Sunday, September 21, 2014

P90 | Insanity Max:30 | 21 Day Fix EXTREME

By now it's no secret that I am not only a fan of Beachbody home fitness programs, but I have made a way of life and coach people through these programs. There are programs that are the for the beginner and there are programs that are the for the extreme bodybuilder. And then there are programs for the semi-beginner so you look like you're a seasoned pro by the end of the program's length. Think: P90X series. Think: Insanity. Think: Focus T25. These are all extreme home workouts that will leave you in much better shape than when you started. Luckily, for those that needed a workout that started down a peg or two, Beachbody got the memo and together with the super-charged Tony Horton created P90. Then there were those that love the extreme workouts, have completed them, and were looking for another hard-hitting, face-paced, in-your-face extreme workout. Shaun T got that memo, too. Oh, and for the graduates of Autumn Calabrese's The 21 Day Fix...those folks that have done round after round after round...she heard you too!


P90 is designed for literally anyone and everyone. If you have yet to experience working out at home with Tony Horton, now is your chance! The workouts are shorter than the other P90X series' workouts. They vary from 25 to 45 minutes long. They're incredibly effective exercises, but less extreme and won't make you run for your life in the opposite direction. If you haven't done a workout in years, or are just looking to maintain your present physique, then P90 is the program for you. You'll see a dramatic change with visible results in 90 days...all without the pain of the legendary P90X. Tony's P90 is coming out the last week of September -- as in this Tuesday for Beachbody members and Coaches. Check out the video below and make sure to keep an eye out for how Beachbody and the Wounded Warrior Project are partnering up!

INSANITY MAX:30 This program is near and dear to my heart because it was Insanity and T25 that got me introduced to Beachbody and got me back into shape after my third pregnancy and move to the country. I know that any workout program, 5 minute extra web video, or inspirational thought is going to help me fall in love with fitness all over again....daily. Oh, I might hate him while I'm working out, but I'm okay with that and I KNOW he's okay with that. This program is one that I will be asking Santa for along with my kids' toy lists since it launching December 2014.
INSANITY MAX:30 is the incredible new extreme program from the one and only Shaun T. If you thought Insanity was crazy, this program will leave you speechless....literally. And all in 30 minutes. But you're not expected to get through the whole 30 minutes and in fact you're not suppose to get through the whole workout. It's designed to make you MAX OUT, or push yourself to the point where you simply cannot go any further or compromise your form in the workout. Once you've hit that wall, you write your time down, grab your breath, and get back to it. You just try to go further the next day. No equipment other than your own body is just push yourself as hard as you can for 30 minutes. If you think it's just T25 in a different package, think again. Shaun T has created 150 different moves, so INSANITY MAX:30 is not just a rehashing of previous workouts. It's the hardest 30 minutes that will leave you in amazing shape in 60 days. Oh, and thankfully there is a modifier in this workout. And no it's not's her Beachbody Coach! Oooohhhhh.....and if you like Autumn's portion containers, you can now combine the two for even better nutrition accountability while getting shredded! I'll be sure to update the pic with a video when it's released.
21 Day Fix EXTREME For all those graduates of Autumn Calabrese's 21 Day Fix, here is what you've been waiting for so get ready! She's back and takes the basics learned in 21DF and builds upon them for an even more intense workout. It's still only 21 days. It's still only 30 minutes of exercise a day. It's still 7 different workouts. It's still no-nonsense portion control. It's now, though, more extreme moves that will leave you in a pool of sweat deeper than you experienced with 21DF. It targets every muscle in the body and keeps it so varied so your muscles never get bored. You're gonna get a leaner, stronger, and more functional physique.

Friday, September 19, 2014

What exactly IS a doula?

Just yesterday I helped a woman give birth to her very first child. Both her and the soon-to-be dad were there and by the time I arrived at the hospital to begin my support, the soon-to-be mom had already been in labor for over 24 hours. Yes, almost all of the labor up to that point was very early labor, but first-time moms don't know the difference between early contractions and those contractions that occur in active or even transition labor. It would be suffice to say that she was already tired from not sleeping well and the anticipation of what was yet to come during the labor and delivery of her baby. She did eventually have her daughter and both mom and baby are doing just fine. Dad is also now rested and helping out with gusto.

During my tenure with this couple, I did get some breaks to talk with the family waiting, to eat, and to use the restroom. As is often the case, I was met with a bevy of questions about my chosen profession. You're a what? Well, what's that? How did you want to do that? Oh, so you're a midwife? Like a nurse then? Do you get paid? What training do you have? The list goes on and on, but I'm not complaining. The more people ask those questions, the more mainstream and common the idea of a doula becomes and the better supported our laboring mamas will be in the future.

In the interest of most people's attention spans nowadays, I'll limit this post to the 5 most commonly asked questions I receive when people find out that I'm doula .

