Hi sisters! My name is Stephanie and I’m a proud, albeit tired, mama of two active little girls. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three and a half years of being their mommy, it’s that a little timeout in life is absolutely critical. I thrive on these timeouts, which I also call my workouts. They keep me sane and I rely on them most days, as they help me achieve the most optimal dose of patience, inner peace and perspective that are oh so required for this demanding job title. I’ll be the first to admit that my little bosses surely are the toughest ones I’ve ever had, but they’re my everything. They’re my purpose.
In fact, over the past three and half years, my entire motivation for exercising and eating (relatively) healthy has completely shifted. I trust that I can reveal my secret to you because Sisterhood of Secrets really is the safest place for us women to be. We are genuinely here to support each other and I know that you have my back just as much as I have yours. And to be completely honest, I no longer want this secret of mine to be buried under layers and layers of dark, shameful clouds because it may help you. It may even help me to say these words – to clear the air.
So, here’s my secret: I battled Anorexia Nervosa from the end of high school through a year after I graduated college. For five wasteful years, I obsessively examined my 87 pounds of skin and bones in the mirror, calorie counted to the point of delirium and exercised purely to burn said minuscule calories. I suffered near blackouts, dizzy spells, constant stomach pain, and was diagnosed with Osteopenia and heart palpitations. I was a walking time bomb and not even my therapist, dietician or family members could talk me out of this mental disorder that corrupted every single one of my brain cells.
In fact, it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my first baby girl that I really felt this ferocious instinct, an overwhelming willpower, to fight this illness face to face. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Actually, it hit me like a ton of buildings, how intensely I wanted to be strong and healthy from the inside out for my baby girl. My greatest wish was, and will forever be, to instill in my children a feeling of empowerment and a super strong sense of self. Now that I have been blessed with two darling little ladies, this desire is even more magnified, so I work really hard every single day to be the very best role model I can be for them.
Today, I am the healthiest, strongest and happiest I have ever been, and I love the fact that I can finally say that statement with total sincerity. I eat when I’m hungry (and even when I’m not), I exercise when I want to and I have successfully rid myself of self-inflicted guilt and toxic deprecation. Today, I workout to be strong from the inside out. I workout to elevate my mood, which in turn impacts theirs. I workout to have a moment to breathe, to free myself from the chaos that is my day. Sometimes my girls join in on the fun, and sometimes I drop them off at the gym daycare so I can have some much needed solo time. It all depends! But, one thing will always remain – I work out because it makes me feel good, not because it makes me look good. The latter is just the icing on the cake.
Actually, my favorite time to exercise is when I’m in a funk. Are you in a funk? Yes? Well, welcome to adulthood! No one said growing up would be easy, perpetually fun or carefree. Being a grownup means that we have to deal with complicated emotions, toddler tantrums, financial stress, food sensitivities, sleep deprivation, and a myriad of other issues that encourage us to pull the sheets over our heads rather than actually combat those dark clouds hovering above us. But, here’s the thing: you really can and should do something about those pesky clouds hovering above your head. You deserve to feel less funky and more passionate, less defeated and most energized, less unmotivated and more like your once inspired self.
Yes, I’m just your everyday busy and often frazzled mama of two, but I have fallen in deep love with exercise and I want to help you achieve that same freeing feeling. As my ultimate go-to solution for all things funky, exercise can shift my entire outlook. Let’s put it this way: whether I am having a rough day, feeling out of sorts, or am simply in need of a little “me time,” I turn to my workouts. Luckily, my workouts are always right there waiting for me when I need them, and they can be your best asset too! The release of endorphins, increased heart rate, the momentary freedom from our daily responsibilities and the feeling of accomplishment truly make for the perfect formula for a clearer perspective and a more positive attitude.
With a little help from my 17 month old fellow exercise enthusiast, I devised a list of 10 simple at home exercises that are sure to elevate your spirits while also decreasing your waistline. Try to complete this cycle once while performing each exercise for one minute each. For a longer workout, repeat this cycle two to four times.
Funk Fader #1: Mountain Climbers (targets your core & hips): The next best thing to actually climbing a mountain is to perform this exercise! With your feet firmly planted on the floor, your butt in the air and your hands in the shape of a triangle, swiftly bring one leg up to your chest. While keeping your hands on the ground, switch your legs with a quick plank-like jump. Completing both legs equals one completed set.
