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The REAL belly- Feb 2011

Yesterday on Twitter  @bookieboo, creator of  mamavation, tweeted;

“I wish more of you put your real pictures on twitter as an avatar”

Then later that day a new follower commented that she liked my picture.  On twitter, the photo for my profile (@bump_life if you want to follow me) is the same photo that is in the header of my blog and no,

it’s not me.

I bought this image many years ago when I was starting my business because I LOVED it and it embodied my pre and postnatal fitness business ideals.  But today, I am wondering what message it is putting out there?

So, for today’s WORDLESS WEDNESDAY photo, I am posting a picture on MY belly five days before my daughter was born. Not retouched, not photoshopped, not well lit and complete with stretch marks and closed eyes of my son.

What do you think?  Should I replace my avatar with this one?


How do we keep all those plates spinning in our lives?

“I’m so busy!”

Being busy is almost a cliché these days, of course I’m busy, you’re busy too!

Most of us have way more on our to do list than we can ever hope to accomplish in a single day, week, or maybe even lifetime.  And I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, what STILL needs to be done often bogs me down.

On any given day these are the things I would like to do (or need to do):

  • Feed my kids healthy home made meals 3 times a day
  • Clean up the dishes and kitchen after said 3 meals
  • Spend time with my kids, truly connecting, (not just with them in the same room)
  • Connect with my husband
  • Reach out to good friends and family
  • Exercise
  • Write for my blog
  • Read and stay up to date on blogs/sites I follow
  • Update my twitter and facebook pages
  • Check in with training clients
  • Promote my business
  • Pick up the house
  • Eat healthy meals myself
  • Pay bills
  • Do career and personal development learning and reading
  • Catch up on my favorite tv programs
  • Laundry
  • Household projects and maintenance
  • Grocery shopping
  • Car maintenance
  • Return emails
  • Work on my volunteer job
  • Work on long term planning (like retirement funds, refinancing our mortgage, updating life insurance)
  • Have some quiet alone time
  • Read for pleasure
  • Bathe and personal care (notice how low on the list this is??)
  • Sleep

And that doesn’t even count the things that come into play this time of year like shopping, wrapping, decorating, party-going etc.

So, yeah….we’re all busy, BUT what do we do about it?

A dear friend and mentor of mine, Shannon Fable, hosts a series of webinars, mostly for group fitness managers, but so many of her topics are applicable to all of us.  I tuned into her discussion on “Spinning Plates” almost a year ago, but I found myself this weekend re-reading my notes and having a HUGE “aha moment”

One of the things she talked about was breaking that huge list above that we all have, into our big “hats” that we wear at any given moment.   OR plates, her idea is that all these areas in our life are like the plates the entertainer spins at the circus, she gets one spinning and can leave it for a moment while she spins another one.  Then, when one slows down, she can return and give it a push again.  Unlike a juggler who has to keep his eye and his hands on everything all at once.

I broke my list in to three areas of my life.

My Personal Relationships (including my home)

My Career

My Self

When I put my list into these categories it looks like this;

My Personal Relationships

Feed my kids healthy home made meals 3 times a day

Clean up the dishes and kitchen after said 3 meals

Spend time with my kids truly connecting, not just with them in the same room

Connect with my husband

Reach out to good friends and family

Pick up the house

Pay bills


Household projects and maintenance

Grocery shopping

Car maintenance

Work on long term planning (like retirement funds, refinancing our mortgage, updating life insurance)



My Career

Write for my blog

Read and stay up to date on blogs/sites I follow

Update my twitter and facebook pages

Check in with training clients

Promote my business

Career development learning and reading

Return emails

Work on my volunteer job



My Self


Eat healthy meals

Do personal development learning and reading

Catch up on my favorite tv programs

Have some quiet alone time

Read for pleasure

Bathe and personal care


The list isn’t any shorter. Now I know what plates I need to spin each day.


The “AHA” came when I realized these are also my life’s biggest priorities; My relationship, my career and my self. 


EVERYDAY I want to be sure I spin a plate in each area to help move my life forward in a fulfilling and meaningful way.

Now, instead of a million things, I focus on making sure I do at least one thing from each category each day….much more manageable and I know the plates will keep spinning.

Today I; worked out, wrote this blog post and tonight we are decorating the Christmas tree as a family – Three plates-DONE!

What do you do to manage your to do list and still feel sane?  Leave a comment below and share your tips with us!

