How to Spoil A New Mama

The transition from expecting, to being a new mom of a babe outside the womb is one of the absolute craziest life changes a human can experience. One day, you’re the object of everyone’s attention, being helped and fawned over by friends and strangers alike. The next thing you know, BAM! All the attention is on the new little miracle and you’re left in the shadows with your deflated-balloon belly and under-eye bags for days.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

As mamas to a collective 10 little people, we are often asked about the best things to bring, give, or do for a new mother.  Assuming that family and friends have already set the new mama up with the basic necessities to survive those first couple months (registry items, meals, diapers, etc.), we’ve listed here a few ways to go one step beyond and make that new mom feel not just like she’s surviving but that she’s spoiled and loved as much as the adorable little being she just birthed. Here are some of our favorite recommendations for new mamas, from mamas who have beentheredonethat.

The Spa Treatment

New moms obviously won’t likely get to go TO an actual spa while they’re on the feed-change-rock rollercoaster of newborn life. Here are a few easy gifts to make her feel pampered in the same way.

Good Dry Shampoo

Showers can be few and far between.  Let alone showers long enough to wash one’s hair. Help a mother out by getting her one of these top dry shampoos to fake it:

R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo, 6.3 oz.
R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo 4.0 oz Pack of 2
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day

 

 

Excellent Lip Balm

When you’re trying to keep hydrated for two, your lips get chapped like no other. Treat a mama to one of these:

it Cosmetics je ne sais quoi Color Awakening Balm in ‘your perfect pink’ starts out clear but changes to the perfect rosy tint to complement you once it’s on. And Smith’s Rosebud salve is a classic, but the tin can be hard to open one-handed, go with the tube trio!

Moisturizer

Same goes for skin! A non-toxic, yummy smelling lotion or body oil can make you feel refreshed even if you just used a baby wipe to towel off a massive spit up in lieu of showering. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse can be used on every outside part of your body – face, hair, and body – making it super easy to slap some on when you’re jumping out of your 2 minute shower when your baby’s crying, and smells like you just went to Paris and spent the day in a fancy boutique. (A girl can dream…)

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At Home Facial

Help mama look a *little* less tired than she is with one of these easy treatments – all wearable while walking around bouncing a fussy babe:

Sheet masks! Go simple with a variety pack from Target or deluxe from Sephora – no matter what, these pamper and then can be tossed in the trash. For the inevitable under-eye (ahem, Prada) bags, Nerium hydrogels and eye serum – we’ve talked about this wonder duo before. No need to beat a dead horse but if you want to knock out some serious undereye bags in 20 minutes flat, this is how to do it!

Aromatherapy

A well-placed candle or diffuser has the power to make a room feel clean and fresh even when it’s nothing close to that.  (Because, well, did we mention the feed-change-rock rollercoaster?) Here are some faves:

 

The Baies Dyptique candle makes any space smell as fresh as a garden, even when you are feeling anything but fresh, and the Noodle and Boo diffuser is subtle enough for the nursery, and sweet enough to make you forget about your toddler’s crusty mac and cheese plate in the sink.

Bebe Luxe

Having a few luxury baby items can also brighten the most mundane baby care moments and new mamas may not want to spend the money on these, admittedly nonessential but oh-so-nice-to-have, items.

Monogrammed Burp Cloths

Burp cloths literally become part of your wardrobe as a new mom. Why not make them cute?! Personalized cloths make for a lovely gift, and one that keeps on giving for years – we’ve been known to wipe toddler faces, noses, and just about everything else with these pretty little things. After all, if you’re going to be covered in baby (toddler, and child) puke, why not feel monogrammedly-fabulous about it?! Exactly.

monogram cloth
This thing has been trashed and washed about 14,000 times and is still looking fab.

 

If you have the skill set to make these yourself – you win. If you (like us) don’t, there are fortunately a variety of styles available from a number of sellers on Etsy. We purchased ours from a lovely shop called The Letter Garden.

The Fancy Baby Lotion

Babies, especially newborn babies, smell amazing. Their sweet fuzzy heads and little toes… Oh! Too. Much. Sweetness.

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Photo credit: Deanna Casey Photography

However, babies have their share of smelly moments too. (If the phrase “baby blowout” means nothing to you, take our word for it.) Here are some of our favorite, fancy,  “sweet-baby-smell” lotions that are safe and wonderful for newborn skin and effective enough for a new mom’s chapped hands (you wash your hands A LOT with a new baby).

