#FitMom Talks: Sarah Dussault aka #SarahFit

©2017 Lucie Wicker Photography
Ever wonder what it'd be like to run a hugely successful YouTube channel + fitness blog, and basically be the go-to person for everything health, fitness, and family, all while being a first-time mom to an active one year old? Well, read on! Here's my latest FitMomTalk with fitness guru Sarah Dussault, aka SarahFit, where she talks about her work, her exercise routines, and her 17-month-old son, Tommy.
 ©2017 Lucie Wicker Photography
Tell us a little about yourself.
I began making health and fitness videos on YouTube in 2006 for A few years later, I started my own business, uploading to my own channel, blogging, and personal training. I've been my own boss since I was 23 years old. I've travelled the world thanks to blogging and met some incredible women. I never imagined a career like this and always thought it was the perfect job to be a "work from home mom."

I currently teach only one mommy and me class at week in Boston at Burn Fitness Back Bay and still upload videos and blogs each week.
 ©2017 Lucie Wicker Photography
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again? 
When you work for yourself, you don't really stop. I think I took maybe a day or two of nothing but during nap time I was back to emails, writing my birth story and shooting videos again after 2 weeks. When it came to working out, I waited 3 weeks to do the elliptical. It was the most euphoric workout I've ever had! I trained with a personal trainer at 5 weeks and was running around then too.
I blogged about my experience and would have preferred to wait to run again but I agreed to run a half marathon 16 weeks postpartum. By 6 weeks, I was back taking spin and Pilates where childcare was offered.

How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby?
Before I had Tommy, I would take classes around the city whenever I wanted. I would go for long runs whenever I mustered up the energy or woke up. Now, I was restricted to classes with childcare or weekends when Nick was home from work. Sure I could realistically workout at least 3 times a week but I used to bounce around studio to studio. Now, I could only go to two.

I missed so many different studios. I also couldn't go before Tommy would wake up because I nursed him and was too full!
 ©2017 Lucie Wicker Photography
Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
 YES! Oh my gosh. I was always about losing the last 5 lbs. Now it's to be strong, have energy and feel good about myself. It's not about how long or how much. It's just to do something!

I love short HIIT workouts now. I used to dread them but now they are so much more efficient for my time. I lost the weight without dieting and being patient. I work hard but I workout much less than I did before I was pregnant. I am still nursing in so the extra calorie burn helps but I also eat a lot more, too!

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working/running a business and being a mom? Time management and the feeling of half-assing everything. I feel like I'm never giving my 100% to anything, Tommy, my job or relationship with Nick. It's hard. I want to cook and clean the house, I want to pay attention to Tommy and do fun projects, I want to put my attention on my business but I want to be a good mom. I try to do it all and I've lost a bit of myself in the process from a business point of view.
 ©2017 Lucie Wicker Photography
What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your son (either one-on-one or as a family)? I think my favorite would be just going for long walks together and stopping at the park for Tommy to run around or at the beach. We have a jogging stroller that we use in the summer and will take him to run by the beach. In Boston, we go for runs or walks around the city and stop at the esplanade or common. This may be boring but I love to workout and it's kind of my me time. I don't love to workout with Tommy or Nick haha. I like to do my own thing.

I think you're doing great! :D
Thanks to Sarah for sharing her story!

Instagram: @SarahFit
Twitter: @SarahDussault

To read more #FitMomTalks, click here

#FitMom Talks: Jennifer Phelan of @JPPilates

Need an insight into life as a popular fitness instructor and mom of two young kiddos? You're in luck because my latest Fit Mom Talk is with my old friend (and the first fitness model I ever photographed!) Jennifer Phelan. Jenn has learned a lot since becoming a mom and she is more than happy to share her experiences in hopes of helping other expecting and new moms. She's always impressed me as a fitness expert and now as a super mom too:

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jennifer Phelan and I am the founder of JPPilates, a brand that centers around training, motivating and influencing clients through my group Pilates classes in Boston, private instruction and social media. And I'm also a Mom to two little boys! I have a three-year-old named Grayson and a four-month-old named Max. Oh and I can't forget my 6 year old crazy Siberian Husky dog Noelle.
photo credit: April K Photography
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
With my first son Grayson I took a solid four months off from teaching and also from exercising. Grayson was a terrible sleeper. At night he work up every 1-2 hours. The sleep deprivation took a real toll on me and as much as I wanted to get back into the swing of teaching and working out, I simply couldn't. Caring for my child took every ounce of energy I had. I'd say around six months was when I really found my stride but it wasn't until he was one that I truly lost all of the baby weigh and had a full teaching schedule again.

The second time around has been much different. I think already having a toddler running around left me not much time to 'recover.' By the time Max was two months old I was itching to get back to teaching. Not that I don't love being home all the time with my boys but the escape from whining, crying, nagging and needing was much needed. My students and places of employment (North End Yoga and Equinox) looked like a shinning beacon of escape. In no way does teaching feel like work.

