I’m turning 39 next Wednesday. Thirty. Nine. ... which is weird because half the time I barely feel like an adult! In my mind I’m still 21 and living in LA sometimes. You know, back when I could eat an entire pizza pie (true story) and not gain an ounce, or I could be out 4 or 5 nights a week and not even feel it. Now, three glasses of wine and a bedtime past 11pm and I’m feeling it for a couple days and showing it on my face.
Now don’t get me wrong: I love it here. I love this age. I comes with a certain I-don’t-give-a-sh*t attitude that relieves a lot of the pressure I felt during my youth to look a certain way. I wouldn’t go back for 10 million bucks. I’ve worked too hard to get to here. And I like here. But here’s the thing: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been busy having a few kids. And I've never had to worry before, but after 3 years of being either pregnant or breastfeeding, at close to 40, with a teenager, while traveling like a maniac and writing a book and launching it (among a few other crazy endeavors), my body was BEGGING for some love. My hair, my skin, my energy levels, my nails, my belly (for obvious reasons... two c-sections). Well, they were all just... tired.
I’ve mentioned before on my Instagram that I’m ok with not being skinny. In fact, it’s not what I personally strive for. But I do, however, crave being "strong." I like muscle, definition, strength, stamina… POWER. I assume this is because I’m 5’2” (and a half), or maybe it's because the first sport I fell in love with was gymnastics. That said, I like the strong female body! That’s who I was the first 30 years of my life without having to do much work. You know, a 6-pack and all! And no work to get it! It was GLORIOUS.
When I got pregnant with David, I remember saying: "After I’m done nursing, I’ll just work out for a month and I’ll be good.” But guess what? I got pregnant with Anna while nursing and I continued to nurse during half of my pregnancy with Anna, and since then, I've been nursing Anna. And with my three babies, I’ve been able to not give a hoot about my weight; I recognize that we really are doing something pretty monumental for our children by making that commitment and sacrifice to nursing! It's fact, it was even easier with David and Anna because, being a little older and more self-confident, my attitude was much more of feeling empowered by motherhood than anything else. But then I weaned Anna when the book tour started, gave myself a couple of months, and joined a group of women on a 12-week workout program that ends this Friday. I was sure that by week three I’d be back to my old self. Guess what? I wasn’t.
On a side note, I don't endorse any one workout program; I truly feel about it the same I feel about diet/lifestyle changes: we’re way too different to all need the same thing! For me, for this challenge, I am working with Carolina Garay of @selfit.mx (look her up on Instagram). Basically, you are in a WhatsApp group with women from all over (I didn’t know any of them!) and Caro personally guides you through the program sending exercises (with videos) and meal programs (with recipes). You are in constant communication with the women in the group and you have to send photos/proof of your workout. It’s a competition and, at the end, they tally the points (depending on your workouts) and a winner is announced.
Well, believe you me, I ain’t winning. And truly, I had no interest in winning, or even competing really. I compete against the best version of myself and tune everyone and everything else out. That said, I will say this: the constant communication and advice and tips and encouragement were what made me stick to the workouts for those 12 weeks, even when I was traveling non-stop and very tired most of the time. When women band together, encourage each other, lift each other up… we get stuff done. And Caro was amazing (although I had way too much going on to follow the recipes and food suggestions!). Also, I am hypothyroid and have found that, for me, a strict Paleo diet, makes me feel my healthiest and most energetic. **Please consult with your doctor on any diet changes.
So, anyway, I used these 12 weeks to get myself excited about working out and to get myself into the habit. To learn to respect myself and LISTEN to my body. To not work out if I was too exhausted, even if I’d miss points in the competition. To indulge in a meal that wasn’t in the meal plan if I was at a gathering with friends and family or at a nice dinner with Philip. I purposely didn’t want to follow it to a T because I wanted this to be something that I could continue after the 12 weeks. And now, a day without a serious workout involving some serious sweat just doesn’t feel great. I’m sleeping better. My skin looks healthier.
