your next post (which, incidentally, I’ve never used because they’re never topics that appeal to me, although yesterday’s first topic might be fun…).

Today, I wrote my 120th post. (I’m flabbergasted. Who knew I had so much to say?). And like every single time I hit ‘Publish’, for a moment I felt butterflies in my stomach. Worried about whether I’d got the wording right. Concerns that nobody would read it. Wondering why on earth I kept putting myself out there, exposed for all to see. (If you blog, are you nodding your head in agreement?)

I began this blog as a way of reaching out to my clients and class participants on the days they weren’t training or exercising with me. A way to coach them ‘virtually’ between sessions and classes. A place to celebrate their victories. A platform for education. A point of entry to the online health and fitness community. A peek at how I balance a busy life with family, clients, exercise and time for myself (that’s where knitting comes in).

Somewhere along the way, it became more than that. I made new friends and discovered many wonderful blogs. I rediscovered my love of writing.

Your comments and positive responses to my posts have made me realize that we share many of the same health and fitness concerns. That my challenges are not very different from your challenges. That the things I struggle with, you struggle with too. That many committed exercisers are also accomplished knitters (see comments to this post, which was, incidentally Freshly Pressed!).


To celebrate, I thought we’d have cake and presents. The cake, alas, is only virtual, but the presents are real, to you, from me! Shall we open them together?

A skein of my favorite luxury, hand-dyed yarn from Saffron Dyeworks (the yarn base is Enya, a lovely 2 ply merino sock yarn; makes beautiful shawls too; the color, Garden of Ireland);

A copy (gifted to me by Kara Thom and Laurie Kocanda; thanks!) of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom;

Having never done a giveaway before, I did what any conscientious blogger would do; scour the blogosphere for other giveaway posts to see what my options were.

Many giveaways require the winner to ‘subscribe to’ or ‘follow’ the blog. Since many of you already do and some of you might be inclined to based on content alone (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), I rejected this format. (Incidentally, if you haven’t already and do want to subscribe and receive email notification every time I write a new post, scroll down and enter your email in the ‘Subscribe’ box in the sidebar :).)

Others make ‘liking’ them on Facebook or ‘following’ them on Twitter the price of admission. This feels slightly coercive to me. Sure, ‘like’ (fitknitchick) or ‘follow’ (@ fitknitchick_1) me because you really like me and find what I have to say interesting, not because you want a chance to win a (great!) book or a skein of (fabulous!) yarn.

In the end, I decided that all you need to do to be entered in my blogiversary giveaway is to leave a comment at the end of this post. Let me know what you like (or dislike) about this blog and indicate which gift, the book or the yarn (or either, if you enjoy both exercise and knitting!) you’d like to receive.

I’ll leave comments open until the morning (my morning that is; I tend to wake up and check in around 6:30 am, PST) of Wednesday, November 23rd, at which time I’ll draw two names at random. Winners will be announced on the blog later that day. Best of luck!

My goals for year 2?

To increase discussion over each and every post. Of course, that requires my readers to not just read, but comment too! I’ll do my part and reply to anything you have to say (as long as it’s friendly and inclusive and family-friendly!). 

Stuck at home with a sick child? Tips for maintaining your fitness status quo

I’ve been stuck in the hospital since Sunday, attending to and entertaining my 9-year old daughter. She has pneumonia and requires around-the-clock care.

Since my husband recently spent a week in hospital as a patient, he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of another week of the same. Even if he wasn’t the sick one. So I stepped up to the plate while he holds down the fort at home.

We trade off for a couple of hours each day, but for the most part, my ‘reprieve’ is spent driving home, stopping to pick up groceries and the boys from school, making dinner, packing my food for the next day, showering and making the return drive back to the hospital in time for the evening, over-night and morning shift.

Not a lot of time to exercise or meal plan.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to maintain the status quo;

  • Taking the stairs between paediatrics (3rd floor) and the coffee shop (basement)
  • Drinking at least 75 ounces of water a day
  • Packing a ‘clean eats’ cooler (overnight oats, roast veggies with chicken and brown rice, apples, berries, almonds and raw veggies) with breakfast, lunch and snacks for the following day (don’t rely on hospital cafeteria, coffee shop or take-out)
  • Pushups and planks (although I don’t like to think about what might be on the hospital floor)
  • Going to bed early (although I’ve technically been in bed 10 hours each night, sleep has been very interrupted with the hourly nursing check-ins)
  • Taking a multivitamin with iron and Cold-FX each morning
  • Washing my hands like crazy, because who knows what bugs might be lurking in the hospital corridors…

If you’re lucky enough to only be house-bound with your sick little one, you’ll also have access to on-line and DVD workouts. But this isn’t the week to post personal bests; you’ll be using lots of physical and emotional energy dealing with the illness and need to take care of yourself so that you don’t get sick too.