 

Noodle and Boo Super Soft Lotion is the sweetest smelling, and most effective baby lotion we know of! It’s darling packaging doesn’t hurt either. We also love the California Baby line. The everyday lotion, overtired and cranky, and calendula cream are both also divine.

Beyond Sustenance

Meal Trains are a Godsend for getting dinner (and hopefully leftovers for lunch!) taken care of. You can register for, and set up a Meal Train on their website, here. However, new mamas also need yummy, nutrient dense snacks in the early days of recovery from birth and nursing. (And often end up balancing a sleeping baby in their arms in search of an easy to grab snack!) Here are a few ideas.

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Energy Bites

These are like a healthy nutrient packed version of cake balls. Easy to grab and wolf down even with a crying baby in one arm. Mix ingredients together, basic recipe amounts below, there are endless possible combinations, chill for 30 minutes then roll into balls and coat in final ingredient. We love chocolate-coconut and cashew-butter-cran-raspberry!

  • 3/4 C organic old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C nut butter of choice
  • 1/2 -1 C chocolate chips, craisins, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, crumbled freeze dried berries or whatever else sounds good
  • 2 TBS sweetener: honey, maple syrup, agave or whatever you fancy
  • Coating: peanut butter powder, shredded coconut, pulverized freeze dried fruit, hot chocolate mix…

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Lactation cookies

Yes you could get store-bought versions of these, and no, they probably won’t triple her milk supply. However, letting a new mom indulge in homemade cookies and imagine they’re healthy is what a real friend does! This recipe is from Genius kitchen.

Accessories

Unless you’re a celebrity, the new-mom uniform is stretchy pants, nursing tank, messy bun, all day, errryday. However, it’s amazing what a little accessoried “flare” can do to make a girl feel more human. (And fake an actual outfit with minimal wardrobe changes. #score)

Sweaters and Wraps

Mama can toss one of these over a legging/nursing top “mom-suit” and suddenly, voila! You’ve got yourself an outfit!

 

Earrings

A stylish drop earring can make that messy-bun look like its purpose is to show off some ear flare instead of disguising the spit-up in momma’s ponytail. (Not that we’ve ever done that before…)

 

We love the casual look of the leather  Zia earrings from Magnolia Market, and the Aragon hammered drop earring from Kendra Scott for maximum versatility and style.

Fancy Hair Ties

Uplevel that pony or mom-bun with one of these. Bonus – nursing mommas can also use them as cute bracelets to remember which side she last nursed the baby on! Win win!

 

 

Happy shopping mom-friends and congratulations on being the favorite person of the lucky new mom in your life!

This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products we recommend. We may receive a small contribution from your use of the links, but the recommendations are all our own and unsolicited.

018 (1 of 1)The Real As A M*ther crew, mamas to 10 littles; a doctor, lawyer, doula, and financial planner; and happy spoilers of Dr. Annie, a glam new momma to her brand new baby boy.

Discovering and Coping With the Energy Vampires In Your Life

Do you ever find yourself wondering, watching through exhausted eyes as the kids get back on the bus after winter break, why the holidays left you so unimaginably drained? The more I think about it, stories of heightened stress around the end of the year holiday festivities have my thoughts pointed in a singular direction. Overwhelming. Amounts. Of. People.

Photo Credit The Carson J Spencer Foundation blog

Whether it is travel, being around family, or the financial pressures we place on ourselves, it seems after that shiny disco ball rings in the New Year, a collective sigh of relief audibly guides us back to our sense of normalcy. Does anyone else ever find themselves asking… “why?”

After all, we can mostly push the proverbial pause button on school, morning routines, and after school/work activities for a bit. We’ve spent time at home, in our pajamas, sipping coffee and smiling at each other while the kids relished in the magic of the season, right?

Oh wait…I forgot.

 

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There were school parties; work parties; friend parties; shopping in crowds; returning gifts; family to see, cook for and entertain; traffic; neighbors; gaggles of children…must I go on?

The point is, during this time of year we are almost forced to be around people that we may not see throughout the year. Sometimes this is a great thing and we are filled up with warm fuzzies, but other times we leave a situation feeling drained, overwhelmed, angry, depressed, anxious, threatened, and just down right OVER IT.

If this is you, my friend, then you have yourself what I have become accustomed to calling, an “Energy Vampire.” 