1. What is a doula?

A doula is a support person that helps a couple get through their pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the transition into parenthood with greater ease. There are five main areas of support: informational, emotional, spiritual, mediatorial, and physical. A doula goes through training and may or may not be certified. There are several governing bodies with the doula-ing world. The first, DONA, is probably the most commonly known of all organizations. There are both birth doulas and there are postpartum doulas. One does not necessarily have to be trained or certified in both birth and postpartum, but there are many doulas that offer services for both birth and postpartum support.

I am currently trained in both birth and postpartum care; however, I am only working toward my certification in birth support as a way to better balance work and home life. Doula may work alone or be part of a group of other like-minded doulas in their living area. I am part of a doula service that supports women in the greater Pittsburgh region called "Heart & Hands" Doula Service.

2. Are you a midwife or nurse?

No. A doula offers no medical advice, no medical expertise, and no medical care to the mother. We offer constant support to the laboring mother and do not leave her side, except for very small breaks here and there, unlike the medical staff. We are there to support just the mother and not the maternity floor as a whole. A midwife might stay with you the whole time, but that's more the exception than the rule in a hospital setting. A mother at a birth center or at home will have the midwife's constant care. 

3. Do you get paid?

Yes, there is a fee for our services. There are organizations that provide doula support pro bono, however, I am not part of that service. Being a doula is a part of my job, part of my income stream, and though there is a price there is great value in that price.

There are five visits from me, one of which is the actual birth. Lots of communication styles, resources, stories, history, and expectations are shared during our time together...both before, during, and after the delivery of the baby.

4. What if I want pain medicine in birth? 

A doula's job is help a mother achieve the birth she has always envisioned for herself. If that includes pain medication, then it includes pain medication. That's not to say that a doula won't give you the pros and cons of the choices you hope to make during your labor and delivery. Doulas also support natural childbirth, but might the suggestion to include pain medication as a means of relaxing if the birth is leading down the path towards a Cesarean birth. We are open to almost all avenues of labor and delivery. We can usually say if something is "normal" or not -- and if we can't, we are the person to find a medical professional with an answer.

5. Did you have a doula?

I did not have a doula because I did not know about doulas at the time I had my two boys. In the event that Adam and I have a third child, we will most definitely hire a doula. No question about it! Like they say, "a doula is worth the moola!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe Review-Days: Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Welcome to another installment of Recipe Reviews-Day. These posts are where, as the name implies, I review a recipe that I have made for my family. I am not one to create my own recipes; not at this point in my life right now anyway. The recipes have to meet our whole-food standards of eating. We don't prescribed to any one diet such as gluten-free, paleo, veganism, etc., but we do try to minimize processed foods as much as possible. Do we eat the occasional processed cracker, candy, or stop at a fast-food chain. Sure, life happens. But with some planning we can make those times few and far between. Without further ado, here is the recipe review.

I originally saw this recipe as it was made on the PBS show America's Test Kitchen. That show is one of the few that I actually enjoy watching...right up there with Alton Brown's Good Eats. I set out to find this recipe, but you have to sign up on their site to view it. I didn't want to spend the money, so I looked elsewhere and found it here at Love & Olive Oil. If you like cauliflower, you're gonna love this soup, especially if you can't have dairy. This soup is so creamy....all WITHOUT the use of cream! And before you ask, nope, no pungent cauliflower smell. I've used the techniques shared in this preparation to make broccoli soup as well as homemade tomato soup. 

  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. 7 tbsp unsalted butter, divided*
  3. 1 leek, white and green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
  4. 1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
  5. salt, pepper
  6. 4-1/2 cups water
  7. 1/2 tsp white wine or sherry vinegar*
  8. 3 tbsp fresh chives, snipped*
  1. Cut the head of cauliflower into small florets, discarding stems and leaves
  2. Set aside 1-1/2 cups of florets for later
  3. Melt 2 tbsp butter over medium low heat in large saucepan. Add leek, onion, and small amount of salt and saute until soft. About 7-10 minutes.
  4. Add water and half of of the cauliflower florets and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add other half of the cauliflower and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. *This is where I completely diverge from the recipe and simply let the soup cool a bit and then blend it together with the immersion blender. For the browning of butter and cauliflower bits, please head over to Love & Olive Oil. 
  1. Even not completing the whole recipe, this soup is a keeper! I've made it several times so far and have varied the ingredients each and every time I've made it. I've added hot peppers to it. I've added roasted broccoli to it. I've added cooked chicken to it. Delicious each and every time. 
  2. I used ghee and not butter because, well, I can't have dairy...hence my penchant for this recipe!
  3. It's filling. It's thick. It really is creamy.....did I mention that it doesn't have cream?! You'd never know. 
  4. It's easy and quick to make. The hardest part is chopping the cauliflower and that's not a problem. 
  5. I've used homemade chicken broth in place of the water and it gave the soup a lot more flavor.
  6. My youngest liked to dip his grilled cheese into this soup, so I was happy to find another way to get some "white broccoli" into him. Fun fact, he doesn't like cauliflower, but loves "white broccoli." I haven't used the word cauliflower for about a year now because of it. One day I'll let him down easy when I tell him the truth. 

amazing thick & creamy for a soup with no cream!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Eat Local.