What do you do to keep yourself healthy when caring for a sick family member?

Please share your suggestions for easy, clean, packable lunches; I’m getting bored with my old standbys!

Please join me on the Friday Fitness Blog Hop. As there’s no WiFi in the hospital, I’m stuck surfing the web on my iPhone, but you’ve got no excuse not to sit down at the computer, perhaps while you’re little one’s napping, and check out all the other inspiring fitness bloggers on this week’s hop. Just click on the image below to get started!

FItness Friday Blog Hop

I am woman, hear me grunt

Most women underestimate their own strength by about 25%

I’m not sure where this ‘factoid’ originated, but in my experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I believe it to be true.

[Men, interestingly enough, tend to overestimate their strength by about the same amount. I say ‘interestingly enough’ because I believe there are sound evolutionary reasons for the different ways the sexes view strength. But that is a post (and a more controversial post at that!) for another day.]

When I ask a new client how much weight she thinks she can shoulder press, for example, the typical answer will range from 3 to 5 pounds. In most cases, a quick test will prove her wrong and we’ll immediately move up to a 5 or 8 pound weight. In some cases, even this increase will not be heavy enough to tire her shoulders by the end of a 10 to 12 rep set and we’ll increase the weight even more.

I love to watch the face of a woman as she experiences lifting heavy (at least heavy for her) for the first time.

First, there is the look of shock or horror as I approach with a weight much heavier than they would choose on their own; “There’s no way I can lift that”


Then, disbelief when I place the weight in their hand and they feel its heft; “I’ll try, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do very many reps”


As they start to perform the exercise, disbelief changes to surprise; “Hey, this isn’t as hard as I thought it would be”


then to determination, as they dig in, trying to complete the set in good form; “Nope, don’t help me, I’m gonna do it on my own”


After the last rep, I take the weight from them and am rewarded with a look of elation. Pride in accomplishing a task they truly believed they wouldn’t be able to; “Wow! I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was”


(I, on the other hand, knew they could do it all along, but offer appropriate praise and encouragement to reinforce the lesson.)

Next time, I tell them don’t be afraid to grunt, just a little.

It’ll actually help you get through the last few reps (grunting elicits a release of testosterone, the muscle-building hormone) and let everyone around you know how hard you’re working and how strong you are!

Do you challenge yourself with heavy enough weights?

Are you a ‘grunter’ in the weight room (I am, and proud of it!)?

Fitknitchick welcomes Hot (Sweaty) Mamas!

Like most writers of blogs, I also love to read blogs.

In particular, blogs about fitness, nutrition, family and healthy lifestyles.

Light-hearted, humorous blogs about everyday life as a mom trying to balance the conflicting demands of staying fit, running a house, raising kids, pursuing a career and nurturing oneself are my very favorites.

Recently, I’ve added Hot (Sweaty) Mamas to my daily blogroll.

Co-authors, Kara Thom and Laurie Kocanda blog frequently about balancing motherhood and fitness and have recently published a book entitled Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom (Andrews McMeel 2011). I just received my copy; can’t wait to read it and see which of their secrets I’m missing out on.

[I have an extra copy that I’ll be giving away in celebration of the first anniversary of my blog; mark November 20th on your calendar, come back and comment on my ‘blogiversary’ post to be entered to win!]

Today, as part of a ‘virtual book tour‘, they’ve  agreed to answer a few questions about themselves and their book. Enjoy!

Q & A with Kara Douglass Thom

What makes Hot (Sweaty) Mamas different from other fitness books for busy moms?

Hot (Sweaty) Mamas is not a how-to-get-your-body-back-after-baby book. It’s about how to make or keep fitness as a priority as a mother; how to protect that priority so that fitness becomes a habit in our hectic lives. But the other important component of this book is how to make fitness a family endeavor so that we not only get fit ourselves but also raise fit kids.

Why is it so important for moms to take care of themselves as good as they take care of their children? 

I think it’s interesting that while we’re pregnant we take inordinately good care of ourselves. We do this, of course, because we want what’s best for our baby. So why don’t we carry on that thinking after the baby is born? Most expecting moms realize the benefits exercise has for them while pregnant and will make that extra effort to workout. Same goes with our nutrition and avoiding unhealthy behaviors. Of course, a baby changes everything and our focus innately shifts. But it’s important to know that we don’t have to be attached with an umbilical cord for our healthy behaviors to benefit our children. Feeling good physically and mentally undoubtedly makes us better at parenting. Laurie and I could do our own study that surveys our children’s opinion of us as moms before and after a workout. Trust us, they prefer the post-workout mommy. Besides, it all comes around anyway. Our children grow up watching us take care of ourselves and pursuing fitness, which means they’re more likely to grow up fit and healthy, too. And what mom doesn’t want that for her kids?

