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This month we have the privilege to spotlight one of our fabulous instructors, Eliza Selan! Let's learn a little more about her!

1. Who are the members of your family?

I am the wife of Benje and mother to our 4 year old son Connor as well as our almost 12 year old greyhound Pinky Higgins and our 6 year old cat Sunshine. I am also mother to be to baby number two due this Fall.

2. Where do you typically teach?

Hillside Park in Ashburn and the Sportsplex in Sterling.

3. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for FIT4MOM Ashburn.

I found FIT4MOM Ashburn a little late, my son was already 2.5, but I loved the Stroller Strides classes and the whole FIT4MOM Ashburn family. When I was asked if I would be interested in teaching I thought it would be a fun way to challenge myself and be a part of the FIT4MOM Ashburn team. Teaching was totally out of my comfort zone, but I hoped to...

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We are so happy to introduce our April Mom of the Month, Cathy Fernstrom! She and her adorable daughter Mabel joined us almost a year ago and have been such a fun addition to Our Village! Let's learn a little more about Cathy!

1. Where are you from originally?

Cleveland, Ohio

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

Being able to work out and not have to worry about providing daycare for that time.

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

I was pleasantly surprised how challenging it was.

4. What motivates you to exercise?

I want to live a long life to be there for my daughter.

5. What is your favorite part about being a mom?

Seeing Mabel happy.

6. What is your favorite thing to do when your little one is napping?

Catch up on DVR.

7. What is your favorite thing to do as a family?

...

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This month we are shining the spotlight on one of our Stroller Strides instructors - Jessica Siemer - to get to know her a little bit better! She is a great instructor and we love having her on our team!

1. Who are the members of your family?

I am married to Tim and a mom to Ian (2 years old) and Anastasia (3 months old).

2. Where do you typically teach?

Village at Leesburg

3. Tell us your story about how/why you became an instructor for FIT4MOM Ashburn.

Before I had my son, I was very active and in the best shape of my adult life. Once I had him, I was struggling to find a way to workout with my son. He didn't do well in the gym daycare, so when I found FIT4MOM, I decided to give it a try. I only had to attend a few classes to know it was a good fit. We were away all summer at which point I decided I wanted to pursue my personal trainer certification-more for my own betterment than anything else. I completed that program in the fall of 2016. When I returned to the...

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This month's Mom of the Month is Tracy Mattos! Tracy is mom to adorable Kourtney and always comes to class and Our Village activities with a smile!

We love having Tracy in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself this month!

1. Where are you from originally?

I'm originally from Honolulu, Hawaii.

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

The fact that I can bring my baby with me to workout and it's a really intense workout.

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

How welcoming everyone was even though I had a fussy 3 month old.

4. What motivates you to exercise?

I want to stay healthy for my daughter.

5. What is your favorite part about being a mom?

Everything! But I think the absolute best is the unconditional love and feeling needed.

6. What is your favorite thing to do when your little one is napping?

Cook or...

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This month’s Mom of the Month is Sydney Martenis! A mom to sweet Madelyn, our instructors described her as someone "who uses her hour to the fullest and sweats with a smile." They added, "she has a way of instantly brightening your day!"

We are so happy to have her in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week, Sydney!

1. Where are you from originally?

I am (mostly) from San Diego, California--my dad was in the Navy so we moved around quite a bit. But I was born there and spent my high school years there, which was pretty great.

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

I love the community--both in respects to having fun, having motivating people to work out with, and seeing other moms on a regular basis.

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

I vividly remember not being able to do a burpee and being generally intimidated.

4. What motivates you to exercise?

I like to eat...

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This month’s Mom of the Month is Ashley Wood! A mom to sweet Howard, our instructors described her as someone who is "vibrant and tough and always makes the class smile!" They added that she is "a thoughtful mama (who) works to get all she can out of her workout on good days and bad."

We are so happy to have her in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week, Ashley!

1. Where are you from originally?

Florida

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

Having a community of moms to go along with on the beautiful and sometimes hard journey of motherhood

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

I remember being immediately thankful that I found a way to exercise without worrying about leaving my son in childcare that he despised!!

4. What motivates you to exercise?

Exercise makes me feel good. It gives me energy and clarity.

...

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This month’s Mom of the Month is Rhea Kyna! A mom to sweet Olivia, our instructors described her as “positive, smiling, and always attentive to Olivia.” They added that she is “always hard working and never complains no matter what (we) throw at her.”

We are so happy to have her in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week, Rhea!

1. Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Oxon Hill, Maryland (National Harbor).

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

I love Stroller Strides because I am able to exercise and still care for my daughter. And how the exercises involve the kids by singing along to tickling their feet.

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

I really did not know what to expect but I do remember how empowering it was to work out with a group of moms pushing their babies in strollers!

4. What motivates you to exercise?

To be able to fit back into my jeans...

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Since being diagnosed with — and treated for — breast cancer in 2009, author Judy Fitzgerald has made it her mission to learn everything she can about the causes, treatment, and prevention of the disease. She details her experience, her discoveries, and her appeal to further breast cancer research in her book entitled A Teacher’s Journey…What Breast Cancer Taught Me. More recently, she founded an organization called Sisters4Prevention with the help of her mother, sisters, and sisters-in-law. Sisters4Prevention strives to support breast cancer education as well as the development of a breast cancer vaccine.

