4 Things I’m Doing Differently Postpartum This Time Around

1. Resting MORE.

With my first daughter, Aleena, I really did not understand how important rest was to my body post-birth. I wanted to be the same person I was before birth, do the same things, keep the house in order, etc etc. I rarely napped during the day and overdosed on coffee to get me through the day. I think part of the reason I had a hard time resting as well was the fact that I did have some PP anxiety. When I look back, I stressed out about everything and remember feeling so overwhelmed by my “losing” my freedom. I didn’t express these feelings but now that I look back on the experience, I wish I could tell myself that the days are long but the years are short, that the sleep deprivation doesn’t last forever, and to enjoy the moment because it will pass by so quickly.

What I’m doing to rest more this time around:

  • I am trying to sleep at least once a day (sometimes it ain’t always easy, especially with a toddler ;)).
  • I am accepting any and ALL help with cooking, cleaning, and everything in between–I planned ahead of time to have help around for the first 6 weeks
  • I am saying NO to things (not my strong suit) for the sake of my health
  • I am taking epsom salt baths whenever I get the chance
  • Sitting on the couch with the babes and actually ENJOYING watching TV instead of stressing out about how I “should” be doing something (Shark Tank and Everybody Loves Raymond are my faves right now)

 

2. Enjoying MORE.

Asiya is already almost a MONTH old! Time is flying by and before I know it she will be 6 months old. When I gave birth to Aleena and she was placed on my chest, I just remember this little purple blob looking up at me, and feeling so uncertain about what was to come. I thought the crying from 2-5am, the sleep deprivation, and the nursing 24/7 would last forever. The struggles that I went through postpartum and the anxiety I experienced definitely clouded my vision and I wasn’t able to really enjoy the process until Aleena was about 6 months old.

When Asiya was born, and she was placed on my chest, I instantly fell in love and was SO excited to have another newborn. Not that I wasn’t as in love with Aleena–it was just a whole different experience because hello–first time mom struggles. I missed the baby cuddles and all the love and blessings they bring into your family. I was so excited to have another girl to share our life with, and to now have a family of 4 alhamdulillah. And because I know that the sleep deprivation, and all the struggles we go through as moms in the first few months usually do NOT last forever, I am really just enjoying the little things I missed with Aleena because I know time will move by too fast.

 

3. Having Zero Expectations.

After I had Aleena, my close friend told me to expect my goals to take 5-7 years longer than I had planned because #momlife. I thought that was crazy, but it’s true–without childcare, my goals absolutely take longer to accomplish.

I used to wake up at 5 am to get a few hours of work done before Aleena woke up. Then once she took her 2-3 hour nap, I’d do at least another hour of work and maybe get a workout in and clean a bit. Then once she went to bed at night I might do another hour of work.

Now with 2 babies, I know my goals are not impossible to accomplish, but some things have to be put on hold and other things are going to take much longer than would be “ideal.” But that’s all ok, because that’s the life of a mother–sometimes we have to put things off because we have a 2 month old nursing 24/7. And that doesn’t mean I will never attend a seminar I want to go to, or take a course I want to take, or train clients in person again. This is just the phase of life I’m in right now, and I’m making things work for me and my family, and doing little things that add value to myself and my business that will benefit me in the long haul.

 

4. Prioritizing My Health.

The first 4 months postpartum with Aleena I got sick back to back. I got mastitis in the first 2 weeks, had recurring eye infections that would not go away for 3 months, and then finally had a handful of panic attacks and anxiety. Obviously, something was off with my body. My gut health and immune health really suffered. I wanted to do my part to try and have a thriving postpartum experience with Asiya. I wanted to really feel good (well–as good as I can feel minus the no sleep) and healthy enough to feel like I can take care of 2 babies.

I went to see a naturopath and got tested during my pregnancy with Asiya to see if I was deficient in any vitamins and minerals, and if I had any food sensitivities. Turns out I was extremely deficient in iron (lots of pregnant women are), vitamin D, and I was borderline deficient in all my B-vitamins (hello anxiety). I also had a list of food sensitivities (and I was eating all these foods almost daily): eggs (so sad!), dairy products, coconut (ok, this one is the biggest bummer!), almost ALL types of nuts, corn, carrot, honeydew, cinnamon, black pepper, yeast, and a few gluten-free flours (buckwheat, amaranth, teff, sorghum).

I started supplementing with vitamin D, B-vitamins, and iron during my last trimester, while also continuing to take my prenatal vitamins. I prefer to get my nutrients from food, but it was not realistic with my small appetite during pregnancy. I am still continuing to supplement postpartum and I’ve also added two adaptogens (both safe during breastfeeding) to my regime to help with stress and adrenal health: ashwagandha and eleuthero root. Ashwagandha helps with improving sleep, immune health, improving energy levels, stamina, and overall well-being. Eleuthero is beneficial for “Type A people who work long hours, don’t get adequate sleep or nutrition, and have a motto of ‘work hard, play harder, and hardly sleep.‘” (Source: Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, Mommypotamus). Let’s just say that describes my personality perfectly (facepalm). I have a very hard time relaxing. If I could work on my business 24 hours a day, I would!

