Melting the Miff-Worthy Muffin Top

Melting the Miff-Worthy Muffin Top
by Jules Rosenthal

As women we tend to fiercely and frustratingly hold on to belly fat. The dirty truth is that you are only going to banish that belly fat by changing two things: diet and exercise. There is a myth that 1,000 sit ups a day or 7 minutes of planks a day will help get you the fab abs you dream of. But PLEASE don’t get frustrated when these things don’t work. Surely you are getting a stronger core but nothing will change to the naked eye (and the naked abs) unless you tighten up the diet; lose the refined carbs, focus on high fiber and low sugar foods to beat the bloat and to tone the tummy down. Hydrate. Do not eat processed foods. Avoid refined sugars. Avoid, pasta, rice, sugar and white flour. I am constantly saying to my clients, “you cannot out-train a bad diet”. Your body reflects the hard work you put in as well as the fuel you use. To melt the muffin top means eating smart and training smart. Now that you have the diet, it is time to train smart.

I have been asked many time by many people to only focus on the core in my personalized workouts for them. My response is always the same. In order to focus on your core, I am going to give you a challenging full body workout each time we meet. Muscle burns fat three times faster than fat, so muscle building is the most effective way to burn all over fat (let me repeat, “ALL OVER FAT”. You cannot spot burn or spot train; we lose and gain proportionally head to toe so training head to toe is most important to burn and build efficiently). That said, it is important to train the core outside of balance exercises and full body exercises.

Here are a few of my favorite muffin-top targeting moves that are important to keep as part of your routine.

Plank: The plank is a perfect way to engage the deep transverse abdominal muscles. These are the deepest in the core and act as a girdle as they hold everything together (read; tighten). Be sure to keep the head straight and aligned wth the shoulders, hands directly under the shoulders, spine straight, hips square and as flat a position as you can.

side plank
Side plank: The side plank will also hit the TVA in addition to the obliques or also affectionately known as the love handles. The same principles apply here as the regular plank– you want to be as straight and aligned as possible.

Reverse crunch: This is really about control. The reverse crunch is a move that will target that mean muffin but also helps the upper abs as well. The key here is to go very slowly and remember that you don’t have a large range of motion, so focus on really pulling that navel in towards the spine. Lie down with legs fully extended and arms to the sides of your torso, palms on the floor.
Raise your legs (bent) so that thighs are perpendicular to the floor and feet become parallel to the floor. Pull the belly in towards the spine and push it into the floor as firmly as possible. Lower slowly.

russian twist
Ball twist: This oblique trimmer and balance enhancer is a great way to whittle the waist. Holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands, twist from side to side, keeping the back straight. it is important here to move from the torso, not from the shoulders. For an added challenge, lift the feet up off the ground.

squat to press
Squat to press rotation: More and more research is showing that full body moves, not ab isolating ones, are partly responsible for the trimming the waist line. This one targets the legs and shoulders and really tightens that mid section. Start with weights in your hands and lower into a squat, leaning back into your heels, drawing the belly in and the pushing the bum out. As you raise your hips, pushing up from the heels, push the dumbbells over your head, turning your torso to the right side by using your midsection muscles to turn. This is a fluid movement. Lower the weights and repeat the movement, this time turning to your left.

plank pull in
Plank with a pull in: Here is an advanced version of your basic plank that will be sure to hit the right spot. Begin in a standard plank. From here, slowly pull the right knee in towards the right elbow touching the two if possible and holding for a full second. Then do the left side.

Try out these muffin top melters but remember: they are not magic! Without a sensible diet, full body strength work and cardio, that tricky tire is going to stick around so be sure to keep your routine (not your tummy) well rounded!

Jules Rosenthal played sports though wasn’t always an athlete until she found where were greatest strengths were: running, weight training and coaching. She also had a short career in the culinary arts before changing course and earning her MSW in 2005. Not too shortly thereafter, though, the lure of the fitness called again, and she returned to the health-world by getting her ACE certification in 2009. Jules resides in the Boston area — she is a No Excuse mother of two, licensed clinical social worker, avid runner/fitness freak and made her vision come true when she started her own personal training company, Ripped by Jules in 2013.
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5 Top unknown Roadblocks

5 Top Unknown Roadblocks that you MAY be experiencing now.
by Diane Kazer

What if I told you: FAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT? If you’ve tried weight loss programs, but failed, it’s probably not YOU. Twinkie eating couch potatoes aside:


This article is for you who busts your ‘assparagus’ to earn your dream body, are fed up with doing everything ‘right’ and still not there. Let’s make this article fun! There’s enough scienc’y conflicting terms out there to make your head spin, so let’s get to the TRUTH:


#1 ROADBLOCK – BLAME IT ON THE HORMONES! Let’s talk about 5 that are CRUCIAL for fat loss.

1) THYROID is responsible for metabolism, and when it’s low, fat loss is an uphill battle. Over 20% of Americans have a sluggish one! Thyroid hormones stimulate fat-burning; they’re anti-aging and keep leptin levels low.

2) LEPTIN – Released by fat cells, this is the bodies signal to stop eating. Diane calls it the “leave it hormone”. When thyroid and leptin levels are diminished, the body has no “stop eating!” signal.