Fitness is where you find it.  And I find myself pushing my son on the swing….alot.  I figure pushing him on the swing is a pretty good upper body exercise, so why not add a few squats and make it a full body workout!

Ok, maybe 10 minutes won’t change your life, but if you are anything like me it is easy to feel completely overwhelmed with everything that has to get done, especially this time of year.  So when I am starting to feel a little frantic, I try to break things down a little (either that, or I just have a break down….but lets try this way first)

Ready?  Do this with me right now!

Minute 1:  Stand up and do 10 squats. 

No, really, do it right now.  You don’t have to download a new playlist to your iPod or change into workout clothes.  Just stand up and do 10 squats.

Ready? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


Sit back down, doesn’t that feel good?  And even if you can’t get to any other workout today, you did 10 squats.  Good Job!

Minutes 2-6:  Go sort something

It can’t be a closet or a whole room, you only have 5 minutes, but just do a speed clean-out of something.  I just did my son’s bath toys.  And you know what?  I just tossed all the grungy, moldy ones right into the trash.  Sure, I could have soaked them in a bleach solution or run them through the dishwasher, but I’ve been staring at them every morning for weeks thinking I should do that, and I haven’t done it.  So now it’s done.  AND new bath toys will make a perfect stocking stuffer.

Other ideas?  Your wallet, your make-up bag, your entry way table, the drawer in your bedside table, that catch-all basket on your end table.

Minute 7-10:  Send a Text

Get out your phone (or email if you’d rather), enter your partner, or your mom, or your best friend, or better yet, that mom you met at the playground six months ago and exchanged numbers so you could meet up again and never did.  Enter that name and then type this message:

Hi!  I just wanted to tell you I am thinking about you.  I know this time of year gets so busy, I just wanted to say I am glad you are in my life

Hit send.

As crazy as life gets, our relationships are always the most important.  In this day and age of texts, email, and facebook, it is so easy to send a quick message to tell someone you are thinking of them.  I often put off calling a friend until I have ‘more time’ to talk.  But sending that quick messages helps you stay connected and I promise, it will brighten someone else’s day too.

So there you go!  10 minutes and look at all you accomplished.  Feels good, huh!  And I DO believe, that good feeling WILL change your life.

Now go get back to the other things on your list!  Go!

They say there is no place like home for the holidays and when it comes to squeezing in a workout during this busy time of year, I think “they” are right!  Once you pack up and head to the gym, find a parking spot and get the kids settled in childcare, you have added at least 30 minutes to your exercise time.  Why not put the little ones in front of a 20-minute cartoon and make your workout time count for more than a shuttle service for your gym shoes.

Workout Videos, On Demand and Podcasts:

There are quite a few good, quick workout videos on the market today, everything from yoga to bootcamp styles. Try checking out a few from your library or getting them from Netflicks to decide what you like.  Many are inexpensive to purchase once you know what you like.  Two I have in my own library are “Jillian Michael’s 30 day Shred” and “Yoga for Everybody”.  Both are available for about $9.99 and feature 20-minute workouts for different levels.

I also love the Balletone workout DVDs.  Its a combination yoga, fitness, ballet workout and best yet…its all done barefoot!  What is easier for busy moms than to not even have to put on shoes!

Most cable services now have fitness channels on their On Demand service.  Again, many of these workouts are short and sweet and available in a variety of styles.  Why not try a Bollywood dance workout after the kids are napping?

If you have parked your kids in front of a video, you may not have access to the tv.  Search iTunes for fitness podcasts.  Many are free or less than a dollar and you can download a trainer lead workout right to your ipod.  Let a top yoga instructor in New York talk you through a series of Sun Salutations or listen to a celebrity trainer suggest the same workout for you that J Lo and Heidi Klum do at their houses.

The Big 5

Ready to start right now?  Going on vacation and need something to do in your hotel room?  Try this workout below that I call the “Big 5.”  This workout requires no equipment and hits every major muscle group in your body and can be completed in about 10 minutes.

Squats:  Stand feet wide, toes pointed forward.  Squat down as if sitting back into a chair.  Be sure your knees track over your ankles. Do 10 repetitions

Lunges: Stand with feet hip’s width apart and step forward (keeping width the same) to a long stride.  Lead with your back leg and lower your knee to the floor.  Do 10 lunges on one leg, then switch to the other leg.