In addition to avoiding food sensitivities and taking my supplements, I am continuing to see my chiropractor every couple weeks to get adjusted. I LOVE going to my chiro–it feels like I’m putting energy back into my tank when I take the time to go. That’s my type of self-care.

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Let me know what you do to take care of yourself postpartum! How do you keep yourself sane? Is there anything special you do to take care of your health? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Mistakes That Could be Sabotaging Your Fitness Goals

Here are a few important things to AVOID if you’re looking to achieve RESULTS!

1. Treating yourself after your workout.

Unfortunately, working out is not a free pass to indulge in a burger and fries right after you’re done. Now, please don’t misunderstand! I’m definitely not saying that you can never enjoy a treat. That would be ridiculous! But justifying eating high-calorie foods just because you worked out isn’t the best choice if you are trying to get in shape or lose weight. It will cancel out all your hard work, and for someone like yourself who is looking to achieve results, it’s counterproductive.

Instead of treating yourself with food, why not try rewarding yourself in other ways that won’t impact your progress and are even more POSITIVE! For example, buying yourself a new pair of Nike’s, purchasing a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or taking time for a relaxing bubble bath. Self love is SO important, especially through any process where we are striving for self-improvement. So let’s make it count in the best way possible, and let’s ensure that the reward aligns with the result we are working so hard towards, rather than potentially setting you back!

2. Doing the same workout every time you hit the gym.

Variety in a workout program is key to getting results. Not only does changing up your workout routine prevent you from hitting plateaus (by avoiding physiological adap, it also increases the likelihood that you’ll enjoy–and therefore adhere–to your workout routine.

Research actually shows that individuals who switch up their routine more often achieve greater and more sustainable results! Exercise scientists at the University of Florida observed that individuals who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period appeared to enjoy their workouts more and were more inclined to stick with their exercise programs when compared to individuals who followed the same workout regimens week after week. Varying your exercise routine can also help you stay physically challenged. Many of the body’s physiological systems (e.g., the muscular system) adapt to an exercise program within approximately six to eight weeks. If you do not modify your exercise routine, you reach a plateau because your body has adapted to the repetitive training stimulus.

So you’re probably wondering, how the heck am I supposed to know what to do now?!?!
Well, I’m glad you asked! There are many ways you can spice up your workout routine. If you tend to stick with steady-state cardio, one way you can change things up is to alternate periods of faster-paced, more intense work, with slower-paced periods of exercise. Interval work is a GREAT way to burn fat and add a fun challenge to your routine.

If you’re an avid weight lifter, try changing the sequence of exercises you do or vary the tempo of the exercises. Even these small changes can make HUGE difference!
Bottom line, it’s best to keep things fresh and interesting so that you remain motivated and excited about the process!

3. Not planning your workouts ahead of time.

Planning is crucial to achieving any goal. I know things can get crazy hectic when you have school, a family, work, etc., but if you truly want to achieve your fitness goals (whatever they may be) you HAVE to make it a priority in your schedule. Block out 3 chunks of time in your week to workout, and MAKE it happen. If you don’t make exercise a priority in your life, something else is going to inevitably take its place.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “That sounds GREAT, but I don’t have 3 hours a week to workout…” then I want you to start small. We are creating a habit here! You will see, little by little, week after week, how important this time becomes to you. Especially once you start seeing RESULTS!

Start off by planning three 10 minute sessions into your weekly schedule. You can walk, run stairs, do bodyweight exercises… Whatever floats your boat! Just commit to action and GET STARTED!

4. Having Unrealistic Expectations.

As much as we all wish we could get 6-pack abs in a 30 minute workout.. It just doesn’t work that way. Expecting instant results is a recipe for disaster and all you’re doing is setting yourself up for disappointment. If you ask anyone you know who is “fit” and somehow always seems to stay fit… They will tell you that consistency is key and that their results did not magically appear overnight. Nope. Rome wasn’t built in a day folks!

Expecting quick results is also very de-motivating. To stay motivated, try setting realistic performance-based goals for yourself. Things like running a mile, being able to do 10 bodyweight pushups, or deadlifting your bodyweight are examples of great goals to motivate you and keep you focused and having fun in any fitness program.

5. Not reaching your goals because you only ever reach for the pink dumbbells.

Pink is a nice color. I actually like it a lot. The problem is that most of the time, the pink dumbbells range from 0-5 pounds. Carrying your baby around is more taxing than using the pink dumbbells, am I right?

When you are working out, intensity is key to getting quicker and more satisfying results. You want to lose fat? Then you’re going to have to lift a little heavier. Now, I’m not saying go lift a truck every time you workout. But I want you to feel some sort of resistance when you’re lifting weights. Lifting heavier weights is what’s going to give you that “toned and tight” look you want.

Not only that, but lifting weights actually increases your metabolism by building lean muscle and leaves you burning calories hours after your workout (even if you’re lounging on the couch… Ummm, yes please!!)! And no, weight-lifting is NOT going to make you big and bulky.

And if you need yet another reason to pick up the weights? Recent research has shown a significant decrease in risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease among women who lift weights. If you’re just starting out, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing strength training twice weekly, in the 8-12 rep range.

