eat clean challenge

Eat Clean Challenge: Approved and Unapproved Foods

eat clean challenge

Brandon and I decided to start an eat clean challenge.

The hubs and I decided to start an “eat clean” challenge this week. I am running it in combination with my online boot camp program which runs for another 5 weeks. The goal is not to lose weight, but to tighten up our eating and become less dependent on sugar. I am also hoping to redistribute my weight a bit  — basically, I want to be able to see my abs for bikini season.

On Sunday, we created a list of “approved” and “unapproved” food items. We also went grocery shopping and did some food prep including my favorite egg casserole. You can find the recipe on this post from my pregnancy with Cole.

Here is my list of food items for the week. I will also include a sample meal plan at the end. Please note — this is not a diet plan for you to follow. It is simply a listing of what foods I am focusing on this week. I do not count calories. I eat when I am hungry and to satisfaction. I am not working to drop pounds, (I don’t even own a scale) but rather removing nutrient void foods from my diet.

Approved foods:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Steak
  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Green pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Oats
  • Sweet potato
  • Almonds
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sugar free hard candy and popsicles
  • All-natural peanut butter

Unapproved foods:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Sugar and treats
  • Carbs (except complex carbs from approved foods list)
  • Fruit
  • And anything NOT on the approved foods list
eat clean challenge

Sunday food prep with Baby Cole.

Here is an example of what my food log looked like yesterday:

Tuesday Food Log: 

Breakfast:

  • Egg casserole
  • Black coffee
  • Water

* I did have half an avocado as well 

Mid­-morning snack:

  • 10 almonds
  • Water
eat clean challenge

Yum! I am loving the egg casserole for breakfast.

Lunch:

  • Chicken breast
  • Sweet potato
  • Water

Mid-­afternoon snack:

  • 10 almonds
  • Peanut Butter with celery
  • 2 sugar-free popsicles
  • Water

Dinner:

  • Steak
  • Broccoli
  • Water

Evening snack:

  • Smoothie: 1 cup spinach, 1.5 cups of mixed berries, ½ water, 1/2 banana
  • Water

* I added the smoothie because I am finishing off my berries (even though fruit is on the “unapproved” list for the week. Here is a great article referencing the importance of not eating too much fruit. Eat high carb fruits in moderation (ie: bananas). 

eat clean challenge

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How Can I Prevent Stretch Marks?

I am thrilled to once again feature Laura Tarbell as a fit mom guest blogger. Laura is a lucky mom to two sets of twins. She owns Tarbell Pilates Studio in Hogansburg, NY, is a model and ‘Pilates expert’ for Oxygen Magazine. As a Pilates instructor, personal trainer, and nutrition and wellness counselor, Laura shares her story to influence others to become more healthy. You can read more about Laura at her blog. I am so excited that Laura wrote about the topic of stretch marks. It is a topic that I have not written about, but I have certainly worried about … especially since this is my second pregnancy, and I have heard that I could get larger than the first pregnancy. So, how can you and I prevent stretch marks? Read more.

Laura, the morning of delivery with her second set of twins, and no stretch marks!

Laura, the morning of delivery with her second set of twins, and no stretch marks!

Halfway through my second twin pregnancy, people started to comment on how much I was growing. This really struck a chord for me and soon the threat of stretch marks became an obsession. I talked to a lot of women who got stretch marks during their second pregnancy, not the first. I understood how much harder it was to eat healthy and find the time to exercise while caring for another child, or two!, during a second pregnancy, but I was determined not to let that be an excuse. I wasn’t really worried about weight gain, I knew I could lose the weight with some hard work and will power, but stretch marks don’t go away very easily, if at all, and that made me nervous. So I researched possible ways to prevent stretch marks, and I focused on those during these last 4 months of my pregnancy. Not all pregnant women get stretch marks, so there had to be something more to it than just being pregnant. Let’s start off by tackling some technical information so you have a better understanding of how stretch marks relate to pregnancy.

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks, or striae, are a consequence of stretching skin, especially repeated stretching of the skin. Statistically, stretch marks effect between 70% and 90% of pregnant women. They are said to be the result of disrupted hormones and nutrient deficiencies. However, nature designed us well. So hopefully, as long as we follow nature’s prescription, stretch marks won’t leave their mark…Hopefully!

