How a Mom of Five Makes Time For Fitness

Labrada stroller pic

I’ve got 5 kids ages 9, 7, 6, 4, 3. People ask me constantly how I manage to do it all. Caring for them requires a great deal of time, effort and energy, but I’ll be honest, the magic to making it all work is planning ahead.

Now, you might be thinking, “I’m busy, Christmas is just around the corner! I don’t have time to think about exercise, nor do I care to because I want to enjoy all of the good food for now! There’s gifts to buy, shopping to be done, meals to make and plans to finalize. Who has time to think about a gym right now?….”

christmas decor

 Trust me! I know! I’ve been there! And I think you SHOULD enjoy it for now! But if you are serious about getting in shape and you are tired of just floating by and seeing nothing happen, then I cannot encourage you enough to make a plan.

You’ve got approximately 5 weeks until the New Year. Most gyms offer big incentives to get you to sign up in January. Now is the time to start scoping them out. Now is the time to start looking ahead at next year’s budget to see if there is a way to rearrange some things if need be.

Now is the time to put your plan in place. 

In recent posts I’ve written about my motives and motivations in staying fit and working out. I’ve also openly shared about the fears, hesitations and distractions that sometimes hold me back. I’ve been honest about what supplements I use to aid and speed up my progress. Now I begin the conversation about the practical method of how I make the time to stay consistent as a busy mom of five little people.

****Let me throw out this disclaimer: I am not a nutrition specialist or certified fitness instructor. I have no credentials and all I know has been self-taught. But I’ll humbly offer you what I have. I’ll share with you what does, and doesn’t, work for me, and I’ll attempt to help you along in your own  journey in any way that I am able.

1. THE VENUE: I used to workout at home. I purchased a few dumbbells and a few video programs that I could do during my babies’ nap times, or whenever there was down time during the day. But for me this method is a slower one by way of results. With how many children I now have, four of whom no longer nap, as well as the goals I have regarding fitness, I now need to go to an actual gym.

Gone are the days when I can accomplish much of anything on my own at home! The constant interruptions and lack of consistency on my part made the progress slow and my motivation drop off fast. Rather than keep spinning my wheels while feeling like I’m going nowhere, I knew I needed to find a different plan.

Now, at home workouts are still VERY do-able!!! Don’t get me wrong! But the same is true for home workouts as gym workouts: Both require a solid plan and a strong effort at staying consistent.

As a couple, Matt and I made some major cuts in our budget in some other ares to be able to afford a gym membership. In our minds, staying consistent and motivated and putting our health as a top priority was worth missing out on a few other “extras.”

2. FINDING/PICKING A GYM: As I was in the process of looking for a gym, I had certain criteria in my mind that would suit the whole family, rather than just me. I ended up choosing one that was my second choice but had a great childcare room, with a huge play structure, large open windows (so I can check on them any time I desire), and workers that were friendly and attentive (yes, I went to meet them before I committed to a contract).

The kids love going. They make new friends each time they are there, and by the time I come back to pick them up they, too, are sweaty from having played the entire time!

gym childcare room

3. HOW TO PLAN: Before having kids it never donned on me that planning a time to workout was needed. But now there is no way for me to stay consistent without a plan! I have created rhythms in my week to allow for the time, literally scheduling them on my calendar the same as a dentist or hair appointment (and you KNOW I’d never miss a hair appointment!!!). When people ask me if I’m busy during those scheduled times I say yes, and I pick another time with that person. I treat the gym as if it’s an appointment that cannot be moved except for something major. Every day is different. Every month is different. I map out the specific workouts on specific days as I work around the needs of my family. Sometimes I have to wake up early, other days it is mid-morning, and other times it is late in the evening after all five kids are in bed.

picking kids up from gym

4. WORKOUT BUDDY: For many, having a workout buddy, friend, or partner is a wonderful idea. Having someone to meet up with to help motivate you and keep you accountable is something I would highly recommend should you desire that. But for me in this season of my life, I cannot consider that an option.

Not only is my schedule so unpredictable, but when I am at the gym I am really not very social or up for chit chat anymore.

The way I see it is if I’ve gone through all of the work to plan that time, to get everyone dressed, fed, happy, out the door, buckled into their carseats, from the car into the gym, and checked in to childcare, then I’m for sure going to use that one hour to the absolute max that I am able.

I want to leave there knowing without a doubt that I gave it my all.

Because of the pace and demands in the other areas of my life, I now see gym time as a ‘no joke, no mess around, no play time, no fluff, all business’ kind of appointment.

At gym

5. WHEN THE PLAN FAILS (BECAUSE IT OFTEN DOES!):  There are times when the plan works and there are many, many times when it doesn’t. What might take one woman 6 weeks to accomplish in the gym might take me double. My family will always come first. The minute one child has even the slightest runny nose I am unable to keep my plans the way I would want. When one of my kids has any need whatsoever in the childcare room, you can surely bet I am being called out on the intercom to come get them.
That’s where plan B, C, and so on…come in. When something comes up I don’t look at it as not getting “MY” time in, for that would create frustration or resentment toward those I love most. My family comes before my fitness schedule. But instead of giving up, I reset, rearrange, and look for other ways to make things work.

