Health, Wellness and Fitness Bootcamps

August 16, 2016


*Edited to add: This post is in no way meant to bash fitness bootcamps or the value of them. A ton of people have and can benefit from a jump start to reaching their health and fitness goals. In fact, my sister-in-law leads a bunch of really great bootcamps for those who are interested. This is simply a reflection on the food tracking portion and how those with disordered eating in their past may need to think carefully about that element of a bootcamp. ūüėȬ†

You may have seen that for the last 12 weeks I’ve been participating in a Carb Cycling Bootcamp with my friend and fitness coach, Ashley Wiseman. I¬†love¬†Ashley and¬†think¬†the world of her approach to health, wellness and food, and have been increasingly interested in carb cycling, so although I had never done a fitness bootcamp previously, I signed up to see what all the fuss was about.

Let me say first and foremost that I loved Ashley’s bootcamp. She was incredibly supportive, encouraging and the workouts she created for her programs were the perfect mix of challenging and varied/interesting. I also really loved the carb cycling program – eating plenty of carbs on most days, while adding in a select few low-carb days paired with sprint workouts to get the benefits of low-carb eating without having to maintain low-carb for the long haul. As a vegetarian, the low-carb days were hard for me, but I made it work. Knowing that I had a regular carb day to look forward to really helped me stick out the days when carbs were restricted.

But here’s where things get tricky.

During the course of the bootcamp I noticed that I was increasingly agitated and cranky. Snapping at Joe and everyone around me, hyper focused on everything being organized and perfectly in place. From the cleanliness of our house to the minute details of our finances, I was a total wreck to be around. I could feel myself becoming more and more agitated, yet I wasn’t sure what was causing it. And then a lightbulb clicked: The hyper focus on all the things started around the same time I started tracking my food for the bootcamp.

During college, I struggled with my fair share of disordered eating. I’ve documented those struggles on the blog in years past. In summary: I got into a cycle of binge eating, restrictive eating, over-exercising and counting calories that was anything but healthy. While in college I was eating much less than I do now, yet I weighed a lot more and felt horrible.

Over the years I’ve gotten to a very healthy place with food and body image, and for the most part I don’t really think about those past struggles. But tracking my food to such a degree during the bootcamp seemed to trigger some of those old, unhealthy patterns. Controlling every detail of what I ate really started to transfer into all aspects of my life.

Once I came to that realization, I knew things needed to change. My family life was suffering, my health was suffering and no one was benefitting. Right then and there, I decided that I would delete the My Fitness Pal app from my phone and eat intuitively rather than sticking to a rigid structure. And it was amazing how quickly things went back to normal. I felt calmer, more sane and less obsessive about everything in life.

So where does that leave me?

I decided to stick with the bootcamp’s workouts and schedules during the last two weeks, but instead of tracking my macros and calories and carbs, I ate intuitively. The bootcamp had already taught me what a low carb day looked and felt like, and same goes for a higher carb day. Instead of tracking every bit of food, I just ate according to my best guess and let that be enough. I realized that I had already learned enough about carb cycling to follow along without making it a central focus of my day.

For someone like me, with a history of disordered eating, bootcamps are tricky.¬†No matter how much progress I make, part of me will always tend to lean toward an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to food, and focusing on what I’m eating too much tends to put nutrition and health in a¬†place¬†that’s higher and more important than it should be.

Would I recommend a bootcamp for most people? Absolutely! In fact, I recommended this very bootcamp to a number of people. Would I recommend it to people who have found their nutrition happy place and have a history of disordered eating? Maybe not. Or at least not the food tracking aspect.

I’m so glad I learned more about myself through participating. I’ll certainly continue to incorporate elements of carb cycling into my day-to-day life, but with a good deal of modification and no My Fitness Pal by my side.



MTHFR and The Best Vitamins for Adults + Kids

August 3, 2016


*I am not a doctor and this advice should not be taken as medical advice. These are my personal recommendations and you should seek the advice and council of your doctor with all issues related to your personal heath.

I’ve been deeply passionate about health and nutrition for almost as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until Joe and I started having issues getting + staying pregnant that I really started to learn more about what I was putting into my body.

You see, when we did our fertility-related blood work after our second miscarriage, my tests all came back normal except for one tiny thing. I have MTHFR. I’ve talked about it on the blog once or twice, but in summary, MTHFR is a genetic mutation that is incredibly common but frequently goes undiagnosed until other issues start to arise. These issues can, and frequently are, related to MTHFR but the research and information available is slim and hard to come by.

To summarize: People diagnosed with MTHFR lack the enzyme that¬†converts folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) and B vitamins into the bio-available form our bodies can use. It seems like a little thing, but it’s really a BIG thing when you think about all the roles folic acid and B vitamins play in our bodies and overall health and well-being, including but not limited to fertility, blood clotting issues, anxiety, depression, energy and more. If you want to read more about MTHFR, you can do so here and here to start. And if you’ve never been tested for it, I would highly recommend doing so. You can go through a service like 23 and Me or your local doctor can do a simple blood test at the hospital.