Stretch marks form on the dermis layer of the skin, located just underneath the outer layer called the epidermis. When the skin stretches, the connective tissues in the dermis layer can become compromised leading to blood vessel dilation (these are the early stage red or purplish lines). Later, as the body tries to heal itself from these breaks, cells begin to divide to fill in the gap. If the damage is deep enough, the cells produce a scar to heal the wound. In the case of stretch marks, melanin production ceases and the skin is left with white hypopigmented scars.

Causes of Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are caused by a degradation of the connective tissue of the dermal layer of the skin. Stretching, combined with other factors which weaken this layer, causes the scars we refer to as stretch marks.

Stretching alone, however, is not enough to cause stretch marks. The skin is designed to stretch. Men and women all over the world experience skin stretching but not all experience stretch marks. The current focus of prevention is on hormones and collagen.

Collagen

Collagen is the most extensive structural protein in the body. Collagen and elastin make up about 90% of the skin’s thickness. These fibers form an elastic weave over our entire bodies allowing the skin to be stretched substantially without compromising its integrity.

Laura Tarbell and her Twin Girls

Laura and her twin girls.

Skin is like a rubber band. As long as the rubber is in good condition, the rubber band will not show any marks from stretching, even when stretched to its limit. However, when that rubber band gets old and /or its fibers become dry, even when you stretch it just a bit, it cracks and breaks appear. The same holds true for skin. When the skin is healthy, it will stretch with no signs of having been stretched.

The skin is a little more sophisticated however than a rubber band in that a rubber band’s elasticity has a limit. A rubber band will never be able to stretch further than it was designed to stretch. The skin on the other hand can make new collagen to strengthen its connective tissues, enabling it to stretch more and more over time. The skin can do this as long as it has the building blocks it needs to make new elastic fibers.

Under certain conditions such as a hormone imbalance from pregnancy and nutritional deficiencies, the body may not produce sufficient amounts of collagen and elastin. Like a rubber band, when these protein fibers are not reinforced to withstand the rapid and extensive stretching, the connective tissues break apart from the bottom up, tearing the skin and leaving a scar.

HOW CAN I PREVENT STRETCH MARKS?

Hydration from the inside and outside.

Everyone knows it is important to keep the skin moisturized. Topically, http://www.Americanpregnancy.com recommends using Bio Oil on the skin twice a day. My fitness coaches recommend coconut oil (both applied topically and taken internally). I started rotating these two products three times a day. With twins, I wanted to be extra careful! I also read about the benefits of olive oil as it contains a substance called squalene, which is a chemical similar to sebum that acts as a softener and an antioxidant.

Another essential, and often underestimated, component of prevention is the power of hydration from the inside. Since stretch marks do not occur on the outer layer of skin but on the second, underlying layer, what we put into our bodies could be almost more important that what we put on our bodies. It is recommended that we drink six to eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day. I, however, drank at least 3 liters a day, and often tried for 4! By the way, coffee, tea, and caffeinated soda do not count! Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate, causing you to lose hydration. Again, this can make the skin less elastic and dry (think of that old rubber band!).

Source: Stretchmarkinstitute.com

Nutrition

PROLINE AND LYSINE – Collagen fibers themselves are made from protein, particularly hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline. Hence, eating foods high in lysine and proline may be beneficial for collagen production, although there have not been studies to confirm this theory. These are primarily found in animal protein. Egg whites are particularly high in proline.

VITAMIN C – In order for the body to synthesize protein, it needs vitamin C. Vitamin C is mainly found in all citrus fruits and in red peppers, among many other fruits and vegetables.

PHYTONUTRIENTS– Other nutrients which promote healthy collagen are the phytonutrients catechins and anthocyanidins. Catechins help prevent the breakdown of collagen while anthocyanidins help the fibers link together. Green tea is high in catechins and deeply pigmented fruits such as cherries and blueberries are high in anthocyanidins.

ZINC – Zinc works with proteins in the body to regenerate tissue by increasing the synthesis of new collagen. It is essential for connective tissue health. The best food source of zinc is oysters but other sources include chicken, beans, nuts, and other lean meat.

GOOD FATS – Essential Fatty Acids, or EFA’s, reduce inflammation. As the skin stretches, it is stressed. Keeping the skin pliable and reducing inflammation both prevent stretch marks. Sources of EFA’s include tuna, salmon and sardines (wild only, not farmed), fish oils (cod liver oil), flax and chia seed (if you buy pre-ground it is often rancid- buy whole and grind yourself), wheat germ, nuts and nut oils (walnuts are the best), and leafy greens (plus spinach). Dietary fat plays a big role in the integrity of every cell. Fats carry the important skin nutrients vitamins A, D, and E. Saturated fats provide the building blocks for hormones. They are also important for mineral absorption. These fats are found in animal proteins.

