Pregnancy Annoucement! 6 Week Pregnancy Update

So excited I can finally start writing and sharing about our second pregnancy!

Below is my youtube vlog so go watch and leave me a comment with your reaction! But if you’re a reader….here’s the beginning to our story! (The video goes into a little more detail!)

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a longggg time. Well before we started “trying.” Since Grayson will be 3 this July, I’ve felt a little pressure to get pregnant to keep our kids close in age. And I love God’s timing in this, so I’m so happy he allowed us to get pregnant when we did.

On March 5th, that is the day I took my pregnancy test. I was laying in bed the night before, one day late, and just knew. Scared to get my hopes up and feel let down for down for the third month in a row, but I still just knew, and didn’t want to believe it. The next day, I swear to you, I went to the bathroom every 15 minutes to see if my period would come. (sorry if that’s TMI, but hey, you’re reading a pregnancy blog. All dignity is out the window here.)

Finally, I took the test around 2pm. I was sharing Arbonne with some sweet girls later that day, and figured out it was really horrible timing to take the test: instead of getting ready and doing my makeup like I needed, I couldn’t stop crying! I felt like the night would never be over so I could come home and share our news with Shane. Yes, somehow I actually waited to tell him! I wanted to see the look on his face though, and it was so worth it. I’m due November 11, 2019….but we know what that means. Who knows when that baby is coming! Grayson was induced at 6 days late and still didn’t want to come out.

So far, so good. This pregnancy already feels so different than with Grayson. With G, I was so sick. Morning sickness turned into nighttime sickness, with migraines galore. So far I’m just exhausted.

We’re going to a new birth center this time instead of my hometown OBGYN. When we took the tour, Shane was very skeptical because he’s not very ‘hippie dippie’ as he likes to say. Me on the other hand? I was sold immediately. I knew I couldn’t choose a hospital birth after visiting the birth center. I want to be in a positive atmosphere, not an environment meant for sick people. I will say though, the birth center midwives seem truly great with sending you straight to the hospital if they feel its medically necessary. The birth center is located basically at the hospital, so there’s no worries of being too far away. I feel completely safe going with this option!

This, of course, means no epidural and no inducing labor if I don’t have her on my own around 40 weeks. With Grayson, I was super against getting an epidural, but with the pain of induction with pitocin, I was miserable and ended up getting the epidural. I’m okay with this change, though. Unless there’s a medically-necessary reason I need to be induced or go to the hospital this time, I’d rather go the natural route and let my body take the lead.

Click below to view the vlog!

Hit subscribe so you can follow along as we share more of our pregnancy story! I’ll also be sharing pregnancy tips, nutrition and fitness advice along the way. <3 Comment below and let me know how many babies you have, how many you want, and how your past pregnancies have gone!

Chocolate Protein Pancakes

I’m a simple creature of habit. I don’t need dozens of recipes to choose from… I just need a few good ones. This pancake recipe is a weekly favorite in our house and is Arbonne-30 approved!

-2 scoops Arbonne chocolate (vanilla is also delicious! …or I like to add a scoop of each for my own version of marble cake) vegan protein

– 1 scoop Arbonne fiber (if cooking only for your child, I only add half a scoop because they don’t need as much)

-1 cage free organic egg

-1/4 cup Almond or coconut milk

– a little cinnamon and vanilla

Mix together and cook in a skillet! If batter is too thick, slowly add more almond milk until you’re happy with the consistency.

It’s delicious with almond butter or grass fed butter on top! Enjoy!

I Tracked My Habits For A Year And This Is What Happened

For a person who has approximately ZERO percent artistic ability, last year I became obsessed with started a Bullet Journal. I was going to chart, journal, and track EVERYTHING- from bills, the daily weather, bills, my garden, you name it, and I was going to record it in my bullet journal. Sometime around fall of 2017, I began creating the pages I was going to begin on January 1st of 2018, and that’s exactly what I did.

Was it pointless? Um, yeah. Kinda. It has been a nice creative outlet at times, but overall, I would’ve been better off just buying a journal that already had its templates, grids, and calendars and saved myself a lot of heartache!

But the one thing I’ve enjoyed the most this year was tracking my habits, something I’ve never done before. Not only did I learn a ton about myself, but I could actually see month to month how much I was actually accomplishing, hold myself accountable, and improve on a few areas I felt were lacking.

Each month, I came up with habit categories to record each night- they didn’t vary much month to month. Things like bedtime, flossing, devotions, and vitamins were included in there, as well as tracking days I lifted, did yoga, or went for a run. I tracked items for my business, such as landing new clients or creating content.

Each month I would assess how I did and whether or not to track it the next month, or add on new goals.

A couple things I found- tracking my habits didn’t have any effect on my workouts- either I could or could not that day. With flossing, it did help, but once I got into the habit and stopping tracking it, I became lax in keeping up the habit.

For the most part, it did hold me accountable, and it was fun in the beginning. But I learned that maybe 20 items a day to track was far too many…and tracking the same things every day for a year wasn’t realistic. I think setting 90 day goals makes much more sense.

So what about you? Have you ever done a habit tracker?

Why I Said Yes to Arbonne After 5 Years

Recently, I dove back into the world of Arbonne, a global health and wellness company that uses plant-based ingredients and has insanely high quality standards.

Now, before you roll your eyes and frantically press the back button….just bare with me a moment. I’m not here to pitch anything, but share why I’m THRILLED to be moving forward with this in my already-established personal training company.

You may have noticed I said I dove “BACK” in. Yes, I discovered Arbonne 5 years ago and am kicking myself for not joining the business immediately.

I agreed to go to a spa night a friend was hosting, and I was totally skeptical. I didn’t want to get sucked into buying a bunch of products I didn’t want. In reality, I actually had a hard time narrowing down what to buy first. I was hooked immediately, but didn’t see myself doing the business.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve watched how it’s continued to bless the lives of the women I met and became friends with. I was what you’d call a wholesale buyer….I was a consultant only for the discount…and sold a mascara or face wash here and there to family or friends.

