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Introducing Our March Mom of the Month:

Christy Wolf

Children Names and Ages: Wesley - 2.5 years; James (JJ) - 6 months

Where are you from: The Chicago suburbs, but I've lived in the city since graduating from undergrad

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite thing is the community Fit4Mom provides; I have loved getting to know other moms in the Fit4Mom village and am always amazed at how supportive everyone is of one another.

Favorite Exercise: Pushups

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After both kids fall asleep and I can spend some time relaxing, catching up with my husband, or getting things done that are almost impossible to do with a toddler and baby vying for my attention.

What motivates you to exercise: My biggest motivators are that I want to be healthy and strong so I can be there for my family and I want set a positive example of a healthy lifestyle for them. Working...

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Introducing Our Instructor of the Month:

Meredith Valentine

Teaches: Fit4Baby and sub for Stroller Strides

Hometown: Rockford, IL but I've been in Chicago for over 11 years :)

Mom to: Oliver, he's 8 months old

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides? My friend, Stephanie, did stroller strides with her girls and after Oliver was born, she encouraged me to attend!

What made you want to become an instructor? I love working out and it was important to me to stay healthy and strong even though I had a young baby. Finding Stroller Strides was so amazing for me and I wanted to share that passion with other moms. Learning about Fit4Baby was just icing on the cake!

What did you do before becoming an instructor? I was a preschool teacher :)

What is your favorite part of Instructing? I love when moms come up to me after class to let me know they enjoyed it! Makes me...

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Introducing our January Mom of the Month:

Faye Herzog

Child name and age: Emerson, 17 months

Where are you from: Portage Park and almost lifelong Chicagolandian

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Not only is Fit4Mom about doing something healthy for yourself, but the village that comes with it is an added bonus!

Favorite Exercise: Squats of any kind

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: When EmJ finally goes down for the night and I get to catch up on junk shows or internet

What motivates you to exercise: The feeling of accomplishment after a workout (of any kind) and knowing that it is part of living a healthy lifestyle motivates me to exercise.

Piece of advice for new moms: It's ok to ask...

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Introducing our November Mom of the Month:

Mary Garcia

Child name and age: Rohan, 8 and a half months

Where are you from: The south of Ireland originally but moved to states 14 years ago

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Favorite thing is the fact that Glenview offers classes 5 days a week so no matter what goes on in my schedule I have an opportunity to attend a class. Its good for my mind and body so I make conscious effort to attend as much as possible. Even on days where your just worn out, it's worth making the effort

Favorite Exercise: Ab exercises and sliders. Sliders were introduced recently in class and they definitely amp up a workout. It's nice to change things up from regular routines

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: I guess after Rohan goes to sleep. I get an opportunity to get...

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10 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress!

Do you get stressed out during the holidays? Shopping for everyone on your list, and fighting the crowds to find that one “toy of the year” that seems to be sold out everywhere you go! Lots of wonderful, but also not very healthy for you, food at parties and get togethers with family and friends. The decorating, the traveling, the visits to see Santa… While all of these things can bring you joy, they can also bring you stress and feelings of anxiety. Don’t worry mama! We’ve got some quick-fix tips and stress busting strategies to help you make it into the New Year!

#10. She’s making a list and checking it twice- Get organized by making yourself lists. Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget, especially when you have little ones constantly grabbing your focus away, but making lists will help you keep your mind on track! Whether you are shopping, making dinner, packing for a trip, planning your daily tasks, take 5 min and jot it all down. Plus, you get that...

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Healthy Thanksgiving Inspired Recipes

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate being together, and being thankful for all that we have. It’s also a time when most of us throw healthy eating out the window. I know, it’s just one day, right?…. But instead of reheating all that yummy/not so good for you food the next day, try a few of these healthy recipes to help you get back on track after a day of indulgence!

Our first couple of recipes give you options for all of that leftover turkey! Because although someone might have gobbled up all the sweet potato pie, there is sure to be enough leftover turkey to spare for days on end.

Turkey “Chicken” Salad

2 cups of shredded turkey breast

¼ cup dried cranberries (no sugar added)

½ cup low fat Greek yogurt

½ cup crisp apples(any variety)

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

1 TBSP lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: Combine all the...

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Shop Small Businesses

Being a small, mom owned and operated business ourselves, Fit4Mom Chicago knows just how important support from our local community can mean. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some other local mom owned small businesses, and friends of Fit4Mom Chicago. We hope you will keep them in mind the next time you are looking for one of these products or services.

Need to check some things off your holiday shopping list this season? Check out the awesome products these moms have available for you below!

Handmade Bandana Bibs-Elizabeth Vincent

Great for teething, snack time, or every day use! Great for ages 3 months to 12 months. Each bib is $5 and they are machine washable and can be dried in the dryer. Patterns are always changing and custom orders are accepted. Please email eaheaton13@gmail.com to place an order or if you have any questions.

LuLaRoe Clothing- In search of the...

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Introducing Our Instructor of the Month:

Jessica Weber

Teaches: Stroller Barre; subs Stroller Strides, Fit4Baby, and Body Back

Hometown: Middletown, OH

Mom to: Manny, 2 years

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Stroller Barre? Cheers for Moms class with Jackie D and then a trial Stroller Barre class with Jackie S. I was hooked, Stroller Barre is my jam.

What made you want to become an instructor? Jackie was leaving on maternity leave and they were trying to find someone to fill in. I honestly did it because I was so terrified of Stroller Barre not existing anymore. I danced through high school and hoped that and my teaching background would make me a good instructor. Turns out I love it!!

What did you do before becoming an instructor? I was in grad school to become a teacher and working as the Education Coordinator for Chicago Opera Theater....

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Crocktober-Part 4

Would’t it be nice if all of our recipes turned out just the way we planned? With crockpot cooking, there is little room for error, unless you forget to plug it in, like I did earlier this week! Oops! This will be our last set of recipes for you for Crocktober 2016! Hopefully you have enjoyed these healthy and delicious recipes this month, and hopefully we got you out of having to cook a few nights too. Our last 2 recipes are sure to become some quick favorites as well. Who knew healthy cooking could be so easy?

First up, we have a copycat recipe from Olive Garden. This tastes just like the one they serve you in the restaurant, minus the temptation to eat a lot of 150 calorie breadsticks. This soup is perfect to serve on its own, and freezes well, so you can have plenty leftover for another time. Pair it with a healthy salad, and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal!

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2...
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Crocktober Part-3

We are cranking it into high gear this week with 3 new recipes for you to try! That’s 3 dinners you don’t have to think about planning for your family next week. All of them are kid approved, healthy, and delicious! #momwin

First up we have a healthy take on a classic, crockpot chili! Now that football season is here, and people have begun to gather to watch the game, nothing satisfies a big crowd like a bowl of chili. It’s also a perfect weeknight meal to come home to! You can serve this recipe as it is, or top it with sourcream, cheese, onions, or anything else you like. You can use it as a topping for a sweet potato, on top of a hotdog, or pair it with a salad for a healthy complete meal. This is a basic recipe, so feel free to add a chopped up green bell pepper, a cup of organic corn, or diced sweet potatoes to the recipe to fit your own preference.

Turkey Chili

-1lb ground turkey

-1 chopped yellow onion

- 28 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added)

-1 can Organic kidney beans (rinsed and drained)

-1 can Organic...

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Child name and age: Giovanni , 3

Where are you from: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite things about Fit4Mom is being able to workout with your toddler, talk to other moms, and the playgroups. There was a few days when Giovanni was sick and we couldn't get out of the house and I was thinking what did I do with myself before we joined fit4Mom.

Favorite Exercise: My favorite exercise is running. I like that you can do it anywhere and you only need a pair of running shoes.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: It is usually in the afternoon when he is napping. I can catch up on things around the house or just watch tv.

What motivates you to exercise: I like the feeling after a good workout. It puts me in a better mood and I make healthier decisions during the day.

Piece of advice for new moms: It is hard to do, but try to enjoy every...

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Crocktober Part-2

Continuing with our crockpot recipes, we have a couple of good additions for you all this week. Both can be tweaked to fit your own preferences, and both are healthy and delicious!

First, we have a recipe shared with us by our Instructor of the Month for September, and Body Back expert, Caroline! She nicknamed this recipe “Carrienara”. It’s a basic healthy marinara recipe that you can put over almost anything! You can also add whatever you like to make it yours. Mushrooms, chopped zucchini, green pepper, anything your family likes. Recently, I used it in a turkey whole wheat pasta bake, and it was delicious and tasted so fresh! Plus, it made my kitchen smell amazing! You can double, or even triple the recipe, and freeze the extra sauce into smaller portions to use anytime you’re craving some Italian food. It’s also Body Back approved, as long as you pair it with food on the plan.

Carrienara

-1 tsp olive oil

-2 cloves garlic, smashed

- 28 oz can...

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It’s that time of year again! The weather is cooling off, the leaves are changing into beautiful fall hues, pumpkin stuff is everywhere, and if you’re like me, you’re breaking out the Crockpot! I love everything about Crockpot cooking! It’s easy, delicious, and if you use those nifty liners, mess free!

