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Chicago Blog for Moms
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Name: Denise Schneider

Child(ren) name and age: Mom to Frankie (23 months) and stepmom to Nick (17) and Emma (9-1/2)

Where are you from? I grew up in South Holland, IL (south-suburban Chicago) and lived in Washington, D.C. for almost eight years before moving back to the area for my dream job, Communications Director at Goodman Theatre

What is your favorite thing/memory about FIT4MOM? I loved my early days with Stroller Strides, and how much my then-infant enjoyed being outdoors and seeing the other mamas and babies. Like many others, that was my “gateway drug” to Fit4Mom, and I have loved experiencing the other classes and programs.

Favorite Class? Strides 360

Favorite Mom-me time of the day? Sitting in the backyard and enjoying the sunset, ideally over a neat pour of decent bourbon.

What motivates you to exercise? Being an older mom, the extra energy I get from working out has become a must-have.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? The awareness of the importance of physical fitness has been the greatest gift from Fit4Mom. It’s made me a stronger woman—physically and mentally.

Do you have a piece of advice for busy moms? Try to give yourself a little (or a lot of) grace. You’re not alone in your quest for the perfect life—but remember that nobody and nothing on this earth is perfect. There is always another day, another chance to put a balanced meal on the table.

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Chinese Language Day was set by the United Nations Department of Public Relations in 2010. April 20th not only celebrates the Chinese Language but also Cangjie, "the ancestor of Chinese characters." Over the past 10 years, Chinese Language Day has become a celebration of Chinese culture and heritage. For more information on Chinese Language Day and how to celebrate visit https://www.un.org/zh/observances/chinese-language-day.

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April is African American Women's Fitness Month. Encouraging a physically active lifestyle is imperative to fight leading causes of death among African American women in the United States including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

This week we want to recognize just some of the African American female athletes who forever made history in their sport!

Serena Williams: @serenawilliams was named America’s Greatest Athlete by The New Yorker and media often refer to her as the “Queen of the Court.” Winner of 6 U.S. Opens and 5 Wimbledons. Ranked her World No. 1 in singles on six separate occasions by the Women's Tennis Association between 2002 and 2013. Most recently, she earned her 20th Grand Slam title at the French Open.

Laila Ali: @thereallailaali had an undefeated record of 24 of 24 matches won including 21 knockouts, Laila Ali has made the alleged insult “fight like a girl” into a bona fide badge of honor. She is committed to giving back to her community and wrote a motivational book called Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power that encourages girls to pursue their goals.

Alice Coachman: First Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Specializing in the high jump, she certainly leaped over all the racism thrown her way. Each year between 1939 and 1948, she won a national championship award. In 1948, she was the only American woman to bring home an Olympic gold medal in athletics.

Sheryl Swoopes: @airswoopes22 is often called the “female Michael Jordan”, she was the first player signed to the WNBA and has won three Olympic gold medals. Swoopes is a three-time WNBA MVP, and remains on every top WNBA player list ever made. She scored 955 points in the 1992–93 season alone.

Dominique Dawes: @daweser is a phenomenal gymnast, Dawes was a 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team and member of the gold-winning 1996 Olympic team in Atlanta. She’s also the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics. Between 2004 and 2006, Dawes served as president of the Women’s Sports Federation and in 2010.

Celebrating these women in history can inspire other young, female athletes to pursue their passions and never let poor representation stop them. We need to remember to celebrate women of different backgrounds throughout the year every year, not just during a single month.

Source: http://theculture.forharriet.com/2015/06/the-10-greatest-black-women-athletes-of.html

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Download these coloring sheets from FIT4MOM and share your designs tagging @fit4momchicago on Facebook or Instagram!

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This amazing seed packs plenty of good nutrients and deliciousness. Try it in your oats, a smoothie, sprinkled on yogurt, or in its own pudding! This recipe is straight from our Body Well guide. The next session starts April 12th and we would love to have you join us!

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We asked our mamas who recently had babies what they packed in their bags and what to leave at home!