3) INSULIN – 1 in 2 American adults are ‘borderline diabetic’ from insulin resistance, that’s brought on by:

 Overeating (esp carbohydrates)
 Skipping meals (esp breakfast)
 Coffee (esp on empty stomach)

The results? Glucose can’t be used as fuel, gets stored in fat cells instead, expanding our ‘waste’ line. In men, testosterone converts to estrogen = cue man boobs. In women, it converts estrogen to testosterone = cue infertility, hair loss and PCOS. WE WORK WITH MORE CLIENTS ON THIS ISSUE than anything else. Once blood sugar stabilizes and hence insulin, function is restored and fat runs away through the bowels!

3) CORTISOL – Under stress, this hormone is released in the body and says ‘store fat’. Elevated cortisol imbalances sex/sleep hormones, slows metabolism, roller coasters blood sugar, inflames the gastrointestinal and immune system, all of which = fat loss failure. I know…sounds evil huh? It’s not a ‘bad’ hormone, just bad when imbalanced…and we see this in 99% of clients we test.

5) MELATONIN – This hormone tell us when to sleep and keeps us asleep. When low, our body doesn’t rest properly and won’t repair adequately. 7-9 hours of sleep is CRITICAL, and between 10pm and 6am is optimal.


#2 TOXICITY – We live in a toxic world. Today we’re exposed to 80,000+ chemicals, which our bodies say ‘How do I get rid of these aliens?’ and stores them in the liver, our detox organ. Nearly everyone we test has a congested liver, and toxins must be stored somewhere. “So, hey, let’s hide in fat cells to protect nerve tissue”, and WALA = fat is here to stay.
CLEAN LIVER = OPTIMALLY FUNCTIONING BODY = better equipped to burn fat.

Toxins also intercept ‘text messages’ in the body including hormones responsible for weight loss. Triclosan is found in cosmetics, which blunts thyroid hormone and = headaches, depression, weight gain due to hormone imbalance. Xenoestrogens confuse hormone levels, and in case of Low T or low estrogen, taking exogenous hormones, will likely make you fatter, especially with a clogged liver and insulin resistance. Check your personal care products for safety:


#3 DIGESTION – 80% of our immune system lives in our gut. Americans are constipated; we ‘go’ every 2 days vs 2 TIMES per day. If we can’t remove waste, we BECOME waste. 75% of us house perma bad bugs, which cause cancer, eat our nutrients and create inflammation (cue cortisol) and infection (drain the immune system). All of these add up to an inability to lose fat effectively. FIX IT:

#4 Immune System – Protecting you from viruses and bacteria, it’s closely linked to all other parts of the body. When it’s not functioning properly, it attacks healthy tissue (auto-immunity), spikes cortisol (fat storing hormome), and drains the adrenals (sex, sleep and sex hormones halt), resulting in inflammation, which makes fat loss nearly impossible. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is THE most common we see today, affecting 1 out of 10 women, with estimates as high as 5 out of 10 going undiagnosed due to improper testing. Why? Unfortunately, insurance companies see no value in antibodies or have WIDE ranges in determining a ‘healthy’ TSH. Lab tests anywhere from .25-8 is considered ‘in range’, where we say, in Functional Medicine, that OPTIMAL is between 1-2, and anything outside of that is a cause for action, ie your body telling you it needs help. Even the top endocrinologists today will only test 3 thyroid hormones (TSH, T4, T3) when there are 6 critical markers to explore the health and functionality of the thyroid – TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and 2 thyroid antibodies. MORE ON THIS IN OUR NEXT ARTICLE ON THYROID HEALTH & AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASE.


#5 BRAIN – What we eat affects our mood; food is mood! Amino Acids come from healthy proteins we eat, and we only benefit from them if our stomach has enough acid and enzymes to further break them down into neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, which regulate anxiety, depression, immunity, motivation and energy levels. BOTTOM LINE = If these are off, you’re heading straight to the kitchen for foods, alcohol, coffee, drugs that will elevate your mood. The majority of our clients are doing a poor job of breaking down food, which is an insult to the amazing food you pay extra for, for higher quality. Let’s ensure it’s being used right, shall we?

There are 11 systems in the body, and like a soccer game, if you’re 1 man down, the rest of the players have to work harder. Fat loss is no different. When has there ever been a better time to get every player working their best to win your dream body?

Diane has healed thousands of clients worldwide via detoxification, digestion and hormone harmony, customizing the experience based on lab results, and client symptoms and goals. During this 12 week Challenge, No Excuse moms ONLY get 1 Complimentary 15 min consultation with Diane, visit to schedule! 


How does your posture measure up?