Photo Credit headinablender.com

The easiest way I can describe this is in terms of positive and negative. A positive person is in tune, energetic, with a light that flows outward. A negative person’s energy is blocked from the source, so their energy is dense, almost like a black hole, within themselves. The blockage does not allow the energy to replenish, so in order for them to be filled, they have to seek the energy of others.

These individuals may creep up on you, engaging you in a conversation that leaves you feeling empty.  They may not even realize that this is what they are doing to you! They just know that they can dump their emotional “stuff” into your bucket and feel better, regardless of how it leaves you feeling.

No matter what you do, how you try to steer conversation or the direction of the friendship, this one person always finds a way to latch onto you and send you energy revolving in an orbit of negativity around them.

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Most of these individuals are emotionally and energetically immature, so they lack any sort of empathy to recognize the social cues one might give them that they are being too draining.  They also may not care even if you socially cued them right upside their head, because they derive energy from other individuals, and they don’t know how to stop themselves from doing it.

I can’t stop them for you; however, I’m gonna give you some garlic-laced energy ammunition to protect yourself.  Just in case your cat-like reflexes kick in and make you situationally aware when people are waiting for an opportunity to jump into your bubble, I am going to give you some positive tools to use when your emotional capacity is plentiful and you want to be of help.

Photo Cred Joyful31.com

1. Know Your Personal Boundaries

In order to ward off an “energy vampire attack”, we have to be aware of our own personal struggles, mood, and headspace.  “Energy vampires” tend to feed on the weak. The higher your energetic capacity is, the less likely your energy will be drained. Daily, self-centering practices such as meditation, and self reflection are helpful keys to prepare yourself when you have to interact with these types of people. If you know your cups are low, avoid them at all costs.

men and women standing infront of dining table

2. Roll Deep When You Can

If you can avoid one-on-one time with an energy-draining individual, then do. Interacting with negative people is almost always easier in group situations.  Dealing with them in groups not only sways the attention from being directly on you, but often makes the individual less likely to engage in immature behavior. Supportive friends and family are always great allies in these situations.

3. Make a Clean Break

Sometimes, the best way to deal with “Energy Vampires” is to recognize them for what they are and simply keep your distance. Maybe for a short term, maybe for a long term, or maybe until they, or you, are in a better place to communicate with each other. But sometimes you just need to make a clean break. It is important to ask ourselves

“what value is this person/these people actually adding to my life?”

If you are spending way more time solving their problems, listening without reciprocation, coming to their rescue, or worst yet, taking the fall for them when sh*t hits the fanthen it behooves you have to take serious inventory as to what this person is adding to your life. This is not to say that we don’t stand by old friends when sh*t hits the fan. On the contrary.

This is where the old pros and cons lists comes in handy. It sounds silly, but, I absolve you of any guilt-ridden feelings in performing this task.   You need your energy for the things you love, giving it away to those who won’t hold it dear is not something vital to your happiness. End. Of. Story.

man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography

4. Be Direct

If your kindness kicks in and you want to lend a hand, try and keep your conversations direct. Instead of saying things like “tell me about it,” ask them directly “what can I do to help you?” This can ring very deeply in their empty well, and help them feel listened to and appreciate you on a different level.

For example, as a sleep deprived young mother my energetic cups were often very low and easily sucked into others’ negative inner turmoil. Hindsight is certainly 20/20 as I look back and see that if I could have found the energy at that time to simply ask directly what I could do to help with these individuals’ problems, we may have been able to work together to forge a constructive way to work out our differences, and we would have all been better off. And I could have saved myself a lot of energy-draining days.

5. Have a Self-Care Plan

If interaction with your “vampire(s)” is inevitable (for example with a coworker one cubicle over, or family member that seems to always “drop in“), have a routine for self-care in place for after you are around them (to remember your awesomeness, of course).  Maybe it’s a hot shower to rid yourself of their energy, or doing something nice for yourself or someone your care for – it all comes back to doing things that make you smile and re-fill your energetic “cups.” Whatever it is, tell your partner that you will need to have that time to fill back up immediately after the interaction is over. Your relationship with yourself and with all parties concerned will be better for it.

Photo Credit The Country Workshop

Setting boundaries, remembering who you are, listening to your own needs, engaging in direct conversation, practicing self care, and making a clean break when necessary, are the key components I have found successful in protecting oneself from those who feed off of your energy. I hope these tools help you to recognize who the “Energy Vampires” are in your life (OR if you are one to someone else!) and  go more confidently into situations with your own potential “Energy Vampires” and allow you to more deftly navigate them so that you aren’t left with an empty tank.

