Break Free From Society’s Expectation’s This Holiday Season

We all know that the holidays can be incredibly taxing.
Society places these unconventional standards on us as mothers, leaving many to feel like they simply can’t measure up. It’s easy to get caught up in this commercialized holiday, forgetting about what really matters. While it’s true that making memories with your loved ones are more important than the gifts they’ll receive, not everyone’s holiday goes as planned.
For those with broken families, the idea of the holidays can be stressful having to divide up the holiday with an ex. I myself am a single parent, and have joint custody with my ex. Being single with two children, leaves me eager to ditch the gifts and replace them with experiences.
Memories are all your child will have left when you’re gone. When they’re adults, they won’t remember what you bought them when they were younger, they’ll remember how you made them feel. I often get depressed during the holiday’s seeing seemingly perfect families celebrate the holidays.
I yearn to have a two parent home, one where my children can have a bit of stability with some normalcy in their lives. But sometimes challenges are placed in our lives to make us stronger, sometimes we don’t get what we want because what we need is still yet to come. Sometimes what we want, isn’t always what we need.
I used to dwell on this fact, until I realized that you can’t control another person, relationships don’t work if they are one sided. Sometimes you have to let go of the ones you love, and let them figure it out for themselves. There is pain in letting go, but it hurts more holding on.
All these realizations come flooding into the mind of a single mother during the holidays because it’s easy to get caught up comparing your life to those who live the lives you aspire to have. The reality is we are all on different paths, no one’s life comes without struggle and pain, because we are all human. If we lived our lives without pain, there would be no happiness.
We must create our own happiness, a realization I had after experiencing pain from failed relationships resulting in children. When children are involved, the failed relationship becomes that much more painful. What I learned from my break-ups, was that I had to stop searching for happiness in others. No one was responsible for my happiness but me.
I had to learn how to love myself again, after losing myself in the ones that I loved. As mothers, it’s essential we focus on loving ourselves, because it’s the longest relationship we will ever have. When you focus on your joys, your children will see that, and it will in turn bring joy into their lives.
While I’ve had my ups and downs, I keep things in perspective, knowing there’s always someone who has it worse. This holiday season pay it forward. You may not have a lot to give, but some have nothing at all.
Sometimes all someone needs is a helping hand. Volunteering, donating, teaching your kids the holiday spirit without spending a dime. Sometimes you need time to heal your heart, and memories to heal your soul.
So this holiday season, no matter what boat you’re in, embrace your loved ones, make memories with your children, and be thankful for this life you’ve been given.
I’m a 28 yr. old USAF veteran single mother of two. I have my AA in communications, and am pursuing my BA in journalism at Sac State. I write for The State Hornet, and am a co-leader for No Excuse Mom. They say it takes a village, sometimes all that entails is a group of women committed to bettering themselves through a healthy lifestyle. After all, health starts at home.

12 Days of FITMAS

If you need inspiration this winter season, try our 12 days of Fitmas. Perform the exercise allotted for each day. If you start late, perform all the exercises up to that date! We suggest you get an accountability partner and do it together! YOU CAN DO IT!!!

NEM Planksgiving Challenge

Happy Planksgiving month! The goal is to improve our core and stay fitness-focused during a very busy month! We recommend you plank for 30 seconds minimum and make sure you complete both sides of your body (depending on exercise). Have fun with your planks! Make sure you set a timer and take a picture!
Save and Share your Planksgiving poster so others can join you and post in your local NEM community or on our online NEM group page. We will gift a band set from Hope Fitness to two women. Please send your # of planksgiving posts to AT THE END OF THE CHALLENGE. Please use the hashtag #NoExcuseMom and #nemplanksgiving

Have fun!! Make sure your hips and shoulders are squared, your joints are all aligned and tuck your belly button in and draw it towards the small of your back. Try to keep neutral spine and ABOVE ALL, work at your own pace! I added pictures of exercises that may be confusing for you so see below! Can’t wait to see YOUR PLANKS!!!
Disclaimer: Please notify your physician before starting any fitness program.

Side Plank. You can also perform this with your bottom leg bent on the ground.

Plank with Abduction (you can also do with bottom leg bent on the ground)

Plank with Crunch

Plank with Hip Dips! Aim for 20 total!

Plank with leg lift

Rocking plank by rocking body back and forth!

Plank with Shoulder taps

Plank with V-up

Plank Hip Twisters (same as hip dips!)

Plank with Jacks. Perform 15-20

Plank Up and Down. Step One.

Step TWO

Plank Spiders (both sides) aim for 10 or more

Plank Thruster: draw your legs in and out 10 or more times.

One-armed plank

Plank Toe Taps (each side!) 10 or more times.

Plank on something elevated (anything!)

Halloween Hustle!