Proper posture involves many muscles working in conjunction. The structural alignment from top to bottom should be ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips and the knees over the ankles, with the weight spread evenly across both feet, all toes and both heels. There are many postural deviations, that are actually quite common. They vary in severity and can lead to further problems in the body if left unresolved. Some common examples are:

1) Over-pronated feet (flat feet):Over-pronation adds stress to the foot, tightens calf muscles, and can internally rotate the knees. Over-pronation often leads to Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Tendonitis and/or Bunions

2) Forward hip tilt or LORDOSIS or anterior pelvic tilt: overly arched lower back, caused by the pelvic bones tilting forward, due to tight hip flexors, often from sitting for most of the day. As you walk, tight hip flexors prevent the glutes from firing/activating, which forces the hamstring muscles to become overworked and excessively tight. If you have tight hamstrings, the root cause may be tight hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt.

lower cross

3) Hunchback or KYPHOSIS: excessively curved upper back, shoulders rolled forward, tight chest muscles and weakened and loose upper back muscles. This is one of the most common issues because of our generally sedentary lifestyles, with desk jobs and sitting at computers much of the day.

upper cross

4) Head jutted forward: Have someone take a photo of you in profile; your earlobes should be located directly above your shoulders. Sitting at a computer for hours at a time daily can be the cause of this as well. Muscles in the back of the neck become tight, along with the upper trapezius and levator scapulae (upper back muscles).

forward head

These 4 common posture problems are just scratching the surface of posture as a very important fitness topic. Another extremely important element when discussing posture is the deep core muscles, the transverse abdominals. These muscles are your body’s natural internal corset, which supports your structure and help to align your vertebrae. With proper core engagement (navel to spine and spine elevation), you can begin to alleviate back discomfort and to strengthen the other muscles that work in conjunction with the core for total body control. With good posture comes greater lung capacity, the appearance of confidence, height and even “lengthening” or thinning of the torso…you can “lose” a few pounds simply by standing straighter. Another wonderful benefit to maintaining good posture is proper exercise form, which make whatever exercises you are performing more effective and efficient. With a conscious effort and time, you can change the way you hold your own body.

With my own clients, I suggest setting a “posture alarm”, on your phone or computer or your oven timer…. something that can ping and give you a reminder to make postural adjustments and take a moment to focus on how you are sitting, standing, doing day to day activities. Making this conscious effort daily soon will create a habit and in time, poor posture will be uncomfortable, you will find yourself making unconscious adjustments without the reminder, and you will feel and see a change in how you carry yourself and how exercise affects you. So, now, take a moment to adjust…ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over heels. Spread your feet, feel all 10 toes and both heels on the floor. Pull your navel to your spine and send your energy upward, breathe into your ribcage, maintaining the navel to spine connection…then relax and feel the difference. I hope this helps you reach the next level of success in your journey to fitness.

Perfect Posture!

Vanessa Lynn Campos is mom to 2 boys, Kai and Rocky.  Her interest in fitness began at age 15, having been a dancer, cheerleader and soccer player.  She studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing, China and the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place in England. Her professional opportunities also included working with internationally acclaimed dance photographer, Lois Greenfield, who featured Vanessa in her 2007, 2008, and 2013 calendars.  Her professional fitness career began in NYC in 2002.
For fitness videos, subscribe to her YOUTUBE.

3 struggles guaranteed to happen in 12 weeks.

There are 3 Things that are guaranteed to happen when you S.T.R.I.V.E. (the troubleshooting stage) for change, you will fail, you will be uncomfortable and you will plateau. In the book, The No More Excuses Diet, there are 3 cycles (S.P.E.E.D. – S.T.R.I.V.E. – S.C.O.R.E.)

Read on to get ready for this 12-week journey!

1. You will FAIL. So many people don’t start because they fear failing. Most often, that fear stems from years failing at fad, fast and highly-restrictive dieting. Some couldn’t resist not eating their favorite foods, others allowed stress get the better of them, many had a very unrealistic approach to dieting, etc. So let’s get this straight.


I have failed countless times in the last decade. You will have days when you skip a workout, when you splurged on a donut, when you didn’t eat enough, when you didn’t sleep enough – in fact, sometimes, that day turns into a week – and at this point, why not give up, right? You feel like a failure.

Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP. Re-write your short-term goals – make them more achievable – dedicate yourself to three days of successful follow-through and keep going. You can stop in 12 weeks (not fully of course, just rest and start striving for bigger goals again) so right now, keep trucking – even when you feel defeated – keep going! Even the most perfected of perfect people are not perfect (lol).

2. You will be UNCOMFORTABLE. In order to grow, you must be challenged, so focus on running a little harder, eating a little healthier and challenging yourself a little more What does this mean? It means you will need to be mentally conscious of what’s going on a daily basis because in order to change, you must create change and break some habits. Some of these old habits is running at an 12-min mile pace (or just walking fast), eating mostly processed ‘diet’ foods and not prioritizing rest and sleep.

Being uncomfortable also means being sore, struggling with naysayers and bringing your own meals to work lunch meetings. You are about to change your life and in order to do so you need to CHANGE!

3. You will PLATEAU. Our body is made to adjust and there will be a point when you will stop making progress. This can happen 6 weeks in, for those who are too extreme/restrictive in the beginning, it could even happen within 3 weeks in! Remember, it’s not a matter of IF you will plateau, it is WHEN. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, Remember That! However frustrating stalling in progress feels, know that you got there because you have made progress! So, what do you do?

Go Back to #2.

