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At FIT4MOM Madison, we believe healthy moms mean healthy communities. So let's have some fun together as a community this holiday season. Join us for the 12 Days of Fitness and Family! Starting Thursday, December 12th we will be posting a daily challenge regarding family and/or fitness to encourage quality time together this holiday season.

This Challenge is totally FREE. All you have to do is join our Facebook Group- all Challenges will be posted in the group. Invite your partner, your mom, your bestie- the more the merrier.

Are you ready to have some fun? Join us now!

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With the holiday season upon us and winter already here — thanks, Madison! — thoughts are beginning to turn to New Year’s resolutions. Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger, or exercise more, wanting to get healthier is never a bad idea.

And although you have great intentions, getting healthier can seem overwhelming if you feel like you have a long way to go. But don’t fret — we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to make tons of changes at once to be successful. In fact, enacting small changes every few days or weekly, and adding upon them, makes the whole process easier to stick to.

Try these 10 simple hacks to get healthier today. Start with one, then pick another to add on next week, and keep going! Before you know it, you’ll be looking at a healthier version of you.

1. Ditch the quick fixes. All of those pills and detox teas promising to help you lose weight fast? They don’t live up to the hype. Throw all of that stuff in the garbage — or better yet, don’t buy it in the first place — and focus your energy elsewhere. We wouldn’t steer you wrong.

2. Swap a sugary (or “artificial sugary”) drink for a glass of water. If you’re a soda/diet soda fiend, try subbing one of these beverages for a glass of water instead. You won’t feel deprived right off the bat, and you’ll be taking steps to better hydration, which is key to optimal digestion, organ health and energy levels.

3. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. When the kids are in bed and you finally get to relax, you may get sucked into a Netflix binge, reading a good book or scrolling through social media. Although that alone time is so wonderful, try powering down earlier to get some extra zzz’s. Getting enough sleep is crucial to your health and energy levels.

4. Eat an extra serving of vegetables. Even if greens aren’t your favorite thing, try to sneak in just one extra serving of the good stuff into your day. Maybe it’s some spinach in a smoothie, peppers and tomatoes on a sandwich or using lettuce instead of bread on a burger — every little veggie counts.

5. Swap a prepackaged snack for a piece of fruit. Grabbing a bag of chips or a granola bar is oh so easy, but so is a piece of fruit. Sub one for an apple or a banana, making sure you have these healthier options available when hunger strikes.

6. Eat sitting down. Mom lives are busy, busy, busy, but do your best to sit down and eat today. When you do this, you’ll be more mindful of what you’re eating and how much.

7. Have your coffee black. Let’s face it — us mamas need our coffee! Consider dropping your full-fat, sugary creamers for just black coffee as an easy swap that will save you calories — especially if you’re a 2- to 3-cup-a-day person.

8. Meal prep one meal a week. If you’re always figuring out lunch or dinner on the fly, resulting in grabbing something quick and easy like fast food, make a commitment to prepping one healthy meal ahead of time. Check out some of our Crocktober recipes for some easy crockpot meals. Having something ready to go will take the guesswork out of the equation, and if you make a big enough batch, you’ll have plenty of leftovers for another healthy lunch or dinner later in the week.

9. Get in a daily walk. Not only will it do wonders for your mood, walking more throughout your day will help you increase your TDEE, or total daily energy expenditure. Making small, consistent changes in your TDEE will add up to a big burn over time. Wisconsin winters are rough, we know, so consider the mall or the treadmill or track at Harbor Athletic Club if the temps are just too cold.

10. Think Positively. An attitude of gratitude — that’s what we need! When you focus on the good, your mood will be better, you’ll be more likely to embrace each day as a new start, and you’ll have a better overall outlook on life.

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We love singing holiday theme songs at our Stroller Strides classes. Why do we sing at Stroller Strides? The obvious reason is that it helps keep the kids entertained in their stroller- happy kiddo means happy mama, right? But singing also releases oxytocin a feel good hormone in your brain which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Not only in your brain, but in your childs. When your child hears the sound of your voice, it enhances their feelings of trust and bonding- even if they are too young to understand the words. Doesn't that make you want to sing along?

Here are a few of our favorite Halloween songs- sing them with your little ones and let us know how they like them! And if you ever want to sing in good company, where it doesn't matter if you can carry a tune or not, come try out a Stroller Strides class- your first one is always free, click here to register!

Where is Pumpkin- Sung to the tune Where Is Thumbkin

Where is pumpkin, where is pumpkin?

Here I am, here I am.

This one has a happy face. This one has a scary face.

Run away, run away.

I'm a Little Jack o lantern- Sung to the tune I'm a Little Teapot

I'm a little jack o lantern, fat and fine.

They picked me off of the pumpkin vine

Halloween is coming, don't you know!

Just light my candle and watch me glow.

5 Little Witches- Sung to the tune 5 Little Ducks

5 little witches went flying one day

Up in the sky and far away

The mommy witch cackled for her babies in black

and only 4 little witches came flying back....

... Keep counting down to no little witches.

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This is my FAVORITE crockpot recipe that was shared by one of my Body Back mamas years ago, I make it at least twice a month! It is very versatile and feeds my family for at least 2 meals. It freezes really well too. Let us know if you have a favorite way to use this recipe!

2 lbs. chicken breast

1 c. chicken broth

1 t. oregano

1/2 garlic powder

1/2 onion powder

Combine everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3- I also use frozen chicken breast often so just add a little cooking time. Once chicken is cooked use forks to shred.

Family favorite ways to serve:

- Add BBQ sauce to make BBQ chicken sandwiches or wraps

- Add hot sauce, shredded carrots and celery and blue cheese to make Buffalo Chicken sandwiches (my husbands fave)

- Add to soups (check out another Crockpot soup recipe here)

- Taco Tuesday- set chicken out and a variety of toppings for everyone to make their own tacos. The meat doesn't have much mexican flavor, so add salsa if you'd like.

Moms Night Out

When was the last time YOU got to be crafty mamas? I am all about the crafts for my kiddos, I've got back up pipe cleaners, puff balls and glue on hand at all times- I mean who can resist that dollar bins.... but I've been so wrapped up in the kids crafts, I forgot that guess what.. I actually love crafting! But I don't necessarily have the time to prep everything and come up with a plan- lord knows a trip to Michael's can easily take me two hours (anyone else get distracted there?!?!) .

Enter Rebecca from B Happy Crafts! We hosted our October Moms Night last night, and it was a BLAST. You could either make a pumpkin, a ghost or a turkey string art on a light or dark finish. Rebecca did all of the leg work for us! She came with the projects prepped and all of the supplies ready. All we had to do was show up and get to work. We hammered the nails in the boards, which was great for a little stress relief :) And then we got to work stringing- there were tons of colors of thread to choose from and you could totally customize your technique and color scheme. I feel like I was able to tap in to my creative juices and I found that the stringing was really relaxing. It was so fun to see how everyone's projects took on their own style.

Be sure to check out B Happy Crafts if you like crafting but not the prep work! I've gotten a few other projects from Rebecca and they have all turned out so well, and she is just the best. Check out all of our pics on our Facebook page.

Let's Get Crafty was so much fun, we decided to do it again next month with a Holiday Light Craft at Home Depot. We'd love for you to join us! Click here for details.

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This recipe is brought to your by our prenatal yoga instructor Katie Peterman. It's a great vegetarian option that is full of protein and fiber- and economical!

