A New Way to Spark Postpartum {and All} Weight Loss

Last week I had the honor of being featured as a specialist at an event called Mother Soulstice. The event was created to provide a space for women to find power in their journey of postpartum healing and change the conversation of how we view and treat ourselves. #inspiration I was asked to share my work in postpartum fitness and nutrition as a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and while this was written for the women who attended, I couldn’t help but share this with all my followers {and beyond}. Because this information is relative to all mamas [and all women for that matter], and I hope it can make an impact on your life as well!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

IMG_0991
When we become a mother, there is *so much* pressure to act like we’ve got it all together, to be perfect and to get our bodies and lives “back”. But what if we changed the conversation; changed the approach? What if instead of self-loathing our way “back”, we self-loved ourselves forward? Forward into a relationship with ourselves that embraced the changes we’ve been through {physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and in every way I can think possibly of} and focused on creating joy, confidence and energy through radical self-love and acceptance? What if the key to feeling good in your own skin RIGHT NOW and postpartum weight loss was by following that exact path? Would you take it?

WHERE TO START:

CULTIVATE JOY DAILY: When we experience a lack of joy at anytime in our lives {which we’re especially prone to postpartum as we step into a new life and way of being}, we tend to seek solace in food and engage in behaviors that aren’t actually supportive to our health + well-being. We crave sweets – namely baked sweets, chocolate, ice cream, soft + filling starches, ice cream and cheese. Behind each craving is a 100% legitimate reason that essentially boils down to an internal need that we’re neglecting; and cravings are one of the body’s only ways of telling us this. We interpret these needs as food-based cravings, so indulge in them, then still wonder why we don’t actually feel better afterwards (not to mention the shame + guilt cycle we enter into). Try this instead – CREATE A FEEL GOOD LIST. Write down as many things as you can think of – big and small – that make you feel good and bring you joy (physically and emotionally). It can be as simple as drinking more water and eating more vegetables at every meal to a spa day, date night (or sex!) with your significant other, meeting up with girlfriends, moving your body, meditating, taking deep breaths or reading a book. Anything and everything that makes you feel good that you could do RIGHT NOW. Then try to do at least one thing from this list every day and be sure to add in at least one thing (just for you) that you can look forward to!

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

WHEN YOUR WEIGHT IS STUCK, LOOK AT WHERE IN LIFE YOUR “STUCK”: How often do we women find ourselves “waiting on the weight” before we fully embrace life and do all the things we want to do? Or how much time do we spend imagining how awesome life would be if we were 10 pounds lighter? 40 pounds lighter? Here’s the truth – you’re never going to get “there” – and even *if* you lose the weight you’d like, it doesn’t make your life full. Just as your body grows and regenerates every day, your soul needs growth as well. So I want to ask you – are you truly *living* your life right now or are you just surviving? Believe me, I know there’s definitely an element of surviving those first few months PP, but in order to bring ourselves out of the fog, out of the overwhelm, out of the wallowing in “loss” of self or body, we must (we must!) spend time cultivating the needs of our soul (see below for some ideas on this!) in order to become “unstuck” in negative habits, thoughts patterns and beliefs that ALL stall weight loss efforts. So if you feel like you’ve tried everything and are still struggling, maybe it’s not your outer body that needs addressing. As a fitness professional and health coach, I can tell you with 100% conviction that it’s not the physical landscape (ex. food and fitness) that needs changing in order to make that stubborn weight budge; it’s an honest look at what emotional weight (which I believe we all come to bear in some capacity as a mother) that we’re holding onto; the stories we keep telling ourselves about our bodies and the attitude in which we approach our life and it’s worth. We can’t keep waiting on the weight, waiting for things to slow down or get easier, for life to happen for us – every season has its struggles, every season passes in the blink of an eye. So instead of forcing change through nutrition or exercise, what if we engaged in self-loving practices that made our life full? And by full, I mean that it’s imperative as moms to take time for our own growth and care. Will (my son) fills up my heart in ways I’d never known or experienced, but that’s not a substitute for taking time for myself to recharge all the energy I output (physically, mentally, emotionally and on a soul-level).

FILL UP ON SOUL FOOD. Our soul foods are what really feed us and drive our happiness. They “fill us up” from the inside so that we don’t seek comfort, solace and fulfillment from the “outside” (in food or superficial things). Your SOUL FOOD includes:

  • being surrounded with loving, deep relationships (with yourself and others)
  • having a fulfilling, balanced work life and career (“career” being an interchangeable word with your life’s work and purpose)
  • self-care – simply put, caring for yourself daily; doing things that make you feel good + recharge your energy, increase your vitality and create mental space
  • engaging in a spiritual practice that gives purpose and meaning to your life

So if you’re frustrated and “stuck”, I encourage you to try these methods and take a look at your soul food. It’s a new path that involves loving yourself (as you are) and filling yourself up from the inside. It’s your answer to ditching diets, extreme exercise and actually getting the results you want. For reals. Let’s take up this new way together; change the conversation of how we treat ourselves so we can bring a fuller, more joyful self to every aspect of our life. You deserve it, mama. Sending love and light. -Whitney

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Did you like this post? Please share! If you can relate to it or have a comment/question, I’d love to hear from you! {whitney @ macksmo.com}. Together mama’s, we are stronger and we deserve MO(re). #macksmomma So much love to you, all my readers!