What to pack:

Top 5!

  • Phone charger (extra long cord!)
  • Button down pajamas/robe
  • Non slip socks/slippers and shower shoes
  • Chapstick
  • Water Bottle

Other noteworthy items!

  • Battery operated candles
  • Shower toiletries, snacks
  • Pillow and blanket for mom,
  • Boppy
  • Pump
  • Going home outfit for baby
  • Hair ties
  • Fan to attach to bed while pushing
  • Speaker to play favorite music
  • Nursing bra
  • Hoodie
  • Snacks

What to leave at home:

Number 1 Response!

  • Extra clothes for mom (only needed 1 set of pajamas/robe/going home outfit)

Other noteworthy Items!

  • Extras for baby (hospital has diapers and postpartum products
  • Kindle/tablet
  • Make-up
  • Extra socks

We also asked our new mamas advice they have for other soon to be new mamas, this is what they said!

  • Trust your gut if you have a concern
  • A frida squirt bottle for down under
  • Embrace the fact that no matter how much you plan things my not go as planned and do your best to accept it and embrace the change as much as possible.
  • Birth rarely follows a plan, be prepared to go with the flow, the end result is an incredible miracle
  • It is great to have a birth plan but know that a lot is out of your control (I.e water breaking or not) and to expect the unexpected.
  • Be informed of all options - highly recommend taking a birth class. Also plan for your postpartum care. You need to take care of yourself after the baby too! Daily baths were a lifesaver for me!
  • Go in open minded and ready for anything
  • Buy depends for the first few weeks vs the mesh underwear.
  • Consider packing a pair of shoes that can handle some serious feet swelling. Chances are they will give you IV fluids and it can be tough to get into your normal sneakers.
  • Let the nursery take your baby at night! Get some sleep. It's only a couple days and your baby will be well taken care of :-)
  • Nursing will be difficult at first and you may need to supplement with formula until your milk comes in, and that is ok!
  • This may not be the birth experience you planned and hoped for, but you are so much more capable than you'll ever know.
  • Join a new moms group (virtual or in person) to meet other new parents and lean on each other- my oldest is almost 3 and I still talk to everyone in my group regularly.
  • Make sure your partner takes lots of photos of you- even when you haven't slept or showered in days you'll look back at those first few photos and be so proud of the person you see in those pics.
  • Stay as long as you can in the hospital, enjoy the meals and extra set of hands - use the nursery (if available) for a few hours break at night It's a bit different with Covid, we were allowed one visitor (my mom) so i was fine just hanging out in my gown and robe.
  • Get to know your hospital and their process, many have videos/online sessions now. But it helped knowing the procedure for when/why we were changing rooms.
  • Ask for the lactation consult and ask their birth weight at the moment you leave
  • Listen to your body and mind and get help of something doesn't feel right both physically and mentally. Always ask for help you don't have to be super mom

Thank you to all the mamas who participated in our survey! You have helped another mama plan her hospital stay!

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What is your name? Sarah Klauck

Who are you a mom to? Reese- 16 months and Baby K #2 who will be joining our crew in late May!

Where are you from? Mt. Prospect

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? I love the ladies-obviously! It truly takes a village to be a mama and I have found some wonderful moms though Fiit4Mom. I’ve really enjoyed Fit4Baby the last few months and seeing the same friendly faces every Tuesday Night & Saturday Morning- and of course the 5 minutes I get to lay on my yoga mat, by myself, in silence during the meditation is AMAZING!

What is your favorite exercise? Run Club- I LOVE running and welcomed the opportunity to get back into it after my first pregnancy. I needed to be motivated and held accountable and Run Club provided just that. That’s when I really started to feel part of the Fit4Mom Village.

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? Storytime before bed with Reese- it’s the best part of my day for sure! Even if I’ve had a stressful day at work, I love winding down with her at the end of the night.

