Category Archives: Mama Gut to the Core

Fitness Confidential book review

I took a detour from my regular book club of my wonderful mama friends to meet up with PDX bloggers for a book club on Fitness Confidential by Vinnie Tortorich, written with Dean Lorey.

Vinnie is known as America’s Angriest Trainer, ultra athlete, cancer survivor, and I added: honest guy.

Dean is known for being a hilarious writer in Hollywood (think L.A., not Portland neighborhood) on shows like Arrested Development and soon-to-start The Crazy Ones (I’m excited about this new show! but I digress)

I’m known for loving fitness, always looking for new information, preferably the non-bullsh!t kind, on eating and exercising for optimal health and some good ole fat loss. I also love getting out and meeting new people, so the opportunity to meet up with some Portland-area bloggers from Cascadia Connect and hang out in a coffee shop, talking about a book, on a beautiful Friday evening, was definitely for me. Here’s us: The Mama Gut, Momsicle, Beeb Ashcroft (our fantastic organizer), Mostly Mommyhood, A Cloth Life, The Quirky Momma {not in order of appearance} #pdxbookclub

pdx book club Aug 2013

Back to the book, Fitness Confidential – at our book club, the vote was thumbs up this is a good book. But to me it’s more than a good book. It’s good advice. It’s simple advice. It’s clean advice. I feel like everywhere I turn there is a new gimmick, trick, exercise, diet, study, food group, food no-no; it is overwhelming.

Vinnie breaks it down into no-nonsense chapters with hunks of memoir thrown in and zippy one-liners he calls “Vinnieisms”. In fact, I started implementing the recommendations he made on how to maximize three one-hour workouts a week. Cardio, weights, which moves are worth the effort, etc. I appreciated his candor that you should always give yourself the full hour and that of course fours a week would be better than three. But, three is good. And the eating was a recommendation of two simple concepts: no sugar, no grains. He has logic, knowledge, reports, etc. that he put his time into reading and he’s been training clients in body-image obsessed Hollywood so I trust that it works.

Back to the personal anecdotes, I could have lived without the hookup stories, but if that’s part of his persona, alrighty. What I did appreciate was a chapter on the ultra races where he described a gentleman who is an amazing physical machine, but doesn’t look like your typical chiseled, tanned, uber athlete. And I liked it. I think it’s important to put out there, to the world, that a person’s appearance doesn’t equate their abilities. Being fit to lead doesn’t mean you have to look like a sports model.

After chatting about the book, a fellow mom and pdx blogger, Evelyn and I decided that Vinnie needs to write Fitness Confidential #2, the family guide. My biggest challenge is coming up with family meals and ready to go snacks and lunches for me to bring to work. It’s easy to say ‘make the time’, but it’s not just time. It’s what do kids eat, what do they like, what do they need, and do I want to spend my one hour of time between kids’ bedtime and my time cooking? My kids are great eaters and pretty enthusiastic about meat and veggies. Still, I’d love another no-nonsense book about implementing these strategies for a family with a toddler, preschooler, and a husband who can eat anything and loves noodles and nachos.

Fitness Confidential is a funny, fast read and if you have any interest in fitness, nutrition for fat loss, ultra races, leukemia, or silly personal-trainer-to-the-stars stories, check out this book.

fitness confidential book cover

~ jibean

Savasana Secrets

Have you ever wondered what your yoga teacher is doing while you drift into bliss in savasana, corpse pose, the final pose of every yoga practice? Well, I will tell you my savasana secrets because it led me to realize some of my priorities and make changes to my blog.

Most of the time I’m simply watching the students in my class, observing any fidgeting or signs of unease. I attempt to provide words or essential oils that will help soothe, calm, settle everyone into a state where they can absorb the benefits of their yoga practice. And sometimes I meditate, drawn into the lull of the heavy peace in the candlelight room.