1 c. dried black beans, rinsed

2 large carrots chopped

1 med green pepper chopped

1 15oz can diced tomatoes

1/4 c. quinoa

4 c. water

1 1/2 T. chili powder

1 t. salt

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Test the beans for doneness after 6 hours and if they need longer, continue heating for 30 min- 1 hour. Serve hot and top with your choice of greek yogurt, salsa, chopped avocado or green onions. Yum!

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I made these Crockpot Sloppy Joes last night and they were amazing! I thought I would have enough leftovers for dinner tonight but they were ALL GONE! My kids were all part of the clean plate club- woot woot! Score one for team mom.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef or turkey

1 red or orange pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. ketchup

8 oz. tomato sauce

2 T. brown sugar

1 t. yellow mustard

2 T. worcestershire sauce

1/2 t. onion powder

1/2 t. garlic powder

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the meat and saute until meat is cooked through. Place the meat mixture in the crockpot and combine remaining ingredients, stirring well. Cook on low 4 hours.

I made this as a crockpot meal because I needed a fast dinner on the table come 5:00 when we got home from after school activities before I had to run out the door to class. You could easily make this as a regular skillet meal if you have more prep time in the evening.

Served with baked beans and a side salad.

Yum!

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It's Crocktober! Fall is for soup, crockpots and sweaters as far as I am concerned. This month we will be sharing some of our favorite Crockpot Recipes with you. To start us off, my Crockpot Dump Soup!

Ok yes really, it's called Dump Soup...because you just dump everything in and go.

I swung by Trader Joe's last night when I dropped my daughter off at swim practice nearby (tell me I'm not the only one excited when life brings me near TJ's) and grabbed some of my favorites to help out and make prep even easier.

Ingredients:

- Mirepoix mix from TJ's (or onions, carrots and celery if you want to chop your own)

- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

- 1 c. frozen peppers (again, use fresh if you want)

- 1 box chicken broth

- 2 c. water

- 3 chicken thighs and 1 chicken breast (the rest I put in the freezer for my next soup day)

- 1 t. italian seasoning

- 2 cloves of garlic

- salt and pepper to taste

- 1 14 oz can your favorite beans (I used Great Northern)

- 1 c. chopped fresh spinach

Put all ingredients except the beans and spinach in your Crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Pull out the chicken and shred it up and return it to the crock pot. Stir in the beans and spinach and heat for 10 more minutes. Done! How easy is that, and I have leftovers for lunch all week. Hurray!

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Our Get Fit Challenge is gearing up to start on Sunday and time is running out to sign up. Here are our top 5 reasons to join the Get Fit Challenge:

1- ACCOUNTABILITY- from your coach and fellow mamas

2- Support in a SAFE place of fellow mamas- we get it and we SEE YOU because we ARE YOU- the support of other mamas who are on this journey ride along side you

3- To celebrate non-scale related victories- you are worth more than that number on the scale, set yourself free and let's celebrate your successes

4- To make time for yourself- we've all been on the airplane where they say to secure your mask first... it's time to take that advice to heart and actually DO IT

5- To see what you are capable of- We tell our children all of the time that they can achieve anything they set their mind to... are you ready to find out if that is true for YOU as well? Join us.

Raedy to find out more and commit to YOU for the next 6 weeks? Click here.

Run Club

Our fall Run Club is gearing up to start on September 14th. You might be thinking, why do I need to join a Run Club? Here are our Top 10 Reasons to train with the FIT4MOM Run Club for a 5k.

10- Running improves your mood and what better time to do it then when the sky turns to permanent gray.

9- Running relieves stress. Life as a mom is stressful... amiright? And the holidays are coming which means added stress. Be proactive in your plan to manage it!

8- Running improves your quality of sleep, something we all need.

7- A 5k is a great distance to meet your goals quickly- set yourself up for success!

6- Meet OTHER MOMS with similar fitness and training goals, in a safe place where it doesn't matter if you slept in your workout clothes.

5- Running increases bone density while strengthening your heart and lungs.

4- Swag bag for the race. Who doesn’t like free stuff? 😉

3- Running through the Olin Park Holiday lights- SO FUN!

2- Bucket List ✔️

1- Giving yourself a little time for YOU.

Register ASAP to secure your spot! Click Here for more info.

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We have been having so much fun this summer with all of our playdates! Last week we visited our friends at Harbor Athletic Club for playtime at the outdoor pool and a demo Tugboats class.

*** RAVE REVIEWS *** from all of the mamas.

The Tugboats class is a class for children age 6 months to 3 years, with their caregiver, designed to acclimate them to the water. The class is offered in the indoor WARM Salt Water pool at Harbor, there were no shivering babies here! The babies blew bubbles, splashed and got used to different types of stimulation in the water. The moms learned different techniques to help the babies develop swimming skills and sang songs to interact with their little ones. The instructor Kathy was AMAZING.

If you are interested in checking out the Harbor Swim School here is a link to more information, the fall schedule will be posted soon and enrollment begins August 15th; https://www.harborathletic.com/programs/swim-lessons/

We will get another one on the schedule soon for sure. A HUGE Thank You to our friends at Harbor Athletic Club for hosting us!

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We have loved working with Tri4Schools this summer and we are in countdown mode at my house to the race this weekend! When I say that this race is one of the highlights of our summer, I 100% mean it, we have been talking about it ALL. YEAR. We will be cheering on 2 of my kiddos this weekend and hope to see lots of familiar faces as well.

We are sharing this blog post (with permission of course) that was originally posted on Madison Moms Blog here for tips if it's your child's first Triathlon....or if you are like me and totally can't remember from last year :)

Come see FIT4MOM at Packet Pick Up on Friday at Harbor Wellness Studios and get a glitter tattoo!

- Jackie Dorris

"Now that Spring has finally made its appearance here in Madison, we are getting SO EXCITED about all the wonderful events happening over the next few months. Some of our favorite ways to stay active as a family are to take long walks, bike rides and of course, cool off at the swimming pool! What better way to combine these activities than sign your child up for a triathlon?!

Tri 4 Schools is a local nonprofit organization that raises money for local schools through several triathlons throughout the spring and summer – in fact, 100% of race entry fees are given to local schools! For more information about how the funds are divided, visit http://www.tri4schools.org/about-us/how-we-work/.

We are so excited to sign our kids up for their first triathlons in August, but since we are new to “races”, we wanted to get some expert advice from Tri 4 Schools Executive Director, Katie Hensel.

Here are Katie’s tips for kiddos training for their first Tri 4 Schools triathlon!

  1. Enroll them in our Exercise to Achievement program.

If you attend one of these schools or health facilities in Dane County, we highly encourage you to sign your child up for our eight-week training program. Kids will learn all the basics of triathlon, plus receive swim, bike, and run curriculum. This program includes your entry fee, and the best part – they learn life skills that they can apply to other areas of their lives as well. We have several summer programs with kids training to complete our Sun Prairie or Middleton triathlons!

  1. Select an appropriate race distance

We offer four different distances at our triathlons, and you are welcome to choose ANY distance for your child. If you are having a hard time deciding between two distances, we recommend opting for the shorter distance (if this is their first race), so they can gain confidence and have a positive experience. They can always select the longer distance next time! With so much to think about in triathlon, it’s nice to ease into the sport when possible. We also offer an adaptive triathlon that can be fully customized to meet the needs of your child.

  1. Get them on their bikes early

In Wisconsin, where we can’t ride bikes outdoors year round, it’s good to get on your bike to practice about four weeks in advance. Then, we recommend making this a consistent activity leading up to race day. For older kids, this might be 1-2 times/week, but for our younger athletes who are learning to ride, even a short distance down the block every day is ideal. This will give them some confidence in the hardest part of biking – starting and stopping.

