Not Giving Up: Getting into Shape after 4 Pregnancies

Not Giving Up: Getting into Shape after 4 Pregnancies

It was pretty much my worst nightmare. Except it was really happening.

People swarmed around me while I stepped on a scale and a muscly guy with 8% body fat recorded my weight and my body measurements. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mr Muscles then proceeds to stare in disbelief at the numbers he’d just jotted down.

“But I see you in here all the time,” he said, genuinely perplexed.

And I had nothing to say.

I’d been working with a personal trainer for a whole month, giving everything I could to getting into shape after 4 pregnancies and yet there was absolutely no discernable difference in any of my measurements. Like any.

Not a pound. Not an inch.

Nothing.

My kindly trainer could not figure out what was going on. Not only did I show up in beast-mode daily at the gym (he was a witness!), but I was breastfeeding, right? Hadn’t he read like EVERYWHERE that breastfeeding just melts away body fat? Why wasn’t I melting?

I could feel myself slipping into a junior high-like feeling of insecurity. Deflated and disappointed.

Well, I explained, it didn’t work that way for me. In fact, I usually gained weight while I nursed.

We finished the workout, my usual enthusiasm absent. And like the little leaguer after the last game of a losing season, I went home ashamed and defeated.

getting into shape after 4 pregnancies

Couldn’t shake it

Days later, I couldn’t help but replay the humiliation of the scale and the measuring tape.

What was I going to do? I was exercising daily and changing how I eat. Basically, I was giving everything to getting in shape. And apparently, it wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I’d mulled over my failure for a week when the thought suddenly dawned on me: Actually, things had really changed.

First off, I was nursing and I wasn’t gaining weight.

Wait a minute…this is HUGE!!!!

Also, I had more energy, slept better, and I simply felt better.

While the fruits of my labor were invisible, things were actually changing for me. I realized then that my hard work was indeed paying off.

And I wasn’t about to quit.

The Dreaded Fourth Baby Body

Just a few months earlier, I knew I was ready for a serious lifestyle change.

Looking in the mirror shortly after the birth of my 4th child December of  2016, I was shocked by how drastically 4 pregnancies in under 5 years (and a whole lotta stress) had altered my body.

To begin, I was the heaviest I’d ever been not pregnant. And more than the weight, my body showed all the signs of 4 years of not making exercise a priority. Nothing remained of a once-toned body.

But my belly. Oh, my belly.  

While pregnancy always left my tummy soft and droopy, this time it was different. My stomach basically looked like a huge pile of discarded pizza dough. While the 1st three pregnancies certainly impacted my belly, the fourth pregnancy seemed to have made a bet that it could blow away all the others in level of destruction.

And it clearly won.

Now, I firmly believe in loving your body–scars, stretch marks and all. But because I love and respect my body, I was resolved that things were going to seriously change. Perhaps my pizza dough mom belly would never completely go away, but I was determined to have the healthiest body possible.

Getting into shape after 4 pregnancies would not be easy, but I was like a toddler fixated on an unreachable toy. I was bound and determined to get what I wanted.

Once the 6 week postpartum mark approached, I swallowed my fears and insecurities and marched straight into the gym and got a membership. Determined to change (and a sucker for a well-honed sales technique), I even signed up for a personal trainer.

And nearly every single day, I showed up at the gym. The sweaty sore spot in a sea of fit and fashionable gym goers.

Weight loss after 4 babies

Getting into Shape after 4 Pregnancies

Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”

After the disappointing weigh-in, I resolved that I was not about to be be beaten by a scale and a measuring tape. My journey to health was just too dang important.  

So on I plowed, more determined than ever.

While I only continued with the trainer for a few more sessions, I continued to workout regularly and research health and fitness topics. After getting the go-ahead from my pediatrician, I started intermittent fasting while I nursed.

Suddenly, the changes started to happen more rapidly.  I gradually developed healthier habits. And, lo-and-behold, the number on the scale actually started falling.