Over the last few months, God has REALLY tugged at my heart to give this another look, and I’ll be honest when I say I fought Him hard on it. Me? Arbonne? No, no, I’m a personal trainer now. I run my own company and its going well without having to do Arbonne too….

Funny how things work out. God finally bugged my enough (He’s good at doing that, isn’t He?) that I decided to give it another look, and I began imagining what it would be like to marry Arbonne to my personal trainer biz. I am always recommending Arbonne to friends, the protein to clients, whether I make a dime off it or not.

It actually never occured to me for the last few years to try to make money off of the girls I was recommending Arbonne to whenever they would ask on facebook who knew of a good liquid foundation or pre-workout. I would always throw in Arbonne as a recommendation, but always figured they knew of a rep who could help them out and earn a commission….silly me!

Did you know the average millionaire has 7 streams of income? SEVEN! And with that knowledge, I think the stigma of direct sales being icky is starting to go away. Everyone could use an extra thousand dollars each month, right?

More and more people are wanting side hustles, even if they never want them to be full time or their main source of income! And if you look around, brick and mortar stores are closing by the dozens- even monster brands like Charlotte Russe and Victoria’s Secret. Having an online store is just SMART.

Now that I’ve gotten out of my own head, I realize that this is a no-brainer. I’m always talking about Arbonne, I fully believe in the products, and I feel good about recommending them to not only friends and family, but clients- fully knowing my reputation is at stake.

I’m SUPER picky about products I promote. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen some pretty long rants about my feelings towards the supplement industry!

Arbonne just makes sense.

There’s a really good reason why a lot of people think direct sales can be icky or scammy or the reps are annoying. I always joke that direct sales isn’t for me, but Arbonne is.

Unlike other companies, Arbonne has no quotas to meet, no monthly minimum order requirements, you don’t have to carry inventory, and you don’t HAVE to have a team to be making a paycheck. There’s not even a website fee (I was SHOCKED to learn that consultants with other companies have to pay upwards of $100 a month just for a website? No thanks!).

It literally is just working at your own pace, with your own goals in mind.

I’ll do more posts later on WHY the products dang amazing, but here’s what you need to know for now: Arbonne holds the highest standards of any company I’ve researched. I don’t say that because I’m affiliated, I’m affiliated BECAUSE they’re so amazing.

Europe bans over 1300 ingredients they deem unsafe for products- Arbonne takes it a step above and banned over 2000. Guess how many the FDA have on that list? 11. Whoa. Yeah. We’re also certified vegan (google what a rendering facility is if you’re wonder why that’s important), Non-GMO, and we never use chemical fragrances or dyes, gluten, soy, dairy, whey, artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. There’s nothing safer or more beneficial on the market.

I can also tell you how giving the company is and how loved and valued they make you feel. Can you imagine your job just continuously showering your gifts, just for showing up to work? That’s how Arbonne is.

The compensation plan, the free Benz, and the free trips are all great and uh, yes, I will gladly take them (another no-brainer, right?) but MY favorite part of the compensation plan is this:

When you reach the second promotion out of four- which is acheivable in as little as two months (for da hustlers!), your company is WILLABLE. Now, I’m not a negative, morbid person, but it is beyond comforting knowing that if God calls me home early, my husband/son will get that paycheck for the rest of his life- and that’s between $1000-4000 a month.

CAN YOU IMAGINE how secure you would feel knowing you could give that gift to your family? To me, that’s better than the car. (But hey, I plan on living to be 100 so yes, give me the Benz!)

If you want to call me the crazy Arbonne lady, I’ll take it. When a company is willing to give your family that promise of financial security, that’s a company worth getting on board with!

I used to fear being judged. But the truth is, I can’t make a big impact in this world if I don’t play big. And they say to be great in this company, you have to serve many. You WILL not reach the top of the company unless you take others with you.

I can’t fund my own mission trips if a) I have to ask my boss off for work every time and b) I can only go if I get sponserships.

I can’t have a house full of foster kids if I can’t afford a house big enough or the time to devote to raising them along with my own kids.

I can’t homeschool if I’m giving all my time to a job I’m tied down to.

My goals are big. My dreams are big. And even though Arbonne is my passion, it’s also going to fund and open doors to other passions I have.

If you’re still reading this, I’m going to take a guess that this opportunity may interest you. I’d love for you to reach out and we can discuss more about the business and see if it would be a good fit for you! No pressure to join, but I think you’re going to love it and never turn back. Email me erinshepherdfit@gmail.com and I promise to shed some light about any questions you may have!

Until next time,

xoxo,

Erin

Celebrating Small Wins

Maybe you’ve heard this statistic: Only 8% of people will actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Whoa! So, 92% of us are bailing out on the goals we set each January?

Let’s look at why that is. When we look at goal setting, many of us are setting pretty huge goals. For instance, you may want to lose 100 pounds, or work with your doctor to reverse your type II diabetes. These ARE realistic, doable goals- people achieve these feats all the time. But how do you get there?

We often create daunting goals.
Losing 100 pounds can be pretty daunting. You’re not going to accomplish that in a week, or a month, or maybe even a year. You’re going to have bad days, you’re going to hit plateaus, and you’re going to get frustrated. You may even want to quit. Every single one of us has off-days, right? I’m not being negative here…this is just part of life. But it’s up to YOU to choose how to react on these bad days!

How do you hit that 100 pound mark? By hitting the 5 pound mark. Then 10 pounds. If you can’t celebrate 5 pounds, you may not make it to 100. I know its frustrating not seeing results as fast as you’d like. 100 pounds may seem a lifetime away from 5 pounds, but this is where the magic happens! You build momentum by cutting your big goal into tiny pieces and celebrating small wins along the way. When you can celebrate 5 pounds, you’re going to like that feeling of accomplishment, and you’re going to want more!

