Monday, November 30, 2015

Throwing a Fit: Toddlers to Tweens and Injury in Between

The title of the third book in the Life as a Fit Mom eBook series or a rant about my experience at Disney World last week? For fun, let's make it both.

Rant first (so I can end this post on a positive note).

We had been talking about this extended family (14 of us in all) trip to Orlando for a year. I had called the Disney planning help-desk (my term) no fewer than five times, read three travel guides and visited several Disney blogs. Still, I felt planning this trip required a secondary degree. I figured this would all be worth it when The Boy, who would be making his inaugural trip, experienced the Magic.

As you can see in the photo below (taken about one hour after walking through the front gates) The Boy (front center) was not impressed. But I can't say I blame him. We rode three rides using Fastpasses and then weren't able to get any more Fastpasses for the day. This meant hour-plus waits for other rides we wanted to do. The place was wickedly crowded. We left before the fireworks.
No matter. For The Boy this trip centered on going to the Jedi Training show. On my first call to Disney I learned 1) I needed to go to Hollywood Studios to experience the Star Wars attraction. 2) I couldn't make a reservation so needed to show up at 8 a.m. when the park opened to ensure we could get in. 3) The sign-up for Jedi Training was next to the Star Tours ride.

I had been through these steps with no fewer than three Disney customer service people in the months and weeks before our trip. I made my entire party of 14 (including two teenagers) get up and leave our hotel at 7:15 a.m. (which was really 6:15 our time) so we could make sure The Boy went through Jedi Training.

Jedi Training! A memory my little Star Wars fan would never forget!

After entering the park promptly at 8 a.m. I asked our ticket taker the fastest way to Star Tours to sign up for Jedi Training.

And this is what he said: "There is no Jedi Training today."

After all that studying, checking, and rechecking. Wha? It was closed, he said, for refurbishing. I had known the show had been closed months ago, but my first Disney guide told me the show would reopen mid-November, and--weren't we lucky--we would arrive after the reopening.

Somehow, Disney failed to inform the customer service agents I spoke to about the delay in reopening. And there I was with my 13 family members looking to me for... what? Permission to beat the guy up? A chance to go back to bed?

I really, truly wanted to throw myself on the ground and sob. I had spent about six months planning this trip. Magic Kingdom had been a bust. I wanted a good day. I wanted some freaking Magic.

It was Thanksgiving. By golly we had Fastpasses scheduled so we rode our rides (inducing Star Tours, which The Boy loved immensely) and allowed him to construct his own light saber. We left early (because we couldn't get anymore Fastpasses anyway) and let the kids swim in the pool the rest of the afternoon.

I had made reservations at the Swan Hotel's Garden Grove restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. A coup with our large party. The restaurant was in a Disney hotel and B-list characters--Chipmunks, Pluto, and the like--would be in attendance. (I had attempted making Thanksgiving Day reservations in June for every restaurant inside every Disney Park but all were booked. I knew then I was out of my Disney vacation planning league.) With two days of Disney in the books I was ready to give thanks with my family over turkey and gravy. What more could go wrong?

The restaurant did not have our reservation.

I was quickly whisked away to a nearby bar by two women who care deeply about my mental health, while the husbands stood back with the kids raiding the dessert table during the hour wait.

Could the night get worse? Yes. The martini was awful. Jet fuel with a sake backwash aftertaste. I just needed a little something to take the edge off, make this day laughable, but I couldn't choke it down. Then, once we finally got seated and made our way to the buffet, the turkey was served with a salacious come-on... to my 17-YEAR-OLD NEPHEW.

Seriously, Disney. Not cool.

We spent the next two days at Universal and thanks to our Unlimited Express Passes (if time is indeed money then they were worth the expense) saw and rode to our hearts content. Still, what the kids enjoyed most was hanging out with each other in the pool. For free.

It really is that easy (and cheap). Being together was priceless and for that I was grateful.

I'm also grateful for the release of my third eBook. Yeah!