After a couple years worth of research and reading, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on what this means for me and my family and how to best go about living with the condition. On a day to day basis does it impact me? Not really, but I can tell if I’m not taking the vitamins I need that I have lower energy levels and have a mild feeling of being unwell. Unfortunately, most doctors are a little behind in understanding MTHFR, leaving most of the research on how to move forward with this condition in the hands of the patient.

Obviously, vitamin supplementation with the correct kind of vitamins is extremely important. Taking large doses of folic acid does no good when your body can’t produce the enzyme needed to turn folic acid into a usable form. Because I have a double copy of the mutation (homozygous C677t) I take a prescription-grade vitamin called Metanx, which contains active folate, B6 and B12. But, because it can be very expensive, I’m rounding up my favorite non-prescription alternatives. Even if you don’t have MTHFR, or don’t know if you do, there is no harm in choosing a high-quality vitamin with active folate that is easier for the body to process.

Since I have a double copy of the gene mutation, we know that Ainsley has at least one copy (I hope to get her tested in the future) so we’ve also been supplementing a vitamin for kids that doesn’t have folic acid and instead contains folate. Trust me, finding a good one is harder than you might imagine. Finding a good vitamin that meets that criteria in a regular store like Target, Walmart or your local pharmacy? Practically impossible!

So, to save you time, I wanted to share with you what our family uses, as well as some other recommended supplements to consider. Like I said before, there really is no drawback to taking a vitamin like this, only up-side!

Men’s Multi-Vitamin
// Smarty Pants Men’s Complete Gummy Vitamin
// Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Men

// Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Kids
// Seeking Health Kid’s Optimal Multivitamin¬†

Women’s Prenatal
// Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal (I use this one!)
// Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal 

Women’s (General)
// Smarty Pants Women’s Complete Gummy Vitamins (great if you like gummy form!)
// Seeking Health Optimal Multivitamin 

**Additionally, my doctor’s treatment plan, especially during times of trying to conceive, has included using baby aspirin to prevent blood clotting issues, so for those of you trying to conceive, that may be something to talk with your doctor about.


My Daily Top 4

July 28, 2016

Photo on 7-25-16 at 3.39 PM

While I love playing around with makeup and changing up my look for special occasions, the products I use on a daily basis rarely change. With a busy 17-month-old running around the house while I try to get ready, I hardly have more than 5 minutes to do my makeup and maybe another 5 to do my hair before the day begins. It’s a fast and furious rush to get put together before the babysitter arrives. Any mommas relate?

Almost every week I get questions from people about “my top 3 or 4 products” from Beautycounter’s makeup line. And while I love answering those e-mails, I figured it made more sense to just put it all down in a single blog post to reference time and time again. This makeup routine is natural, fresh and super quick using a few of my absolute favorite Beautycounter products!

My Beautycounter Top 4 Makeup Products //

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer 
I love this product. It makes my skin glow in the best possible way, giving me light coverage with moisturizing properties and SPF 20, which I’m a big fan of as I’m trying to avoid sun exposure the older I get. I use this product daily and find that it lasts forever, too, since the pump applicator prevents me from squeezing out more than I need.

Touchup Skin Concealer Pen
This concealer comes in a really handy pen application which feels fancy, pretty and makes applying the right amount of concealer a breeze. I use it on under eye circles, blemishes and any spots where my skin looks uneven.

Color Sweep Blush Duo (in Bloom/Tulip)
The two-color blushes are super versatile and give you the benefit of two colors in a single palette. I use the lighter color on the apples of my cheeks and the darker shade under my cheek bones for definition. Or, you can swirl the two together for a really natural look. Plus, this blush lasts forever.

Lip Sheer (in Petal)
I’ve never been a big lipstick person, so the lip sheers are my perfect match. I use the “petal” shade most often for a soft, natural pink that doesn’t even look like I’m wearing anything. I feel like it just brightens up my face in a really subtle way.

And that’s it! Well, I also use a brow pencil, eye liner and mascara to finish the whole look, but the products above are my must-have items from Beautycounter!



Yes, I sell things. You probably do, too.

July 19, 2016

Photo on 7-18-16 at 9.54 AM

Hello, my name is Madison and I sell things on the internet. And in person, too, but for the sake of this blog post, we’re going to focus on the business of selling things on the internet through direct sales (also known as MLM or “pyramid schemes” for the most cynical, and uninformed, out there.) For years I said that being involved in direct sales of any type was just not for me. Nope. Never. I didn’t want to leverage my network to promote and sell products on the internet or anywhere else. I had seen people do the same thing time and time again, coming off as spammy and pushy and lacking authenticity in what they said and it turned me off.