What does this look like? You don’t have to go out and buy yourself a new outfit every time you hit a small goal (but hey, you do you!) You know yourself best- brainstorm what would make YOU happy. You can put a dollar in a jar for every workout you finish or every 5 pounds lost. You can keep a gratitude journal or you can get an accountability partner to share wins with. Whatever that looks like to you- whatever will give you that momentum and be proud of yourself- do it!

Implement a gratitude journal.
Since we do hit bumps in the road, I like to encourage my clients to keep gratitude journals. I highly recommend and use myself the “Five Minute Journal”. Basically, you write down things you’re grateful for, what would make your day awesome, and 2 positive affirmations. Then at the end of the day, you do a reflection. If you journal in this type of format, you’re bringing to surface the good things. It’s a great way to reflect on your wins and find the good even in your bad days or what you perceive as a failure.

So you had to cut your workout short because you need to get back to the office for a meeting? Instead of beating yourself up, you should feel accomplished! You went to the gym anyways on your lunch break and got SOME movement in, even if it wasn’t as much as you’d hoped.

Maybe you had a Coke today, even though you swore you were giving up sodas. Don’t send yourself on a guilt trip. Instead, recognize that maybe last week you had 12 sodas, and this week you only had 5. #PROGRESS!

Look for the progress.
You didn’t gain all your excess weight in one week, and no matter what you do, it’s not coming off in just one week.

When you create small habits, one by one, you’re much more likely to stick with them years down the road. You’re creating a sustainable lifestyle. Very few people can quit all of their bad habits cold turkey, basically becoming a completely new person overnight. It just isn’t realistic for most of us, and that’s OKAY! When you make that New Year’s Resolution to hit the gym 5 days a week when you’ve never actually been….it may not be 100% realistic. If it means your success, you can go once a week to the gym for a month, and then build up to two days a week…until it feels normal to go five days a week. There’s NO SHAME in building up at the pace you need if it means you’re not going to quit!

The same goes with those darn sodas.
If you normally drink five a day, I can only imagine what kind of horrible migraine you would get going cold turkey! No thanks! But by weaning yourself off, you’re going to feel better and healthier the longer it continues. The better you feel, the more you’re going to be encouraged to cut even more out. I know from experience, the first coke I had after months tasted too sweet. I couldn’t enjoy it!

When I have clients cut out processed foods, that alone feels like an easy win for them.

What are some tangible ways to get a quick win right now?

Get an accountability partner- or 2 or 3.
It could be your best friend, husband, or even a girl you’ve clicked with in a facebook group. Doesn’t matter! When you partner with someone, you don’t want to let them down. They know your story and your struggles, they know where you started and where you’re going. They’ll know how much it means to you to reach your goals. When you text them and say “I meal prepped for my ENTIRE WEEK!” or “I actually ran an entire mile today without stopping!!” they can share that win with you, and more importantly, validate your goal. When we go it alone, it can be easy to dismiss our feats as though they aren’t important at all. Having an accountability partner means you’re not alone.

Make a list with the headlines of 24 hours, 72 hours, and 2 weeks. Planning ahead is a win of it’s own! One the day you hit a plateau, make this list. Ask yourself: what can I do in the next 24 hours that will propel me forward? In the next 24 hours, you can join a gym or sign up online for a group bootcamp class. You can reach out to a personal trainer and open a conversation or apply to be in their program. You can buy a bunch of healthy groceries that you plan to meal prep! All of those things are easy and don’t require much time!

In your list for 72 hours, you can actually take that bootcamp class or go to the gym you joined. You can do all the meal prepping with the groceries you just bought.

What can you plan to do 2 weeks from now? You could call a friend and plan to meet at the park to take your dogs for a walk. You could sign up for a local 5k! Get creative! But more importantly, get proactive. You may have heard this quote before- “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!” It’s one of my favorites!

Giving yourself grace when you mess up isn’t enough, although it is a cornerstone to success. You’ve got to be prepared if you want to see those big wins! You’re much more likely to go to the gym if you already have your workout planned. You know what body part you’re working, how many sets, reps, etc. It’s easy to justify cutting your cardio short if you don’t have a specific time or distance goal in mind! I know I’ve done it!

Create a Nightly Routine
If you already have your lunch prepped, you won’t have to make that decision on which fast food joint. Every night, go ahead and set out everything you need for the next day. Pack your lunch, breakfast (meal prepping breakfast is my FAVORITE!), fill up your water bottle, and pack your gym bag. Heck, I even read that Kim Kardashian sleeps in her gym clothes so she has no excuses! But by doing these things, you’ll feel accomplished before the new day has even started!

Get Ya Butt Outta Bed!
The last thing I’d like to add is getting up early enough! I know when I oversleep and miss getting to do my morning routine, I feel anxious and already behind. If you’re able to get up and get your workout in before work, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day. Plus, you won’t have to talk yourself into going after work when you’re exhausted. If you can’t get your workout in before work, try to at least move your body for a few minutes. 10 squats, 10 push ups, and 10 jumping jacks is all you need to get that blood flowing!

One of my favorite morning routines is journaling, like I mentioned earlier! If you can take five minutes, just jot down a few things you’re grateful for. I also like to do my devotions during this time and drink a big glass of water!

These are all things you can do in 5 minutes (minus the actual workout!) to really set your day up right. It will give you a positive mindset to carry through the day.

What are you favorite ways to celebrate small wins? I hope this helped! I’d love to hear your feedback! Just send a reply in the comment box below!

Need more help on your fitness journey? I would LOVE to help! Fill out my application on my coaching page to see if we’re a good fit to work together!

