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Name: Ali Otte

Child(ren) name and age: Ryan 7.5 months

Where are you from: Skokie

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I love all things Fit4Mom from classes to after class play mini groups. But I think my favorite memory or thing about Fit4Mom would be MNO. I love getting together with all the moms. I loved going to the Warbler as well as the most recent night out at the Pump and Dump show and then going out afterwards. I also loved art and crafts for my first mothers day and Ryan made me a foot flower pot. It was her first art project so this will be saved for sure.

Favorite Exercise: Well anyone who knows me, knows push ups are my least favorite but when i'm with Nicole down by the lake of course doing bands and when I am with Amy I am always down for a dance moment.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After Ryan goes to bed, just laying in my bed watching my shows with some hot tea.

What motivates you to exercise: I'm very into sports and grew up always being active. I want my daughter to be the same way and for her to hopefully get the same feeling I got when I played sports.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? It has introduced me to the most amazing women who I am so proud to call friends and some of them even family.

Piece of advice for new moms: Don't worry about not being in the best shape, this village is so helpful and uplifting that even if you come by yourself for the first time.. Which I did.. it will be so easy to make at least 1 friend but trust me you will come out with so many more than that. This is truly one aspiring, helpful and caring village.

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Name: Lauren Schlesselman

Child(ren) name and age: JB age 11 months

Where are you from: Born and Raised in Chicago!

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: I love the beautiful setting of Evanston’s Lake Front! There is something so magical about bringing your baby to a gorgeous place! Add in new mom friends and a wonderful workout! Stroller Strides is the best!

Favorite Exercise: Tricep dips and pushups! They are hard and a total work in progress, but I always feel strong after!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day:

NAP time! I actually take a nap or rest when my baby naps! It’s been the best piece of advice that I have taken very seriously! We are down to one nap a day and on the go so much. So taking a moment every day to just take a deep breath or a snooze is amazing! Naps wont last forever! So I am taking advantage!!!

What motivates you to exercise: Keeping up with my baby and being a happier Mommy! Knowing my baby will benefit from socializing is the cherry on top!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I have lost almost 30lbs since starting Stroller Strides in May! I won a contest for a free Month and I have been hooked ever since! I had a hard time getting pregnant and staying pregnant so I was on partial bed rest for a long time! Going from resting and building a baby inside me to taking care of a newborn was a shock to my system! Add in baby health issues and it was a-lot of stress! Having a place to go every day where I could chat with other moms, get my health, strength and body back at my own pace has been the best!

Piece of advice for new moms: Less is more! If something doesn’t get done around the house its ok! If you can’t get out of the house that day- its ok! Your baby will never need you more than he or she does right now! Take advantage of every moment to bask in the beauty of what your love created! The laundry will wait (for a minute)!

(Before pics on the right... current pics on the left!!)

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Name: Katy McCullough

Child(ren) name and age: Zoë, 9 months

Where are you from: Grand Rapids, MI

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: French Fry Fridays!

Favorite Exercise: Any exercise that allows me to tickle my sweet babe’s toes. She LOVES it!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: A glass of wine at the end of a long day.

What motivates you to exercise: I exercise to be an example of a healthy and strong woman for my daughter.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? FIT4MOM has helped me to be healthy and make time for myself, but more importantly has provided me with a community, a village. I’ve met so many amazing mamas who inspire and support me in all things which I am beyond grateful for!

Piece of advice for new moms: Be kind to yourself!

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Teaches: Body Back (Mount Prospect and Glenview) and will start Stroller Strides in Mount Prospect once we are indoors this fall!

Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

Mom to: Emme, 3 years old

How did you first get introduced to FIT4MOM/Stroller Strides?

My best friend had been attending for about a year when I joined and she had always encouraged me to try it out

What made you want to become an instructor?

After I had my daughter I needed something to give structure to my day and provide some adult interaction along with something I felt was helping me.

I found all of this in Stroller Strides and then later in Body Back once she got older.

I became an instructor because I wanted to be able to help other moms be able to get out, socialize, and learn from eachother all while getting a great workout and taking care of themselves.

What did you do before becoming an instructor?

I worked as a nurse practitioner specializing in liver disease.

What is your favorite part of instructing? Favorite song/exercise?

Helping others leave all their stress, frustration and worry from the day behind and leave feeling better physically and mentally.

Song/exercise- Old McDonald when the kids get to pick an animal paired up with wall sits and bicep curls.

