Abs are made on the cushion is my play on words from the popular adage in fitness “Abs are made in the kitchen,” which I do believe to be true in the most literally physical sense. But when it comes to longevity, overall mind body health and happiness, I believe mine to be more accurate. Here I will explain why and how.
Anyone who has worked out before knows that no matter how hard you work out, if you go and eat junk food or even just overeat for your needs, your abs (and overall physique) will not reflect all the hard work that you have done.
Now, it’s not all about appearances though. It’s more about about how you feel and how you function. If you are working out hard and eating foods that keep you lean and ripped in the midsection but leave you feeling drained, deprived and dull…your abs, and more importantly you, will suffer in the long term.
What does this mean? You need to take care of the whole you, especially your mental/emotional wellbeing, for you to really shine your light from within and walk with the confidence you want to project outwardly.
What you eat plays an enormous role in how much body fat you are carrying, yes, but how you feel about yourself, how much self love, self care, sleep and personal time you have all play an even more important role in your mind body health.
The reason I bring idea up that “Abs are made on the cushion” is because so often we get caught up in the “diet and exercise” aspects of our physical appearance without considering the massive impact that our mindset, outlook, daily loving self care routines and attitudes play in every aspect of our lives, even our abs.
When you make a concerted effort to cultivate a daily mindfulness practice (meditation, relaxation, journalling) you will start to reflect through your behaviours your deeper desires and needs – which will show you that you have enough already, and you don’t look to something external (like more exercise or counting calories and banning foods) to fulfill you. Life will naturally flow and you will feel like your efforts feel effortless and your results are exactly on point.
You will naturally feel satisfied with less food, you will naturally choose foods aligned with your deep love for yourself and you will look to food as fuel and vitality instead of comfort and escape.
I look forward to hearing from you about how this goes for you!
Not your average Brussels sprouts is a recipe that will get you from thinking of Brussels sprouts as “no way!” to Brussels sprouts as “seconds please!” These little mini cabbages have a poor rap, but let me tell you, if cooked right, they will make you salivate for them the way you never imagined!
When I was little, I was on the fence about cooked vegetables. The texture of things like mushrooms and zucchini made me loathe these and have one of those kid moments whenever my mom cooked them (NO!!!). Brussels sprouts, however, were one of my faves growing up. It didn’t dawn on me until I was in University, when my housemate gawked at me making them regularly and constantly said, “I don’t know how you eat those, Brussels sprouts are so disgusting!” and upon further investigation, I learned that this was mainstream thinking.
Still now, I read my kids books and they make comments about not liking Brussels sprouts (lines I leave out when I read to my kids!) and it almost creates a self-fulfilling prophecy around disliking vegetables (the opposite of what we want for our kids!)
The main reason why I didn’t hate Brussels sprouts was that my mom did not overcook them, she almost undercooked them, so they were still green and crunchy, instead of overcooked, brown and squishy. This is a common mistake when cooking peas, broccoli, zucchini and other delicate vegetables.
Fast forward from my childhood to a few years ago when I began to see Brussels sprouts appearing on all the menus of many restaurants. I encouraged friends to order them and cautiously they tasted them and were completely blown away. “They are savoury and delicious! Not like I remember!” they would say, as many of their parents would overcook them and remove all flavour or good texture. Life changing!!
Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables that are known cancer protectors. The more the better! Recently at a restaurant, I had the best Brussels sprouts of all time, and although everyone at the table agreed they were delicious, we also agreed that we would never put that much oil on our vegetables. These things were swimming in oil! It turns out, the reason they were so good was that they were deep fried. So I made it my mission to make a healthier version of these terrific Brussels sprouts, and maybe even amp up the flavour.
Roasting vegetables in the oven is just such a fabulous way of cooking them. It brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables (we naturally love sugars), so it makes them browned and caramelized – so flavourful without the deep frying even necessary. Every time I post vegetables roasted in the FitMama Facebook Group I notice so many comments from others saying how much their whole families love eating their veggies this way! Do it! Anything that helps you and your loved ones eat more veggies is the way to go!