6. BACK UP PLANS:  My backup options include the stash of old workout videos (ex: TaeBo, Slim-in-6, P90X, The Firm) that I’ve collected over the years. I also highly recommend an app that I have on my phone called Sworkit. It’s super cheap (I think it’s only $1.99), very easy to use and highly customizable. It’s especially awesome when you have no equipment or if you travel. I also use the free YouTube videos I’ve pinned on my fitness Pinterest board. And if all of that fails, I use the park across the street from my house where I can take the kids out to run with me. Bottom line is, I cannot and WILL NOT bend my priorities of Jesus, husband, and kiddos in order to get or stay fit, but I will try every means possible to get those workouts in!

7. PROGRESS: Having a plan and sticking to it will bring results! Maybe you won’t see them all at once, but after some time you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve actually come!

Shortly after my last child was born my #3 kiddo began kindergarten. Every single day as he exited his classroom his eyes would find mine and he would run as fast as he could toward me, jump into my arms, and give me the biggest hug he could muster up! And every day I would plant my feet and pray that he wouldn’t knock me over! Although my heart’s desire was to hold him and embrace every bit of those insanely special moments, my arms and core were too weak to do so. I would quickly have to put him back down and finish our hug on the ground. Granted, he’s heavy, but to me that wasn’t enough of an excuse. I wanted to hold him and not have to put him down until he asked!
Little by little, bit by bit, gains and progress were made. Although I’m still a work in progress, I can now say that I am able to see a big difference in my abilities and strength!

hugging pic
When my two littlest both want to be held at the same time they yell “mama, two ‘behbehs'”!

I know what it’s like to feel like a total newbie, so I’ll share more soon about the actual plan I used to grow my knowledge and comfort level in the gym. And I’ll also share the workout schedule I maintain now on a day to day basis…

Are you ready to put a plan together? What’s holding you back? Are there specific questions you have concerning more of the “how”? Do you have your own fitness goals? How can I help you reach them? What ways have you been able to make time for fitness while juggling a busy schedule?

Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

Top 15 Kid Gift Ideas-Just In Time For BLACK FRIDAY!

merry christmas

BLACK FRIDAY SALES ARE THIS COMING FRIDAY!!!

Does anyone else love to shop online like I do??? Seriously, I just can’t get out to the stores like I used to. Staying home and shopping in my pajamas with my warm blankets and a cup of tea is my kind of night!
Every year is different. Some years I have lists of ideas of gifts for my kids for Christmas, and other years I struggle to come up with anything that I think they would enjoy. But Black Friday is just around the corner, so if you are like me and love a good sale then hopefully these ideas will help you out and you’ll be able to take advantage of some good deals!!!

I’ve done a little bit of research and here are some of my favorite gift idea picks!

  1. JOKE BOOK: My kids LOVE telling jokes. This one would be a good stocking stuffer gift for any child that knows how to read. This one would also be a fun thing to keep near your dinner table to use each night while you eat together!joke book
  2. LEGOS: These Lego packs have age appropriate recommendations on them, but with a little bit of assistance younger children can totally do them! My son, Canon, said this was his most favorite gift for his birthday last year and he is only 4.
    lego fire truckThere are some fun girl options too!
    frozen lego
  3. SNAP CIRCUITS: I LOVE toys that are fun and make my kids think! We got this one last year and it is definitely one my three oldest kids fight over getting to play with AND it’s educational! Win! Win! (NOT the fighting part, but the part that they actually love getting to play with it part!)
    snap circuits
  4. MAGNETIC CONSTRUCTION SET: This one is perfect for young toddlers, yet still fun for the older ones too! These magnetic building blocks are large enough to not be eaten by a child, and small enough to be able to be built into whatever your child can dream up.magnets
  5. CAMERA: My kids love, love, love making videos and taking pictures. This little camera won’t break the bank and it also comes in purple!
    kid cam
  6. BUSY TOWN: Okay so this game is awesome! It’s like Where’s Waldo only way better! Every member of your family, even smaller toddlers, can play and actually enjoy it. This is one of our favorite game night choices.
    busy town
  7. WOOD PARKING LOT: If you have boys and if they love match box cars, then this is the gift idea for you!!! My boys LOVE getting to set up all of their cars in pretend parking lots and this one has so many layers to it!
    parking lot
  8. SPIRGRAPH: If you’ve got a little artist on your hands, this one is a unique change from just your typical coloring book. Add in a drawing pad and some colorful markers and you’ve got a complete gift!
    spirograph
  9. MICROSCOPE: Once again, I love the ones that the kids have fun with but that help fuel their curiosity and learning too! I haven’t yet tried this one out myself, but I’ve been eyeing it for one of my kids this coming year!
    microscopeAnd this box of slides gives the kids some cool things to start looking at up close!
    slides
  10. QUADCOPTER: My kids love anything that they can make fly! Clearly I have a lot of boys as I write that, but even my daughter loves to play too. And this particular quadcopter is 55% off right now until December 16th!!!
    heli
  11. SHRINKY DINKS: This one is another fun stocking stuffer idea! There are SO many options for both girls and boys. The kids have a TON of fun coloring and designing and then watching them shrink up!
    shrinky dinks
  12. HUMAN HAMSTER BALL: For the outdoor lover kiddo this one is soooo fun! We got this one for our kids last year and let them wear a go-pro while they were inside! Not only is it fun at the time, but cracking up later on at the things they said while flopping around inside was the best addition!!!
    human hamster ball
  13. INDOOR TRAMPOLINE: If you’ve got the space for it, then I could not recommend this one enough! Kids LOVE jumping!!! And you might even be able to cook dinner without your toddler right at your feet if you have this toy around! 🙂
    trampoline
  14. TRICYCLE: This is BY FAR my absolute favorite starter bike. I love that it isn’t plastic. I love that the seat is low to the ground. I love that it does not topple over. And the kids love the bell and the streamers.
    tricycle
  15. TRACING PAD: This one is gender neutral and intended for the one who loves to color and draw! It also comes in blue!
    tracing padIf you have some kid gift ideas too (of ANY age) please comment below and share them!! I’d LOVE to hear from you!!!
    xoxo-Meg