Nourishing + Blood-Building Bone Broth

*Almost* every week, I make a bone broth. I was inspired to start making it by my acupuncturist Elisa Berquist two years ago and haven’t looked back since. At the time, I went to see her to help balance out my hormones after 10 years of birth control. The wisdom she imparted to me in the process has shaped my view on how to “build my body up” when I’m feeling depleted and keep it nourished year-round. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, bone broth is blood- and qi-building. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), “blood is an essential fluid.  This means that without blood, your body will not be able to perform its usual functions.  When blood is used throughout the day, it has to be replenished so you don’t become blood deficient.  Stress, exercise, work, and studying are just a few ways that your body uses blood.  Bone Marrow is where the body makes both red and white blood cells.  By using bones filled with rich marrow, we are able to extract this property and infuse it into our own cells.  By drinking nutritious bone broth, you are giving your body what it needs to heal itself” (sourced from urbanherbs.com).

As women, “building up” our blood is even more important because we actually lose blood once a month. This period (see what I did there? : ) of blood deficiency can lead us feeling run-down, depleted, low energy and experiencing cravings to “boost” us back up. Elisa taught me to prepare for this time by consuming blood-building food + drink the week before my period. This included drinking bone broth (or use it in home-cooked meals) + consuming iron-rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, seaweeds, spirulina, sprouts, whole grains, richly colored foods like beets, dried apricots, dark grapes, blackberries, raspberries and organic, grass-fed or pasture-raised meat and eggs. Oh – and one other time we lose a lot of blood? When we have a baby! In addition, TCM views breastmilk as an extension of the mother’s blood and therefore it’s important that breastfeeding mama’s also eat foods that build their blood.

On top of all this wisdom, Elisa also dropped a bomb on me.

She told me that when our bodies are in balance, we shouldn’t really experience any of the awful period symptoms we’ve come to think of as “normal”. Our periods should actually involve little to no cramping, little to no bleeding, no back pain, no huge dips in energy levels and no crazy cravings.

Yep, you just read that right. And if you’re like me, you are thinking, “yeah {freaking} right”. Not possible.

At the time I went to see her, I had recently had my IUD removed and had had 2 months of rough periods, including serious low back pain + cramping. So, as you likely are now, I was skeptical. Even non-believing. Because everybody has painful periods, right?

Oh friends. I ate my words….or thoughts, rather (because I never actually told Elisa at the time that I thought she was cray-cray and full of it). But it’s true. Within two months of seeing her, taking her prescribed TCM herbs, practicing increased self-care and implementing her blood-building recommendations, I had periods with absolutely zero cramping, zero pain, zero discomfort. In fact, only a paper-thin pad was needed as primarily bled only when I went to the bathroom. And it lasted 3 days. No joke.

And until I got pregnant, I experienced this month after month. I wanted to share this with y’all today because I always think it’s important that we examine societal “norms” – especially when it comes to our health (or UN-health). And if there is a way to experience more comfortable periods AND gain better health in the process, I believe it’s something all us ladies should be looking into, right?

So, needless to say, I’m a believer in this bone-broth drinking + blood-building stuff. And whether you’re a believer too or not, the good news is that aside from all the amazing health benefits we can incur in consuming it, it tastes great and seriously ups the deliciousness factor of all recipes in which it’s used. Win win. And today, I’m sharing my personal bone broth recipe {and process} on the blog:

IMG_20160107_103652BONE BROTH: 99.9% of the time, I start my bone broth process by cooking a whole (organic + pasture-raised) chicken in the crockpot. It’s super easy – chop an onion and place in the bottom of the crockpot, then place the chicken on top. Cook on low for 8-12 hours. BOOM. On top of the chicken carcass, I usually use grass-fed + organic beef bones, but you can substitute buffalo, veal, lamb, goat; and can also add chicken and/or pig’s feet.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 – 2 grass-fed bones {knuckles, marrow, shank or other bones}
  • Optional: carcass of crockpot chicken
  • Enough water to fill the crockpot after all ingredients are in
  • 1 – 2 onions, peeled and chopped roughly {if you’ve done the crockpot chicken with onion on bottom, no need to do another onion unless desired}
  • 3 carrots, option to chop – but I usually just break + toss them in
  • 2 celery stalks,option to chop – but I usually just break + toss them in
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbls. sea salt and 1 Tbls. black peppercorns
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme {or 1 Tbls. dry}
  • Big handful of fresh parsley {can put in “whole”, stems + leaves}
  • 2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1″ knob of fresh ginger
  • Optional: egg shells from farm raised chickens
  • Veggie scraps: throughout the week, any scraps you cut off {like leek stems, broccoli stems etc}, store in Ziplock bag in freezer. Then toss into your broth to cook with other vegetables