Lucky for you Fitmamas, I think I have created a healthier but equally decadent tasting brussel sprout. Good luck not eating the whole batch!
Save this. Make it. Enjoy it!
Let me know how you like these!!
Kale is a beautiful dark leafy green than can hold up well to many kinds of dressings and it is actually even better left with the dressing on for a few hours or overnight to soften and flavour the leaves.
When I had my newborns, kale salad was my go to meal. I craved it day and night. And, I would eat when baby ate. It just so happened I wasn’t letting the act of breastfeeding get between me and my kale salad! I recall numerous times that I would find small green leaves in her hair or on her clothes after feeding time…oops. Sorry babe.
I just couldn’t get enough of this though!!
So I would fill up a large salad bowl with kale – the part I liked least was the breaking it up, washing it and drying it. But I found if I washed the leaves in the morning and set them out on a towel, they would dry through the day and then I could make the salad at night and eat half, then save half for the next day. This worked well. I also am a fan of chopped and washed bagged kale (that was revolutionary! I was super grateful to find that).
So here it is. Save it. Make it. Enjoy it!
Let me know how you like it! I can’t wait to hear.
Do you snack on foods when you walk by them? Or eat all kinds of snacks while you prep dinner? Do you get dessert if others are, without checking to see if you really want it?
What I am proposing is to make the conscious, mindful choices to make everything you put in your mouth something that you truly want! Something you are really hungry for. And at the very least offers you positive mind and body energy that you can carry on with you through the day. Yes, this is possible!
The key is to find foods and combinations of foods that not only nourish your body, but nourish your soul. And make those foods the ones you choose. Then you will naturally eat them moderately. When you start to choose more foods that make you feel good and start mindfully listening to your body (“oh I felt great after eating that soup, steak or homemade stir fry, and I felt lousy after I ate that processed vegan burger or poutine”) then you can start to realize, its nearly impossible to mindfully enjoy a whole bag of large chips, or a massive Frappuccino from Starbucks. It just never feels good – no matter how much you tell yourself you “deserve” the treat. How about also, the foods we eat without noticing we do it…kids leftovers anymom?
It’s so easy to mindlessly eat the leftover toast on your toddlers plate, or the last few bites of their pasta, sandwich or pizza crusts they left behind after they were done.
Or the cold eggs, or the soggy cereal or mindlessly reaching for the re-heated microwave dinner because you are so exhausted from your day. I get it! I understand that you have a lot going on. Taking care of little humans is a job not for the faint of heart. It takes every. little. thing. out of us sometimes! Yes, it does. But instead let us look towards our loving little ones and watch how they eat. They leave food on the plate after all…they eat until they have had enough – they eat just what they want. They rarely overstuff themselves and never binge.
Being tired doesn’t have to lead to poor food choices. Being a parent doesn’t mean you have to eat junk food. There is no excuse for not finding some bright colourful vegetables or fruit, lean proteins or nuts and choosing those. Often we use cost as a deterrent, but it is a myth that healthy food costs more. Maybe in time to prepare, but making time for your health and well being is a good investment.
Awareness is the first step – NOTICE that you are doing this. Mindless eating (the opposite of mindful eating) is just that. Mindless. We do not even see ourselves doing it. Often we can be picking, grabbing and stuffing in foods and drinks out of habit without even noticing it. If this is you, then decide you are going to become more aware.
My top 3 fave ways to ensure you don’t get too hungry then eat mindlessly:
- Raw cashews! I eat these on mornings or times when I am rushing or too busy to cook/prep. They pair really fabulously with coffee (which is desired on said mornings). The little morsels of heaven are creamy, rich and filling. A small handful can keep you full for hours. And they are REAL food! Other amazing options are brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts and pecans. Choose raw where possible. YUM! Fibre, protein, healthy fat. They are a complete meal that won’t disappoint.