Recently, during a lovely savasana, my heart was open, my mind calm, breathing deep and clearly, my priorities popped into my head. Things I had been struggling with, chasing even, were tasks I told myself that I should be doing, however, they were not my priorities. I realized, in a semi-startled manner, that I wasn’t aware of my own priorities. The truth I realized in that room was that the things that really truly are my priorities are the things that I will make time for, no matter what. And those things were not working on my French, researching diets, tweeting, studying recipes, etc. My priorities are to squeeze in as much time as I can with my kids, plus a little yoga, a little wine, laughter, and as much sleep as I can get.

Thus, I decided this isn’t truly a blog about journeying to my core from the physical sense (though I am still working on that), but more the emotional core of me. Who I am, what I want, what I’m interested in and what I care about.

So you’ll see some new posts and new categories with recurring themes. You can read more about the update on my About Me page.

~ jibean

Take the “If” Out

Sometimes my husband has true gems of wisdom. Really, he has these moments of saying things in a way that just strike to the heart of the matter and resonate with me like a gong.

Recently we were discussing two huge changes coming up for me that impact our life together. One was my decision to work with a nutritionist and go boldly after my goal physique and rebuild my core.

The other, a little more game changing for us both, was to accept a job offer. I’m going back to work full-time. This, in itself, is a huge step for me as my whole identity-world-life here in Oregon is built on my existence as a stay at home mom, PR consultant, and yoga/fitness teacher.

It’s all changing. And I’m afraid. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision, afraid of failing. What if I can’t do it? And this is when he had his moment of wisdom.

“Take the if out.”


“Stop saying if I can and what if I fail. ” Then he explained, “Say to yourself When I can and When I do.”

It makes sense. Take out the rom for failure. Allow myself to fully commit to my goal. It’s not about if I fail or not. It’s about keeping going, no matter how many tries it takes to get me there.

Take the if out.

New Year Intentions

Setting an intention is an important part of a yoga practice. It calls into the mind, the heart and the third eye a goal, a cause, a wish, a resolution, a person; something or someone who is important to you. This New Year’s Day, I spent 90 minutes in a yoga practice dedicated to intentions.

My intention was quite simple. To Eat Clean. To allow my body a chance to live without the excess.

Or as my nutritionist would put it, “To be bold. To boldly allow myself the chance to succeed.”

It’s not revolutionary or world-changing or even very selfless. But at the time when the yoga teacher asked us to call into mind what intention we had for ourselves for the new year, that was mine.

In yoga, it’s important not to dwell or over analyze, but really to embrace and be aware. Cultivating mindfulness allows us to move deeper in our practice, and should you choose, to follow the eight limbs of yoga.

See the thing is, when I flew home for Thanksgiving, I was not keeping myself company with loving thoughts. I was feeling heavy, uncomfortable in my own skin, and quite frustrated with my post-baby weight loss. I felt like I was not representing the ideas I believe in or reflecting the amount of yoga and workouts I actually do and teach. When I came back home, I had a new resolve.

But it’s a slow road for me. Some changes I resist. Some days I don’t feel up to. Sometimes I feel downright toddler-esque and just want to yell, “You can’t make me!” Some days are great. Some days I feel connected to my intention. Sometimes I feel joyful and happy in the incremental changes.

But I want to be bold. This is my year.

Holiday Hubbub

Is it really December? From the time we boarded the plane for Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, it feels like I’ve only blinked once.

This was the first year where Christmas time didn’t mean traveling or having family visiting us. At first, it didn’t even feel like Christmas. And then, it felt glorious.

I woke up on Christmas Eve morning feeling disconnected and homesick. In years past, Christmas Eve means: waking up, baking something; getting in car; driving somewhere. Meet, greet, eat, repeat. This year, I woke up and went on a fun family workout with my husband and two little ones. Then, while the hubster and kids had lunch, I went to a yoga class. Our wise teacher read to us an excerpt from Yoga Gems that encouraged us to love people for who they are and not for whom we want them to be. An excellent way to go into holiday festivities!

With all my endorphins and zen, we created a lovely Christmas Eve meal of traditional Chinese dishes, opened one present each and drove around looking at holiday lights on houses. A blend of some of my favorite childhood memories and new ones from my husband’s childhood.

