I just started a new Facebook group called, "All Natural Fit Mamas Group." This is a closed group so you have to go on Facebook and request to join. What's the group about? Well, a few months ago, I got on Instagram since my daughter opened an account. I started posting foods that we eat on the Feingold and GFCF (gluten and dairy free) diets. Immediately I started getting likes and follows from body builders and people that are fitness enthusiasts. Being curious, I started looking at their pictures and thought, hey I wanna look like that! :)
Being a busy mom with four kids, it's not likely that I'm going to be sporting six-pack abs and buns of steel any time soon but I started noticing a pattern in all of their pictures and comments. If you follow a few of them, you'll start to see it too. Although you may need to be careful if you have a teenage son around! But what I noticed was the following:
1. They eat clean!
So do I! (Apparently!) While I knew we tried to eat clean since we do the Feingold Diet and GFCF, it really never occurred to me that body builders and fit people are on to this as well. Hmm. Interesting. When I started using the hashtags #cleaneating , #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #paleo, etc. all kinds of half-dressed fit people started liking and following me. Note to self: Don't let son on Instagram! :)
But while I never gave it much thought, it makes perfect sense. Garbage in, garbage out. If you feed your body the foods it needs, and don't feed it the junk, it will operate as God designed, and you will see the results in how your body looks. It's pretty obvious when someone is eating good, clean foods, and when someone is not, regardless of their exercise habits. I think I just always thought that fit people looked so good because they worked out a lot.
While there are certainly other factors that come into play like genetics, certain diseases or health issues, etc. I think it's safe to say that in general diet plays a huge role. I've never been overweight, and until last year, I rarely worked out, other than just being active with my kids so I think this is pretty accurate.
As a long time research fanatic of special diets, this made me quite curious. What is it that body builders know about food that I don't? If you look at what they are eating, it is high protein (lots and lots of chicken), vegetables, and some carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc., oatmeal, and protein shakes. Virtually no processed foods - at least not on a daily basis, and very little sugar. (Though they'll have an occasional cheat meal - seems about once a week.)
Lol! Had to throw this in here. I've done this! I don't normally eat gluten and dairy or dyes, but I LOVE cake! And I love cake from Sam's Club! I'll smell it if it's around!
2. They eat! They don't starve themselves.
They make sure they are eating enough calories to support the calories they are burning. The more they work out, the more they need to eat. Otherwise, the body starts going after muscle instead of fat. Also, the body is wired so that when we don't eat, sometimes it thinks it's preparing for a time of famine and will hold on to fat, especially around the waistline. This happens with stress too. If we are stressed, we will store more fat around our waist. Exercise helps reduce stress.
Some fit people also count their calories. I used to think this was ridiculous because I thought as long as you eat clean, good quality food, it doesn't matter how many calories you eat. But, I can see the reason why you would count your calories, especially if your goal is to lose weight. It's just basic math. If you eat way more calories than you burn, you're going to slowly (or quickly) gain weight. If you eat slightly less calories than your body needs, you're going to lose weight. Or however that works. You get the picture. If you work out more, your body requires more calories so you get to eat more. Yay! I like to eat!
A free web site that many use to count their calories, AND to keep track of other things like calories burned working out and carbs, sugar, protein, etc. is My Fitness Pal. It's really cool. I really like it for the fact that it's an easy place to keep track of food. Feingold moms think DIET DIARY! I love it! No more lost diet diaries all over my house.
It's great if you're trying to figure out trigger foods for allergies or behavioral symptoms, which I'm trying to figure out right now. I still get small headaches on occasion and suspect eggs might be the culprit. Or sugar. Blasted sugar. You can follow your friends and encourage them as well. I'm not sure if I'll have the time to keep up with the diet diary every day but I'd like to.
I was shocked at how high the sodium was on some of my GFCF Feingold foods! I never thought to look. Too much sodium can lead to excess water retention and bloating. And I'm clueless on how much sugar I eat. When you write it down, you're much more aware of what you're putting into your mouth, and you take more initiative to eat healthy.
The My Fitness Pal also has a free app for your iPhone, etc. and can be linked directly to your FitBit, Garmin, or other step counter, calorie and/or heart rate monitor, etc.