On her blog, Fitzgerald shared a month’s worth of steps for breast cancer prevention. We are fortunate enough to benefit from her years of research through the short excerpts below from her “31 Days of Prevention.” The entirety of her post can be found at http://sisters4prevention.com/judyblog...

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This month’s Mom of the Month is Megan O’Shaughnessy! A mom to sweet Hudson (with a little one on the way), our instructors described her as “the first one to challenge herself with a red band,” “steady and strong — always ready with a friendly chat or extra burpee,” and “a great example for new moms.”

We are so happy to have her in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week, Megan!

1. Where are you from originally?

Clifton, VA- so just a 30 minute drive from Ashburn

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

I love starting my day with a good workout, and then being able to have Hudson with me is great. I know he loves the playgroups afterwards, especially in the winter months when it’s harder to get out!

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

I came to the Fall class last year and remember thinking how hard the arm exercises and lunges were. I’d been running with Hudson up until that point but strength...

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You can call it a rut. You can call it a funk. Whatever you call it, we’ve all caught ourselves planning the same old same old for dinner each week.

Lucky for us, the mamas from our village are sharing some new crock pot recipes to help us mix things up this month! Thanks to all the moms who shared their ideas with us!

CREAMY CROCKPOT WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 14.5 ounce can chicken broth
  • 4.5 ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 15 ounce can white corn, drained
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans white beans, drained (Cannellini or Great Northern are good)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon Better Than Bullion chicken base
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup sour...
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This month’s Mom of the Month is Jessica Peguero! A mom to Sophia and Gabriella, our instructors described her as “motivated, hardworking, and determined,” “someone who comes to class with a smile,” and “a loving mama – always ready with a paci or a cuddle!”

We are so happy to have her in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week, Jessica!

1. Where are you from originally?

Maryland (near Annapolis)

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

Being able to get out and get exercise and being around other mommas who are so supportive and understanding

3. What do you remember about your first Stroller Strides class?

Being so sore the next day.

4. What motivates you to exercise?

I really love food, so I kind of have to :-P

5. What is your favorite part about being a mom?

I love being able to watch my girls discover new things every day and seeing them smile and hearing them...

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With the arrival of Labor Day, we’ve unofficially said goodbye to summer — and if you’re like me, you’ve already been dreaming of sweater weather, football, and pumpkin spice everything!

Though we’re still a few weeks away from pulling out thelong sleeves, Northern Virginia and Maryland are gearing up to bring us the best of fall. Here’s a quick guide for some of our favorite places to catch the festivities and foliage.

Apple Picking

Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA

Open daily and every weekend in September for apple picking from 9AM-6PM

Weekday Admission: $8/child, $10/Adult

Weekend Admission: $10/child, $12/adult

In addition to pick-your-own apples ($1.99/lb), Great Country Farm offers a fun playground area, a gigantic jumping pillow, rope swings, a Putt Putt course, farm animals, fresh produce, cider donuts, and more! Cider Press demonstrations and live music are also available on the weekends.

•...

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This month’s Mom of the Month is Sophia Meurer! Sophia and her little guy have been attending Stroller Strides classes since January 2016. One of our most consistent mamas at class, our instructors described her as “dedicated, hard working, and one strong mama!” They added, “She always brings a positive attitude and spirit; she always gives 110% effort.”

We are so happy to have her in Our Village! Thanks for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week, Sophia!

1. Where are you from originally?

I was born in Loudoun County and have spent my adult life all over Northern VA. I did move a couple times as a kid, so before returning to Loudoun for high school, I also lived in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

It's so hard to pick! I'd probably have to say the supportive environment that the instructors and mamas create each and every day. It doesn't hurt to get a good workout while my son makes friends, either!

...

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Hey there! I am Alison and I have been working out with Fit4Mom Ashburn since November 2014. I’m here to share my journey with exercise and how my family has been impacted by Fit4Mom Ashburn.

First, I should give you a little background on my experiences with exercise. As a kid and through high school I was very athletic; I swam, played soccer and ran track. I never really thought about sports as being exercise. They were just fun/competitive activities that I enjoyed doing. When I went to college, I played one season of club soccer for my school and that was it. I was more interested in the other aspects of college (no, not studying) than I was continuing my athletic “career”. Unfortunately, I had no concept of the value of exercise, and the results of that were apparent by the increase of my jeans size in the many years to follow.

Right after college I joined a gym near my job. Over the next 8 years, I would intermittently work out at various gyms. I would go to the gym off and on for all of those 8 years. My time at the gym taught me a couple of things:...

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In our house, saying goodnight is not as simple as it used to be. We’d tuck our daughter in, give her a kiss, and wish her sweet dreams before walking out of the room.

But somewhere in between toddlerhood and preparing forpreschool, our kiddo has found her independence…kind of.

“Don’t tuck me in, Mommy!” she insists with a smidge of sass. “Okay, I won’t tuck you in,” I say patiently.

I linger at the top of the stairs because I know what’s coming next: “Mommy, I do want you to tuck me in! I do!!” she whimpers.

And that’s how it’s been going every night for the last few weeks. One step forward, two steps back — the toddler tango.

It’s a ritual that flirts with the line between frustrating and endearing. I love my daughter, but like a lot of moms I’m ready to be off the clock when she goes to bed. There are dishes to wash, laundry to fold, and a husband that I haven’t seen all day waiting downstairs.

