Starting Points

Hey friends 😀 How is your afternoon going?

Things have been bueno over here- a walk with Bella, appointment, signed papers for the realtor (fingers crossed! thank you again for the house vibes!) and met with a friend to talk about postpartum eating and fitness.

We met at Starbucks, and while we chatted, I enjoyed a Venti unsweet iced passion tea with a little lemonade (try it- you’ll love it) and my favorite salt & pepper popcorn.


So here’s the dealio:

My friend recently had a baby (who is so stinkin’ cute and gave me flirty eyes while he gurgled and I held him) and is unsure of how to get into a routine of taking care of herself again. She had a very difficult pregnancy, with an incredible reward, but one that didn’t enable her to eat the way she would like to or work out, as she was on bed rest. We talked about how it can be SO overwhelming to start from scratch –there is a ton of information out there and it’s easy to get bogged down. Too many goals at once is a fast track to burnout. So, I gave her my two main pointers for getting back on track:

1. Walk everyday.

2. Plan meals.


Walking is such a great form of cardio, especially for beginners. You can do it anywhere and as long as you’re consistent, you’ll see results. I told her to start off with 30 minutes, but if she felt like going longer, great. If not, just to make sure she got 30 minutes in, The thing about walking is that it’s a great starting point- it can turn into jogging/running, or help build stamina for aerobics classes like spinning/step/kickboxing/etc. The mental break is an added bonus, too.


As far as planning meals go, I really think most people know how they *should* eat. [Ex: I know I should eat a vegetable instead of this cheeseburger, but this cheeseburger is here and it’s $0.99 so I’m just going to eat this instead] Lack of planning is what results in drive thru trips and scarfing down something because you’re hungry and ready to eat, without regard to what you’re actually eating. I’m a huge, huge advocate of meal planning because if you take a few minutes each week to plan out dinners, lunches (which can be dinner leftovers) and breakfasts (I usually rotate through a handful of staples), you’ll be GTG 😀 (For more tips on meal planning, check out *this post*)


Do you have any advice? What do you think are important starting points??

When I got back to the casa, I made some ballz to take to work tomorrow:


(some girls at work are already hooked)

and am about to get crackalackin’ on my playlists.

Have a lovely night and I’ll see ya in the morning <3



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  1. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey on May 10, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I think those were GREAT tips for a newbie. I think also too being informed on nutrition and focusing on whole unprocessed foods is key!

  2. Chelsea on May 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I know it is so hard when your starting from nothing. Walking would be great, and could eventually lead to running but that may not be her thing. So she should really chose a cardio that she loves wether it be walking, hiking, biking, swimming, zumba or a step class. Then start slow to prevent injury, then slowly ad in weights. But I do think the trick is finding a cardio(s) she enjoys! When it comes to foods, leaving the junk out of the house works for me. Although, you might find me searching savagely for sweets at 9 pm, I know I wont find them.

  3. Allison @ Food For Healing on May 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    meal planning is definitely huge, then there is no room for unnecessary eating out or buying junk at the grocery store you don’t need, since you’ve got your plan set already.
    I like your tip on walking for 30minutes everyday. very good for someone just starting out again, and it helps clear your mind. And it looks like the weather is always GORGEOUS there, which makes me jealous!

    Without being overwhelmed with all sorts of tips and tricks, meal planning and walking/time to just unwind and be in the present moment is key

  4. suzi on May 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Great tips!
    FYI – I think you forgot to put the backlink for the meal planning post your “check out *this post*” isn’t hyperlinked.

    I’m crossing my finger & toes for ya on the house 😀

    • Fitnessista on May 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      oops! thanks 🙂

      • suzi on May 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm

        No prob! Happens to me all the time!

  5. Fallon on May 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Great advice!

  6. VeggieGirl on May 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Fingers crossed tightly for you!

  7. Katie on May 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Its so hard after after having a baby, I know that for sure! I say you left some good tips here for sure!!

    If she does have junk food types in the house, she should clear the pantry and go shopping for whole and healthy foods! She should also know to take things step by step, she will get to her happy place, but it does not happen overnight!

    I think walking is great, and they have those baby jogger stroller things that are amazing! U can even run with them or a light jog! She should check it out!

  8. Jackie @ Baking Charms on May 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I totally agree about walking every day – my mom is struggling with “where to start” and that’s always my first suggestion.