We also recommend getting your child’s bike sized and tuned up – many times a bike that fit last summer is too small the following spring! We love working with DreamBikes for service needs, and they are also available on race day to help with any mechanical needs!

  1. Practice the swim portion

By far, the biggest challenge to a triathlon (kids AND adults) is the swim portion. If you are able to get out to the pool prior to race day, you will be glad you made the effort. Even if you’re able to just see the pool and gauge the distance and layout, it can be a comfort for kids on race day (we see lots of very nervous kids that morning).

My children are both under age six, so we make a point to go out and practice swimming in the pool where the race is held, so they understand what they’ll be asked to do, and the distance.

Remember, short and modified medium course athletes are welcome to use a noodle to help them complete the distance!

  1. Come to our Friday night packet pick-up and course talk

The night prior to our triathlons, we offer an early packet pick-up and two course talks (at 5pm and 5:45pm). These are great ways to get any last-minute questions answered, listen to advice and reminders from our race director, and check a few items checked off your “to do” list! New this year, we’re also offering a cheer & gratitude zone, where families can make posters, grab noisemakers, or write a thank you note for our volunteers. We hope this will add more fun and excitement to counteract any pre-race nerves.

Information on packet pick-up will be sent in your “two weeks out” and race week update emails.

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Have any other questions for Tri 4 Schools that weren’t answered in this post? Feel free to contact Tri 4 Schools directly or check out their Resource Center. Their YouTube channel also has helpful videos to help you and your child have a great race experience.

Hope to see you at the races!

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What do we love? Families coming out on a Sunday morning and having FUN moving their bodies, that's what we love! Yesterday we had our monthly Family Fun Run at Orchid Heights Park in Middleton, WI and it was a BLAST. Sometimes trying new things can be intimidating so we thought we would break down what happens at our FREE Fun Runs in the hopes you join us for the next one on August 18th ;)

  • Anyone and everyone is invited to our Family Fun Runs- we had moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas and aunts on Sunday- love it!
  • We invite kids on foot, bikes, scooters- whatever helps you move we don't care.
  • We warm up all together and get to know one another and then we take it to the starting line.
  • After we say "GO!" everyone takes off at whatever pace is right for them- we have walkers, runners, sprinters (at least at first...kiddos sometimes don't know how to pace themselves...or maybe that's just my little guy).
  • We complete 1-2 miles- we have signs posted at 1/2 mile and a full mile so you turn around at the point that is right for you and then head back to the start. It's not a race, it's about having fun.
  • You complete your run with a high five and the kiddos this last Sunday got a medal from our friends at Tri4Schools- AHHHMAZING!!!
  • We stretch and hangout afterwards, and take lots of pics cuz there is nothing cuter than a pink cheek kid in a sweatband. Check out our Family Fun Run album here!

What a perfect way to start a Sunday, thank you so much to everyone who joined us! Having FOMO? Our next Family Fun Run is coming up on August 18th at 9:00 am!

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At Moms Night Out this month we celebrated Christmas in July and it was AHHHHmazing. After a wildly popular December event last year, we decided why wait to treat ourselves until December again? We all brought two identical gifts costing $10-12 each (total we spent was $20-24). The requirements for these two items were something that you would use on yourself as a woman/mom. Something you use that makes you feel great, beautiful, happy, caffeinated, sane, well-rested, pampered, etc. The party was all about MOM!! Not allowed were items that are helpful for mom to use on her kids :)

And since it takes a village, we thought we would compile a list of all of our Favorite Things to help out our fellow mamas out there. Without further ado, here are our Favorite Things- July 2019 Edition.

  • Shampoo Bar from Lush Cosmetics from Robyn

    • Why we love it: It comes in this cute little tin and is great for travel because you don’t have to worry about 3 oz rule and it’s good for the environment with no plastic.

  • Batiste Dry Shampoo and American Provenance Natural Deodorant- From Jess S

    • Why we love it- so you can look good, smell good and take FIT4MOM classes that make you feel good. I mean….#accurate

  • 10 headband multipack- From Sara

    • Why we love it- You can cover up roots if they are oily from lack of shower, or it’s been awhile since you have been to the salon #momlife

  • Sisters and I leather earrings- From Jackie

    • Why we love it- When mom life gets crazy and you forget to do laundry so you are wearing the same outfit...again... a fun pair of earrings can change you up in seconds. I can be wearing my workout clothes per usual, but if I throw on a fun pair of earrings, my kids ask me why I’m so dressed up, am I going out?

  • Icebreakers gum, a silicone sponge and meal planning notepad- From Katie

    • Why we love it: According to my dentist, it has xylitol so is great for after lunch when you can’t brush your teeth. In my life with dishes I need a sponge but regular ones are gross, this silicone one is awesome. And finally since doing Body Back I love meal planning! Each week I plan out my meals and grocery list on this cute pad and post it on my fridge so we stay on track.

  • Sip by Swell insulated waterbottle- From Nicole

    • Why we love it: It’s perfect for iced coffee on these summer days! I pack it up and head out to Stroller Strides.

  • Victoria Secret Body Spray and Body Lotion in Bare Vanilla in Bloom- From Rita

    • Why we love it- Vanilla is a yummy scent that makes me feel pampered.

  • Dear Mom Rose cans, Dove Chocolate and a face mask- From Jess O

    • Why we love it- “It’s a mood thing” was the theme of this gift. The Dear Mom mini rose cans are one glass (and how do I not buy it with that name?!). I loved the size of this can because I'm nursing. Some of the other cans out there are two glasses or more which can be too much.

  • Justins dark chocolate peanut butter cup and Starbucks Gift Card- From Cassandra

    • Why we love it- Ummm, dark chocolate, peanut butter and coffee...what else is there to say?

We hope this list gives you some ideas to treat your friend who just had a baby, surprise your bestie just for fun, or treat YOURSELF. Treating yourself and making the others in your life smile doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or time.

We do our Moms Nights Out once a month and they are open to anyone and everyone in the Madison area- follow along on our Facebook page or join our email list to stay in the loop! I promise, we are super fun to hang with. #girlgang #momsquad #findyourpeople

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Have you met the amazing organization Tri4Schools? We are so excited to be kicking off a partnership with them this month. Tri 4 Schools is a non-profit devoted to encouraging healthy, active kids and schools in Wisconsin through youth swimming, biking, and running events and programs that support school health and fitness initiatives. Their mission is to provide multi-sport events and programs that empower kids, schools and communities to be healthy and happy.

Our FIT4MOM mission is to help moms achieve their ultimate potential, both physically and emotionally. We will inspire moms to reach optimal health and well being. Healthy moms, mean healthy communities. Does this sound like a perfect partnership or what?!

My children have all been a part of several of the Tri4Schools triathlons (even as young as 3 years old!) and I can not say enough good things about the race- stay tuned for another post about that soon.

To get this partnership started, we would like to introduce you to Katie Hensel, the founder of Tri4Schools. Katie is a mom of two who started Tri4Schools. Check out this post about her journey to her first IronMan and becoming IronKate, which eventually led her to starting this amazing non-profit.

Tri4Schools will be joining us at our Family Fun Run on July 21st at 9:00 am to hand out medals to all of the kids afterwards! You can get all the details for this awesome family event on our website.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve introduced you to the face behind the name here at FIT4MOM Madison, so I wanted to take a second to say hello and share a little more about me. I’m Jackie, a mama of 3, and love coffee, animals and all things FIT4MOM. I've been involved with FIT4MOM since 2007- long before our time started here in Madison. Not many of you knew me then, so I thought I’d take you back to that time.