What motivates you to exercise? My health, my family and my sanity! Life is hectic and crazy and a good workout lets me take some time to myself and clear my head.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I definitely underestimated the challenge and mental toll of being pregnant in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s been such a stressful and self-doubting but also exciting time—all the emotions for sure! FIT4MOM has been a HUGE support system for me over these past few months. It’s been both helpful and comforting to relate and talk to other women going through the same thing. It always helps to know you aren’t alone.

What is a piece of advice for busy moms? Put on your oxygen mask first. You need to be OK for your kiddos to be OK. Make time for yourself, even when it’s hard. YOU deserve it!

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What is your name?: Kristin Boszhardt

Who are you are a mom to? Danny (8) and Maxwell (5)

Where are you from? I am from the Southwest Suburbs.

What is your favorite thing about FIT4MOM? I really love the community of wonderful women that I have met through Fit4Mom.

What is your favorite exercise? I actually enjoy burpees! I always feel really good when I am done doing them!

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? I am an early riser, so I try to get up before everyone and get some time to myself.

What motivates you to exercise? My boys motivate me to exercise. I know I am a better person when I get some movement in, which makes me a better mom! I want to set a good example of a healthy lifestyle for my boys.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have learned a lot from being a part of FIT4MOM, but what stands out most to me is how I look at food. I am much more aware of how I am fueling my body now than I have ever been. Through the various Body Back and Body Well sessions, I have learned what I need to fuel my body as well as how to notice and manage my habits and cravings.

Piece of advice for busy moms: A little movement every day is so worth it! I always tried to find ways to get long workouts many days a week, but now if I just move everyday in an intentional way, I am happy! Sometimes less really is more for me!

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What is your name? Jessica Popovic

Who are you a mom to? Juliana 3 & Isabel 1

Where are you from? Grew up in Aurora, IL . . . live in Lincolnwood, IL

What is your favorite FIT4MOM memory? Miss Jamie's Farm Concert this summer

What is your favorite class? Right now... body back!

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? Wine time! Or coffee time. They're probably tied.

What motivates you to exercise? Modeling for my daughters what it is to be strong and take care of yourself!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It's given me a form of a social life during a global pandemic. For this, I am grateful!

Piece of advice for new moms: Try not to worry so much. I wish I could give new moms the second time mom confidence!

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We are so excited to bring back our Mom of the Month feature and we are kicking it off with Sarah!

What is your name? Sarah Hafner

Who are you a mom to? I have an 18 month old son, Henry.

Where are you from? I’m from a Chicago suburb- Inverness, and now I live in Arlington Heights.

What is your favorite memory of FIT4MOM? I think my favorite memory AND thing about Fit4mom is my very first class at Welles Park in the city. Nicole was the instructor, filling in for Holly, and I remember feeling like I found a group of people I could see myself being friends with, and I was so happy. It was my first real time doing something solo with my baby, and I felt like I could be me. Holly’s Tues/Thurs class became my weekly activity, and I loved getting to know so many moms.

What is your favorite exercise? Squats. Curtesy lunges. Inchworms. Anything to work the booty.

What is your favorite Mom-me time of the day? My favorite mom-me time is the 30ish minutes before my husband and son wake up. I can have some tea, do a workout (shout out to the HIIT Express class!), or just binge Instagram or a show by myself.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? My classes at Welles Park before we moved made the biggest impact because I made sure I could join a Strides class when we moved to the burbs, so joining the Mt. Prospect class was such a perfect transition, and I’ve continued to meet people and make friends through Strides class. I actually feel like I have a village. The moms I’ve become close with in such a short time have just been such an amazing support system for me and I am so thankful for them.

Piece of advice for new moms? My advice for new moms is to join a class!! Any class, really (but I tell literally EVERYONE about Fit4mom). Just get out there and try to talk to other moms- you have an automatic icebreaker sitting in the stroller! It stifles the loneliness we can feel as moms, and you can build up an amazing village.

You can catch Sarah at our HIIT Express classes on the regular or at outdoor Stroller Strides!