    Plus, pushing a stroller should be quite the good arm workout for your friend 🙂

  9. aj on May 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I know that for me, being at home for long periods of time can result in eating all day. Sticking to a daily schedule helps me be more mindful of what I’m eating.

  10. Holly @ The Runny Egg on May 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I think your tips are great — meal planning is huge for us. It also really helps on our grocery bill since I don’t end up picking up ingredients that we don’t need or won’t use for a while.

    The only advice I would give her is to give herself time and try to be patient. I can imagine it is tough to kind of start over like that.

  11. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy on May 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I enjoyed mama pea’s “pealightful recipes” or something that she did for her friend who needed some menu planning help. It’s so true that menu planning makes all the difference in the world. That AND having some key staples on hand. For me, those consist of: brown rice, wheat pasta, marinara, black beans, salsa, bell peppers, bananas, almond butter, oats, eggs, etc. With those ingredients, there are so many things I can whip up on the fly without a recipe.

  12. Tami on May 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    we can be so hard on ourselves, she gave birth, brought a new human being into the world and did not have an easy time of it. slow and steady. find somethign she loves, both with her baby and without. hiking, running, walking…if she can find another women to walk with so they can talk about being a new mom and all the stuff that goes along with it. my neighbor and i walked for a few weeks after my daughter was born, i didn’t realize it then but now i see what she was doing. she gave me sometime to myself and a place where i could vent about all the newness in our lives without judging me. as the baby gets bigger and more able to do things, she can add the baby into some of these fun things. once my kids were sitting up, we cooked and baked together on the kitchen floor. i would also recommend that she doesn’t wish away this time with her baby. the grass isn’t always greener and they are only babies (all be difficult ones at times!) for so long.

  13. Amanda (Eating Up) on May 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Planning meals is key for me too! It saves me in the nutrition department and $$$.

  14. Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty on May 10, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    one thing that I try to use, is to workout every day (or however much) – and to start with a plan of 10 minutes, and if you do more, great, but if you don’t get into it, that’s ok too!! It’s very rare that once you start, you want to stop!!!

    I still have to make those amazeballs – I have leftover sun warrior that is just waiting for it!!

  15. Cait @ Beyond Bananas on May 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Celebrate every accomplishment.. even the smallest of ones. Set goals – and when you read them.. reward yourself. When you are working hard – you deserve a little TLC for yourself! (Perhaps in the form of retail therapy!)

  16. RunEatRepeat on May 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I am the hugest advocate of walking and my grams and mom have used that (with healthier eating) to lose when I was a kid. Great advice.

  17. Jessica @Fruit and Veggie Tales on May 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Oh, I completely understand your friends situation! I have been through the post-partum thang twice! I was actually pp with the first baby when I was going to school for exercise! 😀 I think the best thing to do is commit to doing ‘something’ for 30 minutes every day. It’s hard for us to walk every day up here in the midwest but I can make sure I do something…whether it be a video, podcast, yoga, etc. I’m pretty big on listening to your body especially post partum. It can really get you down when you are so exhausted/sore/frazzled from being a new mom but you KNOW you have to work out so you do a Turbofire work out when your body was really screaming for some yoga or pilates. I think it’s also important to remember the incredible things that your body did, it’s mental game too ~You grew a human! Awesome! It came out of you! Awesome! He will love you forever! Awesome! Things may be in a different spot even after you lose all the weight but you’ll appreciate your hard work more and from every angle!
    I also like to plan meals but sometimes, it’s just not possible! lol I like to keep a few things in the freezer, I’ll make extra chili or an extra lasagna, batch of muffins or whatever and freeze it! Then I have a healthy meal in a pinch and portable-one-handed snacks are great too! Lara Bars and bananas save lives! 😉

  18. Elizabeth on May 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Dont try too much too soon! Set yourself up for success and you will be so proud of your acheivments and get positive momentum going.

  19. Erica @ A Healthy Habit on May 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I really like the tips you gave and can relate to them. I would suggest tracking meals and workouts as a good way to get going along with the planning of what you are going to eat and when. Rewarding yourself for small goals when you are just starting out has worked for me as well. Good luck with the house!

  20. Jessica @Fruit and Veggie Tales on May 10, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Also, I loooooove doing abs and squats while holding my baby! He thinks it’s hilarious and the toddler likes to do yoga poses! Every little bit helps! Check out som mommy/baby workout DVD’s or start backwards with a prgnancy DVD set, for instance: Start with 3rd trimester stuff and work back to first trimester stuff! Oh man, sorry….I get really excited about pregnancy and post partum exercise! haha

    • Fitnessista on May 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      those are excellent tips!

