Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Getting Ready For a Party, Mom Style

I've had two company Christmas parties in the last week.  And I've noticed that there is a big difference in how I prepare for going out now that I have children.

Preparing for a night out - without kids:

  1. Run a bath, pour a glass of wine, light candles, and put on some music.
  2. Leisurely shave in the tub, soak, sing along to all your favourite songs, cleanse face, wash and deep condition hair.
  3. Get out of the tub, towel dry, moisturize, pluck eyebrows and brush teeth.
  4. Blowdry and style hair.
  5. Try on every piece of clothing in your closet before deciding on the pieces you originally had in mind for the occasion.
  6. Apply makeup.
  7. Check the time.  Still another 25 minutes before you have to leave.  Pour another glass of wine.
  8. Check Facebook, read a few articles online, and have a light snack.
  9. Try on every pair of shoes you own just in case there is a pair that goes better with your dress than the pair originally chosen.
  10. Decide on the pair you had originally chosen.
  11. Head to the Christmas party 15 minutes early.  

Preparing for a night out - with kids:

  1. Prepare dinner for the kids.
  2. Sit the kids at the table and in high chairs and put their dinner in front of them.
  3. Grab your curling iron and plug it into an outlet in the kitchen.
  4. Take your phone away from the toddler and clean the food off of it.
  5. Put your phone somewhere the toddler can't reach it.
  6. Begin curling your hair.
  7. Pick up all the food from the baby's lap and floor under her chair and put it back on her tray.
  8. Continue curling your hair.
  9. Tell your toddler to get off the table and leave the poinsettia alone.
  10. Put down the curling iron and remove your toddler from the table.
  11. Continue curling hair.
  12. Give your screaming toddler a hug and settle her back at the table.
  13. Continue curling hair.
  14. Clean up the baby's face, hands, clothing, hair, and everywhere else she got food.  Put her down on the floor in front of some toys.
  15. Continue curling hair.
  16. Run to lock the baby gate at the top of the stairs the baby is heading towards.
  17. Give up on curling hair and go to find some makeup.
  18. Clean up the toddler's hands and face.
  19. Glance at your watch and realize the sitter will be arriving in 5 minutes.
  20. Turn on the TV.
  21. Apply makeup and get dressed in 4 minutes flat.  Glance down at your legs and realize you haven't shaved recently.  Put on nylons.
  22. Turn off the TV, give the sitter instructions and head for the door.
  23. Realize you've forgotten your phone.
  24. Search for your phone for 10 minutes before realizing you put it somewhere out of the toddler's reach.
  25. Head to the Christmas party 15 minutes late.

As much as kids make it really difficult to get anything done, I love my kids, and if I had the choice to do it all over again, I sure would!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Importance of Flexibility

No, not doing the splits.  Although kudos if you can do that!

I'm talking about not having such a rigid training program that you beat yourself up if you miss a day.  I've talked about flexible diet plans here, but I believe flexible training plans are equally important.  Because life happens.

For starters, when was the last time you switched up your training program?  In order to build more muscle, you should periodically "surprise" your muscles.  I have 3 upper body workouts and 3 lower body workouts, which I will typically do twice each before switching to another.  And if someone is using the equipment I "need" or I just feel like doing something different, I do.

But what about if you can't make it to the gym?  There are many different options for things you can do with kids or right in your home.  Some of my favourites are taking my girls with me to the walking track and doing some kind of home workout video in my living room.  And sharing a post-workout smoothie with my toddler, of course.

Life can be busy and things don't usually go as planned.  Injuries also happen, an you may have to take a break from exercise entirely.  As long as you keep eating properly you shouldn't be gaining fat or losing much muscle in a short amount of time.  And you can always resume working toward your goals when you are able again.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Personal Trainers: Good, Bad, and Downright Dangerous

There are an enormous number of people out there professing to be "experts" on training and nutrition.  It's hard to know who to listen to.  Here are a few tips I've discovered when looking for a trainer:

1. Look for someone with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to learn new techniques and try different ideas.  If they are constantly reading up on new techniques and research, they are a lot less likely to just be using the same program for every person who comes to them, and a lot more likely to be willing and able to work within a person's strengths and preferences.

2. Run far away if you see a very restrictive low-calorie diet plan.  Personal Trainers are NOT nutritionists.  They have some basic knowledge, but should not be doing any more than making general recommendations.  I highly recommend searching out a Registered Dietician in your area for sound nutritional advice.  You can search for Registered Dieticians in Canada at

3. A good trainer will correct sloppy form and have recommendations to avoid injury whilst exercising. 

4. Find someone who has time for you.  If a trainer is fantastic, but they don't have time to answer a few quick questions when you're struggling, it's pointless to have one.