Even now people seem surprised that I returned back to teaching so soon after giving birth. I get a lot of questions asking why I didn't take a longer maternity leave and enjoy it. To set the record straight I'm not really teaching that much. Currently I only have 5 group classes on my schedule. The rest of time I'm home with my kids. I LOVE that I'm able to do both. Is it easy? No way! But I've learned to be flexible, go with the flow and keep myself open to what comes my way. I can't get too set in my ways about scheduling because things with kids are always changing!

My workouts this time around have been slow going. I'm being much kinder to myself as I strive to lose the last ten pounds and work to get fitter. I'm not as worried because I know that I did this once before and I know I can do it again. And even though I may not have my Nike Trainer, Fitness Instructor body back just yet, I try to remind myself that I am actually strong and my body is doing different yet amazing things. I breastfeed my baby. I carry around a 19lb infant every day. I wear him on my body in an Ergo carrier. I push a stroller up and down the hills of Charlestown with a 30lb toddler, baby, car seat and often groceries. That alone is an amazing yet non conventional workout. I know that in time I will have hours to myself to train and take classes but right now there's no place I'd rather be than with my family... well most days :)

How did your routine look different from before baby?
Before kids I taught 35+ hours a week between private clients and classes. I had tons of time to take group fitness classes all over Boston and I could be super relaxed about when I choose to workout. Often I'd make game day decisions on what time I wanted to exercise and what I was going to do.

Now my life is very scripted and planned. I have to coordinate with my husband if I want to take a week night class. He has to come home from work a little early in order for me to leave and make a 7:15pm class. That means that he walks in the door and I tag out- leaving him with dinner, bath time and bedtime duties for both kids. Plus he has to take the dog out and make dinner for us. That's a lot just so I can exercise. I often feel guilty when I choose to leave during the week. Luckily he's an amazing man and he reminds me that it's important I do these things for me. It's in the best interest of our entire family that I'm healthy and feel my best. I'm a much better wife and mom when I workout.

Right now with such a young baby I'm still trying to figure out my workout plan. I tend to do mat Pilates at home during the day whenever I can fit it in. I'm making it to classes probably twice a week and in classes I teach I'm down on the ground with my students working out with them. As my youngest gets older I know this will shift and I will be able to create a different routine with each month that passes.

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Prior to kids I cared about the number on the scale a lot. Now I don't even weigh myself. I honestly don't care. I'm sure it will be a different story once I'm done breastfeeding but for now the number isn't really a goal.

Before I used to compare myself to what other instructors were doing; how many classes they taught and what companies they worked with. I can honestly say that my love for teaching has actually grown since becoming a mom. It's taken on a whole new meaning to me. I adore the time I get to spend with my students and while I still stay on top of what other people are doing, I don't find the need to compare as much. My life is just different now.

Instead of only influencing young people to be fit and healthy I have a new crowd I've grown to love working with - New Moms! I want new moms to know that we are all in it together. That it's not easy but you can live a healthy active lifestyle. If I can do, so can you. I'm no different. And we can do it together. Prior to kids I wouldn't have had the first idea of how to connect with these women but I must say, it's been an honor getting to do so.

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working/running a business and being a mom?
Ah, there are just so many challenges. Lack of time and energy are a few to start. Some days it feels like I can do it all. Usually those are the days I drink two pots (yes, pots) of coffee. And other days I fall into bed with anxiety questioning why I'm even trying to work because motherhood is obviously a full time job and beyond. Overall my biggest challenge is remaining patient with the process. I have so many projects I want to jump up and do. So many ideas. But I have to accept that right now I can't do it all. Usually when I'm snuggling with my boys, in the quiet moments, are the times that I find peace with where I'm at. It's a work in progress, every single day.

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your sons (either one-on-one or as a family)?Since we have a large, active dog we do lots of family walks around the city. Grayson is a toddler expert on his Micro Mini Scooter and often times it's a workout for us all to just keep up with him. I love practicing yoga and Pilates with Grayson. When he was two, we took about 10 months of toddler yoga together. It was hands down the best class I've ever taken him to. We take a lot of the techniques from classes (focusing on breathe, slowing down, mindfulness, and of course the poses) and apply them together at home. He's working on his Pilates Hundreds and Roll-Ups too but still needs some help on his core strength :) 

I also love adding Max into my workouts! We do everything from push ups, planks and ab work together. I get right down on the mat with him. Both boys when they were little are the inspiration for the Mom and Baby classes I teach. It's so fun to be able to create with them and share with other Boston and Charlestown Moms!

