Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday's Tip of the Day

Strength training IS important!

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. More and more people are opting to take the stairs at work, attending classes like Zumba or Jazzercise, or signing up for team sports. Good for us, right? Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is one of the keys to optimal health and wellness. But there is another huge component that many people, especially women, miss. Strength training!

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 21% of women strength train 2-3 times a week. Apparently, the majority of women haven't read this blog yet, right?

So, tell us, Motivational Mom, why is strength training so important?

1. No More Jiggling!

I remember a time when my thighs and butt bounced around as I walked, my upper arms looked a lot like cabbage rolls, and my poor stomach was so stretched out from having 3 kids that I thought it would never return to it's original shape.  After incorporating strength training into my routine, that is not the case. As many of you have seen, the muscle pose is one of my favorites. Why? Because it showcases all the hard work I put in at the gym, of course...

2. Stronger Bones!

By the time you are 18,  all the bone mineral density you'll ever have has been established. That is, unless you strength train.  Research has found that weight training can increase bone mineral density in your spine by 13% in a matter of 6 months. Don't want to be a hunched over old lady? This seems like a great way to ward off osteoporosis.

3. Burn More Calories While Watching TV!
As you add muscle from strength training, your resting metabolism will rise. Basically, you'll burn more calories all day long. And, yes, that includes watching TV.  For each pound of muscle you gain, you'll burn 35 to 50 more calories daily. As an example, if you gain 3 pounds of muscle and burn 40 extra calories for each pound, you'll burn 120 more calories per day, or approximately 3,600 more calories per month. That equates to a loss of 10 to 12 pounds in one year! Not too shabby, eh?

4. Target Your Trouble Spots!

Have you tried to ditch the saddlebags and ended up losing your chest instead? Frustrating, isn't it? Clearly, where you lose is as important as how much you lose. As great as it might be to see the numbers on the scale go down, when you're on a strict cardio-only program your victory is likely to be empty. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chub, while about 8 percent of the aerobicizers' drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that's associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer.

Truly, I could go on and on all day about the benefits of strength training but if I continue, I'll be late for my appointment at the gym. And, if you are wondering, YES, I will be pumping iron in addition to my cardio routine!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending." ~Carl Bard

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


10 days to go until the Fitness Challenge begins. Are you ready to make a change? Details are here. I am so excited to get started and help you achieve your goals.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
- Lao Tzu

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time."
~Marabel  Morgan

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday's Tip of the Day

Plan ahead to avoid holiday weight gain.

Holiday get togethers typically equal cookies, cakes, and pies galore! Not to mention all the high calorie appetizers and unlimited drinks. Due to these factors, the majority of people experience a holiday weight gain of 3-5 pounds.
"Oh yum!!! Pie is my weakness!!! Don't even try to tell me "a moment on the lips forever on the hips..." - I am NOT buying it!  Hey now, I am in Pittsburgh; This is easily hidden by jeans, boots, and big sweaters, right? 

 Oh wait...did you just say that it's not going to be Winter forever?!?!?!? Oh crap! Maybe I should learn how to avoid this pitfall.

Planning ahead is essential when it comes to attending holiday functions.

1. DO NOT starve yourself before a party, thinking that you will just eat your calories for the day there  rather than eating at home.  You have no idea of the calorie count or nutritional information for the food at that function. Instead, eat a regular meal at home and when arrive, if you are still hungry, you can fill your plate with 2/3 fresh veggies and then use the other 1/3 of your plate for super small portion of the "must have" appetizers. 

2. Drink plenty of water. It is easy to mistake the feeling of thirst for being hungry. Water will help to fill you up so you won't want to eat that extra slice of cheesecake.

3. Keep a small notebook in your purse or pocket and write down the food as or before you consume it. It's amazing how much mindless eating you can do if you don't watch yourself.  As a side note, I have my husband trained to say "Do you want your notebook?" or "Are you going to write that down?" if he notices me eating more than normal. Sometimes that does upset me initially but in the end, I am grateful to have someone else on my side during a tempting situation.

4. Try meal planning. If you know you have a work function on Friday night, you can easily arrange your meal schedule so that you are consuming slightly smaller meals on the days preceding it. Meal planning also saves you money and eliminates food waste (but that is a blog for another day....stay tuned....)

I hope that these tips will help you to avoid having to wear elastic band pants after the holidays. Good luck and stay strong!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Excuses excuses excuses....

"I don't have time to exercise."

That is the excuse given most frequently by people I talk to about implementing a fitness plan into their lives.  And I totally get it. I KNOW you're busy. I am too. And it's very easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that goes into exercising. "OMG! I need a treadmill! Wait...should I buy some weights?!? Is a gym membership a good investment? What kind of shoes do I need? My day is way too busy for this!" 

My advice is to start slow and find some time.

