Wanna be a Hot (Sweaty) Mama? Check out this book review

Last month, Kara Thom and Laurie Kocanda, the dynamic duo behind the book Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom, visited fitknitchick to talk about balancing motherhood and the time demands of raising a family with exercise and healthy living.

They generously gave me two copies of their book, which I passed on to giveaway winners Jennifer and Melanie to help them in their fitness journeys. Jennifer was gracious enough to agree to help me out with a review of the book (as long as I don’t reveal her last name :)).

In my opinion, Jennifer is already a ‘hot sweaty mama’. She’s in her late 40’s with an active 11-year old daughter. She left her downtown career a few years ago to spend more time with home, family and volunteer projects. Exercise has always been part of her life. She ran her first marathon at 18 and continued with different forms of exercise over the years. Currently, she weight trains 3x a week (following the programs she gets from her (‘great’; her words) personal trainer; full disclosure here, Jennifer is one of my clients and a faithful reader of this blog from day one!), runs 3x a week and tries to get into an indoor cycling class when she can. Currently, she’s training for a half marathon and her main fitness goals are to lose weight (she’s recently given up a long-term relationship with Nutella) and to be fit and healthy.

fitknitchick: Do you already practice any of the five secrets to life as a fit mom? Which ones? How have they helped you become a hot sweaty mama?

Jennifer: I definitely practice some of the 5 secrets, in particular I have learned that there are no good excuses. I often hear people say I don’t have time to exercise and I have to say that most days I could say the same, we all could, but I always put it in my calendar and if I have to change it for some family reason or other commitment, I look for another time to re-schedule it, i.e. on those days when my daughter has had to stay home sick, I do it early before my husband goes to work or once he comes home. If I didn’t schedule it in and as much as possible make sure I do it earlier in the day, then I wouldn’t be hot and sweaty half as much.

fitknitchick: Were any of the secrets new to you? Which of Laurie and Kara’s tips or suggestions did you find most useful?

Jennifer:  I found the food and sleep tips and suggestions really helpful. I know those are the two areas I need to work on more – getting more sleep and being more mindful as I eat.

fitknitchick: Do you have any tips that were not mentioned in the book?

Jennifer:  I can’t recall if this was mentioned in the book or not but what helps me most is to do my workout as early in the day as I can – the later I go, the more likely I won’t get to the gym because I get into other ‘priorities’.

fitknitchick: Would you recommend this book? Who would you recommend it to?

Jennifer: This book would be gread for someone trying to get back to exercise after becoming a Mom or someone who has given up trying to find ways to fit exercise into their life since being a Mom – it could help you to realize, you can do it, others have before you and it is okay to do it [spend time on yourself]

Thanks so much for your comments Jennifer!

I have a few of my own to add, not from the perspective of a ‘hot sweaty mama’ (although I certainly hope my husband thinks I’m one!), but from the perspective of a personal trainer of ‘hot sweaty mama-wanna-bees’.

My favorite of Laurie and Kara’s secret was #1; You have to train your brain before you train your body. I’m a huge believer in the effect of psychological preparation on success.

  • Be realistic in your expectations of exercise (by itself, it won’t lead to you losing the 40 pounds you gained during your pregnancy) and more importantly, of yourself (start slow, start small).
  • Focus on non-weight loss reasons for exercising (oh the energy you’ll have!).
  • Figure out what you like to do; you’ll be much more likely to do it!
  • Think about what activities you can easily integrate into your life (if the pool’s an hour long drive away, don’t create an exercise plan based solely on swimming!).
  • Schedule exercise the way you schedule you’re annual mammogram (if it’s on the calendar, you’re less likely to skip it).

Have you read Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom?

What did you think?


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 (tgrand@telus.net).

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?


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!). 

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.