- Smoothies! I always say, “Make a Smooth Start,” because things go a lot smoother when you have eaten in the morning. A simple smoothie like some milk of your choice, some frozen berries, half a frozen banana, a scoop of chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds – then top with spinach and a scoop of protein powder if you feel you need even more – is a simple whirl in the blender, put in your fave to-go mug and sip sip sip all the way to work. You can also blend this up and take it for a lunch or snack later. And this smoothie contains REAL food (don’t kid yourself and get the “strawberry” one at the drive through – it often has NO strawberries in it!
- Pack snacks so you don’t get too hungry! Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, roasted chick peas, kale chips, baked tortilla (non GMO) corn chips, dried apple chips and non GMO popcorn are all crunchy snacks that are pretty easily digested and filling at the same time. They can keep you full for a while and they are easy to take on the go, stash in your car or diaper bag and they are great to share with the kiddies too. And they are REAL food! Don’t end up at the mall and have to choose the processed burger and fries or pizza. Neither you nor your kids deserve that.
Don’t these all sound better than leftovers, fast food, microwave dinners and sugar/perservative/chemical laden “foods” that leave you wishing you hadn’t eaten them 2 minutes after they go down? Not guilt FitMamas, indigestion, bloating, fatigue, food hangovers and cravings is what chemical processed foods create. Just avoid all that.
It’s just about CHOOSING, being more mindful. Deciding that you’re going to be more picky about what you put in your mouth. Sounds more fun right?
The key is:
PREPARING – so that you have chopped veggies in the fridge to stir fry up with scrambled eggs for a filling, fibre rich, nourishing breakfast. So that you have apples and pears to grab as you run to practice or daycare pick up. Take the time to wash and prep after you shop, so healthy foods are in your fridge at eye level and not hidden away in the crisper drawer (to get the opposite of crispy). A little weekly food prep can go really far!!
Join us in the FitMama Facebook group, where I share success tips and tools daily for more mindful eating and preparation to make choosing what you want that much easier!
See you there!
Side Lying Safe Move (SLSM) is the way to save your core.
Did you know that increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) is what largely contributes to core injuries and dysfunction? Did you know there are ways to avoid increasing IAP?
IAP is a natural consequence of pregnancy – after all, there is no better way to increase the pressure in your abdomen than by growing a human in there.
One of the most common consequences of increased IAP is Diastasis Recti (DR). Diastasis is the thinning of the linea alba, the fascia connecting the two sides of your rectus abdominis, causing them to move further apart to make space for the growing baby. DR can be thought of as a separation of the superficial abs, which requires time for healing postpartum. Diastasis is nothing to fear, it is a natural consequence of pregnancy but it is important to not make the DR worse than it needs to be. Postpartum belly wrapping (done right) can help heal a diastasis faster, check out my post on that HERE.
One of the major causes of IAP is the forward flexion movement of crunches and sit-ups, which is why I advocate for avoiding these moves – especially while healing your core after baby. Until you have fully rehabilitated and restored your core anatomy and function, I would be very cautious to avoid all crunches, sit-ups, v-sits, Russian twists, leg raises and any other moves that increase IAP.
By doing this move I demonstrate in the video below, you will create no increase in your IAP and therefore not cause more harm to your core.
If you can practice this move every time you get in and out of bed (especially if pregnant), or every time you get up from lying on the ground playing with your kids, you will significantly reduce the IAP you create with sit-ups.
Remember, after the first trimester of pregnancy, you don’t want to be lying on your back at all anyway, so push up using the strength of your arms, NOT your abs. This will stop you from doing multiple sit-ups per day inadvertently as you get in and out of bed (to pee during the night perhaps!?)
Let me know if you have any questions about this!
Perfect Pumpkin Scones were designed by me, because I have a serious LOVE for scones since I learned my first recipe in Home Economics class in Grade 7 at my school in Toronto, Canada. That sparked a love for baking (and eating baked goods) in me that has never died. If you hang out in our FitMama Facebook Group for more than a day, you will see that I have a die hard love for muffins and other such baked goods – my healthy versions are my preference by far. I upload new recipes into the files there quite often, so stay tuned as I add more that you will love.