I think these are so cool! I'm surprised how many moms have them, but I'm not sold on them yet. I'm too worried about the EMF's (electromagnetic frequencies) from wearing an electronic device on my body. So I'm holding off for now. I'm looking into getting things that help block some of the radiation from devices like cell phones, iPads, etc. though.
3. They drink a lot of water.
You should try to drink about half your weight in water in ounces. So if you weighed 150 lbs, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day. Toxins are stored in our fat cells. As you lose weight (fat), those toxins get released into your body because they have nowhere else to go. If you don't flush the toxins out by drinking lots of water (eating foods high in fiber helps too), your body will try to hold on to that fat because it is safer than allowing those toxins to float around in your body.
When toxins are released into your body by you losing fat, you're going to feel very tired, headachy, etc. from the toxins being released. That's why drinking lots of water is important. Not only to prevent dehydration but to flush the toxins out that are making you feel sick and keeping you from losing stubborn fat.
Read this article for more details. Eating clean in the first place will reduce the amount of toxins in your body as well. The Feingold Diet eliminates certain toxins such as dyes, artificial flavors, etc. Fit people refer to the CRAP acronym:
4. They work out nearly every day, but don't focus on cardio.
I noticed this at the gym too. All the unfit people were walking on the treadmill. All the fit people were lifting weights. So, I got off my treadmill and started lifting weights! I noticed a difference pretty quickly. If you have excess fat, yes, you do need to do some cardio to melt that fat away, but doing weight training will help do that too. You burn calories lifting too, and the benefit is, you're also building muscle so that when that fat does melt off, underneath you will find some muscles waiting for you.
5. While they work out almost every day, it doesn't have to be a long work out.
I liked the book, "8 Minutes in the Morning to a Flat Belly" by Jorge Cruise. He also wrote, "The Belly Fat Cure." Both are good. The Belly Fat Cure focuses on avoiding sugar and reducing carbs. I think doing some kind of exercise every single day is probably more effective than doing a long work out only once or twice a week. Which is good news for busy moms! While working out any time of day is good, working out first thing in the morning will burn more calories and will boost your metabolism for the rest of the day. A 30 minute walk in the morning is a great way to start your day, or just 8 minutes of exercise if you don't have time for a walk.
6. It takes time to see results, but if you are consistent, and don't give up, you WILL see results. Be patient.
7. When they see the results of their hard work, they become addicted to working out and maintaining those results.
This sounds strange to those who don't work out and hate working out. I liken it to the Feingold Diet. Yes, it's a lot of work in the beginning, but once you start seeing the results in your child's behavior, no one can stop you from continuing with the diet, and you will go to great lengths to keep your child on the diet, even if it means hard work...because the results are so worth it! The same is true with working out. It doesn't mean it's suddenly easy. It just means you become more committed once you start seeing the results. This kind of surprised me because I thought since they loved going to the gym all the time, it must come easy for them. Not true. I think it does get a little easier over time but no pain, no gain.
8. They plan their meals and snacks around workouts.
Eating a snack before a workout will provide energy for the workout. You don't want to workout on an empty stomach but a snack higher in carbs is often the choice like oatmeal, a banana, or an apple. Within an hour or two after working out, they'll eat a meal high in protein (like chicken or lean meats) to aide in muscle building and growth.
9. They drink protein shakes.
Within 30 minutes after working out, they drink a protein shake to help restore minerals lost during their workout, aide in recovery, and promote quicker muscle growth. These shakes contain about 20 grams of protein, some contain essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth, and various vitamins. Most protein shakes contain whey. I'm dairy free so still searching for a protein shake that doesn't taste like chalk, is GFCF, soy free, and without any artificial ingredients. There are a few options out there, so I just need to try them out. Some people drink these shakes for breakfast as a meal replacement too.
10. You don't have to join a gym - you can do a lot from your home.
You can even do strength training - similar to lifting weights. There are a lot of YouTube videos out there. Kids can join in too! My daughter loves to pick the video we're going to do. I like Emily Skye's videos (a lot of crossfit not using any equipment). Blogilates videos are also good. And then there's Jillian Michaels, and many more. All free. I have a couple dumbbells and a kettlebell that I use for strength training at home, or you can use your own body weight too. I bought a 15 lb kettlebell from Target but you can start with an 8 lb one if you are just starting out.