VITAMIN A – The application of vitamin A to the skin has been found to increase collagen synthesis. Eating Vitamin A is essential for the repair of skin tissue. Foods high in vitamin A include carrots and sweet potatoes, among other orange veggies.

VITAMIN E – Vitamin E strengthens the skin’s elasticity. Foods rich in E are blueberries, avocados, mangoes, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and certain oils.

B VITAMINS – Biotin is a building block of skin cells. Eggs, bananas, and rice are such foods. Niacin is a B vitamin that enables the skin to keep moisture. Poultry, fish, beef, nuts and seeds are high in niacin.

COPPER – Copper helps produce elastin. Cashews, brazil nuts, poppy and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of copper. So are cereal, meats and fish.

Circulation

There are many natural remedies to improve circulation. Some helpful herbs and habits include:

  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Dry skin brushing
  • Herbs such as Ginko Biloba and calendula
  • Cayenne pepper, ginger, and garlic
  • Avoid cigarettes ad they impair blood flow

Source ThePrimalParent.com

BOTTOM LINE:

In the fight to maintain skin’s beauty, water and all the right nutrients are essential. The answer seems to be simple: internal moisturizing is just as important as any topical oil or cream. There are so many healthy foods to eat in the list above that there isn’t room for any junk!

Stretch marks form from the inside out. Remember, you are what you eat!! Hydrate and nourish the body with water and whole foods. Get rid of junk foods and dehydrating liquids. I know it’s easier said than done. It’s often hard to say no to little goodies and treats, especially when everyone says, “Common on, your pregnant!” But in the end, your beautiful skin is worth it.

11 Week Update: Will I “Show” Earlier in My Second Pregnancy?

11.5 weeks pregnant

This photo was taken at 11.5 weeks pregnant.

I am finished with my 11th week of pregnancy! I CANNOT wait to be out of the first trimester. It has been a rocky road, but I am so thankful for a second pregnancy and we are very excited for Emma to have a sibling. This week was a little rough for my workouts, but I did not miss a workout, and continue to believe that exercise is one of the few things getting me through the day — that and my favorite new med — Zophran. Here’s a quick recap of my 11th week of pregnancy workouts.

  • Day 1: 3 mile run outside
  • Day 2: 2 hours of cardio machines, running, and Pilates with gym clients
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: 5 hours of cardio machines, running, and Pilates with gym clients (major struggle this day, but I made it through)
  • Day 5: 25 minutes of filming at-home plyo workouts for online clients, 2 mile run
  • Day 6: 2 hours of cardio machines, running, and Pilates with gym clients
  • Day 7: 30 minutes of cardio and nautilus machine weight training (I have a sinus infection, but never “starve a cold of exercise”)

On day 4 which was Saturday, I almost didn’t make it through my gym client sessions. I tried a new anti-nausea medicine which made me exhausted, and all of my clients were asking if I was “OK.” After the first 150 cals with my first client of the day, I wanted to curl up in bed and sleep for hours, but somehow I managed to ge through all 5 hours.

My "food baby" the day after Thanksgiving. 9 weeks pregnant.

My “food baby” the day after Thanksgiving. 9 weeks pregnant.

I have often heard that a woman “shows” earlier in her second pregnancy, but the truth is — I am not sure if that is true for me yet. My suspicion has always been that women “show” earlier because they have some left over fat tissue and/or stretched skin around their midsection (which is also true in my case). However, I do not think that I am “showing” quite yet — unless you count the food baby from Thanksgiving and Christmas parties.

I have gained 2 pounds already this trimester. But again — I am not sure if that is pregnancy weight gain, or vacation/Thanksgiving weight gain. My guess is 1 lb of both. One thing is for sure. I am not going to obsess over the numbers like last time. I had never owned a scale before my first pregnancy, and I purchased one just to be sure that I was gaining “enough” weight. Well, that was a mistake. Some weeks I would gain 1 pound, others I would gain 3, and some I wouldn’t gain any. I was so concerned, and it left me worried for no reason. At the end of the pregnancy, I had gained a healthy 28 pounds. I have every intention of continuing to eat well and workout, and I know my body will take care of the rest!

