Tuesday, May 24, 2016

12 Tricks to Prep for Summer


I always listen to my friend's advice. Especially when they are celebrities, duh. Naturally, when I read the latest tips and tricks of the stars I take note. And I looooovvvee when most of those tips and tricks are ones that I already employ. So here they are, 12 ways to prepare for a fit and fabulous summer!

  • REST.  Ideally eight to ten hours is what you should shoot for. Shoot for. If that means winding down early (with your kids or without), then do it. I keep a notepad by my bed so I can jot down things on my mind that might keep me awake. I also try to get to bed early enough to read/meditate to make sure I fall into that deep sleep I love so much. Staying well rested will keep your brain in check when those nasty cravings set in.
  • INTENSIFY YOUR WORKOUT. Work out smarter, not harder. Don't waste precious time jogging along when  you can speed it up with sprints or a tabata session (20 seconds high intensity, 10 seconds recovery for eight rounds). Whether you are jumping rope, squatting, lunging or high knee-ing, push yourself through intervals and make 20 minutes count for an hour.

  • CUT BACK ON COCKTAILS. I know, I know, WTH...but if you want to lose weight, one of the first things that needs to go is that nightly drinky drink. Try to limit it to one or two drinks per week...if that. Once you get to your ideal weight, then you can enjoy a cocktail poolside...with that rockin' body of yours!
  • FIBER-FULL MORNINGS. Fiber keeps you fuller longer, and who doesn't want that? With the recommendation being 25-35 grams per day, it seems nearly impossible to full up on that many berries, cups of beans and whole grains. Start off strong and get as much as you can in the AM  (think steel-cut oatmeal, fiber cereal with fruit).
  • HYDRATE. There is one true liquid of the Gods and it is that quality H20. Ditch the soda and juice (packed with sugar and calories) and flush that body right with nothing but fresh, delicious water.
  • MAKE IT A GROUP THANG. Whether you hit an exercise class with a friend, run with a neighbor or take on virtual challenges, force yourself to be accountable. Get in a group and expect each other to show up. It is not nearly as easy to dodge a workout when people are waiting for you and are happy to lay on the guilt.
  • KEEP TRACK. With so many apps and gadgets out there these days it is easier than ever to keep track of what goes in and out of your body. Food gets written down (the in) as do your daily workouts (the out). I use MyFitnessPal for food/workouts which is great as it syncs to by FitBit Blaze to give me all the information I need to ensure I meet my daily goals. I also keep a small desk calendar with my workouts to make sure I get in at least five a week. Nothing is more depressing than seeing empty little squares...
  • LIVE ACTIVE. I know how hard it is to try and make time for fitness when you have little ones at home, but what if your life just was fitness? I often catch myself sitting and watching the boys play when I realize I could also be getting my calorie burn on. I get up, get moving and watch those steps tick away on my tracker. I always aim for at least 12,000 steps a day and usually have no problem getting there. Running around outside, dancing, riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, teach yourself (and your littles) that being active IS life.

  • EAT CLEAN(-ISH). I try to eat as healthy as possible, but I also don't deny myself anything I want. So, yes, if that means I need a day of chemical s#% storm, so be it. I accept my poor choices and make better ones the next time around. As long as most of your diet is whole and healthy then you are off to a good start. 
  • CHECK OUT. Taking a small amount of time each day to mentally cleanse through meditation can reduce stress and also get your mind in check. When your have a clear head you are less likely to go digging make poor eating choices and dodge a workout.
  • SET SOME ASIDE. When you make/order food, train yourself to see multiple servings. If you are out, ask for a box. If you are home, make a small plate and save the rest. Don't gorge yourself at each meal. Keep it small, enjoy it and set the rest aside for later.


  • GET STARTED. Make an effort to get healthy. Even as little as five minutes of cardio a day will have you feeling better than zero. Jumping jacks while dinner is cooking or a dance party with your kids will work. The goal here, get your endorphins pumping and teach your brain to crave the feeling.  Cutting out soda, your daily McDonalds breakfast or even just slowing down on that burrito is a good start. Take it one day at a time and do your best!


Do you have any favorite tricks stashed away to help you get back on a healthy track?