Do you check Facebook and surf the internet at all? Why not use that time to get in some physical activity? The On Demand feature of many cable companies offer 10 minute workouts. Are you home with your kids during the day? Try putting on some music and dancing with them. Calorie burn, fun, and being a good Mommy all at the same time! Also, many gyms offer childcare. Some "Me" time while your kids play with friends doesn't sound like such a bad thing, does it? Do you work? How about taking a walk on your lunch break? Or, even better, start up a fitness group within the office where you can encourage each other. I know that one of my friends meets a few colleagues before work to do a Spin class at a gym in Downtown Pittsburgh. Then, they walk together to the office.  

So, your mission for the day is to incorporate some kind of physical activity. Run, walk, lift weights, jump rope, hula hoop, play with your kids, dance like you are back in college on Spring Break, do some crunches. Just do something.

You are reading this blog so clearly you have a few spare moments in your day, right? You're still reading this?!?!? Get moving!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Are you pumped?!?!? I remember when I first made the decision to lose weight, I participated in a weight loss challenge. It was a great way to keep myself accountable. Let's kick off 2011 with a Fitness Challenge.

Motivational Mama's Fitness Challenge will run for 10 weeks. The categories are "Highest Percentage of Weight Lost", "Highest Number of Inches Lost" and "Most Miles". Sometime before December 31st, you need to do 3 things:

1. Take a before pic. Preferably, this would be in workout gear, a bathing suit, or topless (for the guys only, please!) I find it helpful to take them from a few angles. Try front, side, rear, and of course, a muscle pose. Believe me, you will be thankful you took them. (Note:  I did not WANT to have my "before" pic taken but it has served me well now.)

2. Weigh in and take measurements. If you don't have a measuring tape, you can find a printable one here or pick one up at WalMart, JoAnn Fabrics, Target, etc. You will want to measure your:

*Waist (wherever it clinches in or at the bellybutton - doesn't matter just keep it consistent throughout.)
*Hips (at the widest part)
*One thigh (measure around on the part that is 6 inches above your knee)

Note: If this is what you look like while measuring, get out of this challenge now...LOL!

3. Send in your money, weight, inches, and pictures to me. (Note: I WILL NOT be sharing numbers or pictures unless you ask me to do so) To get in on the fun, it is $10. That is $1 per week. In comparison to the $13 per week you'd spend at Weight Watchers, it's an AMAZING deal! I don't want to post my physical address on the blog, so contact me  for that information. You can email me at motivationalmom at gmail dot com or through Facebook.

Each Friday, you will need to submit your weight, inches total (just add all 3 numbers), and total miles for the week to me. Running, jogging, walking, and elliptical all count. Biking counts for 50% so if you bike 3 miles, you would count for 1.5 miles. Elliptical and stair stepping machines count for one mile per fifteen minutes, if there is no display. These numbers are due by Saturday morning at 9am EST. I will calculate and announce weekly winners on the Motivational Mama Facebook Page by Monday. Again, I won't be sharing actual numbers so it will be ____% lost not mentioning how many pounds are associated with the percentage.

Throughout the weeks, everyone is invited to send me questions. I will answer personal ones directly but if it's something the whole group would benefit from learning, I will share it on my blog or Facebook group.

The final weigh in will be on March 11th. At that point, you will take an "after" pic and send it in. Weigh ins etc are on the honor system but I do reserve the right to drive, fly, or take a boat to your house to check up on your progress. Prizes will be given for the 3 categories mentioned. Participation will determine the prizes but I can promise you they will be FABULOUS!

As most of you know, I am working on my Personal Trainer Certification now, so I just want to post a disclaimer that I am not a fitness professional at this point. I am also not a doctor (insert shocked faces here) so please be sure to check in with yours if you have any concerns about your ability to exercise in any way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday's Tip of the Day

 Eat within one hour of waking up to kick start your metabolism. 

You've heard it many times, I'm sure. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." When you get out of bed in the morning, you do all kinds of things to wake your body up, like moving around, showering, and brushing your teeth. But, until you eat something, your metabolism is still sleeping.  So, let's wake it up, shall we? Here are some breakfast suggestions:

1.  It's important to eat something that is nutritionally balanced (containing a carb, a protein, and some fat). Some of my favorites include:

* Scrambled eggs made with 2 whites and 1 whole egg, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
* Oatmeal cooked with reduced fat or skim milk, mixed with 1/2 cup of dried fruit
* Cereal and a fruit. (Look for cereals that have less than 10 grams of sugar and more than 3 grams of protein per serving)
* Two slices of whole wheat toast smeared with 1 tbsp of peanut butter with a piece of fruit on the side
* Omelet made with 2 whites and 1 whole egg with 1/4 cup of REAL cheese and some chopped up green peppers. 1 slice of whole wheat toast.

2. If you are "on the go" in the mornings, try a protein bar. Again, you need to look at the label to see which one is a good choice. Look for one that is 250 calories or less and has 6 or more grams of fiber. A banana or apple with that makes for a non-messy commute to work or school.

3. Portion control is important. You don't need more than about 300 calories in the morning, unless you are heading out for a super long run or more than 90 minute workout. Invest in a food scale. It was very eye opening to me when I started weighing out my food and realized that I was eating 2-3 times the amount that I thought I was consuming.