You need to get uncomfortable again. Run faster, lift heavier, change up your macros/calories, try a new exercise, extend your duration – whatever you do, just do something DIFFERENT. And, don’t expect your progress to change instantly. It will always take at least 3 weeks to notice change.

So let’s get this straight:

This journey will not be easy. You will fail, be uncomfortable and plateau – you WILL get frustrated, annoyed, angry, upset and discouraged…but DO NOT GIVE UP.

I repeat.

Do NOT give up.



How’s Your Form? #noexcusemomsquats

Lately I’ve been reading about squatting. Everyone wants to have a bigger butt, leaner legs and smaller hips. So I get it – squats are one of the top-rated exercises for improving your lower half. However, when I think of squats, I already think of injuries – why? Because squatting is a mutli-joint exercise that requires you to utilize several muscles to perform. Keep in mind I’m a big fan of strength training, I am pro-squatting, pro-free-weights, pro-iron —–> what I am NOT a fan of, is INJURY.

The problem with injuries is that it can happen easily, especially if you go into this exercise with poor posture. If you have tight chest, shoulders, neck, hip flexor or hamstrings muscles, you probably have bad posture. If you have a weak lower back or even a pot belly, you probably have bad posture. The thing with bad posture is it creates muscle imbalances. When you have imbalance, imposing more weight or challenges to the body will create strain and possible injury. As someone who has worked with people for over fifteen years in the fitness industry I can tell you that only a small percentage of people have very good posture, after all, most of our jobs include a desk and we are often sitting whether it’s driving, watching TV or playing on our ipad!

So in an effort to correct our posture and improve our squats (and therefore our derriere!) Let’s do a Squat Challenge. Please post (in our individual Facebook groups or Instagram) a video of you performing 5 squats. It can be with or without weights. Please film from the side and do the very best you can! We want to see your squats! HASHTAG #noexcusemomsquats to make sure we see it!

Our NEM National Fitness Pro Jules Rosenthal shares with us the PROPER way to perform a squat. Please watch this informative video and post your own so we can help each other get better!


Jules Rosenthal resides in the Boston area — she is a No Excuse mother of two, licensed clinical social worker, avid runner/fitness freak and made her vision come true when she started her own personal training company, Ripped by Jules in 2013. Follow Jules on Facebook here.

One Step at a Time

For many people, cravings (and sometimes addictions – both mental and physical) for sweet, salty, high-fat foods are what hinders them from their progress and goals.

As I will reiterate over and over, making lifestyle changes can be difficult. Some people try to take on too many changes at once, and that can become overwhelming so they give up (and unfortunately feel like a failure). Instead of letting a ‘failure’ stop you from achieving your goals, learn from it instead!

If making changes is hard for you – try it one step at a time. Find your most challenging negative habits or addictions and slowly cut them out/replace with healthy behaviours. For example: someone barely ever drinks water, craves and snacks on high-fat sweet snacks at night, eats fast food several times per week, and does not get get much exercise. They could still snack at night, but instead of always choosing chocolate and other high-fat sweets, they could replace some snacks with something that is nutritious, still tasty, and has significantly lower calories (see example below). They could also try slowly increasing their daily water intake (adding in 1-2 cups per week). Once they are comfortable with making these changes (and they become habits), other changes such as adding in more exercise that suits their schedule and cutting down on fast food can be made. This is just one example, and would be different for every person, but hopefully you get the point!

If you have trouble with craving sweets, try this yummy, healthy, nutrient-dense snack to satisfy your sweet tooth!

– Layer (low sugar) regular or Greek yogurt in a glass pan or comparable, add your favourite fruits, nuts, and/or a bit of dark chocolate, freeze for a few hours and enjoy!

Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)

Official NEM Nutritionist

For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways.


The No More Excuses Program

NEM decal

No Excuse Moms is a supportive group of women who prioritize health. It was created by Maria Kang and led by a team of volunteers including our online admins, regional managers, local leaders and NEM experts. We don’t believe in quick fad diets, the newest workout craze or abiding by any specific diet rule. We believe in: DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, just don’t stop working.To order the No More Excuses Diet Book please click here.

All of us are at different fitness levels. Some of us are marathon runners, others have a goal to run a 5k. Some are fitness competitors, others have a goal to lose 100lbs. Some like to follow a Paleo diet, are gluten intolerant, can’t consume lactose, or are addicted to wine and chocolate. Regardless of your goal, ALL of us are women who understand how tough it is to prioritize health in the midst or work, school, family and events. Even deeper – it’s tough to follow through when you’re stressed, depressed, anxious or unmotivated.

That’s why we are all here.

Regardless of where we are in our personal fitness, in order to get there or stay there, it requires us to continue STRIVING. That means, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to follow a strict diet. You don’t have to have the best workouts. BUT, you have to keep striving to become the best person you can be! Your best is different in your 20s, 30s, 40s…with kids…without kids..with work…travel…health issues…injuries…hormonal fluctuations (you get the point!)

Some of you need a baseline to begin your journey – so the program below is written just for you! You’ll notice there’s not too many specifics because as I mentioned above, you need to find what work for you, however, here are some guidelines in our No Excuse Mom program that you can take with you.

