Friday, June 23, 2017

Plus Size Fitness: Upper Body Fat Blasting Workout

I can't wait for my arms and back to be toned and defined! Check out some of my favorite moves to blast the fat and help me strengthen my upper body!

8-10 reps- Repeated 2 times



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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Let Nothing Stop You Or Stand In Your Way

Yesterday, those of us with a membership to Beachbody On Demand got a free sneak peek at the newest workout that will be released next. Shift Shop. A back to the basics take on losing weight. And shifting your body and mindset to the next level!

Yesterday was all speed and agility training. And I struggled hard with the whole workout. Especially the last move. THE CRAB WALK. It is a move I haven't done in years. I did it in middle school gym class. And even then at 125 pounds, I didn't like it. It is just awkward. My wrists aren't that flexible and ugh, it is hard.

Let me tell you, it is a lot harder when you are 240 pounds! My butt weighs a lot more and my midsection made it difficult to crunch in and do it "comfortably" (is it really that comfortable?) But, no matter how hard it is, you keep trying. EVERY TIME! Laugh about it, but then keep going. Don't stop. Keep trying. And use this as your starting point. Check out my sneak peek video of shift Shop!


Want instant access to Shift Shop when it is released next month? The Beachbody On Demand All Access Pass is exactly what you want. Plus you get access to 600+ other workouts to choose from, nutrition guides from every workout program and access to special trainer advice! $99 for a year membership to Beachbody On Demand! Or bundle it with Shakeology as the Beachbody Body On Demand All Access Challenge Pack, for an even bigger savings (20% off the normal price, plus you get the nutrition fix system of color coded containers!) and getting your daily dose of nutrition to help you cut your cravings! 


Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Intermittent Fasting: How It Works


I have a LOT of friends who are doing intermittent fasting, and getting AMAZING results, 12 pounds lost in just 1 month. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but more of an eating pattern. Which means you eat all the calories you are supposed to eat during a specific window of time during the day, then nothing else during the rest of the day.

There are a couple of ways most people are doing this: 

  • Eat during a specific window in a day. Most common is an 8 hour window from noon-8pm. But there are 6 and 4 hour windows too, 
  • Skip two meals one day a couple of times a week taking a full 24 hours off from eating. So say you ate 3 meals in one day then skip breakfast and lunch the next day, and then eat dinner. 
Benefits: 
  • By cutting out an entire meal each day you are on average consuming fewer calories per week.
  • Body spends more time burning the energy in the food you are eating and during the fasting state your body will more likely take the energy needed from your fat stores.
  • Could help your body learn to be more efficient in processing foods and burning the calories you just ate.
But what about eating 6 times a day? 

I can see the draw to this style of eating because, it seems easier. Some of the work taken out. Don't feel like you are eating all the time. And when eating 6 times a day, portion sizes is so important. If you are eating too much for each meal, it won't work. But fasting, you can eat just 3 meals in the 8 hours. 

Can I do this while Breastfeeding?

Believe it or not, I have actually seen some moms doing this, or wanting to do this while nursing. I get it. As a nursing mom, who is STUCK with 5 pounds left to go to reach her pre-pregnancy weight, the more I hear about this the more I wish I could do it. But...and that's a BIG BUT, doing fasting of any kind you risk losing your supply. Your body needs food and fuel to produce milk. And by not giving it that, then your body can't make it. Unlike energy use/calorie burning, your body can't make milk by pulling it from fat cells. It actually needs food. For my church, we are encouraged to fast 1 Sunday a month for 2 meals. Pregnant and nursing moms are excluded from that. So I have personally never fasted while pregnant or nursing. Your body burns up to 500 calories nursing. If you combine that with exercise you are in a deficit of calories already, which means, as long as you are eating what you should be and not all the "extra" stuff, you will lose weight. Most moms hold onto weight, me included, because I sometimes eat extra desserts, or extra carbs, or extra whatever.