My husband and I met in college, got married in 2002 and enjoyed our twenties together living in Chicago — taking the El to work at the Merchandise Mart, Cubs games and shopping on Michigan Ave and Armitage were my jam. I was the first of all of our friends to get pregnant, and I still remember going to Joe’s on Weed St and freaking out that people were smoking at the bar (remember when people used to do that?!), trying to hide from my friends that I wasn’t drinking with a sparkling water and lime in my hand.

Everything was fine until 28 weeks when I went into pre-term labor. Thankfully, at the time, I didn’t really grasp what that meant (and that isn’t what this post is about, but there is a connection so I want to mention it). I spent 3 scary days at the hospital and the doctors were able to stop the progression. My doctor cleared me to go back to work, but only work, and home straight after. Then it happened again at 32 weeks, so I was put on bed rest until my baby arrived. I sat at home, alone, ate and watched the Real Housewives of Orange County’s first season marathon… so yes, I blame my RH obsession on Maddie 100%. Maddie was born one day shy of full term at 37 weeks but she was tiny tiny tiny —only 5 lbs and 5 oz but otherwise healthy.

Being a new mom rocked my world. Anyone else remember how that first-born child felt? Holy cow, everything is new and uncertain. You have never been so in love, yet so scared at the same time. Anyone? And because I was the first of all of my friends to have kids, and on bedrest for the last month of my pregnancy, at home, by myself, I have never felt so totally alone in my entire life. The isolation was consuming.

Six weeks after Maddie was born, I went back to work. I worked Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays so I had a few days off in the middle of the week. I knew I had to start finding a way to get out of the house and meet people. I was not in a good place mentally. We only had one car, which my husband used to go to work every day, so I had to find something within walking distance from my house. I joined a mommy and me class down the street. We sang, we blew bubbles, we massaged the babies. I would go. And then every day, I would come home and cry because none of the moms would talk to each other. Everything was focused on the babies development and interaction, and I felt like I was invisibly waving in the corner saying “Hello! What about me? I’m the one navigating this whole new world on my own. I’m the one who is so unsure about absolutely everything in my life. Where is my support?”

I bet you were wondering when FIT4MOM was going to come in to this story. Well, I soon realized that this mom and baby class was not for me. I had actually seen Stroller Strides (FIT4MOM) on the Today Show before I had kids and always remembered it because it seemed like such a great concept. You can workout WITH your kid and it looks like it’s fun. So I went online and searched for a Stroller Strides near me. Shockingly there was not one in the city of Chicago. How could that be? There were tons of moms with strollers everywhere I looked — I was TERRIFIED to talk to any of them, but I knew they were out there. When you look for one and one doesn’t come up in your area, a link pops up and said “You could start your own, find out how…”. So I clicked, and the rest as they say, is history. I knew it was a concept that would work in Chicago — I had a business degree with a marketing focus, so I was confident.

But it wasn’t just a business decision for me. As I learned more and more about Stroller Strides, it was the images of the moms that spoke to me. I wanted to BE that mom, that was smiling and happy and confident in her own skin. I didn’t want to be this mom, who I didn’t recognize anymore and who would cry after going to a mom and baby class. When I was pregnant with Maddie we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl , so when she came out, I thought “oh my gosh, I had a DAUGHTER!” I wanted my daughter to grow up and see that women are amazing and can do anything they set their minds to — I wanted to be her ultimate role model.

I quit my job and started a FIT4MOM franchise. I became certified as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer and taught my first class at my grand opening. I owned FIT4MOM Chicago for 9 amazing years and grew it into one of the largest and most successful franchises in the country. My Chicago chapter came to a close when my family relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2015, but that’s when the Madison chapter began. Stay tuned for another blog post about that journey! This one is long enough :)

It has always been my MISSION that no mom would ever feel the way that I felt when I had Maddie — isolated, alone, without a Village. This has always been my driving force. I know what a gift FIT4MOM has to give to women and no mom should be without it.

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We had so much fun at our Touch a Truck this morning at Lakeview Park. A huge shout out to Battalion Chiefs Subera and Reigel of the Middleton Fire Department for coming out to teach our little ones about MTAC1. The kids were so interested in all of the equipment and asked so many great questions, and they even got to hold a fire hose! We are so thankful for the Fire Department and all of our officers for keeping our community in the Middleton and Madison area safe.

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I don't know what happened, but suddenly Father's Day is this weekend and I'm not prepared, sorry honey. I'll chalk it up to the end of the school year, adjusting to summer schedule and #momlife. But do not despair, thanks to Amazon Prime, all will be fine. I turned to Our Village of FIT4MOM Madison Wi mamas for some last minute suggestions, and as always, they came through for me. I thought I'd pull together a quick list in case anyone else finds themselves in the same situation.

- Beer theme- not gonna lie, there was a definite theme of BEER for gift ideas. Beer brewing kit, personalized beer mug, and just plain good old fashioned 6-pack.

- Sunglasses- check out my favorite Goodr's from Fleet Feet Madison.

- A new pillow- so he can sleep in on Father's Day

- Set up the backyard for an overnight campout with the family - hang some outdoor lights, get the firepit and s'more gear ready, set up the tent, and have burgers to grill. (love this idea for a family experience)

- Visit Skyzone, dad's jump free on Father's Day

- A dart board

- Packer's mug (or his favorite sports team...ahem...Go Bears)

- Brewers hoodie (or his favorite sports team...ahem...Go Cubs Go)

- A hockey dad picture frame (or baseball dad...or football dad...)

- Fancy leather bottom slippers

- A photo mug with a pic of the kids or pets

- A nice gym bag and microfiber towel

Thanks ladies for always having the best ideas! Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there!

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This month we partnered with Athleta West Towne Mall to celebrate YOU! We were featured as their Studio of the Month for May and had a BLAST. From Yoga for Moms, to Strides 360 in the mall to Body Back in the store- you mamas were amazing. Thank you to everyone who came to sweat and shop with us!

Check out all of the photos in the album here.

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We are gearing up to head outdoors for our Stroller Strides classes June 3rd. While it may be hard to believe given the spring we have had in Madison here, moms I promise, that warm weather is coming. Here are our best tips to keep it cool for you and the kids at Stroller Strides.

  • Cooling Towels: Cooling towels are microfiber cloths that you get wet, wave in the air and then use to cool your body or your little one. I like them because they are easy to stick in your stroller and then get wet with your water bottle or at a water fountain at the park if you need it. I like this 4 pack because they come in reusable bags and since I do laundry every few days (#momlife) I can get through a few classes and then wash them when I've got a load to do.
  • Cold Gel packs: A frozen gel pack wrapped in a dish towel makes a wonderful climate control backrest for your little one in the car seat. Those car seats can get really hot so this is a great way to help keep them cool.
  • Keep circulation going: The strollers and car seats can get warm for the kiddos, be careful of accidentally trapping hot air inside by putting a blanket over them to protect them from the sun. We always stop in the shade for class to keep the strollers out of the sun. We love clip on fans to help keep circulation going- how adorable are these Fananimal clip on fans!
  • Don't forget water: For both you and your little one. It's very important to stay hydrated before, during and after a workout. I like to put ice cubes in our water bottles to help keep the water cool. Baby need a toy for class? Try filling a plastic water bottle with ice cubes and letting them play with that- it makes noises just like a baby toy and can help keep them cool too.
  • Ice Towels: Wet a washcloth or dish towel, fold it and place it in the freezer. Before class, fill a ziplock with ice cubes and place your frozen towel inside. During class you can reach for your frozen towel as needed for a cool down, then simply place it back in the ziplock to keep it cold.
  • Misting Fan: Your instructor is armed with these at class, if you have a toddler it can be super fun for them to get in on the action too. A handheld misting fan feels AMAZING on those hot days.
  • Bring your flip flops: My personal favorite, is to remember to bring your flip flops to class so that you can run around in the splash pad at Lakeview Park with your kids afterwards- why should they get to have all the fun? :)

We'd love for you to join us at our Outdoor Stroller Strides Kick Off on June 3rd at 9:30 am followed by a free community playdate at 10:30. Details on our Facebook Events page.

