Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Products I'm Loving Lately

I'm usually pretty consistent when it comes to my beauty routine, and don't try new products often. A few new skin care items are in my daily routine and I thought I'd share them.

The first two products were prompted by catching a view of myself on my iPhone's self portrait feature first thing in the morning. Not so pretty! I think sleep deprivation has done a number on my skin, but I am not cool with wrinkles just yet. I use the Revitalift at night only because it's pretty thick and wouldn't go well with makeup on top. The Garnier eye cream is good for both day and night, it absorbs quickly.

Loreal Reviatlift Complete Night
Garnier Ultra Lift Anti Wrinkle Firming Eye Cream
Olay's body lotion is a long time favorite. It smells great and really helps that dry winter skin.

Olay Ultra Moisture with Shea Butter
My long time favorite nail products are CND stickey base and Seche Vite top coat. They really extend the life of your manicure; I can get a full week with nails that still look good at the end. OPI's "we'll always have Paris" is a new favorite color.

Tuesday's Tabata

In class last night we did 2 circuits with weights and started each with a tabata. To get everyone used to the flow of a tabata, we started with a simple one of all mountain climbers. Just to re-cap the tabata format, it goes:

20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest

20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds rest

That's a total of 4 minutes. Short- but it will kick your ass! For the second tabata we alternated squat jumps and butt kicks. Our weight circuits definitely had us exhausted by the end, but almost everyone stuck around for my quick ABS class. 


1 min up/down planks- start in high plank, lower to forearms and back up
1 min SLOW bicycle crunches
1 min elbows to knees- lift upper back off the mat, push your elbows to knees and hold for 1 min
1 min oblique crunch- lift upper back off mat, arms straight at your sides palms facing in. Crunch side to side, tapping the outer edge of your sneaker with your hand. 

Repeat at least 2x, 3 if you're feeling ambitious! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brussel Sprouts with Brown Sugar and Bacon

The title alone is enough to make you hungry, right?

I went to a new restaurant in the area, The St. James, in Suburban Square. They had an amazing brussel sprout dish that I had to recreate at home. I tried to make this a little less indulgent by cutting some of the fat- while still keeping the bacon.

1 container brussel sprouts, halved
3 strips bacon, chopped
3 T brown sugar
2 T balsamic vinegar
2T olive oil
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400. In a bowl, toss together all ingredients except the bacon, and let them marinate for at least a half hour. After everything is marinated, toss in the chopped bacon. Spray a tin foil lined baking sheet with olive oil pam. Spread the mixture in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and then stir/flip everything. Bake for another 15-20 until the brussels and bacon look browned and crispy.

Plate Workout

A quick way to change simple moves like a lunge and bicep curl is adding a paper plate.  I know, that sounds really weird. Trust me!

You put the plate under one foot, and the unstable surface will force you to engage your core. Basically, it's a quick way of adding in some serious abs into the move you're already doing.

 Start with a lunge/bicep curl. Standing upright with your neck long, slide the foot with the plate underneath down into a lunge. Knees should be in 90 degree angles, front knee shouldn't be past your toes. Curl as you lower down into the lunge.

Next, squat down with the plate under one foot. You want your thighs to be parallel to the floor. Slide your foot out to the side while remaining in the squat. You can add arms in with a front raise- weights don't come above your shoulders.

Lastly, play around with some planks.

Start in a high plank- wrists should be below shoulders, and your body should be in a straight line. With the plate under both feet, pull your feet towards your upper body while raising your hips high into a pike position. 

Squeeze the shoulder blades together

Hips should be high, belly sucked in

Take this circuit and decide on a number of reps, I did 20. You can also stagger the reps- 20 for the first round, 15 for the second, and 10 for the last.

You can also add in a cardio round by placing one plate under each foot, and doing mountain climbers.