But for her, this ritual embodies that struggle between wanting to be independent and still needing her mommy, between wanting to grow up and...

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If you've been to our Stroller Strides classes, chances are good that you've already met Linnea and her adorable daughter, Annika! For the last few months, Linnea has been bringing the fun to our play dates after class --organizing crafts, activities, a teddy bear picnic, and a field trip to Frying Pan Park among other things. We are so lucky to have her in Our Village! Thanks, Linnea, for sharing a little more about yourself on the blog this week!

1. Where are you from originally?

I'm from South Jordan, Utah - a suburb outside of Salt Lake City.

2. What is your favorite thing about Stroller Strides?

I love being able to get a workout in without having to worry about childcare for Annika. I've also really loved getting to know the other moms, it has been a great place to meet new friends.

3. What motivates you to exercise?

I definitely find that my stress levels are lower and I am happier in general when I'm consistently exercising. I also sleep better (although now that is also...

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Travelling with little ones doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but it doesn’t have to be that way! With the majority of families planning their trips for the warmer months, we thought we’d share some tips for travelling with your little jet-setters:

Airplane travel

· Babywear through the airport and load the stroller with your smaller bags. Your back will thank you for it! As long as your stroller folds up, you should be able to gate check it before you get on the plane too! (*I’ve heard from other moms that BOB strollers can’t be gate checked, so a smaller stroller might be better).

· Bring formula, breast milk, and baby food pouches (depending on your kiddos’ ages) to help with the change in pressure. The TSA agents may ask to test your liquids/pouches, but I’ve never had trouble bringing them on board (even baby food pouches over 3oz). Try to time your feeding so that you start when the plane is wheels up. You never know if you might be delayed and waiting for other planes to take off!

· Check with the travel...

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It is officially the start of summer and we’ve already experienced some pretty toasty mornings at Stroller Strides!

Looking for some ideas to beat the heat? We’ve got you covered, mamas! Check out these tips for keeping you and your little ones cool during class! Thanks to our instructors and the mamas at Fit4Mom Newport and Fit4Mom Little Rock for their recommendations.

• Put those mismatched socks to use: Freeze a waterbottle and stick it in a sock before you leave for Stroller Strides. During class, put it in the stroller next to your little ones to keep them cooland sweat-free! The waterbottle will stay cool all class and the sock will make sure it’s not too chilly against their skin!

• Climate-control your stroller: Take a frozen gel pack, wrap it in a dish towel, and stick it behind your little one’s back to keep them cool. Just like the sock idea above, the towel will provide a buffer so your little ones don’t get too cold! Another recommendation from Eliza, one of our instructors: Geleeo cooling pads, which fit on...

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Caitlin Sharp is the owner of The Tiny Human, an online, custom made accessories and embroidery shop! Offering everything from scarves to wooden teethers to monogrammed boot cuffs, The Tiny Human is your go-to shop for gifts and seasonal decor!

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Britax has just informed us that they are conducting a voluntary safety recall on certain Advocate ClickTight, Boulevard ClickTight, and Marathon ClickTight model CONVERTIBLE car seats manufactured between August 1, 2014 and July 29, 2015.

These car seats may contain a defect with the red harness adjuster button, which would pose a safety hazard. They have assured us that if you own one of these models, you may continue to safely use your car seat as long as you check and confirm that the shoulder harness straps remain tensioned when securing your child in the car seat.

The attached image to this post indicates the model numbers included in this voluntary safety recall.

  • If your model # IS NOT on the list, your car seat is NOT included in the recall.
  • If your model # IS on the list and your car seat IS registered with Britax, they will be automatically sending you a remedy kit with further instructions within the next 7-10 business days.
  • If your model # IS on the list and you are NOT registered with Britax, please register on-line at...
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Week 2 of our Get Fit Challenge and we hope you have had a chance to commit this time to YOU!

This week we are focusing on water consumption! A good rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day. However, if you're working out, you'll want to increase your fluid intake to make up for lost water (aka SWEAT!), and you'll want even more if you're nursing or pregnant.

Why is water so GOOD for us?! Besides being an essential component of our bodies, water helps:

- boost our metabolism

- boost our brainpower (http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/6-reasons-drinking-water-helps-solve-any-problem/slide/4)

- keep us alert

- prevent headaches

So you can see just how IMPORTANT water is for our daily health! Not a fan of plain water? Try sparkling water or...

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Our Get Fit Challenge officially started yesterday. If you're not quite sure what this Challenge is, head on over to our previous blog post to check out the details.

For the first piece of this Challenge, we're asking our Stroller Strides® and Body Back® moms to step up their game at class. This can mean a variety of things and be different for every woman so here are some ideas:

1. Attend more classes each week. Get into the habit of enrolling for classes - or making exercise plans with friends - on Sundays. You will be more likely to stick to those plans once you've marked your calendars and officially enrolled for class. *Our Stroller Strides® Unlimited Monthy Membership means each class is as little as $2.50 to attend and we now offer Body Back® drop-in classes,...

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Being a new mom to a 6-month-old I was tired and looking to get back into shape. I knew I needed a program that held me accountable and allowed me to focus on myself uninterrupted for a few hours a week. I saw the Body Back® program pop up on a Facebook feed and thought... this is exactly what I need! The Body Back® program is more than just an exercise program. Aside from the intense workouts, you're given the tools to help you make the best choices while at home and on the go. The instructor helped keep me motivated by pushing me further than I thought I could, and always took to the time to answer any questions. The other ladies in the group, along with the instructors, encourage you during the entire process.

