Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Have you seen the movie I Don't Know How She Does It, in which Sarah Jessica Parker juggles her booming career with her two children, loving husband, and all of the accessory carpools and big meetings that come with it? 

Well, I haven't yet, and I can already tell you that I DON'T know how she does it. I even left the workforce to be a stay-at-home wife and mom, and I still don't seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

Bills demanding to be promptly paid. Piles of socks and towels transforming into mountains on the laundry room floor. Crumbs on the kitchen counter that need to be cleaned. Trash cans so full that adding anything to them requires precise placement like playing Jenga. The one item that's forever left off the grocery list but that's so crucial to tonight's dinner that it requires another trip back to the store. 

Then there's of course the reason I'm staying home in the first place: that precious six-month-old bundle of energy with sparkling eyes and an electric, gummy smile who extends to me the most compelling invitations to play. Feeding him, changing him, bathing him, cuddling him, rocking him, laughing with him, reading to him, tiptoeing around my chores while he naps. I love every minute that I spend with him, and look at his pictures when he's not around.  

Six-month-old Liam enjoying his jumper.

It seems, though, that all too often I have to choose whether I'm going to work out or take care of the house. Getting back in shape has been at the top of my priority list, but the housework finally revolted against my neglect. So yesterday, I spent five hours balancing six months worth of the checkbook (call me old-fashioned, but I still balance the checkbook); sorting, washing, and folding five loads of laundry; and cleaning the kitchen. After taking care of Liam and cooking dinner, along with some other odds and ends, that left only enough time for a 30-minute walk. 

Of course, I could have done a Jillian Michaels workout DVD in that 30 minutes, but my walk through a close-by neighborhood with my BFF last night was pure therapy: ancient-oak-tree-lined streets with charming cottages, yards sprinkled with azalea bushes, and friendly passersby. It was restorative exercise, to say the least. 

Despite the stereotype of a housewife who spends her time watching daytime television in her jammies while her child plays solo, I actually find that I don't get much downtime during the day. I thought staying at home would afford me the luxury of chilling out, but this free spirit has found herself scheduling every minute of her day in order to complete her chore list. 

Experts agree, though, that taking time for yourself, and even putting yourself first (yikes!), actually helps you be a better person for others. It's only when we are at our best that we can offer our best, and being at our best requires that we make it a priority to invest in ourselves. Women have the hardest time with this, because we see this as selfish. And we cut other women up and down for their choices to do something nice for themselves. It's not selfish; it's necessary. 

Seriously, how many of us would bake a neighbor a casserole with only half the ingredients? Or give a gift that was dirty and worn? So why do we give of ourselves when we don't have our full selves to give? 

The housework will sometimes have to wait. Our children need to spend some quality time just with Dad. Leftovers are just as acceptable a meal. So are sandwiches.

These are lessons I'm learning through this process of getting back in shape. It's a sacrifice to make the time it requires to work out, eat right, and get enough rest to do it all again the next day. But I am worth it.  

Other thoughts: Now that I eat very little sugar, I have so much more energy! No longer do I experience a mid-day slump or crash mid-way through my workout. My blood sugar remains stable throughout the day, and I love the feeling! Also, Monday, my workout was Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, P90X Ab Ripper X, and some upper-body bag work. Today, I'm planning to do P90X Core Synergistics and hopefully a Pure Barre workout. I haven't lost any more weight, making a total of two pounds in two weeks, but more and more of my pre-pregnancy clothes are starting to fit. And that's good enough for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


My leg pain hasn't really improved much, so I benched myself yesterday, too. I'm not too worried about it, though, because I've lost another half-pound. That makes two pounds total weight loss in less than two weeks! Even while breastfeeding, I'm not too far behind my weight-loss goal, and more importantly, my wardrobe is slowly but surely being restored to its former glory.

I decided to retire my trusty Asics cross-trainers. They were pretty worn out and—I'm pretty sure—the culprit to my leg pain. (Not to mention the outside of my left foot and my left knee have also been giving me trouble.) 