Thanks to Jenn for sharing her story! 
You will always inspire me and so many others as well :)

Instagram: @JPPilates1
Twitter: @JPPilates

To read more #FitMomTalks, click here!

#FitMomTalks: Tina Haupert of Carrots 'n' Cake

I recently did a shoot with my blogger buddy, Tina, and I wanted to post her awesome #FitMomTalk today! I paired up with Tina about a year ago to take photos (and now video) of her on a regular basis for her popular fitness/lifestyle blog, Carrots 'n' Cake, and also her latest business venture, Designed to Fit Nutrition which provides custom meal plans. Tina has a two-year-old son, Quinn, and is definitely a fit mom inspiration.  I am so happy to share what she had to say:
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
For work, maybe a day or two, which I totally regret. Looking back, I wish I had taken several weeks away from work. For working out, I was back at it just a few weeks later with walking and light workouts in my driveway. By 5 weeks, I was back at CrossFit and running just a short while later.

How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby?

Before a baby, I felt like I had all the time in the world to work and exercise. Now, life is a lot more scheduled, which means I can't dillydally with my time anymore. If I have a free hour to work or workout, I am doing exactly that-- no watching TV or playing on Facebook!
Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Absolutely! I used to want to hit certain numbers at the gym and look a certain way, which, of course, was directly tied to my fitness routine. Now, I just want to enjoy my workouts and have a good time. Exercise is so much more about being happy and healthy nowadays!

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working/running a business and being a mom?

Time. Balance. Mom guilt. Some days, I feel like I am top of the world doing it all, but a lot of the time (maybe too much of the time), I feel like I am failing at everything. Of course, I wouldn't give it up for the world-- working from home and spending time with my little guy is the absolute best-- but it's still tough sometimes. I feel like I am pulled in a million directions.
What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your son (either one-on-one or as a family)?We love being active as a family, especially when the weather is nice. Some of our favorite activities: Stroller running, family walks and hikes, and partner workouts in our basement.

Thanks Tina! 

#FitMom Talks: Barre Instructor and Fitness Fashion Blogger, Jessica Diaz

Now that it's September it's time to feature another awesome fit mom! This month I'm talking to barre teacher and blogger, Jessica Diaz. Jess had so much awesome advice for new moms regarding fitness; I think you'll really enjoy this one - 
Tell us a little about yourself and your business: Jessica Diaz, Mom, Barre Instructor, certified personal trainer, spokesperson for the American Stroke Association, and co-founder of a fitness and fashion blog called Ms Fit For Society. I teach at Asana Charlestown and EquinoxChloe is 8, and Chase is 5.
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again? 
I did not return to work after maternity leave. I was working in television advertising and marketing and the long hours and fact that my husband was traveling a lot made staying home with my daughter the best option at the time. And just about when I was considering going back to work, I had my son. So I was home through my second pregnancy and until my son was about two years old. So in total… it was almost 5 years between having my first baby and going back to work.

There were many times through those 5 years that I wished that I had a job that was flexible, that would make financial sense (childcare vs. paycheck), and that I loved enough to pull me back into working. I didn’t find that until my son was about one.
After both of my pregnancies, I turned to my favorite workout, Barre, to get back in shape. I had gained quite a bit of weight in both pregnancies and loved that Barre really focused on building back core strength, and was also non-pounding/jumping so it was a great option for me post baby (especially because I was exhausted all of the time). However, what I found was a lot of the classes at the time did not offer some of the modifications I needed. So I started researching different modifications and different exercises and started incorporating them into classes or just doing my own version of barre class at home. I started to see my body not only started to transform quicker, I also enjoyed the workout more, and reduced my feelings of strain during certain positions. 

After a few months, my body was back to better than pre-baby shape. I decided then that I wanted to become Barre instructor to create classes that offered more options for post-baby clients, barre beginners, and/or people working with injuriesIn 2012, I got my teacher certification and created a Barre program for a yoga studio. I have been teaching ever since.

In terms of the timing of when to back to working out. I would say really listen to your body. I think there is this huge rush to get back into shape. And we have to keep in mind that our bodies just went through 9 months of pregnancy, a delivery, and probably some sleepless nights on top of it all. I see so many women back in the gym six weeks post baby. I tell my clients that If you are feeling great, and have been cleared by your doctor, then by all means get back to it as soon as possible. But if you feel you need more time to recover, please take that extra time. Post-baby you can always look into breathing and stretching exercises to get started before jumping back into intense workouts. With my daughter, I did not really start working out until she was about 4 months and about 3 months with my son.
How did your schedule/routine look different before kids?
When my babies were infants it was really difficult to have a schedule. But once I got them on nap routines, life was more predictable. I went back and forth for a while between wanting to be that mom whose’ baby “just does and goes with whatever the mom is doing and can nap anywhere on the go" vs. "having a more structure schedule and being home for nap times”. The freedom of the first option was nice, but I really found being home for naps and having a little more structure seemed to make my babies much happier. 