After completing the first session of Body Back®, I not only lost several pounds and inches, but felt healthier and STRONGER! Who knew you could actually learn to LIKE burpees?! I knew if I felt this good about myself...

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This is YOUR time. The time is NOW.

We are starting a Get Fit Challenge on Saturday, August 1st.

What is it?

The Get Fit Challenge is a movement that will encourage you to step it up in all aspects of your fitness and health. This is a personal challenge although you will be part of a group. This is not a diet. This is not a short-term quick fix.

We are asking that...

... our Stroller Strides® and Body Back® moms step up their game at class. We understand that the name "Stroller Strides®" is a bit deceiving, however our classes are not a "walk in the park." Our moms work HARD. They sweat. They roll their eyeballs at our instructors. They wake up muscles they didn't know they had. And now we're asking them to work a little harder....

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Do you know what a "Bucket List" is? According to Merriam-Webster, a Bucket List is "a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying."

Does it seem a little morbid? It shouldn't be... at least, I don't think so. A "Bucket List" is meant to be something that brings fulfillment to one's life, even if it's a short-lived venture.

For example, a high school friend of mine recently posted one of his Bucket List items (see video posted below) to his Facebook page for all the world to see. It made me smile and also made me think about my own Bucket List. Did I even have one?!

I think I do. I think we all do. We all have things that we'd like to do, to accomplish, to experience at some point in our lives. Think about what you've already done - were any of those things on your list?

So what is on my Bucket List? I'm not sure. As a mom, I'm great at making lists. I can make a list that highlights, in detail, the next 745 things that...

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It has been 43 days since my family and I moved to Louisiana. (But who’s counting, right?) Even so, my toddler hasn’t stopped asking to go to Stroller Strides® or stopped demonstrating her squats or wall sits (yes, I’m serious). Not only that, but she still asks for her friends in addition to the moms we used to see at class regularly.

It hurts a little less each time.

To think back at just how much Stroller Strides® was a part of our lives for the last year and half, it’s no wonder that we miss it terribly. But of course, it’s not just the classes we miss. It’s the people we were surrounded by each and every morning. The moms, the kids, and the energy.

It is a special thing to have an opportunity to meet women who are of the same mindset as you are and it takes someone special to be a Stroller Strides® mom. Yes, there are plenty of other fitness options out there. There are gyms. There are studios. There are different groups and coaching programs.

But there is nothing that compares to Stroller Strides® or the women who attend these...

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There's nothing better than a silly ol' image to get you smiling about Stroller Strides®!

Enjoy some of our absolute favorite memes shared by FIT4MOM franchisees all across the country!

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To Everything There Is a Season...

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...as the lyrics go.

The song, "Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)" as sung by the Byrds, taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes, seems to have defined the last few weeks. So many changes...

I will be returning to work full time in a few weeks. I am excited to start another chapter in my professional life. I am also scared to be without my sidekick for several hours each day. I am looking forward to putting back on my suits and being a different-kind-of productive. I am sad I won't be putting on my workout gear and seeing smiles, eye-rolling, red faces...from you all.

I hope to continue teaching Stroller Strides on a substitute basis because Stroller Strides has been an incredible influence on my daughter. I remember when she first started humming Baa Baa Black Sheep. Then, out of nowhere, she did a push-up one day. Then, she started singing the words to the songs we sing in class. Then, one day, she counted to 20. Just...

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With all of the snow (and ice...) we've had here in Northern Virginia this winter, many of us are itching to head outside for class (myself included!)

... and with the excitement of the beautiful weather this week, we skipped a step in letting some of our newest mamas know about weather policy and other important tidbits! (This information can also be found on our website and in your new account welcome letter, but this is just a friendly reminder!) Please read the following information as we play the Indoor/Outdoor Shuffle while transitioning to summer weather:

1. Classes held outside - at ALL locations - are traveling classes. This means that getting to class on time is super important because after warm-up, we take off! Our warm-up is not only used as a time to get our bodies ready for class but a time to get to know the other moms and connect. We know that YOUR time is precious so we make every effort to start our classes on time.

2. Always enroll for class on...

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I am 38 weeks pregnant.

Thanks to diligent doctors, an extremely supportive FIT4MOM Instructor Team, friends and family members, I am more pregnant than I’ve ever been before.

Julia was born two months early so everyone (including myself) thought that Baby Jack would already be here by now.

He’s not.

In fact, he is showing no signs of departure.

And I’m absolutely terrified.

Because Julia was born so early, my husband and I didn’t go to birthing classes. I didn’t learn how to “breathe” or know what to pack for the hospital. We didn’t know that you’re supposed to go to Labor & Delivery… and NOT to the Emergency Room (I often think of the nurse that flew me to L&D – she was fast!). Pooping on the hospital table? Never even crossed my mind.

So this time, even though they say every birth is different, I know what to expect. Unfortunately, it is because I’ve “been there, done that” that I am dreading having this kid exit my...

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Koolaid Playdoh - FIT4MOM Ashburn

Have you been stuck inside with your kiddos (when you're not at Stroller Strides®, of course!) on these chilly days?