With every exercise, always remember to pull your belly in and engage the core.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 22, 2013


One of my favorite meals to throw together quickly is a pot of Chili. It's great for leftovers, and you can always put more veggies into it to get a nice round meal. Although I change the recipe a little bit each time I make it, here's my basic version. Add in any extra veggies you have lying around, and if you like it spicy, throw in some hot sauce or Sriracha!

I went shopping for the ingredients last night after teaching class and was very happy to find one of my favorite seasonal products:

So excited, that I bought almost every bottle they have. No, I can't just wait until next holiday season when this comes back out. Don't judge me!

My girlfriend Beth was coming over with her son Ray, so I wanted something I could put together quickly in the morning and let simmer until lunch.

Again, a cute sous chef helps, but is not required.


2 T olive oil
3T chili powder
1t cumin
1t seasoning salt (you can always add more later)
1t dried oregano
2t garlic powder

1 medium onion diced
1 red pepper diced
1 zucchini diced
1.5 lbs organic beef (you can also use turkey)
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
About 14 ounces water (half of the crushed tomato can)
16 ounce can tomato paste
1 14 ounce can kidney beans

-Put the olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pot on medium high
-Add in the onion, pepper, and zucchini until soft

-Sprinkle spices over the veggies until fragrant 
-Push the veggies over to one side of the pot, add the meat and brown
-Add in crushed tomatoes, water,  kidney beans, and tomato paste
-Bring all ingredients to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer
-Simmer at least an hour, let it go longer if you have time
-Turn off the pot for about 20 minutes before serving (this allows the flavors to really meld together while cooling off so you can taste each flavor, not just HOT)

Serve with any toppings you like. We usually do: shredded cheese, diced onions, Sriracha sauce, and sometimes I make cornbread for the side. Kettle sweet potato chips are great with it too!

5 months

 I cannot believe my little guy is 5 months old already. I feel like one of "those" moms that is always saying how "this" is my favorite age. But it is! He is so alert, coos and talks to me all the time, and is just so sweet. The love I have for him is so overwhelming it brings me to tears. No seriously, ask my husband, he thinks I'm nuts :)

The pictures keep getting harder to snap because he is so active now! The days of putting him down and not having to rush for a picture are over. He was especially interested in ripping off his 5 month sticker, and trying to munch on his feet during our most recent shoot. 

Right after a run- sorry for the no makeup face!
Happy 5 month birthday to my favorite little man!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Broad St Run

Yesterday I was very excited when I got an email saying that I've been selected through the lottery as a runner in this year's Philadelphia Broad St Run. It's a 10 mile race that goes throughout the city, and I've been told it's pretty easy (for 10 miles) because it covers mostly flat terrain.

My history with running has always been love/hate. I love how cardiovascularly it provides a great workout. I love that I can get up and just go- no prep needed, no driving needed, nada. I love how accomplished I feel when I meet a certain goal for miles. What do I hate? Injuries. Getting bored. Sometimes feeling like my body is rejecting running. Not timing food around a run well enough so I don't feel empty or nauseous. Running in the heat. 

My first run after having C was about 4 weeks postpartum. I didn't have clearance from the Doctor yet (I don't suggest doing that although I had no ill effects) but felt good so I gave it a shot. I was all geared up, wearing my favorite lululemon running crops, even though they were a bit tight on my newly acquired muffin top. About 5 minutes into what felt like the hardest run of my life, my iPod died. I do NOT run without music. This was bad. I kept going, because dammit, I was going to run 3 miles if it killed me! Let me tell you, the only thing worse than running in silence is running while listening to yourself huff and puff, and feeling your postpartum belly jiggle with each step. Not cute!

Although I do run for cardio, I've never been a big racer. It's not that I haven't tried though. 2 years ago I was signed up for my first half marathon, and was really excited to race it. I got into the trap of running too much, too soon, and sprained my foot. Race over! This is always what has happened to me, I try to squeeze the running in with my other workouts and end up overdoing it. After I had C I started running a lot because of how easy it was to just get up and go and ended up tweaking my ankle. 