5. Anytime someone is constantly trying to sell you on a particular product or gimmick and is unwilling to make a general recommendation and let you choose your own product is probably a sales rep for that company.  This does not necessarily mean it's a bad product, but it doesn't mean it's a good or valuable product, either.  I find this to be a breech of trust between client and trainer.

Really, you want a trainer who has passion for what they are doing.  You can definitely tell if it is "just a job", or if a trainer is truly passionate about helping others.  And, to be honest, a bad trainer can be a lot worse than no trainer.

Good luck!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Running Shoes - An Injury Waiting to Happen?

Running shoes have been around for a long time, with the claim that they will help prevent injury.  And supposedly you have to replace them every 3 months to ensure the health of your body.  But what if your $150 running shoes are actually causing injury?

Hear me out.  When you run, what kind of method do you use?  Do you run landing hard on your heels and then rolling to the balls of your feet, or do you land lightly on the balls of your feet and push off slightly forward?  What about when you run barefoot along the beach?

Running shoes are rigid by design to "support" the foot.  But because they are rigid, it tends to make people land hard on the heels of their feet rather than lightly on the balls of their feet.  This rigidity found in almost all footwear these days can also lead to foot problems in some individuals.

Or at least, that is the claim made by barefoot shoe manufacturers.  It seems that not enough research has been done yet on the topic to either prove or disprove barefoot running as the healthier or less injury-prone method, but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

I have a pair of Vibram Fivefingers barefoot runners, and I like them so far.  But I have not used them for much more than short jogs or sprints.  I look forward to seeing some more research done on the topic.

Food for thought, anyways.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

PPD - Myths vs. Reality

It's been a long journey for me to make this post.  The truth is, I struggled on and off with Postpartum Depression for months after the birth of my second baby.  Other than my husband, this is the first time I have actually admitted it to anyone.  My baby is now 7 months old, and I am finally feeling like I'm able to get out of the house and do some of the things I love once again.

There is a stigma attached to any kind of mental illness.  Here are some of the most common myths I've found about PPD (some of which I believed prior to struggling myself):

1.  Only "weak" people get mental illness. 

Obviously not.  But the "strong" ones are the ones who aren't to proud to ask for help.

2.  PPD only really affects moms who have nothing going for them.

I had a great career, a loving husband, a nice house and healthy kids.  So there goes that idea!

3.  Since depression is all in a person's head, they can just decide to get over it.

It's really not that easy.  And because it is "all in a person's head", there really needs to be an outside source to help them through it.

4.  You can tell when someone has PPD

The only way you can know for sure that someone has PPD is if they tell you.  Some people are very good at hiding their feelings.

5.  PPD only affects the occasional mom

Approximately one in four moms are thought to suffer from PPD at some point.  And many moms (myself included) never report it or seek professional help.  That's hardly occasional.

So what can we do about it?

If you are struggling with any kind of mental illness, talk to someone you trust about it at the very least.  You are a stronger person than I am if you have the guts to seek professional help, and I applaud you.

If you know a new mom well, come over to visit, hold the baby, and just be there for her.  Ask her how things are going (not with the baby, with HER) and really care about her answer.  I always craved someone to spill my guts to, but my pride always got in the way.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Is "Clean Eating" a myth?

I've been pondering this question for awhile now.  In my previous contest preparation ("off-season"), I ate perfectly within my diet plan 6 days of the week and then was allowed one "cheat day" per week.  The problem with this is that there were quite simply too many things I was trying my best to stay away from except for on Saturdays... when I would binge and eat whatever I wanted.

And when I wasn't giving myself "cheat days", I would invariably wind up breaking down one day and going on a lengthy binge.  Either way, not healthy.  And if you are actually one of the people who can ALWAYS stick to perfectly "clean" foods (whatever that means), I'd call that an eating disorder.

So what is the solution?  I've started trying out a new "diet" called the Macro Diet, or IIFYM (if it fits your macros).  I recommend watching this video by Layne Norton, a coach, bodybuilder, powerlifter, and scientist:

Basically, I'm now shooting for 240g of carbs, 150g of protein, 55g of fat, and at least 30g of fibre.  Within those macros, I can eat what I want.  I'm finding the "My Fitness Pal" app is a great one for tracking my macros on a daily basis (I just ignore the calories).

