A new year, a new me. That’s what I keep hearing from email marketing, websites, bloggers, and advertisements. I was always reluctant to set New Year’s Resolutions because I felt like I was setting myself up for failure, and that’s the last thing I want to do going into a new year. On one hand, it’s just a date, a new month, a new calendar year. On the other hand, it’s a great time to set new goals and to reflect on what I did in the past year, what I would do the same, and what I would do differently.
Wow, 2015 was Crazytown. We took a two-week road trip to Vancouver to see the Women’s World Cup, this blog received a makeover, we (finally) started preparing to remodel our kitchen, all three big kids were in school full time, I created my daughter’s first and second capsule wardrobes, I started working from home, I even rejoined the world of Instagram after a 1+ year hiatus (@ampfrances), and we added a fourth child to our family after an amazing home birth to a baby girl who was 42 weeks + 3 days late (but who’s counting!). I’m sure there are an infinite number of things I missed, but these were some of the biggest.
Unfortunately, the part that remains in my mind the most is my postpartum body. I hated being pregnant. I had terrible morning sickness, I prefered to lay in bed for months, I had no motivation to do anything, and I hated getting bigger. And bIgGeR. And BIGGER. For the first time after four pregnancies, I did acupuncture when I was just a couple of months along, and my morning sickness was stopped in its tracks as soon as I was 13 weeks when it normally took close to five months to feel relatively normal again. Once I started feeling better, I started working out. Hard.
I continued teaching barre classes at The Dailey Method until four weeks before I was due, and I worked out five days a week until I was 41 weeks pregnant. I participated in a healthy food challenge through The 30 Clean when I was seven months pregnant, and I felt better than ever. I thought that bouncing back after baby was going to be a breeze because I’d been eating well and working out hard.
Much to my surprise, the baby weight did not peel off as quickly as I wanted.
Here I am, four MONTHS postpartum, and I thought I would be back in bikini-rockin’ mode by now. Thank God it’s a cold January because there are no bikinis anywhere in sight! At four weeks postpartum, I participated in another food challenge and totally rocked it! At six weeks postpartum, I was cleared to work out again and started taking cycle and interval in addition to my regular barre workouts. Sure, I had a newborn, but I sleep-trained her from Day One, so nursing her never interfered with my super early morning workouts. At 13 weeks postpartum, I began teaching barre again! And now, at almost 18 weeks postpartum (Shoot, is it even considered postpartum anymore?!), I can’t even fit my thigh into my pre-pregnancy jeans, I’m pretty sure I have abdominals floating around somewhere below my belly skin, and I still have another 15 pounds to lose! It’s heartbreaking, to say the least. I appreciate high rise Lululemons now more than ever before because it tucks, lifts, sucks, and protects all the areas in all the places that I need it to. But unfortunately, it doesn’t take away from the feelings I have when I see my own reflection staring back at me in the mirror.
Going into the new year, it’s tempting to be hard on myself and say that I need to have a bikini-ready body by May. But the reality is that I have two beautiful daughters and two handsome boys who look up to me, and I need to set the best example I possibly can by showing them that self worth is not determined by what’s on the outside; it’s what’s on the inside that counts. It’s your inner beauty, the way you treat others, and the way you feel about yourself that makes you glow, regardless of your size. In retrospect, what do I think made me glow and feel great in 2015? After three food challenge,s during both pregnancy and postpartum, I believe that’s when I felt the most amazing. I had cut out sugar, chocolate, Starbucks grande soy chai (I still haven’t had one of my signature drinks for over four months!), and curbed my sugar cravings all together. I was eating three meals a day, one to two Mini-Meals, plus easily drank the minimum amount of water I needed to. I didn’t snack, I didn’t indulge in the temptations, and I didn’t cheat. So many people asked me how I was able to lose the baby weight so quickly, especially after number four, and I couldn’t help but say it was my dedication to both eating right and working out (even though I know that I still have another 15 lbs to go).
While I often referred to The 30 Clean as a food cleanse, it wasn’t that at all. It was a food challenge. A lifestyle reset. A community of people that were dedicated to helping me find the best me. It helped me eliminate trigger foods, make better food decisions, and eat more balanced meals. It helped me find more energy (Come on, I had a brand spankin’ new newborn and enough energy to work out five days a week while still maintaining the best milk supply I’d ever had), less mood swings (Again, newborn!! And minimal mood swings?!), and an energetic household who ate healthy with me. It sounds silly coming from someone who writes an allergy-free food blog, right? But I have my weaknesses, too. And while I can cook and bake with the best of them, it can be challenging to stay on track. The best part was that my family of six ate the most meals we’ve ever eaten together as a family during the 30 days I participated. The kids would clean off and set the table, we would eat dinner together, read and discuss a devotional from Jesus Calling, and wipe down the table once again. It was my favorite part of the process, and I loved how much they enjoyed our special time together. Then, the 30 days ended, we returned to our normal ways, started eating out more and more for the sake of convenience, then stopped doing every one of the things that meant so much to our family.
The 30 Clean was where I found accountability, support, and guidance, especially after the holidays. Starting January 11th, 2016, I will be participating in the paleo version with a group of friends, and you are welcome to joins us, regardless of whether you’re paleo, vegan, or vegetarian. And the best part is that I (yes, ME!) helped rewrite the Startup Guide that you’ll get upon registration AND if you enter the promo code AMF2016, you will receive $15 off your registration fee of $75 for new challengers and $55 for returning challengers. I encourage you to take the next step toward a healthier you. I’m super proud of the new guide, and I hope it helps engage new and existing challengers on a deeper level to help understand how to love living a plant-based diet. Register HERE as an individual in the Northern California group, or send me an email with your name, and I’ll make sure you join my group. Let’s do this together, finding our own community among each other, and supporting each other throughout the process.
As we enter into the new year, it means so much to me to be with my family — my ever growing family — and doing everything I can to cherish these moments together. Participating in another 30 Clean reset, bringing back our regular family dinners, and opening up this experience to share with friends and family is what I’m looking forward to the most. This new year isn’t about resolutions and sticking to something for the entire 12 months. Instead, I see it as an opportunity for growth, change, and reflection as I look back with fond memories of 2015 with intentions to maintain my favorite traditions, then continue reworking and reshaping them to make 2016 even better . Here’s to a new year!
And if you’re a Spotify member, here’s a bonus: My January 2016 barre class playlist!