Toddler Training: Part 2

how to train your dragon:part 2

Our children desperately need to be lovingly, patiently trained. The role of motherhood is to raise children that grow to be independent, self functioning, and responsible. Taking seriously the role to instruct and train is of utmost importance.
Hopefully you read Part 1 in regards to training and the thoughts/motives behind it.  If I’m honest I would say that 75% (or more) of my job as a mom is training. I do these steps often and for many different commands or scenarios.

Note: Please remember as you read through these “steps” that our children first need to be shown kindness and love. If you treat your children with impatience, sarcasm, unkindness or have a short temper my recommendation would first be to intentionally address those areas in you before attempting to address the changes you wish to see in your child.

crocs and bikes

Training 101:

  • Make a list of areas that cause friction:  Start with the simple, then slowly “graduate” to the more complex.
    Ex: child does not look at you when you call their name, child does not come when you say “come”, child does not put their shoes away, child does not listen when told to get in their car seat.
  • Pick One To Work On First: I highly recommend starting with teaching your child to look at you when you say their name. You need to be able to gain their attention at any given time in order to move to any other training sessions.
  • Set up a training session:
    Ex: Pick a moment, when the mood is lighthearted, there aren’t a lot of distractions and the day is normal. Simply say “Hey, [insert child’s name] I’m going to teach you something and we’re going to make a game out of it! But, it’s something you’re really going to have to learn, instead of just a silly game. Okay?”
    crew funny face
  • Explain what the “game” is.
    Ex: “I’m going to call your name. You need to look at my eyes. That’s it! Every time I call your name, as fast as you can, you look at my eyes.”
  • Practice, practice, practice
    Call out his/her name and have them look right at you. If they don’t look at you right away, then say in a lighthearted way “Ohhh! Noooo!!!! You weren’t quick enough!!!! Let’s try again!”
    Ex: move to different parts of the room or try to hide behind something. Make it fun, but make sure your child follows through every time. Play for about 4-5 minutes and then end the game. If the child clearly caught on fast, then try again to re-enforce about an hour or two later.
  • Be encouraging. Praise and encouragement will help to reinforce that they’ve learned what you’re trying to teach. Don’t hold back, celebrate even the smallest of “wins”.
  • Depending on the child’s age the results will be different. You can start this as soon as the child understands their name. Obviously the younger the toddler the more repetition will be needed. If child does not “get it” then keep training a little bit each morning or whenever there’s some down time until the skill is mastered. If your child is older and already resistant it also may take more effort to help them re-learn a new way of responding to what you are expecting. Be patient, but remain consistent.
    look straight at me
    **Mastered Skill: You should be able to say your child’s name firmly, calmly, normally, without raising the tone, without demanding, without repeating over and over again. Just one time and the child should turn from whatever they are doing and look straight at you. Child should respond quickly without fail, every time. Offer encouragement, praise and affirmation as they learn along the way, but especially when they get it!

 TRAINING SESSION #2:

I recommend the second training session to be the word “come”.  Use the same steps as above, but this time walk them through what their body needs to do when you say “come”, not just their eyes when calling their name.