What has surprised you the most about being a fit mom?

When I became a mother I felt that my kids limited my fitness options, and I let them to a certain extent, because I was still trying to accomplish the same fitness routine I had before having children. But after I started to get creative and expand my fitness options, whether that meant doing a workout with my kids around or trying a new group fitness class because it worked around the nap schedule, fitting in workouts became easier. So in this sense, children didn’t impose limits, they gave me more options.  And now I feel more well-rounded, challenged and excited about exercise.

Aside from personal health and wellness, what’s another benefit to being a fit mom?

Being a fitness mentor for your kids. Whether I’m leaving them behind to pursue a workout or including them in, I know I’m showing my children that fitness is a family value. When I workout it really isn’t “me time” anymore, I’m also setting a good example for my children.

What’s your favorite way to get sweaty?

That’s like asking me which child I like most! I can’t possibly name favorites. Besides, I have exercise ADD. Running, snowshoeing, swimming, cycling, Zumba, Yoga. Whatever I can escape to do or whatever I can do with one to four kids along is my favorite exercise of the moment.

Q & A with Laurie Lethert Kocanda

What is the biggest fitness mistake moms make?

There’s a big misconception out there that you need large chunks of time to make fitness worthwhile. With that attitude, it’s easy to see why so many moms give up on exercise. The biggest mistake moms make is adopting an all-or-nothing attitude about fitness. Motherhood is full of the unexpected, which oftentimes means things don’t go according to plan. When that happens we have to be content with Plan B, maybe develop a Plan C on the fly, if we’re going get and feel fit. Any exercise is worth when you consider both the mental and physical benefits. You are making small deposits that will eventually pay off. Guaranteed.

How can other members of the family support a mom’s fitness goals?

Having a good support network is essential if Mom’s fit lifestyle is going to take hold. Family members can help by providing encouragement and support—both in action and in word—whenever possible. Help keep Mom accountable by asking about her workouts; show her what a wonderful mentor she is by joining her whenever possible. In this way, she’ll be encouraged to continue on her path to fitness.

What about moms who are too busy for exercise?

Finding time to exercise is really about identifying and living by the priorities in our life. Moms often say they are too busy taking care of their families to fit in exercise, but we have to ask, “Aren’t you a member of the family, too?” In fact, aren’t you a pretty important part of the family equation? Most moms don’t let their kids skip a soccer practice or swim lesson, but don’t hold themselves equally accountable to their fitness endeavors. We have to be creative, but like everything in life that holds value, we will give time to the stuff that really matters.

In your book you talk about how there’s more than one way to exercise. Explain how this applies to new moms and what they can do.

Moms should take comfort knowing that the benefits of exercise are not lost in the absence of a good calorie-burning, cardio-pumping sweat. There are a number of other reasons to workout, beyond maintaining physical fitness and athletic training. So moms who find motherhood more exhausting or time-consuming than they anticipated can fall back on the other reasons to workout, the other types of fitness. For example, some semblance of sanity is the goal when we exercise for mental health. This form of fitness is less about what you’re doing and more about why your doing it. Protective exercise is the foundation on which everything else we do is based; it includes things like strength training, yoga, and Pilates. This flavor of fitness doesn’t require a gym membership or equipment, which is nice for a mom who is less likely to leave the house to workout. A simple routine of squats, pushups, pull-ups and plank are all you need. Truly, exercise doesn’t always have to get you hot and sweaty to be worth your time.

You mention mother guilt as a big barrier to fitness. What is it and how can I keep it in check?

Mother Guilt is that little voice that comes from within telling you it’s selfish to choose a workout over another more “important” mommy task. And while sometimes it is good to listen to your inner voice, too much banter from Mother Guilt is usually an indication that you’ve set unrealistic expectations of yourself and of motherhood in general. “Putting family first” does not mean ignoring your personal wellbeing. You are, after all, a pretty important part of the family, right?

Mother Guilt is prone to unexpected visits. If you want your fit life to take hold, you must first do a little mental training to prepare. Start by identifying your preconceptions of motherhood; perhaps what you thought were parenting no-nos might actually have a place in your life. Maybe 30 minutes of television isn’t so bad if it frees up some time for you to squeeze in a quick workout. Challenge what you’ve accepted as parenting truths and get realistic about what life is really like.

Next, take some time to write down what’s important to you, what values you want to impart on your children. Then work to make health and fitness a value you act on—a priority to which you allocate some time each day. If laundry gets more attention than you do, it’s time to do some more mental work. Saying “no” to something that isn’t a priority will feel good when you use the time freed to attend to something that is. Especially if it means saying goodbye to Mother Guilt.