Last month I shared with you my personal weight loss journey, post two back-to-back pregnancies. I shared how I was able to commit to my health and lose 60 pounds in roughly 13 months. If you didn't get a chance to read last month's article “All in My Mind” visit our ARCHIVES page for some practical strategies that helped me stick to my health goals and actually reach them.


This month, I promised I would share how I was able to manage working out 3-5x a week, on average, with a 1 and 2-year old in tow.

In my mind, it's really as easy as 1-2-3.

One, it's my priority. For me, working out means a release of endorphins that turns a crazy and chaotic morning with two toddlers that I am simply responding to into an afternoon where I usually have a lot more energy ending the day than I do starting it. Instead of playing defense, I'm on the offensive - instigating a chase around the kitchen and through the halls, a tickle fight or story time instead of trying to hide under a blanket and hope my kids forget about me for three minutes. So when I get stuck and am being annoyingly indecisive about whether or not I should workout, usually the questions that kick me into gear are,

"Do I want to be kicking myself later because I am sore, but feel accomplished?”

“Do I want to be kicking myself later because I have zero energy and haven't done anything productive for myself today?"

That is another mental trick I use on myself- that working out is something I do for me. I was once told, during one of my first bouts of depression, that if I wasn't happier three minutes into a run than when I started, I should stop. I used to hate running. I went from hating running to running an average of 2 miles a day and usually a couple 3-6+ mile runs a week just because I loved how it made me feel. Since having my first son, I've had terrible knees and haven't gotten back into running like I used to, but the gym gives me the same release, the same time alone and the same feeling of accomplishment that turns a basic day into a better one. Making exercise a priority for me means making myself a priority, and taking time to do the things that make me a healthier, happier and stronger version of myself. I have only ever regretted the workouts that I didn't make time for.

Two, affordable gyms. I found a great local gym that is very inexpensive compared to other gyms and it provides onsite childcare. As part of my membership, I am able to work out two hours a day while my children socialize. Not only can I work out during that time, I can sit in the sauna, I can go for a swim, or I can sit on one of their comfy couches, drinking a quiet and uninterrupted cup of their coffee, while I study, write or read something. On top of the workout benefits, I get 12 hours a year where I can use the childcare facilities while I go offsite, whether I need to go to an appointment, an interview or a day date. One Friday a month, I can drop off out boys from 4-8pm while my husband and I enjoy an evening alone together. It's truly a win/win because the kids get to make a lot of new friends and we both get to use all of these perks to not only take care of our bodies, but also our sanity and marriage.

As you can see, there were many days where this gym became my safe haven and I was thanking God that it existed by the time I was trying to get both boys to go into the right door so I could check them in, pop in my headphones and be on my own for the next hour or so. I know that a membership isn't totally realistic for everyone and in every season, but I will say that I prioritize this gym membership over any internet, music or streaming package. If we had to let one go, I'd let go of all of those three before I would cut loose this gym membership.

Three, stick with it. No matter how many times I fell off track with my diet, no matter how many days in a row I missed a workout due to illnesses in the house and no matter how unmotivated I felt, I had to make it a priority to get into the gym and I had to stick with it - meaning I had to keep making it a priority over and over again. One, two, five bad days are nothing in the grand scheme of things. But if I let that week turn into two weeks and two weeks turn into a month, I was giving up on myself. And I refuse to give up on myself. Yes, I absolutely fall of the wagon many times, but I always get back on track and snap myself out of it.  There were many months where the inches didn't go down, the scale stayed the same or even went up a few pounds, the clothes started feeling a little snug again and I wanted to give up. But the journey I started did not have an end. I had goals, but I wasn't trying to do any quick fix or two month diet. I set on a journey to get back to a body that I loved, felt healthy in and was proud of. So even if I fell off track for a week, that was going to be okay as long as I didn't let a setback turn into a failure.

Last month, I shared a delicious smoothie recipe and I hope you enjoyed it! This month, I want to share a simple way to meal prep so that even with two toddlers and a full agenda you can cook a healthy, nutrient dense dinner.


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced

  • Teryaki sauce

  • Sweet and Sour sauce

  • Garlic powder/salt/pepper - to taste

  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped

  • 3 medium sized bell peppers (red, green, orange or preferred), sliced

  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced

  • 1 small zuchhini

  • 1 can chopped pinapple or 1 cup chopped pinapple

  • Rice or your favorite lettuce mix


What to do:

1) Separate the chicken equally into different zip lock bags

2) Add teriyaki or sweet and sour sauce to the bags, covering the chicken. You can make half of them with one sauce and the other half with the other. You can also make your own versions of these and similar sauces to reduce sodium etc.

3) Label the chicken bags with the date and put two in the fridge with the rest in the freezer.

4) Chop all veggies and add to one gallon zip lock bag in the fridge.

5) When it's time to cook, you cook the chicken in a large pan over medium heat with some oil (I use coconut oil). Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

6) When the chicken is almost finished, you add the veggies and a generous amount of additional sauce.

7) If cooking the sweet and sour sauce, add the pineapples after you add the veggies.

8) Serve over lettuce for a salad or rice for a heartier dish.

All in My Mind II
by Ashley Zanella

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