Bottom line: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

To sum all of this up… YOU’VE GOT TO MAKE A CHOICE TO MAKE A CHANGE.
A fit body is earned through active daily lifestyle choices. You’ve got to WANT IT and you’ve got to be willing to do what it takes to GET IT. Some of the choices that you will need to make will ultimately push you out of your comfort zone. But if you’re here reading this, then let’s get real honest: You’re not comfortable in that zone anyways, are you?!

The good news is this: If you can commit to your goals by avoiding these 5 fitness mishaps, you’re already well on your way to a brand new YOU! And not just a you that you can be comfortable with, but a you that you can be PROUD OF!!!

Want MORE OF THE BEST TIPS, HOW-TO’s and EXPERT FITNESS ADVICE?
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I have 2 spots NOW OPEN in my one-on-one Getting a Grip on Fitness Program.
Head on over here to book a free strategy call and LET’S GET STARTED!!! —> 

5 Affirmations for Increased Energy and Good Health

GUYS! I am seriously LOVING affirmations right now. If you are not yet familiar with what, exactly, an affirmation is… Let me explain. An affirmation is a positive statement of what you wish to be true, stated as if it is ALREADY true. To your brain and body, it “reads” as true, and your subconscious mind therefore processes it as though it IS . I recently read the book, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay (which I highly recommend by the way), and it got me started on building the habit of stating daily affirmations. The benefits and positive effects have been major!

I have been dealing with health issues for the past 6 months, ever since my daughter was born (gotta love that postpartum glory, huh?) So a friend recommended You Can Heal Your Life to me and I’m telling you, the daily affirmations I’ve been incorporating into my life WORK.

This new practice has changed my mindset, and when I find myself starting to stress out about something, I repeat my affirmations and BAM, it really does make me feel better. It’s like flipping the switch in your perspective from negative to positive. And it’s true what they say: Perspective is everything! When you view yourself and your world around you from a place of optimism, you see the good… The positive… The SOLUTIONS… As opposed to getting bogged down in the problems and negativity.
Now, I get it if you’re thinking that the idea of affirmations is a little out there and that I’m just a crazy hippie (ok, well the hippie part might actually be true) but affirmations are actually backed by science.

What we THINK absolutely affects how we FEEL. And it is not just “all in your mind”. Sure, it definitely starts there in this case. But, it goes much further. I studied human physiology in undergrad, and the stress response in the human brain releases a cascade of hormones (i.e., cortisol) that actually alter the state of your cells at a physical level.
What I’m saying is… Focusing your thoughts on things that stress you out, causes hormonal changes in your body. Science has shown the connection between your thoughts, emotions, and your physical body. Stress can actually make us physically ill, in many different ways!

Let me give you another example. If you are constantly thinking about how tired you are, how many things you have to do, all the bills you have to pay, how people are constantly unreliable, how much you hate work, etc., etc… Not only are you going to be using all your mental energy focusing on the negative, but you will also feel physically tired. Overwhelmed. Insignificant. Incapable of overcoming the challenges that face you. And the problems just continue to feel bigger as a result. It’s a snowball effect! And I am sure, if we are being honest, most of can admit that we have been caught in this cycle more times than we’d like to admit.

And if you’re still not convinced, let me introduce you to Dr. Masaru Emoto. You might have heard of him before. He was a Japanese researcher, who proved that thoughts and words affect the crystalline structure of water.
In his experiments, he demonstrated how words, music, and prayer affect the structure of water crystals. Check out the video below to see his results:

Ah-mazing! Right?!

So if words can affect the structure of water, than what happens to our bodies when we talk to ourselves in a negative tone? Our bodies are made up of 60% water… Which means the words we hear from others, and the thoughts we repeat to ourselves affects the health of every cell in our body.

Key secret to optimal health and limitless energy are this: Keep your mind focused on uplifting and energizing thoughts and move your body daily to become the superwoman I know you are.

Here are my top 5 affirmations I’m saying right now for increased energy and better health:

1) As I breathe slowly and deeply, I become more relaxed and energized.
2) Boundless energy infuses my body and soul.
3) I am filled with more than enough energy to do all I want to do.
4) I balance my life between work, rest, and play. They all get equal time.
5) I fully release the emotions, memories, attitudes and habits that no longer serve me.
Go to the bathroom and stare in the mirror while repeating these to yourself, say them in the car, while you’re doing the dishes, say them ANY time, anywhere!
Want to make affirmations a habit?

Here are my top 3 guidelines to make your affirmations work for you:

1) The key to these affirmations working is to say them in the PRESENT tense, i.e., “I have,” “I am,” rather than “I will” statements.
2) Say your affirmations with oomph! I want you to say them with belief and enthusiasm. Say your affirmations as if you believe them to already be TRUE. Scream them from the rooftops! (Not literally…)
3) Say your affirmations in the morning when you wake up before you do anything else. Look at yourself in the bathroom mirror and pick 5 affirmations to say daily. Repeat each affirmation 10 times. Tip: To make it even easier, tape your affirmations to your bathroom mirror so you never forget to say them, and also to get entertaining weird looks from your spouse :D.
I hope these affirmations brighten your days to come, and give you limitless energy and abundant health!
To a vibrant life,

Hanan

The Big Question

I have always been the type of person who carries around a massive to-do list with me wherever I go.