In the fall in Canada, pumpkin has always been a staple on the menu. Pumpkin pie was always too sweet and rich in my opinion and pumpkin muffins and scones that you can buy commercially are usually covered in sugary icing and filled with hydrogenated fats that will leave you feeling icky, bloated and dissatisfied.
Enter…..the perfect pumpkin scones! I love them because they are so easy to make and use wholesome ingredients. My kids love making these with me and we all enjoy them as a warm comforting treat – they are so good right out of the oven!!
The only sugar I use is date sugar – which actually adds nutritional value and not just empty calories like white sugar does. Compared to usual scones that use loads of butter (and not grass fed typically, often hydrogenated versions), these ones use just 1 tablespoon per 5 scones, of super healthy oil (choose coconut or avocado oil).
I make these usually once a week during the fall season and I commonly use boxed pumpkin puree. The key thing to look for in the store is pumpkin puree (read the ingredient label, it should just be pumpkin), not canned pumpkin pie mix – which has a number of other ingredients in it that will not go well with this recipe. I like the tetra boxes of puree if you can find them, as they are less inclined to contain BPA toxins that the lining of cans can often contain.
I have perfected this recipe with much practice and it has take on a few iterations depending on what I have in my cupboards. Especially since I have been travelling, I have had to make some modifications. I will offer a few swaps here, but this is the basic outline (I often double it, because these can go fast):
Possibilities for good substitutions I have tried:
For vegan scones – use Chia seed gel as a substitute for the eggs: just 1.5 tbsp of ground chia plus 1/4 cup water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it forms a gel before adding to the sugar/oil mixture.
For grain free scones – use coconut flour instead of oat flour. You need to purchase coconut flour, but oat flour is just rolled oats blended in any blender for a few seconds – it is really simple to do.
I have made them with avocado oil, melted coconut oil, and melted grass fed butter – these have all worked incredibly well.
I have used both coconut sugar and date sugar. I am sure you can use others as well if you so desire.
Often I omit pumpkin pie spice as I don’t usually have it on hand when I travel, but cinnamon is a staple, so I usually just double the amount because I love it.
I hope you love these as much as I do!
Please let me know how yours turn out. These are always a crowd pleaser with family and friends and I often make them for brunches or breakfast when I host.
Be BOLD. Live your life BOLD. Be Only Living Dreams.
This throwback post is one from my Podcast in 2009, Kaizen with Jen. Listen to this audio if you are needing a swift kick in the butt in your life. Are you living in a place of fear? Procrastination? Worry? Low self esteem? Low self worth? Have you asked yourself why?
In the podcast I quote Dr. Wayne Dyer’s famous analogy of the fact that “the wake of the boat does not drive the boat.” What came before does not need to dictate what comes ahead. Choose your thoughts, choose your actions. Your future can look very different than your past. If you want it to.
Be your own version of bold. Awaken yourself to what you really want your life to look like. And start living in that direction with that dream in mind. Day in and day out.
“If you are lucky in your life, you have failed” I say in the podcast, as this means you have tried something. Are you stopping yourself from doing what you know you’re capable of? Are you dimming your own light? Do you make excuses, like “I am too tired, I am too old. Who am I to think I could achieve, accomplish or do this or that?”
Listen here for your motivation of the day! If you are stuck saying “I will start working out on Monday, or I will take better care of myself when my kids are older, or I will start eating more vegetables next week…” Start doing things that reflect the life of your dreams TODAY.
How can you live a more BOLD life?
- Set aside time each day for “Manifesting.” I create a “Manifestation Map” for all of my clients which includes actions like visualization, meditation, journalling, gratitudes, setting intentions, core breathing, affirmations, stretching or whatever else is aligned with their higher goals.
- Create a plan! Sit down and think about what you really want. Write a list of your values, write down your strengths, write down things you love in life and what you want to spend your time doing, reading about and talking to others about. Do things with intention. It is so easy to fall into old routines and habits and then watch the years fly by. Don’t wake up one day and realize you have been living for everyone else. Or at least be aware that by not choosing the way you want to live, you are choosing the alternative.