Disclaimer: You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program as well as making any nutritional changes in order to determine if it is right for your needs.

Opening thoughts:

In Scott Peck’s opening statement of his famous book, “The Road Less Traveled“ he writes: ‘Life is difficult.’ It is not meant to be easy – and if you think this No Excuse Program is going to be a cake-walk then be aware right now that it will not. According to Peck, a fulfilled human being is a disciplined human being. Components of disciplines include delaying your gratification for future gains, accepting responsibility for your choices, dedicating yourself to seeking truth and balancing life’s conflicts.


Remember that word, because it will come up often in this “3-month No Excuse Program”.
Why THREE months? I use it because the number 3 is a sacred number. It represents balance, growth, abundance and clarity. I also believe you need to set timeline’s for your goals, whether it’s to run a 5k in 3 months, lose 20lbs in 3 months or wear your favorite jeans in 3 months. Set short term goals and once you reach it, set another one!

There are 3 evolutions in this process:
1. Your mind
Your mind has the power to create and the power to destruct. It will find a way or it will find an excuse. This fitness journey will require you to control your mind and the negative, self-defeating thoughts that stream through it on a daily basis. If you can discipline your mind, you can control your actions, if you can create positive works you can dictate your own destiny.

2. Your body
Your body is your temple – it’s the only thing you own in this world. It houses your incredible spirit and will be your savior or your setback in your long life on this earth. When you begin to treat your body with love, nourishment and respect, your body will begin to serve you.

3. Your spirit
There are feelings – felt in the mind and influenced by the body – and then there is intuition, which is felt in the soul. Your spirit is the invisible energy that will train when you’re tired, work when you’re weak and drive when you’re drained. Your spirit will unmask itself when you challenge it to fight for something you truly want.

There are 3 components in fitness we must focus on:
1. Strength
Muscle building is absolutely key to sculpting a toned physique. Muscle speeds your metabolism, increases your flexibility and protects your bones. Muscle is what literally shapes your body.

2. Cardio
Cardio requires you to challenge your heart and the blood and oxygen that flow through your veins to vital parts of your body. Cardio increases circulation, boosts endurance and burns fat.

3. Flexibility
Flexibility is having an optimal range of motion. Focusing on your flexibility helps prevent physical pain, loss of balance and risk of injury. In other words, it keeps you young.

There are 3 Macronutrients in our foods that we NEED to survive:
1. Carbohydrates
Don’t hate carbs, love them! It gives you energy! Whether you consume them via bread, oatmeal, fruit or honey – they are all meant to give your body the energy it needs to perform activities.

2. Proteins
Proteins are amino acids, which are primarily helpful in building and repairing tissue in your body. It can be found in animal meats, fish, tofu, eggs and protein shakes.

3. Fats
Fats are key to brain health and overall energy. It can be found in avocado, olive oil and nuts.

There are 3 key people who will keep you accountable:
1. Your mentor
That’s me. I will guide you. I will answer your questions and I will be your inspiration because I have walked your path before.

2. Your supporter(s)
That’s someone of your choosing. You may have to do this alone – but I assure you, if you really wanted to find someone who wants the best for you, you can find someone, even a stranger online. You need someone (other than me) who will be your support in this process. Find your local NEM group online and at your local park here.

3. Your follower(s)
Life is about give and take – it’s about balance (remember Peck’s statement?) So in order to receive, you must also give. Find someone who you will inspire, motivate and guide. There is always someone who needs more help than you, so find that person and help them. Becoming a role model creates a level of personal and social responsibility that most first born children are “blessed” to be given. In helping others, you are in essence, helping yourself. So post on the page and share your story! Others will always resonate with you.

Lastly, there are 3 stages in this transformational process:
1. 3 days to overcome a craving/excuse
2. 3 weeks to develop a new habit
3. 3 months to see a significant transformation

This is my “No Excuse” Fitness Program. This isn’t (all) about how to eat right and exercise. This is about Goal Setting. It’s about getting to know YOU: your strengths, your weaknesses, your excuses and most of all….your motivation.

I get countless emails asking ‘how I lost weight’ after carrying three kids in my belly for three years and the answers can be summed up like this:

– I conditioned my body through exercise and healthy eating years prior
– I gained the recommended pregnancy weight (30-38lbs for me)
– I performed various core exercises and massaged my belly after every birth
– I constantly set short term goals.
– Most importantly: I was MOTIVATED to get back in shape.

Motivation is the KEY principle in this fitness journey. If you examine the lives of those who are incredible shapes you will see an invisible energy constantly pushing them to stay disciplined and train harder. It’s motivation. It’s motivation because their career depended on their physical body and beauty (celebrities). It’s motivation because their personal identity is closely tied to a fit body (athletes and models). For us ‘normal’ people, it’s because we set a life stage where we set higher expectations for ourselves.

I really want you to examine what motivates you.

There is a philosophical principle that states all human behavior is motivated by two things: seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

For some of you, your desire to get incredible shape stems from wanting to look amazing in an outfit or walk confidently into a room without feeling physically insecure.

For others, focusing on your health means avoiding health-related diseases or escaping the torment you felt as a child for being overweight.