Nothing against clean foods, but moderation is the key.  Instead of eating clean 90% of the time and then sitting down and eating an entire pizza or tub of ice cream, I'm attempting to eat mostly clean, but if I want a small bowl of ice cream or a slice or two of pizza, I can just factor it into my daily macros... guilt free!

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you hire a personal trainer, they are not certified to give you a diet plan!  Only a certified dietician can do that.  There is a reason nutritional science is a lengthy program; it is very easy to mess up a person's entire metabolic system with poor nutritional advice.

Before competing again, I need to get my eating habits into a healthy and sustainable method.  Right now, that is my #1 priority for my health.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Things are looking up

Things are looking up.  I'm down about 3lbs this week and I'm feeling a lot better.

I've found some accountability.  My trainer is going to take a look at my food journal every week and do measurements once in awhile as well.

I have a sitter lined up to take the girls to on weekends so that I can go to the gym (I'm potty training my 2 year old this weekend, so unfortunately I can't leave the house for that reason).  My permanent nanny will be here next Sunday, so I will have some more help with the house and kids at that point.

I'm finally done my flight test ("Pilot Proficiency Check" is a yearly flight test for commercial pilots), so I can stop stressing about that.

There are always things to stress about, but I'm slowly learning to prioritize and not worry so much about the things I can't change.

But you know the biggest reason I'm better managing all the stress in my life?

Because I'm making clean eating and working out a priority.

This single act has turned my life right around.  I am finding that any goal is easier to obtain if you just put your health first.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Time to Hit the Gym

I sometimes wonder how I made time to make it to the gym every day after having my first baby.  Did I just make it more of a priority, or am I truly that much busier now?

I believe it's mostly the latter.  I've taken on a management position at work, which keeps me quite busy.  It was also part of the reason I was back to work after just taking two weeks of vacation time rather than any kind of formal maternity leave.  Two young kids also keeps me a lot busier outside of work than just one baby does.

But if I'm being honest, it was more of a priority as well.  If I worked a long day and couldn't make it to the gym, I would go in the evening.  I simply don't have the energy or drive to do that anymore.

My solution is to go each day on the weekend.  If I can make it both Saturday and Sunday at some point, I only have to try and fit in two gym sessions during the week.  So I now have a sitter lined up for an hour or two each Saturday and Sunday.

No excuses.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


I'll be the first to admit it; I need some accountability.

I'm busy.  I'm a manager at a successful helicopter company.  I have two children, ages two years old and under.  I manage two properties, including 5 tenants.  I have two cats.  My husband works 12 hour days.  I'm in the process of getting a live-in nanny from Peru.  I'd like to start a business and get my personal training certification.  Any kind of socialization requires I shower every day or two.

These are all excuses.  In this day and age, everyone is busy!  But regardless of what is going on in my personal life, I need to make clean eating and exercise a priority.  It has been almost 4 months since I had my last beautiful daughter, and I'm only down to 165lbs.

Accountability.  That's what this post is about.  I am perfectly capable of getting to the gym, eating clean, and generally living a healthy lifestyle.  This IS NOT dependant on how busy I am.  Those are all excuses and I know better.

The solution I have found is to find accountability anywhere I can (except my husband... I've discovered that I tend to take offence to him telling me what to do).  I've asked anyone and everyone I know to help hold me accountable and just text me whenever they think of it to see how I've been eating and whether I've been exercising.  If anyone else reading this post wants to help out with this, you're welcome to!

I'm hoping this will be the change I need to get a good thing started.  I've admittedly been struggling since the birth of my second darling girl, but I'm working my way up once again.

Goals for this week:

Get to the gym 4 times.
Follow my diet plan at least until Friday night.
Read at least one chapter in my CFES Fitness Knowledge manual.
Recruit one person to keep me accountable on a daily basis.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Tracking Progress

As much as it's nice to see the scale going steadily down on a daily basis, this isn't an accurate representation of a person's progress.  And stepping on a scale on a daily basis can be disheartening, to say the least.

So what is the best way to track your progress, then?  Here are a couple simple guidelines:

1.  Take "before" pictures.  

Find someone you're comfortable with to take them, and don't look at it again until you've made some solid progress (several months down the road).  As uncomfortable as it is to take those pictures when you're just starting out, it's an amazing feeling to be able to see how far you've come.

2.  Take regular measurements.  

Your measurements will change a lot faster than your weight, usually.  I typically get my trainer to measure me once per month and write down my weight at that point as well.  You can measure yourself as well if that works out better for you.