The only problem is that a lot of times those yummy Crockpot recipes are also not-so-healthy. But don’t worry mamas! Fit4Mom Chicago has a solution for you! All month long, we are going to bring you healthy delicious Crockpot recipes sure to please your entire family!

First up, we have a couple of southwestern inspired dishes! This chicken tortilla soup recipe is delicious, and kid approved! You can eat it straight out of the pot, or top with avocado, cheese, light sour cream, or like my kids, a couple of tortilla chips! It also makes a ton so there’s plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day! This recipe is also Body Back approved for those mamas doing a session right now. Just make sure to check the label for a low sodium option for the salsa.

Chicken...

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Introducing Our Instructor of the Month:

Caroline Goodreau

Teaches: Body Back

Hometown: Elgin, IL

Mom to: Gwennie (5) Matilda (3)

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Body Back? I took Body Back when my girls were 2 and 4months. I knew that once I was getting sleep I could commit to getting back into shape. I immediately fell in love with the supportive community, that hour for myself, and killer workouts!

What made you want to become an instructor? I’ve always loved working out and taking group fitness classes. I found wonderful success with Body Back and knew I could help other moms feel as great as I do!

What did you do before becoming an instructor? I was an elementary school teacher!

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Fit4Mom Chicago would like to welcome the new babies who were born into our village in August! Two handsome little boys! Congratulations to both of the families. You can read about each little blessing below:

Elliot Parker Easom was born on August 2nd weighing 6lb6oz and was 20 inches long! He joins big sister Emmy, who turned two the day after he was born. How fun! We look forward to seeing mom, Jennifer, and both kids at a Stroller Strides class soon!

James Jonas Wolf was welcomed on August 10th to mom, Christy. He weighed 8lb3oz, and was 20 inches long! He joins big brother, Wesley, at home with the rest of the family! We can’t wait to see them all at a Stroller Strides class soon!

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Child name and age: Carson - 17 Months

Where are you from? I grew up in central Florida - but have spent the last 10 years in the DC Area. We moved to Chicago last November.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is that it's all inclusive. It’s an exercise class, playgroup, and mom's group all in one!

Favorite Exercise: My favorite Stroller Strides exercises are the "Blast Offs" and playing tag. My favorite Stroller Barre exercises are the yoga sequences.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: It changes all the time. Sometimes it is the time after Carson goes to sleep, sometimes it’s running an errand kid-free. Other times it is when I go for a walk by the lake - even with Carson in tow. Moms are super resourceful when it comes to finding time to recharge.

What motivates you to exercise: Honestly, the social component of Fit4Mom is highly motivating. My...

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Tips on g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o surviving the grocery store with your kids…

Going to the grocery store before you had kids was awesome, magical, and yes peaceful. Strolling through the aisles, list in one hand, coffee in the other, bopping your head to the music playing over the loud speakers…ah yes, we all remember those days! But just like a lot of other things, this changes when you become a mother. Whether you’re just starting out with a newborn in a carrier, or you’re lugging around multiple kiddos, the grocery store can be a bit of a challenge at times. I had one of those challenging moments a few weeks ago…

My son was tired, hungry, and wanted to be anywhere but sitting in the shopping cart. We had barely gotten through the door, when I offered him a sample of the chocolate muffins the nice lady had on a tray. Apparently my child HATES chocolate muffins!

He threw his head back kicking and screaming as loud as he could, “No! No, bites! NOOOOOWAH!” I stood there petrified like a deer in headlights. I thought about running for the door, but...

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Sara Larsen

Teaches: Stroller Strides

Hometown: Glenview, IL

Mom to: Allie, who just turned one on August 26th!

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides? I first heard about Fit4Mom when I was searching online for local mom groups. I started in Evanston when Allie was just 8 weeks old.

What made you want to become an instructor? Stroller strides changed my life! It opened up this amazing supportive community, and the people I've met will be my lifelong friends. I want to help other moms find a positive and loving community and help them gain confidence and strength in a fun, motivating group setting.

What did you do before becoming an instructor? I owned my own business as a nutritional health coach and running coach, and I still do it part time.

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Welcome July Babies!!

Fit4Mom Chicago would like to welcome all the new babies who were born into our village in July! Aren’t they adorable? Congratulations to all of the families. You can read about each little blessing below:

Natalie Elanor Anderson was born on July 16, 2016. She was 21 inches long and weighed 8lbs3oz. She was welcomed by one of our very own instructors, Laura Gleason. She has big sister Clara to show her the Stroller Strides ropes in a class sometime soon!

Graham Wilson Minchella arrived on July 24th, 2016. He was welcomed by another one of our instructors, Heather Minchella. He weighed 8lbs 4oz, and was 20.5 inches long. He joins big brother Evan, and big sister Leah at home.

Magnolia Elizabeth Brock was welcomed by mom, Kristen Brock, on July 29th, 2016. She weighed 8lbs and was 20 inches long. She is Kristen’s first, and joins their furbaby Toby, a Sheppard mix, at home. We can’t wait to meet you at a Stroller Strides class soon!

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Name: Melissa Wilson

Child name and age: Halle, 6 months

Where are you from: I am originally from Milwaukee, WI, but now live in Glenview, IL.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite thing about Fit4Mom is having a wonderful group of Mommy friends that help motivate and support me every day. I was feeling a bit lost my first few months as a new mom and was looking for a group to belong to. Fit4Mom really opened their arms and embraced me. Working out with friends not only motivates me to the best version of myself, but gives Halle a strong positive Mom to look up to as she grows. I also really love my Mom's Night Outs!

Favorite Exercise: Burpees! They are super challenging and a full body workout. They never seem to get easier!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: My favorite Mom-me time of day is in the morning before anyone has gotten up from bed (including my husband). I love to read...

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Name: Kelly Tracy

Child name and age: Jack (2 years old)

Where are you from: I grew up in Streamwood, Illinois. I lived on the Northside of Chicago for eight years before moving to Morton Grove.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: It's hard to pick just one thing. The sense of community is the first thing that comes to mind. Jack and I started Stroller Strides when he was five months old. It was shortly after I started staying home full-time and I was looking for a way to meet other moms. I was also ready to get back into shape. It's become so much more than that though. I never would have imagined the support and friendships that have come as a result of this group.

I'm also a huge believer in Body Back. I've completed two full sessions and it's completely changed my relationship with food and fitness for the better. It's so rewarding to see how your body and strength level can change in only eight weeks.

Favorite Exercise: Any type of plank

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I am excited to teach Fit4Baby because I want to not only promote health and wellness in pregnancy, but also help moms build their village prior to the birth of their child(ren)! While I was pregnant, I struggled with balancing a healthy lifestyle and just wanting to sit and do nothing, because after all you are growing a human. I became lonely and saddened because no one else I knew was pregnant or were already moms and couldn't seem to remember what it was like, the first time around. Finding the Fit4Mom village not only reawakened my healthy lifestyle, it improved my overall life tenfold. With this village, I have gained lifelong friends and I want to share that village with as many moms as possible. Motherhood isn't for the faint of heart and having a support system in place that will be there of you when you need it the most is why I am so excited to be teaching Fit4Baby.

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Name: Melissa Tydell

Child name and age: Evelyn (2.5 years old) and Thomas (7 months on 5/14)

Where are you from: Grew up in Overland Park, KS. Lived in Chicago for nine years before moving to Mundelein last summer.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I attended my first class on July 10, 2014. It was a tough workout—but it was just what I needed. The skyline view we had from along the lakefront didn't hurt either! I signed up for a membership that day. Almost two years later, I feel happier and stronger. Because I can bring my kids with me, I’ve been able to consistently work out through different life changes, including my second pregnancy and a move to the suburbs, and I’ve met new friends along the way. The community has been incredible. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. I always leave the classes feeling energized (and a little sore ha!)

Favorite Exercise: Anything with the bands. And I hold a special place in my...

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When our son was six months old, we decided it was time for a sibling. Eight long months later, we were ecstatic to learn that dream was going to come true. Unfortunately that excitement was short lived as I had an episode of bleeding a week later that eventually resulted in a miscarriage. The whole experienced was filled with false hope from doctors and family, a lot of visits to the doctor for blood draws and ultrasounds and an abundance of thoughts and emotions.

After waiting to see what direction the pregnancy was headed the day finally came where I knew it was the beginning of the end. I broke down. I cried because I would never feel that baby kick, I would never know if we had another son or would get to experience our first daughter, I would never see what he/she looked like, I would never get to hold him/her and I cried because I felt like my body failed at what it was supposed to do and had already done successfully. Once I healed physically, I had to heal emotionally and that was harder than physical loss. Everywhere I went I saw pregnant moms and moms...