You need to find what motivates you – and WRITE IT DOWN.

After I gave birth I was motivated by both pain and pleasure. In my twenties I feared childbirth because of how it would destruct my body. At the gym older women would constantly react to my fit physique by saying, “What until you have children…”

I wanted to prove them wrong.

I also wanted to feel confident in my skin. After recovering from an eating disorder my weight ballooned into the 150’s and didn’t decline for several years because it became unresponsive to my yo-yo dieting. I wanted to feel sexy, firm and fit again. I was driven by the pain of failure and the pleasure of success.

You need to be too.

This plan is not about perfection. It’s about progress. It’s about not giving up. I will be honest with you by confessing that I ate a couple cookies earlier tonight. I was premenstrual, incredibly stressed from work and fatigued from days on end with the kids. Do I feel bad? No. Will I begin anew tomorrow? For sure.

My point is that I’m not going to ask you to be perfect. I’m going to ask you to try to be perfect, knowing that it is impossible. While unachievable, it’s the strive that I’m seeking you to master…
As I stated (a couple sentences ago), The goal is to get to the end without giving up. You will achieve your fitness goals this year if you make a personal promise to not give up until you get there. This mentality makes success a matter of ‘when’ you will reach your goals and not ‘if’ you will.

In the next 3 months I will continue giving workout routines, nutritional advice and fitness motivation. However, since this is a community effort and I’m a busy mom with 3 kids, a business and hopefully a life, this effort will require a set of rules you will need to follow.

Program Rules:
1. Eat Breakfast every morning.
2. Write down everything you eat
3. Workout 3-4 times a week (or more)
4. Drink ONLY water (or straight black coffee/tea)
5. Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime (preferably 7pm)
6. Eat small meals containing protein/carbs/fats throughout the day (calories are dependent on current weight)
7. Measure yourself every two weeks.
8. Plan your splurge meals, which you can have 1-2 times a week.
9. Reflect on your program weekly

Exercise Rules:
1. Warm up for five minutes before strength training
2. Stretch after you warm up
3. Focus a minimum of 20-40 minutes of strength training 3x/week (home workouts will be given later) Strength training can be broken up into upper/lower, push/pull, whole-body circuit splits.
4. Focus on intense cardio and focus on a minimum of 20 minutes at least 3 times a week (or more) making sure you’re at your target heart rate, which measures anywhere between 130-180 beats per minute. (put your finger on the side of your throat, count how many beats for 15 seconds then multiply that number by 4)
5. NOTE: I imagine you will be performing both strength and cardio training together, which is why you should be training 3-4 times a week for 40-60 minutes at a time. (see the math fits!)
6. Use proper form : shoulders back, stomach drawn in, hips squared, back slightly arched, knees straight ahead.
7. Stay hydrated at all times.

Diet Rules:
1. Don’t starve yourself. Get to know calories and how much is in the foods you consume. I strongly suggest not changing your diet drastically in the beginning, just cutting your consumption for unhealthy foods in half.
2. Don’t go low-carb. Enjoy bread, but just eat a slice. Enjoy rice, but try brown. Enjoy pasta, but measure out one portion size. Carbohydrates are your main sources for energy so don’t eliminate it.
3. Don’t drink high-calorie, sugary drinks at Starbucks or Jamba Juice. (your body and budget will thank me)
4. Don’t drink alcohol. You can indulge in one glass of wine a week (I would say totally omit it, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t indulge in one glass per week) Just know that it’s best to eliminate it totally if you seek faster results.
5. Drink water but add lemon to it if needed. The acidity in lemons helps balance and detoxifies the body.
6. The day after your treat meal, get right back on track.
7. Prepare your meals in advance (invest in Tupperware) to ensure consistent consumption
8. Speaking of which – make sure you eat every 2-3 hours.

Personal Rules:
1. Create a successful environment. This requires you to get rid of junk food in your house (nobody needs it there, not even your kids).
2. Tell everyone you know that you are changing your lifestyle. (sometimes people like to be hush about this – but it doesn’t create a level of social accountability required to push you to the next level)
3. Befriend other people who are on a similar journey (you will find many on my page, I encourage you to ‘friend’ each other)
4. Write down your long term, specific goals and secure it in a place you see every day. (I would choose my bathroom mirror)
5. Envision what you want every day. Envision your day, your meals, your workouts and your positive attitude every morning.
6. Write down motivational quotes and post it in places that will assist you in making better choices. For example, I post “you’re not hungry when you’re sleeping in my bedroom” – I have posted “take action” above my TV and “Nothing tastes good like being fit” on my refrigerator. Find the quotes (and people) that motivate you and post it!
7. Reflect on your past Excuses. Was it lack of time? Lack of support? Stress? What was it?? Most often, the end answer is ‘lack of motivation’
…..because if you truly wanted it, you would make it happen. Regardless of excuse. I suggest you find what has prohibited you from succeeding in the past and create action plans on how to battle them in the future. Sometimes you will fail in the battle, but you get up and try again, and again and again…until you master the ‘excuses’ that prevents you from progressing.