3.  Don't weigh yourself every day!  

Weight can fluctuate several pounds over the course of a single day.  There are too many variables for this to be an accurate representation of your weight loss.  And if it's near to "that time of the month", women will tend to be a few pounds heavier than usual as well.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Barely Coping

I'll admit going into this new chapter in my life, I had a lot of assumptions.  I assumed I could handle childbirth & recovery, work, caring for a newborn and a toddler, going to the gym 4x per week, roller derby practice twice per week, planning and eating a healthy diet, and everyday household duties.  Turns out I can't.  Or, at least not without a lot of support.  I have overloaded myself with some mighty high expectations and am really struggling because of it.

The hardest part for me is that I haven't lost any weight since little Victoria was 2 weeks old.  She is now 6 weeks.  I really need to make exercise and healthy eating a priority, and soon!  It seems like when I have those two things in line, everything else in my life just falls into place.

Last night I sat down and made a list of the things I need to work on to help me cope.  Many of them are easy enough to do, as long as I make them a priority.  The tough one on my list is finding some kind of support other than my husband.  He has been fantastic, but is also working at least 72 hours per week, so there is only so much he can do.  I really just need someone else I can unburden to.  Really hard for me to do, since I like to pretend my life is perfect.

I suppose this blog is serving as my support network at the moment.  I do feel better getting these admissions out there, even if it is never published.  So, thanks for listening.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Building a Diet that Works

As a general rule, I'm not a big fan of the word "diet".  It seems overused as a temporary solution to a long-term issue.  The best diet plans are not just a quick fix, but an ongoing way of eating.

While I am definitely not a dietician or nutritionist, I have learned a lot of general guidelines that work to reach or maintain a healthy weight.  A healthy, balanced diet is a huge part of the battle.  You can't out-exercise a poor diet.

1.  Eliminate all unnatural sugars 

A limited amount of real fruit is fine, but try to eat it earlier in the day (I usually have one piece of fruit with breakfast and possibly a second piece with my second meal... and that's all for the day unless I have a good workout later on).  Watch labels for anything with "ose" at the end, as well as corn syrup and many other variations.  Almost anything in a package these days has some form of sugar in it.  Juice is also off-limits since a very small amount has more sugar than a piece of fruit, and none of the fibre.

2.  Eliminate processed foods and read labels carefully  

Anything in a package from my experience typically has 20+ ingredients, many of which I'm not entirely sure what they are.  If you do buy packaged goods, make sure to read the labels.  A shorter list of ingredients that you actually recognize is usually a good sign.

3.  Eat lean protein with every meal

Worst case scenario, I usually just throw a scoop of protein powder in a shaker cup with some water.  Whey protein isolate is also great to put in a post-workout smoothie with some fruit to build and repair those tired muscles.  Other great lean proteins are chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, lean beef, bison, egg whites, non-fat yogurt or greek yogurt, etc.

4.  Eat every 2-3 hours

Once your body gets used to this style of eating, it won't hold onto that weight so stubbornly because it knows when the next meal is coming.  This is why starvation diets don't work. Because eventually you'll have to eat, and when you do, your body will cling to those calories because who knows when you're going to feed it again!  I also find that when I go more than 3 hours between meals I'm a lot more willing to throw the diet plan away and just eat massive quantities of whatever I want.  Eating smaller meals on a regular schedule throughout the day keeps you from ever developing that dangerous ravenous appetite.

5.  Eat the right starchy carbs

Yams, oats, brown rice, quinoa, squash, chickpeas, beans, etc. are all fantastic starchy carbs.  You'll need slightly more starchy carbs any day that you're lifting heavy weights for extra energy.  I usually eat a serving of starchy carbs at the first 5 (out of 6 meals of the day) on training days and the first 4 on cardio or non-training days.

6.  Eat only healthy fats

Fats tend to get a bad reputation, but the right fats can actually help your weight-loss progress.  Avocados, unsalted nuts, omega 3's and flax are all examples of great healthy fats.  Morning and evening are the best times of the day to eat them.

7.  Drink plenty of water

Many people are regularly dehydrated, and regularly mistake thirst for hunger.

8.  Give yourself a cheat day or cheat meal each week

This sounds counter-productive, but it really helps!  If you're craving something you shouldn't have just remember that once you get to your cheat day you can have it.  This helps you stick with the plan mentally, and also keeps your body guessing.

9.  Keep a food journal

It really helps to write down everything you eat and at what time.  It helps you monitor trends and see where there's room for improvement, even if you don't ever show it to anyone else.

