As I sit here thinking about how to start this blog, my two girls, ages 4 and 5, are upstairs randomly shouting from their bed. Not shouting words, just strange animal sounding noises. This is one of the times of day that I pray for quiet. For alone time. For calm. But these quiet moments of alone time won’t last long as baby number 3 is coming quicker than I can imagine. August will be here before I know it. As crazy as my girls are, I love them more than I ever knew I could. And there is a part of me that wonders how my heart will have room for one more little. How much love can one heart hold?
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with #2. I cried. Not tears of joy, but tears of shock. I was so surprised and felt so unready. (And looking back on it, my reaction was right. Bringing another baby home to a 1 year-old sister is honestly bananas!) But in all seriousness, I remember thinking that day in the bathroom, how can I do this? How could I love anyone more than I love my sweet baby girl? She was my everything. Then something...more
I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while now… about nine weeks to be exact... *wink-wink*
2017 was a crazy year for my family and me. We moved twice, my girls started becoming little ladies, my husband traveled a lot and I had a miscarriage. It was wild and full of highs and lows. I started 2018 by reflecting on all that happened during the last year and I chose three words as my mantras for the year: change, chaos and clarity.
The biggest CHANGE coming our way is welcoming BABY #3, our rainbow baby, in August! We couldn’t be happier! We are thrilled to become a family of 5, and see our two daughters become big sisters to a new little bundle of joy. I’m also beyond excited to begin my FIT4MOM journey all over again as a client. I’m looking forward to being a part of our Fit4Baby class, attending our expecting moms nights out and helloooo Body Back in 2019! (Yes, it’s already on my mind. )
But in all...more
Wow, it's 2018! I remember as a kid when it turned to the year 2000. How excited, but nervous people were. That feels like forever ago, but also like yesterday.
On the first day of 2018, I found myself sitting in front of my fireplace with a hot cup of tea before my kiddos are awake. I loved seeing everyone’s favorite photos of 2017 on social media yesterday, with many people posting their best 9 images. Their reflection caused me to take a moment this morning to reflect back on my last year. Which parts were my favorites? What did I learn? What will I choose to leave in 2017?
My best moments of 2017…
…were just ordinary days. Family days lounging at home, days of taking the girls to school or dance, days with lots of snuggles. As the years go on, I find more joy in the ordinary.
…that I am stronger than I think I am - both physically and mentally. 2017 brought me some tough challenges. But through these challenges, I grew and I overcame obstacles.
I am leaving behind…
…self-doubt. I am capable and I believe in myself....more
'Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the house
not a spot on the floor was uncovered by a toy
and all I could do was sigh and drink my LaCroix...
Two of the most valued and sought after elements of a momma's life are TIME and SPACE. All year we find ourselves searching for ways to find a little more time for ourselves and our kids and dread the thought of having to find more space for the STUFF that comes into our homes throughout holidays, birthdays, school days... We often find ourselves looking for EXPERIENCE gift ideas to share with our friends and family that will give us more time, to ourselves or with our families, as well as eliminate the trinkets, toys, and frankly, junk that can fill up our coveted space.
This year, FIT4MOM DuPage County moms have curated a list of local experiences, businesses and time-savers for inspiration. Share this list with your friends and family when they ask for ideas or use it as inspiration for when gifting to your favorite moms....more
This week, during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, I became 1 in 4. I found out today that my almost 9 week old baby has no heartbeat.
I discovered very early that I was pregnant. It was the first month of trying for our 3rd child, and the day I missed my period I took the test.
When it was positive, I was truly filled with joy. We wanted this baby so much, and for it to happen on the first try felt like a miracle in itself. My OB checked my hormone levels two times and said they were appropriately doubling and everything looked great.
Next came a 6 week ultrasound. They found the heartbeat, but it was only 80 bpm. I was crushed and scared and emotional. The office prepped me for a miscarriage and the whole process after. I had to wait a week to have another ultrasound to confirm.
Let me tell you, that is a version of hell. A place that no mother should ever have to go. Sitting and waiting for your body to start bleeding while not wanting to give up hope is truly terrible.
At the follow up ultrasound, it felt like another miracle...more
Last week was Share the Love week at FIT4MOM. We wanted to keep that spirit going, so here's story of two mamas in Our Village who are sharing real love and support in the form of meal swaps.
Lindsay and Danielle are both veterans in Our Village, and this year, they're in Body Back together (different sessions, but at the same time). They came up with the idea of swapping healthy, plan-approved meals to make cooking and eating right easier during their Body Back transformations.
I've always liked the idea of "cook once, eat twice," and would often double recipes to freeze half.