DIRECTIONS: 

  1. IF YOU’VE DONE CROCKPOT CHICKEN: after pulling chicken off carcass, add bones + skin back into the crockpot with the “juice” that’s there {water + onion}.  
  2. Add all ingredients and cook on low for 10-18 hours. The longer you cook the stock the more concentrated it becomes.  
  3. When done, strain liquid, discard bones and vegetables.  
  4. Place liquid into the refrigerator and fat will congeal overnight. Skim off fat.  
  5. Pour stock into freezer-safe containers {careful not to fill to the top} as stock expands as it freezes. You can freeze stock for up to 3 months or keep in the fridge for 2 weeks. 

Getting Your Pre-Baby Body “Back”

In Part 2 of this two-part MAKING YOUR WORKOUTS WORK FOR YOU series, we’ll be talking about your postpartum return to exercise and getting your pre-baby body “back” (my own being the pic below).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IMG_7903After we’ve had a baby, one of the first thoughts that cross our mommy minds is getting back to “our old self” – physically, mentally and in our capacity to “do what we used to”. Even though we’ve had the baby, the feeling of “heaviness” still exists as we find ourselves in a body that doesn’t feel like our own. On top of that, we are exhausted from interrupted sleep and totally depleted from labor + all the new demands of motherhood. Regardless of being completely wiped, though, we are anxious to take action. Action to get back to feeling more like ourselves. Action to “get our body back” and to have control over something [in a time where we can literally control almost nothing].

Can you relate? The first 6 months of motherhood certainly rocked my world [and body].

What we don’t realize and what we’re not told – by the media, by our fellow mama friends, by our doctors and seemingly almost everyone around us – is that the practice + pressure of jumping back in to exercise too soon {or with too vigorous of a practice} is not only counterproductive to weight loss efforts, but it can and most likely will sabotage your health + well-being both in the present and down the road.

Screenshot_2015-12-08-10-28-25Let me explain — from the outside, we see that the baby is gone. Society tells us that it’s time to lose the baby weight and, in a sense, act like the biggest event of our lives {pregnancy, labor + birth} never happened. Since the concept of immediately taking action to lose ‘the weight’ is socially accepted as “normal”, we mamas also assume that our bodies ARE ready to jump back into action, returning to the form of exercise we did before pregnancy – or perhaps an even more rigorous practice. Because after all, we’ve got some weight to lose.

But while we may look “ready” to move from the outside, my dear friend Jen, a midwife once put it to me this way – if you’ve ever seen a placenta when it comes out [or even take a look at your baby], remember that was just INSIDE your body. Meaning that it left behind a big, open wound where it once was. A sacred space that held your precious baby for those growing 9 months and one I believe we should honor and treat with the utmost reverence and respect. Now if that wound were on the OUTSIDE of your body, imagine how long it would take to heal. And imagine the attitude we’d have towards even being out of the house with that kind of wound, let alone working out. I also think that if we had a wound like that to look at on the outside, we would intuitively know that perhaps working out is something we shouldn’t jump into just yet.

Even so, our culture puts pressure on women to immediately return to our “pre-baby body”, to act as if pregnancy, labor + birth are not the physical, spiritual and emotional events that they truly are. To wave aside our need to heal and pretend like our lives and bodies have not been turned upside down. Or to act like we immediately have this motherhood thing down pat – and that it’s super easy to just go back to our old way of being – including working out. We mamas know that type of thinking is ass-backwards. We know we’re not the same. Yet, women are praised for looking polished and “back to baby weight” weeks or even days post-birth. We know it’s not reality, we know it shouldn’t be this way and yet, it’s hard not to fall victim to this mentality. Because it’s literally EVERYWHERE – on blogs, in the media, on social media or walking around our neighborhoods. And it’s hard not to feel anxious for not having control over our time or our bodies. And in truth, at least for myself, although I had this beautiful baby boy, I didn’t feel comfortable in my new skin and it’s {still} taking me awhile to figure out this “new me”.