My goal with Broad St (in addition to completing it!) is to pace myself with training. For the rest of February I'm going to run about 3 days per week, keeping the mileage low. Once March hits, I'll follow Hal Higdon's half marathon training plan for 8 weeks up to the race.
I'm only going to ever run 3 days per week, because in addition to wanting to strength train, I have to teach my classes 2 days per week. Right now, working out more than 5 days per week is just unrealistic. Even that will be a challenge! 

I'll be posting updates about training, including my workout plans.

Is anyone else running Broad St this year?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Partner Up

Friday's weather got me so excited for spring. I don't mind the cold, but being able to get outside for  nice stroller walks is going to be wonderful! We have a great park in our neighborhood, so on Friday C and I headed over to check it out. Although he's still too little to appreciate it, I at least got a few cute photo ops. He's not looking too pleased though, I think it's the hat I forced on him. Sorry buddy!

I'm also excited to be able to workout outside once it's a little warmer. If C is happy in the stroller, I'll park it and do a quick circuit at the park. Who cares if people think I look like a crazy person.

In my Thursday evening class, I had everyone partner up for our workout. Whether it's a fitness class or just going to the gym, having a workout buddy always makes the time go by faster in my opinion. I used to workout with my husband, and we would keep each other motivated, but now we alternate watching the baby while the other heads to the gym. One day we'll have those days back!

There are so many things you can do with a partner, here's part of the workout we did in class:

20 burpees/ plank- one person works on the burpees and the partner remains in plank for the duration. Switch when finished.
Squat/Medicine ball toss- Using a heavy medicine ball, face your partner with a bit of distance between each other. Squat, and toss the ball to your partner at the top. As you catch the ball, go right down into your squat. 2 minutes.
Situps w Medicine ball toss- One person is on the floor, partner stands facing them at the top. Partner tosses med ball while the person on the mat catches it, completes a situp and tosses ball back to partner. 1-2 minutes.
Pushup/Tap Hands- Both partners start in plank with hands facing one another. Do a pushup (modify to knees if needed) and tap opposite hands at the top. 1 min.

Keep each other motivated and make sure you thank your partner! Try this at home with your roommate or partner, or try it at the gym with your workout buddy.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day

C and I had plans today to meet Matt and a coworker of his for lunch by their office in NJ. What used to be a simple trip- just get up and go- is now quite the process. Feeding, burping, changing outfits because they got puked/peed/pooped on etc etc etc.

Because leaving the house now is somewhat of an undertaking, I've pared my "getting ready" routine down to the basics. My hair has always been naturally curly, but really loosened during pregnancy. Most days I let it air dry overnight, and if I'm trying to look nice, I touch it up with a curling iron. It's a lot easier to bump up the curl a little rather than trying to straighten the whole thing. This look also masks dirty hair much better. Spray a little dry shampoo into the roots and you're good. I've also gotten pretty good at washing small sections that have been spit up on. This happens almost daily.

Outfits now have to be easy to move around in. I need to be confident that I won't show too much while picking up the car seat or getting down on the floor to play! Heels really only make an appearance on date nights. C also prefers the comfortable, yet put together look. He usually shows me up in the outfit category. 

Tee and Sweater- Old Navy
Jeans and Belt- Gap
Shoes- Tory Burch

Hat, Sweater, Cords- Gap
I hope you had a great Valentines Day!


Do you know what a Tabata is? It's short, only 4 minutes, but will have you huffing and puffing by the end.

The 4 minutes is broken up into 8 rounds, with 10 seconds of rest, and 20 seconds of work. The easiest way to try out a Tabata is to pick 1 high intensity exercise like a squat jump. You have to pick something with explosive moment to really get the full effect. A simple bicep curl isn't going to cut it here.

It will look like this:

10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jumps

10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jump

In total, the above workout equals 4 minutes. That's it! You can download apps on your phone that will time your 10 off/20 on, and let you know when it's time to work. I use "tabata timer" and it was free. Once you feel comfortable with the format, switch up the moves.