Funk Fader #2: The Superwoman (targets your lower back & glutes): Get ready to feel like the superhero that you are with this empowering move that will sure to tone your body in no time. Go ahead and lay down on your stomach while keeping your arms and legs extended and straight. With your neck in a comfortable neutral position, simultaneously lift your arms and legs toward the ceiling and several inches off the floor. Your back will arch and your body will form into an extended U-shape. Hold this lift for about three seconds and then gently place your legs and arms back onto the floor. Repeat.
Funk Fader #3: Chair Dips (targets your triceps): No one who completes this exercise will have batwings, I repeat, no one! So, grab yourself a sturdy chair and slide your butt off the edge. With your hands directly next to your hips, bend your elbows 90 degrees while keeping your back as close to the chair, as you can. Push back up and repeat.
Funk Fader #4: Step-Ups (targets your quads & calves): Parents, don’t be surprised if your little ones join in on this one! Find a sturdy surface (even a stair) and place your right foot on this raised platform. Step up with your left leg. Then, step down with your left leg, followed by your right. Keep your posture straight and continue to repeat this exercise while switching feet. For a more intense workout, grab some free weights and pump your arms as you step up.
Funk Fader #5: Box Jumps (targets your quads, hips & calves): Not sweating yet? Well, this one will surely bring on a little facial shine! Use any kind of box or small raised surface for this fat blasting exercise. Now, stand in front of it and jump off the floor with both of your feet and onto the box. Jump back onto the floor with both feet. Try your best to perform this exercise without resting in between each jump. If this feels too strenuous, feel free to modify by continuing on with your step-ups as listed above.
Funk Fader #6: Wall Squat (targets your hips, glutes & hamstrings ): We all have walls, so this one is a no brainer! Place the back of your body against a wall with your feet spread hip distance apart. Keep your toes facing forward then bend your knees all the way down until you appear like you are sitting in an invisible chair. If you can, raise your arms into a prayer pose, or place them directly above your head. Hold this position for the entire minute, or modify by slowly squatting up and down.
Funk Fader #7: The Inside Marathon (targets your entire body): Get your blood pumping and your heart racing with delight with an awesome at home run. Have some space to spread your athletic wings? Let loose and run around for those 60 seconds, and if not, simply run in place. For an extra punch, bring your knees up to your chest or try dispersing a few series of sprints throughout your run.
Funk Fader #8: Bicycles (targets your abs & obliques): Build strength and tone in your abs with this mood boosting move. Lie on the floor and place your hands comfortably behind your head. Raise your legs, ensuring that your calves are parallel to the ground and your thighs at a 90 degree angle. Then, lift your head and touch your right elbow to your left knee while pulling your knee up towards your face. Your right leg should be straight and a few inches off the floor. Switch sides and repeat this in a bicycle-like motion. Be sure to contract your abs during this exercise to ensure you’re keeping the right form.
Funk Fader #9: The Twist Lunge (targets your quads, butt, abs & obliques): Get your legs ready for those summer dresses with this effective move. With your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly and keep your elbows at a 90 degree angle next to your hips. Lunge forward with your left leg while rotating your torso and arms to the left. Quickly push off your left foot ad rotate right back to your original position. Continue this exercise while alternating sides.
Funk Fader #10: Dance it Out (targets your entire body): Nothing breaks us out of a funky state of mind like some good old fashioned dancing. So, put on some upbeat tunes and cardio dance your way through this last minute of this workout cycle. If you’re feeling the music and your killer dance moves, feel free to extend this exercise for as long as you want! A little extra cardio always does a mind, body and spirit good.
Stephanie is a proud mom to two little girls, a happy wife, a health & fitness enthusiast, an inner peace seeker and your everyday nearly 30 year old that suffers from a bit of OCD but strives to look on the bright side of life. She endured but conquered a brutally lengthy battle with anorexia nervosa, so her mission to instill a sense of inner and outer strength within herself, but more importantly within her girls, is nothing short of fierce. Stephanie believes that to truly be strong starts from within. Join her in her journey by reading her blog, www.raisingbyexample.com, where she shares her inner fears, unfiltered thoughts, workouts, healthy eating tips and hilarious and relatable mommy moments. Stephanie is an honest writer, she is passionate about helping other women feel and look their very best and she simply wants us all live our healthiest and happiest lives.