My Body Made A BabyBut there’s good reason for that — because my body is not the same body. The body I am living in now made a new life. Like #mybodymadeababy, hello?! And it not only made a new life, but it brought that life into the world as well {I believe this holds true whether you had a vaginal birth or c-section}. Brought my little Will into this world naturally, at home with 12 hours of labor and about 3.5 hours of pushing. My body bears witness – internally and externally, to these amazing feats. The uber fit, exceptionally strong and trim body I had before my baby didn’t do anything awesome like grow + birth a baby. Didn’t do anything as physical as that. As if pregnancy and birth weren’t amazing enough, now that my baby boy is in my world, my body creates and gives him everything he needs for survival – comfort, warmth, nutrition, movement and love {with countless other things left unmentioned}.

My old self didn’t have {even close-to} the huge responsibility of caring for an entirely separate human being. Pre-Will, I spent hours on my own self-care. With Will, I spend quadruple those hours on his care. My life has never been so full. My body has never been so drained. I have never EVER been so freaking tired or had so much “to do”. Never felt so out of balance and disconnected from who I “knew” as myself, yet somehow closer to connection than I’ve ever been.  I’ve never enjoyed waking up to a face this much. The amount of time I have for my self-care has never been so low. The amount that I smile, laugh and am filled with joy every day has never been so great. Has my life changed? Oh boy! How hasn’t it? Everything’s different and nothing’s the same – including my body. Somehow, life is better. My heart is fuller. I have more love to give and more gratitude than ever. It’s also a daily work-in-progress to figure out how to manage my time, reserve space for myself and be a mom, wife and entrepreneur.

So to ask my body – this new body, this “baby body” to morph back into my old pre-baby body is preposterous {in my humble personal + professional opinion}. I’ve outgrown that skin – physically, emotionally, physiologically and in every possible way I can think of. I’m no longer the same person. To go backwards means a life without Will; or rather a body that didn’t create my amazing Will. To go backwards means grasping for a space in time that’s past and no longer exists. It leaves most of us mamas searching, frustrated and in a constant state of self-deprecation, beating ourselves up for not being the same as we once were physically.

Working Out + Losing WeightAnd here’s the whole truth about “working out”, coming from an Integrative Nutrition certified Health Coach and fitness professional who helps people move as part of my living. Although fitness and movement are without-a-doubt important for overall health, it doesn’t really help you lose weight {postpartum or not}. It can support weight loss, helping to create the momentum and energy to motivate healthier choices in your life, but it alone will not make you lose weight. #truth. And postpartum, certain exercise modalities are actually counter-productive to losing weight and instead drain needed energy, can affect our milk supply, cause excess bleeding, leave us with plaguing injuries [knee, shoulder, hip and low back] and the overall feeling of a body that’s unable to support us.

Contrary to popular belief – the only REAL path to natural, lasting weight loss is proper nutrition and addressing lifestyle factors that REALLY influence our choices and time (including sleep, stress, work – and how we’re adjusting to all the shifts in those arenas, self-care, + meditation/stillness, to name a few). Focusing on eating high-quality, whole and real foods will go so much further than fitness ever could. Plus, eating is something you already do every day – so it’s nothing extra you have to worry about “adding in”, you have to do it anyway.

Below are four pictures – me at 41 weeks + 2 days (photo cred: Sarah Heitman), then 6 months, 8 and 10 months postpartum. During my pregnancy, I gained almost 40 lbs. onto my previously 138 lbs. body – while eating well and engaging in a two-fold “exercise” approach of both moving and napping. 🙂

PP Blog Collage
At 6 months, I had been walking, resting and doing my physical therapy exercises 2-3x per week. I’d worked out a total of 5 times, doing some light strength training, nothing high impact. Each of these 5 times were a “check-in”, to see how my body was feeling and how it responded to various exercises. Each time – I learned {again} that my body wasn’t yet ready for that type of movement. At 8 months, I was two weeks into a “routine” of low-impact strength training 2x/week and doing 1-2 yoga classes each week.

And today, at 10 months postpartum, that’s what I’m still doing – and even that doesn’t happen every week. I have, however, since Postpartum Day #1 insisted on fueling my body with good, real + healthy food – no deprivation, no diet, no counting calories or even entertaining ideas of eating to lose weight – simply eating whole foods that made me feel good. Since the beginning, I’ve also made {some form of} self-care a daily top priority. I’ve had more massage {abdominal + regular}, acupuncture, physical therapy and chiropractic sessions in the last 10 months then in my entire 30 years prior. I’ve also taken more baths, gone on more walks and put in some serious nap time [like serious].

The reason I wanted to show you these photos was so you could know what’s possible when you love up on your body [versus hate on it], listen to its needs and trust that with time, it will heal and naturally shed weight. Doing so with less effort, less pressure and less stress – without the need to engage in any vigorous exercise and without needing to push or force what doesn’t feel good or what our body isn’t ready for.