- Find someone to share your dreams and goals with. Ask them to hold you accountable to them. Saying things out loud or sharing them with others makes them more real. Share them with someone you trust. Share with someone who won’t say to you, “Didn’t you try that once before and fail?” Find a support system, a cheerleader, a person who lifts you up. And be that for someone else.
I know you have got it in you to live a BOLD life.
I cannot wait to hear all about it!
There is no cheating, just choosing!
I say this line so often because I still hear people referring to eating as cheating. Say WHA????? No, FitMama please, what’s up with that?
When it comes to food, I urge you to get this concept of cheating out of your head. There is just eating. You choose what you eat, there is no benefit to labelling it something it is not.
I am sad that in the fitness and HEALTH industry, we are ingrained to think that eating foods that we consider unhealthy or “not on our diet” are labelled something so negative as “cheating.”
When we think we are cheating, we immediately feel negative emotions such as worry, regret and guilt. This study, which looked into the emotions of guilt versus celebration when eating food shows, “NO evidence for adaptive or motivational properties of guilt.” which means that there is no benefit to feeling guilty when eating a food – and they described:
“Those who associated chocolate cake with guilt did not report more positive attitudes toward healthy eating or stronger intentions to eat healthy in the future than did those who associated chocolate cake with celebration.”
How does that sound for letting you off the hook?
In this study, associating chocolate cake with guilt was related to an increase in weight – even in those people who were trying to lose weight.
“However, participants who associated chocolate cake with celebration were, on average, more successful in losing weight than were participants who associated chocolate cake with guilt.”
Therefore, when you decide to eat something, own it!! Decide it is what you really want, consider it what it is, just food – and allow it to bring you pleasure and positive energy – if it doesn’t, then DON’T choose to eat it. CHOOSE another food.
By changing your mindset in this way, you can feel more positive overall about the foods that you eat. And if your goal is in fact to lose some weight, you will be more successful at that when you have more positive associations with your food.
So, how can you do this?
Try these three things:
- Start listening to your body and eat foods that make you feel good – like more energy, less bloating, better digestion, better mental clarity, balanced mood, etc.
- Don’t eat foods just because they are convenient, your usual routine or everyone else is eating them – like the bowl of candy at work, the drive-thru or the leftover crusts that your kids leave on their plate – make a choice for each of the foods you eat to be what you really want.
- Avoid using the weekends as a time to “go all out” and don’t consider any of your foods or meals “cheat” meals. Just eat a nice harmony of health promoting foods with some foods you consider to be more rich or less health promoting and eat them in moderation. We all know what foods agree with our bodies and what foods do not. There is no need to go buck wild every Saturday night and think you’re off the hook because you have labelled it a “cheat meal.” Your body doesn’t know the difference between Tuesday and Saturday, all it knows is “OMG this makes me feel horrible!” This cheating mentality promotes disordered eating, dissatisfaction, regret, guilt and weight gain.
Choose foods that reflect how you want to feel. ‘See’ yourself already in the body you desire and treat that body with the upmost respect, love and admiration. Naturally you will choose foods that make that body feel good. If you don’t see it and act as if, it will never be your reality.
Cheers to changing your mindset and relieving yourself of all guilt and cheating when it comes to food! I know you can do it and I know you will find it super liberating!
Let me know how it goes! It may take practice, but with each time you notice it and change your words (in your head or out loud) it will create new neural pathways and solidify your new way of thinking.
This informative book, is aimed at educating pregnant women about the importance of prevention in pregnancy.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Kim about her new book and she gives us the low down on all the goodness inside.
JO: What is the main focus of Prepare To Push™?
KV: “It focuses on the pelvic floor and abdomen – the 2 most greatly affected parts of the body in pregnancy and birth. With the right knowledge about core exercise, birth positions and recovery, women can enjoy motherhood with a body they feel confident in.”
JO: Why did you create this book?
KV: “I took preventive measures in my own pregnancies and shared them with friends. The more I shared, the more I realized how little women know. I have since learned a lot more and I am shocked that so much important information is left out of common prenatal courses, books and healthcare visits. I needed a platform to reach as many women as possible and a book seemed like the best plan.”