  21. The Teenage Taste on May 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Those are definitely some very helpful tips. Heck, I do the same thing after a long vacation to get myself “back on track!”

  22. Sarah on May 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I think that is great advice. It does take so long to get back in shape. I had easy pregnancies with normal weight gain and it took me a year to feel like myself again. I’m still reminding myself of this because I have a 7 month old and I’m getting frustrated that I don’t look the way I used to. It’s hard to focus on just fueling your body and exercising every day when you don’t see the results. I lost all of my weight but I just don’t look the same.
    I have a question regarding this subject and your last post about abs. Have you ever worked with a pp woman trying to get rid of the sag? I work out my abs by doing planks, pilates, and I also do the Physique 57 DVDs. I never ever feel sore in my abs. And my abs are flat but I can’t bend over because of the sag. Any suggestions?

  23. dynamics on May 10, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    My suggestion is a bit different. My successes came from eating a good protein breakfast within one hour of arising. I pretty much have three go to meals for breakfast. I have just started drinking green tea which is great as it upped my water intake. I chop and dice and prepare most of my veggies and meals on Sunday. Opening the fridge to grab chopped veggies or a chicken breast is so much better than trying to decide what to make. The library is a great place that does not hurt the pocketbook too. You can even borrow fitness DVD’s.

  24. Sarah C on May 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    This post is really exactly where I am right now. We had a really difficult pregnancy and our daughter spent 3 months in the hospital. It’s hard because you have all these ideas on how you will have the perfect pregnancy- workout everyday, eat oh so healthy, and get right back on schedule soon after birth. But sometimes life takes us in a whole different direction. I have just started to begin walking daily with my daughter and hub and it makes me feel loads better. I am confident that building this habit of exercise with our eating habits will make all the difference. Thanks for the post! If you ever have a chance to do a post on quick workouts (I.e. To do between newborn nap times at home) I would totally love, love that! You are awesome, Gina- as always!

  25. Morgan on May 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Congrats to your friend!! She could maybe make an inspiration board and keep a goal sheet visible! My favorite thing to do with my kids was pack them up in the jogging stroller and walk to the park. Even if her baby isn’t old enough yet to enjoy the park, the fresh air is the best way to make a baby/toddler sleepy…it knocks them out for some reason! Oh and also, I think your friend should try and keep up on her sleep. I know it seems impossible during the first few months up to a year but that the most vital healthy tip for any new mama!

    Also, sending mega house vibes your way!!

  26. Amy on May 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    All of these suggestions are amazing! 🙂

  27. Ilana on May 10, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    The goal I set in the beginning was simple: eat breakfast. Every day. I forget so often, and I suffer when I do. But eating breakfast, every day, is always the foundation for a good day.

  28. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on May 10, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Getting back into shape after pregnancy is such a hugely discussed thing but after the lochia fades, the milk makers are still very full. Running for me was out of the question the first year I was nursing and only into the later half of my nursing career was running comfortable. Walking is wonderful though! Great suggestion. The other thing too is that not sleeping much, not sleeping in very many hours strung together, getting motivated for really challenging workouts just is hard to come by and walking always seems much more do-able.

    And meal planning…not even planning but just having planned leftovers on hand! Things to reheat b/c babies dont understand your schedule and cooking once (batch cooking) and having things on hand saved my life!!

    I could go on and on. Great post! 🙂

  29. alicia on May 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Those are two great ways to get started. I say make sure you have extra snacks/grab-n-go meals. A newborn/baby/toddler/child means there will be times you will not get to eat, or forget. Being able to grab a pre-bagged bag of almonds, larabar, whatevs will always give you a healthy option for those moments. I also try to get a frozen family meal when I shop. In fact, that is what’s for dinner tonight. Pasta, chicken, broccoli, corn, carrots, with a salad, not too bad. One thing I still struggle with, get dressed as soon as you wake up! Put on your workout gear and sneakers, then you’ll be ready to walk out the door whenever baby says it’s walk time!

  30. kate@hautetotsBOS on May 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Sooo..having had three babies, congrats to her for taking the first step! It’s so tough at the beginning, but the very 2nd best piece of advice, next to meal planning, is tracking it all. i use the lose it app and it’s super awesome at keeping me accountable. five years ago when i had my youngest i used a plain old notebook to keep track of calories, fruits, veg, water, my weight gains/losses etc… it’s the best way to stay accountable, see what’s lacking, and see what’s working. Good luck!