It feels good to keep busy and to always have “things” to do.

And there is nothing more satisfying to me than crossing off something on my to-do list.

I ALMOST get the same endorphin rush I get from getting a workout in…(Ok, I’m a huge nerd…I KNOW).

So today, I woke up and after having a huge cup of coffee (which took me like ten microwave trips to finish) I sat down and went over my lovely to-do list.

The thing is, now that I have a 6 month old, my life has COMPLETELY changed.

All you moms out there…I know you get what I’m sayin’.

For those of you who are not yet moms…all I have to say is you have NO excuse to not be killing your goals right now ;)…(not that having a baby is an excuse to not achieve your goals…but you get what I’m saying, right?)

I don’t have time to cross 20 different things off my list each day.

I have a tiny human who is completely dependant on me. In addition to taking care of my sweet baby, I also fit in time to take care of myself and my husband.

On top of that, I am running an online business…so you could say my life is “busy” right now :).

So you’re probably thinking to yourself…

“OK Hanan, so WHAT is this big question you’re talking about?!?!”

The question is this:

Is _______ serving me?

Now if you’re thinking…

Seriously?

That’s it? THAT is the big question? What does it even mean?!

YES.Yes it is. And let me explain why.

But first, let me ask you a few questions:

Do you want to be as productive as possible throughout your day? Are you frustrated that you never seem to be able to achieve your goals, whether it be to lose weight, eat healthier, or read more?

Do you want to OWN your life. Like seriously. Do you want to be a BOSS? All day long? Do you want to be one of those people who seems to always get SO much done and make it look so effortless?

If you said yes, yes, and yes…then I have a challenge for you.

For the next 3 days, every time you are about to do something, I want you to ask yourself this question first:

“IS THIS SERVING ME?”

Is watching netflix getting you closer to your goal to burn fat?

Is eating a bag of chocolate chips getting you closer to your goal of having more energy throughout the day?

Is sleeping in getting you closer to your goal of studying/learning/DO-ing more throughout your day?

Since having my daughter, I have been asking myself this question every second of every day (Ok…well ALMOST every second ;))

And ladies, be HONEST with yourself.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having down time. Absolutely not!!

But if you want to be productive from 9am-5pm, ask yourself that question throughout your “work” hours.

And when you get home, you will FULLY be able to enjoy relaxing because you got stuff DONEE and out of the way.

So let’s do this exercise together!

ACTION PLAN:

For the next 3 days, set “working hours” for your day where you want to be 100% productive (e.g. from 7am-4pm).

Every time you are about to do something, ask yourself the big question: “Is this serving me?”

I PROMISE you…this one question, if answered honestly and used correctly, will change your life.

Now let’s get it ladies…grab a cup of coffee, iron out your goals, and get started!

There is no time to waste 😉

My Pregnancy Story

I got pregnant in February 2016. I remember how excited I was. I couldn’t believe I was pregnant. I was awaiting a whole new chapter in my life.

Was I ready for it?

It didn’t matter. I don’t think anyone can really be “ready” for life with a baby.

The fatigue, the pain, the laughter, the craziness, the hormonal ups and downs…

What an insaneee journey.

I remember my first trimester. I was nauseous ALL the time. I went from eating a healthy, balanced diet to eating oranges and corn tortillas…gross right?!?

Water made me nauseous.

Chicken made me gag.

If you even said the words “onion” or “garlic” I would kick you out of my apartment.

I couldn’t even stand the smell or taste of coffee. COFFEE, YOU GUYS. Coffee was the highlight of my mornings. Life is just not as fun without coffee, let’s be real.

I could barely move because I was so nauseous.

I remember waking up for Fajr prayer and wondering how I was going to get through the movements without getting sick. Almost every morning after my prayer, I would literally fall on my side, in my prayer clothes, and just lay there unable to force myself to get back up (lol).

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THANK GOODNESS I made it past the first trimester. I remember thinking,

“HOLY CRAP, WHY do people get pregnant multiple times?!?!?”

Then, later into my second trimester, I started thinking to myself, “Meh, the first trimester wasn’t THAT bad. I could totally do it again…”

I was tired all the time, which is normal, I mean…I was growing a tiny human inside of me.

I continued to workout throughout my pregnancy. It made me feel good even though I was tired, and gave me more energy throughout my days.

I did lift lighter weights than normal, but because I stayed consistent, I was able to pick up my workout routine a lot quicker postpartum.

As my due date was approaching I got more and more excited.

I couldn’t WAIT to meet my little one.

I was actually looking forward to labor…I was interested to see just how hard it would be. (I’m 100% a masochist, you guys).

My due date was November 26th, 2016.

I thought, maybe since I was working out so much, I would go into labor early. I was secretly hoping I would.

38 weeks passed, nada.

39 weeks, still nada.

Then as 40 weeks was approaching, I tried everything to go into labor.

I was seriously afraid of being induced, and I was trying to avoid it at all costs.