Just this week, almost a year to the day of the catestrophic weighin, I ran into my old trainer at the gym. Mere feet from the scale and drawer that held the measuring tape. .

But this meeting was waaaay different from the year before. My determination and hard work paid off: I had lost 30 lbs while gaining a ton of muscle, completely reshaping my body.  

“Wow. You look great!” he said. “Smaller every time I see you.”

We stood and chatted for several minutes and caught up on each others’ lives.

It wasn’t until after we said our goodbyes that I realized that it had been almost exactly a year since that intensely disappointing day when I could see no discernable impact of all my hard work.

Ironically enough, I realized that I was even wearing the exact same shirt (that fit much looser now).

What I couldn’t see the year before, but saw so clearly now was that my hard work did pay off. From the moment I started my health journey, even though I couldn’t see the results, I had started on the path that led me to very real changes.

getting into shape after 4 pregnancies

Determination is everything

When you are determined to change a habit–whether it’s not yelling at your kids, eating healthier, reading more, waking up earlier, exercising more, keeping up wth your laundry–the most important thing you can do after you decide to change is to never give up.

Even when the results are invisible and you feel like you’re going nowhere.

If you are actively working towards your goal, getting back up after you fall, reassessing your strategies, educating yourself, big changes will come.

Even if you’ve failed a million times before.

Results may come slowly, but they will come if you keep trying and never give up no matter how many times you fall.

Honestly, I still haven’t reached my health goals. I still have about 20 more pounds to lose and there are still habits I want to change. I’m not per definitely mess up. (In fact, I may have eaten half a wheel of brie today…)

But this I know:

You just can’t beat the person who never gives up

Weight loss after 4 kids. Getting into shape after 4 pregnancies

Back to my pre-motherhood weight!

Stick with it, mama. If I can do it, so can you. You’ve got this!

 

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

You’ve just spent an entire evening preparing a new recipe and setting the table only to have your children outright refuse to eat anything you’ve made. Your pride in rocking this new recipe is dashed as your kids devolve into tears and gagging noises, convinced you are trying to poison them. How on earth are you supposed to teach healthy eating habits?

As many as 50% or kids, at least for a period of time, fall into the category of “picky eater”. As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating. You’re going to great pains in trying to nourish your offspring and instill healthy eating habits while your child wants to just eat fishy crackers and Doritos.

But you can create a healthy home and instill healthy eating habits–even in your pickiest eaters.

Here are 12 tips to help you do just that.

1) Get your husband on the same page.

Nothing will sabotage any new parenting endeavor then being undermined by dad. However, I’ve found that this is usually because I didn’t fully inform him of the new strategy I was trying. Sit down with your partner and determine what kinds of foods you want to be eating and your plan of action.

2) Involve your child

Ask your child what you should make. At the grocery store, have them help you pick out foods. Kids love picking out produce. Have them help you in the kitchen preparing the meal.

This was really helpful in our house. Involving my pickiest eater in the cooking process has not only been fun and bonding, but she’s now much more likely to eat something she helped prepare.

3) Talk about how food impacts us

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. It’s been in the last few years that I’ve really shifted from a weight-loss mindset, into a being really healthy and strong mindset.

As a mother of 4 daughters, I can’t tell you how badly I want them to avoid the struggles that I’ve had.

So we talk a lot about how food affects our bodies and energy level. Will this food give us energy to play and help us be stronger? Or is it going to make us feel crabby and tired? I talk about how sugary foods, while okay for occasional treats, totally zap me of energy. But salads, vegetables, raw nuts,  give me energy and make me feel good.

12 Steps to combat picky eating & create healthy mealtime habits

4) Set a good example

Children are much more likely to do what you do and not what you say. Our children are walking testaments to our actions, not our words. This applies to how we eat as well.

I’ve also found that if I am eating anything around my kids, they will want to try some. From salads to smoothies packed with kale, if I’m eating and enjoying something, my kids want a piece of the action. And I’ve been really surprised by what my children will not only try, but end up really liking.  