My new Asics GEL-Ipera...Aren't they fabulous??

Pretty much any injury I've sustained by exercising throughout the years I can pin on my shoes. As much as I love cute shoes (what woman doesn't?), this is one area where it's important to choose function over form. Wearing the wrong type of shoes for your individual type of feet or for the exercise you're doing, or just wearing ones that are well past their prime, can cause major damage to your body and sabotage your workout goals.

In high school, I developed relentless shin splints and almost had to quit the cross country team. Later, I found out the problem was that I had been wearing trail shoes and not cushioned running shoes. In college, my plans to run a half-marathon were halted when I wore my non-exercise New Balance Classics to run my nine-mile day. (I don't care what they claim to be; those shoes are NOT for running!) My knee pain was so severe I couldn't run for months afterward.     
If you are serious about starting a workout plan, you must be serious about getting the right equipment, and that includes taking care of your feet. First, decide what type of exercise you will be doing. It's not just a marketing scheme; you really do need different shoes for running than you would for walking. I have three different pairs of exercise shoes: one with more flexibility for running, one with lots of cushion for walking, and one with more stability for cross-training. 

Next, go to a specialty running shoe store like Fleet Feet Sports, where they will measure your foot's arch and record it walking and running to check for pronation to find the perfect shoe for you. And don't assume that you know what size athletic shoe you need, either; mine are a whole size smaller than the rest of my shoes. If your shoes are too small, you can cut off nerve supply. If they are too big, they won't bend where they need to and can injure your foot.
Today, I'm planning to do a lower-impact Jillian Michaels workout and some weight training. That will help me make up for the doughnut binge my husband and I had this morning! I know, doughnuts are quite possibly the worst food I could consume, and they certainly don't make my list of sugar-free treats, but this is the last day of my husband's vacation, so we are living it up with doughnuts and movies. 

And tomorrow, I'll be right back at it.

Friday, March 23, 2012


You know that tendon or ligament or whatever it is that runs along the outside of your ankle? Well, mine hurts pretty bad. So unfortunately for me, today was a rest day. 

Or really, not so unfortunately. It was actually nice to take a day off from heavy exercise. Yesterday I killed it in my gym, so today I rolled around on the floor playing with my son, had some quality time with my husband, and organized our home office. It was a satisfying day. And tonight, my husband and I are actually going to relax, eat cinnamon toast (mine made with Splenda instead of sugar) and watch a movie. 

I've stayed on track with my resolve to avoid sugary foods, and with good reason: consuming less than 15 grams of sugar per day is this guy's recommendation for reducing fat around your midsection. Jorge Cruise, fitness expert and author of The Belly Fat Cure, shared a recipe on the Dr. Oz show for a sugar-free coffee-cup muffin. I've been meaning to try this recipe:

These muffins are designed to provide sustainable energy that lasts through lunch, thanks to coconut oil, a healthy fat that’s good for your brain, fiber-rich flaxseed and egg protein.

Makes one serving

1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut oil
1 egg
1 packet stevia

Mix all ingredients together in a mug and microwave for 50 seconds. Allow to cool to a safe temperature and enjoy! 

Here, you can read more about Cruise's tips for more toned abs.

What are your Friday night plans?

Thursday, March 22, 2012


So, guess what I'm wearing. Go ahead. Take a gander. No really, guess. (And yes, I am actually wearing something; I'm not being inappropriate.)

Give up? I am sitting here comfortably wearing my pre-pregnancy Silver brand jeans!!! The last time I tried these on, I had to hold my breath to get them buttoned; I didn't dare bend my legs in them. But today, I've been wearing them all afternoon. Straight out of the dryer.

Talk about a confidence boost! I swear I've been walking so tall today, I've probably hit 5'3". It is really true what they say: No food tastes as good as skinny feels. 