See you at the park mamas!

We do want to let you know that we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Meet Stephanie Lovell, a member of FIT4MOM Madison, Wi since the very beginning. She’s mom to Drake (and a new little one arriving in October!) and works as a software product analyst. Stephanie talked to us about how FIT4MOM has changed her life below.

How has motherhood changed you, and what has been the best part of motherhood to you so far?

Motherhood has definitely taught me patience and to be more “go with the flow.” Prior to Drake, our house was perfect, always clean and everything had its place. Now our house is fairly clean but if it’s not, that’s OK! Watching this tiny little human develop and grow amazes me every day with the new things he picks up and how smart he is! Seeing him smile and giggle always brightens my day!

How has FIT4MOM helped you on your journey of motherhood and health?

I was pretty in shape prior to joining FIT4MOM. I was a runner, but that was all I did, no weights, yoga, etc. Ten weeks into my pregnancy with Drake, I had severe lower back issues, which put a quick end to any running. I found the prenatal classes offered at Harbor and figured I would try them. I signed up for all three — swimming, yoga and prenatal TRX. The first week was really hard because of my lower back. But each week, I got stronger and stronger. By week 17, I had zero back issues, felt stronger than ever, and my husband frequently commented how good my butt looked :) This also got me addicted to yoga. I very rarely did yoga prior to this, only basically if my sister asked me to go to a class with her once a year. Yoga really helped me focus on me and find my chill throughout my pregnancy. Pregnancy is really stressful, and sometimes doesn’t always turn out with a happy ending, which I had been all too familiar with. So, this was a really good outlet for me to let those negative thoughts and worried emotions go. I did all three classes until Drake was born.

After Drake was born, I continued with some non-prenatal classes at Harbor like TRX and hot yoga). Jackie was teaching TRX at that time, and told me about an 8-week program they were just starting — Body Back. I signed up and have been hooked ever since. During my first 8-week session, I ran in the Haunted Hustle 10k and 5k and PR’d in both. My running was minimal but I was doing Body Back twice a week. I have been going to some form of a FIT4MOM class since the program started in September 2017, and happy to report, still no back pain and I feel stronger than ever.

What's one piece of advice you would give to another new mom?

Do what is right for you and your family. Everyone will have their opinions and input about everything, but at the end of the day, it’s you and your family.

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Meet Andrea Schnell, a member of FIT4MOM Madison Wisconsin since February 2019. She’s a mama to Sylvia and Eloise and works as an internal medicine doctor. Below she tells us how FIT4MOM helped her start and maintain a healthy lifestyle, even with her busy life.

1) How has motherhood changed you, and what has been the best part of motherhood to you so far?

My sleep schedule and the back of my car look the most different!! Hehe. In truth, I am in many ways the same. I have the same hopes, ambitions, interests, dislikes, and needs that I did prior to having children. However, I think I have grown a lot over the last 2.5 years. I have learned to be more forgiving of myself. I’m better about being present in the moment, and I don’t worry about the small things. My daughters have also inspired me to be braver.

The best part of motherhood is getting to know my children: their unique temperament, personality, preferences and abilities. Right now, I am appreciating Sylvia’s silliness, ability to recognize emotions, and desire to fly high. I am appreciating Eloise’s easygoing temperament, sweet smile, and how her cooing sounds like singing. They’re pretty awesome kids!

2) How has FIT4MOM helped you on your journey of motherhood and health?

I was not exercising regularly prior to FIT4MOM, and it was the perfect way to start. It’s a supportive and safe environment. The instructors are mindful that everyone is at a different place postpartum, so they offer different options for exercises. As I became stronger and more fit, I felt empowered to do more. Now I’m loving Body Back, biking to work, and running for the first time in my life. I will be running a 5k race this month, and I’m considering doing a half-marathon at the end of summer. I’m doing things I never thought possible. And as I have become physically stronger, I have felt more emotionally and mentally strong, too.

3) What's one piece of advice you would give to another new mom?

Be kind to yourself! You don’t have to be everything to your child. You can use other people and resources to meet their needs. It takes a village! And your children don’t have to be everything to you. It’s okay to have other needs, desires and ambitions.

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This photo is the day I became a mom.⁣

Nothing rocks your world in a more shocking yet beautiful way than becoming a mama. With my first official Mother’s Day last weekend I’m all in my feels, counting my blessings every day and thanking the heavens that my little diva is mine! I’ve learned so much about myself and my capabilities since she came into the world. As a first-time mom you have no idea what the hell you’re doing...you’re basically just in a state of overwhelm, uncertainty and pure love for the first few months. Although it is true what they say — it gets easier — I wish I would’ve known these things:⁣

▪️Pregnancy, labor and delivery take 6 months to recover from, not 6 weeks. ⁣

▪️A baby will literally be attached to you for the first 3 months of its life. This can get overwhelming. It’s OK to feel this way. ⁣

▪️At the beginning, the days go by so fast and you seemingly accomplish nothing. See point above 😅 Again, this is OK. It’s temporary. Really. ⁣

▪️You don’t need as much sleep as you thought you did, but at some point, you will break. One good night’s rest can restore you to be the best version of yourself, wife and mom you can be.⁣

▪️Babies don’t come out of the womb knowing how to sleep. Holy crap 🙃⁣

▪️Although you won’t feel like it, getting you and your newborn out of the house even for 30 minutes can be life-changing for your mood. It’s ok to have anxiety about it. But I promise, the only person who cares about baby crying is you! ⁣

▪️If you’re out in public with baby, other moms are SO nice. Holding doors, helping you load groceries in your car, entertaining baby so they don’t have a meltdown in line. Moms look out for other moms. ⁣

▪️You’ll figure it all out. Stop comparing, stop criticizing yourself and stop reading those damn forums...you are this child’s mom for a reason and you know best! ⁣

▪️Find a tribe of other new moms to talk to, vent to and get advice from. The connections I’ve made through FIT4MOM Madison Wi have been such a bright spot in my own journey as a new mom.⁣

▪️That love you thought you’d experience for your baby? Multiply x 10 ❤️

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This month for Month of Mama, we celebrate all of the mamas in our community. Meet Jodi Carlson, a member of our village since November 2017. She’s a mama to 4 ½-year-old Lydia and 2-year-old Haddie and is a stay-at-home mom. Jodi talked to us about FIT4MOM, motherhood and more below.

1) What FIT4MOM classes have you taken while in our village?

I started with a Holiday Survival Mini session of Body Back, and I’ve been doing Body Back ever since. I’ve also participated in one season of Run Club and plan to do Run Club again next fall. I’m also looking forward to Strides 360 in the mornings/summer.