Other thoughts:
1. Enjoy the free service that ‘Google’ and ‘YouTube’ provides. I get so many questions, but the answers are also online. Find healthy recipes, home workouts, core training and nutritional information all on Google, Youtube, and even my own websites:
2. Get organized. If you have a cluttered house, a messy room or a dirty car, clean it now. Your outward life is a reflection of your internal energy.
3. Invest in a jump rope, pair of dumb bells, workout bands and a fitness DVD. If you don’t have a gym membership this is a $30 investment towards your health.

1. Write down your goals. Make at least 5 goals that are specific. I don’t want you to say ‘lose weight’ or ‘get a six pack’…I want it to be personal and realistic. I want to hear that you want to fit into old jeans, lose 20 pounds or run a 5k. Tape your goals to your bathroom mirror.
2. Invest in your End Date, which is set for March 31st. At this time I would like you to invest into something that will make you personally connected with that date. Is there a family event at this time? A birthday? Can you treat yourself to a photo shoot or a shopping spree? What will you do in exactly 3 months that will motivate you to stay on track???
3. Write “Thoughts becomes Things” and place it somewhere in your house, on your screensaver or in your car. You are telling yourself a story every, single day, so make sure it’s positive, uplifting and progressive. Don’t tell yourself excuses, tell yourself there are solutions. Don’t say, “I am stressed, fat, tired, busy….” Say: “I am beautiful, fit, strong, energetic, positive, and happy.”
4. Weigh yourself. Remember Progress is made where progress is measured. I need you to get on a scale and not be afraid of the number because that is your starting point. Put that number in your journal (which will be used for writing your daily food intake as noted in Program Rules #2)
5. Measure yourself. Take a measuring tape (soft one) and someone or yourself measure your neck, shoulders, arms, chest, waist, hips, legs and calves. (make sure you know exactly where you place the tape)
6. If you have access to a trainer at the gym, have them take your body fat via skin calipers. This is typically a free service (they might try to sell you training – which I am not against. I believe in the value of a trainer) If you can’t, that’s ok; this is just another measurement to track your progress.
7. Perform a series of fitness tests: how many pushups can you do (not on knees) without dropping? How long can you perform a plank? How fast can you run a mile? Put your results in your journal
8. Start writing down everything you’re eating right away. You don’t have to change your diet too much (I assume many are waiting for Jan 1st anyways) – it’s key to see what your habits are…when you do eat, or don’t eat. When you eat, how often and why you eat (or overeat).
9. Create a fitness calendar. You can color code it as you complete workouts but DO NOT write down workouts in advance. Only write when you’ve completed a workout. Find the instructions and download here.
10. Tell everyone in your life including those on Facebook you are starting a fitness plan and encourage them to join you. Accountability is important. Your friends will look for your updates, be inspired by your progress and support you in this process. Creating a successful environment requires you to be accountable to others.
With that said. Get to work. This is a ton of information and it’s only 10% of what’s going on in my mind right now! Print all the rules out and read it as a reminder to you. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you. So get uncomfortable in your environment. Rid yourself from comfort foods, comfort people and comfort thoughts.

It’s time you start saying, No Excuses.

Join our private Facebook group HERE and Follow me (Maria Kang) on Facebook HERE

The book that launched the “No Excuse Mom” movement offers a detailed diet plan, home workouts, and strategies to overcome excuses. All food preferences and favorite workout DVDs can be applied to this diet. It is available in hardback and ebook wherever books are sold via Target, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million and Amazon (order online on Amazon here).  If you are international, please order at the Book Depository HERE.

For more info on the book please click HERE.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

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Healthy Cooking Tips!

Let’s face it – it’s a new era where some of us have basic cooking skills, and some of us don’t. It’s not our fault really – it depends on how we were raised and other factors (We all have strengths and weaknesses right?).



Try these ideas to make some of your favorite recipes a little healthier. 

  • Blend a handful of spinach or kale into a fruit smoothie
  • Mash cooked cauliflower together with potatoes
  • Add puréed butternut squash to homemade macaroni and cheese
  • Shred carrots, zucchini or onions into spaghetti sauce
  • Stir canned puréed pumpkin into whole grain pancake or muffin batter
  • Sprinkle berries onto breakfast cereal or yogurt

Balance your baking with simple swaps.

There are lots of tasty ways to make your baking a little bit healthier. Experiment by using these simple substitutions in your favourite baked goods:

  • Replace at least half of the enriched white flour (if you normally use white flour) with a healhier type of flour (e.g., whole grain, coconut, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, oat, etc.)
  • Replace a quarter or more of the sugar with a healthier alternative (e.g., stevia, truvia, agave nectar, honey, skim milk powder)
  • Replace half of the fat in muffins, quick breads and cookies with mashed fruit or vegetables, such as unsweetened applesauce or puréed sweet potato
  • Use milk (regular, almond, coconut, etc.) instead of water

Get delicious results with good-for-you ingredients. 

Cooking at home lets you control the taste, nutrition and cost of your meals. Try these simple swaps to fill homemade food with flavour:

  • Use whole milk (or another milk alternative) and cream cheese instead of cream and butter for a luscious pasta Alfredo
  • Substitute greek yogurt for mayonnaise to make a creamy salad dressing
  • Sweeten whole grain hot cereal/oatmeal with fruit, such as bananas, apples or peaches, instead of sugar
  • Use lemon juice, garlic, herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour savoury dishes

Add some zing!