Now, go forth and be awesome!

004-1-of-1Kristy is a mother of two, Massage Therapist, and proponent of total body healing in Virginia.

Mental Health Home School

Mental health is a lifelong journey for every human. It’s something that comes up a lot this time of year in particular as the holidays bring with them stresses, memories and not-so-welcome comments from family members you are generally able to avoid in the rest of life. As a family doctor, the number of visits on my schedule for anxiety, depression, grief, panic attacks and all manner of stresses dramatically increases leading up to Thanksgiving and doesn’t let up until well after New Year’s Day.

I have had a personal journey with mental health in adulthood that I appreciate in particular because I can truly empathize with others struggling. I’ve been in low, low places and I’ve been peacefully, truly, deeply happy. I’ve been on medication for depression, anxiety and post-partum mood changes. I’ve seen therapists. But, some of the most important work I’ve done to grow has been reading and self-reflection and I wanted to share the 5 key resources that have been the most helpful.

1. The Science of Happiness, by Stefan Klein

The first book that introduced me to the concept that you have some control over your own mental health was The Science of Happiness. I read this book at the end of undergrad as I was heading into medical school and it. changed. everything.

The Science of Happiness: How Our Brains Make Us Happy-and What We Can Do to Get Happier by [Klein, Stefan]At that point, I had started to recognize that not only did my mood influence my behavior, but my behaviors influenced my mood and experience of life (hello, frontal lobe, welcome to the rest of the mature brain!). This book gave me powerful insight into the why of that and got me working on “Happiness Habits”. As a lifelong cynic who questions everything, I would never have believed any book telling me to do something without understanding why that would make a difference. 

2) The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

This book was my second mental health growth spurt and came much later. I had finished medical school and residency. Those 7 years were tough. We are confronted with very regular, literal life-and-death situations, sleep deprivation, lack of time for exercise or healthy hobbies, isolation from your loved ones and regularly feeling like you might be the dumbest person in the room – especially hard for those of us who used to be frequently the smartest person in a room (am I selling you on becoming a doctor yet??). I had been on and off medication and was ready to heal myself. I stumbled into this one at just the right moment.

The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by [Rubin, Gretchen]

Gretchen was in a similar place to me. We both were married to great people, had the family we planned, a nice home, a good job, but were still pretty miserable. I set out to do my own Happiness Project, setting out tasks, turning them into habits, and lo and behold!! I got happier! I was able to wean off medication in anticipation of getting pregnant again and wow, it really worked! I think I told everyone I know to go buy the book. You’re welcome, Gretchen!

3) The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein

Just when things had settled down a bit, life threw us another curve ball. My husband decided to go back to fellowship (extra medical training to specialize into a ‘niche’). Twice. This involved a 75% paycut, moving 4 times in 4 years, and, oh, we now had 2 babies and a puppy and I was also trying to be a good primary care doctor to brand new patients then having to ‘abandon’ them to move again over and over. It was rough. My rudimentary mental health skills weren’t really up to the task. The Universe quite literally barged in with The Universe Has Your Back and turned the tide.

I started it just as the girls were both sick at home, my husband was working 100 hours a week with a 3 hour commute, and I hated my own job at the time. We were massively in debt from the fellowships and had moved away from essentially all of our close support people. This book forced me to examine and change my own inner dialogue on a MUCH deeper level than I ever had before. The Universe began to quite literally speak to me, sparking several dramatic life changes that have turned into a happiness snowball effect. Can. Not. Recommend. Enough.

4) Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis

I probably don’t need to say a whole lot about this book since it’s blowing up the bestseller lists across the US and internationally. I might have fallen off the self-improvement wagon again as I had every other time had The Universe not led me to start working a side-gig that encouraged continuous personal development. We are expected to read 10 pages every. single. day. to improve your function in some way. They don’t specify what you read, just that you make it habit to work on yourself, a little bit, consistently. Even on the longest, most exhausted day, you can read 10 pages of something. Trust me. I picked this one next and found it inspiring, clarifying and full of real-life applicable advice.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by [Hollis, Rachel]

I would add, however, that the part of it that most changed me and how I was doing with mental health was following Rachel’s podcast and posts on social media and going to the Made For More documentary – can’t WAIT for the next book which delves more into the action side of improving your life!