What is your favorite non-kid workout song that gets you moving?

Remind me to Forget by Kygo & Miguel

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Name: Kirsten LoRusso

Child(ren) name and age: Nicholas, 2 1/2

Where are you from: Mount Prospect, IL

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: When I work out with Fit4Mom, I get a great workout and my son gets to have fun at the park and play dates afterward. It’s a wonderful way to spend a morning!

Favorite Exercise: Squat/leg lift progression on the curb. Burns so good!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: I joked with a friend once that I had to go back to work to have some time for myself - but it’s kind of true! I travel for work, and at some point during my trip I take the time to exercise, get a manicure, or simply enjoy not having dishes or laundry to do.

What motivates you to exercise: I want to be able to keep up with my son.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I met an amazing group of moms who I am inspired and supported by every time we work out. Going to Stroller Strides is always something I look forward to and, as busy as life can get, I never regret taking the time to go to class.

Piece of advice for new moms: Worry less, enjoy more.

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Summer is here. You may be feeling a sense of relief from school activities and projects. Along with that relief, however, may come a sense of anxiety about how you will keep the children entertained so they don’t destroy your home or each other! 😉 Do not fret! We’ve asked our FIT4MOM Village for their top recommendations to keep the kiddos busy this summer and here is what we’ve come up with!

#1 - Splash pads - Sure to wear out the little ones! Kids love water and we’ve put together a list of our favorite splash pads!

  • Little Bear Park

  • Park ridge

  • Rosemont

  • Lincoln Square

Or check out this list of Chicago’s top Splash Pads! http://redtri.com/chicago/h2-oh-7-splash-pads-to-soak-up/

#2 - Stroller Strides – Well, of course! Get your workout in and bring your junior workout buddies along! First class is always free! See our full schedule and locations of FIT4MOM offerings here: https://chicago.fit4mom.com/

#3 – Zoo – From Lincoln Park to Brookfield, let’s just admit we enjoy the zoo as much as our kiddos! There are many places to check out animals in the Chicago area! See a list of some of the top recommendations here: https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/chicago/article/9-places-to-see-animals-in-the-chicago-area

Other animal loving suggestions:

#4 - Lincoln Park petting zoo – Free!! Kids will really get a kick out of seeing and petting the farm animals! Check out more about Lincoln Park Farm in the Zoo here: https://www.lpzoo.org/exhibit/farm-zoo

And check out more petting zoos in the Chicago area here: http://redtri.com/chicago/barn-it-7-animal-farms-to-visit-now/

#5 - Botanic gardens – Beautiful! A neat experience for the kids all around! Admission is free (parking is not)!

Learn more about what’s in bloom at the Chicago Botanic Garden here: https://www.chicagobotanic.org/visit

#6 - Community pools – WATER! Again, nothing more fun in the summertime than swimming at the pool! Maybe you have a favorite local pool to visit. If not, check out this kid-friendly list of water-park style pools:

https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/chicago/article/8-chicago-area-pools-that-rival-water-parks

#7 - Picnic at your favorite playground – Pack the kids’ favorite sandwiches and snacks and head off to the park for a morning of fun and then back home for naptime!

#8 - Maggie Daley Park – Coolest. Place. Ever. Free admission! Some activities do have a fee. Learn more about this amazing park here: http://maggiedaleypark.com/

#9 - Morton Arboretum – So much going on! From music in the park to perfecting your gardening skills! There is an admission fee but so much to offer!

Learn more about the events and offerings at the Morton Arboretum here: http://www.mortonarb.org/

#10 - Adler Planetarium – The Planetarium is sure to wow the kids and be a seriously educational experience for all! A lot to offer for your curious astronomer!

Check out more about their programs and general information here: https://www.adlerplanetarium.org/#7pymLpUjxhKZlE3b.97

Some other suggestions from our Village mamas include:

We hope you enjoy exploring these amazing Chicagoland experiences and hope they do the job of keeping the kids entertained this summer. Have a happy and safe summer from all of us at FIT4MOM Chicago!

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Name: Shea Almendarez

Child(ren) name and age: Jackson, 10 1/2 months

Where are you from: I grew up in Park Ridge, IL

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: Favorite memory of Fit4Mom is either working out along Lake Michigan on beautiful, sunny days at Diversey or the Play date at Scooter’s ice cream and the park.