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Name: Clare Pasquesi

Child name and age: Emma is 2.5 years old and Andrew is 7 months old

Where are you from: Originally from Omaha, NE but have lived in Chicago for the last 7 years

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I am so grateful for Fit4Mom! I started with Stroller Strides classes 2 years ago when my oldest was 6 months. At that point I was needing to find a good workout, for both physical and emotional reasons, but wasn't feeling comfortable finding child care for my daughter "just so I could exercise" (I now know that was a silly thought-exercise is so important for overall well being.). Stroller Strides was a gift for so many reasons: 1) It was a Great workout! 2) My daughter was a part of the workout-no child care needed. 3) It was a community of Positive and supportive moms (Mom friends!). 4) My daughter, and now son, were surrounded by other kids both young and old. The post-workout playgroups are amazing! 5) It was my...

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At FIT4MOM Chicago, the core of our business is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life. We wouldn't be who we are without all of YOU! Our dedicated and faithful moms! Introducing the MOM- Mom Of the Month! The MOM recognizes one of our outstanding clients who has either made strides herself, or inspired someone else to do so. We are so lucky to have you all in our VILLAGE!

Name: Kristen Barry

Child name and age: Samantha, 12 months

Where are you from: Originally from Lansing, MI, but I've been in the Chicago area for 10 years.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: It has been so beneficial for me to get out and meet new moms, all with the common goal of finding time to fit in workouts with your little one. I love that the kids have playtime after our workouts too!

Favorite Exercise: Squats are great because they are very effective, and anything that works the love...

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We started our year out with an awesome playdate at Little Beans play cafe. Have you checked out our Meetup Groups yet to stay in the loop of our latest happenings? We have playgroups for Chicago moms weekly! Fitness for mom, fun for baby (and toddlers...and older!)

Chicago- http://www.meetup.com/Fit4MomChicago/

Northshore- http://www.meetup.com/FIT4MOM-Chicago-North/

Northwest Burbs- http://www.meetup.com/Fitness-for-Mom-Fun-for-Baby-in-Northwest-Burbs/

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On Friday, December 11th, moms met at Thrown Elements, which is a paint-your-own-pottery studio in Arlington Heights. There were snacks and beverages--creativity and uninterrupted conversations! We had a fun, relaxing time, while also making some thoughtful crafts for gift giving and for our homes. Time flew!! It was a great night with some great ladies!! How cute are these creations!

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At FIT4MOM Chicago, the core of our business is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life. We wouldn't be who we are without all of YOU! Our dedicated and faithful moms! Introducing the MOM- Mom Of the Month! The MOM recognizes one of our outstanding clients who has either made strides herself, or inspired someone else to do so. We are so lucky to have you all in our VILLAGE!

Name: Amy Singh

Name and Age of Child: Anil Singh, 1yr

Where are you from originally? I'm from Birmingham, MI but have been in Chicago for 15 yrs

Favorite FIT4MOM Memory: My favorite memory from FIT4MOM Chicago is when my instructor, Katie LaDow, came up to my friend (another fit mom) and I after class one day and told us how much of a change she had noticed in us since we started coming! It was great encouragement to keep at it everyday!

What is your favorite exercise? My favorite exercise is ABs anything! I love feeling the burn in my...

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WINTER WEATHER REMINDERS!

We finally had our first snowfall. With that comes our winter weather reminders! In an effort to keep our facilities as clean and dry as possible, please remember:

  • Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre mamas, please bring a large towel to park your stroller on while the snow melts
  • Wear boots to class and bring your gym shoes to change in to once you are inside
  • Remember not to leave your resistance bands in your car. Extreme temperatures can break down the rubber and cause them to snap- bring your bands inside of your house. And please remember that when they are in your house, the bands are not toys! Hard handles can cause a lot of damage to little eyes- so please keep them safely put away when they are in your house.
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This is my favorite crockpot chicken recipe. I love it because it multi-tasks and makes several meals out of one. The first night we have crockpot chicken with some roasted veggies or baked sweet potato (yum!). Then I make chicken stock from the leftover bones and drippings overnight in my crockpot (directions are on the website too). The next night we have chicken soup almost ready to go- I just saute some carrots, celery and onions add the stock (there is usually a ton leftover to freeze) and leftover chicken and toss in some brown rice to cook for about 30 minutes- and if your kiddos like it add some frozen peas at the end. Done and done.

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It may surprise you to know that sometimes, your instructors need accountability and support too. A few weeks ago, one of our instructors posted on our instructor page that she was having a really hard time carving out the time for her own workouts. Between being a mom, teaching class and everything that life threw at her (sound familiar?) she just couldn't find the time or motivation. Lucky for her, she came to the right place! We decided it was time for a little instructor accountability challenge! For the last three weeks, we have all been posting selfies of ourselves after our workouts on our instructor page. We thought you would get a kick out of looking at the photos! It's been a lot of fun, and we've all kicked it up a notch. #F4MChiTeamRocks

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Ok, you may freak out when you find out how easy this is. Ravioli without even boiling the water? This is my favorite go to for busy weekday nights.

1 bag of frozen ravioli- whatever your favorite kind is!

1 jar of pasta sauce

1 c. of mozzarella cheese

Dump the ravioli in your crockpot and pour the sauce on top- stir to coat the ravioli. Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours. Sprinkle with cheese before serving and let it melt. If you need more instruction you can check out the original post here. Serve it with a quick salad, or some frozen veggies and you have dinner!

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Happy Crocktober everyone! I love absolutely everything about fall- the crunch of leaves beneath by stroller wheels, tall boots and pumpkin everything (NOT pumpkin spice lattes to be clear- do you know how much sugar is in those!?!). You know what else I love? MY CROCKPOT! We are going to celebrate Crocktober this month at FIT4MOM Chicago and post some of our favorite ways to use our crockpots. For busy moms, a crockpot is a great way to bring healthy, home cooked goodness to our families without a fuss- you just toss everything in and forget it leaving you free to play with your kiddos.

To start us off, let's talk about squash. My mom and I recently went to a pumpkin farm and bought a 50 pound bag of squash for $20- yes 50 pounds! That's a lot of squash I'm going to be eating. I love hard squash but there is something about the two step process of usually needing to peel it/ bake it/steam it /roast it and then maybe do something else to it that makes me loathe cooking it. I dislike any recipe that takes me longer than 20 minutes of attention. You can cook hard...

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Meet Carolyn! Our September MOM (Mom of the Month). Carolyn won our August Attendance contest for the suburbs- she came to class every day AND participated in Our Village playgroups!

Name: Carolyn Bennett

Child name and age: Christina Lee Bennett 10 months old August 29th

Where are you from: Highland Park

Favorite Thing/Memory about FIT4MOM: This community of moms has been amazing! They have helped me find myself again after a difficult pregnancy, labor, delivery and NICU stay, these ladies have helped me be the best mom I can be... Finding the fun in difficult moments and giving great advice. Our instructor, Stefanie Cohen, does an amazing job of facilitating connections with the other moms and has become trusted adviser and good friend! Not to mention giving an awesome workout three days a week! The best thing about Fit4Mom is that I know now that I am surrounded by moms going through the same things I am. I am not...

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Name: Rebecca Chagas

Teaches: Stroller Strides and Body Back in Glenview

Hometown: Burlington, WI

Mom to: Isabel, 14 months

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides? I used to manage two baby stores in Chicago before moving to Northbrook, IL; I left the baby stores in efforts to focus on our IVF process as well as get us moved. The baby world in Chicago is pretty small and my path had crossed with Jackie Dorris' along the way so when I saw a post on North Shore Mom's Spot on FB that she was looking to expand to the North Shore, I knew this was a perfect fit for me and our beautiful newborn daughter. I reached out to some mutual friends who knew Jackie better than I so they could put in a good word for me; I met Jackie, tried a few classes, and I was hooked -- this was exactly what I needed!

What made you want to become an instructor? I am a busy body... I love to exercise... I love to socialize... I love...

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Meet Kristen - Our Mom of the Month!

Name: Kristen Donaldson

Child name and age: Connor 2.5 years and Clare 7 months

Where are you from: I grew up in Las Vegas but was actually born in Arizona and lived in Germany until I moved to Vegas when I was almost 5.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: When my first was born in the dead of winter, I was a new mom that had no friends with little babies and really needed to get out of the house, so I googled "mommy and me workouts". I found that there was a Stroller Strides class less than a mile away that I could try for free. Connor was about 8 weeks old and we've been involved ever since. I loved that this was a place any mom was welcome. Fit4Mom has introduced me to some amazing ladies and their kiddos, so I truly have a little village of support that are there to help, guide me and even just provide a laugh.

Favorite Exercise: fire truck abs (even if I...

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Announcing a Sizzling Attendance Contest for August!

The more you come to class, the more chances you have to win!!

1 point for each class attended

1 point for attending a playgroup outside of class (ex. ice cream at Little Beans ice cream playdate).

1 Point for attendng mom's night out

On top of points for attending class, you can earn "Bonus Points" with a different challenge each week!

  • Week 1 (8/1 - 8/8)- Post a Sweaty Selfie on Facebook using #F4MChiSummer! (make sure your picture is set to "public" so we are able to search it and give you a point!)
  • Week 2 (8/9 - 8/15)- Bring a friend to class and get an extra point!
  • Week 3 (8/16-8/22)- Post a selfie in Fit4Mom gear outside of class using #F4MChiSummer (Make sure your picture is "public"!)
  • Week 4 (8/23 - 8/29)- Attend class 3 days!