5) Keep only healthy options around your house

If there aren’t unhealthy options littering your kitchen and pantry, then your child will have little else to beg for in place of the meal they’ve been presented.

For example, I never have juice or soda around the house and I only buy dense whole grain bread. They think white bread is candy. So all sandwiches or toast is made with heavy fiber and nutrient-packed bread. I try to keep all snack foods they healthiest options available.

6) Make meals fun

Making mealtime fun is will go a long way in having your associate healthy eating with positive emotions. If mealtimes are a always a battle, everyone is trained to get frustrated at dinner time!

Get your kids to help out, experiment with fun dips and sauces, and switch it up (like breakfast for dinner).

7) Don’t make a seperate meal

Making a seperate meal for your child–while it may keep the peace at dinner time–only ensures that picky and limited eating will continue.  When one of my kids outright refuse everything (rare), they are always welcome to have any raw vegtables, nuts or seeds, and sometime fruit. But no seperate meal.

8) Don’t bribe with dessert

This just teaches kids that healthy food is bad, but must be suffered through to get to the true reward: dessert. If dessert is the reward, then dessert is always the goal–not healthy eating habits.

I’ll admit that I tried this…a lot. And the result was that my children would constantly try and negotiate “how many bites” until they earned dessert. It wasn’t about eating until fullness. It was all about the dessert.

If your goal is to help your children enjoy healthy eating, bribing with dessert will not get you there.

9) Introduce 1 new food at a time with foods they already like

I have found time and again that of I have 2-3 things I know my kids like at a meal and a third or fourth thing that they will try for the 1st time, they are much more likely to try the new thing than if I just try and give then a plate of full of new and strange food.

10) Never force kids to eat

Forcing kids to eat just ensures that kids will have negative associates with the food you are forcing them to eat. But unfortunately, I think for most parents this is the go to response.

But think to when you were a kid. Did your parents ever force you to eat? Did it work?

As a kid, anthing I was forced to eat became enemy number one. If my parents forced me to eat something, I was turned off to that food for years. I vividly remember as a child being forced to eat oatmeal. As I imagine it, I can still feel the revulsion I felt and my gag reflex on high alert.

I was absolutely convinced my mother was trying to kill me. So I refused to eat oatmeal for almost 20 years. And lo and behold, I discovered that I actually love oatmeal. I can’t help but wonder if I could have spent years loving oatmeal if I hadn’t been forced to eat it.

Healthy eating habits come with positive associations to healthy foods. 

11) Stick to a Routine

Keep meals and snack times at roughly the same time everyday. If a child isn’t hungry for a meal or snack, then they should be hungry enough once the next one comes around.

12) Be consistent

Children’s brains are pattern seeking. If the pattern is that you enforce something new for a day or two and then forget about it, they pick that up quickly. But if you maintain consistency with your expectations and practices, they will pick that up and develop healthy eating habits.

For most people, healthy eating habits aren’t just going to manifest overnight. But through consistently encouraging healthy eating through these steps you can help your children try new foods, enjoy healthy eating, and create habits that will serve them for life. You can create a home of healthy eaters.

You’ve got this, mama.

7 Steps to Actually Teaching Kids to Clean Their Own Bedrooms

7 Steps to Actually Teaching Kids to Clean Their Own Bedrooms

7 Steps to Actually Teaching Kids to Clean Their Own Bedrooms

Let’s face it: sometimes you feel more like “the maid” than “the mom”. And while you want your kids to pick up after themselves, it feels pretty dang overwhelming most days when you are just trying to keep everyone alive. You’re tired and pressed for time so it’s faster to do it all yourself. 

But seriously, teaching a child to clean up doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. By taking some simple steps now to teach your children to clean their own room, you can teach responsibility and save yourself loads of time and energy.

Teaching a Child to Clean: Start young

If a child can play with toys and make a mess, a child is capable of learning to clean up.