Strive to thrive, 
Em



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Recipe - Luscious Lemon Bars


I am a lover of all things lemon. I prefer a nice balance of sweetness to tart with a slight emphasis on the tangy tart flavor. Thankfully, my Thriving Mommy is not only a lemon lover but she is also quite talented in the kitchen. Anytime she whips up lemon bars and can teach me her tricks, I am all in. This is her go-to recipe which I have now adopted as my own.  Thanks mommy!
Once you have your ingredients ready, adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. Next, spray an 8 inch by 8 inch pan with nonstick spray. Using heavy duty foil, fit an 8 inch x 16 inch (you can eyeball it) piece on the bottom of the pan with two sides hanging over (like handles) so you can easily pull the bars out of the pan. Lastly, spray down the foil again so that nothing sticks! You won't want to waste a smidge of that crust!


Mix the flour, salt and confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter to form a sweet dough.


Next, press the dough firmly into the pan bottom and bake for 20 minutes until it takes on a pale golden color.

 

While the crust bakes, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice and zest into a medium bowl.



Remove the golden crust from the oven and try not to eat it.


Add the lemon mixture and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, until it is just set.


Let those luscious lemon bars cool in the pan for a few minutes, then use those handy foil handles to remove and set them on a wire rack to further cool to room temperature.


Before you start stuffing them into your mouth, sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut into squares THEN enjoy!!

Trust me, I really have issues not eating all that hard work in one hot minute, as these are so tasty! They are a great treat to share with other lovers of all things lemon and with these summer months coming up, this is a must have on hand recipe for all Thriving Wives! Hope you enjoy!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fall In Love With Indoor Cycling


I am no stranger to frightened faces when I utter the words, "spin class" or "cycling".  They immediately cower at the suggestion and tell me how that may be a bit too "intense" for them as they wiggle around uncomfortably at the thought of a painful "seat".  This is where I have to insert my surprise, "Are you being serious?!"

For those of you who are terrified, let me tell you a little secret as I have been taking/teaching classes for over five years: Cycling is one of the few group classes where you can actually fake it to make it and truly go at your own pace without standing out.  It is pretty obvious in kickboxing, boot camp, step and sculpting class who is "struggling to keep up". That alone often makes people not want to return.

But with indoor cycling, that is just not the case.  You can do as little or as much as you like.  You can murder yourself with the uphill climbs and take the sprints by storm, or you can just pedal your little heart out to a steady 300-500 calorie burn.  The choice is really yours.

As an instructor I always reassure clients there is nothing to fear.  If you show up to the class and you do your best, then nothing else matters.  Do I want you to challenge yourself?  Well of course! Can your instructor tell if you have added resistance when they just screamed for you to do so?  Sorta.  Does anyone, (including the instructor) really care? No way!  That is the greatest thing about cycling, it is all you.  You get to decide.  You determine the intensity of the workout. Your instructor will motivate you, but you can take it or leave it.

Still thinking, "Fat chance Em"? Well then let me count the reasons you should at least give it a shot.
  1. Anytime Works.  I know for me, if I have a cardio workout planned then there is no meal allowed before. A light snack, (nuts, banana) now thats fine, but anything too heavy and I'll vomit all over the floor.  But with cycling, since you aren't jumping around there will be no tummy ache! I would suggest still keeping it rather light, but you don't have to fear the food.
  2. Low Impact. Since I myself have weak knees, I can't do a lot of workouts for too long without feeling the pain...and not the good kind. With cycling, my knees are protected and there is no pounding (like with running) which makes for a pain free session.
  3. Strength AND Endurance Training. Not only does cycling work your different muscles when adding resistance on hills, but your endurance is also going to be pushed by maintaining tempos and speeds. Let's not forget those sprint intervals which will torch calories in a jiffy!
  4. Total Body. The old days of just sitting on a bike and coming out of the saddle here and there are looonnnggg gone (thank goodness!). Most studios these days, (like our favorite is Bike2theBeat in Newport or Tustin) you are going to get a total body workout like no other. Legs in constant motion working all muscle groups. Core engaged as you maintain proper form and keep it tight and right. Arms working through a number of moves like pushups and forward/backward motions. Now that is what I am talking about!
  5. No Hangover After Hitting This Club. No need to get all gussied up and wait until the late hours of the night to head out to the club. Now you can throw on your workout gear, grab your water and towel and hit the studio from morning to night. When the lights dim and the beat drops you will love the dance party you have on your bike, no cocktail needed! 
  6. Sweat Like A Mother. If you are planning to go somewhere where you don't want to look like a drowned rat following class...don't. Cycling will leave you drenched...in a good way. With all those toxins leaving your body, you are sure to feel physically and emotionally refreshed. Don't forget a towel..and maybe an extra shirt for after.
  7. Connect. When  you join a fitness community (for any activity) you usually end up making connections with other people taking the classes. Often times those connections become friendships and soon you have someone wondering where you are if you don't show up...enter the love/hate relationship with accountability.
I too was a bit terrified of indoor cycling before I started years ago.  I had only seen the dimly lit rooms, packed with sweating beasts and was sure it was too much for me.