Throwing a Fit: Toddlers to Tweens and Injury in Between is available here:

Barnes & Noble
Google Play

This book covers the hard stuff (not unlike repeated letdowns at Disney World) and how I worked my way through them, some better than others. The book is in large part about the importance of fitness when clinging to sanity, how to stick with it when motivationally challenged, what fitness even means when you're injured and can't do the things you want to do. Truly, the chaos I speak of when I say "chaos of motherhood."

There's something magical about picking yourself up from the asphalt (or couch) and going forward despite not getting your way.

Remember to connect with me before this blog comes to an end -- on the Hot (Sweaty) Mamas Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. And don't forget the e-newsletter sign-up form on my website so I can touch base here and there (that's where the e-book deals and freebies will come from).

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Fit Mom's Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Speed Bumps

Not long after starting the blog in 2008 I became pregnant with The Boy. Over and over I promised readers I wouldn't chronicle my pregnancy in detail; I would stick to the blog's mission of finding fitness in the chaos of motherhood. Already having two 4-year-olds and one 3-year-old made for plenty of material on that front. Alas, my pregnancy crept into my posts, as did my postpartum experience trying to rebound (but damn the mastitis!).

I wrote enough about the pregnancy and postpartum experience to create a (short) eBook, which is now for sale (for $1.99) on:

Google Play
And coming soon to Barnes & Noble

While most of the material I believe is great advice for new moms or moms-to-be (such as "Everything I Know About Coping with Pregnancy I Learned from Being a Triathlete"), some of it serves as a cautionary tale, as in: Read and learn from my mistakes!

As we gear up for Thanksgiving this week I am grateful for the nearly eight years I spent blogging and interacting with my fit-mom readers. I hope you'll stay connected with me on the Hot (Sweaty) Mamas Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. And don't forget the e-newsletter sign-up form on my website so I can touch base here and there (that's where the e-book deals and freebies will come from).

Have a happy and active Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Finding Fitness in the Chaos of Motherhood

For the last two years I've been putting together the Life as a Fit Mom eBook Series based on the last 7+ years of Mama Sweat blog posts. And finally, they are getting published, starting with the first in the series this week, "Finding Fitness in the Chaos of Motherhood." 

It's official!

Why the eBooks? Because soon--as in, the end of the year--I will no longer blog. Mama Sweat has been a cathartic journal of balancing fitness and motherhood, a repository of my fit mom opinions, and even grew into a fit mom community. I would swear no one but my mom was reading and then I'd hear from a reader I didn't know in another state, even another country. These weekly blog posts not only gave me structure in my chaos, they also gave me immense satisfaction knowing they mattered to other people out there, too.


I've covered an awful lot and it's time to move on. I want to spend more time focusing on writing the fictional stories of the Go! Go! Sports Girls, promoting fitness literacy and health empowerment to kids,  and, of course, nurturing my own athletic children.

I have published the highlights from Mama Sweat (including the ever-popular pelvic floor posts) on my new website, Links for my books, including the Life As a Fit Mom eBook series, will be there too. The ebooks are based on the best of the blog posts plus more material (dare I say, a few fit mom poems, too).

Although the blog will soon come to a close, I will still be out there on social media: on the Hot (Sweaty) Mamas Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. And, there is an e-newsletter sign-up form on my website so I can reach out to you very occasionally (seriously, no one hates a cluttered inbox more than me so I promise to be respectful). Another reason to sign up for the mailing list is because everyone who is signed up before Friday, November 20, will receive "Finding Fitness in the Chaos of Motherhood" for free. So there's that.

What is the first book, "Finding Fitness in the Chaos of Motherhood" all about?
Whether you're expecting your first child and need a dose of reality or feeling overwhelmed parenting young children, Finding Fitness in the Chaos of Motherhood will provide motivation to become more active and the lift you need (for muscles as well as mood) to be strong enough for motherhood.

In Finding Fitness in the Chaos of Motherhood, Kara Douglass Thom shares the absurdities she faced while keeping fitness a priority in her life after having children. While embracing the chaos she had to change her perspective on what "counted" as a workout and find creative ways to fit fitness in.
If you'd like to read more, go sign up and I'll send the eBook to you at the end of the week. The next five books in the series are:

Stay tuned for more details on those titles in the next few weeks to come. Meanwhile, thanks for being such great readers and supporters of Mama Sweat! See you over at

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book Review: Eat Like a Champion

I don't think I'm the most militant mom out there when it comes to feeding my family nutritious food (my son might disagree after trying to pass a combo of homemade applesauce and plain greek yogurt for the 24-gram-of-sugar-laden "apple pie yogurt" from the store... but I think he liked it...). I do, however, spend a lot of time shopping for healthier alternatives, researching good nutrition, and (this sadly) nagging my kids about the food choices they should or shouldn't make.