5) You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero

At the end of Rachel’s book, I couldn’t help but feel that I needed more direction. Rachel made me believe I was “Made For More”, but I didn’t quite know how to find what my ‘more’ should be or how to get there. You see, I had accomplished a lot by many measures – getting into a top medical school, becoming a Family Physician, making a healthy marriage and raising two (so far) thriving kids. From the outside, it looks like I am fairly good at setting goals and accomplishing them. The problem was, those goals were all externally defined – someone else said what the end result was and all the basics of how to get there.  I felt gratitude for being ‘successful’ without ever stopping to think about where I might dream of being beyond that.

You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by [Sincero, Jen]

Enter, You are a Badass. Jen Sincero’s book blasted open my eyes to the concept that you can simultaneously be grateful for what you have and where you are in life ANNNND have huge dreams about where you are going ANNNNNND ANNND AND make that life happen, whatever it is. I can’t begin to explain how big of a revelation this was for me.

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Jen breaks it down into how to get there in real terms, in cursy and hilarious fashion. With the help of this book, I have reached next-level happy. I discovered how to dream and made the first one of those dreams come true. I dreamed that even though we are on an incredibly strict budget, my husband and I could still go on a tropical vacation. I’ve never won or earned the “bonus” on any challenge in my life, but one came up in my side business with Nerium. Through goal setting, planning and consistent action, I earned a free, all-inclusive vacation to the Bahamas for us at a 5 star resort this June. BOOMSHAKALAKA!

Where are you now?

This journey has been my own. I readily acknowledge that everyone is starting or continuing on their own journey in different places. You may be light-years ahead of me, or struggling at the very beginning. I hope that one or more of these books might help some of you on the way. As always, this is my personal experience and not your own personal medical advice – talk your medical person if you need help.

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Dr. Annie is a family physician and mom of 3 in California.

This Christmas, Invest in Yourself

This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to get to the tools that were helpful for us. We may get compensation from the links, but the point of the post is to share a personal journey, not to be an ad.

As parents, we all know that our children are our priority.  So much so, that we often sacrifice taking care of ourselves (usually without even realizing it).  I am certainly no exception, and I’d like to share a personal journey of mine here today in the spirit of the holidays.

As a financial advisor, I’m here to give you permission to not only spend some of your hard-earned money on yourself, but to also call it an investment.  Because it is!  It is the BEST kind of investment, in fact.  Investing in yourself pays dividends in ways you can’t even imagine, and benefits ALL of the people around you, including the little ones in your life who deserve to have a HAPPY, HEALTHY mother.  Repeat this ladies:

My children and family will benefit when I am happy and healthy.

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It was this time last year that I realized that I wasn’t in ideal shape. Having kids changed my body and changed my metabolism. I stepped on a scale for my annual physical and was shocked!! Somehow, while all of my friends lost weight while breastfeeding, I managed to gain it and keep it on. Ugh!

You may be thinking: “Margo, how could you have not realized this without going to the doctor?”  Well, for starters, I have a wonderful husband who loves me 100% of the time no matter what I weigh, and would never EVER call something like this to my attention.  Secondly, before kids, I was mostly a slim person who didn’t really have to exercise to maintain a certain weight (annoying, I know, but stay with me), so I was not used to paying attention to these sorts of things.  I didn’t even own a scale.  Alas…  Here I was:

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I decided I wanted to get back to my best, healthiest self. But how? I started slowly but didn’t really see results – Now I know why. I didn’t know what I was doing! I know about finance, but I didn’t know about nutrition or exercise. There were 3 key things that turned it all around for me and I wanted to share with you all what worked in case it can help any of you struggling the way I was.

Step 1: Nutrition

So, in April, I decided to get serious and call in an expert. I started with Amanda Kettering and did The Arbonne 30 Challenge. Little did I realize it would be an entire lifestyle changer!! I started to learn how to eat healthier without sacrificing my happiness or sanity. The results were immediate thanks to the program and to Amanda’s coaching. In the first month, I lost 15 lbs. In the next 3 months or so of continuing the program 80% of the time, I lost 10 more lbs. That’s 25 lbs total ONLY with changing the way I eat.