Favorite Exercise: I love squats, wall sits and bicep curls.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: My favorite Mom-me time of the day is when I teach yoga (twice/week) or take a class myself or when I get a pedicure!

What motivates you to exercise: I’ve always been active and have loved exercising. I was an Irish dancer for 10 years, was on the dance team in high school, and have run 11 half marathons. Exercise makes me feel good!

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? Fit4M has introduced me to a “village” of moms that are now my community. I look forward to going to class everyday!!

Piece of advice for new moms: My advice for new moms is to try to relax and have fun with your baby!! They can pick up on your mood and will be happier if you are. Take care of yourself!

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May 28, 2018

Name: Cathy Skriba

Child(ren) name and age: Ian (4), Cora (4), Marie (1)

Where are you from: Ann Arbor, MI

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: My favorite thing is how encouraging everyone is. Whether it's to keep going with an exercise, or giving advice about raising kids, or dealing with work, or where to go on vacation. Everyone is so supportive!

Favorite Exercise: I like any standing core exercise. I always feel stronger after I'm done!

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: When I wake up before my kids. It's quiet and I'm not worried about my to-do list.

What motivates you to exercise: Getting stronger! But also knowing that I get to spend an hour with a great group of women.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I feel like FIT4MOM changed my life twice. When Stroller Strides classes started in Evanston, my twins were 2 and it was hard to do activities with them. But being able to take them to stroller strides, get a workout for myself, and then let them play at Little Beans was great for all of us! It was especially important for my mental well-being. And then when I started Body Back after my third child was born, I got to focus on myself for 2 hours a week. Being able to focus on my health and fitness, without having to chase after my children, has been so important to me for the past year.

Piece of advice for new moms: Every child is different and you have to find what works for your child and your family. Don't be afraid to do things in a different way than your friends/neighbors/other family members.

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Teaches: Stroller Strides and Fit4Baby (Certified in all classes)

Hometown: Birmingham, MI

Mom to: Anil, 3 1/2 yrs and 32 weeks preggo with #2!

How did you first get introduced to FIT4MOM/Stroller Strides? I found SS on a Google search for things to do with your baby. I really wanted to get into shape and thought I'd try it out. Bought an unlimited membership but had a hard time getting there. After several emails from the instructor, I finally was convinced to get over my fear of meeting new people and loved it! And met a mom with a little boy 3 days younger than mine! It was meant to be!

What made you want to become an instructor? I wanted to become an instructor to share my love for this amazing community and what it had done for me as a new mom! I've met so many great women and made great friends!

What did you do before becoming an instructor? Before becoming an instructor (and a Mom) I worked in the corporate offices of a dental group in their accounting department.

What is your favorite part of instructing? Favorite song/exercise? My favorite part of instructing is seeing new Moms come in and make friends within the group! Its full circle of how this community has helped my son and I! I love to see the magic in action! A favorite song to do exercises to is Head Shoulders Knees and Toes! The kids love it and its great for a cardio burst! My personal favorite exercise is any kind of plank!

What is your favorite non-kid workout song that gets you moving? Hard to pick just one. Happy by Pharrel, Handclap by Fitz and the Tantrums, Can't Stop the Feeling by JT

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Name: Jessica Gerig

Child(ren) name and age: Jack (3), Baby Gerig #2 due in July

Where are you from: Phoenix, AZ

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: One of the last classes of the Body Back program is called the 100s class, which requires 100 reps of each exercise. It’s incredibly challenging, but all of the moms cheer for each other, finish the tough workout together and celebrate at the end! One of my favorite things about Fit4Mom is the way that moms encourage and inspire each other.

Favorite Exercise: Bicep curls and wall sits

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: After my son is asleep, I enjoy cozying up on the couch, sipping a cup of tea and watching Bravo.

What motivates you to exercise: I exercise to improve my physical and mental health and to model a healthy lifestyle for my family.

How has FIT4MOM changed your life? I found Fit4Mom shortly after I made the decision to leave the professional world and become a full-time mom. I was eager to find a community of other moms and Fit4Mom provided that (and so much more!) This community of moms is so welcoming and supportive. I’ve made wonderful friends, received great advice, and had a lot of fun sharing milestones with these women and their children.

Piece of advice for new moms: Make time for self care. With the help of Fit4Mom, I’ve made the commitment to take time for myself each week which has helped me be a better mother, wife and friend.