Last night I did 3 rounds of this Tabata:

10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jumps
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- high knees
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- burpees
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- squat jumps
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- mountain climbers
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- high knees
10 seconds- rest
20 seconds- burpees

Try it out, and let me know how many rounds you can do!

Philly Play Date

While I was pregnant, my husband (Matt) and I talked a LOT about what we thought I would do once the baby was here. Stay home for a standard maternity leave, take the year off (which I'm lucky enough to do with my job), stay home indefinitely, or work part time teaching fitness classes. I leaned towards staying at home for at least a year, and he agreed. Once C (short for Connor) was here, I just couldn't fathom being away from him all day and for someone else to get all of the moments together with him. I feel very thankful to be able to stay home during the day, and get out a little to teach fitness.

The days can seem monotonous though if you don't get out. Luckily for me, I happen to have a handful of girlfriends that had babies around the same time I did- 3 within a month of me! Each week I try and plan out at least one get together. I'm a big planner in all aspects of my life- meal planning, workout planning, and now mommy planning.

One of my very best friends, Beth, had her son 1 month and 6 days after Connor (not that I was counting or anything!) and we have high hopes for our little guys to be best friends too. Since they are so close in age, it's amazing to see C do something (coo, grab, reach, etc) and then Ray do it within a few weeks. Yesterday C and I ventured down to the city to visit with Beth and Ray. The weather was breezy but sunny enough that we could bundle up for a walk on Kelly drive. Us mamas got to talk while the boys napped- although not as long as we had hoped for!

Later, we were all hanging out in the living room, Ray in his rock n play and Connor in my lap. I brought C over to Ray to say hi, and my heart literally melted when C reached down to Ray's hand, and Ray reached back for C's. Watching them look at each other while holding hands was too much for me, and I may have teared up a little. The boys won't tell anyone though :)

Note the matching top and pants- their moms have very similar taste!
Being a mom is amazing, and can really test your strength at times. Ray was in the hospital for six weeks after he was born, and Beth showed me what true strength was. Nothing matters except the health and happiness of your little one, and when I watch our boys together, I know those two things are good. Both are happy, and both are healthy.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Soup Sunday

One of my girlfriends always makes soup on Sunday to have for dinner, and then use as leftovers that week. I love the idea, and it makes lunch for a few days easy for me, especially since I'm at home now. One of our favorite soups is tomato basil. I always try to make recipes a little healthier, and used the recipe below with some modifications. The changes I made are bolded.

This soup was so good, and I will definitely add it into the Sunday rotation.


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (I used less, just enough to get the onion and carrots sauteing in the pan)
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed (I love fresh basil and added 1 cup loosely packed instead of dry)
  • 3 28-ounce cans whole peeled Roma tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 pint heavy cream (I subbed light cream and used 1/2 just enough to give it, well, creaminess)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start by chopping up the onion and carrots into a rough chop. Since you'll blend this at the end, nothing has to be chopped into any uniformity. 

Add the onion and carrots into a large pot with olive oil on the bottom. 

Let that saute until nicely browned, about 15 minutes on medium high heat. 

Add the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. I let this sit on the stove for over an hour on low to really reduce and let the flavors meld together. 

It helps if you have a cute sous chef!

Add the basil after soup has simmered- if you add it with the broth and tomatoes the basil flavor won't be as fresh. 

Using an immersion blender (or regular blender in batches), blend until smooth. 


  1. 1
    In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and cook until beginning to soften, 10 minutes, then add basil and cook until vegetables are completely soft, about 5 minutes more.
  2. 2
    Add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes if time permits.
  3. 3
    After allowing soup to cool somewhat, purée in a blender or food processor until smooth, doing so in batches if necessary. For a much silkier texture, strain the purée before returning to the pot.
  4. 4
    Stir in cream little by little over over low heat, until desired texture is reached and soup is just heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm.

