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We all think of our children as a gift. We are grateful for our healthy children and the memories that they bestow. However, motherhood in itself may be one of the most beautiful gifts of your life. Motherhood gives us the opportunity to live as we hope our children will. Live as a role model for your child and you give yourself the gift of a beautiful and full life. We want our kids to exercise, so we should show them that it's a priority to us, even if we just get in a little bit each day. We want our kids to eat well, so we should eat whole foods when possible and not medicate ourselves with fast foods or alcohol. We want our kids to take care of their spirit, so we should meditate or pray so they see how we connect and recharge. And we want our kids to be resilient, so we should show them that life has some battles and that we handle them with grace and hopefully a sense of humor. And of course life is not perfect, so we will lose our temper at times or fall apart at others. And then we should apologize and take responsibility for our actions and share what might have been a...

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This week marks the one year anniversary of the relaunch of Fit4Mom Manhattan! In honor of this wonderful occasion, we're highlighting Manhattan franchise owner and head instructor, Laura, as our Motivating Mom. Read all about her below and be sure to congratulate her in the comments!

**Tell us about yourself.**

Born and raised in New York City, I always wanted to do it "all." From my days as a three sport varsity athlete and captain in high school, to my completion of three New York City Marathons while news producing at CNN, working at the NYPD as an Intelligence Analyst, and studying International Affairs and Arabic at Columbia University, fitness has been the one constant in my life. But it wasn't until I was pregnant with my daughter, Sophia, born in March 2012, that I was determined to turn my love for exercise into a career.

**What Motivated You to make a change?**

When I was pregnant with Sophia, I was frustrated by all the misinformation out there regarding fitness and pregnancy; I started writing a blog called “Baby Bump Fit Tips” on...

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While this may seem like an unusual question, it is actually one I get asked a LOT! The concern is that there are theories around the BEST way to breathe to maximize results when exercising. Here are some:

• Breath should be shallow and quick

• Breathe through your nose only

• Breathe through your mouth only

• Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth

• Exhale on exertion

The truth is the way you breathe is a pretty personal process. When you workout, experiment with different patterns/methods and see how you feel. The way you breathe needs to make sense for your body and the type of workouts you do. The main take-away is this:

1. Inhale

2. Exhale

3. Repeat

Don’t worry too much about breathing the “right” way. Master the steps above and you are golden!

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For years we’ve heard about the dangers of sun exposure: premature lines and wrinkles, brown splotches, and the biggest scare of all, skin cancer. We slather on the sunscreen, wear hats, and even put on UV-protective clothing. Meanwhile, our teeth and bones pay the price—staying out of the sun means we don’t activate production of our sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, which is critical to strong bones and pearly whites.

In addition to our obsession with UV protection, numerous studies point to the fact that the Dietary Reference Intakes (RDIs) for vitamin D set in the 1990s are no longer sufficient based on new research that shows vitamin D wears more than a “calcium absorption” hat. It turns out that vitamin D could be a strong defensive player against cancer, heart disease, immunity and neuromuscular disorders. Based on this, you can bet that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set determining the optimal intake of vitamin D as a high priority.

Most Americans face a serious vitamin D deficiency, with women having the greatest risk of deficiency. Nearly half...

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This week I was asked what I think of meal replacement shakes such as Shakeology, Isagenix, Arbonne, and the list goes on. Warning: I'm not going to make many friends in this post, as I know many readers are advocates of these brands. But I promise to share my true feelings with my readers and this is how I feel. Also note: I am NOT a nutritionist. I am a mom who is passionate about living a healthy life, so I'm compelled share what I've learned.

First off, it makes me sad that we feel we need to resort to shakes, potions and pills rather than just to eat healthy day in and day out. We are the most unhealthy society in history. We are over stressed, over worked and overweight from processed and packaged foods. Meal replacement shakes will not bring us health. Everyone wants a magic pill, but none exists.

Most meal replacement shakes are marketed to help you lose weight. Most starve your body and wreak havoc on your metabolism. Yes, you may drop a few pounds, but you will gain them back as soon as you resume your regular eating. Moreover, your metabolism will be more...