When BB started and I was thinking about all the new recipes I wanted to try, I had the idea to swap the second serving of my double batch with Danielle. This way we are cooking two meals and ending up with four.
One Woman’s Quest to Win Back Brain Space and Get off the Struggle Bus
One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was a little different than others I’ve made in the past. In 2017, I want to feel like I’m able to handle things.
Note that my actual ability to handle those things is not the issue. The operative word in the statement is “feel.”
I’m a Type-A person, and I’m a Mom. No matter what, I will handle whatever is thrown at me.
It’s how I feel while handling those things is the problem. And I think I figured out why—it’s because I waste a lot of brain space on things that could be eliminated, or improved if I just took the time to fix them. And with less brain capacity available, even everyday stressors become magnified.
As a result, I feel like I’m struggling at least a little, even on relatively good days.
So I started taking steps to get rid of the small stressors in my life with planning, proactive effort, and/or technology. Here are some examples.
I love food, especially when I don’t have to prepare it or clean up afterward. But dining out is a treat I enjoy much less frequently now that I have kids. The whole experience is just much more stressful with little ones in tow, and sometimes it’s easier to stay home. However, here are five options in the Glen Ellyn/Wheaton/Lombard area that make dining with kids possible, and actually pretty delicious/fun.
Halloween is officially over. Now what? We’ve got tons of candy, carved pumpkins and tired kiddos at our house. Well I’ve got a few ideas for you on what to do with your candy, where to donate your pumpkins and how to get your energy levels back up!
To know Erica Spear is to love her. She's a motivating, loving, empathetic instructor, coach and friend.
When we found out she'd be moving to Seattle by the end of the year for her husband's job, we were certainly sad. But we were also insanely happy for the time that we were able to spend with her.
We've all learned a lot from Erica, but the feeling is mutual. So, we asked her to describe what this Village means to her, and to share a few life lessons she's learned from us.
Here's what she said. From the looks of it, we'll be on the West Coast right along with her.
Oh, this Village. We are so obviously more than a group of women who work out together. But it is hard for me to find the right term to describe us.
Here's my best shot. We are comrades in arms, stronger together. We are one loving, striving, beating pulse that pulls each other through each day. To sum up on paper the lessons you've taught me in 2+ years is an impossible task. But here are some that come to mind.
My second daughter was born in August. After a brief maternity hiatus, I’m back on the blogging train. I thought I’d celebrate by doing a little Q&A.
So, here are three questions I can answer definitively (or not so definitively, depending on how you look at it) now that I have more than one child.
Question 1: Does pregnancy go by faster or slower the second time around?
Both. Sometimes at the exact same time.
I felt like my second pregnancy flew by, except for:
So, on second thought, it went slowly. Except for when...more
Meet Karen Gravlin. Karen has been taking FIT4MOM classes since December of 2015. She started with us at our Fit4Baby pre-natal class as a client and loved our franchise so much she jumped on to our instructor team! We are so excited to share Karen's rocking energy at our Saturday Yorktown classes with Our Village!
Meet Ashley Giganti. Ashley has been an instructor with our team since June of 2015. Ashley has 2 twin girls that are 3 years old. She's taught Fit4Baby pre-natal, Stroller Strides and is now our resident Stroller Barre instructor. She has a positive attitude, fun class style, and loves to make her clients feel the Stroller Barre burn!
Lesley is the owner of FIT4MOM Glen Ellyn/Wheaton/Lombard, which makes her the founding (and most active!) member of Our Village.
Learn a little bit about her and why she started FIT4MOM in this area. (Spoiler alert: she needed us as much as we need her!)
Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
My husband Matt and I have two daughters, Cecilia (Cici) who’s 4, and Abby who turns 3 this year.
We live in Elmhurst now. I grew up in Michigan, and went to Michigan State University. I worked in sales before becoming a Mom.
What made you want to start FIT4MOM?
In August 2013, my family moved from Chicago to the western suburbs. I was pregnant with my second child and eager to make new friends. I had taken FIT4MOM classes in the city after having Cici, and I knew it was a great way to find a community of moms. But when I looked for FIT4MOM in our new area, I was disappointed to find there wasn’t one. So I decided to start one.
I’m nine months pregnant with my second daughter, and I’m still attending Stroller Strides every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
While my “Fast Feet” may be more like “Slow Steps,” and while my jog may be more like a waddle, I’m there. Here are five reasons why.
To My Dad and My Husband (and all of those that Show Up When it Counts) on Father’s Day
A lot of people say that a woman chooses a husband a lot like her Dad.