  • Let your child know that you’re going to teach them something new again and explain the expectation.
    Ex: I’m going to say the word “come” to you and no matter what you’re doing, or how badly you want to keep playing, I need you to listen to moms voice and come when I say to come.”
    canon play
  • Walk through each of the steps since this one involves them moving their body rather than just looking at you. Act it out for them.
    Tip: Let them play the “mom” roll a few times and say “come” to you to show them what you want for them to do.
    Ex: Place your child in the living room and walk away about 10 feet where he/she can still see you. Say, “[your child’s name], come.” Be clear, firm, concise, and direct. Don’t raise your tone or say it in an angry way.
  • If your child just stands there, calmly walk over and take them by the hand and walk them back to where you called. Explain that this is what you expect to see when you say the word “come.”
  • Practice, practice, practice!
    Ex: Move to different parts of the house. Call from the kitchen or outside. Don’t hide, but have them practice hearing their name, hearing the word “come” and grow in knowledge that they must come find you when you call.
  • Don’t forget the encouragement!!! Be very generous and very affirming. Children need to know when they have done something well. Be their biggest cheerleader as they learn new skills.
    ready to race
    **Mastered Skill: You should be able to say your child’s name and the word “come” and your child should come straight to you, without delay. As your child grows in this skill you can test them when they are in the middle of a movie or engrossed in playing with a favorite toy to make sure they have learned this well.

**Tip: Keep an ongoing list of frustrations or pain points that you repeatedly deal with to know what areas you should train in next. I keep my list in my phone so that I can keep track of it in real time.
canon riding scooter

REFRESHER COURSES:

Just as a heads up, children will do well for awhile and then you’ll notice a slowness or delay or forgetfulness of what is required. It’s not necessarily a willful defiance, rather a lack of swiftness in response. Whenever you notice a skill is slipping, simply re-train. The re-training for us is often very brief and goes something like this…
Mom: “Kai.” (he doesn’t turn right away and finishes talking with his sister and then a few seconds later he eventually says “ya mom?” without looking at me)
“Okay, Kai. I was going to ask you something else, but we need a reminder on what you should do when I call your name. We are going to practice again for just a bit before I ask you the other question. Turn your eyes away and when I call your name you need to look straight at my eyes right away. Okay?”
Kai: “Okay.”
Mom: “Kai.” (Kai turns to look at me quickly, just how I had taught him) “Great job!” “Let’s try it a few more times just to make sure you’ve got it! Turn away again…”

talking to kai

Hopefully you get the idea. A refresher isn’t a bad thing. How often do I need to be reminded of things too?! Once the first skill is mastered, keep going!

TEST TIME:

“Take Out a Clean Sheet of Paper for a Pop Quiz.” I hated those words in school, but I see now why my teachers did that. Sometimes you need to know if what you are teaching is being retained. Training needs to take place in the home so that when you are out in public you can see how the skill learning is going. Think of it this way, training at home is like homework, out in public is like the test. You’ll quickly see what dinner table skills need to be taught more fully if you go out to eat at a restaurant and your kids cannot control the volume of their voices and refuse to sit in their seats. You’ll quickly see which basic commands need to be practiced more often if you go to a park and your child does not come when you call for him/her. It’ll take no time at all to know that the words “stay by me” need to be reinforced if you go for a walk and your child runs out into the street.

kids eating together

CORRECTION/DISCIPLINE:

Discipline without training destroys unity.

There is no amount of discipline that make up for a lack of adequate training. I cannot encourage enough for parents to focus on training first. I have a deep conviction that I will not discipline my child for a skill they fail at if I have never taken the time to properly train them. Once you have done the hard work of going through these training exercises to instruct and train your child it makes it easier to know when to discipline. If my child knows exactly what I am asking and refuses to obey, then I know it’s time to move toward correction.

about to race

CONTINUED TRAINING:

  • Are there fights about who gets into the car first? For our suburban I’ve trained my kids in the order that makes sense based on where the carseats are situated. I have ordered them so that no one is climbing past another.
  • Does your child run away from you at the park or in public settings? Begin training in the home, but then also reenforce that lesson in a real park or in a real store to make sure the kids know that the command is to be adhered to everywhere.
  • Does your child not know what to do when leaving the house? We give a 15 minute warning and then the children know to get everything for themselves ready and be waiting in order by the front door.
  • Does your child not put their shoes on when you say to put their shoes on? I love to practice this one during a normal day when I don’t have anywhere to be. That way, when the real time comes and we are in a hurry they know exactly what to do. Even very young children can be shown how to get their shoes and bring them to you to have you help put them on.
  • Does your child need to sit on your lap without being squirmy? Maybe you’re preparing to travel on an airplane? Or maybe you need them to sit with you in church or at a show? Practicing in the home how to sit still and play on your lap with help when the “real” times come.
    crew playing

I hope these steps help! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

Comment below and share what training session you feel that your child needs to learn the most.

