Marriage: Love Maps

My husband and I both did our undergrads in the same city we now call home. When we first moved into our residence buildings we didn’t know much about the city at all other then where the malls and movie theatres were.  Over time, we got to know the best spots to eat, fun dessert bars and cafes, the best parks and bike trails, and shortcuts through the city. We became so comfortable and soon fell in love with this little city, so much so that we decided to settle down and start a family here after we got married.

Becoming familiar with the map of our surroundings is very similar to a term that John Gottman calls Love Maps in his book “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work“.  It’s the idea that to love someone you have to know them.

When Ron and I first started dating over 10 years ago (crazy I know) we spent A LOT of time together. We were in highschool and we were young and in love? Thats debatable because I truly don’t think you even know what love is at that age haha. We drove to school together, ate our lunch together, spent most evenings together hanging out at one of our homes. A new relationship is so wonderful and new and you want to learn everything you possibly can about the other person. I think it’s safe to say that in spending all that time together we did get to know each other well. We both had a detailed map of the other. We knew each others likes and dislikes,  each others greatest fears and what made the other laugh.  But over time, people change. They grow and they develop new thoughts and new interests. I am no where near the person I was 10 years ago and neither is my husband. We have both changed in SO many ways.

12705517_1257064240987535_5438712047054967814_n

It takes work, it takes time, it takes effort. Especially after you throw careers and kids in the mix. New stressors, new circumstances, new challenges, not NEAR enough time to spend getting to know each other, I mean really knowing each other. Not just his favourite color, sports team and what he likes on his sub. I don’t think those will ever change. haha I’m talking the thing that makes him most anxious, his newest passions and life goals, the co-worker that pushes his buttons, and how he would really like to spend his free Saturday.

In his book, Gottman says:

Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. I call this having a richly detailed love map – my term for that part of the brain where you store all the relevant information about your partner’s life. Another way of saying this is that these couples have made plenty of cognitive room for their marriage. They remember the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s world change.

So. This is something that we’ve been seriously working on. Because just like the next couple, we don’t have it all figured out and we get so caught up in the every day motions of life that we often forget to keep working at getting to know each other and putting in the effort to stay intimately familiar with each others lives. So little things like making a point to ask each other about our days over the supper table, having what we call “couch time” to connect for even a few minutes each day, going on walks together, regular date nights (not movies!) and both of us making more effort to pay attention to the little details, the ones that get overlooked but are oh so important.

I truly believe that we should never stop learning about the other no matter where we are in our relationship. Building that love map, just like a real map, is the key to truly knowing each other and then being able to love each other in the way that you each need to be loved.

Have a blessed Monday and thanks for reading!

xo Natalie

Continue Reading

21 Day Fix Banana Muffins

Baking is something I love to do (I’m a lot better at it then cooking…ask my husband! haha). But I stopped for a while because I didn’t trust my self-control after a batch of cookies or muffins exits the oven! :S

Lately I’ve been focusing a lot on finding balance in my life. You need to be a little stricter with yourself when you’re aiming for big goals but once you reach them, it’s all about maintenance and balance. I have to remind myself that its OK to have a muffin – especially when it has no flour or sugar! This recipe was super easy to throw together and SO yummy! Not to mention HEALTHY.

  • 3 banana’s (ripe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cups quick oats
  • 2 scoops of vanilla shakeology (if you don’t use shakeology, you can use another vanilla protein powder or substitute with 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line with silicone or foil liners, or you can use coconut oil to grease the muffin tin.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until mixture is smooth.

Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin tins.

Bake for 18-22 min.

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins-2Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins-3Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins-4

Continue Reading

Mondays are For Fresh Starts

A lot of us are so influenced by the people that surround us that we don’t even stop to think about doing things differently. Everyone else works for somebody else (not saying there is anything wrong with this but if you are unhappy, DO something about it). Everyone else hates Mondays.. So many people choose to own cars that aren’t paid for, choose to live in houses that put them in debt, and wear clothes that they put on their credit card thinking this will bring them happiness. In the mean time, their debt continues to accumulate, and they are left feeling forced to work in a job they aren’t passionate about just to pay for all this happiness. Would you not rather travel around the world, create a business you are passionate about, and have time for the things you love? Or are you ok with owning a bunch of STUFF that won’t mean anything some day? I used to hate Mondays too. But now it’s one of my absolute FAVOURITE days of the week! I just LOVE fresh starts. I love getting back into routine and writing down my goals for the week. It brings me so much joy to be at home with my boys but I also love the work I do that doesn’t FEEL like work to me because I love it so much!  If you hate Mondays, maybe it’s time to change something?!3524c7779ee0d16c601eaf6c186458c3

Continue Reading

A Struggle..

Each month, I run online challenge groups where I coach women through a 21 day fitness program with home workouts and easy-to-follow nutrition plans. We’re on day 2 of pre-season in my Faith and Fitness group and already such powerful things are happening. This morning, just as we do each month, we asked the women to share their fears going into a challenge like this so that we can encourage each other and conquer them together! One of the women who’s beginning her second round opened up and shared something that stopped me in my tracks. It stopped me because it resonated with me. I had been there and I have battled with the exact struggle she shared.  She said that since she’s started being more health conscious and working out/eating clean, that she’s become “overly critical of her body and hyper aware of her imperfections” She finished by claiming that she refuses to make this an idol in her life and she wants to get to a place where strength is more valued than physique and health more than beauty”.  In my head, I was like “yes, yes YES!! I’m so glad thats not just me. I’m so glad you said that because thats been a struggle of mine recently too.” See here I am a fitness coach, motivating, and encouraging others, yet over and over again, I am coached myself by the other women in the group. I am inspired by their words and their realness. I am pushed and stretched to do things I never normally would.

