Working Out During a Visit from Aunt Flo

At one point or another, we’ve probably all had that unwelcome house guest. You know, that person that comes for just “just a few days” and end up stays for what seems like forever. At first, we don’t mind so much, and then it just starts to get inconvenient. Uncomfortable. Maybe even a tad awkward. And for half the world’s population, that unwelcome guest comes every.single.month.

Hello, Aunt Flo. How nice it is to see you again. *cough*

Workouts + a Visit from Aunt Flo

Let’s be honest, for those first few days of Aunt Flo’s visit, the last thing we want to do is workout. We’re tired, we’re achy, we’re bloated. And as my one of besties says, we’re “bleeding like a stuck pig.”


But we’re women. We suck it up and power on anyways. We’re strong and aren’t going to let a little extra discomfort/mess/awkwardness stop us. Yet, it’s not exactly easy to workout while Shark Week is going on below. However, there are some things we can do to at least make it a little more comfortable.

This one actually blew my brains a little bit. Turns out, increased movement and activity during periods helps relieve cramping, aches, and can even reduce heavy flows. Sweating causes you to shed water, which can help with bloating. And let’s not forget those mood-enhancing endorphins; always a plus when we feel like biting everyone’s head off.

Personally, those extra-duty tampons work well for me and I barely notice them, especially when using the special active style. However, some of my friends are more sensitive and have to use pads. If you do go with pads, spring for the wider style that can handle the increased movement. No matter what you use, tampon, pads, menstrual cup, just make sure it’s fresh and ready to go.

Without fail, I have to to skip or modify the first day. I feel like doing absolutely nothing and can barely walk two steps without having to *ahem* visit the ladies room. Instead of a full workout of burpees and beast mode, I practice PiYo’s modified yoga poses or do some simple walking/stroller gliding. If you can manage the more intense workouts, great! But if you need to switch to low-impact, fine. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and if you can only manage 1/2 a workout because it is begging for rest, do it. Just stay on track. Meanwhile, for the rest of the week, switch out from P90X to PiYo or at least try to the modified and see if that’s more comfortable for you.

During their period, women lose extra fluids which can lead to feel listless and light-headed. Increase your water consumption by at least 10-20% and be careful when moving or standing up quickly.

This may be Aunt Flo 101, but choose your clothing wisely. Dark, loose fitting pants and shorts tend to be best as they hid any “leaks” and boycuts and high-cuts are better choices then the lacies when it comes to panties.

As irony would have it, during the period week of period your levels of the estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest, which means increased sense of power, lower core body temperature, higher pain tolerance, and faster recovery. If you can combat the icky, low energy feeling, the you can actually experience better results from your workouts.

Shark Week, a visit from Aunt Flo, “that time of the month” – regardless of what you call it, with just a few smart changes you can keep up with your workouts, make progress, and deserve that extra bit of chocolate that’s pretty much mandatory.

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#TeamChicFit Kelli France: Sugar Free BBQ Sauce

Today we have a guest post in the form of an awesome recipe from none other than MY coach the awesome Kelli France.


3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced

1. Combine all ingredients in a small pot over medium heat.

2. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5-10 mins.

3. Use the sauce immediately or store in a jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks

My Sanity Saving Morning Routine

My Sanity Saving Morning Routine

It seems that one of those inevitable truths of life is that if your morning goes awry, it’s hard to reclaim the rest of your day. Rough mornings throw off your groove, to borrow the phrase. Having a plan usually makes a morning run smoother but even the best of plans can still leave you feeling frazzled, stressed, and drained.

Call me crazy, but I really love mornings. Even on those not-so-rare days where I went to bed too late and got up too early with little sleep in between, even then I still love the fresh promise of the new day and all the potential it holds. Still, for all my pep and hope, if the morning starts to fall apart then my day falls apart, too. I find myself losing focusing, energy zapped, my productivity next to nothing. And if by some miracle we manage to stick to our schedule, I’ve lost every ounce of sanity in the meantime and probably have a couple of new gray hairs to boot.

You wouldn’t think it at first, but there is a huge difference between having a morning routine vs. a schedule. A schedule has set tasks and if those tasks aren’t completed on time, then you’re left playing catch up the rest of the day. Meanwhile, a routine is merely a series of familiar tasks that happen when they happen. Got showered and dressed quicker than expected? Now you can enjoy an unhurried breakfast and perhaps even a few leisurely moments before getting started with your day.