Focus on Strength

So today just started off as one of those days that makes me realize once I get used to any kind of pattern, get ready for it to change! C has been sleeping pretty well lately, and I've been enjoying his first stretch of 6-7 hours! Not last night. He was up at 11, 3, and 6 to eat. He then slept until 8:45, way later than normal. Once he was up, he was very tired and ready for a nap but would.not.go.down. Yawn.

I got 40 minutes out a nap out of him and hurried up to get a quick workout in. Today's workout is more about strength than cardio. All you need is a set of hand weights and a mat for ab work. I use 8 lb weights, but use what is comfortable for you.

Circuit 1
20 alternating lunges with a front arm raise
20 bicep curls with a wide squat (toes pointed out)
1 min low plank (forearms parallel to one another)

Circuit 2
Stationary lunge with a shoulder press- lunge position, dip 10 times while pressing arms up. Switch sides for 10 more
20 tricep presses
20 downward facing dog push ups- from down dog position, aim crown of head in between hands each push up

Circuit 3- on mat
1 min flutter kicks- hands under butt, the lower your legs are, the harder it is
1 min bicycle crunches- make sure your upper back is off the mat!
1 min chest fly while lowering legs together

I repeated each circuit twice before moving onto the next without any rest in between. Good timing because once I was done, I got a quick shower and load of laundry in before C woke up.

After his sub par nap, he was only happy in his swing, chewing on Sophie the giraffe, watching Shahs of Sunset. Hey, whatever works!

Mom of the year over here.

Try this workout and let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wine Tasting

It's the weekend! Having a baby means our weekends are a LOT different than before. Current highlights include: being able to go to the gym Sat and Sun mornings while my husband watches C, grocery shopping and target as a little family, and catching a few extra hours of sleep while the guys play downstairs. Before baby, highlights were pretty much going out to dinner or getting drinks with friends Friday and Saturday nights.

We lived in Old City (Philadelphia) until about a year and a half ago when we ventured out to the suburbs. There are times when I really miss the city and wonder what our life would be like as a family of three downtown. I also miss the two of us going out without having to plan ahead. Drinks at the bar around the corner? Sure!

Tonight we're getting our first official (non family) babysitter and heading back into the city for one of our best friend's birthday parties. Instead of a standard birthday dinner or heading out to a bar to get drinks, our friend Michelle offered to host a wine tasting at her house.

Michelle really went above and beyond with the details. When we walked in, we were greeted with cocktails and a beautiful spread of meats and cheeses.

Once everyone arrived, we were given score cards for each wine. Prior to the tasting, each guest was assigned a type of wine to bring in a brown bag; price range and brand were completely up to you. Michelle then labeled the wines by number. We tasted and then evaluated the wine on different categories: body, appearance, taste, finish, etc. After the category was complete, the winners were revealed. 

It was a great way to spend the evening and do something unique. Hopefully we'll host the next one at our house soon!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Fun

Happy Friday! Yesterday I had a "play date" with another mommy friend, which really is more for us mommies than the little ones. Her daughter is about a month younger than C and it is so cute to see them together. At 3 and 4 months, they actually notice and smile at each other. C even grabbed her shirt, probably to try and eat it. I need to talk to him about gentle play, ha!

My husband was away for work for the first time the night before, and once he got back from his trip, I didn't want to go to the gym. I also didn't have time to get a workout in earlier, so I did a quick one with my 2 guys while they hung out in the living room. C even got in on the action and helped me out with a few moves.

Sometimes I'll take a workout like the one below and break it up into a few different parts to do while the baby is awake and entertaining himself. Usually he'll be in his saucer or on his activity mat next to me. Once he wants my undivided attention, I'll grab him and we'll work out together. He loves it!