This was without any exercise. If I, as someone who is horrendous at cooking with an insanely busy schedule can make this work, anyone can.  If you are committed to following the plan, you will succeed.  Yes, even if you don’t cook.  Yes, even if you are busy.  And yes, even if you’ve failed at other “diets” in the past. Want to access it?  Click here.  Have questions?  Send us a message, and I’ll tell you the honest truth about all of the good, bad and challenging.

Step 2: Exercise

After 4-5 months of this, I decided to tackle exercising. I made a huge leap and joined True Core CrossFit in Annapolis thanks to urging from my friend Andrea. She convinced me I could do it. I had heard about this place from my friend Patrick, but wasn’t convinced I was cut out for CrossFit. This was the girl who avoided any kind of weight lifting, other than her own children… Really? CrossFit? Little did I realize what enormous, amazing community I was joining. I not only got incredible education and hands-on personal help during every class, but I made a ton of wonderful friends who celebrate every success of mine as if it is their own.

True Core also gave me individualized nutrition training, followed with constant encouragement and feedback. It should surprise no one that the nutrition support closely aligned with all I had learned in Arbonne, with some modifications to support the health of someone aggressively lifting weights and working out in the CrossFit program. I also started doing intermittent fasting during this time (safely, according to the program and with the help of Kristy and Brandon). If you want to know more about intermittent fasting, see Kristy and Brandon’s post here: The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting.

The owner of True Core, Shannon, and every single one of her coaches helped me lose another 20 lbs in three months. And would you believe I am enjoying it???? Coming from someone who hates to run and usually wanders aimlessly around a gym, it should mean a lot to you all that I actually LOOK FORWARD to going to True Core 3 or 4 times a week. (Thanks to my mom Cece and my wonderful hubby for making it possible for me to make time for this!!)  Live in the Annapolis, MD area and want to check out True Core?  Click here and schedule a free intro session with one of the amazing coaches.  I’ll be there to cheer you on!

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This is me: 45 lbs less than I was a year prior.

Step 3: Skincare

There was one more problem for me… I had consulted a plastic surgeon at the beginning of all of this who said if I was able to lose my goal weight in a year, going under the knife was the only way to tighten that saggy belly skin I’d be left with. But I had a secret weapon, Dr. Annie and Kristy convinced me to try Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream. If Annie says something works, I’ve learned to believe her. And just LOOK! It’s absolutely amazing!!! Dare I say my stomach looks quite close to how it looked during my college years (after a few beers…lol)? Sure, I have a few pregnancy stretch marks but I kinda love them. The Firming Lotion lightened them significantly. Even though I love what they represent, I also love that they are lightening! This company sells only clinically proven products for wellness and anti-aging developed with a Princeton-affiliated biotech company, Signum Biosciences. Click here to get Nerium Firming AD Contour Cream for yourself.  I’m a believer!img_5613.jpg

I am here to tell you that you can BOTH love your body and be proud of what it did in pregnancy and postpartum, and also want your skin and stretch marks to look better.  I look at that before picture and feel that love and admiration for my body, AND I look at the after picture and feel love and admiration for the hard work it takes to help heal this body that grew two tiny humans that I love more than anything in this world.

I feel such enormous gratitude and admiration to these experts and friends that I feel compelled to tell you all and shine some light on their awesomeness. As you are considering Christmas gifts, don’t forget to invest in yourself. Don’t forget to call in the experts. Don’t forget that the value of these all FAR outweigh the costs. Plus, you’ll save your partner or family members the trouble of coming up with gift ideas – tell them you want this, make it easy on them, haha!

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I’ve still got work to do – more goals to hit and more milestones to celebrate, but at this point I am in the long game, and can’t wait to enjoy every minute of the adventure.

Don’t underestimate the power of consistency and desire

Your imperfect friend,

Margo

 

The Hope Beyond Fad Diet Fallout

In my world of fitness, there is ALOT of talk about nutrition and food. Different diets produce different results for all different types of folks. It is so easy to get confused, or feel exhausted from experimenting with diets and seeing too many changes, or worse yet, none at all. Not to mention the mess of not knowing which one to choose.

In a recent bout of frustration about my own current weight management struggle, I made a toddler tantrum sized putting-my-foot-down decision that I would become vegan.

“I need to get this bloat off me, so I’ll eat nothing but veggie broth and water until I am thin again.” ( Don’t worry, my vegan loves, I do not think this is anything like what veganism entails, this is just what my brain told me in this moment…I digress)maxresdefault (1)

<Pause for self-judgement break> Yeah, because THAT mentality towards food always works, right? Give me a break!