This morning, I did P90X Plyometrics, some upper body weight lifting on the Bosu ball, and a little bit of punching bag drills. If you don't have a Bosu, I'd highly recommend getting one. It adds a healthy dose of balance and resistance training to your workouts, increases your range of motion during abdominal work, and ups the intensity of your pushups. I've also suffered from patellar tendonitis in my left knee, but I can do squats pain-free on the Bosu.

Tonight I'm making my spicy jambalaya for dinner, and the smell of it baking in the oven is making me ravenous! Seriously, you have to try this recipe. 

Have a great night!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


My husband and I have been in Mississippi for a couple of days, and I probably don't have to tell you how difficult it can be to stay on track while you are visiting grandparents who love to feed you! I cheated a little and have one of Papaw's homemade strawberry cupcakes, some peanut butter M&Ms, and a delicious bacon cheeseburger and fries from a local Tupelo burger joint. And I don't feel the least bit guilty, because with all that cheating, I still have lost 1.5 pounds and two inches in the past week! 

I think it's okay to cheat every once in a while as long as you eat a healthy diet. I've been loading up on fruits, fresh veggies, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats (olive oil and avocado), so my splurge wasn't enough to really set me back. 

As the temperature rises outside, I've been staying cool with creamy guacamole. I don't eat mayonnaise, but if you do, guacamole is a tangy, healthy alternative. Here's my easy recipe:

1 avocado
1/2 cup salsa (I use On The Border medium salsa)
the juice of 1/2 a lime
3 garlic gloves, chopped

Throw all of the above ingredients in a food processor and blend until you reach desired consistency. I like mine a little thicker than applesauce, so it's easy to spread onto a turkey sandwich. And avocados provide numerous health benefits, from fighting several types of cancer to boosting heart and eye health.

I also found another healthy substitution. I recently discovered that my favorite drink at Starbucks, a tall decaf soy white chocolate mocha, had over a whopping 350 calories! So I tried an alternative, a tall decaf soy (because I'm still breastfeeding) iced skinny vanilla latte, which has only 90 calories and less sugar. It tastes almost exactly the same (except my new drink is a little less sweet, which I appreciate), but I can drink guilt-free!

As far as exercise goes, Sunday was a rest day for me. Monday, I walked/jogged at a local park with Liam in the jogging stroller and my three nieces. I didn't do any cardio yesterday, but I did manage to fit in some upper body strength training and a little core work. Even if I can't fit in a full workout when I'm on the road, I still try to do the following exercises once a day so I don't lose focus: 

Tricep dips (on the floor, not on a chair, but this video shows the modified chair technique)

Today, I'm planning to do Insanity Pure Cardio and Ab Ripper X. There's nothing like seeing the scale move to boost my motivation to keep going.

Happy Hump Day!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Well, I completely forgot about my Ab Ripper X workout I was supposed to do last night. My husband got back from his trip yesterday, though, so maybe I found another way to burn some calories. Just sayin'... 

I'm trying this new concept of listening to my body, something that's always been foreign to me. I've always been the type to tell my body what to do, not the other way around. But running brings on a new type of soreness, and today I'm feeling a little rundown. Still, my goal is to work out six days a week, so my husband said he'd go for a brisk walk with me this afternoon. I'll also do some punching bag drills and call it a day.

My scale must be broken. It has been reading the same number for two months. I received some encouragement from a couple of friends this week, though—one who is a fitness trainer and nutrition consultant. She said another woman she's been working with works out six days a week and hasn't seen the scale move in four months, but she's lost two sizes.

I am seeing my body change already, so I guess I'm going to have to focus less on the numbers I see on the scale and more on the results I can see: I have more energy as a result of cutting out sweets, my waist is getting smaller, and my clothes are starting to fit better.

I have a lot of friends who absolutely abhor running and ask me all the time how I can stand it. Running is as much a spiritual activity for me as it is physical. It's purifying. There's a proverb that states, "Beatings purge the inmost beating of a man." At the risk of sounding like a masochist (which I don't completely deny being), that proverb just about sums it up.

