2015 Regional NEM Transformation Winners are….

We had an incredible group of ladies who participated in the 2015 Pot Transformation Challenge. This was not an easy group to judge! We would like to thank everyone who participated, especially our NEM panel of judges. We have 10 U.S. regions and 5 international regions. Our regions are led by dedicated regional managers who oversee their local city leaders and members. Our Regional Managers make up the heart of our organization and we are so thankful for their service to NEM.region

Our judging was based on physical transformation, story and participation either at workouts or in our online NEM group.
Each winner invested $20 and won $352 plus self confidence, health and priceless confidence from the last 12 weeks. For more information on our No Excuse Mom Fitness program, you can visit our program rules or purchase The No More Excuses Diet book.
Thank you to our panel as well as our online admin Mia Foster, and online manager, Shannon Link, for making this happen.

Region One: Kelly James
My name is Kelly. I am 34 years old and a Mom to 2 amazing boys age 5 & 8. I work 60+ hours a week as a LPN and I am a den leader for my sons Cub Scout pack! I have always struggled with my weight, but things had gotten way out of control! . It is hard to believe that at 34 years old, I struggled with so many daily tasks such as taking the stairs, keeping up with my kids, putting my shoes on without sitting down, and suffering with knee and foot pain on a daily basis. I struggled with overeating and food addiction. I was constantly tired and had no energy. I was scared, felt defeated and really felt like if I don’t change something I’m not going to be around to watch my kids grow up… It hit me hard as I realized that I was killing myself slowly! I wanted and needed to get healthy. and now! I have tried so many different diets and they all work temporarily, but I always gain the weight back. I was ready to set all of my excuses aside and make a change for good!
This No Excuse Mom challenge has helped me to take a different approach. This time it was about staying committed and changing my lifestyle it was about teaching my boys healthy habits and getting our bodies moving more! It was not so much about the number on the scale, but feeling healthier and not giving up! Since starting this challenge I have gone on 3 hikes with cub scouts and had a blast! This is something I used to dread, but not anymore. It’s actually a lot of fun and a great workout! I work out at home several days a week and my boys even sometimes join me! I also meet up with one of my sisters at the gym go to Zumba on Saturday mornings. I need that accountability! I take the stairs at work every day and my knee pain is gone! We are all eating much healthier and drinking more water. I didn’t think that I would ever be able to drink this much water and be okay with it (I used to drink Diet Pepsi all day long!) I have lost 15 lbs and my clothes ae feeling loose! I am not going to say these past 12 weeks have been easy, but it has all been worth it! I have learned not to give up on myself. I have created lots of new and healthy habits and I feel better than I have in a long time! I want to say thank you to my NEM leader Jennifer Dillon for encouraging me along the way and convincing me not to give up! and to Maria Kang! You have helped to save my life! I have a long way to get where I need to be, but I am ready to take on the challenge!”
Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE

kelly james

Region Two: Liza Fiebert
“Where do I begin? Grew up dancing and cheering, developed severe anxiety at a young age which developed into anorexia and binge eating depending on my stress at any given time. I never had a good body image, when I was in my 20’s I got down to a size 00 and I thought I was fat, I had no self esteem and no self respect. These feelings continued to wreak havoc on my life through adulthood. My weight always ranged from 110-220 depending on my eating disorder at that time. This has been my continuous cycle.
In 2006, I meet a man and things moved quickly. I moved in within 2 months, and was pregnant by month 3. He was horribly physically, mentally abusive to both me and our son. I left on my sons 1st birthday with nothing but the clothes on our back, because I knew we both deserved better. Fast forward a year later when I met my husband, again another whirlwind. We got engaged and moved in within the first year of meeting eachother. We lived with his two kids, and my one, in a farm house in rural NJ. Everything was great for a few weeks, until Heath’s eldest child, then 13 began, having headaches. One day he had a Grand mal seizure and was rushed to the hospital where we discovered he had a peach sized tumor in his brain that required emergency surgery which caused him to loose almost all of his vision. It was a long road to recovery in which Heath stayed at the hospital almost 24/7 for weeks while I held the fort down at home. The stress caused my anxiety and binge eating began. A few months later, Heath was let go from his job and remained unemployed for 2 years. We were on the brink of losing everything when he received an offer for a job, which he still has today.
Fast forward 5 years and 1 new baby later, I stumbled upon the NEM Facebook page. I remember Maria from TV, so I decided to follow the page. I was the heaviest I had been in years, wore a size 22/3x and couldn’t even walk due to my knee pain. I knew I had to make a change, but I had no idea where to start. I had spent so many years taking care of others and holding things together that I never invested time in myself. I saw a post regarding the 12 week challenge, and I knew that this was going to be the thing that changed my life. I invested in fitness books and DVDs and dove in on August 31st. I never allowed an excuse to get in the way of my success. Each day, I pushed myself a little harder than the day before. Most importantly, I did not give up on me. I have finally developed a healthy relationship with myself and for that, I am forever grateful!”
Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE
liza fiebert
liza fiebert1