2) How has FIT4MOM helped you on your journey of motherhood and health?

FIT4MOM has helped me by showing me the importance of self-care. I’m a better mom, a better me, when I take the time to take care of myself. I love the strength — both physical and mental — that Body Back has provided, and I can't think of a better way to start my day than by the uplifting, positive, butt-kicking workouts that Body Back provides.

3) How has motherhood changed you, and what has been the best part of motherhood to you so far?

It has forced me to slow down and enjoy life — both the small moments and big moments. It’s taught me to appreciate health and happiness. The best part of motherhood is the ability to be part of my daughters' lives. I get to be the witness that watches them grow, learn, develop, love and laugh, and it is the greatest gift ever.

4) What's one piece of advice you would give to another new mom?

Can I share two pieces of advice? First, find your village. Motherhood can be so isolating (ironically because you will have a tiny human constantly attached to you), and having a village will change everything. And second, try to always come from a place of gratitude. You get to be on this amazing journey with an incredible tiny human. And even at two in the morning, you are so lucky to be on this journey. These are your snuggles, your memories, your moments, and not everyone in life will get to experience that. By coming from a place of gratitude, as hard as it can be sometimes, it can change the negative into a positive — the struggles into something to cherish, the challenging moments into cherished memories.

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Transformation is more than before and after photos. Transformation is also about how your life changes as a mom and how hard it can be to navigate alone. It's why a tribe like ours is so important to find. Here's what our mama Jessica had to say. A new mom in the Madison area, she came to us looking for a community.

"FIT4MOM is so much more than a workout class for me. Yes, having the accountability of Body Back motivates me to workout more often and eat better. But what FIT4MOM has done for me can't be measured on a scale. It has given me confidence, friendship, love, understanding, and a sense of belonging. I would often tell people that it is my 'Cheers', a place where everyone knows your name.FIT4MOM has been both life-changing and life-saving for me as a stay at home mom who didn't know very many people. It gave me a community, it gave me a tribe. I feel so very lucky to have FIT4MOM in my life."

We're so glad you're part of Our Village Jessica!

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Our FIT4MOM Madison Wi Run Club is gearing up to kick off again next week. We sat down with our Run Club coach Danelle and asked her why she loves to run, and why she loves to coach it.

"For me, running a half marathon was merely a check off my bucket list. I had ran a few 5k races in my past but I had never really sought out running. While training for my first half, I began to fall in love with it. Every week I would be amazed by what my body could do if I just followed my basic training plan. Once I could finally get outside to train (training started in February in Wisconsin, so lots of treadmill time) the outside therapy, as I call it, kicked in and it was so freeing. It became my favorite “me” time activity, allowing me to breathe for a minute and just be me. I had two babies under two at the time and we can all relate to the stresses that came with that.

From running, I came home stress free and so grateful for my incredible life.

The more I run, the more I love my body and self but not because it is perfect, actually far from it. But because showing up for myself with every mile I run, proves to me that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible, on and off the trails.

I love that I have the opportunity to coach incredible women and empower them to do things that maybe are just a check off of their bucket list or help them reach new goals. Being a part of one’s journey is humbling and so motivating."

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Today for Transformation Tuesday, we are celebrating Gale who has been on a journey with Body Back since January. Gale, we are so proud of you and can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for you.

"I normally hate these types of selfies. I do. But today, I use them to share a story. A story about a women looking to find herself again. Knowing deep down inside that she is strong and resilient, but is feeling little lost and searching for the truth within her identity. Weathering the highs and lows that each day brings. But underneath it all, remaining optimistic.

Since January 1, I've been on a mission find my physical strength again. Putting excuses and fear aside to make a commitment to myself and to honor the responsibility I feel to be dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. I'm down 10lbs, 6.5 of which have been with the help of a wonderful program called Body Back Transformation with FIT4MOM Madison Wi. Through mindfulness, community, planning and support of my amazing class instructors, my coach husband and friends, I'm feeling so much better. I'm starting to feel like me again. And it feels so, so good.

Life will continue to have it's ups and downs, but I have faith all will work out the way it's meant to be. I'm grateful for this dedicated time, this journey and this opportunity to bring health and fitness back into my routine.

If you are feeling lost, or lonely, or sad, I encourage you to think deeply about making one change that brings you joy. It may be weird or scary or awkward at first, but allow yourself the time and space to dive into the experience!!!!?"

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At FIT4MOM Madison WI, our instructors are moms, just like you. We've experienced childbirth, c-sections and natural. We've lost countless hours of sleep and survived middle of the night wake up calls. We've struggled with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, co-sleeping, crib sleeping, postpartum depression, infertility and miscarriages. We've lived through the highest highs and the lowest lows of being a mom.

Our classes are so much more than a workout. We want you to come as you are. You will be encouraged and supported every step of the way, through every FIT4MOM class, through every stage of motherhood. We are truly a community and we can't wait to welcome you to our village. Join us!

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The other day, I was feeling very uninspired for my weekly meal planning. Tired of the usual fall favorites of chili, Taco Tuesday and chicken (again?!?), I did what any other time crunched mom would do. I outsourced to my amazing Facebook Village and had one of my most popular Facebook posts OF ALL TIME. Like almost surpassing the birth of my children popular. Many comments later, I decided I should write a Round Up of all of the recipes so that we can all come back later and find them when we need inspiration. I'd love to do this again, I'm not going to make any promises that this will be monthly, but if you've got any good recipes you have tried lately- shoot them to me in an email and I'll get another list going- madison@fit4mom.com.

Disclaimer- I have not tried all of these recipes myself, this is just a compiled list of the recipes that other mamas shared with me.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage and Feta

Instant Pot Baked Ziti

Crockpot Italian Sloppy Joes

Crackslaw - Kind of like an eggroll in a bowl if you've ever made that recipe

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

Quinoa with Carmelized Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts

Pork Chops With Apples and Onions

Braised Beef With Cream

Snap Peas with Pancetta and Parmesan

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

The Ultimate Light Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Butternut Squash and Beef Chili

Chickpea and Kale Curry

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Some moms posted quick easy ideas with no recipe- Quesadillas, Tacos, Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Veggies, Tortilla Soup, Chicken Southwest Chili and Salads.

I hope this helps some of you mamas find inspiration when dinnertime comes! Find a new recipe you love? Don't forget to email me at madison@fit4mom.com and I'll add it to the next round up.

If you haven’t heard or didn’t know, we started our Stay and Play Play dates after class on Wednesdays and Thursdays this summer! This has been a great way for the kiddos to play outside the stroller and the mamas get to talk, relax, and enjoy this crazy, awesome life we live. Here's a little glimpse of what we have been up to!

  • Play-doh- This was no ordinary play-Doh session…it was a Star Wars Themed Play-doh Session. The Millennium Falcon, Ewoks, The Death Star, and other ones I don’t always remember (good thing I have Remington who knows all things Star Wars). Not only did the kids have a blast, the moms got into it too! After we finished playing a few of us headed over to the Splash Pad to cool off.
  • We made our own shake ice cream! YUM! If you don’t know what shake ice cream is I am about to tell you. You add all the ingredients in a bag then shake the bag, and viola ice cream! You don’t need a cup just grab a spoon and eat from the bag. NO DISHES! If you want to make it at home: here are the ingredients you need:

    - 1 tablespoon sugar

    1.5 cups half and half (we had a friend who was dairy free and used almond milk)

    ¼ teaspoon vanilla

    3 cups ice

    ½ cup salt (they say rock salt but we just plain old kosher salt and it worked perfect)

    a pint size Ziploc bag, and a gallon size Ziploc bag.

