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Eyeball Deep?

Clients share their stress levels as part of our weekly process. And because I adore metaphors, the idea of standing in water that is up to our eyeballs has fit the bill in capturing the very high stress levels for some this past month.

Underwater too deepWhen life feels like too much, maybe “prioritizing,” “changing our expectations” and “scaling back” are NOT the solutions. (I realize I just lost of few of you with that statement.) Maybe, they are not even options. Maybe, we need to acknowledge that we are being asked to do too much and that it’s not possible to handle everything as well as usual for a while. Instead, we just have to keep temporarily plowing through.

In years of learning from and advising women on great stress management tools, in my opinion, the worst decision in this scenario is adding a guilt trip on top of it all. So, the next time life is asking too much and you have to keep going none the less, recognize all that you ARE doing and say “no thanks” to burdening yourself with a useless guilt trip.

Healthy Holiday Hot Dogs

Whether honoring our veteran’s by attending a parade, making a donation or writing a letter of thanks, Memorial Day weekend also involves cookouts and time together. Below is a healthier spin on a holiday classic that I believe even our soldiers would enjoy (no tofu dogs here.)
Healthier Hot Dog Meal
The usual suspects: 
    *    hot dogs
    *    white buns
    *    chips or mayonnaise based potato salad
    *    baked beans seasoned with BBQ sauce and/or brown sugar
    *    cookies and brownies
    *    beer and pop
Let’s be clear, I am an eater and enjoy holiday eating. In addition, as the household manager, I thoroughly appreciate attending events were someone else is so kind as to cook. My suggestions below are simply a more nutrient rich, possibly lower calorie version of the usual suspects. I’m not suggesting you turn your back on the classics – just consider trying something new. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
    *    all beef high quality franks (more expensive but generally better for you)
    *    offer nutrient rich cut up cucumbers, tomatoes and onions for toppings
    *    whole wheat buns (slightly more fiber and no one can tell the difference)
    *    sweet potato fries (bake in the oven, lower fat alternative, nutrient rich)
    *    vegetarian baked beans seasoned with ketchup and relish
    *    watermelon (great source of vitamin C, lycopene and beta carotene)
    *    offer flavored seltzer, 100% fruit juice and lite beers with the standardsSafe travels to you and yours! And our deepest gratitude to those that have given their lives for this great country of ours. May we all enjoy our freedoms, loved ones and those we’ve lost on this important weekend.

Does Motherhood Make You Healthier?

park with my girls and nephews photo

My past Mother’s Day Friday Quickies addressed gift ideas and gratitude but thought I would bring something new to the table. I asked myself if being a mother made me healthier. I’d love to have you consider the same. 

The good…

  • I my whole life, I had never consumed more nutrient rich foods then when I was breastfeeding (and once the nausea subsided, pregnant)
  • Children don’t listen to hypocrites (mine especially) I buy fruits and veggies for them to eat – I eat them too.
  • Pregnancy and it’s aftermath taught me A LOT about my body and I’m someone who loves anatomy so, this was a surprise. Becoming aware of what you didn’t know you didn’t know is mind bending and empowering. I am definitely a better advocate for my health as a result.
  • The data on the childhood obesity epidemic is heartbreaking. That responsibility as a parent is impactful. My family takes “family walks” and enjoys park play time at least once per week. My girls are pretty daring – so I’m moving and climbing right next to them – it’s exercise for me too.
  • I don’t multitask while driving because my kids are in the car / need me. That’s healthier for me and other drivers.
  • I take better care of my car because my kids will be in it. That’s healthier for me and other drivers.
  • Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of breast cancer – I did my best there.
  • Pregnancy may lessen the symptoms of endometriosis, uterine fibroids and PCOS. Happy to have that in my pocket.
  • Although a little less quantifiable, my connection to other individuals is stronger than before I had children. I am more empathetic and compassionate. That contributes to a healthier state and a stronger sense of community.
  • I took on the role of cooking for my family which I didn’t do when it was just Pat and I.  I know I consume fewer carryouts and heavily processed foods because of it.
  • I am very sensitive to setting a healthy body image example for my girls which comes in handy as I age.
  • There is no better stress reliever for me than seeing my girls smile, laugh, hug or even look at their pictures. Priceless.
  • I am most definitely more resilient since having children. (I firmly believe that there is a strong parallel to military boot camp training and motherhood – future Friday Quickie fodder)

The bad… 

  • Meal planning/cooking for the family is a lot of work. I could do with less of that responsibility some weeks.
  • I don’t sleep as much even though my bedtime is earlier. Seriously, the other night I was in my pajamas at 5:30pm. (See incriminating photo.)
  • My stress level is higher – I worry about my kids / work harder because of my kids. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
  • It’s harder for me to make time for myself. I don’t know if anyone ever told you this but, children are time consuming! Worth it – but terribly time consuming (Like to give suggestions? Feel free to send any and all ideas for remedying this problem – I’m open.) 5:30pm pajamas photo

The bottom line…

It’s not why I did it, but I suspect I am quite healthier because I had kids. We all have different paths, different choices and each life is challenging and unique. If you are a mom, hopefully you will have a little time to consider if your journey as a mother has helped you be healthier or challenged certain areas for healthful living. In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, remember that you are precious and important and make a little time to care for your health and be well for your life. I wish each of you time to enjoy your loved ones this weekend! Happy Mother’s Day!

VOTE for Michelle Blakely

Best of Chicago Reader 2013 Logo
The 2012 Best of Chicago Reader voting has started. Your 30 seconds could make all the difference! I’d love to have your help.
2. Enter your name and email address
3. Select the “Sports and Recreation Section” and type “Michelle Blakely” beside Best Personal Trainer (bottom of page)or

Click to page 5 and type “Michelle Blakely” beside Best Personal Trainer


(you do NOT have to vote for any other categories)It was an honor to be a runner up in 2011 and an absolute joy to win in 2012. I would love to have your help again this year! Please feel free to forward to friends and colleagues or click on our Facebook link.

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy 1
Barely anytime for dinner? Need something quick, easy and adequately healthy? We love this one…

Grocery List: two boxes of organic whole wheat mac and cheese, three servings of high quality ham or smoked turkey lunch meat, one bag of frozen peas (milk and butter if you don’t have any on hand)

  1. Add two boxes of organic whole wheat mac ‘n cheese pasta and half of a bag of frozen peas (three or four servings) to boiling water.
  2. Finish making mac ‘n cheese according to directions and add a little extra milk to help the sauce coat
  3. Add two servings of chopped, high quality ham or turkey lunch meat slices and mix.

 Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy 2 Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy 3

We put this in a thermos for my 4 year olds lunch. Leftovers serve as a great quick meal for fussy eaters. Enjoy! Let me know if you liked it!