So, in this new state of delusional determination, I opened all my food delivery apps to change dietary settings to vegetarian/ vegan options. Instead of the settings button, an article popped up on my screen. As a new feature in the app, I had not seen links or advertisements like this before. This is where the universe kicked in with a nudge in a better direction with this article:

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating  

Saying to my husband with intrigue, “Hey, I am intuitive. Maybe this is an answer to my weight struggles?” I read the article. I read it about six times.

I know most of us, if not all of us, can say we’ve said and heard the same old song and dance. “I’ve tried (insert whatever diet here), and it either didn’t work, or it worked for awhile until it didn’t anymore”

Loads of experts tell us that it is not in what diet we follow, it is about a whole LIFESTYLE change. But, honestly, how intimidating is that to hear?

Great, you’re telling me that I have to change the way I live my whole life?

Yes you do. We all do. And it sucks at first. I have tried pescatarianism, being almost fully paleo, taco-bellianism (JK, but I love you crunchwrap), and intermittent fasting, all with varying results. Whether it was lower cholesterol, higher body fat, more lean muscle mass, or better skin, each “diet” came with it’s positives and negatives. I adhered more to some and less to others. I performed better, looked better, and had more ego based outlooks about my body. In reflection, however, the only one true end product was always the same.

Food decisions were controlling my relationship to food itself.

So in this particular “diving head first into lifestyle change” moment, I was stopped abruptly by this concept. It occurred to me that I can change my thoughts about my body, and in a huge way. Not what, when or, how I eat, but how it FEELS to eat.  Not only will this help it change, but through mindfulness, I am also giving myself the power to heal my relationship to food. 

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Before I go further to explain the concepts, I want to point out that this “feeling” towards food is NOT EGO BASED. In other words, we are not eating just cookies because it “feels so good”. Honestly? Intuitive eating allows us to sit in stillness and ask ourselves, how will I really feel after I eat this food item? What will my body feel like? Will shame or guilt set in after the food is gone? Will my body feel nourished, alive, and taken care of?

In other words, we do not let the mind and addictions to sugar, chemical preservatives, and cravings take over. We sit with ourselves and look within, asking the mind and body to connect and be honest. If that seems impossible, please, give it a chance and let me sum up conceptually from the article referenced above to shed more light.

  1. Reject Diet Mentality: We covered this above. Lose the idea that you have to label yourself one thing in order to meet your weight goals.
  2. Honor Your Hunger: What did you just say to me? You mean to tell me that I should eat when I’m hungry and not fast and kickstart my metabolism with 17 protein shakes and a lemon water every five seconds? No dude. No. When your mind gives you the signal that you’re hungry. Just eat. Period.images (1).png
  3. Make Peace With Food: (this is a big one so I will quote it) “Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.” Bam….you’re free.
  4. Challenge the Food Police: Resist the urge to praise or judge yourself for the things you eat. Constantly feeling like “I ruined my good day with one chocolate cake bite” or “I was AWESOME today because I only had 1200 calories” is blocking you. It’s difficult, I know, to let this concept go as it is ingrained in our ego. So, if you won’t resist your self critic, then treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.
  5. Respect Your Fullness: Take five when your plate is half gone, and check in with your body. Do you feel as though it needs the rest? Are you going to clear your plate because of other reasons? My particular downfall is seeing the money wasted by wasting food. So I used to eat everything on my plate, leaving me uncomfortably full. There are ALWAYS leftovers, doggy bags, or in our family’s case, chickens to be fed.images (9)
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: What a gift! You mean to tell me that I can find pleasure and satisfaction with eating? Yes! When we are not pressuring ourselves with the obsession over a body type, food can become an exhilarating dance between palate and plate. Discover that eating what you want in a headspace that isn’t deprecating can satiate more than just your appetite!
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: I do realize that this one can be a sensitive topic. Eating your feelings, however, 100% of the time fails to make you truly feel better. So, learn ways that work for you to honor and heal your states of mind and heart without involving food. This will lead to a healthier relationship to food, and avoid the numbing we tend to do with the big emotions we can feel.
  8. Respect Your Body: Going through some inspirational memes the other day, I found this one:11755248_929402183794248_4932479781640736249_nThis was a game changer for me mentally. This whole time, I have been treating my body like it doesn’t exist as an entity. Like it is a stranger to me. Being hypercritical, wanting this part to change, or that to grow, or this to shrink. Would you talk that way to your best friend? No, odds are, they are beautiful in your eyes. So, let your body be your best friend. Choose to honor it, trusting it will help you feel better about exactly who you are.
  9. Exercise–Feel the Difference: Reject the exercising to lose weight mentality. Just exercise to feel your body move. Counting calories or making sure you exercise to burn the most calories puts you right back into that place. If we can focus on the JOY of moving your body, and what your body may be asking for that particular day, then we can learn to feel the everyday needs of our body. In that, we become more mindful and more apt to want to exercise.
  10. Honor Your Health: In each day, ask yourself what foods makes you feel healthy? Be gentle with yourself if that choice in one day does not meet ridiculous “dietary standards”. The point of this step is that one snack, in one day, isn’t going to make or break the rest of your life. Take one day at a time, and honor the consistent progress of your work.