In terms of scheduling workouts, I found, and I tell my clients this, is to learn to be more flexible. I used to be the type that had to get to the certain class/workout and get my spot etc. …that totally changed. I still had my top choice workouts/classes I wanted to do, but I had a plan b workout always in mind. Plan b maybe was a walk with the baby, or an at home workout.  It was important for me to not miss the weekly workouts I scheduled for myself, I just learned to be flexible with what they were.

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Yes, so much! I can honestly say post-baby was when I truly fell in love with fitness. It became not only important to me to get in shape and be healthier, but it also was my dedicated time to myself. I also think having the goal of losing that baby weight also helped keep me motivated.
What is the biggest challenge you've found in working and being a mom?
I am very fortunate my schedule is part-time and for the most part I have structured it around when I need to be home with them. And still I find it hard balancing it all. I give so much credit to moms who are working full time.

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your kids (either one-on-one or as a family)?
This is a new one for me …Sports! I was never into sports growing up. Horseback riding that was it. As my kids get older, and as they are experimenting with different sports it has been so much fun. I just played tennis with my five-year-old. He was already way better at it and it was so much fun. My daughter is into ballet; I love watching her dance. And my son is starting lacrosse, so again, a whole new way to incorporate staying active and having fun.

Thanks to Jess for sharing her story!

To read more #FitMomTalks, click here!

#FitMom Talks: Jessica Oar of Be PowerFULL

I am so excited to get back to these FitMomTalks! This week I'm featuring Jessica Oar who has some great advice for moms/business owners and the benefits of moderation -

Tell us a little about yourself and your business: Jessica Oar, owner/founder of Be PowerFULL. My mission is to help women to get fit, find their personal power and live FULL lives. I advocate against restrictive dieting and white-knuckling through intensive training programs. Instead, I inspire, educate and coach women who lead busy lives (lots of moms!) to find a sustainable healthy lifestyle where they love how they move and eat and get great results, too. I train locally out of my home gym in Norwell through group and private sessions, I work with clients all over the country through my one-on-one private coaching (customized meal planning and fitness) and I run my signature Fat-Loss Lifestyle online course/coaching group several times a year. It's all here:

I am a mom of two boys! Benjamin, almost 4 and Nathan, almost 2 (at some point, you stop counting months!). They are boys through and through and are total sweethearts. I'm lucky to live this life as a mom boss so that I can spend more time with them than I was able to when I was a sales manager in corporate america.

How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again? 
Oh, man, I loved maternity leave! Such a special time in my memory, with both children! With Ben, I was able to take in that awe of being a brand new mom and with Nate, because we had childcare for Ben, I was able to spend some great alone time with him to really get to know him. I was lucky to have 12 weeks of maternity leave after the birth of both boys. It wasn't until my youngest was one, actually, that I left my former career in media sales and launched my business. I'm so happy that I did, because I'm doing what I absolutely love. It fills me to the core and affords me the ability to spend more time with my family!

I remained relatively active throughout both pregnancies with resistance training and yoga, however, I had an unexpected c-section with my first delivery which proved to be a very tough recovery for me both mentally and physically. I started walking when my son was 3-weeks old and gradually added in more when my body was able. It was probably about 4 months until I felt like myself again in the takes time, moms! With the birth of my second, I had healed and I was able to have a natural V-BAC, from which I bounced back much easier. What an incredible experience. However, I will say, nothing prepares you for life with two! Between sleeplessness, stress, a promotion at work and a lack of prioritizing self-care, I was the heaviest I'd ever been 6 months after Nate's. This is when I really did most of my work with leaning into a life of moderation. It was essential for me to get results for myself in a way that was shame-free and that I could maintain with all life's stressors.

How did your schedule/routine look different from before kids? 
I have always been an athlete and a fitness enthusiast, playing multiple sports in High School and college, and always looking for my next goal. The year before starting a family, I trained to become a triathlete and completed 5 sprint triathlons in my first (and only!) season. While I believe we can prioritize more time-intensive training like this into our life and make it work if it's that important to us, for me, the long bike rides, swims and runs proved to be virtually impossible with my schedule as a corporate career woman and mom. 
Rather than spend 4+ hours on my fitness each week, I learned to get efficient with my fitness. Since having children, I've fallen in love with metabolic resistance training which gets me the biggest bang for the buck and gets me back to my busy life in no time. I typically do 3 - 4 twenty minute workouts a week, with a mix of heavy and moderate weights. I've also recently fallen in love with power lifting and heavy strength training and plan to compete in a meet within the next year.