Region Three: Debbie Miladinovich

January 17, 2015 was my 49th birthday. I made a promise to myself that I would spend the year creating the best possible version of me. My goal was to lose 20 pounds. And that was it. I had no plan in place. I knew I had to make healthier choices when it came to food. I knew that  I needed to exercise. In reality it was just a wish. A goal without a plan is just a wish.
In June I decided to throw in the towel. I had lost a few pounds in January that I managed to find again. Running had always been my exercise of choice, but this recent attempt to return to running brought me chronic knee pain. So if I couldn’t run, I wasn’t going to do anything. I didn’t want to consume myself with self hate due to the inability to get the weight  off, so I started to accept it. I  was going to be fifty after all. I have a 14 year old child. So I started building a new wardrobe of clothing to hide my rounding figure. Then I cut my hair off to complete my mid life crisis.
I swore off fad diets years ago, so  I hesitated to read Maria Kang’s book. But I did. I had been following Maria on social media for several years. That’s how I found out about the challenge. So fresh from reading No More Excuses, I was ready to face this challenge head on. This time I had a real plan. I created a goal board that had calendars, goals, and my plan. I joined the online NEM groups for support and managed to connect with several people on a personal level that were on the same journey.
My goals: goal weight of 130, fit into my Buckle jeans, establish a healthy eating plan.
My plan: drink only plain water, black coffee or tea. Use myfitnesspal to track my calories and macros. Perform cardio 4 times a week, and strength train 3 times a week.
I’m happy to say that I have had so many victories as a result of this challenge. I lost 12 pounds and I’m able to fit into my goal jeans.  I have eliminated processed foods from my diet. I only drink water, black coffee or tea. I wake up most mornings at 5 am to work out and I have a true exercise routine that consists of a variety of cardio and strength training that I can  do at home or the gym. No excuses here!!!
Read about our No Excuse Mom program HERE


Region Four: Jennifer Aranda

“My name is Jennifer Aranda and I am a 35 year old single mother of 3 children, ages 10, 8, and 21 months. I have struggled with my weight since I was a kid and I can always remember feeling self conscious and insecure about my body. Even members of my family would make comments about me being too fat or eating too much. I believe it was all my insecurities that led me into a somewhat promiscuous lifestyle in my mid to late teens and early twenties. I wanted to feel loved and validated by a man because I didn’t feel it from my own heart. It wasn’t until I was about 21 that I finally discovered exercise and healthy eating.
I was 170 lbs on a 5’1″ frame, and I was ready for a change. I lost over 30 pounds and I was so excited about my weight loss that it drove me to take courses at a local community college to become a personal trainer. My body had changed, but the inside of me hadn’t had a chance to catch up yet. My heart and mind were still insecure and I ended up meeting and marrying an emotionally abusive man less than a year after my transformation. He had made me feel that because of my sexual past that no one else would ever want me. I bought into that lie and we were together for 5 years, having two children together. He was not supportive of my love for fitness and even accused me of cheating on him whenever I went to the gym to workout. He once told me not to set my goals too high when I shared with him my desire to run a half marathon. Not only was he emotionally and verbally abusive but I ended up finding out that he was sexually abusing our daughter who was only 4 years old at the time I found out. I went through a 3 year court battle with him and it finally resulted in a divorce, him signing away his parental rights, and pleading guilty to a lesser charge. During that time, and afterwards I turned to fitness again as a way to deal with the stress and anxiety I felt. Read her entire story here.jennifer aranda

Region Five: Andrea Iseman
“My success story can be summed up in one word, confidence. To me, confidence improves everything in life, and somewhere along the way I lost mine.
Growing up I was athletic, in all honors classes, had a great group of friends and a wonderful family. It was the recipe for high self-esteem and confidence. I received a full ride volleyball scholarship and continued being fit and strong throughout college. After college I had a great career, advancing through my company for 10 years then being recruited to a prestigious investment company. I was also married to a wonderful man. Everything was going my way. My confidence was high.
After 6 knee surgeries throughout my 20’s and early 30’s, I began to gain weight. Then follow it up with three beautiful babies (2011, 2013, and 2014) and an appendectomy (2011). I was heavy and had severe diastasis recti causing me to look 9 months pregnant for over a year after my youngest was born. Having people ask if I was pregnant when I was not demoralized my self-esteem. My once stylish wardrobe had been replaced with baggy clothes to try and hide my body. My confidence level was at an all-time low. Read her entire story here.a
Region Six: Stephanie Geeze
“My name is Stephanie Geeze. I am a mother of three wonderful children who are 3.5 years, 2 years, and 4 months. I have been married for almost 8 years.
I grew up on a farm in Indiana. I was always very active with the farm life and sports. My mom always cooked our meals, we very rarely ate out.I joined the Air Force when I was 17 years old. I went to Iraq shortly after joining. I remember eating alto while I was there. I believe that is how I dealt with what was going on. When I returned from Iraq I was extremely depressed and attempted to commit suicide. I ended up getting diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from many of the events that happened while I was there (mortar attacks weekly, deadly riots, etc.) I met my husband after returning from Iraq. He has been there through my mental and physical recovery. I would not be here if it were not for him. He has been extremely patient and motivating.Read her entire story here
Stephanie Geeze