On the surface, that’s not true for me. My hubby and my Dad are very different. While my husband is more reserved and serious, my Dad is a goofball at heart who loves to chat.
On the deeper side though, it’s absolutely true. It’s a little hard for me to put into words, but here’s the best way I can explain it: they show up for me.
The earliest and most vivid memory I have of my Dad showing up for me was in Middle School. I think it was 7th grade, and I was being inducted into my school’s National Junior Honor Society.
The ceremony was scheduled for a weekday evening. Unfortunately, my Dad had a major business trip scheduled for that same week in North Carolina. I was bummed that he wouldn’t be able to come, but I understood why he couldn’t.
On the night of the ceremony, I was all dressed up (90s poofy, awkward middle school hair and all). Along with a lot of other kids, we were...more
Mother’s Day is coming up. Here’s my wish for my own Mom, and by proxy, all of you. Mom, if you’re reading this (which I’m sure you will be at some point), I love you. And I mean every word. And I’m crying already.
My mom has told me on a few different occasions (maybe more than a few) that she wants my life to be better than her own.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you ask my mom, she will probably tell you that she has a pretty darn awesome life. She’s got a loving, living marriage to my Dad; she’s active in her Church; she’s surrounded by friends and family; and she’s just a pretty successful human being overall. (She would probably not verbalize that last part, but it’s true).
And I do understand the sentiment behind her words. She wants me to have the opportunities that she didn’t have growing up, and she wants to shield me from any mistakes/pain that she saw as avoidable in her own life.
I don’t think she differs...more
What Happened when I Couldn’t Say No to Running
After a particularly tough time in my life (pre-kids), I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. I made a vow to myself: I could not say no to anything, unless it would harm myself or others.
A broad and somewhat ridiculous vow, I know, but it helped me in a huge way: I could not make excuses when it came to trying new things and experiences.
The proverbial push really came to shove when my friend Kristy (perhaps preying on my vow, perhaps not) asked me to train and do Philadelphia’s 2008 Broad Street Run with her. It was a 10-mile race, I’d have plenty of time to prepare, and we could do it together. I would (most likely) not harm myself or others in the process.
I knew what my answer had to be. I had to keep the vow to myself. But there was one problem: I was NOT a runner.
The “Not a Runner” Gives it a Try
I was an exerciser at the time—fitness classes, workout videos, etc. I was relatively fit. But other than the occasional hated jaunt on the treadmill when...more
For those of you that know me well, know that I am on Facebook A LOT! I post class pictures, class updates, pictures of my family, and more.
I know so many of us are on Facebook, so it is an easy “one stop shop” to update everyone on what’s going on with Our Village. I also think it is useful for sharing updates with far away friends and family.
But one thing most people don’t talk about with Facebook is how much time it takes. Sure, a quick scroll through your newsfeed can take just a minute. But what are you missing when you do that?
That’s why I gave up Facebook this week. My family took our first vacation of just the 4 of us. We went to Orlando for a week of sunshine and fun!
I have often heard of people talking about “taking a break” from social media; Lisa Druxman talks about it a lot. But this is the first time I've taken the challenge and done it. On Tuesday, I deleted the app from my phone and haven’t logged in since.
At first I noticed myself kind of itching for it. I would unlock my phone and quickly realize I had no idea why I was...more
Since my husband and I are both from the great state of New Jersey, I have a lot of mommy friends that live there. Last week, one of my friends from NJ came to visit her husband’s family, who just happen to live in this area (a happy coincidence). She’s a member of the FIT4MOM franchise where she lives, so she came to one of our classes here.
I enjoyed having her visit so much! It was fun to introduce an “old” mommy friend to the “new” mommy friends I’ve made since living here.
It also got me thinking: my “old” and “new” mom friends both play equal but different parts in my life. And in honor of SHARE THE LOVE week last month, I’d like to give them some kudos.
“Old” Mommy Friends: They Know Me and Love Me Anyway
By “old” mommy friends, I mean those that knew me pre-kid. This includes a few friends I’ve had since middle and high school, my core group of college friends, and those friends I’ve made through my husband (both through our time abroad, and his friends and friends’ wives that I’ve stolen for myself). Because we’ve moved so much,...more
Meet our new instructor Emily Kurtz! Emily will be teaching our Body Back BOOST classes on Monday nights at Saturday mornings! Check out her schedule here.
Tell us something we don't know about you: I have an amazing memory recall on insignificant details of pop culture. If you need to know what happened on an episode of 90210 in 1995, I'm your girl. Too bad I can't use those powers for good!
Favorite exercise: My favorites are the ones that I dread going in to, but feel AWESOME when they are done. Think mountain climbers, push-ups, or anything with a paper plate!