My kids probably thought my vigilantism in the kitchen couldn't get worse. Then I read "Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete," by nutritionist Jill Castle, MS, RDN, CDN. Now I'm more nuts than ever (nuts are a great power snack, however).

After reading I learned more about proper nutrition for young athletes. There is a distinction between feeding hungry kids and feeding hungry athletes. Sure, I knew how to fuel myself as an athlete, but I wasn't thinking about applying that to my athletic kids or even how to apply it to their developing bodies (hello adolescence!). Some of the insight from the book included:
--A breakdown of high and low calorie burning sports
--Strategies for distributing protein throughout the day
--The amount and types of fat needed for young athletes
--Preparing pre-competition meals
--The anatomy of a healthy snack (calories, sugar, fat, fiber, etc)

The book is packed with good information for parents who want to up their nutrition game for their kids. What I appreciate most about her book, though, is her call to action to improve the food and beverage choices in children's sports. Snacks at the end of every practice? Treats at the end of every game?  Junk food at our sports concession stands? Stop the madness!

I've complained. I'm sure you've complained. But that's not going to change anything. As Jill says (and I swear she was speaking directly to me): "Don't be that parent who whines about snacks unless you've made a reasonable suggestion for something different." She goes on to say:
We are all stakeholders with a vested interest in raising healthy athletes. We are all interested in having sports participation be a benefit for our youth and a positive influence on their health and well-being. We can change the food environment in youth sports with a good policy. Families can set a policy of "only healthy food when playing sports"; teams can outline appropriate snack foods, and league leaders can standardize healthy food options at concessions and regulate food marketing and sponsorships.
So how? In her book she provides a "Sample Note to Parents About Snacks," a "Sample Snack Policy for Teams," and a list of healthy concession stand items. I've received permission to share the "Sample Snack Policy for Teams." Let's all put it to good use!

Sample Snack Policy for Teams

The following is a sample snack policy for your team. Feel free to adjust it to reflect what makes sense for your team and circumstances:

Hello, everyone!

It’s time to talk about snacks this season! Our coach has asked me to organize the snacks, but with a change. We are returning to the days of simplicity—for example, orange slices and water—and here’s why: we want our kids to burn off energy through their sport, not take in more! We can do that by cutting out the packaged foods, sugary snacks, and sweet drinks that offer our kids more calories than they need after exercising.

Here’s our new proposed snack policy for the season:

Kids: Bring your own water to the game. Please keep it to water only. Young athletes don’t need sugary drinks at all, and a sports drink is really for the athlete who is running hard for more than an hour.

Parents: Share the responsibility of bringing fresh fruit for a snack. You can bring any fresh fruit you’d like, just make sure it’s washed and ready for those little hands to grab. Small boxes of dried fruit such as raisins are fine, too. No fruit snacks, roll-ups, or fruit chews (they contain added sugar).

Here are some ideas: orange slices, apple slices, watermelon wedges, berries in a small cup, bunches of grapes, cantaloupe chunks, mixed chopped fruit in a small cup, fruit kabobs, and whole fruit such as bananas, peaches, or pears. If your child won’t eat fruit, please bring your own snack and serve it off the field.

This snack policy makes it easy on you and healthy for our kids. It’s also less expensive, cleaner, and will contribute to your child’s healthy eating for the day, not take away from it. You’ll also be more likely to have a hungry child when you return home for mealtime.

If you have any questions about this new snack policy, please let me or the coach know.


Monday, November 2, 2015

HIIT Me with Your Best Workout

True Confession: I have lifted weights one time (and it's a stretch to call it lifting weights) since I shared my intentions to begin workouts that will build bone density and hold back the osteoporosis tide.