What you can do while breastfeeding or even if you aren't breastfeeding is to eat certain types of foods by a certain time. This serves the same purpose, with your body using the energy the foods creates to burn and then you burn your fat later in the day when your body doesn't have the fast burning foods available. Which foods do you eat and by when? Eat your carbs by lunch. On the 21 Day Fix Nutrition Plan I am supposed to eat 4 yellow containers a day of carbs (I am in the highest bracket for the fix). That is about equal to about 2 cups of carbs a day. My goal is to eat a cup at breakfast (1 cup of oatmeal) and a cup at lunch (1 cup of brown rice) and then no more carbs the rest of the day. And you would just adjust the amounts as needed per what bracket you fall under. Where you get your energy from the rest of the day is through your protein which is a slower burning source of energy for your body. Meaning my afternoon snack is usually a protein with fruit, dinner is a protein with veggies, and after dinner snack is a fruit. Check out my chart in the yellow to see what counts as a carb. Because some things you think are veggies are actually counted as carbs. 

My take on which plan to follow

If you are eating the right amount of calories, the right types of foods, exercising (not going through the motions but actually working) and not indulging too much. YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT regardless of what plan you are eating on. The key is EATING. It all goes back to portion control. Even while fasting you are still eating the same types of foods, and the same amount of calories but just during a window of time. It's not like you are eating anything you want then fast for 16 hours. You have to put the right foods in your body no matter what. This is truly the reason why I do the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan. It finally taught me how much food my body needs and what types of food I really should be feeding it. You can get access to the entire 21 Day Fix program, and containers, plus your year membership of Beachbody on Demand and your first month of Shakeology with the Beachbody On Demand Annual All Access Pass Challenge Pack (yeah, it's a mouthful but totally worth it! 

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why You SHOULD Exercise With Your Kids

It's day 1 of summer break and I did what I used to think was impossible. I worked out, by 8:30am, with my 2 boys and Elyse was sleeping.

I am a busy stay at home mom of 3. And as you know, getting things done with your kids can be challenging. But...Sometimes you just have to do it and show your kids, to show them, what is important to you, what really matters to you, and hopefully by your example you are able to pass on to them a desire to also do good things for their bodies too.


A few years ago I would nave never exercise with my boys because they would just get in the way too much or I couldn't get as good of a workout in because I would focus on them too much, or really, whatever reason I could come up with.

I am now that example to them though of enjoying exercise and encouraging them to join along. There are plenty of times that they were off doing something else, when they originally said they wanted to workout with me. But what I did, was keep going. I didn't stop. And every now and then they would join me, then go back to doing something else. But every time they joined me we made it fun. They thought it was a game and that is what it is really all about.
Too many times I hear that people can't exercise because their kids are home, or they don't have time, or they don't want to exercise in front of their family. Don't let them be your reason why you can't workout. They are the very reason why you should.
READY TO GET SUMMER STRONG??? Beginning Monday, June 12-18 (it's not too late to join us!) There is an EXCLUSIVE release on Beachbody On Demand. Shaun Week. You know Shaun T, the guy who created Insanity, T25, MAX:30 and CIZE. Yep, and you can have FREE access to this brand new, 7 day workout program and free unlimited access to Beachbody on demand for not just 7 days but 14 days! On top of that, for the week of the 12th I will be hosting this group in my FREE GROUP Connect The Dots To Your Fitness, Health & Life just as I do my EXCLUSIVE GROUP! Giving you a FREE glimpse inside what I do as your coach!

Daily motivation
Daily accountability
Extra Tips
Weekly chat
Support
Encouragement

If you are ready to try out Beachbody on Demand, and want in on this EXCLUSIVE offer to "try before you buy" with me as your exclusive coach, this is your week! Start your FREE trial by SATURDAY so that you have access to Shaun Week by Monday. Takes less than 10 minutes to enroll! OR start now so you can snoop around Beachbody On Demand for the next few days! 