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how? 
Actually, no. I've always used fitness as a way to clear my mind, deal with stress and focus on my health and mental balance. As a Mom, I turn to my fitness as a way to honor the woman that I am, aside from my role as a caregiver. Self-care is an essential part of my life and I believe every Mom should have it at the top of her list. The younger me, the one who dieted and trained like crazy on all-in restrict-then-binge plans, believed self-care was about discipline only. I now believe that self-care is a combination of discipline and self-compassion...learning when to push and when not to...balance. I don't eat well and workout to look a certain way anymore, I do it because it makes me feel empowered, at peace with myself and confident. My training make look different now than it did in my 20's but I'm actually in the best shape of my life now and I owe that to weigh-training.

Read more about that in one of my recent blogs:

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working/running a business and being a mom?
My new bosses (Ben and Nate!) don't always agree with my schedule, which means, on days that I don't have childcare, if naps don't happen, work doesn't happen. When you own a business, there's no clocking out, even on vacation. I've learned to block out time in the evenings or weekends to be sure the projects I care about move forward. I see this as a challenge and a blessing because I'm creating what I love and making a difference with people who need my help!

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your sons? 
We love to go on hikes and walks! The boys each have their own set of dumbbells so they'll often be doing squat presses or push-ups next to me as I train next to them in the playroom or our garage gym. I love that they see fitness all-day, every day and they know I value taking care of myself. I hope they grow up prioritizing self-care as well!

Thanks to Jess for sharing her story!

Twitter: @jessicaoar1

To read more #FitMomTalks, click here!

#FitMom Talks: Julianna Curtis of The Energy Barre

New month, new FitMom! Get ready for this one - there's a lot of good info here... I've worked with Julianna Curtis a bunch of times now and loved each photo shoot we've done. From pre-baby, to "maternity fitness shoot," to post, this lady is killing it no matter what stage of life she's in. She's got a lot to say too so grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine, settle in, and read on!

Tell us a little about yourself and your business: My name is Julianna Curtis, I've got a lot of spunk, a big heart, a lot of dreams and a long to do list. I respond to a lot of names such as Wife, J, and Queen...but my favorite name is Mama. I became a mom on March 25, 2015 when my husband and I welcomed our son Lennon Patrick to this world!
photos courtesy of Julianna Curtis
To be entirely honest, I wasn't sure I was meant to be a mom. Before the baby there was never a moment when my husband and I felt incomplete as a party of two, we had each other and our love was BIG. In the months waiting for our baby we shared "fear of the unknown" feelings and wondered how our party of two would function as a party of three. EVERYBODY told us that once the baby arrived we would wonder how we ever lived without him. Well, in many ways they were right. Our baby boy was made for us. He is our greatest love, our greatest adventure and our greatest blessing. Watching my hubby become a father has made my heart grow to a size I did not know was possible and I thank God for those two boys everyday. Just looking at my son's face fills me with so much pride, I truly could not imagine our life without him. 

But becoming a mama sure does change EVERYTHING! I wouldn't wish it away, I wouldn't change it if I could...I would simply ask the universe for more time in each day, so that I could spend adequate time playing with my son and teaching him to love life and take risks, being a wife and showing my husband how grateful I am to have him for myself and as my partner in parenting, being a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend, following my professional dreams and taking care of myself. Since I am sure that women have been wishing for more hours in a day since the beginning of time, I will just focus on doing the best I can and giving my all to this very full life, especially to the boy who changed it all, Lennon.

Before I became a mom, my life was still incredibly full! If you had asked me about myself and my life, I would have divulged a little bit more about the individual "me" and boasted about my cute hubby before telling you all about my passion and my calling: I am the proud owner of The Energy Barre, a fitness and lifestyle studio specializing in barre and matte style classes that promise to tighten, tone and strengthen, while restoring balance to the body. That key word - balance - is what makes our technique so unique, effective and addicting. Not only do our workouts deliver aesthetic results, but they also encourage reengineering to the internal workings of the body. We develop incredible tension through our lives daily feels good to have that released! Our clients, or EB Babes, come to class and work incredibly hard, yet when they leave they feel refreshed rather than drained...they make our instructors feel like miracle workers, but it's just a smart workout with passionate delivery! It still blows my mind when I say that my team is made up of over 30 women. 

When I first opened The Energy Barre, with three girls by my side, it was my goal to create a place where any woman, any shape, any size, any fitness level could come and get a great workout, feel challenged yet supported and leave feeling good about themselves. I attribute the studios ability to stay true to this goal to The Energy Barre Girls. Our team is irreplaceable because each girl has made my mission their own. It's really rewarding and humbling to watch these girls in action. I can also thank these girls for my nickname, "the queen." Let the record show: I shamelessly dubbed myself The Queen of EB, but when you've got such a loyal group of girls working to build a dream that was once just your own, how could you not feel like a Queen?