Region Seven: Cami Jo

“I have never felt more alive than what I do right now.
In 2008, when I turned 18, I was told by my school counselor that I “would never amount to anything if I was going to continue to be a fat and lazy person.”
I was 180 pounds.
Flash forward to 2011, when I met my husband and we started talking about having children. Going to the doctor, I was one again told “you need to lose weight. You won’t even make it to 25 like this.”
I weighed 230 pounds.
At the start of the NEM challenge, I weighed in at a whopping 310 pounds. Size 28 pants. Size 60+ waist line. I was miserable. Read her entire story here.
Cami jo
Region Eight: Michelle Hood
“I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I played sports throughout college and I think that helped me stay in better shape when I was younger. Then I got married. I had children. I found out I have PCOS and am insulin resistant. It helped explain the extra weight and the incredible difficulty I had losing weight. But I let it be an excuse. I told myself that I was bigger because my body didn’t work the way it should. I got caught up in the million things moms get caught up with. School, work, diapers, laundry, putting everyone else’s needs before my own.
When I learned about the 12 week challenge, I immediately said no. I can’t diet, I’ll dry up and not be able to nurse any more. It was totally an excuse. The name of this group is No Excuse Moms, and there I was making yet another excuse. I signed up and wasn’t really planning on telling anyone, so if I failed no one would know. I realized that I HAD to tell people because I needed others to help me stay on track. Read her entire story here.michelle hood 2
Region Nine: Brittany Marcotte
“I began developing an unhealthy relationship with food and fitness at a very young age. When I was 12 my parents went through a very painful divorce. It was an incredibly sad time for me, and the only way I found to drown my emotions was with food. I went on my first diet at 12, and proceeded to gain and lose large amounts of weight multiple times per year. When I’m “good” I’m really good, and when I’m “bad” I go off the deep end. It’s either eating perfectly and working out 6 days per week, or making all the wrong food choices (on purpose) and not lifting a finger.Read her entire story here.brittany marcotte1
Region Ten: Natalie Grace Kohn
“At 2 months post-partum with my 4th son (ages 5, 4, 2 and a newborn!), I was sickly, overweight and unhappy with my body. I had gained 70 lbs. during my pregnancy. I was overwhelmed and felt like I couldn’t pull myself out of the rut I found myself in.
I was hovering at 202 lbs. after giving birth which was more than I had ever weighed! On the 18th of August 2015 I was crying to my husband, worried that he no longer found me attractive.
“I don’t care what size you are or how much you weigh” he said, “what I find most attractive is you working towards your goals and making progress each day no matter how small!”
His words seriously changed my life that day.
The next day on August 19th I began my journey. I took photos and measurements, began working out and eating better. I was far from perfect with my nutrition and I struggled with my workouts, barely being able to get them finished before feeling like collapsing.
I battled on, one day at a time…Read her entire story here.
Natalie Kohn
Region Eleven (Canada): Vanessa Verkerk
“I started this challenge very optimistic with ambitious goals, something I tend to do whenever I start something new… I have the ‘go big or go home’ mentality, which can be good in certain situations, but has often led me to failure in my past ventures with fitness related goals. Then I read Maria Kang’s book and decided to take a closer look at my current lifestyle and chose some realistic, attainable, yet challenging goals. And I did just that – I set out to lose 2lbs per week, exercise 4-5 times per week, encourage my fellow NEM’s with their goals and run 5km without taking a walking break!! Through this challenge I learned a lot, both about myself and how I view health and fitness. Read her entire story here.Vanessa Verkerk
Region Thirteen (Europe): Anne Sophie Seisen
The challenge on August 31st, motivated at the most and with a lot of hope, I start, I was just
“clean eating” but I improve I learnt to eat and to cook food the existence as the gourd of which I did
not even know “gourd spaghetti or lenses coral”. I learn not to eat anymore “stupid things” and to
cook myself, me look at the labels of food and I select my products, thing that I would have before
never made!
The sport is more and more present in my life and even if my weight me gene still a lot I stay
completely on my objective: find a body firm and healthy that my man and my children are proud of
me, more not to cry by going shopping and to find the insurance that I lost by gaining weight.
I resumed work on September 7th, it is not always easy to manage everything, mom of 4 children I
manage the everyday life of woman and mom, that of the job but now in more that of sports woman
and I like it! Read her entire story here.anne seisen
Region Fourteen (NZ/Australia): Samantha Mahon
“I joined this challenge because I was sick of making excuses for not exercising with three boys one in school , one in kind and one full time at home it was always imp to exhausted , I don’t have the time or my leg can’t handle it. And to change my bad eating habits of just surviving on coffee all day till dinner time. I also wanted to love/find myself again and get back my confidence after having my boys I hated my body and felt ashamed , I also needed to regain strength back in my right leg after having a tumor removed from my thigh while I was 29 weeks pregnant with my youngest ,the tumor went from my hip/groin joint all the way into my knee cap between both muscles crushing my main blood supply and nerves when they removed it they had to take some muscle too so my leg has been really weak. I also wanted to lose some weight and tone plus be fit for my up and coming jaw surgery. After starting this challenge vie made time for myself vie been getting up at 4.40am to hit the gym at 5am 5 days a week and taking the kids along to the no excuse moms workout sessions , as well as running 3-4 kiss a few times a week at night.Read her entire story here.samantha mahon 2

