Moms: they feed us, provide for us, nurture us, and scold us. They teach us a lot throughout our lifetimes and we often times carry over their passions and we share their little idiosyncrasies that make them who they are, and us who we are.
This Tuesday, April 21, is my mom’s birthday! So this week’s post is totally inspired by her: Betty Jo, a second grade teacher eager for retirement, who has a distinct love of peanut butter, moscatos, and her pup, Zacchaeus.
Top 5 Things Mom Taught Me (in no particular order):
- Stranger Danger! Do NOT talk to strangers. To this day, every person who looks at me in an odd manner is a potential serial killer and I’m extremely paranoid about everything. I distinctly remember being about four years old, shopping in Food Lion with my mom, and a guy–probably a nice guy but who knows–said “Hi” to me. Mom said, “Do not talk to strange people you don’t know.” I got so good at ignoring people that once, a guy tried to ask me for directions (he was genuinely lost) and I pretended not to hear him. Not exactly sure that this is a great thing? But I’ll never forget that advice, ever!
My adoration of the written word. I don’t remember too much about the years before I turned five, but I do remember having my own desk in the basement of our first house where I learned to write my name, and other words I suppose, before even entering school. I remember reading and writing a LOT growing up. I could read a full book by the time I got to kindergarten. Mom used to take my sister and me to the library at least a couple times a week as we were growing up, and I would check out book after book after book. My favorites back then were The Nancy Drew Files. I’m pretty sure I read them all. And I still LOVE a fantastic mystery/suspense book. With some added romance of course. I loved it when Nancy’s crush, Ned, made an appearance in the stories. For Easter this year, mom gave me my own “brand new” copy of The Pokey Little Puppy–my favorite of the Golden Back Books. I guess that’s why I love reading and writing so much–I’ve been doing it all my life!
- Pizza is amazing. Mom made the comment one day that when she was pregnant with me, she could down a whole pepperoni pizza in one sitting. That TOTALLY makes sense why I freakin’ LOVE pizza, right?! And ice cream and cheese cake–we both love the two, while she especially loves ice cream cakes. Oh and peanut butter! We’re fanatics. I make peanut butter balls at Christmas because I think that’s the only present she truly cares about–haha. Do you see this sweets/carbs trend? I guess I get my food cravings from my momma.
- Speaking of things I get from mom: GENETICS. You know, you hear a lot in the fitness industry about how it’s possible to “change your genetics.” Let me tell you, that’s not exactly true. Sure, you can change a few things like dropping weight or adding muscle, but still, that’s why both are hard for so many people–genetics is always at work! (Did you know calves are genetic? You either have calves or you don’t. Work ’em all you want, you might get some definition but that’s about it. Sorry guys.) So mom and I are both short. She’s 5’2, and I’m 5’0. I’m not sure why I couldn’t have been granted the extra couple of inches (I’d kill to be 5’3) but whatever, I missed out. (Erik says it’s because I hate milk and never drank enough growing up. YUCK.) Mom and I both have the fantastic ability to put on weight and muscle (we’re both quad dominant) and the inability to lose any of it quickly. Sigh…though I guess that’s why I’m here spending my life writing about health so maybe I can’t really complain. Mom and I both have suffered metabolic damage from yo-yo diets, we gain and hold onto weight in our hips/thighs, and we both have pear-shaped bodies. We also have hair so thick that we only have to wash it once a week and so frizzy that we only think about rain and we’re screwed.
- The ability to SHOP TIL YOU DROP! If Erik and I weren’t on a budget, I’d have even more gym bags, purses, shoes, and athletic clothes, than most people I know. I’d also have an entire home Cross-Fit/Powerlifting garage gym…even though we have no garage. I guess I’d also be broke and in debt. I love to shop, and especially online. And I’m pretty positive I 100% get that from my mom.
I get a lot from my mom, good and bad. We’re both friendly people, natural teachers, love to help others, and have a fondness for wine, chocolate, and puppies. But we also are both too quick to say “yes” to too many people, we avoid confrontation, we get easily upset and frustrated (you know it’s true, mom), and the worst? Maybe it’s the fact that we really love food and food doesn’t always love us. Unfortunately for us, we have this crazy-natural ability to gain weight, diet, and screw up our metabolisms. And also unfortunately, we’ve both tried every diet in the world to lose weight. You know this about me already–I talk about it often. But did you know that my mom has faced the same weight struggles that I’ve faced? The difference between us (yes, there are actually a few!), is that when I met Erik, he taught me how to weight train, eat protein, and he led me in the direction I needed to go for my obsession with nutrition and exercise to flourish. Mom didn’t have that, so she has continued to do what she’s always done, just like every other mom, dad, sister, aunt, etc., struggling to figure out how to become healthier.