Think healthy cooking is bland? Healthy cooking is all about good taste. Add some zing with these mouth-watering flavor boosters:

  • Garlic is perfect for pasta, potatoes and peas, and it makes a tofu-and-veggie stir-fry’s much more flavorful
  • Fresh lime juice is a tangy addition to fish, avocado or fresh tomato salsa
  • Red pepper flakes deliver delicious heat to lightly sautéed greens
  • Ginger spices up butternut squash soup and adds depth to beef and pork dishes
  • Cinnamon pairs sweetly with apples, squash and sweet potatoes


  • There are many more ‘cooking basics’, these are just a few tips.
  •  Please keep in mind that people have varied skills and habits when it comes to food. As a nutritionist I meet people with all different levels of cooking skills, and many use white flour, sugar, etc. all of the time, so for many people cutting out half of what they use would be a step in the right direction.

Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)

Official NEM Nutritionist

For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways.

Playground Workout by Jules

Hi everyone! I am Jules, one of your two NEM National Fitness Professionals. I am so honored to be here as a model, consultant, motivator and anything else you can find a use for me for 🙂 Since we are moms, my guess is that many of us spend a significant amount of time on the playgrounds with our littles. Simply being outside is an energy booster, so I created a series of playground workouts that you can do while hanging out with the kids. Some things you will see are much harder than others, but most can be modified to work for you. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about what I share. i hope you enjoy this playground workout and keep checking for more! Get after it! xo

Making Behavior and Lifestyle Changes

Food for thought: Does simply telling someone to do something, or judging someone for not doing what you think is right, actually help that person change their behavior?

As an Official NEM Nutritionist, I wanted to take a moment to bring what may be a different perspective to the table. Some may be familiar with these concepts; some may think I am way out in left field. Life is a lot about perspective, so even if I can give a new perspective to a few people I am okay with that. Here are two concepts that are just food for thought! They are usually very detailed and complex, but for the sake of this post I want to be as straightforward as possible.

1)   Behavior change. Our group is based a lot around the changing of lifestyles and behaviors. Behaviors are psychological, and deeply engrained. They are habits, and a lot of times when it comes to food-related behaviors they are even addictions. They are very difficult to change, which is why many different theories and models in the scientific field that are used to explain behavior change. I don’t want to go into detail of course because you are all busy moms and don’t have all day to read a post that sounds like a lecture. The key message I want to bring here is changing behaviors is HARD. It involves many different steps and factors to change a behavior (e.g., motivation, education, support, confidence, etc.). If you think  ‘clean eating’ and living a healthy lifestyle is hard and you are alone because everyone else is making progress or some people make it look easy – think again! We all have difficulties at some point or another (we just don’t always show it, especially on social media), and with the right support and motivation (and accepting that we will have set-backs and no success comes without failure), we can overcome them.

2)   Social Determinants of Health.  This is another concept I don’t want to bore you all with and go into detail, but I just want to introduce for those of you who may not have heard of it. This is a premise that lifestyle choices are largely shaped by many different factors, including: income and income distribution, education, unemployment and job security, employment and working conditions, early childhood development/experiences, food insecurity, housing, social exclusion, social safety network, health services, aboriginal status, gender, race, and disability. Each and every one of these factors influences the choices that we make, and we don’t always have control over a lot of these factors (a lot of these factors are set by society, and individuals have no control over this). Just one example (there are many other examples, but again for the sake of us busy moms): people in various family situations (from low to middle income; single to two parent households), cannot afford a healthy diet. This is by no means their fault for many reasons, one being the cost of living (has risen significantly, and increase in wages have not kept up with the many costs of living (food, shelter, transportation, childcare, etc.). This means many families cannot afford to eat healthy, but it is not their fault. Now there may be many other factors that influence say a low-income families’ ability to purchase a healthy diet – e.g., knowledge, skills, childhood experiences, stress, etc. So as you can see, a person’s decisions around food can be very complex!

We are all human. For the most part we have good intentions and want to support and help each other by giving advice and what works for us, and we do an incredible job! Some days we might have a bad day and post something in the wrong way. Misunderstandings can happen. I get it and I think for the most part we all do. We are all busy, and most times trying to post something in between other daily responsibilities. BUT, I do know there are moms in here who feel overwhelmed at times with conflicting advice, and/or they feel ashamed because certain things that they perceive as the ‘right thing to do’ doesn’t fit their lifestyle. These feelings can really hinder someone’s progress. Telling someone to do something is one thing, but again, we all have different factors that affect why we do what we do.

My 2 takeaway messages are: 1) try to be a little more understanding of just how many factors influence a person and the decisions that they make. If we all try to be a little more understanding of this, we may be able to support each other even more than we already do; and 2) if someone gives you advice and it works for them and not you – that is okay! We are all human, different things work for different people. It doesn’t make us any less of women or mothers. We are already doing so much and are hard enough on ourselves (but shouldn’t be) – so let’s not be hard on each other!