    First, take the pint size bag add half and half, sugar, and vanilla. Close the bag and set by you. In the gallon bag add a cup of ice, add pint size filled with soon to be ice cream goodness, and add the other two cups of ice. Pour the salt over the ice and close bag. Now you shake, and shake, and shake and so enough you have ice cream! We added rainbow sprinkles to ours because ice cream is not a party without sprinkles, let alone rainbow sprinkles.

  • ABC and pipe cleaner bracelets! Some friends made friendship bracelets, some made bracelets for dad, and I got to make a FIT4MOM bracelet!! What I really liked about this play date was the kids got to work on some fine motor skill while they put the beads onto the piper cleaners and working on hand eye coordination. The kids also got to find letters in their name or friends name and turned them into friendship bracelets. It makes my heart so full to see all the wonderful relationships that not only my child is making but other children are growing and learning as well.
  • We celebrated Pride by making rainbow do a dot art and rainbow multiple media paper plates. EVERYONE had so much fun! We had glitter glue, string, markers, colored pencils, pipe cleaners, beads, felt, and so much more! We even had friends that couldn’t make it to class join! That is the great thing about Stay and Plays , you don’t have to come to class to join, EVERYONE IS WELCOME!!!

FIT4MOM has such a special place in my heart and I am so HAPPY all of you have joined. I cannot wait to see you in class and at the stay and plays!! Talk soon!

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We are launching a new platform on our blog that will be interviews with Madison area birth service providers. Our mission is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life and hopefully these posts will help put you in contact with another service or contact that can help you. First up, meet Lumos Doula Services- Lumos is fearlessly run by a trio of Doulas- Riley, Alli and Lea. Last week, we introduced you to Riley, this week it's Alli's turn!

In their words, “We are a safe space. When it comes to options, we encourage you to explore, consider, try on- and we encourage plenty of space to change your mind too. We care about how you feel about your decisions more than that you find the ‘right’ answer. We know you value your time, and we strive to make this experience stream-lined and personally tailored to your needs. We are experienced. We are organized. We are responsive. And we absolutely LOVE what we do”.

First off, tell us your name and who you are a mom to.

I'm Alli Ryan and I've got two kids at home, Scarlett (9) and Jude "The Dude" (5)

And we start each of our classes with an icebreaker.. sooooo, if you could hire a personal chef or a housekeeper which would you choose?

I'm one of those people that cleans when they are stressed/wanting to feel some sense of control over the chaos, so I don't need a housekeeper. However, a personal chef sounds lovely. We all have very different eating styles and preferences so someone (that isn't me) that could cater meals to each of us would be a dream.

How did you choose your path as a doula?

It's going to sound cheesy but doula work doesn't feel like a choice; it feels like who I am. Initially I channeled this care-giving spirit into education and enjoyed working with children and students in my classrooms as a teacher. When we were pregnant with Scarlett we were suggested a doula by our care provider. My husband and I left the interview and both realized 1. were were def hiring this doula and 2. I was a doula. I gradually made the transition from teaching to full time doula work and have loved the ways in which this work compliments my passions and skill sets, as well as allows for growth as a person and professional

What training is involved for initial certification and for ongoing continuing education?

My answer is similar to Riley's except that I choose to train with DONA but certify with another organization. I've added many trainings and certifications over the years, including Certified Lactation Counselor, Certified Childbirth Educator, postpartum doula training, and infant sleep educator.

How do you and your partners manage your schedules as moms yourselves?

Phew, managing schedules is hard! I'm incredibly grateful to be surrounded by friends that have become family as they are willing to jump in and support us anytime. We created Lumosfor so many reasons but balance was at the top of the list. My classic line is, "You can't pour from an empty cup" and we wanted to practice the advice we were so often giving new families.

What percentage of work time is split between pre-birth, actual birth coaching, and postpartum on average?

What's lovely about doula work is we get to meet families where they're at in terms of support. We have a framework built upon our hundreds of births and education hours but we also have the ability to individualize support in a real time way. Maybe you don't totally understand why we put so much time into talking about newborn sleep when you're pregnant because getting this baby out is taking up the most brain space at the time. However, knowing you have the support system around you in which you can rely upon when sleep does get hard is important. And we'll know as your doulas that you've gotten some sense of the discussion prenatally which makes the learning curve in the moment so much less complicated (well, usually).

How do you recommend clients interview doulas and figure out which one is right for them?

Pregnancy, birth, and parenting is a time of significant transition and most people don't love transitions/change. We find ourselves feeling vulnerable, afraid, excited, worried, joyful, and about 1000 other emotions. A doula that you feel safe and comfortable feeling any/all of these emotions with (for many of the reasons listed above) is ultimately what makes the relationship and support work most effectively.

If you had to pick one thing, what is your favorite part about being a doula?

The love and hard work it takes to grow a family is awesome. It's powerful to be with folks through the good and bad minutes/days/hours/weeks/months; doing this work gives me a tremendous feeling of connection.

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Today, we're featuring our amazing mama Marisa! She has been part of FIT4MOM Madison since Run Club began this spring. We adore Marisa because she always shows up ready to work hard and her energy is just contagious! She usually attends Body Back at 5:30 am and Run Club, but has also popped in to Stroller Barre. Her favorite part about FIT4MOM is how mom-centric it is. We are so grateful Marisa is part of our mamahood sisterhood! Come join us for class and meet new mama friends like Marisa!

"Despite being active all my life, my exercise habits became non-existent after having a kid. I was desperately out-of-shape, even getting winded climbing one flight of stairs, and struggling to keep up with our two-year-old son. I knew I needed to do something, and saw a flier for FIT4MOM at the gym. I had no idea how quickly I would get hooked!

Originally, I joined the Run Club. Then Jackie suggested Body Back as a cross-training activity between runs, so I decided to check it out. I was immediately into it. There was something really fun about working out with other moms who were in the same boat as me and facing the same challenges. And if they could manage to get a workout in, then I had no excuse - I could too!

I also appreciate that everything is mom-centric. For instance, recipes are fairly quick and easy. They give us a lot of time-saving meal-prep tips. The trainers also take into consideration breastfeeding and adjusting calorie consumption and hydration. I immediately felt like I was being guided by women who "get it" and get what I need as a mom.

Jackie has also done a great job of creating community - at the workouts, outside of workouts, and on social media. I think that's one of the things that keeps me hooked. I'm enjoying achieving my own goals, but I also enjoy being part of a group of mamas who are achieving their's as well. I also occasionally drop-in on Stroller Strides classes in the park and it is a blast being able to work out with my son. As for my results, I've so far lost 13 pounds and went from running zero to 5 miles straight!"

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We are launching a new platform on our blog that will be interviews with Madison area birth service providers. Our mission is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life and hopefully these posts will help put you in contact with another service or contact that can help you. First up, meet Lumos Doula Services.

In their words, “We are a safe space. When it comes to options, we encourage you to explore, consider, try on- and we encourage plenty of space to change your mind too. We acre about how you feel about your decisions more than that you find the ‘right’ answer. We know you value your time, and we strive to make this experience stream-lined and personally tailored to your needs. We are experienced. We are organized. We are responsive. And we absolutely LOVE what we do”. Lumos is fearlessly run by a trio of Doulas- Riley, Alli and Lea. We sat down and got to know them a bit better and over the next 3 weeks you will see our interview with them- a few of the questions were gathered from the moms in Our Village!

First off, tell us your name and who you are a mom to.