 

Toddler Training: Part 1

(This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series. Part 2 can be found HERE)

How To Train Your Dragon is one of my kid’s favorite movies. I cannot tell you how many times we’ve watched it. My son, Kai, has collected every single dragon figure there is. Often times I find the rooms of my house laid out into a battle scene with dragons in the windows, under the pillows, on my desk, in the sheets of my bed, on the tables, and on the floor.

dragon play

Have you seen this movie?! It’s actually a super fun one to watch!

In the opening scene of the movie the dragons have taken over and are attacking the village, killing anyone in their way in order to steal food. The people in the village are afraid, in a panic, and have no choice but to fight back. They are running, yelling, and screaming.

dragon play

Everyone is angry.
No one is listening and everyone is losing their minds as the village is plundered.

Oh my goodness, doesn’t this sound like motherhood at times?

Sometimes it feels as though my home has been taken over by little terrorists. It feels like our family is under attack, we fear we have lost not only our sanity, but our lives and goodness gracious where did all of the food go???

dragon play

When my kids are continually disobedient, in need of constant attention, do not listen, do not follow through with directions, it is easy to get frustrated, to react, to draw lines, take up my battle stance and fight back. At times I can feel like I’ve lost my mind and I run, yell, get angry, and count down the minutes until dad relief walks in from work…

dragon play

In the movie the main character, Hiccup, is different than everyone else in his village. Rather than run from the dragons or stay to kill the dragons, he shows kindness and grace to the most evil, deathly dragon of all. He first builds a strong friendship and then…

…he trains him.

dragon play

What comes of it is a beautiful relationship where instead of fighting WITH one another they now fight FOR one another.

So it is with parenting.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

dragon play

Maybe you’re reading this and are a little bit confused. And I’m fairly certain that for some this thought of training your child might sound foreign or odd at first…so before you let your thoughts go wild, let me first go through a list of things that training is not.

 Training is NOT:

  • Training is not treating your child like a pet.
  • Training is not beating your child into submission.
  • Training is not discipline.
  • Training is not education.
  • Training is not positive affirmation using treats and candy or manipulation.
  • Training is not a method to produce godly children.

Here are a few things that training IS:

  • Training is thoroughly explaining what is expected.
  • Training is a way to teach, through a great deal of practice and repetition, a child to respond to what is expected.
  • Training is firm, yet also lighthearted and meant to be FUN! (See “Milk And Honey” for some thoughts on keeping it sweet)
  • Training is taking away the guess work and is necessary so that your child knows exactly what is required of him/her.
  • Training comes LONG BEFORE discipline.dragon play

**Put simply: Training is the seed. Water it, and keep watering it, and the outcome is a garden of obedient, helpful, responsive children.

dragon play

Being a mom isn’t easy.

But I have found (and I confess, most of it the hard way) that much of the stress I feel as a mom is able to be remedied and alleviated when I focus first on loving and building a relationship with my kids, and then make a conscious intentional effort to TRAIN my children.

I once heard someone say that it is foolish for parents to think that we have been given children that do not need to be parented. That has stuck with me for years now.

dragon play

Children need our direction, they need to be taught the big picture of how life works, but they also need to be shown the small things like how the “putting-away-of-toys” or ‘how-to-walk-from-the-front-door-to-the-car” or ‘how-to-sit-in-your-seat” works too. From the big things to the tiny things, they need to be taught. I often catch myself being surprised when my children don’t know how to do something or are confused by what I’m talking about. Yet it is me that needs to be reminded that I have to keep teaching at the forefront of my mind. Every single day there is a constant never ending need for instruction.

Training is very different than discipline, though.

After training has been completed, then discipline is an option. I often tell my kids during discipline, “As your mom, I’ve done my job of telling you exactly what I require of you. I have taught you, we have practiced, and you know full well what you were expected to do. The error came when you failed to do what you knew was right.”

dragon play

My children know that I will never discipline them for a mistake or an accident. But they also know that if I’ve taken the time to train for a particular action, then that means there is no longer the option of saying they “didn’t know.”

Are you curious about the “how”? That’s coming soon! If this resonates with you, then be looking for the next post. For the sake of brevity I’ve decided to divide this into two posts. In the next one I’ll share some ideas and steps to take in how to train your  ‘lil dragon!  🙂

Click HERE for Part 2…

dragon play

Supplements


beach labrada supplements
As my workouts have shifted from more of a cardio driven routine to a more weight training routine, I’ve realized more than ever that cardio alone is NOT the best use of my time for the fitness goals that I have.

Note: If you want to maximize your efforts at the gym, see results faster and keep those results longer load bearing exercises with short burst (HIIT) cardio is the way to go.

The best way to support that kind of activity is to make sure I am giving my body the fuel it needs.

Put simply, I’m a busy wife and mom and I don’t have the time to waste on exercising in a way that doesn’t give me the absolute best return on my investment. 

I used to think that supplements were a waste of time and money. That is no longer the case.