CLICK THIS LINK TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE 14 DAY TRIAL TO BEACHBODY ON DEMAND! (Choose the 3 month standalone option for your free 14 day trial)


Have questions? Send me an email! Let's chat!


*Must join the trial under me as your coach and not already working with another Team Beachbody Coach

** You will have to enter a credit card to sign up, but you have the option to cancel the membership or upgrade to the all access pass or bundles to save you money and get you hooked up with Shakeology!


***it can take up to 2 days for your Beachbody on Demand account to set up.

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Elyse Cheyenne: 8 Months


STATS: 
~15+ pounds

This month has been huge in her milestones. She is now starting to crawl. It is more like the worm but still she is crawling and getting around more than she was. Plus, her personality is really coming out and she is finally laughing and smiling a lot more. Not sure if it was delayed because of the double frenectomy and recovery from that over the last couple months or but man, this past month, BABY GIRL LOVES TO GRIN!
 
Have fun with the picture overload! She is really starting to look more and more like my mini-me! 










Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free info, tips, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Strong: FREE 7 Day EXCLUSIVE MEMBER TRIAL

READY TO GET SUMMER STRONG??? Beginning Monday, June 12-18 There is an EXCLUSIVE release on Beachbody On Demand. Shaun Week. You know Shaun T, the guy who created Insanity, T25, MAX:30 and CIZE. Yep, and you can have FREE access to this brand new, 7 day workout program and free unlimited access to Beachbody on demand for not just 7 days but 14 days! On top of that, for the week of the 12th I will be hosting this group in my FREE GROUP Connect The Dots To Your Fitness, Health & Life just as I do my EXCLUSIVE GROUP! Giving you a FREE glimpse inside what I do as your coach!

Daily motivation
Daily accountability
Extra Tips
Weekly chat
Support
Encouragement

If you are ready to try out Beachbody on Demand, and want in on this EXCLUSIVE offer to "try before you buy" with me as your exclusive coach, this is your week! Start your FREE trial by SATURDAY so that you have access to Shaun Week by Monday. Takes less than 10 minutes to enroll! OR start now so you can snoop around Beachbody On Demand for the next few days! 

CLICK THIS LINK TO SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE 14 DAY TRIAL TO BEACHBODY ON DEMAND! (Choose the 3 month standalone option for your free 14 day trial)

Have questions? Send me a msg! Let's chat!
*Must join the trial under me as your coach and not already working with another Team Beachbody Coach

** You will have to enter a credit card to sign up, but you have the option to cancel the membership or upgrade to the all access pass or bundles to save you money and get you hooked up with Shakeology!


***it can take up to 2 days for your Beachbody on Demand account to set up.

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How To Buy Healthy Foods And Save Money At The Grocery Store

SLOWLY TRANSITION INTO BUYING HEALTHY FOODS
There are some people that say, "go through your cupboards and throw away all the bad foods in your house." It's okay to slowly transition to healthier eating. Use those foods up, eat them but once they are gone, don't buy it anymore. You spent your hard earned money on those foods. Finish it up. Next time you go to the store, is when you start to buy more veggies, or different kinds of veggies.
LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS
Skip the nutritional info and go straight down to the ingredients list. You might be surprised to find how many ingredients are in a food you love and enjoy! Or even wonder why the heck they add sugar to canned fruits! If you don't know the ingredients, don't buy it. Look for short ingredient lists and avoid the super long ingredients lists. Think about that the next time you buy bread, compared to what you put in bread when you make it homemade.

PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO BUY
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when making the change to clean eating is they go to the store and stock pile up on every veggie or fruit they can get their hands on. No wonder why most people think eating healthy is expensive. To save money, you HAVE to pick and choose what fresh fruits and veggies you are going to get a week. Yes, having variety is great, but what if you don't like a veggie you get? What if you can't eat it all? You just wasted all that money. And you won't want to do it again. I personally have "must buy items" every week: 8-10 Apples, and a pack of grapes for Mason's lunch. I also am getting 4 bananas for Elyse now too. And 3 bags of spinach, bell pepper, onion and a bag of baby carrots. Any other fruits or veggies are what I consider "splurge" and I rotate through them. For fruits: one week I will get strawberries and blueberries, the next week I will get pears, or pineapple, or mangos, or oranges. And so forth. Veggies, my splurge items, fresh broccoli, fresh asparagus, rainbow carrots, corn on the cob, cabbage and so forth.