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Name: Katrina

Child(ren) name and age: Nell (5), Ben (3)

Where are you from: My childhood was spent in a small town called Parker City, but Chicago has been home for the past 12 years.

Favorite Thing/Memory about Fit4Mom: it’s hard to pick just one, but I think meeting all the moms at the 10th anniversary session last summer. Many of the moms from Chicago had moved to other locations so catching up with them. And knowing that everyone there would “get it” no matter what my kids were doing.

Favorite Exercise: I am a fan of squats and crunches. Upper abs and side obliques, but the lower abs we can leave lol.

Favorite Mom-me time of the day: my husband is very good about taking the kids at night if they wake up. Or even getting them to bed, so taking 30 minutes to watch a show and do my nails just makes me feel normal again.

What motivates you to exercise: My health, for a long time my joints have been bad. All of them. I have had multiple surgeries on wrists, knee X-rays, physical therapy for my back. The no judgement zone in all the classes brings me back, I can go as hard or as little as I need for that day. It has really taught me to self motivate, and I know modifications for almost every exercise. Just keep moving. :)

How has FIT4MOM changed your life?

How has it not? Becoming a mom with the first felt very lonely and isolated. About 9 months after my second is when I found Fit4mom. Suddenly it wasn’t so lonely. Exercise, Mom’s nights out, meet ups to play, as I have always said it is so much more than exercise. Body back was strangely addictive and the first time I have ever actively lost weight in my life. 25 lbs down and 10 more to my goal weight. It’s been amazing every step of the way.

Piece of advice for new moms: Don’t be afraid to ask. In every group someone had been through it. From the kid who never sleeps, to the one that won’t wake up, fits on outings, toddler tantrums, feeding issues. Your village is important. Some moms may judge but most will not and get it. Just don’t be afraid to ask. We are all here to lift up and support.

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Teaches: Body Back in Vernon Hills

Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas

Mom to: Evelyn (4.5) and Thomas (almost 2.5)

How did you first get introduced to FIT4MOM/Stroller Strides? I came across a mention of Stroller Strides online in 2014 when Evelyn was about 11 months old, took a Stroller Barre class at Diversey Harbor, and signed up as a member that day!

What made you want to become an instructor? After a couple of Body Back sessions, I had to share it with other moms! I’m not exaggerating when I say FIT4MOM has changed my life, physically and mentally. I feel strong, confident, and energized. Body Back allowed me to take time for myself, focus on my health, and realize what I’m capable of, all within the supportive community of FIT4MOM. I want to help other moms experience that!

What did you do before becoming an instructor? I was and still am a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Through my business, Melrose Street Custom Content, I work with marketing agencies and small business owners to create written content.

What is your favorite part of instructing? Favorite song/exercise? I love seeing the moms in my classes celebrate their successes, connect with each other, and grow in strength and confidence. The best!!

What is your favorite non-kid workout song that gets you moving? Lately, I’ve been into Demi Lovato’s “Confident” and “Sorry Not Sorry,” but I like anything with a strong beat.

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I can’t believe we have come to the end of this eight-week journey. While it is the end of my Body Back session, it is certainly not the end of a revitalized healthy lifestyle for me and my family.

Final Results:

Over 5 inches lost total.

1.5 inches off my waist

1 inch off my hips

1.75 inches off my thigh

7.8 pounds lost

Strength gains of over 21% in each category (Burpees, Squats, Push Ups and Bicep Curls)

Held Plank for 2 minutes (almost doubled)

Went from 2 – 10 push-ups (push-ups are admittedly my weakness)

Overall percentage change of 292%!

Carrie asked us today to tell her something we want to carry on from this session to the next session and beyond. My answer was meal planning. Meal planning has been such an important piece to keeping me on track the last eight weeks. When there isn’t a plan, I give in to the temptation to grab fast food or take out. It also helped me shop more efficiently and cut down on my visits to the grocery store. How often do you visit the grocery store when you don’t plan ahead?! I am so curious to know how much money I didn’t spend by not having alcohol, soda, take out 2-3 times a week and frequent trips to the grocery store. Whatever that cost is, it is certainly more than the cost of a Body Back session😊

Things I am proud of:

I am so proud of my results. I didn’t get the ten-pound weight loss I originally set as my goal, but I lost inches and I got STRONGER! I was in good shape when I started (except for those pesky push-ups), so to gain even more strength says a lot. I am also proud of the fact I only missed one class. There were some stressful weeks in there and it would have been so easy for me to take those two hours away from the “me” column and put them in the “everything else” column. The workouts not only helped alleviate some of that stress, but the meditations calmed my mind. Seeing my mom friends is always a bonus.