I do not find ALL of these to be completely necessary, and mind you, my knowledge in each of these products is limited. I am no expert. I am not a certified nutritionist. I’m self taught and I use what works for me. But, I know that everyone is different, so take it all with a grain of salt.
I’ll share why I use each one and what the benefit it serves. I’ve ranked them from my most preferred to my least important, yet every thing on this list is my “must-have’s” list.

  1. Multi-Vitamin-meg marie fitness |supplements |lean body for her | multivitamin
    I love food based vitamins and that’s what these are. I typically eat well, but taking a multi-vitamin every day helps me with peace of mind concerning anything I might be missing. With the stress that exercise can put on my body and the pressure of my everyday life, it’s the best way to make sure my diet is balanced and healthy. It has iron, which many women do not consume enough of, calcium and Vitamin D for bone health, and folic acid (folate) which helps make healthy new cells and helps maintain blood health. Lean Body® for Her Food-Based Multi-Vitamin not only contains all of the aforementioned, but it also has in a Veggie Juice Complex and Complete Digestive Support, which means it’s derived from natural ingredients and gentle on the stomach.
    I’ve never ever had a stomach ache from taking these.
  2. Protein- meg marie fitness |supplements |lean body for her | protein
    Protein helps my muscles repair and grow and get the nourishment they need more quickly than from other slowly digested proteins. In this particular one there is no gluten, lactose (**I personally cannot have much lactose. I’m super sensitive to it. Unlike other proteins I’ve tried I have NEVER had trouble with this protein), artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives or artificial sweeteners. Some protein powders contain one or all of those things so be careful what you choose to buy.But don’t get confused with proteins. There’s lots of flavors (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cinnamon bun, peanut butter, salted caramel). And there’s basically three options for how you can purchase it: powder, ready to drink (RTD’s), and individual packets (for on the go).
    **When I drink my normal protein shake just before I work out I almost always use the chocolate. Mixed with ice, water, and a bit of coffee it’s my personal favorite. I also drink it right after a super tough workout when my muscles are starved for more sustenance. 
    **I typically use the other flavors for baking and cooking.
    Ex: I use the vanilla flavor in cookies and breads (there are SO many amazing recipes online), I use the peanut butter mixed into my greek yogurt, as a topping on my oatmeal, or as a spread when mixed with water, and the cinnamon is perfect to make protein pancakes for breakfast!
  3. BCAA’s-BCAA
    I never knew what these were until I began weight training so if you’re in the same boat I’ll help explain. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) consist of three amino acids – leucine, valine, and isoleucine. BCAAs play a significant role in building and repairing muscle after a workout, and also act as a “signal” to your muscles that nutrients are available for increasing muscle mass.
    **Put simply, my muscles are destroyed when I lift heavy. BCAA’s help repair them and they also work like a train carrying the protein into my muscles.
    This particular BCAA also provides, jumpstarts recovery, supports immune function, and replenishes your electrolytes lost while training. And that’s why I love it so much!
  4. Pre-Workout- Pre-workout
    These are to optimize and enhance your strength, endurance, mental focus, and recovery. Pre-workouts have seriously changed my world when it comes to staying consistent with my workouts!!!! And I’m totally not joking! There are many days when it is tough to get motivated and my head in nowhere near the game, much less in it. But taking this every day has completely changed that.

    **Funny Story: I bought my first pre-workout and honestly didn’t expect much. I followed the instructions and took the recommended dose. I drank it all up during my drive to the gym and was totally shocked that I actually enjoyed the flavor. For me, that is saying a LOT! (You can ask Matt, I’m crazy picky.)
    By the time I had checked in and gotten my kids settled in the child care room and made it upstairs to the treadmill for my warm up it had begun to kick in. Honestly, though, I had forgotten that I’d taken it. Most supplements that I take do their “thing” but I don’t feel any different, but this was not the case! I normally do a light jog for my warm up, but on this particular day I felt like running! And fast! I had the treadmill cranked up as high as I could go and was basically sprinting the entire warm up! At a 3% incline!
    Once I got to the weight floor I was adding more weight, and bouncing around like a puppy eager to get to the next exercise. I felt focused, happy, and “on” the whole time. For the life of me I could NOT figure out what had made the difference…until I got back in my car and saw my shaker bottle! Then it hit me! “OHHHHHHHH!!!! SO, THAT’S WHAT THE FUSS WITH PRE-WORKOUTS ARE ALL ABOUT!!!!”
    Duh to me.
    Well, I learned that day that I needed to tone it down juuuust a little bit and that don’t actually need a full scoop every day. I take about 3/4 of a recommended serving because it works almost TOO well on me. But everybody is different, so if you get this my advice is to start small and work your way up! 🙂
    Oh, and moms, sometimes I take a half scoop of this before I have to take all five to the store. Costco is much more manageable with a pre-workout giving me some extra energy! 🙂
  5. Green Superfood-superfoodThis is basically one more way to get some extra vitamins and is safe for everyone in the family! It’s USDA Organic, vegan friendly, contains probiotics and enzymes to aid in digestion and support immune health. It is also rich in chlorophyll, which helps support detoxification.
    **I put it in my shaker with my pre-workout so it’s less to have to think about. This one I LOVE because I sneak it into as many different foods and drinks for the family as I possibly can! The kids are getting their veggies and have NO idea!
  6. Anti-Bloat-meg marie fitness |supplements |lean body for her | antibloat
    This one isn’t on my “must have” list, it’s more like an extra perk.
    This one: Helps reduce excess water weight, is a natural detox formula, supports natural weight loss, and helps me feel more energized
    **The directions say to take this at night and then in the morning you’ll wake up with far less bloating and water retention. Personally, it keeps me awake at night so I’ve switched to take this in the morning instead. It’s perfect for those times when I have eaten more salt than I should have or during my cycle when water retention is higher.
  7. Sorenzyme- sorenzyme
    Naturally Reduces Exercise Induced Muscle Soreness (D.O.M.S.), Accelerates Workout Recovery, Improves Muscle Gains and Performance
    **Okay, so that can get really wordy, I know…so put simply, this one is UHMAZING and helps me not be so stinkin’ sore!!!!! I don’t understand all of the ins and outs of D.O.M.S. but I do know that if I lift really heavy I sometimes can’t walk the next day, or the following three days. When I take this it drastically improves the speed of recovery. This means I can heal fast and get back to wrestling with my kiddos! 🙂