Christmas Day was also my cheat day. I’ve been working with a nutritionist to realign my eating with my goals and personal intentions. Christmas Day was mine, however, and it was truly a gift to my taste buds. And fun! We had dinner with two families that have become very close friends of ours in the short time we’ve lived in Oregon. It’s amazing to me how quickly bonds can be developed. That has been the best gift of all.

An Honest Conversation

I’m feeling stuck on my motivation to get my core, my waistline and my body back to the size, shape and strength that I want it to be. I’ve been “swimming” with this idea, ruminating on it, thinking long and hard. I’ve been having several honest conversations with myself and finally had one out loud with a friend who also happens to be a personal trainer and a nutritionist.

Here’s what our conversation boiled down to: I’m feeling stuck in finding my motivation.

When I’m pregnant, I’m the healthiest version of myself and it’s easy to find the strength to resist foods that aren’t good for us, to workout, to do prenatal yoga, and I glow. I’m just one of those pregnant ladies. But… post-baby, post-delivery, post-realization that I want to be a healthier version of me…

I’m stuck. As I told the nutritionist, I already workout so much between my own workouts, teaching fitness classes, my own yoga practice and teaching yoga; I know it’s the nutrition. But I’m not sure I’m ready to change, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the foods that I love and that I crave. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m willing.

To take my honesty another level, I’m scared. I’m scared of being unable to make the changes. I’m scared to feel hungry. I’m afraid to let myself and others done. I’m scared I can’t change. And I’m scared I won’t change. I don’t feel motivated. I don’t feel ready. I feel stuck.

Where to find motivation?? That’s what I’m searching for now.


My Midwife Gives the Best Hugs

The thing about a cesarean birth is that there are so many factors involved in recovering and healing: several layers have been cut through, healing comes in stages, the body evolves, scar tissue and adhesions can form without my knowledge, rebuilding strength takes time. I could go on. But on a recent visit to my midwife she enlightened me to a few things and also eased the pressure and stress I have been feeling about my own image and recovery. And then she hugged me. Her words, her empathy, and her willingness to give a strong, comforting embrace soothed me, body and soul.

Here are some of the things I didn’t know:

– Six months is really the starting point of when I can expect to feel, and re-build, normal level of physical functioning and returning to pre-pregnancy levels of aerobic conditioning and strength. So the pressure I’ve been feeling to be back to my pre-surgery body was me rushing myself. It really begins now.

– She sees postnatal women throughout the day, every day. As she let me know, I’m the norm in terms of recovery, weight loss or gain, and general  condition overall. So the stress I’ve been feeling to drop my baby weight rapidly has been unnecessary. I told my midwife about a coworker who came back six weeks after having her baby and truly looked like she had not had one. Luckily for me, my midwife has met her once at a mutual friend’s event so my midwife was able to repeat to me again, “You are the norm, she is literally one in 100 women. Be kind to yourself and patient.”

– Roughly seven or so layers were cut through to bring my beautiful baby girl into the world. My midwife explained that it takes a while, sometimes a long while, for all the different layers to heal and it all heals at different rates. And while I may notice nothing changing, my body is in fact changing and healing.

– Scar tissue doesn’t like back bends. This is the lesson that brought me to my midwife’s office in the first place this week. Scar tissue, adhesions, nerves: all are growing, changing, shifting and healing every day. Normal tissue moves with my movements, scar tissue sits like a cement rock and if you pull too hard, it will painfully break apart a little bit. So again, be kind to yourself and patient, she said.

And lastly, she reminded me that despite pressures I feel from coworker’s recovery, gossip magazines, perceived body image expectations of yoga and fitness teachers and my own desire of the shape I want to be, I make beautiful babies. And she’s right. I must accept the gift and be patient and kind to myself.

So like I said, my midwife gives the best hugs. Her words hugged and soothed my soul. Her actual hug gave me kindness, acceptance and courage.


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