Two Upcoming TV Spots to Promote My Prenatal DVD Series

I look forward to rep'ing my friends at FitFluential in my upcoming TV spots!

I look forward to rep’ing my friends at FitFluential in my upcoming TV spots!

Since I officially announced my second pregnancy on Monday, my Fit Pregnancy and Parenting assistant has been busy writing press releases, emails, and brainstorming ways for me to promote my upcoming Prenatal DVD Series. On Tuesday, we sent through a press release to a local TV station. Within minutes I got a response from the TV producer who asked me to do TWO 4 minute spots in the next few weeks.

A huge thanks to Tasha, my wonderful assistant, for her hard work, great ideas, and press release writing skills. I absolutely could not be marketing my fitness business without her — but I have actually asked her to slow down because I currently have a long waiting list of clients. But no complaints here!

My first TV spot is on Monday, December 17 at noon. I will run over to the station during my lunch hour and do a quick 4 minute cardio, butt, and legs circuit for the camera. The second spot is on Monday, December 31 at noon. I hope to talk through some ways to make 2013 our healthiest year yet and promo my DVD series.

Another cool aspects of these spots is that I am going to rep’ my friends at FitFluential by wearing my new FitFluential shirt. I am also going to rep Under Armour thanks to my new friends in the marketing department there. I plan to wear my new Under Armour shoes and am waiting to get some other items to wear.

Local ladies (Dayton area) be sure to tune into WDTN’s Living Dayton show at noon on December 17 and 31. I am super pumped to be on TV again and I always love to hear your feedback.

Here is a quick preview of some of the moves I will be doing in the TV spot! This is a rough draft of some of the moves I will do for the Prenatal DVD series. Try this Fit Pregnancy and Parenting cardio, butt, and legs workout and let me know what you think! I am 12 weeks pregnant AND I have a cold, so if you’re good at reading a pregnant girl’s mind — you can see me consider that I am probably going to throw up at any minute. HA.

The Unexpected Long Run

LOVE this fit mom featured guest blog from Sarah Kurz. She has an awesome perspective and her committment to a healthy lifestyle is inspiring. Read more about Sarah and her kiddos at Run, Mommy, Run.

sarah Kurtz, fit mom featured blogger

Sarah, fit mom featured blogger.

When I signed up for my first half marathon I knew it would be a challenge. With my hubby away for work and two young children, neither of them in school yet, training was going to involve them just as much as it did me. There were countless times that I stared at my training plan and those double-digit miles and thought “No way. There’s no way I’ll ever run that far with a double stroller.”

January 15, 2012 was an unseasonably warm day for Nebraska weather. Unable to resist the urge to run in shorts in the middle of winter, I loaded the kiddos up to go for a run. My run was going to be fairly easy. Just six miles, which I had done countless times over the years on my own and a handful of times with the stroller.

We headed south on the bike trail like we normally do, preparing to run the three-mile out-and-back that had become the norm. But today was different. For whatever reason, our usual trail was closed and we were forced to take off in the opposite direction. Perhaps it was running in a new area or the warm, sunny weather, but something took over me. I wasn’t worried about how many miles I’d run. In fact, I was barely paying attention. Before we knew it, the new trail had led us to a familiar one and we ended up at the ponds five miles from the park where we began. At first I was nervous that I’d never make it back without walking. I had never before ran that far alone and most certainly didn’t think I could with a three-year old and a five-year old in tow.

It took me one hour and 32 minutes to run my first ever 10 mile run, and not only did I run every step of it, I did it with both of my children happily riding along. The high I experienced once we got back was the first of many more to come and I felt silly for ever doubting myself or my abilities.

Far too often we don’t have enough faith in ourselves. Worry and fear take over and begin to blur the visions of our dreams as we focus so hard on what needs to be done. Ignore everything for a while. Spend some time simply living in the moment and enjoying yourself. You’ll be happy to find some unexpected surprises and see that worry and fear aren’t as big as you once thought.

A fit mom IS a happy mom

a fit mom is a happy mom

A fit mom is a happy mom!

Today started out like many days. Emma woke up before me and fussed her way through my struggle to get out of bed and ready for work. She had a runny nose, and wasn’t too interested in breakfast. I had to run into work for a meeting, and a college girl at the University I work for watched Emma for an hour. She was happy as can be with her sitter, but as soon as she saw me again — grumpy. Emma grumped around the house for a while before my husband got home from work. By noon, I was very ready to go for a quick lunchtime run. Thankfully my husband watched miss grumperpuss while I burned off some steam and got myself pumped up for the second half of the day.