But on the flip side, I saw people, like my sister-in-law and a handful of friends, who had amazing success sharing about products they loved and building sustainable, flexible businesses and my heart craved doing the same thing.

There was only one problem. I hadn’t found a company that I loved and believed in enough to promote or share about with those in my circle. I knew that if I was going to do direct sales, I needed to do it right, with a company that I loved and products I believed in and would buy myself, even without a consultant discount or other incentives.

And then I found Beautycounter. I purchased their products for almost a year before becoming a consultant, using the skincare and makeup, falling more and more in love with the products over time.

Over the last couple months I’ve seen a lot of posts flying around the internet. “Dear MLM friend, I don’t want to buy your products.” You’ve seen them, too. And I get it! I’ve been approached by completely random people who tried to friend me on Facebook only to sell me product, and that feels icky. There’s no other way to say it. I don’t believe in feigning friendship to garner sales. Ever. It undercuts authenticity, your business and who you are as a person. Direct sales doesn’t, nor should it, ever be done that way.

But here’s the thing: Most of us are selling or promoting something around the clock. Whether you work in corporate America, like I did for many years, participate in direct sales, own an Etsy shop, blog and post Amazon affiliate links, or run a small business in your town, you’re promoting and marketing a product all day long. I used to work for a packaged goods company and spent my days promoting their products. Now I work for Beautycounter and am blessed to share with others about safer skincare, makeup and personal care products that my whole family uses and loves dearly. Is it more direct? Yes. But is it really any different? Not really.

Before I became a mom I was a little rougher around the edges. Less compassionate. Quicker to judge. I had ideas of how things should be done and how they shouldn’t, and I wasn’t very open to changing my mind about those things.

Eating your words? Well it’s never very fun, but I’ve done a lot of that over the years. But after seeing how Beautycounter has changed my life – both professionally and personally – I’m so thankful that I didn’t let that stand in my way! I’ve developed friendships with the women on my team who come from all over the country. I’ve seen our savings account for a new car grow by leaps and bounds. I’ve never felt more excited and passionate about going to work each and every day. How many people can say that?

So thank you to each and every one of you who have supported me on this journey. To the women who have joined my growing team of consultants and are sharing about Beautycounter authentically and encouraging me to become better every day. To the friends who “like” my Beautycounter posts on Facebook even if they aren’t interested in purchasing product. To the people who cheer people like me on, without a hint of snark or cynicism. You all are the best of the best. Thanks for making the internet a better place.



Thriving in the Chaos of Motherhood

July 15, 2016


Confession time: I’ve never been someone who functions particularly well in a state of chaos. Raised primarily as an only-child, I’ve always been accustomed to a specific level and amount of quiet in my everyday. An introverted extrovert, I’ve always needed my own space to unwind and adored a quiet, tidy house at the end of the day.

And then motherhood happened, and maintaining my sense of balance, order and peace became a whole lot harder. If I’m being honest, the last couple months have left me frazzled. Work has been busy (a huge blessing!) and life has been full of summer commitments, cookouts, and weekends away (also wonderful) but my life feels off kilter.

There are a lot of things that are important to us as moms. I don’t “do it all” because of pride or because I want others to think I have it all together. I try to do it all because there are so many things that are important to me and I have a hard time giving any of them up. Things that make my short (long) list of important activities, in no particular order, are:

Time in God’s Word
Working out
Making meals for my family
Freelance/Beautycounter/Contract Work/Blogging
Spending intentional time with Ainsley and Joe
Time with friends
Maintaining a clean and organized home
Paying bills, staying on top of freelance bookkeeping
The list is bigger than this, but these are the things that come to mind…

Last night, in a state of stress and anxiety, I asked Joe, “Do I just need to lower my standards? Should I just be OK with chaos and disorder? What’s the answer?!”

Joe quickly pointed out that perhaps we weren’t using our time quite as wisely as we should be using our time. For example, instead of crashing on the couch after Ainsley goes to bed and watching three episodes of Suits (so good!) maybe one episode would suffice, using the rest of our time to do a little extra cleaning a few nights a week, working our quiet time into a more intentional space in the day, and getting up a little earlier to get that workout in, wasting less time on the black hole of the internet.

I love these ideas. And my heart’s desire is to implement them into our day. This isn’t a magic pill;¬†I’m sure a little chaos will lurk as long as we have kids in the house, but my hope is that it will be greatly diminished by being a wise steward of the time we’re given.

So today, I got to work. Instead of pushing my workout until late in the afternoon, when I knew I would be rushing to get things together for a busy weekend away, I set the alarm for 4:45 and got my butt to the gym. Instead of browsing Facebook for 10 minutes before Ainsley woke for the day, I jumped in the shower and tossed in a load of her laundry. Small, simple changes that made my morning less chaotic.

To you other moms out there (especially moms with multiple kids) how do you manage the chaos and keep a sense of order in your day-to-day? I’m all ears!



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