I have. And I've been figuring out ways to keep my 2-year old busy and happy... and I was inspired by Creigh-ations, a local artist who always posts such great & crafty ideas for little ones to do at home!

As a former preschool teacher, I was also reminded of a super easy playdough/playdoh (however you prefer to spell it) recipe that was a hit with the kiddos. Not only will they enjoy playing with it, but they'll enjoy making it, too!

This playdough uses a packet of kool-aid and other ingredients you will have in your kitchen (but if you don't have Cream of Tartar, you'll want to get some!)

CLICK HERE to be taken to the Kool-Aid Play Dough recipe via Kraft Recipes.

*While I'm NOT a cook and wouldn't even think about messing with a food recipe, here are my...

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Let me preface this by saying that FIT4MOM® is a huge part of my life, so it's not really a surprise that I think about it even while watching mindless TV.

1. Arlington, Iowa could use a FIT4MOM® program.

2. I wonder if there is a FIT4MOM® program there.

3. I’ll Google it.

4. I grew up in a really small (farm) town, too. (Population of Tully, NY – 2,738 in 2010)

5. Tully has one stop light.

6. Are there two now?

7. FIT4MOM® Des Moines is 3 hours away from Arlington.

8. I really like Whitney.

9. I wonder if the church would let someone hold Stroller Strides® classes there.

10. Corn crops. I’m used to those.

11. The smell of manure. No big deal.

12. If Chris’ future wife goes into labor, how far will they be from the nearest hospital?

13. Whitney’s job could take her anywhere. She could get a job at a local hospital.

14. I bet Whitney would like our Fit4Baby®...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

... making my life miserable.

Anyone who has been at Stroller Strides class for the past 2-1/2 weeks has seen my boot. I hurt my foot running on New Year's Day, but waited two weeks before seeing a doctor. He called it a stress injury (no fracture, thank goodness), and gave me a chic black boot (no heel) to wear.

Despite this thing, I've still taught and attended class. I have to be honest here. Attending class isn't really lots of fun for me right now. The social part is fun, don't get me wrong. But at the moment, the exercise part, well, sucks. I'm so limited in what I can do with my lower body, and since my sneaker isn't elevated, walking is awkward and throwing my hips out of alignment.

BUT, my daughter and I have a routine. And, through the months, we've come to rely on this routine. She asks about all of her little friends on a daily basis. She always talks about Julia and Suzy, John and Stacee, Noah and Kim (she sort of has Landon's name down),...

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Let me start out by saying that I didn’t realize the amount of energy required to take care of a toddler while growing another kiddo in your uterus.

It takes a lot.

I have a two year old. A spirited, red-headed two year old who doesn’t sit still for a moment. Once she started walking, she soon learned her feet could go even faster. Running turned into sprinting and her agility allows her to climb effortlessly onto bar stools in seconds. She’s basically a 2-foot ninja with some pretty stellar skills.

And let me tell you, the last thing this preggo lady wants is to have to take her 24-month gladiator to the ER for a broken nose, cracked head, chipped tooth, etc.

So I go to Stroller Strides.

I’m 7 months pregnant and due with #2 at the end of March. (Until he has a name, he’s been dubbed #2… sad, isn’t it?!) When I’m not teaching, I attend class as often as I can and that sometimes means I’m at class 6 times per week.

Aside from all of the social benefits FIT4MOM classes offer, there are plenty of benefits to exercising while...

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"70% of people who start a fitness plan quit."

That percentage is HIGH. It means those who quit fall into the majority and make that statistic true.

Here's our optimistic (minority) take on the above quote - "30% of people who start a fitness plan continue to achieve, and surpass, their goals."

So which one are you - the majority or the minority?

To be in the minority, here is what we recommend:

1. Leave your excuses at the door. Life is full of excuses. It's up to you to determine what is a legitimate excuse vs. a real reason as to why you can't make it to class.

2. Set a routine for yourself and yes, that means you've got to make it work for the kiddos, too.

3. Find an accountability buddy, someone who is going to check in with you and someone you'll check in with to ensure you're on the right track. Not just ANY buddy will do, though. Find another mama who has fitness goals and workout interests that are similar to your own. You can join classes together and motivate one another before, during and after.

4. Take a...

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Did you know...

  • In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely
  • Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year

Information from the March of Dimes

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I never thought I would have a reason to write about the premature birth of my daughter, but here I am, on the Eve of Prematurity Awareness Day, scrolling through NICU photos and thinking about what an important campaign this is.

My little girl was born on January 28th, 2013, a full two months early. (Her EDD was to be 3/26/13).

Julia's birth story isn't much different than anyone else's, really. With the exception of a room full of (I'd say at least 8) doctors, nurses and other staff members ready to whisk her off to the NICU as soon as she was born, I had a pretty regular delivery... it was just way too early.

I remember having awful heartburn the night before. I wasn't feeling too well and was up on and off throughout the night.

We...

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Leave it to those beauties from FIT4MOM Chicago to remind us that heading indoors is AWESOME and we can still have just as much fun and get an AMAZING workout even in an enclosed space!

We loved FIT4MOM Chicago's Top Ten list, but we've created our own! As we head inside (beginning in November), here are FIT4MOM Ashburn's "Top Ten Reasons Why We Can't Wait to Head Indoors" for the fall and winter:

10. Bathrooms are nearby during the ENTIRE class!

9. If it starts to rain/snow/sleet during class, it doesn’t matter! We’re safe and sound inside!

8. Need to bring your child’s entire Frozen character collection to class? No problem. We’ll have a place to put it so you don’t have to keep it all in your stroller!