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Name: Chelsea Kaskovich

Child(ren) name and age: William-14 months

Where are you from: Rock Falls, IL, but I’ve lived in Chicago for 16 years

Favorite Thing/Memory about FIT4MOM: Getting a workout in with a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline at Diversey Harbor, all while socializing with other moms/kiddos

Favorite Exercise: Any kind of squats!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: Nap time for the win

What motivates you to exercise? I always feel way more accomplished after a workout and I like to be in shape so I can keep up with my son

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I’ve met some great mom friends and found a way to work out, socialize and get my son out to play all in one place

Piece of advice for new moms: Find your ‘village’ of other moms. It makes a really tough job much easier when you have other women behind you.

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Name: Katie Farella

Child(ren) name and age: Mackland 2.5y, Weston 13 mo, & baby #3 due May 2020

Where are you from: Prospect Heights, IL

Favorite Thing/Memory about FIT4MOM: My favorite thing about FIT4MOM is allowing me to workout and the boys get a chance to socialize and run around at the end of class- it’s a win win!

Favorite Exercise: Planking & abs

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After I put the kids to bed

What motivates you to exercise: These kids keep popping out and I’ve gotta stay healthy, fit and strong to keep up with them :)

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I’ve been with FIT4MOM for 2 years it it has helped me lose weight & keep it off, it has helped me make such great friends, and my boys and I look forward to going to StrollerStrides every day!

Piece of advice for new moms: No one knows what they are doing when they first have a baby, ask the moms around you for advice, tips and tricks! Everyone is so willing to share what worked for them!

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Name: Halley Winer

Child(ren) name and age: Liam (4 years) and Mason (16 months)

Where are you from: Chicago born & bred! But grew up in Northbrook (northern suburb).

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Two favorites. 1. I love that when I’m at a Fit4Mom class, the kids can act like total cuckoo birds and no one bats an eye. Whether it’s needing a snack/toy/iPad adjustment every 30 seconds to just general screaming, it’s NBD and everyone just continues on with their workout or dealing with their own crazy child. 2. I exercise more now than I have my entire life. In fact, I went to a Stroller Strides class the morning before Mason was born! (Cardio, strength & contractions!) Fit4Mom classes get me out of the house, get me moving, and keep me sane and healthy all at the same time. Kind of the perfect situation, really!

Favorite Exercise: Burpees! KIDDING, literally hate those. Really anything that makes me feel strong. Core, biceps/triceps, squats... I love being sore the next day.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: Obviously after the kids are in bed, I curl up on the couch in a blanket and enjoy some quality Bravo.

What motivates you to exercise: Being strong for my kids and showing them that exercise is important for mind and body... And also, if I’m being honest, my Apple Watch nagging me to get it together!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I met two of my best mom friends from Stroller Strides, Lauren and Jeannie. Our firsts were all born within a couple months of each other and we were all pregnant with our seconds at the same time. (Lauren and I had ours only 4 days apart!) They’re also the worst, because they both left Chicago, but I don’t know what I would do without them and our daily texts about momming.

Piece of advice for new moms: The first four months are literally terrible. Sleep deprivation is torture. But after that (aka when you start getting more sleep for you and more interaction from them), it’s the best and keeps getting better everyday. Also... Easier said than done, but not everything is as big of a deal as you might think it is. So they have a late nap one day. Or they skip a meal. Or they have a 5th diaper explosion in one day... There’s always tomorrow.

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Name: Tiarnagh Costello

Child(ren) name and age: Andrea 2.5, Sophia 9 months, Do we include the partners as children?? He’s 39 going on 17..

Where are you from: Ireland, but most recently we moved from San Diego.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Being able to be outdoors getting fit and healthy with the children. If I didn’t have FIT4MOM I’d have to meet mom friends eating cake somewhere and that would not be good.

Favorite Exercise: There is a butt-kicker/knee-repeater exercise that I love as its really fast paced and you feel the burn straight away..

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: The early evening when the children are asleep and look like angels and I can drink all the hot tea I want.