SHOP THE PERIMETER OF THE STORE
Try to avoid the inner isles as much as you can. Those inner isles are the ones with the packaged foods, preservative laden foods, chemicals and additives. Items that you want to get from the isles, old fashioned rolled oats, quinoa, lentils, brown rice. Avoid pasta, canned fruits and veggies (a lot of them have added sugar. Check out the ingredients!) cookies and candies.

BUY FROZEN FRUITS AND VEGGIES OVER FRESH
You tend to get more frozen than you get fresh at a lesser price or for just about the same. But you get more product for your money. To me that is a win win.

DON'T GET PRE-CHOPPED OR PRE-PREPED FOODS
Those pre-chopped, cut or cleaned foods are more expensive than doing it yourself at home. I know it is so nice to have an onion already chopped for you but when it is upwards of $.50 or more just for it to be cut up for you, in my world, I can cut the foods up myself. Save the money! Some foods it might be necessary but just know that you will save a lot more if you buy the whole fruit or veggie over the connivence packaging. I do get the "salad in a bag" at Trader Joe's, but I limit how many I get and I see it as a "splurge item" and I have to be under my budget to get it.

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Self Guided Workbooks

Are you ready to take your result to the next level? I have opened up my store with my personally created guides and workbooks. These are the very tools that I have used to help me not only lose weight, but to change my lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle and reach my goals! Use these as a self guided study to help you reach your goals in whatever program you are doing to help you stay on track. Be on the lookout for more ebooks to come!

https://connectthedotsginger.squarespace.com/ebooks

To celebrate the opening of my new store take 20% off your purchase using the discount/promo code at checkout: NEWSTORE (limited time only)

Featured Ebook: 30 Days To A Healthy Lifestyle Change
Daily action step workbook to help you create healthy habits for a true, lasting, lifestyle change. 58 pages.
Love Yourself Fit
Tips on how to learn to love yourself fit through 7 simple steps! Building your self confidence, self love, happiness, joy, self respect, forgiveness an positive body image.

 #GOALDIGGER Weekly Goal Setting Workbook
Month long goal setting journey starts here! Goal setting strategies. Action steps brainstorming. And Weekly checklists using daily action steps to help you achieve 4 goals in just 1 month!

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Monday, June 5, 2017

5 Tips To Tone Your Body This Summer

Are you looking to lean up your body this summer. I AM for sure! It is my whole goal this summer with my Summer Slim Down Program available in my Exclusive group with me as your coach. To help me lean down and sculpt my body more I am following these 5 tips:

1) 150 minutes of moderate cardio workout per week
That comes out to 30 minutes, 5 days a week. My goal is to do some sort of cardio every single day. Even my strength training exercises will be more cardio based super sets. Going from one exercise to the next with little rest between. Cardio burns calories and calories burn fat. Good cardio exercises to do: jogging, running, bike, dancing exercises, swimming. You want to maintain a pace which you can still talk during.

2) HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Cardio 2 days a week
With my cardio, 2 days a week I will be doing Higher Intensity Interval Training. HIIT means that you alternate short bursts of high intensity exercises with moderate exercise. I loved doing interval training when I was running. Run a moderate pace for 2 minutes, then a faster pace for as long as I could. Core de Force does it perfectly. Core de Force is broken down into 3 minute blocks. They do 2 minutes of exercise then 1 minute of HIIT.