4. Drink plenty of water with your breakfast. That will help to fill you up and get your metabolism ready to aid you in getting through your day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quote of the Week

“Go out in the world and work like money doesn't matter, Sing as if no one is listening, Love as if you have never been hurt, and Dance as if no one is watching”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Debbie Downer and Peppy Patty

I had this friend who was down on herself all the time. She frequently complained about her weight, her parenting style, her organization skills, and about life in general. For the purpose of this blog, we will call her "Debbie Downer". In Debbie's life, nothing was going right. She muddled through life, with good intentions but put none of them into practice. She resolved to eat right - it lasted 3 days. She started to organize her house - but made it worse because she gave up in the middle of it. She asked her friends for ideas on raising her kids but didn't follow though.

On the flip side, I have another friend who is a motivator for me and for all the other people with whom she comes in contact . "Peppy Patty" has a zest for life. She appears to have it all. She dances through life and impacts all of her friends in a positive way. She eats well and if she gets off track (Pizza and beer are NECESSARY in a bowling league!), she gets right back to it the next day. Her house is clean and organized. Her kids, though not perfect, are well behaved and have great manners.

What do you think is the biggest difference between Debbie and Patty?

Self confidence!!!!!

And, I have a secret to share with you. "Debbie" and "Patty" are the same person! Your next question is probably "Seriously?! How in the world did someone who is such a Debbie Downer turn into a Peppy Patty?!?!?!?"

And, again, I say "Self confidence!!!!!"

Debbie knew she needed to change. She started off slowly. She taped a reminder to her bathroom mirror that said "Give thanks." Seeing that reminder, she would, in her head, list all the things in her life in which she was thankful. It started off as a short list: "Ummmmm.... I am alive. My kids are healthy." And as each day went by, the list grew and grew. Debbie started realizing that she had A LOT of wonderful things in her life.

Reluctantly, after a friend suggested it, she signed on to volunteer at a local food bank. There she saw that there was so much suffering in her own community, and it felt good to give back. Life was so much bigger than what was going on in her little 3 bedroom house!

Debbie knew she couldn't do this alone, so she surrounded herself with positive people. She was starting to realize that their optimism was contagious. The more time she spent with them, the better she felt. When she went out for lunch with her new group of friends, they all ordered healthy foods and Debbie found herself doing the same. She joined a gym and spent a few nights a week there, chatting with others and getting a workout in at the same time.

Debbie's husband started noticing the changes and complimented her often. Her self confidence grew. She started taking her kids out of the house more often, taking them to the park and running around with them. She read some parenting books while she was on the elliptical at the gym and after realizing a few mistakes she had made, changed her attitude toward her kids. They quickly followed suit, changing their attitude toward their Mom.

One day, Debbie got a phone call from a friend she hadn't talked to in awhile. Her friend complained that nothing was going right. Her house was a mess. Her kids didn't listen. She was fat, dumpy, and ugly. She needed advice. "How do you do it all, Debbie?" she asked her friend. And Debbie, looking in the mirror at the woman she had become, replied "Please call me Patty."

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Introduction of sorts

The pressure is on. It's my very first blog post. Being a big fan of doing this right, I googled and came up with lists about what you should include in your first blog post. The main point in the sites I saw was that this blog post will set the tone for the rest of the life of my blog. Suddenly, the exigency of having readers reading all my thoughts in cyber space made me nervous. (Hold up...did I just use the word "exigency"?! If this is setting the tone for my blog, I am going to scare away some readers, aren't I?)

During my search, I came across this site and decided to give it a go...

1 - Who you are. 

Well, that's simple. I am a Mom. I am an entertainer, caregiver, laundress extraordinaire, transportation specialist, "snot catcher", kisser of boo boos, butt wiper, teacher, maid, PB&J specialist, toy assembler, stylist, book reader, personal shopper, and much more. I am my children's best friend on some days and worst enemy on others.

But... I am not *just* a Mom. I am also a woman. I enjoy scrapbooking, working out, watching movies, spending time with my hubby, going out for dinner, dancing, karaoke, running, and texting/talking on the phone. (I also like long walks on the beach and seeing the sunset but that would have sounded too much like a Match.com ad, wouldn't it?)

2 - Why you are blogging.

Hmmmmmm, that's a toughie. I suppose my main reason is to help motivate others. I've had several friends mention that I am "motivational" and "uplifting" so I am hoping to do that for my readers. Please let me know if this disease called "motivation" is contagious, ok?

3 - What will you be blogging about.

I'll be blogging about ways to get into or stay in shape. I am hoping that, by sharing stories of my own struggles, you will learn to avoid, deal with, and/or rise above yours.  I would like my readers to get involved by sharing their own experiences. There is a lot of good information out there but it would take my lifetime to go through it all. By hearing from someone who has actually tried and failed or better yet, accomplished something, we can all learn together.

4 - How I can leave feedback.

Comments are always welcome. You can also find me on Facebook. My fan page can be found here and my business page can be found here.

Well, that was easier than I thought. Now, I wait and see if anyone actually reads this thing....