7. New games! We’ve got big space and we cannot lie – LOTS of new things to do in both indoor locations!

6. Leave your sunscreen, bug spray, bug repellent, sunglasses, fans, cooling pads & misting fans...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

If you know me really well, you know that on an average day my patience level is about a 5 out of 10. But, one week, I hit an all-time low, which was exacerbated by a crying, whining dark-haired, doe-eyed little girl who happens to be my daughter. And probably hormones too.

But, by Friday of that week, it took everything for me to keep myself from screaming at the top of my lungs (I did yell a few times). I found myself taking deep breaths, counting to 4 million, and really trying to ignore the fact that every time I tried to do something with my daughter, she tried to do the opposite (i.e., get her dressed, change her diaper, get her to brush her teeth, put on shoes, etc.).

So, when I got to Stroller Strides that morning, I was upset, to say the least. I saw my friend, Stacee, who immediately asked me what was wrong, and that's when I started crying. I felt silly. But she gave me a big hug, squeezed tight, and let me know that everything would be fine. And it...

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My favorite time of year is certainly the fall. I love all of the outdoor activities available to families... and the idea of hitting up our local farmers' markets.

Yes, the IDEA of them. I love the thought of strolling through the tables, picking up my fresh produce and enjoying amazing meals every night of the week. Unfortunately, the idea never gets put into place and I haven't visited a single farmer's market this year. Not one.

I have plenty of excuses but my last and final is a great reason why I no longer need to worry about heading out early on a weekend (or weekday evening) to grab some great local produce.

The Farm Table.

The Farm Table offers busy families an option to enjoy fresh and local produce delivered right to their door and last month I was lucky enough to enjoy a trial box of goodies! (See photo above!)

We enjoyed some great meals throughout the week after receiving our box. Plus, we really enjoyed the apples as snacks and tomatoes and lettuce on sandwiches. Our...

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There was a quote floating around many of the FIT4MOM franchisee pages the last few days… and, while it was a great quote, I didn't think too much of it until recently.

“To a child, 'love' is spelled, T-I-M-E” – Zig Ziglar

Yesterday, my work email account decided that I no longer needed access to it during my little one’s nap time (Yes, I’m totally placing blame here!) & I immediately went into panic mode.

Since purchasing the FIT4MOM Ashburn franchise last October (a little #tbt here), and even before, when I was an elementary school teacher – there have been few occasions when I wasn’t feeling the need to check my email. Clients with questions, parents with concerns… it is very easy to get tied up in one’s email account.

So yesterday, when my account went down… after I emailed (from an alternate address) the support team and calmed myself, I actually closed the computer, put my phone down and left it.

When my little girl woke up from her nap, we played. We made bread (the kind...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

A couple of months ago, I heard my daughter singing Baa Baa Black Sheep. It kind of goes like this: "Baa baa baa baa baa baa baa daa daa daa daa baa baa baaaaa..." And, she'll continue on. She sings this song frequently, and sometimes changes it up to ABC or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (mind you, she can't say these words, but does manage to sing the tune, and of course I totally understand her!!). I absolutely loved this, and realized that she learned this from Stroller Strides.

But, several weeks ago, I watched her do her first squat. To be sure she was actually doing what I thought, I said, "Do your squats." And, she did them! Recently, she began doing maniacs or fast feet, and the other day, I caught her leaning up against the refrigerator attempting a wall sit!

Some may say it's my imagination. However, during today's class, one of the moms pointed out that my daughter was attempting leg raises in her stroller when all of the other moms were completing...

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I'd like to refer you to the image/phrase that I see floating around my Facebook feed every so often.

"A one hour workout is only 4% of your day. No excuses."

Only YOU can determine what is an "excuse" - nobody can do that for you.

As mothers with varying schedules, there are times when that 4% of our day requires us to rest our bodies, recharge, take care of others, fix dinner, etc., etc., etc. YOU make the choice as to whether what you need to do is an excuse or a legitimate need and you don't have to justify that to anyone. Only yourselves.

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

Approximately two weeks ago, my 16-month old started "singing" Baa Baa Black Sheep. Or it could've been the ABC song. Or it could've been Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. They share the same tune. No matter, I was very excited, so I started singing with her, and I watched her little face light up. I'm proud to say that she can carry a tune really well! And, I'm relieved since I can't always carry a tune so well.

But then I remembered what I read right after she was born. I read that babies love hearing their parent's voices. It doesn't matter if your singing rivals nails on a chalkboard - your baby loves your voice. He/she knows your voice. Despite the fact that I would probably get kicked out of the worst choir out there, I still sing all the time to my daughter. I have no choice, really. I teach Stroller Strides classes a few times each week, and attend class when I'm not teaching. We sing. We sing A LOT. And, that's why my daughter is "singing" these songs at home....

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

BEAUTIFUL

You are. We are. Beautiful.