    Points will be tallied after the last class on the 31st and the winner* will take home their own...

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Meet Jill, our May MOM- Motivating Mom of the Month. Jill has been a client for over 6 years! She started with Stroller Strides and Body Back in the City and has recently rejoined our new Highland Park location. We are so happy to have you back in our Village Jill!

Name: Jill McOmber

Child name and age: Lily 6 ad Tye 3

Where are you from: Bethesda, MD but now live in Glencoe

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: It's a great way to meet other friendly moms with young kids that have similar interests.

Favorite Exercise: ABC jumping jacks with star jumping jacks for kids initials

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: Nap time. Both of my kids still have quiet time

What motivates you to exercise: I want to keep up with them and want them to try new sports.

Piece of advice for new moms: Always keep a smile on your face and laugh when you make a mistake (like burning dinner).

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Meet Our Instructor of the Month: Stefanie Cohen!

Hometown: Deerfield, IL (although, I was born in Livingston, NJ and lived there for a month!)

Mom to: Lainie, 13 months

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides?

When Lainie was about 8 weeks old, I started to get a little stir crazy at home. I had been a runner for nearly a decade and I was feeling like it was time to get back into shape. I started different exercise classes for moms in Chicago. I knew I wanted to spend time with Lainie during the day, so I decided to try this outdoor class called Stroller Strides. Jackie Stuut was the instructor, and she honestly made me feel so welcome to the class and she introduced me to all the other clients. I left the class that day feeling like this could be the community of moms that I'd been searching for and I could get a killer workout in too! Jackie followed up with me the next day asking how I was feeling, and since then I've been absolutely hooked!

What made you want to become an instructor?

When my husband Danny and I...

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Meet our Mom of the Month- Dannielle! Dannielle has been Stroller Striding since last summer and recently completed her first Body Back session with amazing results. Her smile and energy is contagious!

Name: Dannielle Samios

Child name and age: Aiden, age 1

Where are you from: I grew up in the Blue Mountains - 2 hours west of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: The summer Stroller Barre classes with Jackie Brittain Stuut by the lake with that amazing view of the city.

Favorite Exercise: I don’t have a car so I walk a lot and really enjoy it. Especially now that I have Aiden its nice taking the stroller outside walking around the neighbourhoods. When I workout, I love doing squats and lunges - I am always guaranteed to be sore the next day so I know its working.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: Aiden's morning nap from 10:30 to 12:30. I get on the laptop and do my online shopping, wedding Pinterest browsing and catching up on my guilty pleasure tv shows.

What motivates you to exercise: My current motivation is...

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Are you running out of ideas to keep your kids busy without having to go through too much preparation or clean-up? I have pulled together some of the easiest science experiments involving materials that are found right in your home and will guarantee some good fun. So next time you need an activity to make your little ones happy, try one of these! It is fun for all ages…

1. Soap Clouds. A bar of Ivory soap is all you need, but it has to be IVORY (not sure why, but if you use another brand, it burns). Unwrap the bar of soap and put it on a microwave-safe plate or parchment paper in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, and watch the magic unfold (make sure your kids can see too!).The soap will start to billow and expand like a big fluffy cloud (Don’t worry, it won’t burn, it just eventually stops expanding). I have heard that the newer the bar of soap the bigger the cloud gets. If it’s old, it might not do the trick as well. Regardless, you end up with a solid awesome chunk of cloud-like soap. Then you can do whatever you please with it- Put it in a big bowl for your little ones...

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Meet Lexi Christensen - Our Instructor of the Month!

Hometown: Rolling Meadows, IL

Mom to: Henry (age 3) and Nils (age 1)

How did you first get introduced to Fit4Mom/Stroller Strides?

When Henry was about 7mo. old we moved to Arlington Heights from the city. I started to go Stroller Strides because I wanted to meet local families. Having my son with me a lot was important, because I nursed him for most of his 1st year. Stroller Strides was most conducive in making fitness a regular part of our schedule.

What made you want to become an instructor?

The Stroller Strides class I attend was several towns away. As I met other moms in Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect they seemed really interested, but didn't like the commute. I approached the Franchisee in the northeast suburbs about starting a class in Arlington Heights and she trained me in teaching Stroller Strides and together we found a park and indoor location that worked for us. I love that about Fit4Mom! The moms who participate in Stroller Strides and Instructors can really shape...

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Meet Jen Sampias- Our February Mom of the Month! Jen was the winner of our Winter Warrior Challenge during December- she came to class EVERY SINGLE DAY and earned all of our bonus points. Way to go Jen!

Name: Jen Sampias

Child name and age: Brooke 2 years, Nora 6 months

Where are you from: Pasadena, CA

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: The last few minutes of class where we let the kids run loose and more often than not they run to us and show off their exercise moves of squats, bear crawls & wall push ups.

Favorite Exercise: Follow me jogs. I know we can only do it outside but right now I can't wait to head outdoors. It also pushes me as I do not love jogging even though I wish I did.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: mani/pedi time along with starbucks & my US magazine

What motivates you to exercise: The village of Stroller Strides motivates me as I want to see my mom friends to have my adult conversation for the day and my kids want to see their friends.

Piece of advice for new moms: Enjoy all the coffee house mom...

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A few weeks ago I was all jealous of my friends on the East Coast who were getting a blizzard. Well, I got my wish and we got OURS! Many schools are cancelled today, as well as all of our FIT4MOM classes, so we put together an at home workout for you! Do this workout and post a #sweatieselfie over on our Facebook page and you could win a FIT4MOM headband!

Kiddos too underfoot to get a workout in? You can sneak in a workout while having fun in the snow! Playing in the snow, you can burn anywhere from 200-400 calories in 30 minutes (based on a 150 lb person)- the more active the better! Those snowman pieces could actually be like a big medicine ball! And if you are still digging yourself out of the snow, shoveling can burn 200-300 calories in 30 minutes. Heading to the neighborhood hill for some sledding? All those treks up and down the hill will get your heart rate up and burn roughly 250 calories in 30 minutes.

Whatever your day brings- please be safe and have fun! Enjoy the snow day and we...

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Meet Katie LaDow! Instructor of the Month!

Hometown - Homewood, IL (south suburbs of Chicago)

Mom to boy/girl twins Marvin and Nora who are 17 months old

How were you first introduced to Stroller Strides/Fit4Mom?

I joined NPN when I was pregnant and saw Stroller Strides mentioned a few times. After having the twins I always wanted to attend a class but I worked five days a week and was never able to make it. However, that is when lighting struck (see next answer)!

What made you want to become an instructor?

Group fitness classes are my favorite type of exercises and I have attended some type of step, kickboxing, yoga or strength training class since I was a teenager. I have always wanted to become a group fitness instructor but was never sure how to get certified or couldn't seem to find the time. When I decided to resign from my full-time corporate job I still wanted something for "me" and I happened to see that Fit4Mom Chicago was looking for instructors. I applied and heard from Jackie Dorris the next day and was well on my way! It...

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Our January Body Back sessions kicked off last week, and we are so excited for the 30 women going through this program. Body Back is an amazing program, and they are about to embark on an incredible journey. And guess what, so are we.

Together, Lisa and I are going to put ourselves through the Body Back program. We are going to keep each other accountable with our food journals and workouts. Twice a week at 5:30 am, Lisa is going to come to my house and we are going to put ourselves through the exact same workouts we use in class.

You may be asking yourself "Wait a second...They are the fitness professionals- don't they already workout?" Yes, we do. But Body Back is something different. Body Back is about accountability and support. It's about setting goals, and exceeding them. It's about finding time for YOU, because YOU are worth it.

We know that the Body Back program works- we've both been through it before. I put myself through the program 5 years ago when we first started offering Body Back and it is what inspired Lisa to become an instructor...

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Adopting habits that will make you more organized is easier than you think. Rather than getting overwhelmed by broad resolutions that involve conquering grand projects that you have been putting off for years, start with small changes to your everyday routine. Here are some suggestions:

1. Make your bed every morning. Since your bed is the dominant feature in your bedroom, a made bed will make your whole room feel orderly. Total time commitment: 30 seconds-2 minutes.

2. Keep a donation bag in each of your clothes closets. You now have a place to keep clothes you no longer like or that no longer fit until you have the time to take them to a resale shop.

3. Shop with intension. Before you buy ask yourself, “do I really need this?” “what will I wear this with?” and “if I bring this into my home do I have a place to store it?” If the answer to any of these questions is “no” it’s best to walk away. The less you own, the less you have to take care of.

4. Keep a trash bin as close to the mailbox as possible. The vast majority of the mail you receive will be...

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What is the biggest lifestyle change you've made since starting?

The biggest lifestyle change I have made since starting the program is being aware of portion sizes, sodium, and sugar. When you watch those things in your diet it can be scary what you are really eating versus what you thought you were eating!

What's the biggest change you've seen in yourself?