Push-ups: On your knees or on your toes, wrists directly under your shoulders, fingers in slightly.  Lower your nose towards the floor, push up and repeat.  Do 10 repetitions

Plank/Mountain Climber:  Start in full push up position.  Slowly draw one knee into your chest (foot off the ground) and return to push-up position.  Draw other knee in.  Repeat 10-20 times

Seated Heel Lifts: Sit on floor, balance on heels, recline back just until you feel a little tension on your abs.  (Be sure you can pull your abs in and feel stable.  If your shoulders are rolled or your abs are pushing out, you are reclined too far.)  Hold arms our in front of you with your shoulder pulled back and dropped.  Slowly lift one heel at a time about 6 inches off the ground.  Repeat 10-20 times, as long as you can maintain your abdominal stability.


Repeat the whole workout from the beginning one more time.

AND remember, the best most effective workout is the one you do.  So just get up and move, dance with your baby, play chase in the back yard, do a squat every time you push your child on the swing.  I promise it will add up

Her first encounter with Santa.  He arrived on a Le France fire truck.  She was mesmerized.  The 3 year old hid behind my leg.

treasure hunting on a family hike

As the holiday season seems to creep earlier and earlier each year, the roadblocks to sticking to your exercise routine seem to become more plentiful.  The holiday madness seems to start with Halloween and many reports suggest the average American will gain 7-10 pounds between trick-or-treating and Super Bowl Sunday.

So what’s a waistline to do?

Here are a few tips that I am going to be trying to get me through the next 26 days to 2012:

Something is Better Than Nothing

The biggest mistake that people make around the holidays is putting off their own heath and fitness until “after the New Year”.  If you truly take the whole Holiday season off, you are missing out on 1/6th of the year of fitness (or more!).  And who wants to fight that return rush of other New Years Resolution-ers  anyways.

The effects of exercise are cumulative.  So even if you can’t get to that 9am kickboxing class at your gym 3 times a week like you used to, 15 minutes of exercises at home each morning and a 10 minute walk in your neighborhood after dinner each night adds up to the same total weekly minutes. (try the 15 minute home workout coming tomorrow!)

Create New Healthy Traditions

One of the best parts of the Holidays is celebrating with Family and Friends, but your celebrations don’t have to focus around the TV and finger foods.  Why not plan a family-friendly hike instead of your neighborhood potluck.

Where I am in Marin County, we are luckily enough to have decent weather in December, even if it means wearing an extra layer or bringing an umbrella.  Why not meet at a hiking trail or fire road that starts from a parking lot.   Walk out as far as the little legs in your group want to go, then turn and head back.  Or pick a paved trail where kids can ride bikes and scooters while the adults walk and chat.

Regroup in the parking lot for hot chocolate, coffee and fruit.  Even if you bring out small breads or pastries, it won’t be the same as standing at a buffet table for 3 hours.  Everyone gets out, gets some fresh air and time to chat.  If you go in the morning, you’re done earlier enough to hit up the mall to finish your shopping!

Keep Your Guests Busy

If you are hosting the party, give guest an activity to do besides nibble.  People can string popcorn and cranberry garlands while chatting with their friends instead of popping hors d’oeuvres.

Or asks guests to bring their stash of hotel soaps and shampoos.  Set up a table and guests can put together gift bags for local shelters while they socialize. People will eat (and drink) less during the party and you’ll be helping out local causes at the same time.

Home (workouts) for the Holidays

Need to make the most of your fitness time?  Working out at home it the answer.  Need ideas on how to do that effectively?  Tomorrow I’ll be posting Home (workouts) for the Holidays.  Complete with DVD and website recommendations and a complete home workout you can do in 15 minutes!  See you tomorrow!

Into everyone’s life…a little glass gets broken

Today’s post was supposed to be about finding time for fitness during the busy holiday season.  But that isn’t going to happen today for much the same reason fitness sometimes doesn’t happen… something unexpected came up.

Last night, we had 3 of our very closest friends over for dinner (you know those friends whom your kids call auntie and uncle, even though they are not blood related to you?)  We were having a delicious dinner of local crab, when ‘uncle’s’ chair slipped out from under him and shot backwards….straight through our plate glass window.

My stomached dropped.

First because someone could have really been hurt.  (Yes, mom, I know you have been warning me about those windows)  But after we confirmed there was no blood, all I could think about was the money we’d be bleeding instead.

This, of course, is on the heels of an unexpected vet bill, on the heels of a larger than planned dental bill and with a huge car repair looming.  And doesn’t it always seem to happen right around the holidays?