I got an induction massage, did acupuncture, got a membrane sweep, went for walks, worked out, bounced on my yoga ball, ate pineapple, you name it I did it…

I stopped working out once I hit 40 weeks. I thought I might as well try and conserve as much energy as possible for labor. More than a week went by that I didn’t workout…just waiting to go into labor. So one night I said screw it, grabbed a couple kettlebells, and did an interval workout of squats and kettlebell swings. The next morning, at 41 weeks and 3 days I went into labor. It felt like an ETERNITY waiting for that day.

Labor was fairly quick and easy, alhamdulillah. I went into labor at 1:30pm and by 12:02 am, Aleena was born.

I was so relieved. I DID IT.

I don’t know who said that once you see your baby you forget all about the pain, but I definitely did NOT forget the pain lol.

But I would absolutely do it over again if I had to.

Why Being Overweight Isn’t the Worst Thing in the World

“It’s not the joy that makes us grateful, it’s the gratitude that makes us joyful.” ~David Steindl-Rast

Life is amazing. It’s like a giant roller coaster…one second we are on a high and the next we are on a low. It’s full of joy, sadness, fun, excitement, challenges, periods of struggle that seem never-ending, and the list goes on and on.

The thing is, we often think that we will be happy when we reach our “ideal”…whatever that is.

Yeah…

I will be happy when I lose 50 pounds.

I will be happy when I can finally get my eating habits in control.

I will be happy when I can finally get some sleep.

I will be happy when I don’t have 5 people constantly needing my attention.

I will be happy when I achieve my career goals.

I will be happy when I have time to take care of myself.

I will be happy when I get over this illness.

I’ll stop there… you get the point, right?

Now before you yell at me for saying you should be grateful for being overweight, let me explain myself first.

I was overweight at one point in my life.

If I didn’t go through a period of gaining weight and feeling terrible literally ALL the time, I would have never gotten to the point of being so sick and tired of feeling like crap. If I didn’t get to that point, I would have never started working out and eating healthy.

I wouldn’t have learned to take care of my body. I wouldn’t have learned how to eat for energy. I wouldn’t have learned how to help other women feel good about themselves again.

Now, if you are overweight, tired, sick, achy, WHATEVER it is that you’re feeling…I want you to know that your body is TALKING to you. It’s telling you something. It’s giving you a signal that something is OFF. And it wants you to listen up. That alone is something to be grateful for.

You don’t have to be overweight to be “unhealthy.” Lots of “skinny” people have very unhealthy habits. Your weight is not necessarily a predictor of health. Some naturally thin people never feel the need to exercise or eat healthy because if they’re skinny, what’s the need?
So some people live their whole lives being “skinny” yet unhealthy because they never gain weight and therefore don’t see the need to workout.

Working out is not just about losing weight. It changes EVERY aspect of your life for the better.

It increases your energy levels, happiness, health, confidence, motivation, and strength.

So if you have weight to lose, feel tired, are constantly getting sick, etc., be THANKFUL that your body is working just the way it should. Our bodies are amazing and intelligent and when we experience uncomfortable symptoms it’s a sign that we need to take action to make a change. If your current condition is pushing you to take care of yourself or to become a better version of YOU, then that’s a blessing!

And know that we are all on our own journey, and everything that we experience, good and bad, is meant to challenge is and change us for the better, if we react appropriately.

Whatever you are unhappy with, I challenge you to this:

For the next 21 days, I want you to take everything you experience and turn it into something to be grateful for, and just WATCH how your life will change!!!

Here are some examples:

Instead of thinking:

“My husband left his socks on the ground AGAIN. UGH.”

“I woke up 4 times last night with the baby and I’m SO SO tired WHY ME.”

“I only got to work out for 5 minutes before my son woke up from his nap. I’m so frustrated.”

Try changing it around to this:

“My husband left his socks on the ground. I am so grateful for his socks on the ground because it means that I have a wonderful husband in my life who I love very much. Not everyone gets to spend their life with their other half”

“I woke up 4 times last night with my baby. I’m so grateful I have a sweet little baby that I get to take care of and love.”

“YASSSS girl. I got to workout for 5 minutes today! It was 5 minutes of bringing energy into my body and taking care of myself so I can take care of others. Every minute counts towards my goals.”

I know I just made that sound totally corny…but feel free to word it however you like! The idea is to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.

Now you might be thinking, “Well that’s great Hanan. You seem to live on some hippie dippie universe where everything is unicorns and rainbows. But I’m just not FEELIN’ it…”

In Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken The Giant Within, one of the things he talks about is focus. What we focus on determines how we FEEL. Seems almost too simple, right!? I mean, we can control what we focus on to determine how we FEEL, so why do we always act like a slave to our emotions and feelings? The answer to this is that most of us have developed negative thought patterns (which we can break, with practice).

The example Tony uses in his book is racing cars. The #1 rule of thumb that they teach you in when learning to race cars is: “Focus on where you want to go, NOT on what you fear.”

…..

“If you start to skid out of control, the tendency, of course, is to look at the wall. But if you keep focusing on it, that’s exactly where you’ll end up. Drivers know that you go where you look; you travel in the direction of your focus.”

I actually put a tab on this page of the book and wrote, “EPIC” on the tab hehe. I find this so true in life and once I read it it made so much sense.