The biggest change I have seen in myself is the desire to eat right all the time and the steep drop off in wanting "bad" foods. Once you are clean for a few weeks, processed food or foods high in bad fats do not look appetizing anymore. And if I do indulge, I immediately regret it and feel an overwhelming urge to get back on track!

How has Body Back impacted your family?

We are all eating better and my husband knows I am committed to my ever changing goals. He is being supportive and is even trying to eat salad! My biggest take-away from Body Back is that I cannot feel guilty about doing good things for myself and my mind and body. I am continuously trying to push aside the "mom guilt"....

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Our Body Back fall session wrapped up right before Thanksgiving. The moms had off the charts results as always- it's so inspiring to see these women transform. In each of our sessions we have a "Biggest Winner" who made the overall biggest % improvement. We will be highlighting each of these moms in our "Biggest Winner" blog post over the next week. First up, Rebecca! In her fall session she lost 13 lbs and almost 8 inches and she improved her mile run time by 2 minutes!!! Read on to hear more about her journey.

What is the biggest lifestyle change you've made since starting?

Mindful eating! I watch my portions, keep veggies at hand for snacks rather then chips/crackers and if I'm just bored...I stay out of the kitchen!

What's the biggest change you've seen in yourself?

I am waaaaay more active than I have been in years. I would say even a couple years before I had kids. It feels so good to keep moving! And I was sooooo sore the first couple weeks, I don't want to go back to that!

How has Body Back impacted your family?

Since I...

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Your FIT4MOM Chicago instructors have put together a Holiday Wishlist for you! The items on this list will help you start 2015 with the tools you need for a healthy New Year. Feel free to "accidentally" leave your computer open to this list, or pass it along for a friend.

1- Gift certificates to Athleta, Lucy or Lululemon- new workout clothes are always a good motivator!

2- A new blender to mix up fruit and veggie packed smoothies in the New Year- high end Vitamix, budget friendly The Magic Bullet

3- A new yoga mat and strap - you know yours is getting gross from lugging it around outside all summer

4- Gift certificate to a running store that offers gait analysis- locally we like Fleet Feet, Universal Sole and Dick's Pond.

5- Glittens for pushing your stroller when it's soooo cold out

6- A massage at your favorite spa

7- A Fit Bit- the Charge HR that is coming out in early 2015 has a built in heart rate monitor! Love that.

8- A Running Watch- some of our favorites are by Garmin and...

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I LOVE Halloween. In my previous blog post I shared my love of pumpkin everything- and you can pretty much sum it up to say that I love everything about this time of year. Crunching leaves, chilly nights, costumes and all! But what I don't love is that everywhere you turn- there is CANDY! Which means that not only am I tempted to eat it, but my kids are eating it at every turn. Your FIT4MOM team has banded together once again to bring you The Top 10 Ways to Avoid The Halloween Candy! You can do it!

10- Don't hand out candy to trick or treaters- hand out something like pretzels or Pirates Booty that won't tempt you

9- Brush and floss your teeth so that you aren't tempted to nibble

8- Buy your candy the day of Halloween and buy candy that you don't like- not only will it stay out of your house as long as possible, but you will probably get it on sale too

7- Have a healthy sweet treat- I like to make a protein shake with pumpkin- 1/2 c. canned pumpkin, 1 scoop...

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Is anyone else obsessed with anything and everything Pumpkin flavored this time of year? I love pumpkin muffins, pumpkin tea and pretty much everything else pumpkin related. A friend recently brought us some Pumpkin Spice Bars after the arrival of our baby, and they were delicious, but very indulgent with cream cheese frosting and the works. It inspired me to make a healthy version. I had an old recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bars that called for 2 cups (!!!!) of sugar. a ton of oil and white flour so I played with it a bit and here is what I came up with. The key when reducing the sugar is to add extra spices so you don't miss the sweetness. Here's the end result:

4 eggs

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. applesauce

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)

2 c. whole wheat flour

2 t. baking powder

3 t. cinnamon

1. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. pumpkin pie spice

optional- 1 c. raisins or 1/2 c. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix...

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We've had an awesome summer and early fall outdoors at Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre, but now it's time to head indoors for the remainder of the fall and winter season. We thought we'd have a little fun and list the top 10 reasons we can't wait to head indoors! This list was compiled by all of your fabulous Fit4Mom instructors.

10- Bathrooms are nearby at ALL TIMES- very important for our expectant mamas and potty training toddlers!

9- All of our locations have amazing FREE parking lots!

8- You can pack whatever you want for class and not have to worry about it fitting in your stroller basket.

7- We can rock out! Indoor classes mean fun music to put some spring in your step for your workouts.

6- No more bug spray, sunscreen, squirt bottles because it's hot or extra blankets when it's cold.

5- No random people staring and trying to take pictures of us- seriously, what is up with that? It's like they have never seen anyone working out before.

4- No talking or yelling over the lawn mowers that always seem to follow us in...

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At FIT4MOM Chicago, the core of our business is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life. We wouldn't be who we are without all of YOU! Our dedicated and faithful moms! Introducing the MOM- Mom Of the Month! The MOM recognizes one of our outstanding clients who has either made strides herself, or inspired someone else to do so. We are so lucky to have you all in our VILLAGE!

Name: Jenica Anderson

Child name and age: Aubrey - 2 1/2 & Baby Owen who arrived TODAY!

Where are you from: Rocklin, CA

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite thing about Fit4Mom are all of the amazing friendships Aubrey and I have made. They're friendships that will last a lifetime. Not being from Chicago, and moving here while 6 months pregnant with Aubrey, I was scared how I'd meet other Moms that I had a real connection with. I finally started attending Stroller Strides when Aubrey was 15 months old. I now look back and wonder what took me so long to join Fit4Mom. I get emotional thinking of how welcoming everyone is, and how I can't imagine my life...

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I have found myself having many conversations with other moms lately about school lunches. Yes, we all dread packing them! But I realized that a lot of what I give my girls for lunch, is a variation on what I had given them for years as their snack or lunch at Stroller Strides.

I taught the 11:00 Stroller Strides classes for years and my girls would eat lunch while I taught and then we would run home and take naps (side note, wow, that seems like just yesterday!). Those days have transitioned in to school, but not much has changed in their lunches.

Here are my basic guidelines- a fruit, a veggie, a form of protein, complex carbohydrate and healthy fat.

This photo shows what we have been in to lately- homemade healthy lunchables. Regular lunchables are loaded with chemicals and artificial junk that has no place in our food. A quick trip to Trader Joes every weekend and we are set for the week.

On my list- nitrate free ham or turkey, organic cheese sticks (I try to buy all dairy that we eat organic), whole wheat crackers or golden rounds (not whole...

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When I had Jackson, I don’t ever remember making excuses for getting out and doing things. Running errands, meeting a friend for lunch or even grocery shopping. He was an easy going baby, he sat nicely in the car seat/shopping cart/stroller and was content just to be. When I did Stroller Strides with him, he was engaged, he laughed, he was content to play with a water bottle if he got bored. And then I had Mackenzie, and everything changed.

I was scared to leave the house. They were only 20 months apart. What would I do with Jackson while I got Mackenzie out of the car? How would I fit them both in a cart? What if I needed to nurse Mackenzie and Jackson ran away? I’m sure I was not the first one to have these thoughts and concerns and I won’t be the last.

Where things really got hairy was Stroller Strides. I had a Sit-n-Stand stroller. I was able to strap Jackson on the seat option and he enjoyed the class, Mackenzie, on the other hand….And I did something I have heard many others do over the years, I made excuses. If I could go back now, I would...

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Take the 30 Day Push Up Challenge with us! Follow along on our Facebook and Twitter pages for your daily reminder!

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At FIT4MOM Chicago, the core of our business is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life. We wouldn't be who we are without all of YOU! Our dedicated and faithful moms! The MOM- Motivating Mom Of the Month recognizes one of our outstanding clients who has either made strides herself, or inspired someone else to do so. We are so lucky to have you all in our VILLAGE!

Name: Theresa Abel

Child name and age: Little One's almost 16 months old! We are also excited to welcome another baby this winter.

Where are you from: Mt. Prospect...and grew up in surrounding suburbs

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I love group fitness, since all you have to do is show up and instructors take care of the rest.

Favorite Exercise: Squats or lunges...both are so effective and make me feel strong.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: I really enjoy the first hour after bedtime. I can chat with my husband, relax, and get things ready for the next day--a lot of iPad reading, a little dessert, or crawling into bed, myself.

What motivates you to...

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We are gearing up to start our Fall Body Back sessions next week. With that, I thought it was time to give some of the excuses surrounding Body Back a voice…and bust them out of your mind. In Body Back, we talk a lot about getting rid of excuses and quieting that voice in your head that isn’t serving you. Get these excuses out of your mind- they are only holding you back from an incredible experience!

Excuse #1: It’s too expensive

When you break down what you are getting in your Body Back session, it is an absolute steal and one of the best fitness bargains out there. Your session fee includes:

· 2 high intensity interval workouts per week PLUS suggested workouts and workout calendar for off-days

· Meal plan and food journal with DAILY support, interaction and accountability with your instructor and group for inspiration and motivation.