Mom might not have had an inspiring leader in her life before, but guess who she has now? That’s right. She has ME.
My mom was actually one of the reasons that I wanted to write the Strong Figure Total Health and Fitness Makeover. Every time mom and I have gotten together over the past few years, we have had some sort of conversation that typically revolves around nutrition and exercise. Mom knows what most typical women know: how to go on a calorie slashing, carb-cutting diet. And she possesses the equipment that most women own: the treadmill that organizes boxes in the spare room. (See mom? You’re not alone.)
So how do I start from scratch and teach her everything I’ve learned, and all that Erik has taught me, over the past 10+ years of my life without becoming too overwhelming? How do I teach someone how to switch from processed foods to whole foods but that it’s ok to have a slice of pizza and cupcake every now and then? How do I stress the importance of hydration to someone who hates drinking water? And how to do I convince her that she doesn’t have to spend an hour on a treadmill to achieve successful, life-changing results?
My mom may have taught me a lot over the years, but this time, it’s MY turn.
Top 5 Things I’m Going to Teach My Mom with Our New Book (in no particular order):
- How to shop smarter in the grocery store and buy healthier foods without going broke either! I already told you that my mom loves to shop. Shopping in the grocery store should be no different–it should be fun and exciting! All you really need to know about the grocery store is simple: You need a plan of attack (or a list of what you plan on cooking for the week) and you need to know the difference between carbs (vegetables, fruits, grains, beans/legumes, breads, pastries, desserts), fats (oils, nuts, nut butters, butter, avocados, dairy, desserts), and proteins (meats, seafood, eggs, dairy). Once you have your list and you know what’s what, everything is simple!So for example, if I know that I’m going to make spaghetti squash for dinner, taco salad for lunch, that list is pretty simple. And then I’ll need several other items to fill out the rest of my day.I’ll make a list that looks like this:
+Spaghetti squash dish: Classico red pepper sauce, lean ground beef, grated parmesan, and spaghetti squash
+Taco salad: cauliflower, lean ground turkey, romain lettuce, taco seasoning, black beans, avocado, salsa
+Other things I’m going to eat in the day: sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, grapefruit, extra veggies, peanut butter, almond milk, etc.It’s a small example but that’s pretty typical for me. I might splurge with my favorite cereal for post training and I always keep several types of protein powder in stock for shakes, smoothies, and even my coffee in the morning, but mom doesn’t need to get that technical. And that’s the great thing about the book. She’ll learn how to buy better foods without the stress of having to do “everything perfect” and all at once. Maybe she’ll buy sweet potato fries instead of regular, and maybe she’ll just buy a leaner cut of beef or trade in her pretzels for a Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Either way, it’s a step toward success and this is a win for both of us!
- The next thing I hope to teach mom is how to eat for life and still get the body she desires. Not how to diet, not how to cut carbs, and not how to never eat sweets again–that’s failure, not success. I tried cutting sweets out of my diet for a whole year, once. You know what happened? A chocolate binge, of course. You know what happens when people cut carbs for excess periods of time? Metabolic damage. We all have to eat. But the big question is HOW to eat and still see results? The nutrition section of the TH&FM (don’t make me spell it out again) is the largest part of the whole book. No other realm of health poses more questions on a daily basis for me than nutrition. What to eat? When to eat it? This vs. that? Low carb, high carb? What’s too much? What’s too little? Whole vs. processed? So yeah, we’ll teach you the difference between a calorie slashing diet that leads to food binges, and a diet that includes nutritional food choices plus dessert if you want it.Most people automatically assume that they need to go on a crazy diet to lose weight and when they quit that diet, they balloon up larger than ever. Our goal is to teach any person how he or she needs to eat for his or her personal goals–and to how to make the right choices in order to eat sensibly, and healthy, for life. Diets don’t work, but learning how to eat well is the best lesson I can teach, and the easiest one to implement in our everyday lifestyle. So Mom, don’t stress. We’re covering EVERYTHING you need to know to get you on your way or advance you from where you’re currently sitting.