5 Things You Can Do To Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet!

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We always say the upcoming year is going to be so awesome, but then it just seems to fly by….and was probably mediocre if we’re being honest. We get caught up in the mundane tasks and don’t see as much self-improvement as we’d like. We set resolutions with a fiery determination and then by February couldn’t even tell you what was on that piece of paper.

If you want 2019 to actually be different, these 5 tips are FIRE.

1. Learn to say NO when it isn’t a HECK YES!
Our time is truly our most precious asset, and too many people want to take our time away from us, even well-meaning friends who just want to spend time with us. But the fact is we just cannot say yes to everything- we don’t have enough energy or time in the day. When we overextend ourselves, it can mentally exhaust us and overwhelm us. I also think it’s important to mention that you shouldn’t feel guilty when you have to decline an invitation. When you can get to a point where you’re only doing things you love doing and that energize you and light you up (aside from things you just REALLY can’t get out of…maybe like teacher conferences or dentist appointments?), you’re going to fill so energized and inspired, and everything that you DO say yes to and accomplish will be 10x anything that you’ve attempted in the past.

2. Have a plan and stick to it!
This sounds kind of ‘duh’ but consistency is what I’ve seen my clients struggle with the most! When we lose motivation- and that happens to every single one of us!- we need to rely on our plans to ground us and to keep us going. If you don’t have a solid plan, it’s easy to skip a workout, eat a couple extra Little Debbie cakes (those were always my favorite growing up), and fall out of alignment with the goals you’ve been working towards. I really like taking some time on Sundays to look ahead and my week coming up and that way, I know exactly when I’ll need to have meals prepped for the day, when to plan workouts, and when I’m going to have some free time for my son. If you need help creating a workout plan, you can work with me one on one, or join my winter challenge, starting January 7th. Details here- Winter Challenge

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3. Find your tribe!
Having a group of girls that you can connect with is invaluable. Since most of my local, real life friends aren’t big into fitness like I am, I got to a point early in my postpartum stage when I felt so disconnected with my fitness side and really struggled in this area of my life. Over time, I’ve been able to meet women, mostly online, that have gone through the same mom-related struggles I’ve faced over the last 2.5 years and I can’t tell you how much it has helped. When you find your tribe or community, your girls can help keep your accountable on your fitness/health journey, relate to issues you’re struggling with, and push you past your limits. If you haven’t found your tribe yet, I’d love for you to check out my FB group  (totally free) called ‘The Fit Girl Flock.’ I’ll admit, it’s still small, but my hope is that it will grow into a tight-knit group of girls who love connecting with one another and can offer support that goes well beyond what I can offer myself! If you want to check it out, I would love that! www.facebook.com/groups/fitgirlflock

4. Find the Unfollow button!
That’s right, I said unfollow. If you spend time scrolling instagram or facebook, you know what I’m talking about. I am totally guilty of getting sucked in to scrolling through instagram or watching endless stories. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but one thing I’ve learned to make myself do is to unfollow any accounts that make me feel bad. Don’t spend one minute on anything, or anyone who you don’t enjoy or makes you feel bad about yourself. Whether it is someone you just don’t click with or don’t agree with a majority of their content….or if they’re someone famous (or insta-famous) and they give you feelings of jealous or unworthiness. There’s nothing wrong with unfollowing someone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself! If you’re on facebook and don’t totally want to unfriend someone, you can actually unfollow them there or ‘snooze’ them so you don’t have to see their content. Let’s spend 100% (or pretty dang close!) of our time exposing ourselves to things that make us happy and inspired!

5. Self-compassion will always be better than self-criticism
You’re never going to find happiness by being mean to yourself. You’re never going to develop a good relationship with food through guilt or deprivation. One of my favorite things to work on with clients is developing good relationships with themselves and food. It NEVER pays off to shame yourself, guilt yourself, or punish yourself. While I preach things like clean eating, plans and routines, I also want to be VERY clear how important self-compassion is!! We all mess up sometimes, but when you can forgive yourself and move on, it makes life so much more enjoyable than punishing yourself for having a “cheat meal.” If you think this is something you need a little extra help on, email me erinshepherdfit@gmail.com or fill out the coaching application HERE and I’d love to spend some time talking with you.

I know these tips can really help you bring your BEST in 2019! Which one do you think will help you most? Let me know!

7 Easy and Natural Ways to Prevent the Flu

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It’s that time….flu season. And is it just me, or do they say every year it’s going to be ‘worse than normal?’ …Thought so.

I’ll just say it straight out- I’m not a fan of the flu shot. I refuse to get it, and frankly don’t believe its necessary or effective. Half the time, when I see someone post on facebook that they’ve had the flu (because aren’t you required to post it on facebook if you get it..? Some people seem to think so!) they always include the phrase “and I even got my flu shot!” So I’ll skip the shot, thanks.

But, I don’t exactly invite the flu into my house, either! There are some definite precautions you can take to help prevent the flu, or lessen the symptoms if you do contract it.

Here’s 7 actionable steps to avoiding (or lessening the effects if you DO get it!) the flu:

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  1. Elderberry Syrup – Also known as sambucus, this plant is a powerful antioxidant and a staple in our home every winter! If you want to make your own, I suggesting using Wellness Mama’s recipe (I drink the syrup and make gummies for Grayson. He loves them!) Elderberries are also what is called an “anti-catarrhal” herb, which makes it very effective with runny noses and congestion. This type of herb prevents excess mucous formation and helps to remove it from the body.
  2. Avoid Sugar- When you get the flu, it essentially means your immune system has been attacked and is thus very low, right? Well, sugar lowers your immune system. Low immune systems get the flu and other sicknesses easier. Pretty basic concept.I have the perfect example of this. You guys know I eat very healthy…and I just got married recently (Nov 3, 2018!) On our honeymoon, I enjoyed my self thoroughly when it came to food…yes I had salad and yes I ordered veggies at dinner…but I also ate EVERYTHING ELSE. So much sugar. I gained a few pounds, had no regrets because I had a great time, was ready to get back on track…..and got the stomach bug OF MY LIFE. Oh my gosh, it was horrible. No joke, it actually delayed my menstrual period 3 days. I fully blame my honeymoon diet! It was so much more sugar than I’m used to eating. Crazy how quickly that can happen, right?
  3. Increase Vitamin D- One flu-related theory is that there isn’t a “flu season,” it is just more common in the winter, and people not getting enough sunshine (vitamin D) is a huge contributor. It’s true, right? In the winter, we aren’t outside nearly as much. The weather can be nasty, it doesn’t feel good….so we just avoid it more. My suggestion is to start taking vitamin D in the winter, or increase your dosage when you’re sick.
  4. Wash Your Hands- I hope we all learned this in kindergarten, but I’ll say it again anyways. Wash Yo Hands! You know I’m all for good bacteria…but let’s not keep the bad bacteria around too, okay?
  5. Avoid Over or Under- Excercising-  Last year I covered how to know if you should work out or rest when you’re sick. Exercise has so many more health benefits than just losing weight or toning up. Getting in exercise consistently can raise your immune system, helping you fight off sickness. But, with that said, exercise is also a stresser and it can also lower your immune system if you’re overdoing it. Make sure you aren’t overdoing it (stick to 20-60 minute sessions) and allowing yourself rest days. Read the full article Here on what movement you should be getting in (or not) when you’re sick!
  6. Get Enough Sleep- Sleep is EVERYTHING. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep, your immune system will get weaker and weaker. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.
  7. Feed Your Healthy Bacteria- Think of your gut as ‘immunity headquarters.’ If you want to keep your immune system high, a nutrient-dense diet is key! This should include prebiotics (2-3 servings a day)- veggies like asparagus, garlic, and onions; fruits like berries, citrus, and apples; flax seeds, chia seeds, along with supplements. You should also include plenty of probiotics (1-2 servings a day) such as yogurt, cheese and kefir containing live bacteria cultures, fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut and wine (you’re welcome!). You can also supplement, but of course, remember not all supplements are made equal! make sure they have live cultures and look for ‘spore based’- otherwise you’re basically buying sugar pills for all they’re worth.Other foods that are great when you’re sick:
  • Honey- Antibacterial/antimicrobial properties, can act as a cough suppressant
  • Chicken Soup- Good source of fluids/electrolytes, anti-inflammatory  nutrients
  • Garlic – Acts as an antibiotic and can lessen the severity of sicknesses
  • Elderberries (worth mentioning twice!)- Antiviral properties
  • Green Tea- Boosts B cell antibodies, helps us get rid of invading pathogens

 

So, what do you think? Have you tried any of these before and found success (I’m hoping everyone says yes to #4!) ? Comment below with your favorite actionable step you take to prevent sickness!

 

 

3 Easy Things You Can Do To Help Eliminate Overwhelm

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If you’ve been keeping up with me over on the ‘gram, you know I’m in the thick of wedding planning. As in, 2 weeks from now from writing this, I will literally be about to walk into my wedding rehearsal. This morning I went and paid off my final balance owed, which was to my florist. IT’S GETTIN’ REAL! And it’s been soooo overwhelming at times. My dress was too short up until this past Wednesday. My linen rental actually just fell through YESTERDAY. Full confession: I’ve stress-eaten a pretty decent amount of chocolate left over from the s’mores at my honeymoon shower.

I don’t care who you are, whether you work full time in a high stress career, no kids or full time stay at home mom, we all get crazy stressed out at times. I’m a pretty low-stress person for the most part. Things don’t get to me, normally!

So how do we overcome times like these? How do we not let stress take over our lives? Well, there’s a million angles I can cover here, but I’m gonna go with my top 3 that I’ve been reminding myself to implement lately.

1. Focus on small decisions.
Stop looking at the big picture for a minute. Stop looking at your to-do list that’s a mile long and feeling like there’s no way you can possibly do it all today. You’re won’t. What you CAN do instead is focus on 1 thing at a time. Healthy breakfast? Check. Healthy lunch? Check. Decide to take the stairs instead of the elevator? Check. Instead of me focusing on my ENTIRE wedding to-do list, I make a list of what has to happen THIS WEEK ONLY, and then further break it down by what I can do today. When my dress didn’t fit? I tried not to even think about that until I was walking into the actual fitting. Much less stressful when you only look at 1 part of the situation at a time!

Break your day into tiny decisions, one thing at a time. When we’re creating new habits, it’s not going to happen overnight for the majority of us. If your habits over the last few years have included not exercising, staying up late watching Netflix, binge eating, and other things you know you’d like to change….it just isn’t going to happen all at once. Start thinking of small decisions that you can make one at a time!

2. GET. YO. SLEEP.
One of my absolute non-negotiable’s is getting enough sleep. Sure, I could fit in that workout I almost missed, have longer work hours, or knock out more wedding planning if I stayed up later at night, and sometimes I do every once in a while if I have a time-sensitive project that needs to be completed, but I know in the long run, my smartest move is to just get to bed on time, leaving my unfinished to-do list. I am a cranky HOT MESS if I don’t get at least 8 hours of sleep (my body really needs 9-10 hours to feel my absolute best) and in the long run, I will burn out more quickly if I’m trying to ‘burn the candle at both ends,’ as they say.

There are numerous studies that show how much a lack of sleep hurts your health. It can change your hormones, causing you to overeat, and even increase your chances of cancer.

Every woman knows there are NEVER enough hours in the day, so no matter how late you stay up at night, you’re never going to truly finish everything. Your best bet to create a low-stress life is to prioritize your to-do list, accomplish the top 3 (or maybe more, depending on how long they take) priorities for the day, get to a good stopping point early enough, establish a great night time routine, and get to bed at the same time every night. If you get the most important things done, everything else will just have to wait. That way, you’re more refreshed and energized to hit the ground running the next morning!