3) Strength Training 2 days a week, not consecutive days
Total body strength training or breaking it down between upper body one day and lower body the next time you have strength training. Strength training is necessary to build lean muscle. And muscle burns fat when you are resting. To build muscle you lift heavy weights with less repetitions. To lean out you use lighter weights and more repetitions.

4) Ab exercises once a week
Ab exercises help to support our back and our whole body. I haven't done much ab workouts for awhile. why do I need to when I have so much fat covering them. They will never be seen. Was always my excuse. But the more I am learning about how important they are the more I realize I need to be doing them. Do you have low back pain, do more core work! Do you struggle with balancing? Do more core work. Carrying around a baby and even my older kids, I need my core to help me lift them and hold them so I don't throw out my back or hips. 10 minutes of ab work is a good goal to start with and you don't have to do traditional ab workouts either. There are plenty of programs out there that do core strengthening without even getting on the floor. PiYo Core is one of those! Avoid ab workouts while pregnant and if you have diastasis recti.

5) Can't outwork a bad diet
To truly tap into those results the diet MUST change! Do not expect to lean out when eating doughnuts every day, or candy, or cake. In this case you can't have abs and eat cake too. Live the rule of 80/20. 80 percent of the week eat as clean and healthy as possible. Avoiding simple carbs (white flower, pastries, pasta)  and sticking with complex carbs (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice). Try eating your carbs earlier in the day, breakfast and lunch, so that your body uses the energy they create during the day. Eating at least 3 servings of veggies a day. My personal plan with the Nutrition Fix calls for 6 servings of veggies a day! Choose lean protein like chicken, egg whites over fatty protein like certain types of steaks. Then one meal a week, let yourself indulge and enjoy the fun meals. Having this balance allows you to lose weight because one bad meal won't derail your results. More than one meal will though. If you truly want results, STICK WITH YOUR NUTRITION!
Are you ready to make that complete healthy lifestyle change but don't know where to start? I have created a 30 day workbook with daily action steps to help you make a complete healthy lifestyle change. 30 Days To A Healthy Lifestyle Change is available in my EXCLUSIVE private Facebook group as part of my Summer Slim Down To Success 60 Day Program as a TOOL to go along with your Beachbody On Demand All Access Pass workout programs and journey. If you are interested in joining us and are ready to order CLICK HERE and I will send you an email after you order with your materials and get you added to the group!

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tips To Staying Dedicated With Working Out At Home

Do you struggle with staying motivated and dedicated to working out at home? I hear from people every day, "I can't workout at home I have to be at the gym" But what if you can't go back to the gym for money reasons. It can be a hard transition to most, especially new moms who can't get back into the gym after having a kid. I personally stopped using the gym after having my second kid because one of my kids would get sick, then the next and before I knew it, 2 weeks had gone by where I couldn't go to the gym because of sick kids.

Thus came my need to transition to working out at home. Now I exercise on my own time, with or without the kids. And I am still getting a great workout! Check out the following tips to help you stay motivated with working out at home.

Find an exercise program that you LOVE! 
This is why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Beachbody on Demand. With over 32 full programs to choose from and 500 actual exercises there has to be something that I will enjoy doing. And you don't have to do 1 specific program. You can pick and choose what you want to do! Plus there is a the Challenge Du Jour that has a different program to do every day while still following a weekly workout schedule of cardio, upper body workout, lower body workout, stretching, strength training and so forth.
Keep a tracker
Use a tracker to help you stay on track with your goals. Drinking enough water every day. Eating enough veggies. Keep a food log. Use something, anything to help you stay on track.

Have a LAST DAY goal
Start with a 30 day goal and have a non food related reward in place that you get when you complete your 30 days. New workout outfit, new tank, new clothing, purse, shoes, whatever you want and will work toward. Make it your reward for kicking ass in the month!

LOVE and CELEBRATE Non Scale Victories
Pants feeling loser. shirts not tight at your belly anymore. Rocking your swimsuit. Being able to chase your kids and not feel winded. Getting up and down without any pain. These are examples of non scale victories. Celebrate each and everyone. Because these are what count and help you keep going especially on those days that your excuses pop into your head!