Me after teaching a class 9 months after having the twins
Then I tried it, became obsessed with it and now teach myself... how is that for full circle??  If you take a "traditional" cycle class at a corporate run gym, prepare for a different vibe. Lights may have to be on, music will be predetermined and you may have a sore tush from sitting in the saddle. If you take to the small studio route your experience may be completely different.



My advice? Try a few different places and see what works best for you and your body. Try working it in a few times a week and really give it a shot.

I promise you won't be disappointed when you leave drenched in your own sweat with jelly legs and 600-1,000 calories less then when you started.

Ready to sign up?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Paris Escape - Brought to You by Our TW Ash


We are thrilled to welcome the first contribution to our new Thriving Wives Collective! Ash is a longtime friend of mine, who over the years has become family. When Ash shared her European travel plans on one of our catch-up sessions, I had to know the details. Even as she was telling me I started to feel racked with guilt and wondered how she was going to do it. Since her son is only a week younger than my boys, I was amazed at her strength and ability to feel confident about taking advantage of an opportunity to enjoy a romantic getaway with her husband. Now, if that doesn't motivate you to thrive and yet still do you...then heck, I don't know what will!  

Enjoy & Strive to thrive, 
Em


Newsflash to me: My thriving husband has to travel to London for two weeks for work. Well, we decided to make the best of his work situation and make a vacation of it...in Paris, France!!  We love to travel to new places, have always wanted to visit Paris, and the idea of eating/ drinking our way through such a romantic city sounded amazing...so we decided to go abroad...without the "baby".

Of course I was nervous at the thought of leaving our son. But, we are extremely fortunate that we live within 5 minutes of two sets of grandparents.  Once I organized childcare between my mom, my mother-in-law, my step-mother-in-law and our nanny, we were set! 

To prepare for leaving home, I made sure to confirm (and reconfirm) the childcare situation.  All the caregivers were coming to our house to take care of Jake.  We wanted to keep him in his environment and have as little disruption to his schedule as possible.  Thankfully, they supported our "routine" and were committed to staying 24 hours a day. We made sure to leave his insurance card, medical release forms and all the appropriate medical contact information. Good thing we did, since it was unfortunately needed.


While Em has shared her struggle with the mom guilt, I am going to be honest...and this may sound bad, but I was pretty excited to go on trip like this without my son.  Now that Jake is almost 2, and I had a fantastic childcare situation, I was feeling pretty comfortable.  Plus, I had been working full time and on solo mom duty for 2 weeks already while my TH worked. Needless to say, this mama was ready to see her husband and have a break! 

Now while I was initially thrilled to get away, when I got to the airport the anxiety set in. I was able to keep that under control with some wine at the airport bar and in flight. Once I arrived in France, saw my husband and played out a scene from a romantic movie (yes, running into each others arms before falling into a deep kiss), all was forgotten. And...that lasted all of two days. Then, that awful guilt started to creep in again.  


To make matters worse, my son has never been sick. Of course, while we were away, he came down with an ear infection, cold and cough. UGH! I felt horrible that I couldn't be him.  I felt helpless.  I worked through the guilt by sticking with the plan to stay in touch with our family regularly. I made a point to Face Time with Jake each day and talk out my guilt with my with my husband. Thankfully, he helped me work through my feelings and helped me remember Jake was in great hands and most importantly, we were in Paris!

Despite the worry I had about being away from my sick son, I did my best to make the most of the time we had away.  My favorite memories from our trip was when we spent close to 10 hours a day just exploring the magical city of Paris.  


One day we rented bikes and rode over to the eiffel tower. Little did we know that this would be one of the more terrifying experiences of our lives due to the crazy amount of traffic and my "emerging" bike skills (my college girls can attest to that). But, we laughed a lot and will never forget the experience. 

I also loved the freedom of walking the city at night. We stood in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral and just stared at all the beautiful lighting and architecture. Definitely couldn't have done that with a toddler in tow. It was truly amazing. 