- I really want mom to know how important it is to eat more protein and drink more water. I’ve been studying nutrition more than ever lately and the one conclusion I’ve come to is that most woman under-eat protein. We have an entire chapter in the nutrition section devoted to protein, why it’s important, and why you’ll never see the body you want to see with inadequate amounts. When I sat down with mom over Easter we did some calculations to see how much she was eating and how much she needed to be eating. Guess what? She was under-eating by almost 1000 calories and her protein hardly hit half of what her minimum intake should be. And she’s not alone either. I’m working with about 15 people right now–mostly women–who are trying to get their bodies in prime condition. Swimsuit season is under way, you know. And guess what? All the women have been under-eating their protein. One of them even reported back that she got rid of her trembles and feelings of shakiness after adding more protein to her diet. It’s time to eat, people!You know what else is insanely important? Water. If you know how many calories you’re eating in a day, know that you should be aiming for 5 ounces of water per every 100 calories. And if you don’t know your caloric intake, drink half your body weight in ounces. It’s that simple but it’s also that important. In a list of ten reasons why water is the most important substance your body needs, your favorite may be that it helps you lose weight. It might be that it helps your organs function. It may even be that it helps fight inflammation in the body. No matter the reason, suck it up buttercup, and start sucking down some H2O. Your life depends on it. And that’s an order, mom. (In a very nice, don’t yell at me way.)
- Habits are easily formed. I once read that if you do something three times, it’s a habit. If you do it 30, it’s a lifestyle. Why not make exercise a lifestyle? Is there any reason not to? If there was anything I wanted my mom to know about fitness, it’s that exercise doesn’t have to be feared or dreaded and that 30 minutes of any activity should become a daily habit that turns into the fun and looked forward to part of your lifestyle!Every adult needs 30 minutes of activity a day. Exercise actually gives people more energy, makes them happier, and is pretty much the best mood-booster you can get. Mom could walk her dog, break out the treadmill, or walk laps in her pool. She doesn’t need a fancy gym membership to move–she has all she needs. Heck, I would even buy her a kettlebell and medicine ball if she would let me teach her how to use them. 😉 Exercise is what you make it and people enjoy different activities. I may enjoy powerlifting and crossfit, you may enjoy bodybuilding or hot yoga, and mom may enjoy dog walking and aqua aerobics. No matter what she chooses, she needs to stick with it. A lack of muscle/strength is the number one reason that people over 65 have falls in which they don’t recover from. This is a scary statistic! Did you know that most elderly people who suffer from a debilitating fall will die within that same year? Sidenote–my mom is not 65 nor would I ever call her “elderly.” BUT the fact is, if we ALL don’t make some sort of exercise a priority each and every day, we’ll probably die a lot sooner. And I’m pretty sure no one wants that to happen.
- The last and maybe most important thing I want to teach my mom is that despite any age and any health condition, any ability or even disability, making this lifestyle change is easy. Making nutritious food selections in the grocery store, eating enough protein, and drinking plenty of water really is not that hard to do. Sure, it takes practice and maybe even experimentation, but within a few weeks, maybe a couple months, eating well will be simple and part of a lifestyle. The same with exercise! It’s not hard to prop the treadmill up in front of the television or do a “living room workout” of squats and sit-ups! No one has to be a pro, no one has to be in “good shape” to workout, nor do you have to be young to start! Everyone must start somewhere, and once you start, the rest is easy. I started by going to the gym and taking Pilates. I advanced to the elliptical, then to the weight room, and within five or so years, to a new profession based on fitness. Trust me, the process is doable! And if my mom can overcome stage 3 cancer that almost killed her–changing her health should be not just a priority, but seriously freakin’ easy. I don’t know many who could go through what she’s been through and come out just fine on the other side. Now, just learning to make some healthy food switches and figuring out how to plan some exercise should be a piece of
cakesteak. Besides, being healthier and fitter will not only give her a happier and longer life, but it’ll make playing with her grandkids so much easier and more enjoyable….when she finally gets them. (#SorryNotSorry to make you wait, mom. PS–don’t hold your breath either.) 😉
So really, that’s it. I’ve learned from my mom and I hope she’s about to learn a lot back from me. If I can turn my life around through food and fitness, I know she can…it’s in her genetics, right?! And if we both can, anyone can. And that’s the joy I have found in making this book. Anyone can change his or her life, and it’s never too late to learn how.
For those of you following my conditioning workouts, here are your three workouts for this week. Never tried my workouts before? That’s ok! Whether you have access to a gym or not, these easily modified so that you can do them anywhere. Start with light weights or no weights and only do what you can. The important thing is that you started, you tried, and you didn’t quit.
Don’t forget to check out our pre-launch page for the Total Health and Fitness Makeover!
Workout 1: Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes–
- 10 Wall-Balls
- 5 Burpees
Scale back to 8/4 if one round takes you more than 50 seconds. If you don’t have equipment, sub 10 dynamic (jumping) lunges.
Workout 2: 5 Rounds for time–
- 100 meter sprints (or better, a hill sprint! Both options doable on a treadmill or other cardio equipment)
- 1 minute plank hold (immediately after the sprint)
- 30 second rest
Workout 3: 15 Minutes, as many rounds possible–
- 10 goblet (or air) squats
- 20 hollow rocks
- 30 lunges
Have questions on any of the movements or substitutions? Ask in the comments below!