As many rounds as you can- I did 5 of the first two moves, and then 1 min/3 rounds for the last 3

20 jumping lunges- start in a lunge, jump up and switch sides
20 up down planks- keep your body in a straight line, try to keep hips even with the floor

1 min scissor kicks- (I held C above me) the lower your legs are to the floor, the harder it is
1 min sit ups- (again, holding baby) kissed him each time I was at the top and he laughed and laughed
1 min alternating side planks- lay baby on the floor in between your hands, he loved looking up at mama

Try this workout and let me know what you think. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The first couple of months were really hard in terms of sleep. Or maybe I should say not having sleep. I expected the very beginning to be tough, especially when he was so little that he didn't know the difference between night and day, but once we were at around 8-10 weeks I was spent, and needed some zzz's. When he was first born, he pretty much napped all the time during the day, so I could catch up a little, but once he "woke up" and started to become more alert, there was no time for daytime naps (for mama).

I did this one morning. Stood there and waited for a minute, and wondered why my coffee wasn't done. Maybe I thought the K Cup would just dissolve inside the mug and brew itself?

When he would have a good nap, I found it way more energizing to get a quick workout than try and fall asleep. I've never been a napper, and it takes me too long to fall asleep to even make it worth it. Just like before baby, I've never once worked out and regretted it. I always feel more accomplished, like even if I get nothing else done that day, I've gotten in my exercise- no matter how short or long. That's the moral here, even when you feel like working out is the last thing you want to do, just do it and see how you feel. I promise you won't get into a habit of finishing and think "nope, not worth it".

Things have gotten a lot better in the sleep department, and while he isn't sleeping through the night yet, we both are so much more rested. Here's what a happy baby looks like after about 12 hours of sleep:

Pretty damn cute!

Today is a scheduled rest day for me, and that's a good thing. My legs are so sore from teaching class last night. Every trip up and down the stairs is a nice reminder of all the squats and lunges, and if you came to class I know you're feeling it too.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Superbowl Hangover

Did you indulge too much Sunday night? Whether it was food or booze (or likely both!) there's no need to beat yourself up about it now. Nearly everyone has a night, an entire day, week, or even a few months where you get off track. Eating the wrong foods, drinking too  much, or a combination of the two often leads to that sluggish feeling that in turn makes you want to skip a workout. Acknowledging you've gotten off track is important so you don't let it snowball into a month of eating badly and not working out.

Just because you did indulge a little for the Superbowl doesn't necessarily mean you've gotten off track though. We went to a party where the food was plentiful, delicious, and there were many unhealthy, yet tempting choices. I tried to taste what I wanted to, eat a little of the unhealthier options, and then fill up on salad and protein. I even had a small slice of cake. Trying to keep the portions in check will help you feel in control of your diet. If you have good portion control (not that it's an easy thing for anyone!) you really can eat anything you want and stay slim. You just can't eat anything you want in any portion you want and stay slim. That would just be too good to be true. If I ever find a way to eat ALL the food and stay thin, I'll let you know. Until then, portion control my friends.

Whenever I've been trying to lose weight, my mindset on how I'm going to do it is the first important step- even before diet/exercise plans. For me, viewing each day individually helps. It's a lot easier for me to avoid sweets for one day versus thinking "I'm never going to have dessert again".

Ok, now it's confession time. C is taking a wonderful nap, and I'm blogging from bed. His long nap is probably due to his less than stellar sleep last night. Even though I'm not doing this circuit now, I will be doing it at the gym with my class tonight- watch out ladies, it's not easy!

Power Nap Circuit-

5 rounds (you can always do more if you're up to it!)

20 squat jumps- make sure you squat LOW, sit that butt back!
1 min up/down planks- start in high plank and lower onto your forearms, then back up

Monday, February 4, 2013

Losing It

One of the biggest topics around pregnancy and new motherhood is also a dreaded subject: losing the baby weight. Some of the women that take my classes also knew me before I had the baby, and ask how I lost it. I'll do my best to take you through my pregnancy journey/body transformation with a few pictures. Sorry for the quality- they're pictures of pictures.