  31. Charliegirl on May 10, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Have you ever read the book “Real Food” or “Real Food For Mother & Baby” by Nina Planck? Drastically changed my views on eating (and now on eating for two!) I think both of those books are awesome starting points for a truly healthy attitude towards food.

  32. Kelly on May 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I am a nutrition professional and studies have shown time and time again that nutrition is key. Exercise is definitely important but when it comes down to it nutrition trumps exercise every time. Now don’t freak out on me…I think you should move every single day. And I 100% agree with your walking advice. PERFECT for beginners. But on days when you can’t work out nutrition is KEY. Abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym. Your body will lean out with good nutrition and then you can tone it with exercise. I think all the advice you gave what awesome!

  33. ellen on May 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Some great advice thus far. I was on 4 1/2 months of strict bedrest in a difficult and high-risk pregnancy before giving birth to my son 5 weeks early in September. Before I got pregnant, I had visions of maintaining my fitness level and exercising, doing yoga, etc. That went out the door. Not only was my son in the hospital for a week, but he had colic and cried nonstop for almost 4 months. I also lost zero weight even thought I breastfed my son exclusively for 4 months. If she is breastfeeding, some women do not lose weight. At all. Trust me.
    The best advice is to GO EASY ON YOURSELF and realize that things are different now in ways you probably never anticipated. And she might not want to hear it, but it.takes.TIME. I agree walking is the best thing. Infants should not be in a jogging stroller until they have good head/neck control or can be propped up (around 4 months or so). She may want to invest in a Moby wrap or another type of carrier so she can wear the baby while walking (if he is still tiny). For later, maybe a mommy and me Yoga class? I am taking a mommy and me waterbabies type class this summer…maybe not too much exercise, but a good way to meet other moms and maybe move around a bit. Stroller Strides/Luna moms club has groups in many areas that offer classes you can take that combine walking with a stroller and other exercises. Again, IT.TAKES.TIME. Don’t let her get discouraged! Also, keep in mind that when you have a newborn you are not getting proper sleep which can also negatively effect your metabolism. A lot of times, I would eat because I was so tired and just needed to stay awake and get some extra energy.

  34. Parita on May 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I think walking and avoiding junk food as much as possible will really help your friend get back on track. Mind over matter!

  35. cathy on May 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    best wishes to your friend, gina! it must be so overwhelming to not only be thinking of getting yourself back on track, but trying to plan around this new little baby and his needs!
    walking = awesome advice. invest in a durable stroller, and you can be out and about with baby. my nieces were always soothed to sleep by the stroller walking! if the weather’s bad, mall walking is an option to still get in some fitness time; fresh air is such a mood enhancer – being outside as much as possible raises the spirits!
    great that you were there for your friend – i bet she appreciated just being able to share with you.

  36. Melissa on May 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    The Body By Bethenney is an awesome DVD to get some yoga and a little strength training in. It really helped me an is convenient for an early morning quiet time.

  37. Steph @ Steph's Life In Motion on May 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I haven’t had a baby, but the thing that keeps me on track is snacks! Plan, plan, plan your meal but also plan your snacks! I try to always have some sort of healthy snack available in my purse or bag that I can munch on. Otherwise, I’ll eat anything in sight! Some easy packable snacks: Larabars, almonds, dried fruit, granola bars, dark chocolate for a treat, ballz….

    Speaking of ballz, I would love to see a post on your favorite ballz combinationz!! I am loving these things!!!!

  38. Annie on May 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Add spinach to smoothies! Green monsters are amazing – like insurance to make sure you get enough veggies every day.

  39. Ellen on May 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    my advice is to choose something you can do every day. it is much easier to make yourself go for a 20-30 min walk every day than to squeeze in an hour of cardio 2-3x a week, especially when you’re busy and preoccupied. It becomes “when am I going to walk today?” instead of “can I fit in exercise today? Nah, tomorrow will be better.”

  40. Jessica @ Jessica Balances on May 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I would suggest postnatal yoga, or regular yoga if she feels ready for it! I think yoga helps you get in touch with your body and how you’re REALLY feeling (which could help with hunger cues) — and it’s a great way to build strength and endurance, especially if it’s a hot class! 🙂 And I totally agree with you about meal planning; it’s so important!