I've learned a few things by following some of these body builders and fitness enthusiasts on Instagram and Facebook (Pinterest has a lot too if you look up motivational quotes for working out, etc.), but I feel like I'm still missing a lot of pieces to this puzzle and I want to figure it out. While I don't personally need to look good enough to compete in body building competitions, I think there is a lot we can learn from their habits, and everyone wants to look and feel their best. If the average mom can learn and do a tenth of what body builders do, imagine what they'd look and feel like!
I think as Feingold moms especially, we learn all about diet and healthy living, but we often fail to take care of ourselves, and we often greatly neglect the importance of exercise due to a busy schedule or just lack of motivation. And coincidentally, many moms struggle with stress and anxiety. I've neglected regular exercise since high school mostly because of lack of time, but also because I saw diet as the most important aspect in health.
But, exercise is also hugely important, especially as we get older. Our metabolism slows down and our health starts to fade, clean diet or not. Exercising strengthens our bones and muscles, helps us be less susceptible to injury, gives us more energy, helps us feel better emotionally (especially if you're dealing with anxiety, stress, or depression), it improves memory, lengthens attention span, helps us look younger, and helps all of our organs function more efficiently. I plan to try to get my kids to be more active as well. Exercise is great for kids with ADHD or autism as well.
That's why I started this Facebook group. I want to learn more about being fit and exercising, but I don't want to work harder. I want to work smarter. I don't want to waste my energy doing tons of cardio if strength training is more effective. I don't want to waste my time eating "clean", but not realizing that certain foods like sugar can greatly contribute to my waistline. And, I want the accountability and encouragement of other women who are on the same journey, so we can learn from and support each other.
Many moms lack the motivation to get started. Swimsuit shopping, a trip to the local pool, or a vacation coming up are great motivators, but it shouldn't stop there. Just like with starting the Feingold Diet. Many of us started Feingold because of a huge motivator: Our kids were driving us nuts and getting kicked out of schools! :) But once we started the diet and saw results, we didn't just stop and go back to our old ways of eating. It became part of our new lifestyle. So, use that upcoming vacation or wedding as your initial motivator, and then keep it up as part of your new lifestyle of being fit and healthy for yourself and your family.
I want a place where moms can encourage and motivate each other to do "something" every day, even if it's only for a few minutes. I also want to take what I know about diet, nutrition, and supplements biomedically and figure out how moms can more efficiently lose weight and feel great. Because let's face it, when we look better, we feel better.
You can tell just from a fit person's Instagram account that they feel great about themselves. It's like every time they walk into a room they have a song playing, "I'm sexy and I know it!" Lol. Some are a little too confident! :) But I think that's great to have confidence and I want that for more moms. And if you're a husband reading this, watch the kids while your wife works out. You will reap the benefits as well. ;)
I know there's more to looking and feeling our best than just diet and exercise and I want to explore and research that too. I know that yeast overgrowth, poor gut health, eating right for your type (The Blood Type Diet), and the health of your liver are huge too.
And it's really not about losing weight - it's about feeling great, and being healthy. If we eat right and exercise, the weight will take care of itself. If we don't take care of ourselves, we'll get sick, and then who will take care of our kids? I also don't want to take my health for granted. There are many people who can't work out due to illness or injury. I'm not one of those people and I'm grateful for that. And if you're just starting out exercising, take it slow and work your way up. Working with a trainer is great too if you can do it. Yoga is great if you're not able to be super active due to an injury.
So, if you're a mom who wants to get fit, come join us at the All Natural Fit Mamas Group on Facebook and introduce yourself! We'd love to support and encourage you. I started the group with about 40 Feingold moms but the group is open to anyone. I'll be posting short workout videos from YouTube. I want people to try to do at least a few minutes of exercise each day even if they can't do anything else. Some people are more established in their workout routines and that's great! We love to hear that! It motivates those of us who have a hard time getting started. But make the commitment to start...because you're worth it mama! :)
Follow me on Instagram at Allnaturalmom4.
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