Things I would have done differently:

Hmm, this is difficult. I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself when the weight wasn’t coming off as fast as I wanted. I know the process. I knew as long as I put the work in that I would be happy at the end. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. You give 100%, you get 100%. I repeat this often to my clients and I need to remember that for myself!

Things I will keep doing:

Meal planning! I am going to keep meal planning, that has been the key to my success. I refuse to forget all my hard work and ease back into unhealthy eating habits. I will also focus on that one trip to the grocery store each week. I quit craving soda weeks ago, so it makes sense to just not buy soda anymore. I can’t say I won’t enjoy a coke zero at the movies, or a restaurant, but there is no reason for me to keep it in my house. Finally, I will keep working out. I was doing that before but will certainly continue. The next few weeks I will ramp up my running to get ready for Ragnar (hmm, another blog topic??:)), but will still exercise four-six days a week.

Closing thoughts:

This has been an amazing journey. Writing this blog has helped me take things one week at a time. It has also helped me celebrate small victories and recognize my challenges. I have loved Body Back whole-heartedly for over five years and didn’t think I could appreciate it more than I already do. This experience has even further enhanced my love for Body Back. The fact that we can do this for so many moms in the Chicagoland area brings a lot of joy to my heart.

If you are interested in going on your own eight-week journey, please reach out to me😊

Lisa

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Progress:

I can’t believe we are in Week seven and assessments are at the end of the week! Now that I’ve stopped dwelling on the scale (it took me long enough!), I’m celebrating all of the progress I’ve made. I had to order a piece to attach to my wedding ring to keep it from falling off! If that isn’t a sign of my progress, I don’t know what is! I’m excited for my measurements and strength assessments on Friday. It has been incredible being on this side of the process. Assessment day is always my favorite as an instructor and it will surely be even more fulfilling as a client.

Success Strategies:

I’ve mastered planning and am extremely motivated to keep my meal planning up after the session ends. This is the major key for me to keep from derailing during the week. I shop after I teach class every Saturday and make my oatmeal energy bites every Sunday. I’m confident we have saved a lot of money on take out the last seven weeks. In the past, I would order dinner in whenever I didn’t know what to cook. By planning ahead, I don’t have to think about it at all during my very busy weeks.

Challenges:

Last week was a challenge to attend every class. I’ve had a lot going on and was tempted to skip class in order to get some work done. I overcame temptation and didn’t skip and was so happy I went. I promised myself at the beginning of the session I would give myself two hours a week and not feel guilty about it. I have only missed one class (because of a previously planned commitment) and couldn’t feel prouder about that. That one-hour workout with a group of supportive women and an amazing coach is just what the doctor ordered. It is comforting to have those two hours to look forward to. I get to relieve some stress (where normally I might do that with junk food) and calm my mind during our end of class meditations. I’m already sad about the session ending next week!

Coming up next week – my results!

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Progress:

Still holding strong on the no alcohol or soda front! I gave up alcohol for Lent one year, which is roughly six weeks. That is the longest I have ever gone without (since being of legal age 😊) except of course for the nine months of pregnancy. I have not seen big movements on the scale, but my clothes are fitting better and I feel so STRONG when I work out. That is huge in itself! I feel like we often get caught up on that number on the scale. I am guilty of this. I keep reminding myself that success in Body Back can be measured in so many other ways than weight!

Success Strategies:

In case you haven’t read my previous blogs -there is a theme here -, plan, plan, plan! Just tonight, I went to make dinner and realized I was out of eggs. I am literally never out of eggs, I don’t even know how that happened. It is early in the week and I have a meal plan written and shopped for. This made it extremely easy to substitute a different healthy meal for tonight. Two months ago, that would have been a wonderful reason to order completely unhealthy take-out. I love that my new habits are setting me up for success each week!

Challenges:

GIRL. SCOUT. COOKIES. The struggle is real. I avoided them this week like the plague. They are still in my house and it’s very hard to forget that, but I am😊! I’m skipping a social event this week that is centered around wine and cheese. This is so difficult for me, but I know there will be similar events after Body Back is over. I didn’t come this far to only come this far!

Less than 2 weeks to go! I got this!