Children truly are amazing little sponges. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly my 4 kids pick stuff up. Their little brains are incredible at picking up patterns and following them. If you teach them that you will always clean up their messes, they’ll learn that quickly. But if you teach them that they need to clean up after themselves, they’ll do it.

7 Steps Teaching Kids to Clean Their Bedrooms

Steps to Teach a Child to Clean Their Bedroom

1) Organize child’s room so that it’s easy for your child to clean up.

Before you really dig into teaching your child to clean their room, you want to make sure it’s organized properly. Take a good long look at your child’s bedroom and ask yourself:

  • Does everything have a clear place?
  • Is it easily accessible?
  • Is the organization uncomplicated?
  • How can I change the room to make it easier for my child to clean?

Organize your room so that it’s easy for your child to know where everything goes and it’s easy to put everything away.

Taping images on boxes, bins, and drawers can be very helpful in teaching kids where everything goes. I do this with my kid’s drawers and it has been a  game-changer.

To say my girls love clothes is a major understatement. Without exageration, it’s perfidy normal for any one of my 3 kids who dress themselves to change their clothes anywhere from 5-10 times a day on any given day. So clothing mess has been a formidable issue for us from the moment these girls started dressing themselves.

One day a few years ago, completely frustrated by the daily deluge of clothes on the bedroom floor, I snapped. I got some 3 x 5 notecards and drew pictures of the clothing items that go in each drawer and taped them on each of my children’s drawers.

It was nothing short of miraculous what happened. With a bit of direction, my clothes-loving girls actually started to put everything away in the correct place. If you don’t feel like drawing, I created a free printable of both boy and girl clothes drawer labels (you can download the labels by scrolling to the bottom of this post).Teaching a child to clean their bedroom

2) Clean along side your child, giving very specific instructions with lots of encouragement and praise.

Children are very visual and physical learners. Not only do we need to tell them what to do, we need to show them and lovingly guide them. While you model the correct behavior, explain to your child what you are doing and invite them to help giving very specific instructions.

EXAMPLES:

  • “Can you put the OBJECT in this PLACE? You did it! That was so helpful!”
  • “This is where we put the OBJECTS. Can you put that right in here? You are such a great helper. I love it!”

As you child learns, you can move away from the very specific directions to “Can you put all the dirty clothes in this basket?” as opposed to “can you put that shirt in the dirty clothes basket?”

Teaching a child to clean their bedroom

3) Set a routine for when you clean

Children crave routines that they can expect and predict. This is certainly true when teaching a child to clean. If you are consistent in your cleaning routine, not only will your children respond better, but–knowing that clean up is imminent–they will begin to clean before you ask them. Making it a routine they can expect will reduce the battles.

Since every home runs differently, this may look different to everyone. For some, it may be that you clean a room up completely before you leave it. That hasn’t worked well for us.

For us, the evenings seem to be the most effective time to clean. As part of their bedtime wind-down routine, the girls know that they are expected to have their room clean in order to get a story and a song every night (and they’d sooner cut off their own toe than miss the story and song). As it’s become more routine for them, they have become quick and efficient little cleaners!

4) Keep it positive and encouraging

The quickest way to sabotage a child’s attitude and the mood in your home is to be moody and negative. Be it potty training, school work, or what have you, when we start to get irritated and snarky with our kids, they will respond the same way or with tears.

Always give encouragement and praise for their efforts when teaching a child to clean. Praise and positivity go a really long way in helping to motivate a child. Helping them see how helpful they are and that what they do makes a difference will completely change their behavior.

A phrase we use (from parenting expert Dr. Becky Bailey) that has brought about miraculous attitude and behavior changes is:

“You (what your child did), so (the results). That was so helpful!”

EXAMPLES:

  • “You cleaned up all your clothes so you can find them. That was so helpful!”
  • “You put all your toys away so we won’t trip on them and your room can look nice. That was so helpful!”