10.  Stock your fridge with real food and plan your meals ahead of time

If you find yourself hungry and don't have anything healthy readily available, what do you think you're going to reach for?  Pretty much anything.  You'll need lots of fresh veggies, fruit, lean proteins, starchy carbs, and healthy fats all ready to eat when you need to eat them.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Easing into Exercise

I admit I'm not very good at "easing" into anything.  I tend to be an "all or nothing" type person.

This pregnancy I once again managed to balloon right back up to my 200lb pregnancy body that I had at the end of my last pregnancy.  Even after being in the best shape of my life for my bodybuilding competition June 9th of last year.  Sigh.

But on the plus side for all you blog readers, I'm basically starting from scratch once again, so I'll make sure to post everything I'm doing right from day one.

On Thursday I had a rather depressing shopping trip.  I went out and bought the largest pair of jeans I've ever owned in my life, and also ran into someone I knew who, upon noticing my still-prominent belly, said, "Still in there, hey?".... before noticing the newborn in the shopping cart next to me.

So... me and my "all or nothing" mentality decided I was ready to hit the gym on Friday, just 6 days postpartum.  I had a great workout (back and rear delts) and it felt amazing to really push my muscles to exhaustion once again.  Unfortunately, my body didn't respond all that well afterwards and my postpartum bleeding started up again (it had already stopped).

One of these days I should really learn what the word "moderation" means.

I'm planning on taking the rest of the weekend off, and maybe I'll try hitting the gym again on Monday or Tuesday (though hopefully I can restrain myself from lifting the heaviest weights possible this time).

Welcome to the New Addition

Victoria Alyssa Grimsrud was born at 12:14am last Saturday, March 30th.  Welcome to our world, little one!  Here is the story of her birth:

Several times that last week I had false labour keeping me up past my bedtime, so I didn't get too excited when I was in bed last Friday night and they started once again.  This time they seemed a bit more regular, though not painful yet, so I started timing them.  Between 9-11pm I had consistent contractions 7 minutes apart for 30-40 seconds.  Around 11pm I decided that we were likely going to be heading to the hospital that night at some point as they seemed to be getting a bit stronger and headed back to the bedroom to wake up my hubby.  As soon as I got up and started moving around, the contractions jumped to 3 minutes apart and began intensifying.  By the time we left home I was certain this was the real thing.

Once at the hospital, I had a contraction in the car, on the way to the door, at the door, two in the entryway waiting for a nurse to buzz us in, two in the hallway on the way to the assessment room, and my next one once laying down in the assessment room broke my water.  The nurse left some hospital gowns and blankets for me and headed off.  When she got back, she gave me an exam and called it 7-8cm dilated.  She then left the room again to find a wheelchair to get me to the delivery room.  As soon as she left I had another contraction and began feeling the urge to push.  By the time she returned with several other nurses to try and move me, I really needed to push.  There didn't seem any other way to communicate this to them, so I just whipped open my legs and yelled, "I'M PUSHING!".  Someone glanced down and saw the head!  Then they all jumped into action, "Page a doctor from emergency, STAT!"... "Get warm towels!"... within 5 minutes my little 7lb 5oz baby entered this world.  It was less than 30 minutes from the time we arrived at the hospital!

What a night!

Saturday, 2 March 2013


It's that time in my pregnancy.  I'll be 37 weeks on Monday (due March 25th), and am definitely looking forward to having this over with.

I'll let you in on a secret.  I'm going to be almost starting from scratch again on my weight loss journey. I guess it's not a big secret if you've seen me around lately.  I've gained far too much weight once again, and have a long way to go.

On a more positive note, the motivation is definitely there to get my body back as soon as I get this baby out of me!  I'm truly looking forward to that sweet burn when I've pushed myself to the max, and the extra energy that comes from exercising and eating properly.  My goal is to be back to my "off season" weight by July 1st.  That's around 130lbs.  And 60lbs less than I currently weight.  I'm not entirely sure it's possible, but it would be nice if I could at least get close.

I have a plan.  I'm going to start with my original diet and training program that was made up for me after my last pregnancy and check in with my trainer every month or so to show my food journal and get measurements done.  This is pretty much exactly what I did the last time after my pregnancy except the program isn't new this time.  I'm hoping with all the muscle I built last winter that the weight will come off a bit easier this time and I won't have lost too much of what I worked so hard for.

Another part of my plan is to incorporate a bit more cardio this time, at least until I'm getting close to my off season weight.  I have roller derby twice per week, and I also picked up a double jogging stroller.  Now that I live in town, it will be really nice to take both babies out for a run whenever the weather is decent.