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Happy Monday! We're excited for you to meet Deleah, our Motivating Mom of the week! Read below to see how she has changed her life for the better and is inspiring us all to live happier and healthier.

**Tell us about yourself.**

My name is Deleah, I'm a 30-year-old mother to three boys. I am a bachelors degree prepared Registered Nurse with a centralized focus in the operating room. My husband is active duty in the United States Coast Guard and upon transferring our family 1,200 miles north, away from all family and support I became a stay-at-home mother for the first time. Once settled in a foreign part of the country I began to feel alone and unmotivated. I realized it was time to make a change.

**What motivated you to make a change?**

Feeling a major detachment from social interaction was the driving force. I desperately needed to make friends, get out, and socialize. Not only for myself but for my young son.

**What are you doing to get/stay so healthy!?**

Currently I am a member of Stroller Strides of Southeastern Connecticut. I attend...

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With the FIT4MOM Crunch Challenge underway, here is another way to get your crunches in...with an added challenge! The exercise is a Crunch PLUS Extension:

  • Start on your back and curl up tight into a ball, drawing your chest to your knees
  • Extend your arms and legs out long, keeping shoulders off the ground
  • Repeat.

Note: For low back pain, extend the legs upwards towards the sky, rather than near the ground.

Check out this video and CRUNCH AWAY!

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When I started Stroller Strides nearly 13 years ago, I was searching for a community. Yes, we are a fitness program for moms. But I truly needed to find my village. I lost connection with many of my work friends when I became a mom, but that wasn't really a community. I guess I had never belonged to a community. I was always the kid who never quite fit in to the "clicks" and never found that place where I belonged. But as a new mom, I felt this need to be a part of something. I wanted to create a community for all moms.

What does community mean to you? Yes, it's the place where you live. But what does it mean to you to have a close knit bond with other moms? To me, our FIT4MOM community is a place where we can embrace each other. It's a place where we can celebrate the milestones of our children and support each other through the challenges of motherhood. No matter what location you go to (Fit4Baby, Stroller Strides or Body Back), it is my hope that you will find your community, your tribe. We want our community to be welcoming to all women at every stage of motherhood....

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This week, we had the pleasure of getting to know Natalia! After getting into amazing shape with FIT4MOM, she is now an instructor inspiring other moms daily!

**Tell us about yourself**

My name is Natalia and I am mommy to Carmendy, 17 months and wife to my husband Jesse for 3 years. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 9 years and wear an insulin pump. My diabetes is a major part of my life that has helped me embrace a healthy lifestyle. I am lucky enough to be part of the most amazing FIT4MOM group in Central Phoenix, AZ. I started with FIT4MOM when Carmendy was only 6 weeks and have been addicted ever since. This past September I joined the FIT4MOM Central Phoenix team as an instructor, less than 1 year after my journey began with the group.

**What motivated you to make a change?**

Before becoming pregnant I was active and healthy partly due to my diabetes and always pictured myself as an active pregnant woman and mom. However, in 2010 I began undergoing some initial stages of fertility treatments, which ultimately lead to a pregnancy with an IUI...

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A great complement to eating 3 healthy meals each day is healthy snacking in between, especially pre and post workout. It’s so important to keep your body fueled throughout the day in order to increase your energy and metabolism. With the arrival of Spring comes new and tasty varieties of fruits and veggies to add into your snacking routine! When choosing your snacks, pick a favorite fruit or veggie and then pair it with a healthy protein. Some protein suggestions are: almonds, string cheese, plain yogurt and cottage cheese. Here are some of the awesome fruits and veggies making an appearance this Spring!

• Apricots

• Artichokes

• Asparagus

• Honeydew

• Mango

• Oranges

• Peas

• Pineapple

• Spinach

• Strawberries

• Cherries

• Kiwis

• Grapefruit

• Beets

Keep fueling and recharging your body with foods that are tasty and satisfying this Spring. Feeling healthy is absolutely delicious!

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