I hope this list helps! If you want to purchase anything this is the code to my affiliate link to receive 10% off your total order.
www.labrada.com/aff/meg/

If you have ANY questions, please ask. I’ll try to help as best as I am able, and if I don’t know an answer I will most definitely find an answer from someone who does! 🙂

Lean Body 10% off | meg marie | sponsored athlete

My Top Six Tips on Making Your Family Look Amazing For Holiday Photos

It’s about that time of year again! We’ve made it through Halloween and we all now realize just how close Thanksgiving…and whoa…..Christmas…..yep I said it…is. The stores have Christmas trees and lights and…sweaters with Christmas trees and lights on them! Ahhh!!!!

It’s time to start thinking about getting your family photos for those lovely Christmas cards.

(Note: We haven’t taken our 2015 Christmas pics yet, but I’ll show you last year’s and a few more too!)christmas 2014

If putting together outfits for the family make your eyes roll back in your head with immediate overwhelmed exhaustion, then let me help! I’ve put together my best ideas and even throw in a few little tips and tricks we use to keep everyone looking amazing AND happily smiling!

1. Choose A Color Scheme

Begin with thinking through the location of your shoot. Pick colors that will stand out in your location. Is there green grass? Tan sand? White snow? Brown stone? Brick Buildings?
Pick a color scheme that goes with that location. Use a minimum of three colors and at most five. You want variety to keep everyone cohesive, but not too matchy-matchy to keep everything from looking uniform. Gone are the days when every member of your family wears all black shirts and jeans…don’t do it! Please just don’t! Get creative! And think outside of the normal box!
***Tip: You may also want to keep the color scheme of your home in mind if you have a hard time choosing. What photos can you imagine hanging up in your house that would still make everything look “together?”

color scheme

2. Choose Textures, Patterns and Layers

Family photos look far more amazing with a variety of colors, patterns, and textures. Rather than everyone wearing jeans and the same color of shirt, pick one or two people to wear jeans and the others to wear khakis. I personally, love to have the girls super dressed up and the boys looking handsomely similar, but NOT identical.
Ideas for:
men: a tweed blazer, wool sweater, plaid, or stripes
women: sequins, fur, thick sweaters, lace, satin, silk
kids: sweaters, patterns in shirts, add an undershirt with color, or a collared shirt under a sweater, fun colored tights for girls with a solid colored skirt, a coat, or some fun boots
***Tip: Go through your closet with new eyes. Start with things you already have, but instead of using them in a way that you usually do, think about how it would look in a photo.
Ex: An old top that you’ve seen a hundred times that you’ve lost interest in might be a perfect layer for a new photo shoot. The photo below is actually two sweaters layered on top of one another. The outer one is something I wear all of the time. But the one underneath it I got at goodwill for less than a dollar! It added texture and a pop of color.
family pictues
layering sweaters

3. Accessorize. Accessorize. Accessorize.

Think of the “extras” as the icing on the cake. Use hats, scarves, headbands, bows, necklaces, watches etc…get creative, but still keep things cohesive. Each person needs at least one, but no more than 3 extras.
***Tip: During your photo shoot you can remove or add different accessories very easily and create an entirely different look without changing clothes.
 hat for canon  

4. Props

 My favorite photos are the ones where we have used a prop of some sort.
Think of something fitting for your setting, but also something fun or active to include not only your kids, but you too. Some of my favorite pics are when we are just playing and enjoying ourselves!
Ex: we brought old baseball bats to the beach, a truck with a tree on it, boxes to sit on at a park, or a sign that spells out Merry Christmas 
merry christmas
canon with tree on truckWallace Family