Of course, one of the secrets to a great run is a great playlist. Music has this divine ability to reach something deep inside of you like nothing else can. Getting lost in a great soundtrack can be very motivating, so I'm sharing with you what is on my iTunes Work It Out playlist: 

What's songs really get you pumped up? I'd love to hear what's on your playlist!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I’ve been sweating for the past two hours.

It was such a beautiful day outside that I revised my workout plans, traded my jump rope for the jogging stroller, and headed outside with my son for a 30-minute jog. 
My son totally enjoyed our outing...Can't you tell?

Sometimes you can start to feel like a robot if you are always exercising indoors with stationary, lifeless equipment or staring at a TV as a fitness instructor barks orders at you through the screen. 

 It reminds me of the training scene in Rocky IV—which just so happens to be my favorite movie of all time—when, while Ivan Drago is hooked up to a tangle of monitors slaving away on state-of-the-art sterile equipment in his trainers’ lab, Rocky grabs his ultra-cool bomber jacket and heads out into the Russian terrain to pound some snow drifts.

Watch the video here.

That was exactly what I needed—except trade the snow drifts for a nice, subtle-graded neighborhood street flanked with azalea bushes.

Back to my workout. Ok, so I did come back inside after my run to complete P90X Plyometrics, and after all of that, I was soaked. Seriously, I sweat like a man. I’m convinced that if you don’t look ugly after a workout, you didn’t work hard enough. I look so gritty when I exercise that I scare small children (except my own, who looked only mildly amused).

But even with my soaked clothes and frizzy hair, it’s amazing how healthy it is to break a sweat. Not only is it our bodies’ own built-in cooling system, but it provides maximum health benefits, including:

+ Improving skin tone and flexibility
+ Removing toxins from the liver, kidneys and cardiovascular system
+ Cleansing your skin’s pores
+ Improves circulation
+ Boosting your immune system

Basically, I have to look like Richard Simmons before I can look like Gisele. (Yeah, that’s the only thing keeping me from being her twin.)

Don’t forget: you must replenish the fluids you lose during exertion to get the benefits of sweating. Dehydration can inhibit the kidneys and liver of properly disposing of toxins. Your body also loses electrolytes when you sweat, which can lead to an imbalance if not replaced. This imbalance can cause heart arrhythmia, weakness—even confusion, and I’ve noticed that my body retains water if I don’t drink enough after a workout. And who of us actually want to look bigger after we work out? Exactly. So be sure to rehydrate for a few hours after an intense workout.


I'm not going to lie; I'm feeling a little discouraged this morning. After five days the scale has not budged AT ALL. I figured I would have at least lost 1/2 a pound by now. I know it's slow in the beginning because my body is gaining muscle mass, but seriously?

Now that discouragement is turning into motivation. Like, extreme, militant motivation. The weight WILL come off. Time to up my game...and my cardio.

My biggest battle: time. I do have a six-month-old, after all, and he requires food, care and some nurturing. And I love every second I spend with him. But if I'm going to do this, I have to carve out time for myself. Even if that means getting up earlier to add in an extra workout. 

What's on the agenda for today? P90X Plyometrics and Ab Ripper X, followed by some jumping rope.

On a side note, I really do not like pilates. I tried; I really did. But pilates is such a tame workout, and it doesn't fit my workout personality. It's so important to find workouts you love doing and aren't going to consider a chore; otherwise you will not stick with them. So, no more pilates for this girl. 

Starting today, one thing I'm also going to start paying more attention to is portion control. I can't be too extreme with calorie-cutting because I'm breastfeeding, but I can certainly watch my portions and try to eat lower-calorie, more filling foods like more fresh veggies.

Have any of you had any experience with trying to cut calories without affecting your milk supply? I'd love to hear your stories!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


My first thought as I woke up this morning: You mean it's only Thursday? I've only worked out three days this week? It feels like I should be waking up to a Friday or a Saturday with as much as I feel like I've been working out this week. But I am starting day four of my fitness plan, and the soreness has actually eased some, so I'm ready for my next workout.