So, I know it’s not easy to change how you feel. TRUST ME. I have my share of “off” days. So for the next 21 days, let’s try, together, to change what we focus on to change our lives.

For the next 21 days, try to be grateful in every situation you have and with every thought you have.

Keep a gratitude journal with you and write down ten things you’re grateful for every day. And hey– I know what I’m asking you to do is not easy, but happiness isn’t going to come to us out of nowhere.

We have to actively CREATE IT in every moment.

And comment below and let me know what you’re thankful for today!!! ❤

4 Steps to Getting Rid of Stubborn Belly Fat

The other day I was in my private Facebook group, and I asked my ladies to share what their top concerns were about working out and eating healthy.

One of the responses I got was:

“How to get rid of belly fat. I’ve lost 60 pounds but THE BELLY WON’T GO.”

Belly fat is a common problem for a lot of women.

Seriously, WHY is it so hard to get rid of???

I first want to point out a couple of things before we dig into how to get rid of belly fat.

1. You CANNOT spot treat your belly fat.

Your belly fat will not disappear simply by doing 100 crunches a day. It doesn’t work like that. We need to decrease your overall body fat percentage to get rid of the belly.

2. It is not “healthy” or normal for a woman to have a six-pack.

I am so sick of seeing fitspo that shows “fit girls” working out showing off their six-pack abs. There’s nothing wrong with having a six-pack…if it’s easy for you to maintain and you feel great being that lean…than more power to you! But for most women, it is not natural and in my opinion not healthy to be that lean. We are meant to have a little body fat and there is NOTHING wrong with that.

Now that I’ve gotten those 2 things off my chest, let’s dig into what we can do to decrease belly fat. Diet, movement, and lifestyle are all factors that we need to consider.

Here are 4 steps to getting rid of stubborn belly fat:

1. Eat foods that will nourish your body.

I want to keep this simple and easy to understand. If you want to lose fat and MAINTAIN your fat loss, it is a must to eat a primarily whole foods diet. What do I mean by whole foods?

Lean organic/pasture raised meats, all the veggies, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. Here is a detailed list:

Protein Sources:

Grass-fed ground beef
Lamb
Pasture raised chicken
Turkey
Bison
Venison
Wild-caught salmon, cod, tuna
Eggs
Cottage cheese, greek yogurt
Beans

Carbohydrate Sources:

Fiber rich:
Vegetables (e.g., collards, onion, chard, broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, kale, celery, bok choy, beets, watercress, lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, etc.)
Peas
Beans and legumes
Most fruit
Starchy:
Sprouted whole grain breads and pastas
Yams/sweet potatoes
Quinoa
Oats
Rice

Fat Sources:
Eggs
Dairy
Meats
Coconut oil & butter
Olives and olive oil
Nuts (macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almost, etc.)
Avocados
Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds
Fish oil

If you want to lose belly fat is is also very important to limit eating sugar, excess grains, processed foods, and juice & soda. If you do have a craving for something sweet, opt to eat it during the 2 hour window post-exercise.

Not only will eating whole foods help you lose belly fat, it will also increase your satiety after meals (therefore decreasing your appetite), increase your energy levels, help improve digestion, and promote better health overall by increasing nutrient status and preventing disease.

ACTION PLAN:

Use this simple infographic to help determine how much and how often you should be eating:

Photo Credit- Precision Nutrition

2. Move your body every day.

Movement is such an important factor when it comes to exercise. If you aren’t working out regularly, try incorporating just FIVE MINUTES a day of activity. It can be anything from walking, lifting weights, dancing…whatever you like! Just make it a priority to do 5 minutes a day and increase the amount of time you work out each week.

If you are already working out regularly and seem to have hit a plateau when it comes to losing fat, take a look at your lifestyle. Are you super stressed out all the time with work, school, family life, and your workouts just seem to add MORE stress to your daily life?

Not great for fat loss. Our bodies tend to hold onto water and fat when we are constantly in a state of “fight or flight.”

If your stress level is a 7 or higher on a scale of 1-10 and you are doing intense workouts every time you hit the gym, a better option for you might be to combine high-intensity activity such as HIIT, with low-intensity activity such as walking. This will help decrease the overall stress placed on your body and you may be surprised that decreasing your intensity might actually lead to better results.

Now if you’re in the opposite boat where you are doing the SAME workout every time you hit the gym and you don’t pick up anything other than the pink 5 pound dumbbells…then we need to ramp up your intensity.

Try incorporating 2 HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions a week to increase your fat burn. HIIT incorporates short, but very intense periods of work, with alternating periods of rest. It only takes 10-20 minutes to get in a good HIIT session. Not only is it time efficient, but very effective for fat loss.

3. Take time to slow down.

Stress plays a large role when it comes to fat loss, especially around the midsection. When our bodies are in a state of chronic high stress, it resists letting go of excess fat.

