Christmas Fitness Challenge!

Six reasons I don't want my body back

The other day I was at the gym and after noticing my baby bump a man came up to me and said, "it wasn't hard enough to get your body back after your last baby so you decided to take the challenge again, huh?" He meant it as a compliment and I took it as one. Eventually though, that did get me thinking about those terms we see and hear everywhere... "How she got her body back after baby" or "Get your pre-baby body back". The term is used in various ways in fitness magazines about celebrities, for advertisement about weight loss products or even from a postpartum friend on Facebook. The more I think about the idea of getting my body back the more offensive I find it.

1. My body isn't lost. I don't need to find it, or get it back. It is right here, developing and carrying another human being inside of it. Infact my body has never been more obvious and present than it is when I am carrying a child. 

2. Though birth does require a recovery period, it is not an injury or an illness. Birth is a miraculous feat, a personal conquest. I was a warrior. I don't want to diminish that. Pregnancy and birth are both miracles. Yep, I said it. I am one of those who believes it to be a miracle. Why would I consider something a large population of the human race experiences once or multiple times in their life a miracle? Well, to answer that here is the definition of the word according to Mirriam-Webster: 

an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs, an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment, a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law

3. It isn't possible. I will never again posses a body that didn't carry my son. Nor will I ever have my body back that didn't carry my daughter. I don't want that body back. Not all women get that opportunity. I would bet those woman would take all the stretch marks, wider hips, and extra pounds in the world to be able to have the experience I have had. 

4. I have more potential than that. My pre-baby body was one I was proud of. I was thin and had decent muscle tone. I worked hard on my physical fitness and nutrition. But there is so much more waiting for me! Personal health is about progression. I want to be the best I can be now. I don't want to revert back to the best I was then.

5. Stretch marks are permanent. Sure, they will fade over time but they will never go away. Go ahead and apply your expensive creams, and do your body wraps. They won't work. I am not ashamed to have an entire belly full of stretch marks and sagging skin. I have thought about getting a tummy tuck in the future. My reason is not because I hate my stretched skin and want to go back to my pre-baby body. My reason would be that I work really hard to get a strong abdomen and it is mostly hidden. If I ever did get a tummy tuck it would be to unveil my hard work over the years, not to turn back time.

6. No amount of exercise will take me back to a pre-birth pelvis. I can lose the fat around my hips or squat myself to a nicer back-side. Those efforts won't be in vain, but no matter how hard I try structurally my body is different than it was before. So what if I will never wear a size 2 again? Mom curves are sexy.

So no, I don't want to get my body back. That body is done and over with, I have been there and done that. There is a body after baby, mine has just yet to be built. 

What is Flexible Dieting, anyway? Your most common IIFYM questions answered.

What is Flexible Dieting?
Flexible Dieting, or If It Fits Your Macros, is when you track specific macronutrient numbers to gain a certain body composition. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight flexible dieting is a foolproof way of achieving those goals.

Why is it called Flexible Dieting?
The science behind it (yes it is science) is that fat loss or gain is dependant on calories in vs. calories out. If you eat less than your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) then you will lose weight. Even if you are eating fast food everyday, you will still lose weight. Just like you can eat a surplus of healthy foods and gain weight. If we eat more than our body uses, it stores as fat. If we eat less than our bodies use then we lose fat. Calories in versus calories out. Period. Science. Therefore, this gives you some flexibility in your food choices unlike many diets that only allow certain foods. With IIFYM, you can eat it as long as it fits your macros. If you meet your macro goals, you will meet your body composition goals.

What are "macros"?
Simply put, macronutrients are Protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Also, in terms of flexible dieting Fiber can be considered a macro. Not to be confused with micronutrients, which are your essential vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient numbers are also very important for the body, but not the purpose of this post.

Can't I just count calories?
Macros = Calories, Calories do not = Macros. The caloric break down of each macro is as follows:
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
So something with 10 grams of carbs will have 40 calories. Something to be aware of is in America, food labels are allowed to round their calorie numbers but not their macronutrient numbers. Also, if you are using an app like My Fitness Pal, or My Macros to track your foods those too can easily be off on calories. That is why it is better to pay attention to macros, not calories.

What if I just want to eat all my calories in carbs?
Don't we all. Each macro has a big role to play.
Carbs give us energy. They help our bodies and minds function. If we eat too few carbs then we feel sluggish and foggy. This is why "low carb" or "no carb" diets are not safe for your body.
CARBS ARE NOT THE ENEMY! They will make you think sharper, run faster, and squat deeper!
Protein feeds our muscles. Without enough protein, generally .8 grams - 1 gram per pound of body weight, we will lose lean muscle mass. Protein is just as important, if not more important, when you are cutting weight than when you are maintaining or trying to gain.
Fats help regulate hormone levels. Fat is another macro that gets a bad rap. All of the systems in our body rely on fats to function. "low fat" diets are very dangerous to the body, especially for women.

So, what your saying is I can eat fried chicken and donuts everyday?
Well, that is a big debate in the IIFYM community. If your only concern is body composition, the way you look, then technically if it fits your macros eat whatever the heck you want. MY PERSONAL OPINION and that of many flexible dieters is to practice the 80/20 rule.

What is the 80/20 rule?
80% of the food consumed comes from healthy nutrient rich foods, and the other 20% comes from your "not so healthy" foods. For me, it's candy. I eat candy every single day. I also eat lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I want to know I am also getting enough FIBER and MICRONUTRIENTS for my body. Both are VITAL for the internal health and functionality of our bodies. Health starts from the inside out. So I say.... Eat your veggies! ...and if you still have room for a candy bar at the end of the day, well then eat that too. 