I often get asked what I do for a workout and, honestly, it’s everything. Caro has specific workouts she sends for 3-times-a-week workouts and then for 3 other days you do your own form of cardio. I spin, yoga, run, and am kind of obsessing over the OrangeTheory workout (not endorsing, just being truthful). The most life-changing thing though, was getting a heart monitor synchronized with an app that lets me know where my heart rate is during a workout so now I KNOW if I’m actually accomplishing anything. We are all so different in terms of what we find appealing in terms of exercising and finding a way to enjoy it is 90% of the battle, so remember that if you don’t like the workouts I mentioned, you’re not going to stick to it.
For me, it was also REALLY helpful that Philip was motivating me and working out with me every step of the way. Cheeseball loves me no matter what but, when I’m healthy and feel good and strong, we just have a much better time as a family. We went to the trampoline place the other day and I was doing back flips with the kids. I saw his face and know he must’ve been thinking how, a few months prior, I was on a bench on my phone with a slice of pizza. I’m just a cooler parent.
Here’s the thing, though, and read this VERY carefully. YOU HAVE TO STICK TO IT. I committed to the regimen very intensely and then made the HUGE mistake of weighing myself. I kind of had to because I was a at a doctor’s appointment, but my heart still sank all the way to the bottom of my stomach when I got on the scale. Guys, after 8 WEEKS of more exercise that I’ve ever done in my life (seriously ever) and sticking very closely to the meal plan, going almost full paleo, I hadn’t lost a single ounce. Not. A. One. And I know the whole thing about how I'm building muscle which weighs more than fat and blah blah blah. But man, it seemed impossible that, with the amount of work I was doing, I wasn’t seeing a much more dramatic change! Well… welcome to late 30s, hypothyroidism, 2 babies back-to-back and a lot of work stress! I was bummed BUT I was feeling stronger, more energetic and my jeans fit a little better so I kept at it. Mostly Paleo, cardio 3 times a week, and strength training 3 times a week (provided by Caro, my trainer). Now, suddenly, from last week to today (11 weeks into busting my butt), I see it. In my legs, in my arms, in my stomach… and not only that, but I can run on the treadmill for 30 minutes straight. I couldn’t get through 5 without feeling like I was dying when all this started. At the beginning, 5 pound weights were all I could handle, and now I’m on 12 and 15 pounds when working on my arms. I feel good.
But you know what I’m the most proud of? What this body has accomplished. I am in awe of it and its capacity to adapt and change and recover. We have it hard as women because we are considered vain for pushing ourselves, but there is a huge difference in having a goal of skinny so your girlfriends feel a little jelly versus respecting and loving yourself to push for the health and strength that will allow you to live your life to the fullest.
And yes, I know it’s so annoying to hear it, but it is a lifestyle change. I don’t have the luxury of eating an entire pizza pie with no consequences but I do, however, have the ability to create delicious recipes that fall within the guidelines of this more-balanced life. So here are my herbed drumsticks. My whole family loves them. We aren’t big on rice or noodles in my house, but they are certainly a great accompaniment. And sometimes I put them on the table for the kids! I usually accompany with grilled vegetables and avocado slices… and wine. There will always be wine.
Anyhow, please let me know if this was helpful! I so enjoy your comments and feedback… and I know this was a long one! Sorry!
Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken Legs
½ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon mustard powder
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 5 tablespoons
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 ½ pounds chicken legs, with skin
3 tablespoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
In a large bowl combine olive oil, herbs, mustard, garlic powder, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss chicken legs in marinade. Make sure chicken legs are evenly coated with herb mix. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for about an hour. Chicken legs can also be refrigerated over night and cooked the next day.
Drizzle olive oil on lined baking sheet. Place chicken legs on baking sheet, making sure they do not over lap one another. Bake for about 30-45 minutes or until completely cooked. Skin will begin to turn golden brown. Halfway through baking turn each leg over so each side of the chicken legs gets crispy.
In a small bowl combine remaining lemon juice, vinegar, generous amount of pepper and salt. This will serve as a dressing for chicken legs.
Remove from heat when done cooking and serve.