Fun Fact: Paris was one of the first European cities to adopt gas street lighting which is why it is known as the, "city of lights".


Once I was able to disconnect from the guilt of being away and focus on enjoying myself and reconnecting with my husband by the end of the trip, we were THRIVING again!

Now getting back....that was tough. Jake had been thrown off his schedule big time.  Of course, we couldn't expect every caregiver to do things exactly in "our" way, so they all had a slightly different way of caring for him.  For example, we had been trying (very hard) to limit the amount of pacifier time he had as he loved that paci.  Unfortunately, by the time we were back, when we took it away a major meltdown ensued.  While it was hard and long, thankfully, it only took about a week and a half for things to fall back into place.  

If I could go back and do it again...I would in a heartbeat.

Meet Ash:

Even under a kitchen remodel she's still Thriving!
A born and bred California "Valley Girl" Ash was introduced to her husband (ironically, also a "Valley Boy") after returning to So Cal once she graduated from Chico State. When "the party was over" and it was time to grow up, she soon met the man of her dreams. She knew she was where she was meant to be. This September marks her 5th wedding anniversary while August will mark her beautiful son's 2nd birthday.   

While Ash has always been a career driven independent woman, her priorities shifted a bit when she became a mommy. Since both she and her Thriving Husband are total "bosses, (#powercouple), she decided to move to a new company located closer to her stunning Studio City home. 


Her Thriving Life Philosophy?  

Making sure the most important relationships in her life stay "watered" or "filled up". The first relationship she makes sure to keep full is the one with herself.  If she's not taking care of herself (mentally or physically) she can't be the best version of herself for the rest of her relationships.  While it is easy to forget yourself once you become a wife and mother, she has spent the better part of her 30's trying to work on herself.  Her relationship with her husband is one she cherishes more than anything.  She recognizes that her family started with two and as long as they stay strong everything else around them will too. She feels she is thriving most when all her relationships are "watered". Everyday she tries her best.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Calling All Thriving Wives...We've Got a Brand New Look!


If you are new to Thriving Wives or haven't visited us in awhile, we only hope you are obsessed with our new look as we are. Oh so fresh, oh so clean. Our very own co-founder Nic did an amazing job and I couldn't be more thankful to her and her fancy tech skills!

As we put the finishing touches on our new style, we hope you continue to thrive with us through each section of our lives. At home, working out, in the kitchen, feeling positive and of course enjoying all the things we love!


As we continue to develop our new look, we are also developing a new approach to sharing the "thrive". Are you a strong, fun, crafty, cookin, good lookin' lady? Well, then we want to hear from you. We would love to share your journey through business, wife-dom and/or motherhood. Have great ideas you know other like-minded women would love to learn about, share them with us and join our collective!

Email us at thrivingwives@gmail.com with your ideas and we will get back to you with the quickness.

Our first Thriving Wife contributor Ash is telling us all about how she managed to sneak away from her corporate career and toddler to fit in a week away with her husband in Paris. Now THAT is thriving! We hope you love her as much as we do!


We can't wait to meet you, hear your ideas and work together to share the good Thriving Wives word!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thriving Wives Gift Tips


As mommies, our lives are pretty much non stop. 

If you work full time and race home to tend to your other full time job of running a house and taking care of your family...PROPS. TO. YOU. 

If you are a stay at home mom who manages kids all day in addition to making sure the household runs smoothly...PROPS. TO. YOU. 

If you are a working-from-home mom who somehow can balance getting work done while watching the kids and running the household...PROPS. TO. YOU. 

Or if you fall anywhere in between...that's right, you guessed it... PROPS. TO. YOU.  Being a mother is not a joke. It is 24/7, 365. No breaks, no checking out. It is full time, all the time. For. the. rest. of. your. life.


But there is one day, one sweet, sweet day each year that is just for the mommies. No, not our birthday. No, not Valentine's Day, but Mother's Day. The glorious day where we should get whatever we want. 