What ratio of each macro do I need?
That will depend on your goals, TDEE and personal preferences.
The best resource other than a personal macro coach is the IIFYM website.

Fudge Toffee Cookies

Every time the holidays approach, so do the parties. Generally I sign up to bring a chopped green salad, that is something I know I can make well. Occasionally, something odd comes over me and I sign up to bring a dessert. Wait a second... I DON'T BAKE! I tend to forget that little detail. My mom can bake with the best of them, for some reason I didn't get that gene. Don't get me wrong I can cook, intuitively infact. I just do. not. bake. My baking skills are generally limited to baking with protein powder. With that being said, I turned to the old trusty box of cake mix.

This recipe is for those like me, who signed up to bring a treat before they remembered they were baking challenged...

Fudge Toffee Cookies 

Fudge Toffee Cookies
1 box of fudge cake mix
1 can of pumpkin
1/2 bag of toffee chips
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon
Taste the dough, because you can. 
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use an oven stone like I did.
Bake for 15 minutes
let cookies cool on a cooling rack 
Dust with powdered sugar

Oh yeah, and save some for your holiday party.

Shhhhhhh no one needs to know you made these with a box of cake mix and pumpkin....

20 week bump update: Boy or Girl?

IT'S A.......

The anatomy scan could not have gone better, baby girl is big and healthy. We are so truly blessed. She is measuring 5 days ahead and is calm as a cucumber. Literally, she is either super calm, or super lazy! Little miss hardly ever kicks or moves around. Much unlike her big brother who was just as rambunctious in the womb as his now. Maybe she will be my calm little snuggle bunny. Waylon is too busy playing cars and body slamming pillows to cuddle with me these days. 

We had the names already picked out for either gender. Wesson Micheal Johnson for a boy, or Lillian Rae Johnson for a girl. We are so excited to meet Miss Lil Rae! It is safe to say that Daddy is slightly scared to have a little girl. I can't wait to watch him melt like butter over his baby girl. This house needs some softening up. Waylon and Justin are in Beast Mode all day long, every dang day! 

Watching Waylon and Lillian together will be a dream come true. A dream I honestly didn't even know I had. My little family is truly my very biggest blessing.

6 Healthy Living Philosophies - from the heart of someone in recovery -

Today marks a very important day in my life. Today, I have been sober for 6 years. I have officially been sober for the same amount of time I used. The full duration of my teenage years was spent drinking, drugging and starving away the pain that was my existence. For 6 years I tried to kill myself, daring my body to give up time and time again. Although I had given up on myself many times, my body never did. My soul never did. God never did. My family never did.

It was 6 years ago today that surrender became the most comforting word in my vocabulary. I had to start healing from the inside out. Once I cleared away some of my internal wreckage I was able to feel some solace.

Healthy living means more to me than looking good in a pair of jeans. I spent far too long hating myself. I used drugs and alcohol to numb my pain, and I used disordered eating to punish myself. I felt truly unworthy of love, all love. Living a lifestyle that pays tribute to my body, spirit and mind is the best way I can imagine living out the rest of my days.

In celebration of today I want to share 6 of my healthy living philosophies. 1 for each year that I have been sober, healthy and happy.

1. Above all else, nourish your soul
            Healthy living starts from the inside out. I had to clear out my internal wreckage and make room to allow God back into my heart. Maintaining a healthy spiritual practice is the most vital thing to my peace of mind.

2. Enjoy nourishing your body
            5 years ago I made a New Year resolution that changed my life. I didn’t resolve to lose weight, or run a marathon. I made the decision to start cooking. Before then everything I ate came from a can or a box. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with preparing and eating healthy foods. I am truly proud every time I sit down to a meal I've put thought and effort into.

2. Dedication does not mean deprivation
            The mentality of an addict is all or nothing. Early on in my journey to living healthier, I thought I had to deprive myself of those things that were considered bad for me. I tried all the “low carb” “sugar free” “low fat” ways of eating. Yes, they worked. I lost weight, I gained some lean muscle. I continued to look and feel better, until I didn’t. Depriving myself of anything is not maintainable for me. Today I eat what I want, when I want it. For years my parents tried to teach me “moderation” and it is safe to say these last couple years I have finally started to understand and live by that concept.

4. Find comfort outside of your comfort zone
            Anything worth having takes work, and work is not always comfortable. I adopted this concept early on in my recovery. I had to do things and feel things that were uncomfortable in an effort to grow. Getting out of my comfort zone has always proven to help me grow in any area of my life. I have grown spiritually, physically, in the gym, in the kitchen, at school, at work, in my marriage, in my recovery and the list goes on.

5. Building a strong body builds a stronger you
            Physical fitness has made me a stronger person on so many levels. Each goal I attain at the gym builds my confidence. Putting effort into exercise regularly helps me carry that concept into other areas of my life. I have learned not to take my successes or failures too seriously. I am going to succeed and fail on a daily basis, the real growth comes from taking tomorrow for what it is… a new day.

6. Self-care is a catalyst to self-love

            My idea of self-care has changed over time. In any stage of my life, when I care for myself I find it much easier to have respect and love for myself. When I exercise I feel accomplished. When I prepare and eat a good meal I feel grateful and proud. When I pray and meditate I feel humbled and worthy. When I simply take a shower after 2 days of cleaning up after a messy toddler, I feel renewed. Self-care reminds me I am worth something.