Stay Positive
There are going to be days that you struggle with your workout. That's ok. Those days are the days that you will grow more and feel more accomplished after your workout. Remember why you are doing this and what your goal is at the end of your 30 days.
Have Support
Get a workout buddy to help keep you accountable. When you have someone to keep you accountable you will reach your goals. I have my free group and specifically my EXCLUSIVE group, which you get automatic entry to when you join my programs! It filled with women who want a buddy, need accountability and daily motivation to keep them going every single day. It's different than my free group as it has my personal tools, more tips and advice to help you stay on track, plus access to me as your personal motivator and supporter.

Want more daily motivation and inspiration just like this? Click here to join my private online community where you get info, tips, support and encouragement + a free gift with tips to help you get started with the right mindset for healthier nutrition choices TODAY!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

8 Months: Postpartum Update




Exercise: This past month I did not do what I had planned on. I tweaked my knee mid month took off a week to let it heal. Then I got super sick at the end of the month so no working out while I was sick with a GI bug. But the 1st 2 weeks I was doing P90X3 using the Beachbody On Demand with the all access pass. 
Weight: Pre-pregnancy weight:237.7. Weight morning of birth: 265. Current weight June 1: 243.5. Just after I was sick I was down to 239.9 but I basically wasn't able to eat for 5 days and my body flushed EVERYTHING out of my body. I had a natural cleanse!
June Goals: I am taking these results from my natural cleanse (Since I can't do the 3 Day Refresh yet) and run with them! I am going to be doing cardio galore. I want to lean out and slim down this summer! Of course I will be doing strength training but only 2 days a week. Everything else will be without weights so I can go faster to help me lean out. Aiming for 5 days a week of active exercise and using the weekends to do healthy activities with my family. Like going to the park and running with the kids or walks. I am so thankful for the habit I have built for myself, a natural drive to exercise and eat right, but I have even more of a kick to just KICK BUTT and show everyone that it is possible to lose weight while breastfeeding thanks to my accountability groups. The accountability from sharing my journey and in my groups is what is keeping me going everyday. Interested in joining my private online support community? CLICK HERE TO JOIN: CONNECT THE DOTS TO YOUR HEALTH, FITNESS AND LIFE Private Online Community.
Are you ready to make that complete healthy lifestyle change but don't know where to start? I have created a 30 day workbook with daily action steps to help you make a complete healthy lifestyle change. 30 Days To A Healthy Lifestyle Change is available in my EXCLUSIVE private Facebook group as part of my Summer Slim Down To Success 60 Day Program as a TOOL to go along with your Beachbody On Demand All Access Pass workout programs and journey. If you are interested in joining us and are ready to order CLICK HERE and I will send you an email after you order with your materials and get you added to the group!

Want more daily motivation and inspiration? Click here get free advice, support and encouragement + a free copy of my Clean Eating guide to help you get started on your health and fitness journey! Don't forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kindergarten...Again- Why We Are "Redshirting" Our Kindergartner

We are coming up on the end of the school year where kids are excited that they are going to be moving up to the next grade level, but not our son. We are "redshirting" him. We knew pretty early on in the school year that Mason was struggling with keeping up in his class. He does have a July birthday, so he was one of the youngest kids in his class. But with the cutoff of the year Sept 30 in our area. We thought that he was going to be fine. The idea of holding him back next year came up in September. SEPTEMBER. I was actually kind of mad that the teacher was saying it so early on in the school year, but she knew. She knew that he would be struggling to keep up.

"What did I do wrong?" was the main thing I kept asking myself. "What more could I have done?" Nothing. We did everything right. There were other things that were holding him back. Mason had a huge speech delay compared to the other kids. We had started him in speech therapy at the beginning of 2016 while he was still in preschool. And when he started Kindergarten, he didn't know most of the letters. We didn't know that. I thought he knew more.  The main reason was because he couldn't physically say them, so he didn't learn them. He would memorize them short term but ask him the next day what the letter was he had no idea. That was our biggest delay. So right after that first meeting in September with his teacher I was writing letters on his snack bag and going over it every morning with him and we worked hard! Little dude was finally making progress.