· Before and after fitness assessments, individualized goal setting and analyzed results at the end of the session

· Group support and inspiration throughout the...

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It's the start of a new school year at my house, and with that I am determined to get back in to a smooth morning routine so that when our new addition (baby brother) arrives this fall I will somehow be able to get my girls to school by 7:55 am dressed, fed, and all in one piece. Enter, my new freezer. My mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I got a new freezer- you know you are a mom and in your 30's when....right? Super excited though because I am stocking it up.

Try these yummy, super easy make ahead breakfast sandwiches for a quick morning breakfast on the run (or a quick dinner when you forget to plan something). So many times at class I hear moms say that they didn't have time for breakfast. They don't just say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for nothing! It really is! It gives you energy for the day and fuels your body and it starts your metabolism going.

Ingredients:

6 Whole wheat pita bread, cut in half

12 Eggs

6 slices of bacon (or turkey/chicken sausage if you like that better)

6 slices...

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My story starts over 13 years ago. It was a January night and with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, a good friend of mine asked if I wanted to run a marathon with her that summer, she had just signed up with Team in Training. I really wanted to quit smoking and I thought what better way than to commit to running a marathon for charity. I had my last cigarette that night. My first long run was the next Saturday. I was coughing, I was cold, I was totally uncomfortable, but I was also determined. I signed up for my first 5 mile race about the same time I started training. I was so nervous. It was February, in Iowa. It was so cold. 5 miles was FAR! I’m not exactly sure how many runners were at that first race, but I would guess around 500 and I finished dead last. And not just dead last, but waaay behind anyone else. The streets had opened back up and I had a police escort blocking traffic when I needed to cross major streets. A lot of people would have quit. Not me. I had to prove that I could do it. What a wonderful feeling to cross that finish...

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We have had an amazing 7 years of helping moms in the Chicago area make strides in fitness, motherhood and life! We are so very excited to announce some coming changes to our Fall locations for our Chicago classes. We know that sometimes change can be hard, but we want everyone to know that we would not make any of these changes without careful consideration- and we KNOW that our new locations will bring you an event BETTER Fit4Mom experience. Please read on for more details!

Stroller Strides classes that have met at the Windy City Fieldhouse will be moving to a new location, 2500 W. Bradley Place. Lil Sluggers is opening up a brand new facility there and we are very excited to be working with them in their new space. The facility is still under construction and not listed on our website (we're working on it!), but we wanted to give everyone a head's up. This will be a brand new facility in the amazing Bradley Place. If you aren't familiar with the area, Bradley Place is quickly becoming a "hub" of activity for Chicago kiddos- housing Goldfish Swim School, Lil...

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Meet Kate Connor, our August MOM! Kate has been a Body Back client for the last several sessions and has made huge strides, not only having lost pounds and inches, but in her acceptance of herself and her body. We hope she can help motivate you by sharing her story! And if hearing her story sparks your interest in Body Back, be sure to check out one of our THREE fall sessions!

Name: Kate Connor

Child name and age: Sophia, 3 years old

Where are you from: Originally from Wisconsin. I have been in Chicago for over 10 years.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I always laugh because, at the end of class, we are all too tired to stretch in the same direction. I also love swapping recipes and hearing everyone’s “tricks” for getting through the day/week/season.

Favorite Exercise: I like doing sprints and burpies—(I cannot stand alligator crawls).

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: The first deep breath after crawling into bed for the night…

What motivates you to exercise: After being pretty active throughout my life- I had a very...

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I don’t know about you, but I dread having to drive more than a couple of hours with my kids. My toddler can’t handle being restrained for that long, and who can blame him? It’s not like they can roll around the back seats like we did. It’s the exact opposite, with our little guys sometimes trying so hard to break free from their 20-point-harnesses, you almost want to let them. It can be very frustrating. So now we must think of ways to keep our kids happy and distracted in the car, which in turn keeps us parents happy and SANE. I have put together some fun ideas that I have found online or tried myself for long car trips. Hopefully you will be able to find some ways to make travelling with your kids a little easier.

1. Snacks. Of course snacks are of utmost importance when travelling. Kids of all ages love a special road trip snack (To this day, I only eat Combos when I am on a road trip). So, even if you typically don’t buy the colorful goldfish, or Gogurts, make an exception and they will be thrilled. An insulated bag or mini cooler are key for those yogurts,...

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At FIT4MOM Chicago, the core of our business is to help moms make strides in fitness, motherhood and life. We wouldn't be who we are without all of YOU! Our dedicated and faithful moms! Introducing the MOM- Mom Of the Month! The MOM recognizes one of our outstanding clients who has either made strides herself, or inspired someone else to do so. We are so lucky to have you all in our VILLAGE!

Name: Christine Jurczyk

Kids names and ages: Emma, 21 months and Ava, 6 months

Where are you from: Born and raised in Colorado, lived in Indiana for a bit and now call Chicago home, Lake View neighborhood

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Last summer when we had our husbands join us in a class on Labor day weekend. It was wonderful to share with him what we do every morning, and even better to see him out of breath, look at me and say "This is a great workout"

Favorite Exercise: follow me, I love when we do the two lines of runners and walkers, fits every ones ability, with a fun challenge

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: My cup of coffee in the...

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Hip hip hooray! Summer is finally here. The final school bells have rung, the water parks are spraying and the smell of sunscreen is in the air. There is so much to enjoy about the summer in Chicago area- the Zoo, the picnics along the beach and our favorite of course- Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes outside! No one wants to overheat this summer, so here are some tips to help keep you and your little one cool in class this summer:

  • Don't forget your hats and sunscreen for both you and your little one
  • Water, water and more water! Bring one bottle for your stroller to drink during class and one to keep in the car (not plastic!) to sip on your way home
  • Don't over dress the little ones- remember that they are all warm and snug in the stroller or infant carrier already. Our classes by the lake can have extreme temperature changes, so pack layers.
  • To keep babies and tots cool in the stroller or infant carrier, you can use soft ice packs (available at Dicks or Sports Authority) and wrap it in a light towel and place it behind their...
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This delicious salad from local wellness expert Jasmine Jafferali is a perfect option to take to your weekend get together.

Spring Detox Roasted Asparagus Salad

2 c cooked quinoa

shredded carrots

1 bunch of asparagus chopped

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

fresh thyme

2 stalks of chopped celery

fresh parsley

1/2 c raw sunflower seeds

2 T of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

dash of cayenne pepper

Follow directions and cook quinoa with shredded carrots. Meanwhile, wash and chop asparagus. Toss with EVOO, fresh thyme and Himalayan salt. Roast in oven at 325 degrees for 10-12 min.

Cut celery and parsley, set aside. Toss with cooked quinoa, asparagus and remaining ingredients.

Check out the recipe and many others at healthyjasmine.com.

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It's Cinco de Mayo- let's have a little fun! Life is all about balance, right? Try this Margarita Ice Cream for a little celebration at home- I'll be trying mine without the tequila.

Colette is a registered & licensed Dietitian for Mariano’s. As part of Mariano’s wellness initiative, she is available to provide nutrition education to individuals and groups, as well as shopping tours, healthy cooking demonstrations, and individualized meal planning assistance. Colette’s goal is to provide customers with the resources they need to shop well, eat well, & live well.

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As instructors, one of the biggest concerns we hear from our new members is that they're not sure if their little one will sit in the stroller for a whole hour. Believe me, we've been there! We all have good days and bad days with our kids during class. We have a few tricks up our sleeves to keep those kiddos happy, so we thought we would share our ideas to help keep your kiddos happy in the stroller- and they are all non-digitial and non-snack ideas! Now don’t go using ALL of these ideas tomorrow, pick your favorite, start there and keep the other ones as backup for when you need it.

1. Loot Bag- Have a bag of "special toys" that only make appearances during class. My favorite to use for this is the drawstring Member Bag that you get when you sign up! Keep that filled with toys that you can ONLY play with at class. I love putting board books in there to look at as well as toys. Keep the bag fresh with occasional stops at the dollar store.

2. Stroller Snapshots- Ok, so technically it’s a technology idea, but it’s interactive for sure- Do you have an old digital...

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Colette is a registered & licensed Dietitian for Mariano’s. As part of Mariano’s wellness initiative, she is available to provide nutrition education to individuals and groups, as well as shopping tours, healthy cooking demonstrations, and individualized meal planning assistance. Colette’s goal is to provide customers with the resources they need to shop well, eat well, & live well.

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Colette is a registered & licensed Dietitian for Mariano’s. As part of Mariano’s wellness initiative, she is available to provide nutrition education to individuals and groups, as well as shopping tours, healthy cooking demonstrations, and individualized meal planning assistance. Colette’s goal is to provide customers with the resources they need to shop well, eat well, & live well.