Proudest moment as a mom: Seeing my 4 year old hold my 19 month old's hand to help him walk up the stairs. My heart broke in to about a million pieces.
Favorite tv show: The only shows I watch in real time are The Bachelor and Scandal- I never miss an episode. I am also a Friends buff, love How I Met Your Mother,...more
What Stroller Fitness Classes are Really Like: A Comparison of My Expectations vs. Reality
If you’ve never tried a Stroller Strides or Stroller Barre class, you might be wondering what it’s like.
If you’re like me before I joined FIT4MOM, it’s probably not what you’d expect. Here’s a little comparison of what I thought stroller fitness would be, versus what it actually has been for me.
Expectation #1: I envisioned a “workout” that included walking around leisurely with other moms.
Reality: Totally different.
I knew that this kind of stroller fitness wasn’t “leisurely” by Station 1 of my first Stroller Strides class, about 6 weeks postpartum. I could definitely tailor the workout to my out of shape fitness level at the time (the instructors give plenty of modifications), but these classes are no joke!
This made me very happy. I was glad to find a place where I could get a fun but challenging workout with my daughter in tow.
Expectation #2: My kid would have...more
My daughter is a newly minted toddler—she just turned 15 months. But I’ve got some (limited) broader experience with toddlers thanks to my friends at Stroller Strides. And let me tell you something: I think they have this whole “life” thing down pat.
Sure, they may need help putting shoes on or going to the bathroom. Sure, they may throw tantrums over having to wear clothes. But when it comes to what matters—enjoying life—they are top notch.
Here are four ways I am going to try to be more like a toddler this holiday season.
1) I will slow down when I can. It always seems like the more that you have to do in any given day, the slower a toddler tends to be. If you would like to be out of the house by 9am to run some errands before lunch, they will miraculously sleep two hours later than they normally do and savor that banana at breakfast when they normally inhale it. When this happens in my house, I get impatient and antsy. And then I look at my daughter—smiling and enjoying her breakfast. I will seek the same enjoyment, even when the list seems...more
Kindness: Do Unto Yourself as You Would Do Unto Others
I’ve noticed something over the past year since I’ve had my daughter: my closest mom friends are way nicer to me than they are to themselves. And I’m included in that group. I’m way nicer to others than I am to myself.
Here’s a silly example.
One Friday afternoon in August, I locked myself out of my house while my daughter was napping. I was so angry at myself for being careless—my inner dialog was full of curses and insults about my own stupidity. Thankfully, I had my phone. I called my husband and he left work to come rescue me. That left me with about 15 minutes to stew. To pass the time, I texted my friends (and my Mom) about how stupid I was.
Others Showed Me the Kindness I Didn’t Give to Myself
The first to text back was my Mom. Of course she was kind to me—but she always is! The second to text back was Lizzy, one of my fellow Stroller Strides moms (now an instructor).
She was MUCH easier on me than I was on myself. She shared stories of her own...more
Lesley Lehman and Erica Spear both attended the FIT4MOM conference in San Diego, CA last month. A lot of people have been asking about their trip, so we thought we’d do a little blog recap.
Lesley and Erica both got to learn a ton of new stuff at the conference from fitness professionals across the country. And they’re going to bring it all back to our Village!
They’ve got new exercises and cardio bursts, new ways to use the band, and of course new songs for Stroller Strides. They also took a TRX Body Back class with lots of new equipment and intense core work. Lesley plans to get certified in TRX next year so she can bring it to our franchise in the future.
They also met plenty of other franchisees and instructors, swapping stories and tips and celebrating our awesome Village. Erica said it crystallized in her mind that our Glen Ellyn / Wheaton / Lombard Village is truly the best—our strong support system, love for each other and our kiddos, and encouragement for one another is unlike anything else she heard about.
Lesley also discovered a cool new app...more
My Stroller Strides-iversary: 5 Things That Would Happen If I Didn’t Have FIT4MOM
According to Facebook Memories, today (October 20) is the first anniversary of my first-ever Stroller Strides class.
In honor of this occasion, here are 5 things that would happen if I didn’t have FIT4MOM and Our Village in my life.
1) I wouldn’t be able to carry groceries, my daughter, a diaper bag, and the mail into my house at the same time. My arms, shoulders and back are definitely stronger because of flys galore and the Wheels on the Bus curl sequence.
2) I’d spend a lot more money at Target. Thanks to Stroller Strides, my daughter and I are occupied Monday, Wednesday and Friday until lunch time. Then, thanks to our private Facebook group, I can always find someone to meet up with after naps for a playdate. We’re never bored!