  41. Katie~ Run For The Bikini on May 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    When I lost 50 lbs at 13 I did it mostly through walking, that was the one big change I made. I was determined to lose weight and I just walked and walked till I got there 😀 And then I found out I was a pretty decent runner. I will always be thankful that I had the courage to make that change at such a young age.

  42. Tori (Fresh Fruition) on May 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I absolutely ADORE the Iced Passion Tea from Starbucks. I get it unsweetened and add one packet of sweetener to cancel out any bitterness. Its so refreshing! I could drink that stuff all day.

  43. beachgirlrunning on May 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Such awesome advice for your friend!!! One tidbit I stumbled upon… DON’T feel quilty taking time for yourself. I CANNOT stress this enough. I am a better mom when I take the time to workout, de-stress, or whatever. I thought I could be super mom and take care of it all. HA! That only lasted so long…. leaving the kids with their dad, grandparents, whomever… gives you all a breather. It provides your kids with quality time with other adults in their lives. It provides you with some downtime to re-energize and recognize yourself. Good luck to her!!! PS. Don’t comment often but LOVE your blog!!!

  44. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on May 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I totally agree with you on walking more! And also just doing whatever cardio she CAN do. When I started working out, I could only do about 20 minutes on the elliptical. But 20 minutes is better than nothing! And I eventually got up my fitness levels to where I am now.

  45. The Healthy Hipster on May 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I just had this conversation with a friend of mine who struggles with disordered eating and falls easily into negative self talk and food restriction. My biggest suggestion was much like yours, to set reasonable attainable goals first and ramp up naturally. In my experience good habits lead into more good habits but becoming too intense about diet and fitness regimes right away only results in obsessive behaviours and disappointment.

    How do you cope with friends who ask you for advice but are prone to disordered or obsessive behaviours around food? I am always torn between avoiding the subject like the plague to avoid enabling them… but also feeling like its my responsibility to give positive and healthy support.

    • Fitnessista on May 11, 2011 at 1:35 am

      i think the way i do it best is not by talking about it, but by living it. when we go out, i do my thang (like devour a giant salmon and veggie meal while we’re chatting) and we usually talk about life and other stuff than fitness/eating tips.

  46. Ashley @ Feeding Ashley on May 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Those are really great tips. I’m really bad about not meal planning and then grabbing something fast like a clif bar or larabar, which aren’t terrible but vegetables are better.

  47. Maddy on May 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    First-I am a lurkie and a huge fan of this site. Your blog inspires me, it makes me laugh, it has helped me lose weight and you have introduced me to some amazing new healthy foods (Larabar coconut cream pie, making my salads more beastly, your friends brilliant protein muf idea, etc.)

    I also ended up on bedrest during my pregnancy and my child ended up in the NICU. (He’s doing great now as a preschooler). One suggestion I have is the same thing you promote to anyone on your blog-try to eat as much nutrient dense food as possible. When you treat yourself try a chocolate Larabar, a cupcake made with Bob’s red mill baking mix which has bean and rice flours or anything yummy with a decent amount of nutritional value. Don’t obsess over fat-better to have something nutrient dense with good fats, than fat free junk). The sleep deprivation can be so challenging and I found when I treated myself to a yummy with no nutritional value I just felt more tired and cranky.

    • Fitnessista on May 11, 2011 at 1:33 am

      a lurkie! so cute- thanks for saying hi 🙂
      awesome tips too!

  48. Betsy on May 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I found that with a newborn, somedays I wouldn’t even get a shower. One thing that really worked for me was to go to a place like Trader Joe’s that has great pre-made salads and cut up fruits and veggies. We would stock up on those, so no matter how tired we were there was no prep and it was a much better alternative to the drive thru.

  49. Elena @ GagaForGrapefruit on May 11, 2011 at 12:46 am

    lots of house vibes your way! and meal planning is really saving my eating habits right now too!

  50. Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food on May 11, 2011 at 1:04 am

    I love your points about walking and planning meals. I would say to focus meals around whole plant foods and to aim for balanced meals both in terms of fat/protein/carb but also in terms of getting plenty of produce and other whole foods.

    I would say once the doc gives the go ahead that body weight strength training moves (squats, lunges, push-up, etc) are a great starting point. Also gentle yoga to stretch and rejuvenate the body 🙂

    Lots of water and tea also, clearly I could go on and on… 🙂

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