I'm going to start out this post by making a confession. I don't eat all that locally. I know, I know. So where do I get off posting about eating locally if I don't even do it. Well, the truth is that this post is meant to serve as inspiration for both YOU and ME to eat more local food. I know that I want to, but there is a very real problem with eating locally. People, like myself, are scared of the farmers markets. Okay, maybe no scared but certainly overwhelmed. These feelings are only compounded if you're new to the whole "whole-food" or "clean-eating" way of living and the folks that are years ahead of you bustle their way past you to talk up the stand owner. You end up leaving with barely anything more than you started with and most-assuredly nothing new that you've never tried before. But I'm here to tell you, and remind myself, that it doesn't have to be like that and the market doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming. All we need is a plan and some resources. A friend to tag along might not be a bad idea either. Oh, and try other places than the farmers market. There are several options if you simply can't bring yourself to brave the local open-air market.

First, know you're options when it comes to Farmers Markets. There are probably several in your area and most of them operate on a staggered schedule as to not overlap with one another. The site LocalHarvest is a great place to start making your plan. All you do is enter what you're looking for such as farmers market and your zip code. Viola! A list of local markets that offer local produce, meats, baked confections, and goods. Keep in mind that it's best to go very early when the market opens since that's when, obviously, there will be the greatest selection. Wait, that's when it's the most overwhelming you say.......well, this is the perfect time to chat up the stand owner and get some help!

Second, I am a huge proponent of meal planning and with that comes the list for the grocery store. Simply take that list with you when you hit the local farmers market and as I just said, don't be afraid to talk to the stand owner. These stand owners {love} to talk with their customers. They are more than willing to help you. Of course it will be easier to help you when they're not bombarded with other like-minded shoppers so hit the market early. Give them that list and see how they can help you with your produce needs. They might be able to direct you to other stands or vendors if they don't have what you're looking for or help with what's in season and what's not.

Third, try to eat what's in season. Right now in Southwestern PA it's the beginning of Fall. Strawberries are not at the height of picking season. Don't ask for those at the local farmers market. Ask for apples and you'll leave with pecks and bushels of 'em! You might even find some vendors who specialize in other products, such as just local meats or cheeses. If you check out eatWILD, you'll find where you can score local meat.

As great as the local market sounds, you're still not sure about trekking your two small Little Ones there bright and early on a Wednesday or Saturday morning. Never fear -- the CSA is here. A CSA, or community supported agriculture, is a program where farms sell "shares" to local residents of their crop. At harvest time, the crop is boxed and delivered to a drop-point near you for pick-up. There are no lines, no waits, no wondering what to buy, but there are risks involved. If the farm doesn't have a bumper crop, your box is most likely going to be smaller than if the harvest was booming. Yours and everyone else who bought a share of the harvest. Everyone takes that risk and it helps to off-set costs for the farmer. Another benefit is that you really don't get to pick and choose what goes into your box so you're forced to bring home beets even if it's something you wouldn't normally buy. Now obviously you don't have to eat them, but why not try them since you already have 'em in the kitchen. And most CSAs add other products into the boxes like farm-fresh eggs, local baked goods, locally-made cheeses, or local honey. Again, check out LocalHarvest for a CSA that is near to you.

some local eating humor
Another option is a favorite of mine, especially now that I have small children....U-Pick farms. These farms are where costumers are invited to come directly to the farm and pick their own produce. Around my part of the country we have strawberries in the summer months, pumpkins and apples in the fall, and Christmas tress in the winter. These farms usually offer play areas, hay rides, and petting zoos for the little kids and big kids alike. I use this site to help locate U-Pick farms, but word of mouth/social media is always a good bet too.

Finally, the best and probably most economical way to eat locally is to eat from your own back yard. Plant a garden! I'm not talking about making a garden to feed your family every veggie on the planet. I'm talking about starting small and then work your way up to bigger plots with more variety. A quick Google search will lead to you to all sorts of tutorials on how to start a garden and what plants are the most beginner-friendly. Along with farmers markets, this is an area I need to grow some courage and take the leap. I need to grow a garden and it's definitely a goal for 2015!

Need some more help with reasons to eat locally? Check out these sites with information about how the money is kept local, how grocery stores use local produce, and restaurants keep their selections local.

Sustainable Table's take on local food