See, there was a night a few weeks back where I was about to jump in the shower and all of a sudden I found myself bawling to my husband in the living room. I told him that I wasn’t going to workout anymore because there was no point. Crazy, I know. I could go on and on telling you all the amazing results I’ve gotten since I began my journey….the weight loss, the strength in my arms and legs, the new energy, the lowered stress levels etc.,  But that night, I was focused on my flaws…my imperfections. One thing in particular.  I said “look at my tummy, just look at it. I’m supposed to be a fitness coach! I’ve been working so hard for 5 months now and look at me!” He lovingly told me like he always does that I looked amazing and asked me what I was talking about. This frustrated me even more though because how could he not see what I was talking about. He had to be lying to me. Was he blind?

See, after carrying 2 nearly seven pound babes at the same time, my stomach was stretched to the MAX. After giving birth, I have a fairly large ab separation and I guess for bad skin elasticity, I can thank genetics?

IMG_1514

Although I’ve been able to tighten up my belly significantly, (you should have seen it before!) that little wrinkly pouch is going no-where anytime soon. I could do 10-min abs every day all day and nothing would help that stretched out skin. In fact, the more weight i’ve lost, the worse the skin issue has gotten. How frustrating is that?!?! So back to the talk with my husband…he told me that night that my focus was in the the wrong place. That I’m taking care of my body and exercising and eating healthy and thats all that matters. He told me I can’t obsess over things that I can’t change. I knew that. I told my challengers this sort of thing all the time. But that night, that wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Being the professional trainer he is, I wanted him to whip out some secret moves I could do to make the wrinkles go away. I already knew no expensive stretch mark cream was going to do a thing…been there, done that.  But nope. I jumped into the shower, wiping away my tears. He was right and I knew it but we can so easily fall into the trap of getting caught up in our imperfections, our flaws, the things we can’t change and this will really affect us in a negative way. I ended my little pity party in the shower that night because I knew better. But reading that quote by that challenger this morning really  hit home. It’s  not my intention to ever make this new fitness journey an idol in my life but I know that from from time to time I have been guilty of just that. I have to be so so careful not to let it become an unhealthy obsession, focusing on trying to be a certain size, or “fixing” a certain part of my body.

SO here I am sharing my stretched out mum-tum with you because it’s about time things got real around here and maybe, just maybe someone will be able to relate.  I have two beautiful baby boys and I would pick them over smoothed out abs a million times over.

So let me reiterate (mostly for myself) why I’m so committed to bettering my health and fitness. I want to take care of my body. I want to be STRONG and HEALTHY. I want to have the energy to chase my twins around at the park. I want to be around for as long as I possibly can to see my babies grow up and have babies of their own. I want to travel the world with my husband some day. I want to feel young when my age says otherwise. So take THAT stretched out tum.

IMG_1453

Thanks for reading!

Natalie

Continue Reading

Why I always start my day with Oatmeal

In my monthly challenge groups, at the end of each day, we all share what we ate for every meal for accountability. It’s fun to see what everyone else is cooking up and most of my challengers have a lot of variety in their meals. Not me. I’m totally a creature of habit and I’m fine eating the same things over and over again. I mean I’ll make different types of salads for lunch, and I’m forced to be more creative with dinners since my family would not be impressed if I fed them chicken and sweet potato every single night of the week. But my breakfast has been the same for as long as I can remember:  a good hearty bowl of oatmeal. It’s my absolute favourite meal of the day. And I was eating it long before the “oat bowl” even became a thing.

My favourite type of oats are steel cut. Now I’ll admit I used to top it with a good little sprinkle of brown sugar and smother it in cows milk since thats how I grew up eating it. But since I’ve eliminated most sugars from my diet, my favourite way to dress it up is by adding some berries, a few almonds, a little almond milk and a pinch of cinnamon! Delish!! There are so many yummy ways to make it!

 

untitled-9

After doing a little research, here’s a couple health benefits I found to eating oatmeal on a regular basis:

Fills you up – I’ve gone through phases in the past where I would eat bagels or muffins or a slice of toast for breakfast…. especially while I was pregnant! Breakfast foods high in sugar and fat can make you feel full for a brief period, but then you’re hungry again. That’s what I always found when I would eat the above foods. The fiber in oatmeal fills you up and leaves you a lot more satisfied. I find I’m not craving as many snacks later on during the day.

Whole Grain – Oatmeal is a whole grain, and eating whole grains can lower your risk for a number of different diseases, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal also contains a plant chemical called lingens that has been found to prevent heart disease.

Lower Cholestoral – Oatmeal contains a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. There have been a lot of studies done that have proven the effects of this fibre on cholestoral levels. One-and-a-half cups of oatmeal contains more than five grams of fiber so eating it on a regular basis can really help lower your cholesterol.

Immune system booster – The high fiber in oatmeal protects against heart disease and boosts your immune system. It helps your immune cells find and repair parts of the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar: When you’re eating a lot of fiber, this helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and will help provide that mid-morning crash, which happens when you eat a lot of sugar and empty carbs early in the day.

untitled-10

untitled-17

So there you go. I bet you didn’t know how healthy a single serving of oatmeal could really be!

Thanks for reading.

xo Natalie

Continue Reading