OVERALL WINNER: Angelina Steward

“My name is Angelina Steward and I am a recently single mom to two amazing girls ages two and five; both being my biggest inspiration for everything I do. I am a general manager of a restaurant and I work 60-70 hours a week with an hour commute to work everyday. So like many women in this group I have plenty things that have always been my excuse for not taking care of myself.
February of this year I was with my best friend shopping for my bridesmaid dress for her wedding. I could not fit any dresses in most stores. Wearing a size 22 at this point and weighing in at 260 pounds at 5’5. I decided that day when we found the dress I ordered it in a size 16 and said I would be in it by the wedding. When August rolled around I tried it on, and the dress was too big! I ended up ordering in a 12, talk about a NSV. (non-scale victory Read her incredible story here.angela steward
“”No, thank you. I’m on a diet.”
I remember the first time I ever spoke that sentence: I was at my best friend’s house and was offered chicken for dinner; I turned it down in favor of my dry salad.
I was nine years old.
I didn’t need to go on a diet. I was a skinny little girl going on a diet in order to emulate her mother, who had been “on a diet” her entire life. Jenny Craig meals filled our freezer, Slim-Fast stocked our refrigerator. We had a scale in the garage with a calendar where her weight was carefully tracked every day. We had a treadmill that became a clothes hanger. A weight bench that gathered dust and rust.
She wired her jaw shut and went on a liquid diet. She bought wire clippers and cut the wire herself a week in.
My father once ripped a lollipop out of her mouth and threw it in the street. He was “helping.”
She finally had weight loss surgery and lost everything she’d been carrying quickly — except the emotional baggage that led to her overeating to begin with…she gained all the weight back.
I learned everything I knew about my body from my mother.
I went on my first diet when I was nine and I never stopped. Puberty hit, I grew and filled out, and the vicious cycle began…
Gain 70 pounds.
Lose 50.
Have a finger amputated.
Gain 25 pounds.
Lose 20.
Leave an abusive partner.
Gain 30 pounds.
Atkins, casual bulimia, grapefruit, cabbage soup, MasterCleanse, 1200 calories, survive on Diet Coke and Adderall.
Cardio all day, every day.
Read her incredible story here.
amanda rose

OVERALL WINNER: Keeley Connely
“Before having children, I didn’t take fitness seriously. I easily lost weight just from ditching a night out with friends or going for a walk. I was also happy with my curvy body – it was tight and cute. After the birth of my first son, everything changed for me drastically. My stomach completely detached from my stomach muscles, and I gained over 50 lbs. They did not go away from breastfeeding either. I struggled. When I finally started to see a difference, I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd son. I made a game plan. I kept on meal planning, going on long walks and working out for as long as I could handle it. I had some minor set backs such as sciatic nerve issues. I never was a runner or a weight lifter, but I researched and read all of the success stories about how weights helped with weight loss. Once I got approval from my doctor, I started a clean eating meal plan from Oxygen magazine paired with a weight/circuit routine. I saw results
immediately. I was incredibly happy. My weight was lower than it had ever been. Then, my second child learned how to walk. My eldest started to get angry about sharing his toys. Breastfeeding issues began. The sheer stress no change to my diet or work out plan. I gained 15 lbs. I was heartbroken. I looked at my stomach, at how it sagged from my navel, and at all the excess skin from both weight loss and the detachment issues. I felt like all the work was for nothing. I couldn’t wear a bikini. I didn’t even feel attractive anymore. My work out group started to diminish as the months grew colder. I lost motivation.
Read her incredible story here.

Nutrient-Packed, Easy-To-Make, Kid-Approved Chia Seed Jam!

This chia seed jam is delicious, easy to make, and my kids even love it! An excellent source of vitamins, minerals (including iron and calcium), antioxidants and fibre, and a good source of protein and omega 3s…with a bonus of no preservatives and it tastes great.
– 4 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used 1 bag of Compliments frozen Jumbleberry Blend)
– 4 tbsp (60 ml) pure maple syrup or other sweetener of choice (I used Compliments organic pure maple syrup)
– 2-4 tbsp of chia seeds, which gel up and provide the jelly consistency (I used 4 tbsp to help soak up the water from the frozen berries, and I used Bobs Red Mill chia seeds)
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the berries and maple syrup and bring to a simmer over medium to high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the berries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some whole for texture.
2. Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes.
3. Once the jam is thick, remove the pan from the heat and stir. Add sweetener to taste if desired, but not necessary.
Tip: The jam should keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks and it will thicken even more as it cools.
That’s it! Enjoy! 🙂
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 on her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.