It is so easy to get caught up in what is not going right or the unexpected challenges we face.

Whether it is the world’s challenges; unemployment, the housing market, war torn nations, students at my alma mater getting pepper sprayed or our own little world’s challenges, its easy to lose sight of the little things that are right in our world.

Today, my 3-year- old woke up in that gray area of the morning where it is really too early for a proper wake up call, but too late to tell him he has to go back to sleep.   So I asked him if he wanted to come snuggle in mommy and daddy’s bed…to which he said, yes, of course.   As I lay there sharing a pillow with a scruffy little bed-head while daddy rubbed his back, I just smiled.

A few minutes later the baby woke up and we brought her into bed too, even the boston terrier scampered under the covers.  There we all were, watching cartoons, drinking our milks and coffees, the kids making each other laugh.  And I looked at my husband and said,

“This is what is important.”

Sure, I had wanted to get up early and go for a run.  Sure, I had a whole list of things to do today other than call to find out about glass replacement.  Sure, I can think of a million things I’d rather spend the repair money on.

But in the end, its family and relationships that matter.

After the window broke, we sat around with our friends and talked about the butterfly effect; what if we would have chosen to eat at a restaurant instead, if we hadn’t used the flimsy folding chairs, if I hadn’t changed the orientation of the dinning room table earlier in the week…

But in the end, I wouldn’t have traded that evening with incredibly special friends that are as close as family.  I wouldn’t have traded those few moments this morning that reminded me where my priorities are right now.

The glass will get fixed.  The credit card will get paid off.  The holiday workout article will get posted.

But ‘uncle’ may never live down his epic chair dismount.

This is the last entry in BUMP Life’s 4 part series on prenatal fitness.  If you have missed any of our past posts on the most frequently asked prenatal fitness questions, check them out here:

4 Top Prenatal Fitness Questions

  1.  Can I get my heart rate over 140bpm
  2.  Can I do ab work while I am pregnant?
  3.  I woke up last night on my back, should I be worried?

And on to our last frequently asked question:

My joints feel loosey-goosey, should I avoid working out?

Ahhh, Relaxin, you are the culprit.

There is a laundry list of symptoms and sensations you may experience while you are pregnant; nausea, unstable joints, swelling, light headedness, back pain and many more and most can be traced right back to the effects of the hormone, Relaxin.

This topic is near and dear to my heart.  When I became fascinated with prenatal fitness many, many years ago, it was Relaxin that fascinated me the most.

Relaxin does exactly what it says it does- it relaxes.   

Its main job is to relax the connective tissue in the rib cage so your ribs can expand to accommodate the growing baby.  It also relaxes the pelvic joints to allow for delivery.  It does not, however, limit its self to just these joints.  It relaxes the ankle joint and the pinky finger joint and the joints in the spinal column.  It also relaxes muscle fibers and various sphincters in the body.

SO relaxin is responsible, in part, to everything from morning sickness, to heartburn, to that increased chance you’ll twist your ankle stepping off the curb.

So what does this mean for working out?


Relaxin effects working out in 3 main ways.  But in short– working out will help mitigate the less desirable effects of relaxin. SO KEEP WORKING OUT!


Injury Prevention-

Strong muscles will help prevent injuries during pregnancy

Relaxin cause the connective tissue around the joints to be a little looser.  This makes sense, so the rib cage can expand the pelvic bones can separate.  But it also makes you a little more susceptible to spraining an ankle or experiencing wrist pain.

Take care not to over-tax weak joints.  Moves with quick direction changes or lots of lateral movement (think fast paced tennis match) are more likely to cause an injury.

In your daily life, slow down a bit and take more caution on unstable surfaces where tripping hazards (rocks, curbs, kids toys) may cause you to loose your footing or balance.

Strong muscles will help support less stable joints. Going into your pregnancy strong is ideal, but weight training during pregnancy will insure the muscles surrounding your joints are strong and able to support your body, even when your joints are not.

Underfil Issues and Dizziness


Exercise improves circulation, which may decrease nausea

In the first trimester, relaxin shows its effects by relaxing the muscle fibers.  When the muscles do not provide as tight a ‘casing’ for the blood vessels that pass through them, the blood vessels also expand.  With larger blood vessels, there is now not enough blood to fill up the increase space, leading to an underfill issue.  Gravity causes the blood to pool in the lower extremities (hello swollen ankles) and makes it harder on your body to pump blood quickly all the way up to your head, therefore leading to feelings of dizziness, lightheadness and nausea.