Speaking of plans, one of the biggest saboteurs of a goal is neglecting to have a plan. I've noticed that when I wake up in the morning with the elusive "I'll do some sort of exercise as some point today," I usually end up spending my day's free time in my PJs with a fluffy throw and a good book (or more accurately, a Grey's Anatomy marathon on Hulu). I will even pile on the sinfulness by baking something sweet from scratch. 

But if I start my morning by deciding which exercise I will do and when, I'm much more likely to actually follow through. So right after I feed my son lunch, I will do 30 minutes of pilates and 10 minutes of punching bag drills.

My punching bag has been the salvation of my workouts. No kidding. I highly recommend one, and you can check mine out here. It doesn't take up much room, and all you need are some training gloves (mine are pink, like these!), but even if you only work on it for five minutes, you will still get a good workout. I do at least 100 each of jabs, backhands (great for triceps!), hooks, cross-jabs (great for abs!), side kicks (works your obliques and hip flexors, among other things), roundhouse kicks (great all-around core exercise), and then some double-jabs, which whittles down my waist. I've lost an inch around my midsection already this week!

My new power food? SALSA! I am a Texas gal, so the spicier my salsa comes, the better. I've been putting it on eggs, eating it with blue corn chips, adding it to guacamole or pasta or chicken fajitas. Salsa can help boost your metabolism and serves up a healthy dose of vitamin C, A, and K, along with some healthy minerals and antioxidants. Read about its health benefits here and here. And any food that makes me temporarily forget my love affair with chocolate is a winner! 

You know what is almost just as good as eating sweet treats? Smelling them! No kidding. My husband and I went to Bass Pro Shop after church on Sunday, and as soon as we walked in we were enchanted by the sweet aroma of cinnamon. It hit us both like love potion number 9. Our shopping trip for gun holsters got derailed by a new mission: find the source of the delicious smell! We were pretty disappointed when we found out it was those candied pecans and not actual cinnamon rolls. Later on, at the mall, we stood in line for 15 minutes at Cindy's Cinnamon Rolls to satisfy our new craving. And you know how those cinnamon rolls are the size of frisbees? Well, we didn't even split one; we each devoured our own like Ethiopian orphans who hadn't eaten in weeks. I actually found some icing stuck to my sweater on the car ride home and shamelessly licked it off. (Ok, now I'm a little ashamed.) After we came down off our sugar high (we were actually high, laughing hysterically over the passenger's elbow in the car next to us), we both regretted our binge and were lethargic for the rest of the day. Never again!

This story isn't exactly supporting my theory, but my baking healthy oatmeal muffins yesterday and smelling them for hours afterwards did help distract from the fact that what I really wanted was to pack up my infant in the car and make a quick run to the store for some candy. Research shows that scents can help curb cravings because they trick your body into thinking you've already eaten the food. (Read some about it here.) Of course, you have to listen to your brain instead of become a mindless robot on the undying search for cinnamon rolls. I have a caramel-scented candle that often does the trick. 

I'm feeling pretty confident today, so I'm going to go ahead and count this one a success.   

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



Workout on top of workout on top of workout=major soreness! I hurt in places I didn't know existed. I'm serious. I'm feeling tingly in places I've never noticed before. I can't move without wincing. But, at the end of day three, I am still on track.

I did two workouts today: upper body weight training this morning and Insanity Pure Cardio with my BFF tonight. I'm hoping these workouts will ease some of the soreness come tomorrow.

My third day without sweets has brought on the beginning of withdrawals. I've been a little snappy today, actually. But I eased the withdrawal pangs by baking oatmeal muffins. I also kept busy by making (somewhat) healthy chicken enchiladas with guacamole. Yum!

So that's it. I'm too tired to be witty. Day 3 is officially a success. :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I wasn't sure this day was going to go so well. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to see my husband off, who was catching a plane for his business trip this week. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I stayed up to watch The Bachelor: After the Final Rose on Hulu. Ugh. Don't even get me started.