Baby Will PP BlogBecause with the gift of holding our babies comes some unavoidable challenges – interrupted sleep, stress and a whole lot less time. So, with less time, less energy and higher stress levels {remember what my last blog post said about high stress levels?}, we should be engaging in practices (fitness and otherwise) that maximize our time and efforts to feel good on a daily basis, ones that build UP our energy stores versus deplete them. And you may have guessed by now that this does not include hard workouts and killing yourself at the gym. And personally, even if I’d had the desire to do more vigorous or more consistent exercise before 10 months, I don’t think I could have. I had a hard enough time mustering up the energy to be a new “mom”, let alone expending more energy to engage in exercise that depleted my body. And that’s the key – because if something {like exercise} isn’t supporting your body, it’s depleting it. Postpartum, if we really tune IN to our bodies, instead of making the decision to push through because we “have to” and feel anxious to get the weight off, working out {especially at high intensities, doing high impact movements or lifting heavy weights} doesn’t actually really FEEL good – and there are real, physical reasons for that.

The common recommendation by doctors and most literature is that mamas can return to exercise 6-8 weeks postpartum (of course, with the caution of asking your healthcare professional first). However, in reality, your body is not physically ready to support the load of heavy weights, high impact or high-stress workouts. To explain why, I turned to April Bolding, a foremost expert on woman’s health, local West Seattleite, doula, birth educator, mother of 2 sweet girls and {my} physical therapist. She explains:

This 6-8 weeks is a guideline that we quote and re-quote.  I think it has set women up to think: ‘After two months, I can start running or (insert vigorous exercise here) again.’ The fact of the matter is that a woman’s body is still healing and her ligaments are still loose at 8 weeks postpartum.”

April BoldingApril further explained that to accommodate the exponential growth of the uterus + baby, the ligaments that support the uterus and surround the pelvis stretch during pregnancy. When we are post-birth, it takes time {months!} for those uterine ligaments to shorten and firm up enough to support the uterus again like it did before pregnancy – even longer for women who have hypermobile joints to begin with. Your ligaments strengthen as your menstrual cycle returns, then more when you eventually ween from breastfeeding. So when we begin vigorous exercise that involves running, jumping and lifting heavy loads, this can cause the uterus or bladder to move downward with this force. Combine that with the constant force of gravity and perhaps a pelvic floor that is not adequately supporting the pelvic organs from below, you can cause a uterine or bladder prolapse (where these organs descend into the vaginal canal).

Weak pelvic floor muscles + vigorous exercises can also cause stress incontinence (the inability to stop the flow of urine.). This means peeing [even leaking a little pee] when we exercise, run, dance, walk, sneeze, cough or go about our lives. If you talk to your peers or most women who have children, incontinence is super common. However, I think it’s super important for us {women} to understand that while it’s common, we need to reject the idea that it’s normal. It’s a sign of pelvic floor weakness and/or dysfunction that needs to be addressed in order to have a body that’s balanced, strong and functions at its optimal level from the inside out. In terms of our “core”, the pelvic floor is like the foundation of a house – and if that foundation is weak or leaks, we know that’s a serious problem. It’s no different with the pelvic floor. It’s something we need to address now to help avoid chronic injuries, pain or accidental peeing moving forward. A lot of the same principles hold true for diastasis recti (abdominal separation); while common in pregnancy and early postpartum, it’s important to make sure that you’re able to maintain tension in the linea alba (connective tissue that runs between the two sides of the Rectus Abdominis) and that your Transverse Abdominis is firing properly – both of which I encourage you get assessed by a women’s health PT!

Lastly, during pregnancy, the spine and pelvis shift to make space for the baby – this shift creates an exaggerated arch in the low back and forward tilt of the pelvis, while moving our center of gravity forward. This results in the stretching of ligaments, the tightening of the hamstrings and other muscles, thus leaving us with a body that quite literally “out of balance” after we give birth. This is also a primary reason for not returning to vigorous exercise before the body is back into balance, as we can not only exacerbate the imbalances, but also sustain unneeded injuries in the process.

Given adequate time to heal and the right supportive exercises, a good majority of these adaptations our bodies made in pregnancy can shift back post-birth. The key is TIME. Combine that with sleep + rest {naps!!!}, consistent healthy eating habits and dedicated self-care and you’ll be setting your body up to innately heal. I definitely recommend adding in specialized women’s health physical therapy {starting at 6 weeks postpartum}, bodywork and some gentle, stress-free exercises prescribed specifically for your healing to just keep feeling better and better without added stress.