I came back from my run refreshed, and happy to be with Emma — even if her nose is runny and she is whiney. I share that short little story from my day to remind us that a fit mom IS a happy mom! Often, I need a few minutes alone to exercise and clear my mind to rev up for the second half of the day. A huge part of the reason I workout is to maintain a stable emotional state. Working out keeps me happy … and when momma’s happy — everyone is happy.

Five Marathon Running Training Tips for Moms

A big thanks to Kelly L. McNelis, Ph.D., for this great fit mom guest blog with her top 5 marathon running training tips for moms. Kelly is a Social-Personality Psychologist, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and owner of New Leaf Wellness, LLC. You can read more about Kelly and her wellness business at her website www.newleafwellness.biz.

Kelly McNeilis

Kelly McNelis, fit mom and featured blogger, with her girls.

FIVE MARATHON RUNNING TRAINING TIPS FOR MOMS

Last month, I crossed “run a marathon” off my bucket list. I went into the race with tons of helpful tips from friends who have run marathons, ironmans, and ultra-marathons, and during the race, I learned a few tricks of my own.

Here are my top five marathon running training tips for moms:

1. EAT WHILE RUNNING. Eat early and often. One of my most-trusted running friends told me to eat every 3 miles. She said it would feel excessive at first, but that I’d be thanking her at mile 20. Thanking her, I was! When I was doing my marathon running training, I learned that it’s easy for me to eat early but food loses it’s appeal after mile 15 – so it’s especially important for me to eat before that point in the marathon.

2. TRAIN. Running 26.2 miles is scary. Anything can happen when you’re tackling a distance like that. You have to figure out when and what to eat, and you have to know how to cope when your body wants to stop during the marathon. Those are some of the things you’ll figure out when training. You can keep your fears at bay during the race by telling yourself, “I’ve felt this before. It’s normal, and I can push through. I know what to do.”

3. BE REALISTIC. Don’t make a goal of qualifying for Boston with your first marathon. You’ll either injure yourself before race day or be disappointed in your finish time. Train to finish. For my race, I didn’t even wear a watch. Covering 26.2 miles on foot is an incredibleaccomplishment, regardless of how long it takes you to finish. This is one of the most important marathon running training tips for moms.

4. DON’T START OUT TOO FAST. No matter how good you feel at the beginning, the end of the race is going to be tough. Be smart and save some energy. You’re going to need it.

5. PLAN FOR THE LAST 6.2. This is  the last, but certainly not the least of my marathon running training tips for moms. The last 10k of the marathon is going to be physically and mentally challenging. Come up with a game plan to get you through it. One of my strategies was asking my friends to post words of wisdom and support to my facebook page, and then asking my husband to read me their posts at mile 20. I also spent time thinking about past challenging experiences that I conquered (like giving birth to my second daughter without any drugs!) and toward the very end, counting in my head. There’s something about counting while running that can distract you when all else fails.

Overall, I had an amazing, empowering marathon experience and I would highly recommend adding one to your “bucket list”! Best wishes if you are a fellow mom who is committing to a marathon running training program.

To hear more tips from Kelly, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram: Facebook: New Leaf Wellness Twitter: @kellymcnelis Pinterest: @kellymcnelis Instagram: @kellymcnelis

How to Balance a Momma’s Busy Schedule, Stay Stylish, and Qualify for the Boston Marathon

I am thrilled to feature this fit mom guest blogger, Heather. You can read more about how Heather balances her busy momma lifestyle and marathon training schedule at her blog, RunSylish

Heather, fit mom featured blogger

Heather, fit mom and marathoner.

I am a wife, mother of two, runner since age 9, marathoner since 2001 and a woman who loves the way it feels to be stylish. In addition to running, I swim, love a tough ballet based core strengthening class and carry my 4 and 6 year old kids around way too much. My name is Heather and my blog is called RunStylish.

While training for my first marathon I met my hubby. If you can meet someone sweaty running for hours, it can only get better. Right? The transformation from half marathon to full marathon clearly was life changing for both of us. Immeasurably so. Training for and completing our first marathon catapulted our running goal to the end-all-be-all Boston Marathon.

Years of running, our wedding, the birth of our two beautiful children and one day it dawned on me that it was time to pick up the pace. The Boston Marathon was changing the qualifying times. Essentially they made the qualifying times 6 minutes faster and changed the registration process. 2011 would be a transition year when some, but not all, of those precious 6 minutes would be cut out. My husband and I picked our marathon and adjusted our lives to accommodate training with children.

Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon was intense. With the qualifying times changing, we felt the pressure to really focus. Our pre-school aged children were our biggest fans and supporters. They understood our need for early weekend runs, learned the meaning of run support, watched our roller coaster of training highs and lows and learned about discipline. Little did we know that the two weeks before the race would be the most difficult.

Thirteen days before our race I had an emergency appendectomy. Honestly, I thought it was food poisoning. Who knew? Clearly not thinking, I drove myself to the hospital that night. My amazing husband had to run the girls in the double jogger to the hospital the next morning. The good news for me was I had the surgery performed laparoscopically. The day I came home we took our 3 year old to the emergency room. She was not admitted then, but was the next day. She had pneumonia.

Over the next week and a half my daughter and I gained our strength, our older daughter started kindergarten and we continued on with our plans to attempt to qualify. With the support of our families we pulled through, both managed to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and our family is stronger than ever.

Thanks! You can find me at www.runstylish.com, on Facebook at RunStylish and on Twitter.

backyard boot camp buns and calves exercise video

Backyard Boot Camp: Buns and Calves Exercise Video

Are you looking for a way to tone or lift your buns? Do you want your calves to look sexy in your stilettos? If you have unsightly cellulite on your buns or would like to tone your calves, this workout is for you!

Try this Backyard Boot Camp: Buns and Calves Exercise Video to tone your buns and calves. Develop lean muscle and burn fat! Be sure you are close to a step for the scissor kicks. Try it 5 times for more fun and fat burning. (Don’t mind the noisy locusts in the background — gross).

backyard boot camp buns and calves exercise video

Pin this Backyard Boot Camp: Buns and Calves Exercise Video to your Pinterest Pin Board and try it 5x!

Three Ways to Encourage a Fit Baby

Tara Sabo is a fit mom featured blogger, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wife and mother. She writes about these roles and more at www.adailydoseoffit.com, and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

One might call this post “how to raise a fit baby,” but that sounds so definitive and by-the-book when most parents know that raising a baby is anything but. Especially when it comes to raising a fit baby. It’s not like an infant can do drop sets or sprints. But an infant can, with some guidance, embrace a fairly fit life.

As a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and new mom to a vibrant girl of seven months—I am a huge fan of the fit life. I live it, teach my clients about it, and hope to pass it on to my daughter. But the fit life is something one can’t force on another. It can only be encouraged with guidance and by setting an example.

That, of course, is the essence of being a parent: We are tasked with the opportunity to guide by example. Therefore, it is truly possible to encourage a fit baby.

THREE WAYS TO ENCOURAGE A FIT BABY

1) Have fun with healthy foods. Don’t put Baby on a diet, but offer healthy foods to encourage Baby to choose them on their own as they grow. Breastfeed if you can, but don’t sweat it if you can’t. And when the time comes, make your own baby food—it’s so easy.

Raise a fit babyLike, five minutes for 10 servings easy. Or go the baby-led weaning route and offer fresh veggies, wholesome grains and more. Baby’s food, like yours, doesn’t have to come out of a jar or box. And if Baby doesn’t like something, don’t make them eat it. Healthy eating should not foster dread or disgust.

2) Promote active playtime. No matter how old your baby is, stimulate them with engaging activities that encourage movement. Hold and move hands and feet as baby lies in awe of you. As Baby grows, tummy time strengthens the upper body and leads to rolling, crawling and more. Bouncers help legs develop strength. Balls give little bodies something to chase. If you sit your child in a chair all day, well…they won’t need to use their muscles as much. Just remember, Baby will need a break from all the activity—and that’s perfectly fine.

3) Teach by example. Get outside and take your baby for walks in the stroller. Use a jogging stroller when Baby is old enough.

running with baby strollerLet your baby see you working out (and eating healthy). Babies are incredibly absorbent from day one, so foster an environment that helps them absorb healthy habits from the get-go. It might take them some time to comprehend said habits, but it’ll click someday.

Throughout all of the above, remember to talk to your baby as well. He or she might not comprehend exactly what you are saying, but you can rest assured that they are working on it from the get-go. Someday they’ll get why cheese is better than cheese puffs. Or why walking is more fun than riding in a stroller, or that a bike seat is better than the couch cushion.

Question: How do you encourage your children to live a fit life?