The big question is how do you show the woman who takes care of EVERYTHING that you love and appreciate her? Well, I asked a few of my closest Thriving Wives just that question and these were the responses:

  • "Peace & quiet with some added indulgences that I feel guilty about spending money on; Voluspa candles, fancy matches, massage, mani/pedi and my favorite treats waiting for me in the freezer" -K.
  • "Sleeping in, laundry done, massage and mani/pedi"- M.
  • "Facial, massage, brunch or dinner with minimal kid duties for the day"-M.
  • "Having my husband think of me in sweet ways throughout the day. For example, breakfast in bed, crafts made by the boys, family outing and maybe a little "me" time"-B.
  • "Something homemade by my little one"-C.
  • "Classic breakfast in bed with my favorite flowers"-L.
  • "ANYTHING with my kid's picture in it! Also, an experience like a hike to the Hollywood sign, painting class or Duffy ride with snacks prepared for by the kids.  Or, any keepsake that shows the kid's age" -Y.
  • "Something for yourself that is not home or kid related! Taking a date day for myself with a stash of cash to spend on whatever I want without feeling guilty!" -N.
  • "A beautiful thoughtful card and breakfast made by my husband and son" -A.


Well, Thriving Wives, do you fall somewhere on this list? If so, FORWARD THIS TO YOUR HUSBAND!!!! 

For me it is 100%, no question, best gift ever - Guilt-Free Daddy Daycare. I received this coupon on Valentine's Day and practically store it in the safe with my jewels. I mean, this thing is like gold. I told my husband I wanted these and only these for every holiday until our kids are old enough to take care of themselves. 

Since I live about an hour and a half from any friends, the thought of taking a GUILT FREE day, to reconnect with myself and my friends while also maybe getting my nails done and enjoy not scarfing down my lunch in ten minutes to tend to my kids is absolute heaven.

So whether it is breakfast in bed, a homemade gift, or a day off...you deserve everything you desire and more. Props to the all the Thriving Mommies old, new or almost.. now let's live it up this weekend!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

7 Appliances That Changed My LIfe


I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Feeding boys, cleaning up after boys, preparing to feed boys...yeah, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I am definitely not a chef...not by a long shot. But I do enjoy following recipes and creating meals for my family.

The more time I spend in the kitchen these days, the more I find myself dusting off my wedding registry appliances and adding new time savers to the mix. These seven appliances have really made an impact on my life. I love them.

Mother's Day is coming up this weekend...does the mommy in your life have all the kitchen love she needs? If not, here is a good list to start with!



1. Keuirg - I am sure we all have jumped on the single coffee cup bandwagon...and for good reason. If you are a one cup wonder or like to have a hot cup throughout the day than this little ditty is the way to go. I still have my traditional coffee maker tucked away for a post-dinner party beverage, but these days, the Keuirg is a must have for every kitchen.

2. Electric Water Kettle - Now this is not exxxxactly mine, it is my Thriving Mommy's, but I still use each morning. I am obsessed. My daily hot water with lemon, oatmeal...I mean this little thing takes seconds and produces some hot, hot water! No more waiting for the stove to get going, thank G.

3. Juicer - When I did my whole juice cleanse, this thing was literally my best friend. But these days I use it mostly for fresh orange and grapefruit juice. Since we live in the country and often get boxes of fresh citrus from our neighbor's groves, I count my lucky stars to have my trusty juicer nearby. There is NOTHING better than fresh juice!

4. Magic Bullet - Literally the new love of my life. With green smoothies being a daily staple for myself and my boys, this amazing gadget makes whipping up greens and fruit a snap. I would be lost without her.

5. Crock Pot - Who doesn't love their crock pot? These are a must for every Thriving Wife. Dinners can be thrown in before heading to work or out with the kids only to have your meal have made itself in the evening. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, drinks and even for entertaining...does it every stop? The Crock is must have kitchen essential.

6. Panini Maker - No grilled cheese will ever be the same. I am allllll about my panini maker. Caprese for me, BLT for my TH, pear and brie, I mean you can really do it all...at the same time...with this great machine. The leftovers and possibilities are endless!

7. Ice Cream Maker - This was a wedding gift that I made sure to register for because I wanted to use it when I had kids. Well, I use, it a lot...but not for my kids. I am OBSESSED with making fresh, soft-serve-ish, heaven in a spoonful, ice cream on the reg-u-lar. No more store bought junk for me. I make it, know what goes in (organic only) and can add fruit, chocolate, cookies, candy...I mean WHATEVER I want to make it meet all my sweet dreams.

The only wedding appliance that I still need to crack into is my food processor. From what I have heard once you start, you just won't stop. I am just not sure I am ready for another appliance love affair....who am I kidding, yes I am!

What appliances can you just not live without? Am I missing out on something?!!

Strive to thrive, 
Em