I did actually get an additional hour of sleep after my blood stopped boiling from the show, but I've been pretty tired today. I was so tempted to spend my son's nap times napping myself instead of working out and cleaning. But, I have a blog to write and accountability to answer to, so I got my butt in gear and completed Insanity Pure Cardio (a 40-minute workout) and P90X Ab Ripper X (a 15-minute workout). There are few feelings greater than being completely drenched after a workout.

I vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned my bathrooms, and even fit in an hour-long nap to refresh. And my bestie, who is staying with me while my husband is out of town, agreed to a night of veggie pizza and a Pure Barre workout (another 35 minutes). So far, so good!
This morning, I went grocery shopping, and guess what weekly sale was staring me in the face? Yep, E.L. Fudge cookies. Of course. My biggest guilty pleasure. But did I cave? Absolutely not! Nor did I buy the new white chocolate Easter M&Ms or wine for girls' night. You all would be proud of me.

This is the new Courtney, and Day 2 is officially a success. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

So, I've decided to get serious about losing the rest of my baby/back injury weight. Not that I wasn't serious; I've been very seriously thinking about it while I've laid on the couch watching the entire Grey's Anatomy series and popping back M&Ms. (Boy, those cravings just don't ever go away, do they??) But I have a spring/summer wardrobe that I adore, and I refuse to buy new clothes for warmer weather just because I've lacked the motivation and energy to get my butt in gear and back into my short shorts.

I want to lose 8 pounds by Easter. When I did the quick math and realized that was 2 pounds a week, I got an ego boost. Certainly I could pull that off without even having to end things with Mr. E.L. Fudge. But then I decided that not only did I want to lose weight, but I need to lose about 5 inches from my waist (and about everywhere else, but I'll start there). Ok, to be fair, I have been exercising about 3-4 days a week, and housework and taking care of an infant do count for something. But if I was going to do this, I had to go all in. I'd been stuck at DEF-CON 1; it was time to raise the stakes.

There's really no secret to weight loss: more calories out than calories in. But, since I am still nursing my six-month-old, I can't restrict calories and still have to eat a balanced diet, so cutting out all carbs isn't possible, either. And to be honest, besides my raging sweets addiction, I eat pretty healthy. So what I will cut out is sweets. So long, you cute little elf-shaped, fudge-filled cookies! So long peanut butter M&Ms! So long icing out of the can, peppermints from my purse, or anything else that I would scrounge up to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Then there's exercise. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so a gym membership is not in our budget. However, our roomy basement has afforded me the space for a home gym, and I have in my arsenal just about every workout DVD you could imagine: Pure Barre, Jillian Michaels, Insanity, P90X, postnatal boot camp, 10-minute Pilates Solutions, just to name a few. Not to mention a punching bag, jump rope, exercise ball, a weight bench and dumbbells, and a jogging stroller for arguably one of the hilliest neighborhoods in Birmingham. I have workouts for when I only have 10 minutes, and workouts for when I want to slave over my dumbbells for an hour or more. Workouts for when I need to tote our little tyke with me, and ones for when I'm flying solo. The only thing I don't an excuse.

And since I'm still pumping and nursing, I can count the 300-500 calories a day that I burn from that...I just can't replenish that deficit with candy or chocolate.

DAY 1:
So I got off to a great start today: Insanity Cardio Power and Resistance for 40 minutes and punching bag drills for 10 minutes. I also had no sweets. (Granted, I've eaten most of them out of our house...but I did throw away the icing can, and that was the last item.) I intended to do a second workout, a Pure Barre DVD, this evening, but I ended up rocking my sweet, teething son instead. It was a nice trade-off.

Even though it's been six months since I gave birth, my joints are still a little wobbly, and my herniated disc is waiting in the shadows, eager to rear its ugly head. But I WILL do this. I will be back into my regular, fabulous warm-weather clothes soon enough!