There are many factors that can contribute to an increase in our stress levels, some of them include:

Lack of sleep
Never taking time to unwind, relax, or bring energy INTO your body
Always serving others and putting yourself on the backburner
Not dealing with emotions in a productive manner
Always feeling like you have to do everything in a rush

Pick one area of your life that you can work on to help decrease your stress levels. If it’s lack of sleep (I know us mommas only have so much control over this…) try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Or incorporate a bedtime routine (journalling, taking a bath, dimming the lights and making time to be grateful before bed, etc.)

If you’re a busy mom, try taking time out just 5 minutes a day for YOU. Whether that’s working out, meditating, reading, etc.

4. Intermittent Fasting.

Fasting 1-2 times a week is a great way to decrease belly fat. If it’s realistic for your lifestyle, try fasting 1-2 days a week from sunrise to sunset (it’s sunnah!), and see how your body responds. Just doing this alone will change your body composition without having to change any other factors.

If fasting from sunrise to sunset sounds completely daunting, try starting off with a 6-8 hour fast. There are many ways you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle.

Not only does fasting help with fat loss, but it also has a myriad of other benefits including increased cognitive function, improving detoxification, and promoting longevity.

3 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Postpartum

The post-partum life is straight up HARD…am I right? It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

I thought I had a pretty high threshold for challenge, stress, and pain. Apparently it wasn’t high enough. With the combination of sleep deprivation, hormones completely out of wack, and being thrown completely off any normal resembling routine…I was a hot MESS.

Now that Aleena is 11 months old, life is a lot more clear and definitely more fun than a few months ago. But I’m grateful for it all and would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to.
One thing I want to improve on for next time is self-care. I wish I would have been a bit more gentle with myself and would have taken more time for some self-care. So if you’re like me and have a hard time SLOWING down, here are 5 ways to take care of yourself postpartum:

1. Do something you’ve always wanted to do.

I know this sounds kind of strange…how does this count as self-care? When I was about 6 months postpartum, I had just started feeling better after a health scare. Based on the health issues I was facing, it would make sense for me to take on as little responsibility as possible and sit on the couch and watch netflix all day. But that wouldn’t make me happy in the long-run. It would just allow me to wallow and feel sorry for myself. If I did that, I would be playing the victim and blaming “life” for whatever was happening to me. I HATE playing the victim card. We are not helpless and I refuse to ever let myself get in that state of mind.

So I was feeling crappy, but I made a decision….I was going to do whatever it takes to accomplish my number one goal:

To start my online personal training business.

I had been “wishing” I could start my business online as if it was just somehow going to fall into my lap. I had just gone through the hardest 6 months of my life after giving birth. So I thought to myself, if I can do that…I can do literally ANYTHING. So I hired a business coach. I was done “wishing” and was ready to invest in myself and make my dreams a reality. This was one of the best things I had ever done for myself. I started waking up each day with more energy, excitement, and motivation. I hadn’t felt those feelings in a while and it felt great to feel a bit back to myself again!

So I challenge you to reflect on your goals and dreams…what is ONE thing that you’ve been desperately wanting to achieve for yourself, but you have been putting it off for one reason or another? What do you love doing that you can start as a “side-hustle” or as a hobby just for YOU?

Maybe it’s hiring a dietician, traveling somewhere, finishing your degree, hiring a life coach, starting a blog, learning to paint, or getting a personal trainer *nudge nudge* 😉

2. Nourish your body as much as you can.

I know it’s extremely hard to eat healthy and exercise postpartum, but I promise you it is so worth it. Try to incorporate a healthy habit into your day that is almost too easy for you to accomplish.

For example, most women are “carb queens” and do not eat enough quality protein postpartum (and in general to be honest…). If that’s you, try eating at least one palm-sized portion of protein at one meal a day. Once you get that meal down, you can start eating two palm-sized portions of protein a day (so two meals instead of one). Continue this until you are eating one palm-sized portion of protein at each meal.

After eating enough protein becomes a habit, try eating 1-2 handfuls of vegetables one meal a day. Again, slowly improve on this habit until it becomes easy to maintain at each meal.

So for now, try just improving one meal a day. Take breakfast for example. Try to get in a couple eggs and some fresh fruit and vegetables and I guarantee you your day will feel brighter and you’ll have more energy throughout your morning.

Not only will eating healthier improve your energy levels and nourish your body for yourself and your little one, but it will also improve any postpartum mental health symptoms.

3. Breathe.

It’s as simple as it sounds. Breathe. Our breath can get completely out of wack after birth. Most of the time when we are stressed out, tired, or being emotional, we are taking shallow breaths.

Breathing deeply (into your belly) allows you to control your mental and physiological state. It gets your body back into a state of relaxation so that you can bring more energy and clarity into your body. Taking a few minutes to breath daily is something that everyone should be practicing, especially nowadays when everyone is in “fight-or-flight” mode.

In the book, Just Breathe by Dan Brule, Dr. Patricia Gerbarg (a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College) states:

“Because breathing has such a strong impact on our thoughts and feelings, it provides a portal through which we can send messages through our own nervous system to quiet our minds, reduce defensive overreactivity, and enable us to feel safe, close, loving, and loved.”

Talk about amazing! We can literally change our mind-body state by controlling our breath. Dan Brule states that, “By changing the pattern of our breathing, we change the pattern of information being sent to the brain.”