I'm Riley and live near DeForest with my husband, Bill, and our three kiddos - Miles (7), Ezra (5), and Sylvia (3).

And we start each of our classes with an icebreaker, sooooo, if you could hire a personal chef or a housekeeper which would you choose?

This is a tough question! I think I would choose the personal chef. I like to cook when I have time and it doesn't feel stressful, but that is not reality most days. :)

How did you choose your path as a doula?

I have been fascinated by birth since high school when I had the opportunity to job-shadow a labor and delivery nurse and see a birth. I began working as a nursing assistant in labor and delivery during college and continued to do so (on weekends, holidays, and summers) after I graduated and began working as a Kindergarten teacher. After I had my first baby, I learned what a doula was and knew that was the path for me! This work combines my love of birth with my love of working with families and I feel so lucky to be invited to witness the transformation that families make throughout the pregnancy, birth,and postpartum time.

What training is involved for initial certification and for ongoing continuing education?

The doula training that I took was done here in Madison (we are lucky to have a world-renowned doula trainer living here in Madison!) and was a 3 day weekend of in-person training. Then, I had to do additional reading and writing, obtain evaluations from my first few clients and their care providers, and show evidence of having taken training in childbirth education and lactation. All of the documentation was submitted to DONA International for review and a few weeks later, I was certified! Every three years I have to submit documentation of continuing education in various formats in order to maintain my certification. I am also a Certified Lactation Counselor, which required a 40 hour in person course and a moderated exam in order to become certified, and also requires continuing education hours every 3 years.

How do you and your partners manage your schedules as moms yourselves?

I struggle with managing my schedule just like every other mom on the planet! One thing that has really helped has been working in partnership with Alli and Lea within Lumos. This allows each of us to have every 3rd week off-call, which means I can go out for a walk with my family and leave my phone behind or schedule necessary appointments and know for sure that I am going to be able to go to the appointment. It also helps to know that we have 3 levels of care for our clients so that if I have a sick child at home, Alli or Lea can jump in and we don't have to cancel on a client.

Tell us a little more about Lumos and your philosophy.

Lumos was really created out of the belief that families can really benefit from having a whole community of support around them throughout the childbearing year. Obviously, the work we do during a birth is important, but having support before and after the baby arrives is important, too. Sometimes, the kind of support that is needed is not support that we are qualified to give as doulas, which is why we have partnered with our amazing independent contractors who provide chiropractic care, prenatal yoga instruction, perinatal counseling, lactation consultation, and photography. Our philosophy really centers around our belief that there is no "right" way to birth or parent, but that each family deserves to feel informed, heard, and supported in their own unique decision-making throughout the process.

What percentage of work time is split between pre-birth, actual birth coaching, and postpartum on average?

Oooh, good question. In terms of hours, if a client took full advantage of our largest package offering, the breakdown could be:

~ 70-85 hours of prenatal contact (6-7 group prenatal meetings, 1 in-home prenatal meeting, 1 in-home sleep consult 1-3 hours of office visits, 10 hours of prenatal yoga/month for 6-7 months, 1-2 hours of chiropractic, 1 hour of perinatal counseling)

~ 3-24+ hours of birth and immediate postpartum support

~ 120+ hours of postpartum contact (2 hours of post-birth follow up, 9 hours of in-home postpartum support, 9 hours of overnight support, up to 100+ hours of Moonbeams group, 1-2 hours of in-home lactation support, unlimited attendance at lactation clinic)

How do you recommend clients interview doulas and figure out which one is right for them?

Choosing a doula is a personal process. In my opinion, the biggest consideration is finding the doula (or doulas) that you feel a strong sense of connection and trust with. The perinatal period is an intensely vulnerable time and is fueled largely by oxytocin - the hormone of love and trust and safety. Choosing a doula that you could envision helping you to create a safe, happy, supported little oxytocin bubble is ideal. Obviously, there are other factors that may play into the decision - cost, location, experience level, recommendations, etc. -, but the connection piece is really critical.

What qualities or training should someone look for when picking a doula?This can really vary based on the person looking for a doula. For some people, finding a doula who meets a certain criteria (certified, has attended 'x' number of births, within budget, also provides postpartum support, etc) is really important. But again, if the person who meets that criteria doesn't make you feel that sense of connection, then looking elsewhere is probably a good idea.

If you had to pick one thing, what is your favorite part about being a doula?

I think my favorite part of being a doula is the relationship that we get to build over time with our clients. When a client hires us early in their pregnancy and participates in our Moonbeams group through their baby's first year, we get to hang out for almost 2 years! That is a long time to get to know someone and watch a family grow and change and develop and it feels like such a privilege every single time.

Thank you so much Riley! Next week, we will hear from her partner Alli. Stay tuned!

And be sure to check out Lumos Doula Services for more details about their different class offerings and packages!

Ashley Pyne

Today we're featuring Ashley Pyne and her inspiring transformation. She is a proud mama of 3 girls and she has been attending Body Back since our Holiday Survival session. She loved it so much, she became an instructor- you can visit her on Monday and Wednesday at 9:15 Body Back. We are so proud of her and so glad she's part of our #fit4mommadisonwi fam!

"Moms: they know how to take care of you. Body Back has gotten me stronger physically and mentally. Sure, I've lost pounds and inches along the way, but what I found is how much more comfortable I am flying in economy, the confidence I have to lug a couple of screaming kids out of Target and the moms here for me, on the same journey. Supporting each other, because we are all moms...and we GET IT."

Do you have a transformation you'd like to share with us? Email us your photos and story to madison@fit4mom.com

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To put it mildly, today was AMAZING!

We had an amazing group of moms and their families participate in the Her Madison Half Marathon and 5k. We had moms who ran the 5k, we had moms who completed the Half Marathon (many of them their FIRST!) and moms, dads, friends and kids come out to rally them on to the finish- and I got to watch it all from the front row as the Race Emcee. It. Was. Amazing. I can't even tell you the number of times I teared up. Women running together and LIFTING EACHOTHER UP- friends, sisters, moms, complete strangers- they were all in to together. Chills. Absolute chills. The ladies who ran worked so hard to train, congratulations to each and every one of you!

Through Harbor Athletic Club, we sponsored a Harbor Hill Challenge as a fundraiser for Girls on the Run. Around mile 11 on the half marathon course, there is a much talked about and dreaded HILL. To help lighten the mood, we offered the Harbor Hill Challenge. At the bottom, our amazing volunteers were waiting with strollers loaded up with 20 lb medicine balls- no one wants to push an empty stroller :) For every person who pushed a stroller up to the top of the hill, Harbor donated $5 to Girls On The Run- we ended up raising over $300!

Sooo, basically we all have a running bug now! Who wants to join us? Run Club meets on Sunday mornings at 6:30 am so you can get up, run, and go about your weekend. We aren't training for a race right now so our Sundays will hold an interval run for ALL DIFFERENT ABILITIES! It doesn't matter if you are new to running or an experienced runner- since it's intervals of walking and running, everyone can keep up. We are offering Run Club for FREE with any membership for the month of July or only $5 to drop-in. We are also hosting a FREE Family Fun Run on Saturday, July 14th at 9:30 am. Check out all of the details on the schedule page. We hope you will come join us this amazing group of Running Mamas!

Check out the full photo album here

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Hey, where'd everything go? Looking for an old blog post we did? It will be back, don't worry! We updated to a NEW WEBSITE (isn't it pretty?!?) and the old posts are in transition. Stay tuned, they'll be back!