April concluded by telling me that over time, you can progress your exercise from gentle and intermittent to gentle and regular. Then into more moderate exercise. Tami Lynn Kent, Women’s Health PT in Oregon and author of Wild Feminine, recommends not returning to running until a year post-birth. That’s hard for a lot of women to hear. There are many reasons for it beyond prolapse and it’s a sensible recommendation. However, that’s one recommendation. We each are responsible for knowing our body best. No health care practitioner or doctor of physical therapy can trump your knowing of your own body. We (physical therapists) are just here as a resource for you. Listen to how your body responds and reacts to what exercise you try and it’s up to you to have the courage to back off of an activity if it could push you into injury. Think long-term pelvic bowl and joint health instead of trying to fit into your old jeans. After giving birth, we’ve grown out of our old skin and our former selves for that matter. We are certainly worthy of some new jeans and new way of working with our bodies.

Right? Gosh I love her. Like I said earlier, we know. We know, IF we listen. If we give ourselves the grace and permission to listen. IMG_20151212_141734428The permission to let that silly and unrealistic “ideal” go that we must “get our body back”. It doesn’t mean that we can’t move towards creating a body that (realistically) looks the way we desire, but I think it’s important we know it will never be the same body – just as you’re not the same person. What if we allowed ourselves time to just figure out this mama thing? Because it’s the freaking hardest {and most rewarding} thing on Earth. And to give ourselves the space to not just survive mommyhood, but learn to thrive again. If you happened to take a different postpartum fitness path, know that this blog post is in no way meant to shame you, I celebrate and appreciate your own journey. And you DO know your body best. So, in conclusion, my hope is that this post can support you in that knowing, while giving you some information as to why you know what you know. Why you feel what you feel. Why, if you’re like me and you think that the concept of “getting your body back” is not only silly, but insulting for your new amazing body, that you can stand in your power and do what IS best for you. Whatever that looks like and however it manifests itself. It’s a journey, and one that I’m STILL on. And finally, my hope is that instead of loathing your new body, you can learn to love it and to honor it. Because it is freaking amazing. And so are you, mama. xoxo – Whitney

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

For reading this post, I thank you. It took me {literally} 14 months to write – as I planned it’s creation even before Will was born, knowing my postpartum intention to love my body and let it heal on its own time. If you like this post, please share! If you can relate to it or have a comment/question, I’d love to hear from you! Together mama’s, we are stronger. So much love to you, all my readers!

{For more information on women’s health or to schedule an appointment with April, visit her website: www.birthportal.com}. She’s one of the most empowering + inspiring women I’ve ever met. Her teachings + love have been a priceless resource for me.

How to Get Mo(re) – From Your Life, Body, Mind + Spirit

Do you want to be feel better in your own skin? Have more energy? Lose some weight? Clear mental fog? Be more connected to your life + body? Whatever your M.O. for living a healthier + happier life, my goal within Macks Mo is to provide you with tools to engage in the journey without deprivation, negative connotations or restrictions. Because I’m of the belief that if you focus on ADDING IN MO(re) good stuff [versus operating from a “can’t do” or “can’t have” mentality], it will create a ripple effect that permeates into all aspects of your life. Meaning more goodness all around.

Which is why I felt compelled to make a list of some of the best things you could add in to start 2016 FULL of feel-good tools that you can keep coming back to. Designed to help you GET MO(re) out of your life, your body, your mind + spirit. Simple + small, but effective and power-packed. Try adding one or a few of these things in today and see what a difference it makes!

  1. Add MO(re) Water. Did you know that cravings for “uppers” like coffee, sugar and alcohol can actually be your body crying out for water? Aim for at least 60 oz. before lunch and 100 total on the day.
  2. Add MO(re) Greens + Vegetables. These are your greatest source of energy and vitality. Try to incorporate them into every meal if possible. The more, the better!
  3. Add MO(re) Chews! Chewing your food starts the process of digestion and makes nutrients more easily assimilated by your body. Try counting 30-50 chews before swallowing and set your for down between bites. Savor, pause and give thanks!
  4. Add MO(re) Gratitude. Recited in your head, written in a journal, spoken out loud to those around you and whenever you think of it – practice being thankful for the blessings in your life. You’ll feel fuller + more satisfed with your life RIGHT NOW.
  5. Add MO(re) Joy + Laughter. Even more important than the food we feed our body is the food we feed our SOUL. Surround yourself with people that make your mouth ache from smiling, belly hurt from laughing and engage in practices that bring you joy. And make it a point to incorporate these on a DAILY basis.
  6. Add MO(re) Self-Care, not Punishment. Shift your focus to how you’re taking care of your body + mind with every decision you make. Ditch the shame + punishment mentality for past decisions and instead think of what you can do NOW to feel your best. {Hint hint, lots of answers are in this list!}.
  7. Add MO(re) Love. Open your heart to giving it without condition. Know you are worthy of any + all love you receive. And definitely love up on yourself and use that love to guide your actions, thoughts and behaviors.
  8. Add MO(re) Quiet + Stillness: Set the device down, turn off the TV, stop the busy {at least for a few moments each day}. Give yourself the space to hear your thoughts and feel your body. Meditate, walk, breathe. Connect with God and create space to live in the highest vibration of your self.
  9. Add MO(re) Intention: Take yourself off autopilot and start tuning in to your body + thoughts. Notice how things + food make you feel and how your mind has the ability to put a positive {or negative} spin on almost any situation. Set the intention to make conscious decisions from a place of self-love with the goal of filling yourself up with all the feel-good’s you can.
  10. Add MO(re) Macks Mo! I am always here to support and lift you up. Because you deserve the very best and you’re part of our family. And it’s my passion to deliver you content, love + tools to live the most vibrant life possible in a body you love.
Sending love to you today and always, xoxo. – Whitney