The good news is, your body gets to work quickly producing more blood.  By the end of your first trimester, your blood volume has increased by 30-50 percent!  Once the blood volume has a chance to catch up, many of the dizzy spells subside.

During the first trimester, take caution when standing up quickly and especially when going from a head down position like downward dog or blow-drying your hair.  And try a gentle walk even if you feel nauseous, exercise improves circulation and getting some blood to your brain might help the symptoms of morning sickness.

Postural Concerns

 It is never to early in your pregnancy to start practicing proper posture, even though it really becomes a concern in later trimesters when increase weight adds to compromised joints.  Increased size of your belly has a tendency to pull your body forward, causing an excessive curve in your lower back (and increase back pain).  Weakened spinal joints and increase weight of your breast can cause your shoulders to round forward (leading to more back pain).

Start as early as you can practicing proper posture.  Don’t slouch.  Keep your shoulders pulled back and engage your abs, think about hugging your baby closer to your body.  This will help improve your posture, prevent back and neck pain and actually make you look smaller.

Check out these pregnant pictures of a friend of mine.  How far along does she look in each photo?


Did you guess 36 weeks….in BOTH??  The first photo shows good posture and the second photo shows bad posture.  Enough said.

Thank you so much for tuning in to this series on Prenatal Fitness.

My bottom line points about exercising during your pregnancy are;

  1. Do it, it is good for you and good for your baby
  2. Be reasonable, find exercises that you like and feels good.  Don’t feel like you have to keep up with your old routine or what some celebrity is doing if it doesn’t feel right to you.
  3. Be smart, fitness during pregnancy is safe and important, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know what you are doing.  Find someone who can help you put a safe, effective, appropriate routine together to avoid injury and make sure you can stick with it.  (check out BUMP life for more suggestions)

Stay tune for more articles on specific exercises to do during pregnancy and afterwards.

Today’s guest post is very exciting for me.  This wonderful article comes straight from our own BUMP Life community!  Tammy is a mom to a beautiful 4 month old daughter and here she shares some ideas with the rest of us on gift ideas for all the special care providers in your child’s life.  This is exciting for me, because it is exactly what I want from BUMP life, sharing ideas with each other and creating a community.  So enjoy this amazing idea (I know I am going to try it!) and if you have anything YOU would like to share with our community, let me know!


Show those who care for your kids how much you appreciate them!

My daughter is four months old, so being that everything is new for us, I asked my Facebook friends a few weeks ago if gifts for daycare providers would be expected/appropriate around the holidays and what would be a good gift.

I received more responses than I ‘d hoped for and the answers, in short, were that nothing is expected, anything is appreciated, and gift suggestions generally fell into three categories:

  • A gift card,
  • something handmade from the kiddo,
  • or a baked good.

I thought I would combine all these ideas and make a handmade card, a baked good and a Starbucks card for the three women in the infant room at my daughter’s daycare. And then, a spot opened up at a different daycare that we’d been on the wait list for and she will be moving schools after Thanksgiving. I still wanted the women to know they were appreciated, though, so I made a scaled back version – giving them each a handmade Thanksgiving card and a Starbucks card.

For the card, I combined this idea I saw on Pinterest,  with a traditional hand turkey.

Because it’s not so easy to trace the hand of a four-month-old multiple times, I traced it onto chipboard from an empty cereal box, and used that as the template to trace six hands on brown paper. Then I printed “T H A N K Y O U !” on yellow paper to make the accordion in the middle. On the front I added feathers made of scrapbook paper and a face for the turkeys.

I imagine for Christmas, her new teachers will receive something similar – I’m thinking of buying blank cards and stamping handprints on them in red and green, and giving them each a Starbucks card and a homemade goodie.

Some ideas for the treat:

Mini loaves of pumpkin bread

Peppermint Bark

Cookie mix in a jar 

An assortment of cookies

***Tammy Krikorian Gabel lives in Reno, Nev., and works in social media. She enjoys crafts, baking and, most of all, spending time with her family.***

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About Bump Life

Bump Life is a place to support moms and families across all aspects of our lives. A place for tips, expert advice, parenting resources and entertainment. A great place to come for information, support or just a break from our crazy lives. From fitness to finance, from diaper bags to diaper duty, for everything bump, babies and beyond, you'll find it all here at BUMP Life!