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3. Stay away from sugar.
I know, I know, keto this, keto that. But ya’ll! Seriously. Numerous studies have proven how both gluten and sugar (ESPECIALLY SUGAR!) can affect your mood. Sugar itself can cause irritability, mood swings, feelings of depression, and brain fog. Most of us can say that we eat enough carbs and sugar that we are pretty-well adapted to these foods, and therefore, we won’t notice the symptoms right away. But I can tell you firsthand, when I cut sugar from my diet for a long period, after a few months I ate two different types of candy, and within 10-30 minutes of eating each one, I was noticeably irritable, sluggish, and just honestly hateful towards Shane (sorry, Shane!). With the Haribo gummy bears, I noticed the day after eating a handful (um, okay, like 15 or so!), I woke up the next morning with horrible anxiety, which isn’t normal for me. I was panicking over small mundane things until I realized it was most likely from eating the gummy bears the night before.

The reason I was able to pinpoint so clearly the foods that triggered these emotions in me was that my body was no longer adapted to these foods. I had obvious side effects, but if you eat these foods regularly, they won’t feel like side effects. It will feel like this is just your personality, and your story will be “I have anxiety. I struggle with depression. I feel sluggish all the time.” These horrible feelings will feel normal for you. Now, I’m not saying sugar is the only cause of any of these feelings, but I am saying that it CAN absolutely decrease the levels you may have if you cut these foods from your diet.

I would be a hypocrit if I sat here and preached to NEVER eat sugar. I just confessed at the beginning of this post about stress-eating half my weight in chocolate. It’s nice to treat yourself to something you enjoy every now and then! But don’t make it a regular thing. Food is medicine, and it should be used very strategically! Use your calories to fuel yourself, and fill up on foods that will make you feel your best. The reason I love eating a high fat diet isn’t for weight loss (although I ain’t mad about it!), it’s for the energy it gives me and the cognitive performance levels I’ve reached. I kid you not, when I switched over to keto almost two years ago, I literally felt smarter. My brain fog completely went away, my memory became unbelievably sharp, and I had such an overall boost of confidence in myself, just by switching my diet. THAT is why I eat a high fat, low carb diet.

 

Life is just going to hit us in the face sometimes, no matter what we do. First world problems, like a wedding dress an inch too short may seem silly, but it’s the world we live in. Sometimes stress is just inevitable. We can minimize stress as much as possible by focusing on small decisions, getting enough sleep, and keeping sugar to a minimum.

 

If you thought this was helpful, let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from you guys and I appreciate you taking the time to read this!

*I’m not currently accepting any new clients until after the wedding so that all my current clients will still have my full attention. If you want to get on my wait list for 1-on-1 coaching for mid-November, fill out the application by clicking here!  

 

7 Traits of an Amazing Online Personal Trainer

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Online training is becoming more popular and there are literally thousands of coaches out there, ready to help you meet your goals. Some online fitness coaches offer broad programs where you exchange money and they will create any type of program for you. Other personal trainers only offer more specific programs: postpartum weight loss (heyyyy 😉 ), competition training, marathon training….the list goes on and on. No matter what goal you’re aiming for, there’s a coach for that.

This also means, unfortunately, just about anyone can call themselves an online coach, qualified or not. This isn’t to say that someone who hasn’t taken an accredited program isn’t qualified. I’ve seen amazing coaches who weren’t certified change lives and make the world a better place…and I’ve seen coaches with all the “right” certifications push their own agendas and take their clients down a dangerous path. It happens, but the more informed decision you make about your trainer, the better off you’ll be.

Before you send in that first payment, or sign up for another month or package, you may want to look at this list and see how your trainer measures up!

