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This month we wanted to highlight a very special mom in Our Village. As a breast cancer survivor, she is an inspirational model of beauty, courage, and strength. When she is with her son it is overwhelmingly obvious that she was destined to be his mother and whenever I see them together I am reminded of the battle she fought to get to where she needed to be. We are so very honored to have Catherine (Cath) Taplin as part of our Chandler-Gilbert FIT4MOM family, and we would love to share a little bit about her with you today.

Cath has been an active member of FIT4MOM of Chandler & Gilbert since May, 2014. Although this beautiful momma certainly has her hands full with a toddler and a full-time executive career, she makes the time to join us for Stroller Strides classes with her son, Benjamin. We are excited to also get to spend a few evenings each week with her since she just started her first Body Back session as well! Please take a moment to get to know Cath, I have a feeling you'll fall in love with her too!

Hometown (where you grew up):...

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Happy Back to School Week! Well, for some of you mamas anyways! I know Chandler schools went back about 2 weeks ago, and this week, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Kyrene, and Higley all head back to school!

I don't know what it is about Back to School Season that makes me so excited. Maybe it's that I used to be a teacher and the smell of school supplies and freshly sharpened pencils reminded me of such an exciting time. Or maybe I always love it because it means that kids are back in school, so museums are less busy, splash pads are less chaotic, and it's calmer all around, meaning I can go out with my toddler without worrying about the big kids running him over everywhere we go. Who knows really? :)

I hope you all enjoyed your summers and time off with your little ones. I know some of your kiddos are going to preschool for the first time. Some of you are sending your kiddos for more days this year, and others are beginning a whole new journey of homeschooling or kindergarten. Whatever your situation this Back to School Season, I hope that you find yourselves enjoying...

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As the summer gets hotter and hotter, I know that I am dying for a cold treat every afternoon. Being that I just completed my Whole30, I still try to stay away from dairy and sugars, so here are some of my new favorite cold "treats" that are healthy and guilt-free.

The first one is super easy and even your little ones can be tricked with it. It's banana "ice cream". Slice a banana, freeze it, top with toppings of your choice. My favorites are almond butter and coconut, and chocolate chips with some smashed raspberries. Easy, refreshing, and delicious!

The next recipe I have for your is equally as yummy, and if you like pina coladas, it's a guilt-free, alcohol-less option (or throw some rum in there, just don't share with your kiddos! :) It's a pina colada smoothie. Blend a banana, 1/2 c of frozen pineapple, 1/4 c of canned coconut milk, and about 2 tbsp. of shredded coconut until smooth and enjoy! Dairy-free, gluten-free, and makes you feel like you're on the beach!

I also like to freeze watermelon, grapes, and peaches for a cold treat as well. Do you have any...

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Over the course of the last two years, I have had quite the journey with eating healthy and exercising regularly. I was a competitive dancer all through high school until a knee injury took me out, but aside from that, I have never been all that active. I managed to have my weight fluctuate up and down substantially all while my body image did the exact same thing.

I knew I had to be healthy for my son from the moment I found out I was pregnant. I wanted him to know what an active lifestyle looked like. I wanted him to grow up on more than meat and potatoes, but healthy veggies too. I wanted him to grow up differently than far too many kiddos do today, inactive and living off of junk food and processed grains. So, in that, I decided to join Fit4Mom and make healthy living a lifestyle, and it has really grown.

My "Why" is my son. He is the reason I get up and get to class each day. He's the reason I go for runs during the week. He's the reason I don't get tired all the time and why we make healthy choices. He's my Why. What's your motivation for being a fit mom?

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Rest. It is such a hard word for us to really embrace as moms, even though we so desperately look forward to the time of day when our little ones stop to do that very thing. Why is it that resting is so hard for us? Why do we feel the need to go, go, and go some more and only stop to take a moment for a deep breath when we have an "excuse" to rest?