Anyone ready to increase your mileage this month? Join our Halloween Hustle! You can complete this in various ways:
– Print it out and hang it somewhere where you can color, cross off, highlight or have your kids fill in!
– Save on your phone and use a photo editor to check off!
– Wear a FitBit and document how many miles you walk all day
– Only document the times you intentionally run/jog/walk
If you have found yourself needing something different to incorporate in your fitness routine, we highly suggest you join the Halloween Hustle! It will get you more focused on running (instead of the other forms of cardio you prefer) and prep you for all the holiday food coming up!
Remember, change begets change! You can download a copy of the poster to print out HERE

NEM December Fitness Challenge

December is one of the toughest months to stay health-minded, especially when there are loads of parties, baked goods and treats everywhere! Our best advice for our No Excuse Moms is to not be too restrictive. Enjoy yourself! Indulge a little – but don’t go overboard. Stay active and maintain your workout schedule despite how crazy your life might become. Remember, we want to start the New Year feeling good! We don’t want to attend holiday parties obsessed about food or feeling bloated from bingeing on sugary and fatty foods days before. Life is to be enjoyed but do everything in moderation!
With that said, welcome our December #FINISHSTRONG2016 challenge! The goal is to keep you accountable online and to maintain a fitness-minded attitude throughout the season. Here are the rules:
1) Post this calendar below on your personal/public social media page (it could be IG or FB). This is so others will hold you accountable, perhaps join in with you (support is always key) and we know you are IN!! You can download it also
2) Once December hits TRY to post daily. Now I know it won’t be easy, but you will only get ONE credit/raffle entry for each day you post! So the more the merrier.
3) Every time you post either on our main/local NEM pages or your personal/public pages (wherever you feel most comfortable! OR you can do a mix of both!) you must hashtag #finishstrong2016 AND #noexcusemom (we want to be able to easily search each other for inspiration!)
4) Once December is completed (wooohooo!) send us an email at with your social media account name and #of times you posted! (we will check!) Also, I hear many local city groups are also joining in on the fun and adding their own prizes to this challenge so don’t forget to FIND YOUR CITY and join their page! You MUST send us the email BY JAN 3rd!
5) We will raffle 5 people to enjoy some prizes from our NEM store on January 6th! It will be a LIVE video at 10amPST so tune in!!!

Why We Are Not Failures, And The Truth About Fad Diets

This post will discuss why changing our habits is not supposed to be easy, why we are not failures if we struggle to make changes, how to choose the right weight loss program, and how someone can lose weight in this day and age. 
A Brief Introduction – We are not failures…and why it’s not supposed to be easy.
There is a juxtaposition between the commonly held believe that weight loss is easy, and the extremely real, solid evidence that it is not. This leads many individuals to believe that weight is a reflection of personal weakness and failed character, and that success is predetermined by your ability to suffer and endure hardship (that is often required with fad/restrictive diets). Not only do these fad, and sometimes extremely restrictive diets not work, but these diets themselves may break people. Many people feel that if they cannot adhere to these restrictive diets long term, that they are failures and just can’t resist temptation. Could it simply be that in just 50 short years the world has gone from a willful place to one filled with weakness?
Here you are: you may have battled your weight possibly even since childhood, you’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on various dieting efforts, and you’re blaming your own lack of willpower? As I see it as evidenced by your ongoing commitment over the years, you have incredible amounts of willpower. I’d go so far as to wager that in all likelihood, you have spent more willpower on weight management than on any other area in your life.
So is it a lack of willpower that has led to the tripling of childhood obesity rates over the course of the past 40 years? Have we suddenly raised a generation of toddlers and elementary school kids who just don’t have the same willpower of prior generations?
Of course not.
It’s not about willpower. If it were about willpower, if it were about just wanting it badly enough, the world would be skinny. It’s about change and it’s about beliefs.
In terms of change, the world is very, very different from what it was just 50 short years ago, and there are many, many things that have an impact upon a person’s choices and weight. These days, cheap calories are everywhere and everyone’s telling us to eat them. Where we used to go to buy gas, there are now junk-food supermarkets. Where eating out used to be a rare treat, it’s now affordable and convenient enough to be a multiple-time-a-week occurrence. And, of course, there are supersized portions and tens of billions of dollars a year of food industry advertising to now contend with, coupled with the fact that high fat/sugar/salt foods light up the pleasure centres in our brains and become addictive, on top of the fact that cost of living has increased dramatically and wage rates have not increased to match inflation (leaving people less and less money to live) – and the list goes on!
It’s a different world now, and the default in this world is weight gain, and simple, brute-force willpower doesn’t stand a chance (for most individuals anyway), without the right knowledge, support, and a few ups and downs along the way.
Why Extreme Fad Diets Do Not Work
A fad diet is a weight loss plan or aid that promises dramatic results. These diets typically don’t result in long-term weight loss and they are usually not very healthy. In fact, some of these diets can actually be dangerous to your health. Examples of these include the ‘Military Diet’, the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, extremely low calorie diets, etc.
Weight Cycling and Metabolic Slowdown
The more restrictively a person diets, the more likely they are to experience regular weight cycling. It’s like the infamous ‘yo-yo’ effect, but unlike a yo-yo, sometimes the upswing winds up at a higher location than where it started.
The biggest danger to aggressive weight cycling is metabolic slowdown. If a person undertakes an extremely restrictive diet, they are likely to lose a disproportionate amount of muscle – meaning that losing 50 pounds in a very short period of time will cause a greater loss of muscle tissue than losing the same amount of pounds slowly. Muscle is responsible for a fair amount of our total daily caloric burn, and is also of course responsible for much of our feelings of vigor and energy. Consequently, an ultra-rapid 50-pound loss may lead a person to not only lose the actual strength to continue with their efforts, but also suffer from a disproportionate loss of muscle and perhaps an amplified near-starvation adapted metabolic response.
This phenomenon may help to explain why it Is that people who lose large amounts of weight rapidly often regain more than they’d lost despite in fact not eating more than they used to. If that person goes back to the life they were living before their ultra-rapid weight loss (which many do at some point in their lifetime), even though they are not eating any more than they did prior to losing weight, they’ll gain it back more than they lost because their body now burns fewer calories than it used to. Also, the weight they gain back will primarily be fat, which is often why body fat percentages often climb higher following a weight cycle. Click here, here, here or here, for examples of research articles that explain some of the many mechanisms behind weight cycling and metabolic slowdown.
So, how do you choose the right weight loss program, you might ask?
Look for “Red Flags”
The weight loss industry is not regulated, and typically uses appealing marketing ploys, and/or anecdotal stories to make you believe that it is the be all end all weight loss solution. It is up to you to choose a safe and trustworthy weight loss program (not to say you aren’t allowed to get sucked into the wrong program once or twice – we’re all human!).
Here are some “red flags” that may tell you that a program does not meet your health needs:

  • Promises fast weight-loss (more than one kilogram (two pounds) per week).
  • Recommends a very low calorie diet plan (below 800 calories) per day) without medical supervision.
  • Does not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and overall health. E.g., diets that recommend excluding large groups of food or extreme calorie restriction such as the ‘Military Diet’, ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, etc.
  • Tries to make you dependent on their company by selling you products such as foods or supplements rather than teaching you how to make good choices from regular grocery store food.
  • Does not encourage long term realistic lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet that suits your lifestyle and overall health. E.g., diets that recommend excluding large groups of food or extreme calorie restriction such as the ‘Military Diet’, ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’, etc.
  • Employs salespeople who act as “counselors”, but are only trained on the program and the company’s products and not on healthy approaches to help you change your behaviour to help you lose weight.
  • Requires you to sign a long term, expensive contract.
  • Pressures you to sign up right away by offering a “special price”.
  • Does not tell you about risks that may go along with weight loss or their specific program (for example: if you have diabetes and take prescription medication, it may affect you differently after you lose weight).
  • Promotes weight loss aids like starch blockers, fat-burners, herbs, supplements or amino acids that have not been scientifically proven to have any health benefits. Talk to a dietitian or other health professional to find out this information.
  • Does not offer support or follow-up to help you lose weight and keep it off.

If it sounds too good or too easy to be true, it probably is.
So, even with a good weight loss program, how does a person lose weight in this day and age, when it seems that the default is to gain, the environment is toxic, and the deck is conclusively stacked against us, you might ask?
According to the founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. David Katz, it’s not about developing willpower, it’s about developing skillpower. The good news is that the skills required aren’t the classic triad of suffering, sacrifice, and struggle that fad diets normally require. The skills required are organization, planning, and thoughtfulness – and with those skills, it is possible not only to experience permanency with weight loss, but perhaps more important, it’s possible to enjoy a normal, healthy, and friendly relationship with food. ‘Skillpower’, while it does take time and often support to master, gets easier with time, as the more practice a person has with any particular skill, the better that person will get at it, and the more naturally it will come. It’s also about identifying what works for you and your lifestyle; which again, becomes much easier with time. We are so uniquely different – so comparing ourselves to others does not help.
– Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN, RD(c)
Felicia Newell is our Official NEM Nutritionist and has a Bachelor of Science in Applied Human Nutrition, as well as a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition. For the past several years, Felicia has worked at a university research centre with a focus on food security, food access, and policies relating to food; she has taught university level nutrition courses; and she is currently working at a large chain grocery store helping her community make healthier choices. One of Felicia’s passions is helping others fight through the confusing misinformation that is out there in the ever-changing and growing world of food and nutrition. Another one of her passions 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. Felicia has published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.
Read more about her story here, and on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.