One thing that I want to get clear is that he progressed this year. Made a HUGE progress. And both times he was officially tested for meeting the benchmarks required he was at the same learning curve. He was only 90% there. He just needed 10% more to meet the benchmarks, which is HUGE. And honestly, we had to request for him to be held back because he is right on the border. He could go on to first grade as normal next year but he wouldn't thrive. He would struggle. And we would struggle right along with him.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU SHOULD HOLD YOUR KID BACK A YEAR 

For us, it was the nightly struggle. Getting him to write was tear inducing. Getting him to read was full of negativity and crying and yelling and frustration. We didn't even have time or the energy to go over numbers and counting with him. We were trying to over teach him from what the teachers wanted. So we were pushing him a lot harder than what was to be expected. He is in kindergarten for pete's sake. We worked hard with his teacher for us to learn how to help him best.

Work with your child's teacher. Learn from them. Have extra parent teach conferences. Ask questions via email. Be the annoying parent because it is your right. I felt bad in the beginning about being annoying but this was my kid's education and future. So I annoyed his teacher I am sure. But he made HUGE progress by the end of the year.

Use the resources that your school offers. Mason is in speech therapy, he was tested for occupational therapy. He is in the PALS resource to help him with reading and letter recognition and works with the teacher helper a lot. Don't be ashamed of the resources that your school does offer. That is just one more thing helping your kids excel. I'm sad that he won't be in the PALS program next year as he really does enjoy it and has learned so much from it. But it will be there for the kids that do need it just like he did.

Make learning as fun as you can with your child. You read above that most things were tear inducing or would easily frustrate Mason. We made it a point to read dinosaur books with him. Or super hero books. We found books that he wanted to read. We still struggled with them and getting him to follow along and focus but he enjoyed them.

CELEBRATE the little things. Any time Mason read something by himself, I would cheer and scream out of excitement and the he would give me the biggest grin. Writing his full name for the first time without him crying out of frustration, I was crying for happiness. He saw that and loved it. He is huge for positive reinforcement. We focus more on the good than bad now. If he gets frustrated we try to turn whatever is frustrating him from a negative to a positive. Doesn't work every time but we really do work hard at it.

WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN HOLDING YOUR KID BACK

What age they will be when they graduate- Mason will be almost 19. What age they will be when they start to drive- He will be 16 as a freshman! SCARY! This decision will impact when he goes on his church mission. When he starts college. When he graduates college. He is going to be the older and bigger kid at school now. We are hoping that that gives him the confidence to not be a follower and follow kids for attention but that he is the leader and making better choices. Also this is why he is now in karate, to learn to be a good leader and focus. To "redshirt" your child really does impact the rest of their life so be prepared for that. But on the flip side, Mason will have a stronger foundation in school because he will have more confidence and ability to keep up. For us, the positive aspects we are looking forward to are far greater than forcing him to move up and try to keep up with everyone else.

Mason was fully aware of our decision and he also agreed that he wanted to get better at knowing his letters, numbers and writing before he moved on. He knows that first grade will be just a little too hard for him. Communicate with your child. Let them know. But I will say, yesterday, he was upset when we talked about it. He asked me "why is everyone else moving up but me?" We had to talk about it all over again and he again decided that he just wasn't ready for 1st grade. But yesterday was heartbreaking for me. I don't like making him upset or knowing he is upset because of a decision that we all made for him with his input. In the end, you have to decide what is best for your child. Where they are going to thrive the most. It isn't a negative thing to hold your child back. At least it shouldn't be. I would rather hold him back in Kindergarten then at an older age where it truly will be more difficult and socially difficult for my child.

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