Currently I own and operate three locations: EB Beverly, EB Medford and EB Stoneham. I have big goals to continue to grow! In The Energy Barre's three short years, I have learned that my passion for fitness falls within a greater passion: connecting with and supporting women. I am lucky to have found a career that supports my desire to love, that challenges me to be a better person and inspires me to do more. My professional life will be dedicated to encouraging women to admire their own greatness and to nurture the greatness of others. I want to see women love themselves so truly that any jealousy of another could be turned into true admiration: imagine how much more energy we would have to give to things that matter!? I am not quite sure where this road will take me, but I know it will be a trip worth taking. I can promise additional Energy Barre locations in the future....I also hope to build an online presence in some capacity, and to turn my newly launched, amateur blog "the diary of a queen" into a powerful resource for women. If you can dream it, you can do it...right?

How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
Thanks to my team, I was able to pretty much unplug without concern for our entire hospital stay (Lennon spent some time in the special care unit). Once we were home, I was eager to reconnect with the behind the scenes work, and babies nap quite a bit... so I plugged back in and being involved made me feel human! Lennon's ten days in the hospital forced me to truly sit still, rest and recover. 

Immediately upon settling into life at home with I baby I committed to moving my body every day. I did not dive into rigorous exercise by any means, but my body craved movement and I made that happen daily, while honoring my physical limitations. I returned to teaching on May 4th, about five weeks after giving birth. Taking an extended break from teaching was something that I COULD have done, because our team is so supportive, but it was not something that I wanted to do. I taught my last class on the day my water broke and once Lennon was home from the hospital and I looked forward to my body giving me the green light to get into the studio again. I remember hearing songs on the drive to and from the hospital and making notes because I could not wait to use them in classes. Many moms dread the return to work because it means five extended days away from their new baby. I cannot imagine how that must feel. I was fortunate to be able to look forward to my return to work, knowing that it only meant a couple of hours away from my son.

How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby? Oh gosh! It was different in so many ways! Different from what it was before, and different from what I planned for it to be!

Professionally: Pre-baby I was teaching 14-15 classes each week...when I made my return in May I took it slowly, starting with 3 classes per week and gradually building from there. I took it slow, worked my schedule to manage extra long summer weekends at the lake and I limited the amount of days I had to be anywhere before 11am. As I took on more I quickly developed a bottomless well of respect and admiration for the moms who do it all so gracefully, and then of course for those (like me) who make it all happen, just not so gracefully. Those early months of motherhood taught me how to be happy about showing up without looking perfect, because to get out of the house on time has always been hard for me, nevermind with a baby! I look back on those dark circle, breast milk stained, disheveled days with pride... I can say I've been there with a smile (and maybe a couple of tears). 

Now, almost a year into motherhood, I teach 10 classes per week and I don't really plan to commit to many more regularly scheduled classes. I add on special classes and pop up offerings to fill my desire to teach more, and that has been working great! This schedule allows me to feel balanced, like I am home with my family and at the studio with my favorite ladies JUST enough! I will always wish I had more time for both...but like I said I'm just going to focus on giving all that I can with what I've got!

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how? 
Personally: My own fitness routine was DRASTICALLY different than I had anticipated! To be 100% honest, from the outset, pregnancy gave me a great amount of anxiety because I am a fitness professional. I use my body to do my job, and through years of work I had developed a body that I was comfortable in and proud of, and having that change was terrifying. I had strong expectations of myself and I was scared to meet my new mom body....but what I didn't know was what the expectations would be of my clients, and what they would think of my new mom body. I think that is a fear that everyone in this industry has at some point, and it can be hard to put to words. Once I had accepted that this change was going to happen, I coped by promising myself a celebrity-style comeback. I anticipated vigorous workouts, a clean diet and a daily commitment to studio time for ME! 

Well, Lennon had other plans, and thank God for that! Instead of focusing on my transformation, I committed to taking my time, being kind to myself, and moving my body everyday so that I could be the best mom, the best wife, the best boss babe, and the best me on any given day. This commitment in itself was enough of a challenge so again, thank goodness I was able to let go of that celebrity-style comeback! Still, I was constantly faced by challenges. Owning a fitness studio, I thought it would be easy to sneak a class in everyday, but there isn't always a sitter, there is always work to do, and some days I did not want to leave my son's side. So, in honoring the commitment that I had made to myself, I began to develop tricks and methods of motivation to achieve active movement everyday without seriously dropping the ball in the other aspects of my life. 