I know that for me, I have to be sick or hurt to stop and rest. Otherwise, the to-do list will continue to grow and grow and grow. However, recently, I have been trying to take 30-45 minutes of each day and stop to read a book or take a little nap, just do something relaxing for me. And you know what I found when I did that? I found that my patience increased and I was more willing to play with Jack when he woke up from a nap.

So, my challenge to you this week is take some time to rest. Relax, watch trashy reality tv (anyone else???), put your feet up, read a book, do something for you. It'll make us all better moms if we start taking care of ourselves too. We know that the to-do lists can wait.

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So, Baby J is almost 2. His birthday is June 16th and just recently, I have decided that we are actually going to have a birthday party for him this year. Short notice is always fun, right?

Last year, his birthday was quite the event. I spent MONTHS planning for it, but he was 1, so obviously I needed to, right? Well, lots of my friends told me I was insane for inviting close to 70 (yes, including kids...) people to his birthday party and just about running myself ragged by trying to make everything "perfect". The invention of Pinterest has been both a blessing and a curse in this way. I was determined to make his birthday fun and creative, but I also wanted it to be just like those "Pinterest Birthdays" that make me want to be a perfect mommy, hostess, cook, and wife all while toning my abs and crafting.

I was determined that this year was NOT going to be like that since last year just about killed me, but then I made the guest list. Again, 70ish people. AHHHHHHH! In case you were wondering, I have a HUGE family and we are very involved at our church, so we have a...

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As of lately, I’ve really taken notice of just how addicted I am to sugar, carbs, grains, and the like. I didn’t even realize just how bad it was until I cut it all out for all of a week. My goal was to make it 40 days for Lent. I lasted all of a week. Maybe a little less. I’m not sure because once I failed, I didn’t even care. Even though I've tried to eat healthier since Baby J's arrival, I've still managed to be super addicted to sugar. I've always had a vision of being a healthy, active mom and even though I've definitely been making strides towards that, I've failed when it comes to the food department.

Food has been a source of many things for me. It’s been a source of comfort, angst, pain, and joy. I’ve been able to move past seeing food as a true enemy and found joy in eating and enjoying company around a dinner table. I use food as a crutch. I use it as a means for comfort when I’m stressed out (which is all too often, and typically, that means a trip to the freezer for some ice cream or chocolate chips, which obviously isn't the healthiest of choices. I want to be...

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We've been in a breakfast food rut in our house recently. There are a lot of days when I don't eat breakfast and then Baby J has been getting bored of the same foods day in and day out. He'll usually go between oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and "Elmo pancakes". That being said, I've been looking for some great, easy recipes that both of us could grab and go on busy mornings. I also have a toddler, so knowing how picky they become at some point, so making sure I get something healthy into him is important too.

So today, I made some oatmeal muffins. They’re super yummy. I got the original recipe here from www.sugarfreemom.com. I’ve made these several times before (although not recently), and I’ve tweaked the recipe to make them my own. They’re still gluten-free (and can be dairy-free), still super yummy and healthy! They’re great to freeze and take out individually and throw in the microwave for 45-60...

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Before having kids, I never felt guilty about doing something for myself. I would frequently get pedicures, go out with friends, and spend money on things like clothes and Starbucks. I always made time for me. I was a very important part of my life. When we had Baby J, all of that shifted. It shifted partially due to the fact that we went from two incomes to one, and partially because there was just no dang time. I didn't have time or energy to devote to myself.

As you all know from this blog, I fell into a depression at one point and came to the realization with a counselor and some good friends, that I needed to be a priority again. That's when I joined Fit4Mom. Above and beyond making an hour for myself each day to exercise and take care of my body, I've also made an effort to do things that I enjoy. Sometimes those include Baby J and my hubby, and sometimes, those things don't include them.

For a long time, I would feel guilty for taking time for myself. I thought being a mom meant sacrifice. I thought it meant that I didn't love my child as much as other mommies...

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