Up Close with Felicia Newell

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 on her Facebook page or follow her on Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition. Click here for more NEM experts.
Here is Felicia’s incredible story!
As some of you may know, I’m your Official NEM Nutritionist-Dietitian. I am also a Mom of 4 boys under 5 (5, 3 and 18 month old twins), wife, have a full time career…and also wear many other hats (as I’m sure many of you know the feeling).
I love the no excuse movement and what it stands for and inspires. Sure I’ve been studying nutrition in university for 8 years, but I struggle no less than other moms when it comes to food. I love chocolate, salty snacks, and wine, in no particular order. After having my second child I was 60 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. I was a young mom/student, still learning how to be a parent (not like that ever stops), and I looked to food to take my mind off my stresses (a little too much). I felt tired, sluggish, and none of my clothes fit; so I decided to start putting my learnings into practice, take my own advice, and make healthier decisions. It was a roller coaster, and still is. What many people don’t realize and/or don’t want to hear is that there truly is no one-size-fits-all magic answer to losing weight and/or being healthier. The two main reasons being 1) we are all such unique individuals (on the inside as well as the outside), and what may work for one person’s body and life may not work for another; and two life gets in the way sometimes. I truly feel that food is addictive and our environments are conducive to overeating. We must work together (not against each other) to change the environment, at the same time understanding that what methods work for one person may not work for everyone.

So, after ups and downs, and figuring out what worked best for me (in a very basic nutshell eating less unhealthy foods, more healthy foods, and exercising more), I am the happiest I have ever been. Not just because of the loss of 60 pounds, but also because of the journey and finding myself/growing along the way (and I can thank this group for being a part of that!).

Why Having Enough Iron in the Diet is Important

Ever feel tired and sluggish, but you don’t understand why?

You may not be getting enough iron in your diet, or, your body may not be able to absorb the iron that you do consume. Iron is a mineral that you need to carry oxygen through the body. Without enough iron you can become very tired, pale-looking and irritable. Women, young children, pregnant and pre-menopausal women, some athletes, vegetarians and many older adults are at risk for not getting enough iron in their diet. The following are guidelines on how to increase iron in the diet.

Heme and Non-Heme Iron

Food contains iron in two forms: “heme” and “non-heme”. Heme iron is better used by your body than non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry. Non-heme iron is found in dried beans (such as kidney beans), enriched and whole grains, nuts and some fruits and vegetables. Non-heme iron can be better used by your body when you eat foods that contain heme iron at the same time. It is important to eat or drink foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, peppers and tomatoes. These foods will also help your body use non-heme iron.

Steps You Can Take

  • Include at least one iron-rich food and one food rich in vitamin C at each meal.
  • Add cooked dried beans or lentils to soups, stews or casseroles.
  • Choose breakfast cereals and flour that are fortified/enriched with iron. Read the Nutrition Facts box on packaged foods and choose those foods that are high in iron.
  • Choose dark green and orange vegetables and fruits more often. For example, choose spinach instead of lettuce for your salad.
  • Have spaghetti with tomato meat sauce rather than cream sauce.
  • Choose dried fruit as a snack more often.
  • Add raisins or other dried fruit to cereal or in your favourite cookie/muffin recipe.
  • Have a glass of orange juice with your cereal at breakfast.
  • Coffee or tea with meals may decrease iron absorption so have these beverages after meals.

Reading Food Labels for Iron

You will find the Nutrition Facts box on most packaged food products. Look for the Percent Daily Value (%DV) that tells you whether a food has a little or a lot of a given nutrient.

How much Iron Should I Aim For?

Age in Years Aim for an intake of *milligrams  (mg)/day    Stay below*mg/day
Men 19 and older 8 45
Women 19-50 18 45
Women 51 and older 8 45
Pregnant women 19-50 27 45
Breastfeeding women 19-50 9 45

*This includes sources of iron from food and supplements.
Vegetarians need almost twice the daily recommended amount of iron compared with non-vegetarians.  Iron from plant-based foods is not absorbed as well by our bodies as animal food sources.

Iron Content of Some Common Foods

You can find iron in both animal and plant foods.

  • Animal sources (called “heme iron”) include meat, fish and poultry.  Our bodies easily absorb this type of iron.
  • Plant sources (called “non-heme iron”) include dried beans, peas and lentils and some fruits and vegetables.
  • In Canada, grain products like flour, pasta and breakfast cereals are fortified with iron.  Our bodies better absorb this type of iron when taken along with meat/chicken/fish or a source of vitamin C.  Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers.

The following table will show you which foods are sources of iron:

Food Serving size Iron (mg)
Vegetables and Fruits
Spinach, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 2.0-3.4
Tomato puree 125 mL (½ cup) 2.4
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.9-2.4
Lima beans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 2.2
Asparagus, raw 6 spears 2.1
Hearts of palm, canned 125 mL (½ cup) 2.0
Potato, with skin, cooked 1 medium 1.3-1.9
Snow peas, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.7
Turnip or beet greens, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.5-1.7
Prune juice 125 mL (½ cup) 1.6
Apricots, dried 60 mL (¼ cup) 1.6
Beets, canned 125 mL (½ cup) 1.6
Kale, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Green peas, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Tomato sauce 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Grains Products
Oatmeal, instant , cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 4.5-6.6
Cream of wheat, all types, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 5.7-5.8
Cereal, dry, all types 30 g 4.0-4.3
Granola bar, oat, fruits and nut 1 bar (32 g) 1.2-2.7
Cracker, soda 6 crackers 1.5-2.3
Oat bran cereal, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.0
Pasta, egg noodles, enriched, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Milk and Alternatives
Yogurt, soy 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.0
Meats and Alternatives
Meat and Poultry
Duck, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 1.8- 7.4
Moose or venison, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 2.5-3.8
Beef, various cuts, cooked  75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.4-3.3
Ground meat (beef, lamb), cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 1.3-2.2
Lamb, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 1.3-2.1
Chicken, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.4-2.0
Pork, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.5-1.5
Ground meat (turkey, chicken, pork), cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.8-1.2
Turkey, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.3-0.8
Organ Meats
Liver, pork ,cooked* 75 g (2 ½ oz) 13.4
Liver (chicken, turkey, lamb), cooked* 75 g (2 ½ oz) 6.2-9.7
Kidney, lamb, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 9.3
Liver, beef ,cooked* 75 g (2 ½ oz) 4.9
Kidney (beef, veal, pork), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.3-4.4
Fish and Seafood
Octopus, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 7.2
Oysters, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 3.3-9.0
Seafood (shrimp, scallops, crab), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.2-2.3
Sardines, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.7-2.2
Clams, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.0
Fish (mackerel, trout, bass), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.4-1.7
Tuna, light, canned in water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.2
 Meat Alternatives
Tofu, cooked 150 g (¾ cup) 2.4-8.0
Soybeans, mature, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 6.5
Lentils, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 4.1-4.9
Beans (white, kidney, navy, pinto, black, roman/cranberry, adzuki), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.6-4.9
Pumpkin or squash seeds, roasted 60 mL (¼ cup) 1.4-4.7
Peas (chickpeas/garbanzo, black-eyed, split), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 1.9-3.5
Tempeh/fermented soy product, cooked 150 g (3/4 cup) 3.2
Meatless (sausage, chicken, meatballs, fish sticks), cooked 75 g (2.5 oz) 1.5-2.8
Baked beans, canned 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.2
Nuts (cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pistachio nuts), without shell 60 ml (¼ cup) 1.3-2.2
Eggs, cooked 2 large 1.2-1.8
Sesame seeds, roasted 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.4
Meatless, luncheon slices 75 g (2.5 oz) 1.4
Hummus 60 mL (¼ cup) 1.4
Almond butter 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 1.2
Blackstrap molasses 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 3.6
Yeast extract spread (marmite or vegemite) 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 1.4

*Pregnant women should limit intake of liver to one serving every two weeks.

Source: “Canadian Nutrient File 2010”
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. She is almost complete her final internship required to become a Registered Dietitian. 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. 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’.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FeliciaNewellNutrition
Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition

No Excuse Mom Group Leader Appreciation Award: Yvonne Gutierrez

From Regional Manager, Jasmine Clark:
Yvonne Gutierrez is a military wife and mother of three who also leads our Columbia, SC group.
Yvonne has undying dedication to her group and is resilient to anything that comes her way. She has an event on her calendar everyday of the week and hosts each herself.
Yvonne is always personable and bubbly, and provides help and support to all of her members and encourages them and does her best to suit everyone in her groups needs as well as showing so much support to me as a regional manager.
She is also involved with her local Family Readiness Group (FRG) as well as her daughter’s home room assistant.
Thank you for your dedication and commitment to No Excuse Mom, Yvonne! We appreciate all that you do!