3) I’d go stir crazy in the winter. I’m from New Jersey originally, but Chicago winters are brutal. Regular indoor exercise, playgroups, and good...more
The Joy of No Judgement
My first event with FIT4MOM was a Mom’s Night Out, before I even became a Mom. We had just moved to Wheaton, and I was 9 months pregnant. I found FIT4MOM on Meetup.com, and decided to try an MNO.
While driving there, I was nervous. If you believe what you read on the Internet, Mom’s groups are havens for cattiness and judgement. (And if it’s on the Internet, it must be true.) Was I wearing the right thing? Would they like me?
We had some drinks and appetizers, played Bocce Ball, and talked. I had a blast. The Moms were friendly, and I felt very welcome (the picture in this post is from that night). But since there were cocktails for everyone else, I wasn’t surprised. Everyone’s friendly when there are cocktails.
Then Things Got Real
My second foray into FIT4MOM came about two months later. I was six weeks postpartum and more tired than I’d ever been in my life. But I wanted to move again, and I wanted contact with the outside world. So I went to Stroller Strides.
I was even more...more
I just moved this summer. I’ve actually moved six times since 2007, including twice across an ocean.
And you know what I realized?
I’ve dragged a lot of crap across an ocean. Twice.
Clothes were the main culprit. I had so many clothes. Every time I looked in my closet, I’d get stressed out. I had the same problem many women do—so many clothes, but nothing to wear.
There were clothes that were too big. Clothes that were too small. Clothes that still had tags on them because I saw them for $4.00 at Old Navy and bought them after a temporary lapse in fashion judgment.
But the biggest category were clothes that didn’t look bad, but that didn’t make me feel good, either. There wasn’t anything wrong with them per se, but I didn’t feel like my best self when I wore them (for a variety of reasons).
Why did I do that to myself? Why would I spend energy looking at them in my closet day after day? Why would I drag them across an ocean (twice)?
Brutal but Necessary Bluntness
I decided to do a clothing purge. I recruited the...more
August’s FIT4MOM theme is the Power of Moms. Founder Lisa Druxman wrote a beautiful blog post about it last week (http://fit4mom.com/latest/blog/the-power-of-moms).
This was my favorite part of her post:
“Moms are a catalyst for change. We have the power to teach, inspire and lead. It takes real strength to lift someone up higher, to pull them up after they have fallen down and to hold them up when they are too weak to stand alone. That is the strength of moms. That is the power of moms.”
But I’m going to put a lighthearted spin on this month’s theme.
On good days, I do feel those words she wrote—every bit of them, especially thanks to my FIT4MOM friends.
On bad days, I still try to feel them, but it’s hard! On those days, I try to find a bit of “Mom Power” in the little victories.
On bad days, I swear I feel like a super woman when:
Why I Stride: The Backstory of My Relationship with Exercise
I’m Christina Ousouljoglou, and I’ll be blogging for FIT4MOM about twice per month. I live in Wheaton, IL with my husband and our 11 month old daughter.
I plan to write about fun topics. If you know me, you know that I survive the not-so glamorous moments of motherhood, wifehood, and work with large doses of laughter and light-hearted sarcasm.
But, I want to start with one serious topic. This one’s also a little long, so bear with me.
Why—after nights of broken sleep, cranky early mornings, and crazed schedules—do Moms pack up their kiddos and go to Stroller Strides every week?
For me, it’s two things:
Exercise That’s Fun??
Yeah, I didn’t think it was possible either. My attitude about exercise has been less than stellar over the years....more
Wow! Your amazing body is making a little person. Exercising while you are pregnant has so many benefits. Most important one is that it gets your body ready for the next step, all the heavy lifting you will be doing once your bundle of joy is in your life. The stronger and healthier you are during your pregnancy, the easier it will be during labor, recovery and all the ups and downs that comes with adding a new little person to your life.
Here is a list of why you should start exercising while you are pregnant:
What a FUN playgroup! On Wednesday August 13th the FIT4MOM Glen Ellyn & Wheaton Stroller Strides classes had a combined playgroup at the Glen Ellyn Fire station. We had over 15 Stroller Strides mamas come to our playgroup and a few friends from the Lombard area moms Meetup!
Fire Chief Steve talked to us about fire safety and what to do in an emergency. Fireman Mike dressed up in his gear to show the children what a fireman would look like should they have to come to your house. It was an educational and fun day!
The children were able to sit in the fire truck, ring the bell, dress up in the uniform, and of course get their very own fire hat to take home. Check out the pictures below! If you have pictures you would like to add please email email@example.com. We hope you can join us for a playgroup soon!more