I know it’s not always easy to stay positive when you are tired and overworked and the house is messy. But staying positive with kids yields magical results. When I am super positive and complimentary, my 4 and 5 year old can seriously make their room

5) Have consequences for failure to clean up

Natural consequences are best. Other than losing their story and a song at night, another strategy has also been very effective.  We put toys that have not been picked up when they were supposed to be picked up in “toy jail”. These items go in a big clear plastic container that lives in a high shelf in my closet and my kids have to do various chores to earn their toys back.

teaching a child to clean their bedroom

6) Have your child clean up gradually on their own, as you give instructions

As your child becomes more and more capable, give them more responsibility.

7) Be consistent, Be consistent, Be consistent

I know it’s not easy. Mom life is super hard. We have moments where we can’t care about much more than keeping our kids alive, let alone having children who clean up after themselves. I’ve been there. 

But if we are not consistent in our efforts and expectations, children will pick up that this is not important and not something they need to learn.

On the other hand, being consistent teaches our children that these expectations and responsibilities are here to stay and will be enforced.

Children’s brains are amazing at picking up patterns. If the pattern is that you won’t stay consistent, they will not comply. If the pattern is that they need to keep their room clean, they will! Stay strong, mama!

The struggle is worth it

I’m not going to lie, teaching my kids to clean up after themselves has been a struggle at times. Sometimes they have fought me vigorously and tested whether I will be consistent. But the struggle to teach a child to clean is worth it.  

These days, my kids are now amazing at cleaning up their rooms. And the excitement and sense of pride they have when they show me their immaculate room absolutely makes my heart sing.

You’ve got this. Good luck, mamas!

7 Steps Teaching Kids to Clean Their Bedrooms
7 Steps Teaching Kids to Clean Their Bedrooms

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7 Quick & Healthy Dinner Recipes (in under 30 minutes)

7 Quick & Healthy Dinner Recipes (in under 30 minutes)

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Just an average mom day is insanely busy. So when 5:00 o’clock hits, your kids are hungry and there’s no dinner made, what usually happens?

Do you heat up some heavily-processed foods you’ve got lying around or end up in a drive-thru?

Skip the processed, unhealthy junk with these 7 awesome quick and healthy dinner recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less. These recipes will save you money and time while providing your family with a healthy and delicious meal.

Quick & Heathy Dinner Recipes Under 30 Minutes

1) 20 Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp (from Sally’s Baking Addiction) 

(image from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Shrimp is healthy, delicious, and cooks up in minutes. I absolutely LOVE shrimp and so does my family. So I buy it in bulk at Costco. This quick Honey Garlic Shrimp is divine and so incredibly easy. Pair with steamed veggies and some rice.

2) Crispy Parmesan Chicken w/ Zucchini (from the Recipe Critic)

(image from The Recipe Critic)

Have you got picky little eaters in your family? Not a problem here. This crispy chicken will not last long, even among the pickest eaters.

And while I am a huge fan of zucchini, you can pair the chicken with any veggie you like.

3) Paleo Skillet Beef Fajitas (from A Healthy Life For Me)

(image from A Healthy Life For Me)

These quick and easy fajitas fit the bill for a lot of healthy eating (paleo, gluten-free, whole30). While this one involves more chopping and ingredients than the other recipes, it’s loaded with vitamins, fiber, and nutrients.

Note: if you use jalapenos, be careful. I recently handled jalapenos without gloves, rubbed my nose and eyes without thinking and ended up with a face and fingers on fire. It was not pleasant.

4) Sheet Pan Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon (from Eat Yourself Skinny)

(image from Eat Yourself Skinny)

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s all cooked on one pan. One cooking dish for an entire healthy meal.

5) 30 Minute Roasted Cauliflower Chowder (from Simply Quinoa)

(image from Simply Quinoa)

Oh man, this soup is so good–and it’s got protein! While I love cauliflower on it’s own, this chowder adds some really delicious ingredients like humus and the results are fantastic.

Also, I find that pureed soups are a great way to give kids vegetables since they can’t actually see any vegetables.