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After a Fit4Mom Stroller Strides class, I feel energetic yet peaceful. In thinking about how to articulate these feelings, I thought of the 4 sandwiched within Fit4Mom. In writing out FOUR, it came to me. Stroller Strides provides:

Fitness

Opportunities to engage and excite my son

Uniting with other moms

Role Model

It is the R that I want to focus on in this blog. The best way to inspire our kids to lead active, healthy lives is through modeling. When our kids share our workout experience, they see energized, happy, relaxed, and strong moms! I have never seen a group fitness class where smiles are just as common as an elevated heart rate. Our kids are so perceptive and make the connection between working out and happiness. My youngest son, who comes with me when I teach, isn’t walking yet, but when he does, I can’t wait for him to join the other walkers who participate in their own “stroller strides” class after the moms finish!

In the spirit of role modeling, I invite you to join me on April 29th for a donation Stroller Strides...

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We are moms, so our time is limited. Fit4Mom won’t waste that time on false promises and half-truths. Here are 5 things that Stroller Barre simply won’t do:

1. Give you longer leaner muscles. You may have heard this touted by other fitness programs, and it sounds great, but isn’t possible. Muscles are a fixed length, because they have origin and insertion points that cannot be changed. What Stroller Barre WILL do is help you burn fat which will make you leaner, and increase your flexibility, and improve your posture, which can make you appear taller.

2. Make you carve out more time for cardio. Traditional Barre classes do not include cardiovascular exercise, but Stroller Barre does! We save you time by giving you a complete workout in just 60 minutes.

3. Turn you into a ballerina. You will get to tap into your inner dancer (don’t worry if you don’t have one), but this is not a ballet class. It is much more functional than that. Stroller Barre WILL help you in your everyday life as a mom by improving the way your body moves and...

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Let’s get snowmen out of our minds and move on to something more condusive for spring weather-Perhaps it will make spring come a little quicker!

Last year, my daughter and I made a fairy garden, and it was such a fun activity. Fairy gardens are very versatile, and can be created in your existing garden or yard, or in a separate flower pot or even a large bowl.

So, what do you need to get started? Not much. One trip to Michael’s and Home Depot will do it. We chose a big plastic pot the first time around, and for the second one we had a section of our back yard dedicated to the fairy garden (pictured). We collected some of her small princesses, fairies, and woodland animals to add to the garden, but Michaels carries a Fairy garden starter kit which has really cute accessories that we added as well.

If you choose a flower pot, the key is not how deep it is, but how wide it is. You want to have enough area to play with so you can add little details and paths.

You’ll need soil, some flowers or little plants, and some moss. Home Depot usually...

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We are very excited to announce that we have partnered with registered Dietitian Colette Hansen to provide us with some of our Recipes of the Week! Colette is a registered & licensed Dietitian for Mariano’s. As part of Mariano’s wellness initiative, she is available to provide nutrition education to individuals and groups, as well as shopping tours, healthy cooking demonstrations, and individualized meal planning assistance. Colette’s goal is to provide customers with the resources they need to shop well, eat well, & live well.

Join us on Wednesday, April 9th on our Facebook Page for a new Ask the Dietitian forum! From 1:30-2:00 pm CST Colette and Jackie Dorris from Fit4Mom will be monitoring the forum. Post your questions and Colette will be answering them!

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We are kicking off a 30 Day Crunch Challenge for Spring today! Follow along on our Facebook page or Twitter to be reminded every day about your crunches. Since some of you may be following along at home on your own, I wanted to take some time to talk about crunches.

I've gotten the question many times "Are Crunches Bad for You"? The answer is no, crunches aren't bad for you, as part of a balanced fitness program. Some women do need to be cautious doing crunches if they have diastasis recti. What is diastasis recti you ask? Here is a great link to an article written by Fit4Mom National Fitness Director (and my amazing mentor), Farel Hruska- http://fit4mom.com/latest/blog/friday-fitness-with-farel-what-is-diastasis-recti. I know how to check for diastasis recti, as do your instructors, so if you'd like us to check you after class someday, please just let us know.

What is important to think about when it comes to crunches is your form. Here's what you need...

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I am running the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday March 30th and love the idea that this race is not only healthy for me but shows my children how staying fit is a long lived lifestyle. I get VERY emotional around races, not because of the actual race, but in how it impacts my kids and their emotional state of what “healthy” is. I have actually cried while running thinking of how this would impact my kids before even having kidsJ

My oldest daughter Kayden has been “training” with me in the stroller or jumping next to me on her trampoline as I run on the treadmill. I would love to be able for her to run across the finish line with me because I feel she has placed so much time and energy into “training” as I.

This race just reminds me of how Fit4mom has changed my life and my kid’s life in viewing health. Going to classes on a weekly basis is so much just a part of our weekly schedule, Kayden simply expects to go and workout. She is only 2.5 years old and asks to bring her own stroller and use her own band so she can do the exercises too. It brings me so much joy to...

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I recently met the owner of a line of women's running clothing called Swirlgear through a Moms In Business group I am a part of. I checked out their website and was in love! Not only is the company based in Chicago, but it is run by another mom- who doesn't love that? I am all about supporting fellow local mamas in business. I visited their offices and met with the Senior Manager- we've got some exciting things in the works for the coming months, stay tuned! She also gave me one of the tops to try out, so here is my product review of their Long Sleeve running top.

Swirlgear specializes in moisture-wicking running gear, in flattering cuts and spray-dyed colors. The seams on the top are all flat, so there is no rubbing where you don't want it. I have crazy long arms, and the sleeves were plenty long enough, but the fabric also gave a bit when I got a little warm and wanted to push them up. The length of the top was great too. You may have discovered after having a baby that you need tops to be a little bit longer than before-...

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On March 3rd we celebrate Read Across America Day/Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!

"The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school." National Commission on Reading, 1985

Studies say that children should receive at least 1,000 hours of one-on-one reading by first grade to increase educational success. This means that reading to those babies is actually effective, even if their only interest seems to be to eat the pages! Eventually, they start to understand the concept of “reading,” and they look forward to books being read to them.

Reading to toddlers is as easy as reading a book to them every night before bed, or simply sitting on the floor with them at any given moment, opening a book, and beginning to read—sooner or later, they’ll plop on your lap to see what you’re up to. If your books are high up on a shelf or not easy for your child to see, they won’t have interest in them. Get a basket designated only for books, and put them on the floor so your child...

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Since my last recipe post about the Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowl was wildly popular, I thought I would try another favorite restaurant recreation at home. Introducing the Fetalicious Pizza! And before you all drop over from shock, YES, I EAT PIZZA! But we like to make it at home where we can control the amount of cheese and other not so healthy stuff. Not only is it healthier, but we have a great time making pizza together as a family- the girls love rolling out their dough and putting on their toppings.

There is a pizza place in Madison WI (where I grew up) called Glass Nickle Pizza Company, and they have an AMAZING pizza called Fetalicious. It is all kinds of yummy goodness, but as you can imagine, probably not the healthiest. The last few weeks I have tried several different at home versions and I think I have finally got it.

I make my own pizza dough- here's my favorite recipe that I make using whole...

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After watching the first night of the Winter Olympics last night (the preliminaries), my kids starting showing me their “ice skating” jumps and twirls. It was so cute, and maybe I’m just losing my Polar Vortex mind, but I thought to myself, “We can have our own Olympics every night while we watch.”

It isn’t hard at all, and I think my kids will love it. So, here’s what I have planned to do. If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.

· Opening Ceremonies: We’re making little torches by using aluminum foil, toilet paper tubes, and some tissue paper. You can make them even just by rolling up a piece of white paper on an angle and then stuffing some orange, red, or yellow paper in the top. We will run the torches all through the house, I’m sure more than once, since my kids never stop moving.

· Make little flags to wave out of straws and paper. I’m going to have the kids look at all the countries’ flags and choose which they want to cheer for. Of course we’ll pick USA, but I have to say I’m a big fan of the Jamaican Bobsled team....

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Yes, we all know that exercise and healthy eating will help us look good on the outside. But have you thought about what is happening on the INSIDE? Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women and it can strike at any age. The awesome news? Making healthy lifestyle changes can help prevent it! Here is a quick recap of what you need to know:

· Know your numbers- Cholesterol and Blood Pressure. Your Cholesterol ideal number is less than 200, borderline high is 200-239 and high is over 240. Blood pressure in healthy range is below 120/80, pre-hypertension is 120-139/80-89, hypertension is 140/90 or higher.

· Get active! Physical inactivity is a contributing factor to heart disease. All adults ages 18-65 should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous- intensity exercise per week or a combination of both.

· Being obese or overweight increases your risk of heart disease. Make healthy changes to your diet- eat lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains and lean meats. Cut out processed and high fat...

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One of my goals in starting this blog was to not only have you hear from me, but to also hear from my amazing instructor team! I am surrounded by awesome ladies and count myself very lucky. Without further ado- here is Tara who is sharing her journey of discovering that she has a gluten intolerance.

-Jackie

“Celiac Disease, or gluten intolerance, is becoming increasingly common today. In the United States, more than 2 million people or 1 in every 133 people are affected by this disease. The risk increases to 1 in every 22 people if you have a parent, child or sibling with the disease.” (http://www.superkidsnutrition.com/nutrition-articles/kids_nutrition-concerns/nc_facts-celiac-gluten/)

Just after the birth of my oldest son, Jackson, almost 3 years ago, I felt that my health was rapidly deteriorating. I had lost some baby weight, but still had a round, bloated belly as if I were 5 months pregnant. I had pretty severe joint and muscle pain, to...