The truth of the matter is that I can’t stick to a schedule. But a “To Do List” I can do! A set routine and way of doing things that is so easy I can do it pre-coffee, that I can do. The thing with routines is that they become second nature, and one task naturally progresses to the next. Having the same routine every morning helps make the complicated tasks more familiar and before you realize it, you’re sipping your second cup of still-hot java while the disherwasher’s going, laundry done, living room picked up, kids dressed, and three things are already checked off the to-do list.

My Sanity Saving Morning Routine

My Sanity Saving Morning Routine
(and a few tips too)

– Wake up before kids & take time for myself.
This is a big one but not always easy to do with a little boy that likes to wake up at the crack of dawn. (We set rules for what he can do if he wakes up early) Ideally, I like to wake up 1-2 hours before the kids so I can do my personal devotions and prayer time, return emails, get in a 20-minute workout (my favorite is PIYO), and be blow drying my hair as the kids wake up. This head start on the day proves to be invaluable even if I don’t get any tasks accomplished and have spent all the time on “me.” It provides a peaceful, relaxed start where I feel fresh, competent, and in control- ready to meet whatever challenges the day throws at me.

– Allow myself the privilege of sleeping in a least once a week.
This may seem like the direct opposite of the previous tip, but hear me out. We all have at least one morning a week where there is nothing pressing to be done. And on those mornings it’s tempting to wake up at the same time and play catch up on all the things we didn’t get accomplished during the past days. Yet, I’m a firm believer that those days are the most important days of all. Hitting snooze, or better yet, turning my alarm off completely, allows my body to get the rest it needs and has been sorely lacking. Even if I was able to get 8 hours of solid sleep each night for the past week, my body will still receive a boost from waking up naturally vs. jarring awake with my iPhone’s alarm.

– Set out clothes the night before.
The last thing I need is to realize that the kids have no clean socks when I’m already running late or spend 10 minutes arguing over the blue or green shirt. When putting the kids to bed I simply reach in their closets and lay out their outfits for the next day. And if I’m feeling really productive, I’ll even take the basket of clean clothes with me and put away the laundry before tucking them in for the night.

– If staying home, wear real clothes.
While it’s tempting to stay in yoga pants the whole day, once my workout is over I get dressed as if I’m going out in public, even if I’ll be staying home. Putting effort into my appearance somehow switches the day from “casual mode” to “productive mode” and has the added bonus of keeping me from feeling embarrassed when the UPS guy stops by. Of course, I’m a huge fan of PJ Thursday. The UPS guy will just have to deal with it.

– Have a dedicated spot for clothes, shoes, and coats.
It does no good to have everything set out in advance if the kids have to look in a different spot each time. The whole idea of a routine is daily consistency. If the kids know that the shoes are always in the wicker basket by the door when I tell them to “go get their shoes on” I won’t be fielding a dozen questions or having to give turn-by-turn directions to wear to find their mud boots. Of course, teaching the kids that the shoes go IN the buckets and not next to it or in the hallway is also key.

– Realize that even the youngest toddlers can still be helpers.
Young children love to help- so let them! It might take a tiny bit longer or turn out a bit messier, but helpful children are happy children and that means a happy mom, too. By giving my littlest simple tasks to do, such as putting the dirty sippy cups in the sink, stacking the library books by the door, straightening the throw pillows, or putting spoons next to the breakfast bowls, I teach her to contribute to the family and keep her from being underfoot or bored. I may still have to go behind and ensure that the task was completed correctly, but keep up the routine enough and soon even Sammy will be a full-fledged helpful helper.

– Create “Mini Routines” with each Morning Routine. 
With all the stuff to do each morning, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I’ve found that dividing my mornings up into smaller sections, each with its own mini routine has proven to be one of the best sanity saving tips out there. For example, serving the kids breakfast is made up several tasks: first I empty the dishwasher while the kids finish waking up, then I fix breakfast (cereal or toast if we’re going simple, eggs are medium difficulty, pancakes or breakfast bake for special mornings). While the kids are eating I load the dishwasher and start a sink of soapy water so I can wash dishes off and on during the rest of the morning. Last step is putting on a pot of coffee to perk while I finish my breakfast and get Caleb started on school. One main task of “eating breakfast” just took off half a dozen things off my to do list without any extra time and little additional effort.

– Take advantage of the power of five minutes.
It really is amazing what can be accomplished in just five minutes. Part of my morning routine is taking five minutes at a time and focusing on a certain task, project, or room. Living room messy? I set the timer on the oven and blitz clean for five minutes. If the timer goes off and I’m not done yet, I just set it for another five minutes- after all, that’s the beauty of a having a routine instead of a set schedule.