My favorite trick is the three or thirty commitment, which you can read about in my blog here. But what I would really like to say here is how much my view of fitness has changed. I believe that my relationship with my body and with exercise has been very healthy and balanced for a long time...I have always loved french fries and ice cream and I have always loved running and pushing my limits I struck a balance pretty naturally. But something has shifted in this year as a mom...I still make a daily commitment to move, I love to see my body change shape and develop strength, but I am kinder to myself and although my body is different than it used to be, I have never felt better.
What is the biggest challenge you've found in running a business and being a mom? The biggest challenge I have faced is striking a balance. On the weeks that I feel like I am crushing it professionally I usually miss a few more bed times, have piles of dirty laundry and a screen full of unopened text messages. On the weeks that I feel that I have given my family and home all of the attention that it deserves I've got unanswered emails and a lengthy boss babe to-do list. But it flows. I am at least getting better at acknowledging when one side is slipping and making an effort to tip the scale back before one has totally dropped. Knowing myself, I will never truly overcome this challenge...but I will become a master manager of my own life and find the best balance...maybe by the time Lennon is TWO!

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your son? I just love to involve him! When it's just him and I, it's a thirty minute workout, and I feel like he enjoys it as much as I do: he cheers me on and I make him laugh! Some days he is in the high chair with some Cheerios while I run on the treadmill and sing to him. Some days he is my big 25 pound weight of resistance. Some days my movements are dictated by where he has crawled to and what toys he is playing with. We have fun. He smiles, I sweat, we're both better for it!

Thanks so much to Julianna for sharing her story! 

More info on Julianna and the Energy Barre:

locations: 5 Central Square, Stoneham, MA 02180
181 Elliott Street, Beverly, MA 01915
269 Middlesex Avenue, Medford, MA 02155

Twitter: @TheEnergyBarre
instagram: @the_energy_barre

To read more of my #FitMomTalks, click here!

#FitMom Talks: Kerri Thomas of Orangetheory Fitness

It's the beginning of the month and I have another awesome FitMom to share with you (to see more from this series, click here)! And now - meet Kerri!
Tell us a little about yourself and your business: 
My name is Kerri Thomas and I am the Regional Fitness Director and Trainer for Orangetheory Fitness. My husband and I are working on starting a stroller run club in the greater Boston area starting this May! More information to follow. Nevin is our son and he will be 7 months on April 20.
photo courtesy of Kerri Thomas
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again? 
I took 12 weeks off for my leave, starting 1 week before I delivered. I stopped training classes 2 weeks before my due date and worked out up to the day before I delivered.

I had a quick and relatively easy delivery so I started going for 2+ mile walks the day after we came home from the hospital, and then started with shorter body weight circuits at home around 4 weeks postpartum. At 6 weeks I tried to do a box jump (not smart) and nearly face planted as my hips were still separated and the pain I felt was a big eye opener that slowly getting back into things was needed even for me.

Also, I was a pretty avid runner before, and that was the only thing that was too uncomfortable for me to do while I was pregnant. I had awful ligament pains in my lower abdominal area, so it's been TOUGH running again after almost a year!

How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby?Well... My schedule was jam packed with working out before Nevin! Work and working out were basically my top two priorities as I was about to start training for a marathon the week I found out I was pregnant. 
Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Absolutely! Your whole life and priorities shift or change after you have a baby, or at least mine did. I'm a HUGE goals person, and the goals I had before Nevin were more personal when it came to my health and fitness. Now, my fitness and health goals take on a whole new meaning as I want to be a role model for my son, not just a "fit mom". A very important goal of mine working in fitness is to inspire every person I meet to be the strongest and healthiest version of themselves, my son will be one of those people!

What is the biggest challenge you've found in working and being a mom?When you love what you do, your "work/life balance" doesn't seem to be an issue, right? This was me! I was always working and didn't really think about it twice. Now, time management is something I am working on a lot. When I'm at work I'm working more efficiently and I'm minimizing the amount of work I do on my days off, other than when Nevin is sleeping. So, most of my emails go out after 9PM :) I still work full-time, with some days being at 2+ locations or some weeks working some part of every day, but I feel as though I am home much more and when I am home it's quality time.

The real challenge I found when going back to work is not so much my work/mom balance, but the work/working out or going out/mom balance. When I was on maternity leave, I didn't feel guilty and craved getting out to get a workout done or go out with friends. Now working, I have a hard time being away from Nevin for personal time as I'm already away for work. It's something I'm sure all working parents face, and have started to put a schedule together that has helped me figure this out and not miss his face too much!

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your son (either one-on-one or as a family)?In the fall, Mike and I used to go for longer walks with Nevin and then stop at the HS track or a big hill to do a workout with Nevin typically sleeping. The winter has been tough to incorporate Nevin into our workout routines but we've taught him some great pushup and sit-up to stand exercises! But what's been really great as the weather is getting warmer and Nevin has now developed strong enough head and body control, is we are starting to jog with him in the stroller (if you are a runner you need a BOB stroller). We are excited to get some hikes done as a family this spring!

To follow Kerri on her adventures in fitness and motherhood, check her out on instagram at @kjfitchick. Thanks for chatting with me, Kerri! 