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Hello! I’m Becky O’Hearn, the new Playgroup Captain for the Sauganash Fit4Mom location. I’ve been coming to this class since it opened at this location in October 2012, when my youngest was 6 weeks old. I am a mother of 3 (Jack, 7, Alice, 5, and Gavin 15 months) and an early childhood teacher who has put my career on hold for now while my kids are still young. Stroller Strides has been one of the best things about being a stay at home mom. I have met great moms and I found a workout that is perfect for me, all while interacting with my baby. And now, as the Playgroup Captain I get to be able to put my teaching skills to use too. I hope you will join us for crafts, activities, or just some good old runnin’ around for the kids, while the moms hang out and chat! All moms are welcome to play with us, not just Stroller Striders, so spread the word! It takes place after Stroller Strides class on Wednesdays at Whole Body Fitness at 10:30.

In addition, I will also be writing monthly blog posts on the Fit4Mom blog and planning Moms Night Out events. If you have any ideas or...

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I have been on a mission for the last year to get my husband to like quinoa. He is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy and this has been a rough road. I have tried a ton of recipes- from soups, to veggie burgers, to "lasagna" coated in cheese, I even cooked it with beer and sausage! Then one day we found ourselves downtown and needed to grab a quick lunch. We were by a Protein Bar, so I convinced him to give it a try instead of our usual sandwich shop. We walked in, and he wrinkled his nose immediately- he is very leery of health food type stores :) Luckily, he indulges me and usually lets me have my way (he learned well, he has three sisters). He started reviewing the menu, and suddenly his eyes lit up- some words he recognized! Buffalo Chicken. But instead of the usual fat loaded fried, coated in dressing wings and fries, this was a quinoa bowl with grilled chicken, veggies, blue cheese crumbles and hot sauce. He ordered it and gulped it down, raving about it. We set out on a mission to create it at home (even though I loved the Protein Bar version, I could...

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40 BELOW? No Problem! We’ve got you covered! 40 Ideas to beat cabin fever.

We all know that motherhood takes a village, this list is a compilation of many Chicago mama’s ideas! Thank you to all who contributed!

  1. Blow bubbles outside and watch them freeze

  2. Bring enough snow inside and put on a tray to make little snowmen.

  3. Give your kiddo a pile of snow and watercolors to paint the snow

  4. If you have pipe cleaners and Borax try these crystallized snowflakes (full link here

  5. Give your kiddo a colander upside down and pipe cleaners. They can stick the pipe cleaners in the holes and bend them every which way (great for gross motor skills!).

  6. Use white glue and make your child’s name, shapes, or just dots around paper and then let them glue cereal, goldfish crackers, or any little objects to their paper.

  7. Go on an ABC photo scavenger hunt with your kids and then turn it into a photobook

  8. ...

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Did you make a New Year's Resolution this year? Whatever your Resolution is, Fit4Mom has you covered!

Resolution: To Get Fit!

Fit4Mom offers a range of classes for moms at all different stages of life. Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre and Body Back classes offer a total body workout, specially designed to work the areas that mom's need it the most. Intervals of cardio and strength training as well as targeted core exercises, make it an extremely effective workout- you will burn calories and increase your strength and endurance with regular attendance. All classes are taught at various levels for all different levels of fitness- from first time exercisers, to marathon-runners you will get a great workout. Classes meet 6 days a week at various locations, get it on your calendar.

Resolution: Have more ME time!

Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes are a perfect way to get some ME time in to your day. It's an hour for YOU, but you can sneak it in without having to leave your little one in the gym daycare. You will spend quality time interacting...

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Where do YOU want to be a year from now? Let Fit4Mom help you get there.

How has Fit4Mom made a difference in YOUR life?

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Hi Fit4Mom Friends,

I am so excited to be taking over the Fit4Mom Playgroup Captain role this new year. I love spending time with my fellow Striders and their kiddos. It's always nice to see the kids out and interacting after us moms have had our power hour to workout! Though many of you I already know, if I have not had the opportunity to introduced myself to you, please take a jog by and say hi during our workout! I am the mommy with 2.5 year old Kayden and baby Jacob sitting up pretty in his bassinet.

In taking on this new role I also get the privilege of planning a monthly Mom's Night Out. My husband gives me a "hard" time now when I tell him I "have" to go out, its my job:) In reality, it is important that we take time to ourselves every once in awhile and leave our kids in others good hands. I know how hard it can be to get out in the evenings, but I hope that many of you will be able to attend the fun events that are to come!

If you have any suggestions on playgroup ideas or mom's night outs please feel free to email me,...

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This month we are welcoming two new Playgroup Captains to our City locations- Becky O'Hearn and Karyn Eckman! I am so excited- these ladies will be helping plan our playgroups, moms night out and they will also be contributing to this blog! I don't want you to only hear from me :) So without further ado- our first post from Becky O'Hearn- playgroup captain!

- Jackie

Snow Play Without the COLD!

The first real snowfall of the winter also came with some brutal temperatures. My kids have been begging to play outside, but I know I wouldn’t last more than 5 minutes – Plus, I really didn’t want to have to take them to the hospital for frostbite or hypothermia! So, today, I got wise and brought the snow INSIDE for all to enjoy.

I grabbed a large bowl, some measuring cups, spoons, and ice cream scoopers, and let them go at it. My daughter scooped and dumped, and made snowballs and “ice cream”. She put on gloves every so often when her hands got a little too cold, but then took them off to feel the snow in her hands again. My youngest poked and squished it and...

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I'll tell you something, I love this time of year. I love the smell of pumpkin and pine, I love decorating and crafting, I love snuggling on the couch and watching movies with my girlies, I love shopping for gifts. What I don't love? All of the focus on food. Thanksgiving is about spending time with your family and friends and being thankful for all that you have, but let's be honest, to a lot of people, Thanksgiving is about the huge meal. So here are 5 tips to help you get through Thanksgiving with your waistline in check.

  • #1 Do something active first thing in the morning- One of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving morning is a Turkey Trot. There are a number of different races around the City- Edison Park, Naperville, Lincoln Park- check out this link for a complete list of area runs: http://www.cararuns.org/Racing/Find%20a%20Race.aspx What I love about Turkey Trots is that there are all ranges of ages and fitness, you see a lot of families out there together having a good time. It...

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As a personal trainer, I hear all of the time "I just can't seem to get over this weight loss hump". My first question back at them- "Are you a logger?" Logging your food intake is just as important, probably even MORE important, than your exercise. Researchers have found that Americans typically underestimate their food intake by about 25 percent while overestimating their daily physical activity levels. Moms in particular can do a lot of mindless eating during the day- grabbing a handful of your tots goldfish, eating the crust of their grilled cheese, you feel bad throwing away the leftover food on their plate, so you eat it and then you still eat your full dinner. Any of that sound familiar? Start logging your food and being more MINDFUL about your eating. A huge part of our Body Back program is a meal plan and food journal and it is truly the key to the success- I have seen moms transform their bodies by logging their food and making better choices.

How to start:

- Are you a paper and pen or app kind of person? If you are a paper person, it's as simple...

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Hey Mamas, are you ready get fit and healthy this fall?! Want FREE STROLLER STRIDES OR BODY BACK CLASSES? Join us for our #FIT4MOM #FIT4FALL Challenge, where just by making healthy choices and establishing good routines, you could win!! http://fit4mom.com/latest/blog/get-fit4fall-with-fit4mom

Have fun, get fit, by December you will feel amazing! How to join our #FIT4FALL Challenge:

  • Like @FIT4MOM, @StrollerStrides, @BodyBack and @Fit4Mom Chicago on Facebook
  • Follow @FIT_4_MOM and @fit4momchicago on Instagram.
  • Post photos of any and all healthy and fit things you do. Be sure to tag @FIT4MOM, @StrollerStrides, @BodyBack and @Fit4Mom Chicago on Facebook and on Instagram using hashtags #FIT4MOM #FIT4FALL.
  • Every post gets you one entry for our grand prize of 6...
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It is time for Fit4Mom Chicago to join the bloggers of the world! Woohoo! My name is Jackie Dorris and I am the owner of Fit4Mom Chicago. This has been an exciting year for me and the business side of Fit4Mom Chicago- we re-branded from Stroller Strides into Fit4Mom, I became a Fit4Mom Master Trainer, we added Stroller Barre classes, we are in the process of expanding into the north and northwest suburbs... I could go on and on! But it wasn't always like this, so I thought I would take my first blog post to talk about where and why Stroller Strides Chicago started, or as I like to say "born".

In September 2006, my life was changed completely by the birth of my first daughter. I was the first of all of my friends to have a baby and I did not know a single other mom in the City. I was TERRIFIED! I went back to work part-time with a 2 month old daughter. In an effort to meet some other moms on my days home, I joined a mom and baby class at a local children's gym. I would go to class once a week, and every day I would come home and cry. None of the other moms would...

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