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  1. Before you sign up, make sure you know- how does the program work? If there aren’t details on his/her website or somewhere on social media, you should be able to get a clear answer from your potential trainer about what all the program will involve. A good online trainer will give you a detailed questionnaire so they can get to know you, your medical history, any injuries they should be aware of, your habits, your history with food and exercise, and what your goals are. This is how we develop your program- by getting to know you and what’s going to work (or not work) for you. Of course, you probably won’t fill out this questionnaire until after you’re ‘officially’ a client, but it’s a good sign to know that it’s coming.
  2. Before you sign on, a trainer should be able to tell you how workouts will be sent, how you’ll be able to reach them and how often (some trainers give you their phone numbers and email and say to call or text anytime, while other trainers set boundaries for when they’re available to answer questions) and have a solution to exercises you don’t understand (for example, I send instructions, photos, or instructional videos to all exercises I send, and so far, no one has reached out for more explanation).
  3. Does your trainer offer check ins?  With my clients, we do weekly check ins with weight, measurements and progress pictures to track any changes, and they also answer a few standard questions. This helps me to celebrate little wins they’ve had over the last week and also help determine any changes that we may need to tweak in their program. Some trainers may offer a smaller package that does not include check ins, just workouts. That’s perfectly fine, for the right client. To me, the client who doesn’t need check-ins is someone already experienced in lifting and already has the right mindset to exercise consistently without encouragement. Not everyone needs to be frequent contact with their trainer- they just need specific workouts to hit their goal.
  4. Is your trainer passionate about health and fitness? I’m a firm believer that a good trainer doesn’t have to be chiseled or resemble a Greek god, but they do need to walk the walk. A good trainer is going to push you and get you out of your comfort zone, and that won’t happen if the trainer isn’t pushing him/herself as well. I could write a completely separate article on this, but there’s a big difference in having self love, and not taking care of yourself! We should all show ourselves self love, and sometimes it’s perfectly okay for that to come in the form of having some “lazy” rest days, eating junk, whatever that may look like! But, a personal trainer needs to exemplify good habits and routines, and take care of themselves. Why would you want to follow advice from someone who doesn’t follow it themselves?
  5. There’s a good balance of grace and accountability. As a new trainer, this was probably my biggest personal challenge in coaching my first few clients. Grace and accountability are both so important in their own respects! As a client, your trainer should be understanding that you are human. Things are going to come up and there are going to be days that don’t go as well as others. You’re going to mess up sometimes. Your macros aren’t going to be perfect everyday. You’re going to skip a workout or two. And that’s okay!! It’s not your trainer’s place to judge you or condemn you. Your trainer shouldn’t belittle you for these things or punish you with extra burpees. What your trainer should offer is grace, then accountability. Your trainer should push you to reach your goals and inspire you. He/she should be holding you accountable to reach your goals and push through the uncomfortable parts.  Slip ups are going to happen, but you can’t get complacent. A good trainer will help you balance this!
  6. Does your trainer listen to you? A lot of training can be trial and error. While seasoned trainers are pretty good at guessing why the client hasn’t gotten the results in the past, or what a quick solution could be- we don’t know everything! We have to make our best educated guess, and see how your body reacts. Just like any good doctor will also do in their own right. So with that, good communication is a MUST! The client can’t get great results if they aren’t heard when they feel they have a problem. If a client says they’re following all the instructions exactly, but still not seeing results, it is the responsibility of the trainer to find the missing link. What needs to be tweaked? Is the client eating a salad dressing or coffee creamer with a lot of added sugars, or isn’t sleeping at night- causing hormones to be completely out of whack? There are a lot of factors that can weigh in, and easy to miss if communication is lacking.
  7. Does the program you’re given line up with your lifestyle and your goals? The great thing about online programs is that the client can workout whenever, wherever, without worrying about scheduling time in person with the trainer. Flexibility is a beautiful thing! Out of my own clients, they are all SO different! I have clients that work out only in the gym, only at home, or a hybrid of both. They work out only in the mornings, only in the evenings, or just whenever they can manage to squeeze it in. I design their programs to fit their goals THEY set, not just what I think they should do. If they love to run, I add in a few runs as their cardio. If they have a bike at home, I program that in. If clients have certain injuries, it very carefully programmed around that, too! For the average person, you really can just find a workout on youtube or something generic. But, for those that have struggled with losing weight, staying motivated, or are just beginning and not sure what to do- if you have specific goals, a personal trainer really needs to be writing a very specific program for you! “One size fits all” doesn’t work because our bodies are so different! As well as our goals, where our health journeys have already taken us, our genetics, our relationships with food, etc. So make sure that when you receive the program from your trainer- it makes sense for YOU!
  8. Last but not least, your trainer should be able to say “I don’t know.” Like I said earlier, trainers don’t know EVERYTHING. A lot of us will specialize in something specific, but something else could be completely foreign. For example, I am a prenatal and postpartum specialist. I love working with women in this season of life! I also work with women wanting to lose weight. What I DON’T do is help women with body building or physique competitions. I’ve run a half marathon, but never a full marathon. I know more than most on these two sports, but not enough to coach someone for a show or a marathon. There are coaches who specialize in these events, just like everything else! So if I have a client wanting to run a marathon, yes, I can help them if they don’t want to hire another coach just for that, but do I have personal experience? No. I have to be humble enough to admit that this isn’t my zone of genius. I’ve turned down clients before that had several injuries, and I just didn’t feel comfortable taking them on as clients. What I did instead was encouraged them to hire someone local that could be with them to monitor them to ensure they didn’t re-injure themselves.
  9. A great answer for a trainer to give you is “I don’t know, but I will find out!” Trainers who are afraid to admit to their clients they don’t know something can create dangerous situations. When I first began as a personal trainer, it was very clear to me the significance that I was dealing with a person’s health. If I screwed up and gave poor advice, they could be seriously injured. I did not take that lightly! My questionnaires are pretty thorough, and usually I follow up with even more questions if I feel I don’t quite understand something about them well enough. That’s also why I feel check-ins are so important!

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To recap, a great online trainer will possess certain qualities that are a MUST in order for you to hire them! Does your trainer:

  • Explain his/her program in depth before you sign on?
  • Offer check-ins?
  • Act as a role model and is passionate about health and fitness?
  • Offer a good balance of grace and accountability?
  • Listen to you?
  • Design programs that fit YOUR lifestyle and goals?
  • Admit when they don’t know something?

What others qualities would you say a trainer needs? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or email me at erinshepherdfit@gmail.com and let me know what you think!

Are you ready to make the leap into working with a personal trainer? Check out the options on my Work With Me page to see which program is the best fit for you. If you’re ready to apply, CLICK HERE and let’s get going!

4 Things Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You about Postpartum Health

Recently in my community I heard some shocking things coming from doctors-

“There’s no cure for stress incontinence. You can do surgery, but that usually doesn’t help. You’ll just have to deal with that for the rest of your life.” (As they denied her referral to a pelvic floor physio)

“Unless you had a C-section, by 6 months postpartum you should be perfectly fine. Any further symptoms are psychological. I’m giving you a referral to mental health.”

and…

“You have diastasis recti. The only thing we can do for that is surgery, and we only do that if your guts are falling out.

What????

Not true, ladies! Not true. And if these two women have heard this, how many more women are getting these discouraging answers from doctors?

I’m not trying to hate on doctors here, I promise. Doctors are amazing, and I think we can all agree we are grateful to have them. But the truth is, not all doctors are well educated on postpartum health- the issues we face when we aren’t sitting at the doctor’s office.
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The stats show that approximately 1.27 million C-sections are performed each year in the U.S. and women are seldom given proper information about how to care for their bodies afterwards, much less their incision sites! This leaves 6-18% of women who’ve had C-sections with chronic scar pain related to their surgery.