Overall, our breathing pattern sends signals to the parts of the brain that controls emotions, perceptions, judgements, thoughts, and behaviors.

So if you are feeling anxious, tired, stressed out, emotional, etc etc…try doing the following:

Breathe at a rate of 5 counts in and 5 counts out. So…

Inhale-4-3-2-1
….
Exhale-4-3-2-1

Now take 6 deep breaths per minute (while counting), 3 times a day for 5 minutes.
Three times a day.
6 breaths per minute.
Five minutes total.

If this sounds daunting, try starting with 5 minutes once a day in the morning before you do anything else and slowly increase to 3 times a day.

These are just a few of my favorite self-care ideas postpartum! And let me know what you think in the comments below! What are your favorite self-care ideas postpartum?! 

Top 3 Exercises for Low Back Pain

Low back pain is extremely common, especially in a lot of new moms. Low back pain is commonly caused by tightness in other parts of the body (e.g., the hips) and from a lack of core strength. Sitting at a desk, or on a couch all day, and moving around with bad posture and two main reasons why we are all walking around with a weakened core. Here are my top 3 exercises to help strengthen your core and get rid of that pesky back pain once and for all.

1) Lying Cycle Legs

This exercise is great for re-setting your lower back and strengthening your lower abs at the same time. This is also great to do if you are a new mom, and are just starting to get back into the swing of things–it will help strengthen your weakened core muscles.

How to do it:

1 – Lie down on your back with your spine in neutral
2 – Stretch your right leg out, but keep it hovering off the ground
3 – Extend your left leg straight up towards the sky
4 – In a cycle-like movement, bend both knees and gently bring the knees in towards your chest
5 – Switch legs, with the opposite leg (right leg) reaching up to the sky now
6 – Do ten reps on each side

2) Spinal Balance

This is another amazing core-strengthening exercise that is great incorporated into any workout. You can do it any time of day, and it is great as a warm up exercise before working out.

How to do it:

1 – Start in tabletop position, with hands under shoulders, knees under hips, top of feet flat on the floor, and a neutral spine.
2 – Look straight down to the floor, keeping your neck in line with your spine.
3 – Raise opposite arm, opposite leg (so if you raise your right arm, simultanerously raise your left leg) until your arm and leg reach shoulder height. *NOTE: Do not try and reach your limbs to the sky, only raise high enough
4 – Hold leg and arm up for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower back down to the ground with control.
5 – Repeat on the other side.
6 – Do 5-10 repetitions on each side.

3) Legs Up On the Wall

This pose is not only helpful for lower back pain, but it is great for putting the entire body in a state of relaxation. Nowadays when everyone is constantly in “fight or flight” mode, everyone would benefit from doing this exercise once daily. Other benefits of this pose include relief from:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Balances nervous system
  • Digestive issues
  • High & low blood pressure
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Varicose veins
  • Daily stress
  • Sore muscles
  • Bad posture

How to do it:

1- Find a wall.
2 – Scooch up as close to the wall as possible, sitting perpendicular to the wall.
3 – Start to lay down and simultaneously turn your body, extending your legs up against the wall.
4 – Try and get your butt as close as possible to the wall.
5 – Relax your neck and back, and open your arms straight out to the side, palms facing up.
6 – Hold the position for 5 minutes. Breathe deeply and relax.
Do all these exercises once daily to reap the benefits.

3 Quick and Dirty Workouts

These days I have very limited time to get my workouts in.

Aleena is almost crawling now (yikes!) and when she is awake, she is AWAKE. She wants to explore, play, and put anything and everything in her mouth.
As soon as I put her down for a nap, it’s GO TIME. I am amazed at how much faster I can get things done now that I’m a mom. I literally can do 20 things in the same amount of time I used to do 1 thing. I guess that’s what happens when your life is measured by your baby’s naps.

So let’s get into the workouts. Most of the workouts I do now are quick and intense. I want to get the most bang for my buck, in the shortest amount of time. If you’re life is crazy hectic, but you want a quick and effective workout, give these workouts a try. If you’re a masochist like I am, I guarantee you will LOVE them.

Workout 1: Lower body burn

Squat with bottom half pulse
Walking lunges
Bulgarian split squats
Glute bridge
Jump squats

Beginner: 3 rounds, 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest.
Advanced: 4 rounds, 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest.

Workout 2: Upper body & Core

Pushups (if you can’t do floor pushups, do them off the wall or an elevated surface like a couch/bench)
Bent over row
Mountain climbers
Bicep curl to overhead press
Alternating side plank

Beginner: 3 rounds, 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest.
Advanced: 4 rounds, 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest.

Workout 3: Total body

Squat to burpee to bicep curl
Reverse lunge to single-arm overhead press
Tricep bodyweight dips
Renegade row
Bear crawl (with or without band–adds extra resistance)

Beginner: 3 rounds, 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest.
Advanced: 4 rounds, 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest.

The total workout time for the beginner circuit is 15:00 minutes, and for the advanced circuit it’s 19:45 minutes.

That’s LESS THAN 20 MINUTES. That’s less than 1.4% of your day!

Now if these workouts don’t get your heart racing and your body burning, hop on over to my free Facebook community HERE and let me know ;).