2015 12-week Transformation Pot Contest

On August 31st we are beginning our 2nd annual international pot transformation contest with all our No Excuse Moms! For 12 weeks, we are asking you to eat healthy, get active and be purposeful in your daily intentions. This was created to connect us as No Excuse Moms, motivate us before the holidays and transform us in a limited period of time. Contest Ends November 26th *all pictures are due by that date, which lands on Thanksgiving!
If you lose a healthy average of 1-2lbs/week for the next 12 weeks, you will be 12-25lbs lighter in 12 weeks! If you are heavily overweight, you will lose more weight. Click here to submit payment and receive an application via email.
Our Guidelines are based upon Maria Kang’s book, The No More Excuses Diet, which is also the book that launched our Facebook group page. It is available at all book retailers and is currently on sale via Amazon for $14 here.
1. Drink only water, black coffee/tea
2. Eat balanced meals comprising of 30% lean protein, 30% healthy fats, 30% carbohydrates. The last 10% goes towards a small treat or protein/fat (for rest days) or carbohydrates (for training days).
3. Track your calories. If you are trying training for weight loss, lower your intake by 300 calories every few weeks.
4. Enjoy 1-2 treat meals a week.
5. Perform cardio 4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. (the shorter your cardio time the more intense it should be).
6. Perform strength training 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes.
7. Stretch daily.
8. Take a Selfie monthly (in workout clothes/swimsuit)
9. Participate and connect with your local NEM group either online or in person.
10. Identify your Target Heart Rate: 220-age * 60-85% =
11. Create a 12-week Fitness Calendar. For tips and downloadable calender click here.
12. Find accountability partners: Mentor (group leader), Supporter (friend) and Follower (someone you can guide). Find your regional leader here.
13. Be a member of our online NEM Facebook group
Contest Rules:
1. $20 opt-in payment to place into the pot.
2. All application will be emailed after payment is received and must be submitted by September 10th to your regional manager or online manager.
3. Submit before and after pics and story by November 26th
4. Must connect with closest NEM group (via online or in person). Identify your local leader.
5. Must follow NEM guidelines. No extreme dieting, diet pills, detox plans allowed.
Winners will be judged by Maria Kang and a NEM panel.
Criteria will be based upon:
40% Transformation
30% Personal Story
30% Participation
The pot money will be divided between 17 winners:
1. FIFTEEN Regional winners (including our Canada, Europe, Asia, NZ/Australia and Latin America NEMs)
2. ONE National winner
3. ONE NEM admin/leader
The way we will divide prize money will be:
30% NEM Winner
30% NEM Admin/leader Winner
30% NEM Regional Winners
10% Misc Fees and NEM Charity Bucket (everything will be accounted for and transparent for everyone to see)
For Example, if we have 500 entries this will be the breakdown:
$10,000 POT MONEY
$3000 Overall NEM winner
$3000 NEM Admin/leader winner
$200 (15 Regions: $3000) Regional leader
Leftover is $1000 which will go towards any paypal fees and the NEM charity bucket (i.e. sponsorship races)
Important Dates
Start Date: August 31st
Last date to join: September 10th
Pot Announcement: September 15th
End Date: November 26th (Thanksgiving!)
Winners Announced: December 10th
1. Do I need to count calories?
No. We provided a general guideline for those who want to know how to get started.
2. How do you define Detox?
We don’t recommend any program that allows less than 1200 calories/day. This was a general term used to avoid quick fix dieting. (which is detrimental in the long term)
3. I am pregnant, can I still join?
YES! To be fair, you can either use a before picture at the same time you were pregnant prior (if this is your second child) to demonstrate a healthier pregnancy. If this is your first time, please just provide your most recent picture. (BTW: we’ve had a pregnant mom grace the pages of our swimsuit calendar)
4. Can I use a ‘before’ picture that was taken earlier this year?
Please provide the picture taken this month (August 2015). Please submit two photos. One holding a daily newspaper and one without. You can also include a picture taken prior but it will not be used in the final judging.
5. Do I need to be a mom?
No! Stepmoms, grandmothers, mom of doggies…are all able to join!
6. Do I HAVE to join a local group?
Yes – you can either create your own (if there is no one next to you) or join the closest group either online or in person. The reason why this is required is to align you with positive people and create lasting, healthy friendships.
7. Will I know the total pot money?
Yes! On Sep 15th we will announce how many people have entered and what is up for grabs! We will also announce pot updates the weeks leading up.
8. What does participation entail?
Posting online, commenting and supporting other participants, attending meetups and/or hasthtagging on social media streams. If you do not live near a local NEM group, join your nearest location by searching Facebook or our online locations page here.
9. There is no leader near me and I’m interested in becoming one. How do I get started?
Email us at noexcusemoms@gmail.com

No Excuse Mom Group Leader Appreciation Award: Meeshie Nguyen

The recipient of our August Group Leader Appreciation Award is Meeshie Nyguyen! Meeshie leads our San Diego, CA group and is also a recipe blogger for the NEM website. Meeshie has done so much for the No Excuse Mom movement. She has made several media appearances, organized co-leaders and meet ups in San Diego county, modeled for our Asian calendar, and is always posting motivational messages and videos. Meeshie’s passion for health and fitness is evident in everything that she does within the No Excuse Mom organization.
From Regional Manager, Jayvelle Thompson: Meeshie has expanded San Diego tremendously! She has great communication to co-leaders and members. I LOVE LOVE LOVE her energy and she’s always willing to help!
Meeshie, we appreciate you dedication, creativity and positivity! You are a great example of everything that a No Excuse Mom leader should be!
Meeshie is a single mom to 4 year old Maddox. She is also a breast cancer survivor, bikini competitor, passionate community volunteer, marathoner and still manages to work 50 hours a week.

No Excuse Mom Group Leader Appreciation Award: Lisa Gouyou

Lisa is the group leader of No Excuse Mom Paris, France.
From European Regional Manager, Camille Limosin:
Lisa is a working mom to Valdo, who is 7 years old. Lisa was a very young mother and has done a great job with very little family help.
She was the first No Excuse Mom in France, and I joined her a month or two after that. Since then she has been an incredible support for me and helped me grow NEM France as a country before growing her own city of Paris. She’s the secretary of the No Excuse Mom France official association and plays an important role in the NEM organization. She deals with the media, helps makes decisions and has great ideas.
She’s a real example because she has struggled with being overweight most of her life and has recently lost 33 pounds. Lisa is a perfect example of everything a No Excuse Mom should be!
She is doing an amazing job in Paris which is a difficult city and brought on 3 co-leaders there. They cover different neighborhoods, and the group is quickly growing. Her Facebook posts are always filled with great advice to guide and motivate members. She is doing special workout events once a month and is giving a Capoeira lesson to the NEM members in July in front of the Eiffel Tower!
Lisa and I work very closely. She has done a lot to help grow the movement here in France, and I wouldn’t have succeeded in all of this without her help and dedication. Her kind words, motivation, support and encouragement keep me and the rest of NEM France going!