This is me when I was about 5 weeks- or about a week after I found out I was pregnant. I love that I thought I was bloated here! (Left pic)

Here I am at 20 weeks, halfway through the pregnancy, the day we found out we were having a boy. I'm wearing a gap body maternity shirt which was one of my favorites until it was too warm for long sleeves.  (right pic)

The left below pic is me at around 27 weeks. My stomach was really popped by this point, and I was getting comments from strangers often. The right pic is my belly as a shelf, which became a convenient use!

This is where things really started to change....not in the best way. I became very uncomfortable at around 34 weeks, and the swelling was unreal. Up until that point, I really loved being pregnant, loved feeling him kick, roll, even the elbow jabs felt cool. After the swelling got bad though, I just didn't feel like myself AT ALL. Everything on me was swollen, but at the time I just thought it was my feet, face, and hands. I assumed the rest of me just got fat! One of the best feelings after I gave birth was no longer feeling like a balloon.  The left pic below is me at 37 weeks, so about a week before I gave birth, and the right pic is me about to leave for the hospital to have him! Yes, I was that excited that I needed to get one last belly pic in. 

At the end, you literally could press your finger into my foot/ankle and leave a deep mark. Unfortunately something people don't tell you is that the swelling only gets worse after delivery! I FINALLY started to go back to normal and could see my ankles again about a week and a half after I had him. 

The weight really did fall off quickly in the beginning. In total, I gained 37 or 38 pounds (I can't remember which). I gained pretty steadily, and somewhat slowly until the end. At 20 weeks I was up 10 lbs. The last trimester is when I really packed it on, and now I realize it was mostly water weight. Within a few weeks of delivering I was only up about 10 lbs from my starting weight which made me really happy. By about 8-10 weeks I had maybe 5 lbs to lose. Within a few weeks of that, I was back to my starting weight.  The pic below shows where I am now- I don't take belly pics anymore, it was an outfit shot I was sending to a friend for her opinion!

So, how did I do it? I honestly think it has less to do with what I did after pregnancy, and more to do with what I did prior to/during the pregnancy. Before getting pregnant, I worked out 5-6 days a week. Some days I was teaching fitness classes, others were a mix of running, gym classes I attended, yoga, and strength training. During my pregnancy I kept it up, and credit working out while pregnant for getting my shape back quickly. There were a lot of modifications that I had to do- especially with ab work and yoga. I did a lot of planks while pregnant to keep my core strong; it really helps the ab muscles to 'snap' back into shape, and works the muscle memory. I also exclusively breastfeed, which I think has helped me lose weight. That's tricky though, and can work both ways. Physically, you burn calories when you breastfeed. BUT- you also get hungry like a linebacker that hasn't eaten in days. Some women also hold fat in order for their milk supply to stay up, and then lose weight when they wean. That's why I really don't agree that breastfeeding is a sure way to lose weight. I actually started the pregnancy a few lbs higher than I normally am, and while the pregnancy weight went away, I'm not seeing the number dip any lower. I'm ok with that for now, especially if it means not cutting calories to keep my milk supply good. 

I started with just walking around my neighborhood with the stroller, or I wore him. At about 4 weeks I started to turn that into a walk/run. That's also when I headed back to the gym to work out. I definitely modified, lower weights, and very few abs except planks. 

My shape is a little different. My hips are a little wider, and although I can see some ab muscles, they are softer than they were before. I think it's really important for women to be easy on themselves after having a baby. There is simply so much going on both physically and emotionally, and taking care of yourself often comes last. Don't beat yourself up if you've had a baby, and the weight isn't going anywhere yet. Everyone is different, and hormones are no joke! But- I think it's undeniable that working out before and during pregnancy is the number one way to get back in shape. It's unrealistic to think that if you didn't work out before, your body will bounce back quickly. 

Everyone has their own pregnancy experience, good, bad, and (at least at the end for me) sometimes ugly! The real reward comes after, when you get that baby in your arms!