#FitMomTalks: Gina Fay of DanceFIT Studio

I'm so excited to share a new feature on the blog with you! When I found out I was expecting my first baby this spring, I immediately turned to my mom friends for any and all wisdom they had to share. I realized I'm lucky to know so many moms in the fitness community who are kicking ass at their jobs, some even owning their own businesses, and figuring out how to be super moms as well.

I thought it would be fun (and hopefully inspiring!) to share their stories and any advice they have on the blog in a regular feature called "FitMoms." Our first FitMom is Gina Fay, business owner and mom of three, who I've known and admired for years. Here's what she had to share:
Tell us a little about yourself and your business: 
Hi! Lucie, thank you for asking me to be a part of this special blog series! I am Gina, the owner/founder of danceFIT Studio with locations in Brookline, Natick and a virtual fitness studio which I started 6 years ago.

A little bit about danceFIT, without turning this blog into a marketing piece, but my business is first and foremost a very special dance studio for children. We present classical ballet & technique in a friendly welcoming environment. Second, my Natick studio offers a variety of adult barre and fitness classes like pound, zumba, balletFIT, bootcamp, pilates with props, deep stretch and our very popular class hot barre (which you got to experience!) 6 years ago, I launched a virtual fitness studio from my living room. I taught from home and my clients stayed home. It seemed so strange at first, but the community grew and grew and grew, and now we offer 20+ group virtual fitness classes per week, and we have had clients from 5 countries and 23 states. I am also co-founder of bvirtualstudio in which I train other boutique barre, yoga and pilates studios how to “bvirtual.”

My hubby and I live in Wayland MA, a suburb west of Boston. We have three amazing children, Joey (6), Tommy (5) and Maggie (6 months). The boys love baseball, football, walkie talkies, ninjas, legos and playing outside. Maggie loves crinkly paper, peas, cuddling with daddy, stuffed animals and watching her crazy brothers.
photo courtesy of Gina Fay
How long of a maternity leave were you able to take before you started to work (and workout!) again?
I taught up until I went into labor, 3 days after my due date [with Maggie]. I kept a pretty full teaching schedule, but the last month teaching balletFIT cardio was just impossible. The amount of pas de chats, chasses and stamina needed for the class just wasn’t working with the big belly ;) I loved teaching pregnant, though....I even scheduled a virtual class on my due date called "labor inducing danceFIT," haha. I still couldn’t dance her out! I put myself back on the schedule 3 weeks after Maggie arrived. I think it was similar after the boys were born too. I started working out and dancing when my body felt ready; I couldn’t wait for the first workout, which was very humbling, ha. I started by teaching virtual classes and then finally was back in the studio at 6 weeks.
How did that schedule/routine look different from before baby?
I am actually trying to think back more than 6 years ago to my workout routines before kids- that feels forever ago! I taught 5+ classes a day, 7 days a week. Chris (my hubby) and I would spend our “free” time being active...walking around the city, running, and riding our bikes. Now our “free” time is collapsed on the couch, drinking coffee, meal prepping, grocery shopping, fun trips with the kids, sporting events and family walks. Thank goodness for our virtual studio which allows me to make dinner, nurse Maggie, tuck everyone in, teach class from my living room and then relax on the couch after.

Did your fitness outlook and goals change after becoming a mom? If so, how?
Before kids, I would workout and dance to lose weight, flatten my tummy, get ready for summer, etc. Now I workout to de-stress, sweat and stretch. Growing a baby, having a baby and caring for a baby definitely changed the shape of my body. I can try tirelessly to get it back, or I can embrace the new shape & stretch marks and get as fit and strong as I can with the minimal time I have left for me at the end of the day. I treat my workouts as a “break” and really enjoy them. I love the feeling of being drenched in sweat from ballet jumps and sequences, my legs shaking like jello from an intense balletFIT class and my abs sore from pilates!
What is the biggest challenge you've found in running a business and being a mom?
This is such a good question because owning a business has actually been one of the best things about being a mom. I am able to make my own schedule to work around my kids schedules. The biggest challenge though is not being able to “turn work off.” I am trying to disconnect more and be more present at home, but there are so many things to think about when you own a business. I love when I can bring my kids to work. At DanceFIT, I host infant/ mom playdates, baby wearing balletFIT and kids dance and yoga nights for the boys and their friends! We have more fun events like this coming up.

What is your favorite fitness-related activity to do with your kids (either one-on-one or as a family)?
We love water sports! Water skiing (which I am bad at, but love!), paddle boarding, swimming. We also love going on walks.

Thank you Gina!

More info about Gina and her studios - 
locations: 25 monmouth street, brookline ma 02446 | 721 worcester street, natick ma 01760
twitter: @dFITstudio
instagram: @dancefitstudio