JO: What do you think is the reason why more people aren’t informed about their pelvic floor?
KV: “I believe there are several reasons: One is that the pelvic floor is a ‘taboo topic’ for many so it is kept hush hush and not talked about. Another reason is that many health care professionals feel it creates fear by talking about the pelvic floor to pregnant women. I, on the other hand, believe that information is power and allows women to make informed choices in their pregnancies and births. A third reason is that it has typically been an ‘old age’ topic and as a result women don’t understand the importance of it when they are young and healthcare professionals don’t focus on the prevention but rather on ‘fixing a problem’.”
JO: Why should women buy this book?
KV: “The book is easy to read, touches on critical information left out of other prenatal education and gives women a plan for birth and a plan for recovery. It is a no-nonsense approach to prevention and empowering women to prepare their body. Every pregnant women needs to know this to be truly informed and to make the best choices for their bodies, their births and their healing.”
JO: What are three myths about the pelvic floor (and core) that you debunk in this book?
KV: “1. Everyone must do kegels – MYTH
2. After you have kids it is normal to leak when you laugh or jump – MYTH
3. The abdominal wall and the pelvic floor are 2 separate parts of the body and are treated differently – MYTH”
JO: “Oh…that is very worth getting the book for, FitMamas…such key information, thanks Kim!”
JO: What is the one thing women tell you they wish they knew before they met you?
KV: “I wish I had known you when I had my kids’ or ‘where were you when I was pregnant.’ If I had a dollar for every woman who tells me that, I would be a wealthy mama! I hear women tell me all the time that they wish they had known this information. Of note is that I also hear from second time moms saying ‘I wish I had listened to you in my first pregnancy. I thought I would be fine.’ Society as a whole is reactive – everyone is keen to fix a problem if it is there but not everyone is keen to prevent a problem from happening in the first place. I am trying to change that mindset so that women appreciate the importance of prevention and pass along the message to others.”
JO: What is the one thing you want women to get out of this book?
KV: “An understanding of their body and an appreciation of the need to honour the process of pregnancy and birth so they enjoy their pregnancy, feel empowered in their birth and can return to the activities they love with strength and confidence.”
JO: What other products/services do you have for pregnant and postpartum women?
KV: “The main product I sell is the EPI-NO – I used this in my pregnancies and it is how I first learned about the pelvic floor. I also do consultations and workshops for pregnant women and their partners. Postpartum, I do core restoration on an individual basis using restorative exercise and the hypopressive method. In my other business, Bellies Inc, we sell a product called the AB Tank Complete System that supports the philosophy of Prepare To Push™. Our system is core exercise for pregnancy, the AB Tank and Wrap to wear in the first 8 weeks postpartum and restorative core exercise for recovery.”
JO: “This is great, thanks so much for sharing all your fabulous knowledge with us! Where can FitMamas buy your book and find you online?”
KV: “The book can be purchased at my site: www.pelviennewellness.com and I am on Facebook @pelviennewellness and @belliesinc. On Twitter and Instagram, I am @fitnessdoula and @belliesinc.”
FitMamas, go get Kim Vopni’s new book and let us know what you think! Knowledge is power and you are sure to get your share of both in this incredible book Prepare To Push™
It’s Rad to Add!
When we think of “healthy eating” we are always led to believe it is about removing things from our diets. “I have to stop eating pizza!” Or “I have to quit coffee” or “I need to lose weight, I guess I am never going to each chocolate again” or “How will I live without cheese?”
This scarcity, or restrictive dieting mindset can have you feeling for nothing else in life more than that “forbidden food.”
So, get yourself off that roller coaster, listen here to my reasons why using words like “good and bad” when referring to food are actually detrimental and incorrect and hear my TOP 3 things to add to your days to get the most health benefits possible.
Healthy weight loss, improved energy, decreased anxiety, increased mental clarity and a whole lot of feeling fabulous can go down with just these three awesome add-ins. Who doesn’t want that!?
Let me know how you feel after adding these 3 into your life!