– Don’t put off the little stuff.
Many times I find myself putting off seemingly small, insignificant to-do’s simply because I don’t feel like doing them at that moment. But then all those small things pile up into one big thing and where’s the sanity in that? If something will take five minutes or less, I tell myself to suck it up and just do it. And then I reward myself with chocolate. Or more coffee. Or both.

– Keep the kitchen table/island/counter clear.
This is one of those things that I didn’t realize how much of a difference it made until I incorporated it as part of our morning routine. The kitchen island is our gathering spot for afternoon coffee, where Caleb works on his math homework while Sammy colors. It’s where I go through bills and slice apples for mid-afternoon snacks. It doesn’t have to be spotless, that comes later, I just need it clear and useable.

– A routine puts the kids on auto pilot in a good way.
Every night before bed Caleb asks, “What are we doing in the morning?” and we go over all the events tomorrow holds. He gets most excited to hear that the next day is Library Day and since it’s one of our weekly routines, come the next morning he knows just what to do. Library books are gathered, an extra big breakfast is eaten, and Caleb asks if he’s earned enough stars on the reward chart to get a new Hot Wheels car from the thrift store after story time. Kids thrive on consistency. Knowing what to expect each day gives them time to anticipate their own responsibilities, prepare for any thing they don’t enjoy like nap time or homework, and allows the day to transition smoothly and naturally.

– Know that some mornings will go all wrong. 
It’s going to happen. Just regroup and start fresh. After all, in the famous words of Miss Scarlet O’hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”

My Fitness Journey (on a roller coaster)

Fitness Journey on a Roller Coaster

Once I hit puberty, I became what’s known as chubby. I just couldn’t lose my baby fat from childhood. Even as I developed curves, I stayed chunky and just never felt very good about myself. Following a breakup (my first and only) when I was 18, I decided to concentrate on myself and get into shape. I was young and without commitments, so I worked out for an hour before work, 30 minutes during lunch break, and for up to two hours after work too. I counted calories, watched what I ate, and barely splurged at all. For three months I was the epitome of self-discipline. And it worked. I went from a size 14/16 to a teeny tiny size 5 and dropped nearly 30lbs. And more than the number on the scale, I felt great about myself.

Fast forward a few years and I was engaged to the most wonderful guy (yes, the one I had broken up with before. It was our we-need-to-get-serious-with-God phase), trying on wedding dress, and planning for a life together. On our wedding day, I had never felt more beautiful.

Megan Marlene Photography_3133

After seven years of marriage and two kids, I found myself far from the size-six, toned bride I once was. Life had gotten busy, habits had gotten lazy, and the pounds started adding themselves to my waistline.

Gradually, at first, so that I barely noticed the weight gain. After all, it was to be expected that I’d keep some of that baby weight, but as I kept having to buy new jeans and found myself getting winded after climbing just a short flight of stairs, I knew that things were getting to a dangerous point.

So I tried half-hearted diets, fruitless hours spent at the gym and on the elliptical machine, but nothing really seemed to make any difference. My metabolism had changed after 10 years and I no longer could drop weight just like that *snaps fingers*

When I finally exchanged my pants for a size 16, I broke down. All the excuses and platitudes I had told myself were proven to be just that- excuses. In reality, I wasn’t “doing fine” and while, yes, I could be heavier, I was not healthy and things needed to change.

Megan Marlene Photography_3134

A good/awesome/amazing friend of mine told me about this company called BeachBody and suggest that I give one of their programs a try. Now, I am a skeptic by nature I said no for the longest time, still trying to go about things on my own. But her success, and those of our mutual friends, kept coming back to me. Surely, if they could do it, I could too. Still, a $120 was a lot of money to us, especially with my husband having been recently laid off, but this was something that I needed to do for me. And for once, I needed to put myself first.

December 1, 2014- I started my first day of PiYo. And life hasn’t been the same since.

This past year has been an amazing, transformative journey. And yes, still a bit of a roller coaster. My 80/20 looked more like 10/90 at times. I went down nearly two sizes and 10 lbs only to go back up to nearly my starting weight. But I still count this year as a success. Not because of inches lost but because of confidence gained. Because I can now hike a mountain with my family without getting winded while carrying our daughter in her hike pack. I can run without feeling like I’m about pass out. My knees, which I fondly referred to as those of an eighty-year-old grandma, no longer ached after each workout.

Fitness and Goodness- Mid Year Progress

Even though I still have a long way to go, I feel good about my body for the first time time in seven years. I’ve learned to love my curves and hold my head up high because I am DOING, not just wishing. Each new goal reached makes me want to do a happy dance because I am setting an example for my children- to not except the way things are just because it’s the way things are, but pursue the best that life has to offer. And I am stronger and better for it.

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