Say Goodbye to Sugar Cravings!

Winter blues can tend to bring sweet cravings – as we miss the energy, lightness and joy of summer – but did you know that these can often be helped or eliminated by increasing our uptake in sweet vegetables? God knew what he was doing when he made most winter vegetables hearty (comforting) and sweet!!! I’m talking squash, yams, parsnips and beets baby! And speaking of… THIS. My newest winter salad.

So. Freaking. Good.

The Sweet Winter Wonder Salad. Please, please make it today. ‪#‎winnerwinnerHEALTHYdinner‬.

20151215_182136INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 bunch roasted beets + 2 parsnips + 2 carrots, all organic, all peeled and diced
  • 1 cup Quinoa, soaked, sprouted and cooked
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed by cutting pom in half, placing face down in bowl of water and opening/pulling seeds out)
  • Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Currants
  • 1/2 cup sliced Almonds
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Dash of Coconut Oil to toast almonds
  • Olive Oil + Sea Salt for vegetables
  • Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar whisked for dressing

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Toss vegetables with EVOO + salt. Roast for 60 min.
  3. Combine {cooked} quinoa, pomegranate, currants and feta.
  4. Toast almonds, add to salad.
  5. Toss finished vegetables and dressing with salad, then top with fresh basil.
  6. Be prepared for your tastebuds to die and go to heaven. 🙂

WEEKLY Q+A #1: MAINTAINING MOTIVATION

After months of letting our Macks Mo social media presence {including my blog posts} take a small hiatus, I’m super excited to let you in on our *new* free weekly Q+A series that we’re launching on the blog TODAY! Each week, I’ll be answering a question from our Macks Mo Community about how to make you fit for life – physically fit, yes, but even more importantly – emotionally, mentally, spiritually AND physically fit, for anything life throws at you.

This week, we’re talking MOTIVATION. If you’re like myself and so many others during the holiday season {or anytime really}, you might find yourself lacking the motivation, energy or “willpower” to maintain your workouts and eat healthy consistently. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this week’s video, learn how to make both working out and eating healthy a routine practice with 3 strategies you can implement RIGHT NOW!

Sending love to you today and always, xoxo. – Whitney

And now, I want to hear from you… Are you struggling with motivation? Do you want to make healthy eating and moving your body a routine habit? I’m here to support you. In the blog comments, let me know the biggest barriers that stand in your way and we can work together to find a solution that fits YOUR life.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Do you have a fitness, food or health-related question you’d like me to answer? Email me anytime at: whitney@macksmo.com. I’m passionate about bringing you relevant content that adds ease, simplicity and love to your life; and even MORE excited to connect with you weekly.

*Did you like this video? Please share and help spread our MOvement to make you [and your community] fit for life!*

When Working Out Isn’t “Working Out”

IMG_1579Hey friends! It’s been a hot second. While settling into this new motherhood thing, I made the decision to put the business slightly on the backburner. But while Macks Mo’s online presence has been sleeping a bit [unlike myself and Regan ;)], I’ve been behind the scenes working on some really awesome new projects for you coming in 2016. And my blog topic inspiration has been through the roof, so you’ll be hearing from me more frequently. Thanks for the opportunity to grace your inbox and be part of your day. It means the world to me to be able to do the work I love.

———————

I’m often asked how it’s possible to establish a regular habit of exercising without getting burnt out or how to stay consistent when motivation wanes. I believe [as with most things], it boils down to a shift in mindset and a commitment to tuning IN versus out. Our Macks Mo business philosophy has always been to create workouts that functionally support your life. While it’s easy to be drawn to exercise for aesthetic benefits – using it with weight loss goals in mind, lasting fitness is so much more than that.

When we exercise solely for weight loss, fat loss, or physical reasons, we will, at some point experience that burnout and loss of motivation. Because this type of exercise comes from a negative place and is motivated by external factors. It drives us to push and push to create results while simultaneously punishing ourselves for not getting or maintaining results. This external push blinds our ability to let our body and internal compass be our guide. Even worse, this cycle of “shame—punish—repeat” is not sustainable, nor is it a method that achieves that which we desire most – to feel GOOD in our skin. And so, we find that the non-aesthetic reasons for working out are the ONLY way we’ll make it a consistent practice.