Thankfully, after a very long and painful labor, I did have a pretty easy recovery and no disastis recti, but I had very little support, either. As soon as I was cleared for exercise at my 6 week checkup, I spent the next two weeks killing myself in the gym at 5am. I was having a blast, but it was too much, too soon, and after that two weeks I was already exhausted, burned out, and totally discouraged. Even as someone completely passionate about fitness, I struggled to make myself work out over the next few months. I probably went to the gym once a week or less, and didn’t have any consistent routines. I knew I wasn’t going to put on any muscle with how inconsistent I was, which further discouraged me.

My own struggle is what led me to all the research and becoming a specialist within pregnancy and postpartum fitness. I didn’t have enough support in my time of need, but other women should! I started reading everything I could, and I was very surprised by how much information isn’t getting in the hands of the women who need it.

  1. Diastasis Recti isn’t a death-sentence; it’s repairable.
    If you’re not familiar, diastasis recti is the separation of the diastasis rectus abdominis. As your baby grows during the pregnancy, the abdominal wall will expand, stretching the skin, fascia, and linea alba, eventually leading to the separation of the ab muscles. All women will experience this and is perfectly normal, and in the postpartum period, some women’s will “heal” with no intervention. But even in this “healing,” it still won’t function properly, and that’s what is important to look at.Exercise can reduce the likelihood of diastasis recti, but specific exercises are what can heal it completely. Seeking guidance from a pelvic health physiotherapist (especially after a C-Section) can help you monitor how well your diastasis is healing so there’s no guesswork. I give my postpartum clients a specific protocol for diastasis recti.
  2. Pregnancy leads to postural changes.
    As you can imagine, your posture will change as that baby grows! To help accommodate the weight of the baby during pregnancy, your hips will tilt forward, increasing the curve in your lower back. In time, this can stiffen and shorten your lower back muscles, and also lengthen and weaken your glute and hamstring muscles. We already know the ab muscles stretch, and the rib cage flares upward while expanding the uterus, which limits the function of the diaphragm (this is why you may have seen shallow breathing during your pregnancy!).

    If you already had good posture before your pregnancy and worked to maintain good form during your pregnancy, yay! You’re ahead of the curve. But even if you weren’t very focused on this, it’s never too late to start improving your posture. In my program, we use specific movements to immediately help your posture. Focusing on good posture helps alleviate back pains, decrease risks of injury, and will help you feel more strong and stable as you recover.

    With my own postpartum journey, aside from some horse-related injuries that gave me back problems and poor posture and had to work through, I did have relatively good posture going into my pregnancy. After Grayson was born, I noticed that I was most comfortable carrying him on my right hip, and rarely could get myself to be ambidextrous on this. My hips ache SO MUCH if I get slack on stretching my hip flexors.

  3. Once you’ve had a baby, you are considered “post partum” forever!
    Things do NOT just simply go back to normal after you’ve had a baby. It is an incredible experience, but with that also comes an incredible range of emotions. While I think it is great that women get between 6-12 weeks of maternity leave on average, I want you to know that beyond this point, you are still healing. You’re still probably sleep deprived, you’re still learning, and you’re still emotional. You may be physically healed enough to return to your job, but that doesn’t mean you should have high expectations of yourself to have it all together. I say this lovingly! A lot of women will still feel sensitive, sad, easily startled/on edge, fearful, doubtful, or even angry, along with all the positive, wonderful emotions that come with having that sweet baby.

    No one warns you about this crazy range of emotions that you have. I remember feeling like “Mama Bear” on steroids. I got upset when FAMILY, people that I trusted, would take Grayson out of my sight so I could eat or heaven forbid, sleep. It was such a blur. I remember answering business-related questions at 2am while nursing, and thinking the next day “WHY did I say that?? That made no sense!” But I know it came from the mom brain and being so sleep deprived.

    Of course, it goes without saying that severe mood swings, any thoughts of suicide or self-inflicting pain, feelings of hopelessness should be addressed right away.

    As time goes on, things do start to feel more and more “normal” – or a new normal, I should say. But now, welcome to motherhood! From now on, every time you think you’ve figured out parenting, your child will change up his/her routine on you, go through a phase of not sleeping, and heaven only knows what else. You’ve just got to learn to roll with it! And seek advice from those you trust. (I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that EVERYBODY is ready and willing to offer plenty of unsolicited advice, too!)

  4. Nutrition plays a role in breastfeeding!
    As you could probably guess, what you eat will affect your quality of breastmilk that your child receives. A perfect example: we didn’t know it wayyyyy back when I was a baby, but my mom and I are both gluten-intolerant. She found out when she was having severe joint pain and felt like she was about to have a heart attack. I later discovered that gluten was the reason for the severe migraines I have had frequently since the age of 6. She didn’t know I was gluten intolerant, so she ate gluten while breastfeeding. The result? I was constantly sick from her milk. They diagnosed me as lactose intolerant (they said I grew out of it early as a child, and today I practically live off of dairy!).

    A digress to say this- if you eat something your baby’s body disagrees with, the breastmilk will transfer it to the baby. So it wasn’t that I was lactose intolerant, it was that my body disagreed with the foods my mom was eating.

    Likewise, there are certain foods that are GREAT for breastmilk supply, and foods that can lower your supply. Also, be aware of how much alcohol and caffeine you’re drinking. Of course, these are passed to the baby as well.

    One last thing to consider is how much you’re eating. On average, breastfeeding can burn around 500 calories a day. This should be noted because with the chaos of having a newborn, it can be hard for Mama to get all her meals in, and can sometimes under-eat.

    You can track your calories and macros each day to make sure you’re getting enough, but my opinion is that in the beginning, it really isn’t necessary. Try to eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed, and generally just go on your hunger cues. Tracking macros can be very unhealthy if it becomes an obsession, and until life becomes a *little* more normal (ie, once your baby is sleeping more at night and YOU are sleeping more at night!), tracking can just be added stress.