No Excuse Mom Group Spotlight: Mesquite, Nevada

Leader: McKel Springer
Regional Manager: Juanita Verdin
Group Formed: January 2014
****In addition to being an amazing local group leader, McKel is our No Excuse Mom Locations Manager. She is responsible for maintaining our database of over 350 local groups! Thank you for everything you do for No Excuse Mom, McKel!!!*****
When did you become a NEM? Do you have a personal transformation story?
I have always been “Heavier” though I have always been active, I was always taller, more muscular than all my peers which I saw as a flaw. I suffered from depression, body image issues, anxiety, emotional eating, and horrible self talk.
The biggest transformation I have made personally is how I see myself. Though there are times where old habits start to make their way back, I have learned to recognize my triggers and instead of viewing myself as “Heavy” I now view myself as strong, I focus on what my body has done and can do not what it is lacking. If I am having a really bad day I focus on the fact my body carried two amazing healthy babies – that right there makes me chose to love it & treat it well.
I am a work in progress, my battle is not a physical one but a mental one and with the Help of NEM I am getting mentally stronger and stronger each day.
What inspired you to start a group? Tell us more about the city/state/country you lead!
We live in a very small town with only one very pricey gym that offers daycare.
I had started thinking about getting a few ladies together for walks when Maria’s 1st photo of her and her 3 boys started a Media fire. I started following the “hot facebook mom” and loved that she was fit, but she is human. What really got me interested in NEM is how transparent she is. No gimmicks, No half truth, she has been there done that, had the same struggles as all of her NEM followers. She is open about her past, her faith, her challenges, and never compromises her values no matter the media pressure, or negativity people throw her way. She is Maria -take her as is or leave her!
What has been your most rewarding experience as a group leader?
Watching members of my group accomplish their goals…..from weight lose, active pregnancies, postpartum returns, strength goals and distance. They not only have accomplished them, they shattered them!
What kind of workouts do you do?
A great mix of Strength training, cardio drills, Yoga, and walk/runs
Has your group participated in any events or charity fundraisers?
We participate in the Mesquite Breast Cancer Zumbathon, & hope to join a few charity run runs this year.
How has becoming a leader changed your life?
I tried working at a local Rec Center instructing group fitness, but with no daycare I had to take my kids with me and it’s impossible to teach and chase little ones. NEM has given me the freedom to put my health first, but not at the expense of my family. NEM moms make their health a priority, but understand that life happens. I have made working out a part of my daily routine, and it started with becoming a NEM leader.
How has becoming a leader affected your family?
My boys LOVE workouts!!! They have made friends, learned that being active is fun, and most mornings ask when we are going to work out. They crave being active, which is BIG for us since they are tech smart kids. Days we get out and play we have fewer “freak outs”, they sleep better, and are over all more balanced.
What is your favorite part of leading a group?
The friendships! These moms are amazing, they support, love, encourage, and build each other up. It’s not just about getting our workout in and leaving. We are truly friends. We have frequent play dates, birthday parties, baby showers, and mom nights. We babysit for each other, and it is priceless to have moms with similar goals, and lifestyles as you.

No Excuse Mom Spotlight: Jessica Turner

Name: Jessica Turner
City & State: Eunice, Louisiana
Age: 29
Marital Status: Married to Trey Turner
What do you do for work? I work part time as a veterinarian (approximately 26 hours a week). I also recently started with sharing my story and becoming a health and fitness coach.
# of children and their ages: 9 month old identical twin girls, Adalynn and Annabelle
Transformation Story: About 4 years ago, I discovered my love for fitness when I became very involved with a local group, Training Wheel Personal Training. Before I knew it, I was working out with them 3 days a week and running almost every day. I relied heavily on physical activity for my mental and physical wellbeing. This was around the same time that I first came across Maria’s story and her no excuse mantra.
It was a total shocked when my husband and I found out we were expecting twins. I remember thinking “I will never get my body back!” I was determined to stay active until the girls arrived but instead had a very difficult pregnancy which forced me to be on strict bed rest and had me in and out of the hospital. Once the girls arrived, I was ecstatic but completely overwhelmed! I often felt like I was drowning and my unhappiness with my body only added to my struggles. It wasn’t until my doctor, who had become a friend, gave me some tough love and told me I needed stop making excuses and do something for me. She knew how important health and fitness was to me prior to my pregnancy and told me I needed to find a way to make it work. The next day I agreed to participate in an online fitness group. After completing their program, I saw a little glimpse of the old me. Not only am I back to my pre-pregnancy weight now, I am the happiest I have ever been! I am now able to enjoy my baby girls and be the wife and mother I always longed to be. I want everyone to know that anything is possible once you get past your own excuses and just go for it!
Favorite food: I love sweet potatoes and have become obsessed with sweet potato pancakes. I make a quadruple batch every Tuesday morning to last me for the week.
Favorite exercise: I LOVE core work. Any variation of a plank is great in my opinion!
How has No Excuse Mom inspired/changed your life? Shortly after I learned I was expecting twins, I remember seeing a picture of a twin mom on Maria’s facebook page. Her twins were not very old, and she looked fabulous! I got so excited that I ran to show my husband and said “See! Maybe I will be able to get back in shape afterwards!” It was such an inspiration to know that it can be done and I never forgot about that. It’s so easy to use having multiples or having a job (or both!) as an excuse to not make time for exercise and healthy eating. Anything is possible, and Maria reminds me of that everyday! No Excuses!