The other day I read an online article from a fitness trainer who posted photos of herself wearing a sports bra and underwear. She took photos of various body parts and explained how those parts helped her get through her workouts. The exciting thing about this was the fitness trainer did not fit the mental image most of us have when we think of people in the fitness industry, or people who hit the gym every day. She was big; she was still a "plus-sized" woman. What the heck is "plus-sized" anyway?? She showed off her large, but amazingly strong arms that helped her climb ropes. She showed off her belly, riddled with post-weight-loss loose skin, which was strong enough to rip through any ab workout. She showed off her thighs, which touched together, but could sustain many many squats and lunges.

This inspired me. Yet, I felt some shame for all of those years I spent as a young woman looking in the mirror feeling...

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I love the story my cousin tells of her husband’s (sometimes) less than stellar gift-giving ability prior to their marriage. During their relationship beginnings, my cousin received an “interesting” necklace from her now-husband. It most likely wasn’t her style or taste and didn’t perhaps match what she had envisioned. Not wanting to upset or offend him, she thanked her then-BF and said, “Oh, it’s such a shame I don’t have the right earrings to go with it.”

Never fear, though. Her BF was (and still is) pretty clever and he had a solution. He went out and had earrings MADE to go WITH the necklace. Her excuse now? Well… she didn’t have one and she had to fess up that ya’ know… she just didn’t LIKE the necklace to begin with.

I know, I know – some of you may say that it’s nice to receive any gift in the first place. BUT… sometimes it’s also nice to receive something that you REALLY want…

… which is why I asked my husband for a very specific Mother’s Day gift this year.

Jennifer Mackey Mary of...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

When I first began Stroller Strides almost a year ago, it was primarily about getting the exercise my body craved. Soon, I found myself looking forward to seeing some of the same moms whose children were older; I took advantage of all the free advice I could get. But, I hadn't made the kinds of friendships I was hoping. Yet.

Five months after starting Ashburn Stroller Strides, I feel I have made some good friends. There are so many opportunities to meet outside of exercise class, which is wonderful. I am an introvert. While I talk a lot during class and try to be energetic and outgoing when I teach class, I have to work hard to have casual conversations.

The other night, I had dinner and drinks with a few ladies to help send off one of our mamas who is moving out of state. I left that evening with a sore belly from laughing so hard, and a bit of sadness because I really like the mama who is moving out of state. She's a breath of fresh air! But, most...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

Happy Father's Day to the greatest father ever...my husband. And your husband too!

When I first began attending Stroller Strides classes, I came home to the same question: "Did you stride it out??" [Insert snicker.] I think my husband was very amused that I was taking our baby to a class called Stroller Strides.

I have no doubt he knew we were working hard, but I am confident that he did not fully appreciate the level of intensity until he attended a post-Thanksgiving family class. I was amused, to say the least, when I looked over at him to find a sopping wet, out of breath man. At the end of class, I asked him whether he still thought we just "stride it out." Of course the answer was no. And I knew all along he was kidding about Stroller Strides, but I felt much better knowing that he knew the workouts were no joke.

When I became an instructor, my first solo class was outdoors. I invited my husband to attend. Of course I was nervous. I wanted to make a good...

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Stroller Strides® classes are fun for baby. At least, that’s one of the most important parts of the fitness program. The mommy-baby interaction, the little giggles, the drooly smiles – at Stroller Strides® & as moms, we live for those moments. But, sometimes, even the happiest of little ones have a hard time during our Stroller Strides® class and that is OK.

Take, for instance, my child. My spirited little redhead with her curly locks, big blue eyes and toothy smile. She’s just figured out that walking on two feet is the most AH-MAH-ZING thing ever, so the idea of “relaxing” in her stroller for an hour in the morning isn’t always that appealing.

However, I do what I can to make class great for the both of us. I bring snacks. I share my water bottle with her (apparently my adult water bottle is way better than her sippy cup), even when I know all she’s going to do is chew on the mouthpiece, turn it upside down, get soaked and her diaper will blow up like an inflatable tube. I attach 5,789 toys to every clip, strap and hook I can. I read up on ways to...

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I read about Stroller Strides on one of the many Facebook pages I was scrolling through one night. I posted and asked if my two kids would be able to sit through an entire class, mostly just extremely worried about my toddler. Everyone was so positive, “Of course,” “Just bring them;” “They’ll love it!” Thankfully, I ignored my inner mommy voice anticipating every “what if” scenario (two kids means double the chances of a meltdown!) and decided to try out a free class.

This was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made. I do not remember how social I was during the first couple of classes, since I was highly stressed over the potential that my toddler would throw one of his tantrums, completely unpredictable and so fun to deal with! But, he LIKES it. He thinks it is hilarious when I do a star jump, or squat singing his favorite “Tick Tock” song, or run around the strollers. Neither of my babies even objected when I ran around the strollers (yes, we played musical strollers!) since I always came back. My two year old sits back in his stroller, eats his snacks, and...

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It seems like spring weather here in Loudoun County lasted only a few short weeks! And... even though summer won’t technically start until later this month, we’re already experiencing high temps and some blazing sunshine that make it necessary to find ways for us to beat the heat during class!

Check out the list below for a number of ways to cool down and help keep your little ones cool in the stroller, too! Thanks to Susan Robinson from Little Rock Stroller Strides & Stacee D. (FIT4MOM Ashburn mama) for some of the suggestions and tips!

1. Hot and Cold Gel Packs: A frozen gel pack wrapped in a dish towel makes a wonderful climate controlled backrest for your little one. It’s squishy so it is not uncomfortable to lean against. Plus, because it is frozen it will keep baby nice and cool without being too cold!