In a moment of inspiration and enthusiasm I bought the app, Tabata Pro, which was recommended by a friend. I was going to workout at home! I would motivate myself! I would drip sweat!

But then I discovered the app is more of a timer and less of a personal trainer. Without scripted workouts my enthusiasm flailed.

Then said friend sent me a 45-minute Tabata workout to get started.

That was good, but I need more (the procrastinating is pathetic), so when I'm doing these home workouts twice a week (seriously, I will, in my basement when snowed in) I will have options. I won't get bored. I will stay inspired.

Help me out. Please leave your favorite Tabata workout in the comments below. We can build a nice repository for fit moms who need workout inspiration.

The whole *DOING THE WORKOUT* will still be up to you. Or me, in this case.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Gotta Go?

Recently I received an email about a Kickstarter campaign from Skirt Sports, a company I support and admire as the first company to create a running skirt. Despite being copied again and again by every major sports manufacturer out there, Skirt Sports has continued to compete with the big name brands because they can respond to their customers in a way the big companies can't.

How do I mean respond?

I mean, they've created the "Gotta Go Running Skirt." The innovative running skirt includes (I'm not making this up) a "trap door" and "relief hatch." You can literally go on the run, without (and I quote):
  • The not-so-glamorous struggle to get your skirt back up over sweaty thighs and glutes after a mid-run pee stop.
  • The nervous glances over your shoulder as you try to be discreet and speedy behind a shrub when there is no porta potty in sight.

Or--I'll add--friends taking photos of you as you pull your shorts back up during a mid-run pee. (Photo Credit: Laura Herrick.)

With all the pelvic floor fitness talk on this blog, how can I not share this news?

You've got to see it to believe it. In fact, you can own the Gotta Go Running Skirt with a contribution to the Skirt Sports Kickstarter campaign. But only if they reach their goal. They're close (of course they are!) If you want one of the skirts, head over and order yours now!

They had me at "relief hatch."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review: The Pedestriennes: America's Forgotten Superstars

Kate Roberts Edenborg is the perfect candidate to review "The Pedestriennes: America's Forgotten Superstars." Kate is a writer and researcher, both in her spare time and on faculty at her local university, where she lives in western Wisconsin with her husband, kiddo and pug. Kate is often motivated to get her nose out of a book to go for a run. "What started out as a quick and relatively cheap way to workout after moving out in the country has become a family lifestyle," she says.

Not long ago, whenever I started out on a run I would think to myself: “Why didn’t I take up something easy, like walking?” The book, "The Pedestriennes: America’s Forgotten Superstars," has forever changed how I think of what I used to think of as the most pedestrian of activities.

In this book, Harry Hall writes about female endurance walkers. Not present-day walkers but those who were taking on this sport in the 19th century. These women who walked for days on end sometimes as a solo endeavor, sometimes in a competitive format were called pedestriennes.

Some of the competitions, such as the 1876 contest between May Marshall and Bertha von Hillern in New York’s Central Park Garden, took days. This one in particular took place over six full days. Von Hillern won the competition by walking 323 miles compared to Marshall’s 281 miles. Swollen legs and blistered feet were the fate many competitors faced. It often took the women weeks, if not months to recover. Not to mention the extreme exhaustion the women experienced since they were only allowed short naps between laps. Injury and over-exertion marked this endurance sport.

These pedestriennes walked in laced up boots, not the supportive and cushioned athletic footwear we gave the luxury of today. And hours upon hours of their competitions were attended by perhaps only a few spectators and assistants to distract them. They were allowed to eat and nap briefly every few hours. Women who would choose to pursue this sport today would have the benefit of knowing how to fuel with appropriate nutrition and have appropriate footwear. Not to mention devices like iPods with podcasts and music to keep them mentally distracted from the monotony of long laps. 

Hall mentions that all the pedestriannes possessed these three qualities: drive, focus and desperation,  yet I still don’t fully understood why these women did what they did. It’s the last quality that is intriguing and one that isn’t quite addressed in this book.

Although I’ve often done research about the 19th century, and much of that research is about women, I’d never heard of these amazing female athletes. Thus, the term “forgotten” in the book’s title is certainly appropriate. I will not forget them, and in fact I’d like to know much more.