Functional [for life] fitness should create energy in your body, give you mental clarity and build better body awareness while creating a stronger + more balanced physique. It should serve as an opportunity to mentally connect with your physical body and be present versus zoning out and “pushing through”. Bottom line – it should be something you enjoy, something that breaths life into your body rather than depleting it.

— So, if your current exercise routine isn’t doing that, it’s time to ask —
are your workouts working for you? —

Choosing exercise that supports the place we’re at in our lives can be tough because sometimes it means going against the grain. The current societal approach to fitness lives within two beliefs – the “no pain, no gain” syndrome and the “my workouts not worth it if it doesn’t kill me” mentality. Both of these cause us to tune OUT and just “push through”. Don’t get me wrong – in order to continue to make fitness gains, we must allow ourselves to get uncomfortable and lean into the work, often breaking through mental plateaus that block our ability to grow {or shrink}. *However*, there is a fine line between being mentally present to this “change” versus throwing caution, body awareness + form to the wind or not feeling physically accomplished until we’ve gotten our asses kicked.

IMG_7817In my work as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, the majority of my clients come to me because they want to learn to be healthier. Generally speaking, this often translates into a desire to lose weight. A huge piece of our work together involves individualizing their physical, mental and lifestyle needs + practices to actually create that health. Doing so requires a willingness to look at the daily choices they make. It means tuning IN to what our body needs versus what we think we need to do to get what we want. And so often, what we think we need to do is completely counterproductive to what our body truly needs to be healthy.

The thing is – no one person is the same {thank goodness!} and there is no one form of exercise that’s going to work for everyone {phew!}. And within each of our individual lives, things are constantly changing; so in order to create vibrant health that moves with us, we must be willing to examine all aspects of our lives and engage in practices that serve and support us in the here and now – and that includes our workout(s) of choice.

For example – if your job is high stress, time-intensive and energetically demanding {whose isn’t these days, right?}, then coupling that with only high-intensity exercise is likely counterproductive to your well-being + weight loss. You see, exercise causes physical stress in the body and as you raise the intensity level, you also raise the stress level. And the body makes no distinction between physical “exercise” stress and emotional or mental “work” stress. So although we may view our workouts as a stress relief, in actuality, we may be compounding the stress in our lives. Interesting, right? On the flipside, if you’re lacking stability, strength and balance, it might be beneficial to add a regular weight lifting practice into your life to help ground you.

As humans, we tend to gravitate towards what’s comfortable and what we know. If we are an “intense” personality – used to working hard and putting our nose to the grindstone – we are naturally attracted to types of movement that require the same intensity. Because it’s familiar. Because we’re good at it. Building on the above example, however, what we might really need is something to counteract all that life/work stress; a physical practice that forces us to calm the mind, slow down and really be present in our body instead of continuing to push. This can mean a change in your exercise modality – from high-intensity exercise to non-impact options [or vise-versa]; or it can simply be a mental shift of slowing down and performing each exercise you do with intention, perfect form and a mind that’s fully present to how you’re moving.

For me, when I’m feeling energized – it’s a good day to expend extra energy in a higher-intensity workout of metabolic strength training. If I’m feeling tense and wound up – yoga, meditation or core-focused movement can help me feel centered and open. And if I’m feeling totally wiped – a walk, getting outside or taking a nap {seriously} will better support my body. And in truth, a blend of many different types of movement – adaptable to the phase of life you’re in, the type of day you’ve had or your current physical, mental + emotional state – is when you’ll find your workouts working FOR you.

11.30So if you’re not feeling your best, not feeling energized, having trouble dragging yourself to the gym or finding an exercise schedule or modality that sticks, my hope for you is that you can let go of the belief that you have to kill yourself in the gym to make physical gains and know that this practice is most likely sabotaging your long-term fitness, weight loss and well-being. I challenge you to make the conscious decision to be present in your body with each workout + each movement. If you can engage in the mental practice of turning your attention inward, I promise that you’ll create more clarity while boosting your ability to follow your intuition. That innate knowing is your best guide to finding your own version of health.

I also hope that you can begin to question why you do what you do {like why you workout}. Your “why” is one of the most powerful tools in your healthy living toolbox. Your why should connect you to your purpose, your values, your lifelong goals and boost your health on a daily basis. Making you feel good. Because when you’re in the business of feeling good, your choices have the power to lift you above the noise of what you “should do” or what you think you need to do, allowing you to make empowered decisions that create change. Change that lasts. #movebetter #feelbetter