2. Frozen Water Bottle: Fill a water bottle ¾ of the way and then freeze it...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

I thought I remembered most of the nursery rhymes and songs I sang as a child. Turns out, I only remembered 1 verse for each of the 10 songs I knew. (There are a MILLION songs out there, by the way.)

One of the wonderful and unique parts of Stroller Strides is that while we exercise, we sing to our little ones. But when I first started out, I felt embarrassed that I didn't know these songs. What kind of mother am I going to be if I can't even sing common nursery songs to my baby? Turns out it didn't matter!

At my first class, I learned that there was more than one verse to Row, Row, Row, Your Boat. I learned all of the words to Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, and found out that there was also a teeny weeny spider and a big gigantic spider to go along with the itsy bitsy spider! And then, I learned about the ant.s. And they go marching. For. A. Very. Long. Time... Soon, that became my daughter's favorite song. It was long enough for her to fall asleep when I rocked her...

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"My journey through motherhood at age 39 and my goal to keep up with my energetic child!"

My baby was 3 months old. I was doing my best to lose the 40 lbs., I gained during pregnancy. And I was struggling at my new job as stay-at-home Mom.

At age 39, I became a Mom. After 10 years as a prosecutor in the City of Alexandria, I decided to hang up my stylish suits, turn in my badge (yes, we had badges...gold shields!!) and do the thing I was most terrified of doing: staying at home with a baby who didn't seem to be too happy to see me at any time of day.

Not only was I trying to get my baby to like me (or at least to stop crying and maybe take a nap), but I was also trying to navigate my way through a new house/neighborhood/town/life. I never felt so isolated as I did back then.

Exercise had always been my outlet, so I began walking and using a nearby tot lot to do exercises every chance I got. Since my no-napper baby had other ideas, I took her for hour-long walks to induce naps a couple of times a day. This was wonderful, but lonely. And, it certainly...

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The lovely Farel Hruska wrote and shared a blog post on the F.I.T. Principle back in February and I think it's important enough to bring up again.

The F.I.T. Principle stands for Frequency, Intensity & Time and is a simple set of guidelines to always have on your mind as you exercise and plan your workouts. I want to touch on the "F" piece of the F.I.T. Principle as I think it's the hardest to commit to.

When it comes to exercise, it's important to keep consistent. How often do you exercise each week? Is it sporadic or do you maintain a fairly even schedule? Do you call a buddy for accountability or do you work out solo? Here are some tips for increasing your Frequency to make your workouts "fit" your needs.

1. Write it down. Perhaps Sunday night is your night to plan the week ahead. Take some time, write down your workout plans & goals. Whether you use a wall calendar, your phone or stick Post-its all over the fridge, writing things down makes them seem "real." Plus, these written plans are gentle reminders that you'll see everyday.

2....

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Today was our Moms Rock specialty class – a Stroller Strides® class that took on a slightly different format. Instead of singing songs to the kiddos, the moms were motivated by some great tunes (c/o female artists) and of course, one another. It’s always fun to change things up and try something new!

One piece of class that remained the same was our opening warm-up and introductions – at a Stroller Strides® class you can expect a “circle warm-up” and a chance to introduce yourself, your kid(s) and you have to answer an ice-breaker question. Keeping in line with the Moms Rock theme, I asked participants to finish the sentence “I rock because…” The answers were related to why you rock as a mom, why you rocked in your pre-mommy life, or anything else to give us a glimpse as to why you rock as a woman!

I could see the wheels turning as we made our way around the circle. Even providing a response for myself was difficult (and I had thought about this ice-breaker question all morning!)… but why is it so hard to acknowledge our personal accomplishments? Why is it so...

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How are your New Year's Resolutions going? Did they stick?

Some days (for me) are better than others. I made a NYR to myself that I'd like to do more "crafting." Turns out, I'm way better at pinning the crafts than actually doing them. Can you say #pinterestfail?

I also made a promise that we, as a family, would eat healthier and that I'd use a sugar substitute when I bake. I purchased Splenda and have yet to use it. (Does anybody need a cup of sugar?!)

If I make a NYR to make a better NYR for 2015, does that count? Probably not.

So instead of driving myself crazy with all of the ways I'm not keeping my resolutions, I figured that if I take a step back from my NYR and simply Do More of What Makes Me Happy, I'll be much better off.

I'm going to keep pinning. It makes me happy.

I'm going to make plans and find recipes to bake healthy goods and if I never get around to it, that's okay. I'm probably doing other things that...

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I'm sure you've all heard the phrase - or seen the image with the phrase, "Summer bodies are made in the winter." If you haven't, the image often shows someone running in the snow. It is a very clear message intended to motivate, and it does.

However, now that I've had a child, that same statement doesn't reflect my life or my personal fitness goals. Instead of worrying about how my body might look at the pool, I worry about how my body feels. I want my body to feel good when I'm doing all of the things that being a parent requires... and I want it to feel good beyond just the summer months.

A typical day at home includes at least 15 trips up and down the stairs (I live in a townhouse, so there's no shortage of them!) sometimes while carrying the baby, other times while dodging the basset hound who loves to sleep on the landing.

In order to leave the house solo, I have to make sure the stroller is in the trunk and the carseat is in the back, not to mention the 5,000 trips in and out of the house to grab last-minute items. In and out, up and down - it's...

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