What motivates you to exercise: At the moment I’m losing weight for my wedding in November, but I love the energy I get from exercising and being able to share a healthy lifestyle with my children.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? Where do I start???? There are not enough hours...I’m astounded my gyno hasn’t heard of FIT4MOM..hello?! Firstly, stroller strides gives me structure to my day which sets us all up for a great day. With strides and the other classes I’ve been to (bodyback and bodyignite) I can connect so easily with the other mums compared to trying to make friends when you are new to a place, It takes forever! It’s a safe place where you can chat, laugh, moan and sympathize and it’s all while working out! It’s an incredible source of trustworthy baby/kid knowledge. Then the lovely instructors make it more than enjoyable, bringing their personalities to each class makes working out easier, less painful, and makes me keep wanting to come back. The support they offer is genuine and kind and so important. I’m totally addicted. I adore the question of the day! I’ve basically found my tribe. It was the first thing I checked up about Chicago when it came up as a potential place to live. It’s my safety net, my survival kit and I can’t imagine how lost I’ll be when the kids grow older and head off to school.

Piece of advice for new moms: It took me forever to get to my first stroller strides class when I was a new mom, I went twice without the baby! I found it so hard to get it all together by a certain time in the morning and I remember messaging the instructor saying “I’m never going to make it to a class” and she just messaged back “just get to class”....they would take care of all the rest, just to get there and it would be ok. I’ve said that to everyone I know who hasn’t gone to class. Oh and buy a dedicated bucket for soaking poop stained clothes .

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Mom-Style

Pulling together a last-minute look

Being a mom has made me really good at being simultaneously pulled together and really gross. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. There are days where, despite your best efforts, you just aren’t going to get in a shower, where you’re in your sweaty workout clothes all day, or you’re just too tired, or filled with that hopeless exhaustion that comes from being pulled in every direction by people whose needs always seem to come before your own.

But sometimes, we want to feel more like our real selves again. Maybe your girlfriend called and she wants to grab a drink. Maybe you just want to take off those stretch pants and take the whole family to Olive Garden so you don’t have to Do. One. More. Thing. Today. More likely, you pull a crumpled notice out of your kid’s backpack that says “Family Night is Tonight!” and you die a little inside.

All right, mama. Time to brush the baby snot out of your hair and get into the game. But what to wear?

For me, styling comes down to four things that I incorporate into almost every casual outfit.

1.) Killer denim. You have to have a good pair of jeans that fit and feel great to put on. Jeans shopping is a lot like swimsuit shopping, I’m not going to lie. You have to try on a bunch of different pairs, but it is so worth it. When you find that pair that looks good in the leg and makes your butt look great, it’s truly a life-changing moment. I’ve had women cry happy tears, we’ve hugged it out, they come back and visit me in their jeans. The jeans don’t have to be expensive. While it’s true that premium denim is often softer and better at retaining its shape, pay attention to the pocket placement (not too big, not too small, not too far apart) and the way they make you feel. A good pair of jeans always feels great to pull on and is the foundation of any outfit.

2.) A graphic tee. Find one that speaks to you (I have one that says, “Always late,” because, I mean.) Find one that speaks to your world (Another fave says, “Kindness is Magic,” because it is!) Don’t forget the side tuck! This shows off your shape and your jeans, and is universally flattering.

3.) Layer a jacket, kimono or sweater over the whole thing. This instantly takes your whole outfit to the next level.

4.) Statement earrings. Normally, this wouldn’t be the part I emphasized the most, but for a last minute zero-to-hero situation, it is impossible not to feel pulled together in earrings, even if your hair is in a messy bun and needed a wash three days ago. #nojudgements Try a pop of color or a fun new texture. This is not to say that you should do the earrings to the exclusion of steps 1-3, but goodness knows I’d rather be noticed for my beaded earrings than my greasy roots. Let’s hear it for a good distraction!

Come visit me at the Evereve at Northbrook beginning June 18! Feel free to bring the kids, don’t worry if you’re wearing sweats or even if you don’t feel like trying on clothes that day.

See you soon!