5. Food Item 

 Okay, so this one may have made you stop and think, “wait, what? I thought we were talking about family pictures?!” And we are!!!! So just hang on a sec and keep reading!
You can spend all of your time picking out the most perfect clothing with the absolute best accessories in a prime location…and yet have the most crazy, crabby, uninterested, unhappy, “I’m NOT going to smile” kids. Trust me, I’ve been there!!!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret for our family photos…
***Tip: For every photo shoot we have done as a family there is some kind of amazing treat at the end.
I tell the kids about the treat as soon as we arrive at the location and let them know that at the very end they will each get one. Not only do they look forward to it the entire time, but it makes for some amazingly super cute pics too!
I’ve used super-sized lollipops:
The Princess and her Lollipop
Cupcakes:
eat dessert first
Macaroons:
Wallace Family; Laguana Beach; One Glass Slipper; macaroons; family; picnic table
Think of something that your kids will enjoy, but also keep in mind your color scheme!

6. Play List: 

 You have put so much time, effort, energy and money into this day, and if you’re anything like me you’re stressing out,  combing hair and fixing the details up until the very last second! And after all of that hard work, it is sometimes hard to get into the ‘holiday spirit’. 🙂
Put together a play list that is fun, upbeat, and that your kids will enjoy.
Think if this as a way to help them, and YOU, let loose and have some fun. Nothing beats a good beat or possibly some Christmas carols to get you in that festive mood! We have a small portable speaker, but you can also just use your phone too. You might not have everyone looking at the camera at the same time, but what your photographer will capture will be happy and incredibly adorable, which is what matters the most!

Feeding The Ducks

Matt had a late meeting last night, which meant I was looking for something special to get to do with the kids. We had a late afternoon snack, packed up our bird seed and went to the lake in search of some ducks.

feeding ducks

feeding ducks feeding ducks

feeding ducks

feeding ducks

We went to the boat dock and although it was pretty with the water and the sun going down there were no ducks. 🙁  But then we spotted some just around the corner so we all took off running!

feeding ducks feeding ducks

The boys had to learn to not just take the entire cup of birdseed and throw it into the water all in one toss! The ducks were going crazy and the bird seed was going fast! The ducks were splashing and toppling over one another to get all of the food! But after the boys learned to use their fingers to give a little at a time things went a bit more smooth.

feeding ducks feeding ducks

The weather is so perfect right now. Not too hot, not too cold. We finally have some cooler temps here in Cali this week, which makes it actually feel like fall! We actually need a sweatshirt or sweater!!! And the leaves are starting to change. I feel like this is old news to people who live elsewhere, but for us this is a thing to celebrate!

feeding ducks

feeding ducks

feeding ducks

These little baby ducks had us all going crazy! They were fuzzy and so so cute! When we have to cross the street together I ask my kids to follow me just like baby ducks follow their momma. So when the kids saw this little family of ducks they were so happy to see that the real ducks actually DO follow their mom like I’ve taught them!

feeding ducks

feeding the ducks

Isn’t that baby duck just the cutest thing ever?!

feeding ducks

My boys live in these shoes…I cannot tell you how many pairs we have bought through the years. And no, I am not paid by Crocs to advertise for them. We really do just buy a lot of them! 🙂 They’re perfect for being around a lot of water and sand. We just stick ’em in the bath with the kids at night to keep them clean!

feeding ducks feeding ducks

As we were driving home I asked the kids if they had fun feeding the ducks and how they were feeling about dinner being so much later than normal…and Kai said, “What? Late? I had so much fun it felt like we were there for only 5 minutes!”

feeding the ducks

After feeding the ducks we had our late dinner and even squeezed in a family movie night before bed! And yes…it was a school night! 🙂 Guess we needed some “honey”! 🙂

 Well, that’s it for now! I thought I’d start to include some more of our “every day” in the blog, rather that just longer articles and thoughts on life all of the time! 🙂

3 Ingredient Crock Pot Meatballs

This recipe can hardly be called a recipe.

It’s THAT easy.

There are only three ingredients. I am not joking when I say that I make this at least once every other week. My kids ALL love this…and there’s five of them so that’s saying a lot!

Put all of the ingredients (I use turkey meatballs btw) in a crock pot at around lunch time and by evening you’ll have one happy, well-fed family. This is also a PERFECT meal to have on hand for those evenings when life gets away from you and you need something fast. I just put the meatballs in a glass bowl and microwave on defrost for 6-7 minutes and then throw all of the ingredients into a pot. They cook for about 15 minutes and then you’re done.

Crock pot grape jelly and BBQ meatballs

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Source: Crock pot grape jelly & BBQ meatballs – only 3 ingredients! – I Heart Nap Time