If they see it, it’s game over in my house. But I can stick all manner of goodness in blended soups! I use this awesome immersion blender to quickly and easily puree my soups.

6) Sheet Pan Lemon Rosemary Chicken (from Eat Yourself Skinny)

(image from Eat Yourself Skinny)

Yet another sheet pan wonder from Eat Yourself Skinny. Quick, delicious, and easy clean up. 

7) Grilled Chicken Fajita Kebabs (from Fit Foodie Finds)

(image from Fit Foodie Finds)

These flavor packed kebabs can be made on the grill or in the oven. Kebabs cook up SUPER fast!

Follow Me on Pinterest

If this was helpful, follow my Dinner Under 30 Minutes board on Pinterest! I’m adding to it ALL the time.

With these quick and healthy dinner recipes, you can easily prepare meals that you can feel good about serving your family.

Good luck, mama!

Quick & Heathy Dinner Recipes Under 30 Minutes

Nature Scavenger Hunt: A Simple and Fun Preschool Math Activity

Nature Scavenger Hunt: A Simple and Fun Preschool Math Activity

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

On the lookout for easy, fun, and educational activities that I can do with your little ones? This nature scavenger hunt is a super fun way to explore the outdoors and practice counting.

With just a few household items and just a couple minutes prep time, you are ready to go! You can have a fun little learning adventure with your kids where they will be encouraged to think out of the box and use their math skills to add up what they find.

There are so many variations of how you can do this activity! If you want, after your hunt your kids can make a nature collage with what they found during the scavenger hunt. Get creative

Fun & Easy Nature Scavenger Hunt Preschool Math Activity

WHAT YOU NEED

For Scavenger Hunt

  • List of items to look for on the scavenger hunt
  • Pencil/crayon
  • Basket/bag to collect items

For Nature Collage

  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Option-tray

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) First, write a list of objects to look for on the scavenger hunt.

Your list will depend on the area you live in and the season.  For example, you can write a list as follows: Five rocks of any color, 5 flowers of any color, 10 leaves, 8 small sticks.

Create your list with your child in mind. Since we had a variety of ages on our hunt–6, 4, 2–I was flexible in my expectations for each child.

The 4 and 6 year old could easily count to 20 (and well beyond), while my 2 year old can count to about 5 right now. My goal was to just get each child to practice at their level.

For most kids, you’ll definitely want to keep the quantity of objects higher than three, that way there will be more items for your child to count and add.  

2) It’s Adventure Time!

Go for a walk and have your child use the list as the guide of what he needs to find.

You can walk around your backyard or neighborhood. We chose to go to a local reserve because there was simply more nature to explore. Plus, there were fun things like ducks and bunnies to count!

3) Use Your List

As your child finds the items on the list, have him write down what he has found and the amount. If you think it might be helpful, you can have him tally as he finds the objects on the list.

Or you can collect them in your basket/bag and count afterwards. It’s versatile!

By the way, the baskets we used (pictured) are part of some play food sets we have. They just happened to be perfect for this activity. 

Every time your child finds an item from the list, have him add the amount of items he has.  This will give him lots of opportunities to practice adding, but will also help him to keep track of the amount he has.  

4) Add the total.

At the end of the walk, have your little one add the totals from all that he found. So many opportunities for counting!

5) Make a collage

Now for the really fun part! After finding everything on the list and adding it up, your child can make a collage of the items by gluing the items on cardboard or making a display tray. By placing the items on a tray, he can have many opportunities to rearrange his collage in different ways.

Nature + Counting = Simple & Easy Educational Fun!

Educational activities don’t have to take a lot of time or effort. You don’t have to plan some complicated activity that involves a lot of prep time and organization. This scavenger hunt is super easy and super fun for kids. And you can modify it however you need to meet your needs. Really, you’re just out exploring in nature and counting! Plus, you can add a collage project at the end.  

Try this one and let me know how it goes.

Have fun, mama!

Fun & Easy Nature Scavenger Hunt Preschool Math Activity