So what is the difference between “Fad Dieting” and Intuitive lifestyle changes? Well, in my opinion, it is all in how you FEEL. Fad Dieting will create quick fixes that may or may not have results. Those that do have results, find that they either fade away, or that they are unsustainable, leaving an individual with negative and discouraging feelings towards their work and their body image. Rinse with new diet, and repeat.

If you have found something, a food relationship, that helps you intuit your connectivity to yourself, both physically and emotionally, then you have your keeper. Some examples out there include the Whole30, which places emphasis on “resetting your health, habits, and relationship with food.”

The authors of the article that I reference, Intuitive Eating, have created a very easy way to dive into this level of mindful eating with this workbook.

I will leave you all today with this (pictured below). Keep it in mind, and practice it with an open heart and mind.

Bon Appétit

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IMG_6228.jpgKristy is a Professional Birth Doula, Certified Massage Therapist, energy worker and mom of 2 in Virginia.

Labor Day 2.0

If I found myself unexpectedly on a trivia game show, I could probably have told you Labor Day was in some way a holiday to honor the struggles of those in the Labor movement in the late 1800s-early 1900s ish. I knew there had been strikes over working hours and conditions. And yet… I didn’t reallllllly know why we had this day where so many people were off work and stores offer awesome sales. I wanted to know how we, today, could best understand and honor this day. So I put on my nerd hat and started reading.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I stumbled across an article by Jay Zagorsky, “The Eclectic Economist”, titled Have we forgotten the true meaning of labor day? In it, he says, “Labor Day came about because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job.” He describes the working conditions of those laborers – 70 hour work weeks, 7 days a week, few if any holidays.

wait…. is he talking about parenting?

He suggests, “If you work all the time and never really take a vacation, start a new ritual that honors the original spirit of Labor Day. Give yourself the day off.” … tell me more!

Now, I’m not saying hard labor in a late 19th century factory is the same as raising kids and maintaining a household amidst admittedly first world problems. And probably someone’s going to get on a high horse and ‘educate me’ on the insensitivity of this post.

On the other hand… 70 hour work week?? wow! sounds luxurious! If you are lucky and your kids reliably sleep 8 hours a night, you, as a parent are still left with 112 hours a week of duty. Repeatedly doing the same actions, in a single work environment, over and over and over… few if any bathroom or lunch breaks. You have to admit there are some major parallels up in here. Labor comes in lots of different forms these days. We are all more worn down, more disconnected, more at-the-end-of-our-frayed-and-breaking-ropes than ever.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate the work done by those early activists to fight for safer and more humane working conditions. Of course that should still be part of the day. But, can we not also update this holiday like we have for so many others?? How many of you still light a bonfire and sacrifice an animal on Samhain (Halloween)? Who’s asking the town bum to order around the wealthy people to celebrate Christmas (Thanks History Channel for that crazy info)? Holiday celebrations change as we do over time.

I propose a new kind of Labor Day celebration. Whatever your “Labor” is – do the opposite. Are you slaving your days away in an office away from your family? Stay home. Turn off your computer and phone and just be with them. Are you a stay-at-home parent, never getting a minute away to breathe? Get the grandparents over or hire a babysitter and go do something utterly selfish that feeds your soul.

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

And then, make time to think like those early activists and plan how to make your laboring life more humane, more healthy, more supportive of a whole YOU. Write it down, then plan how you will make it happen – like a better version of New Year’s resolutions. Because you’ll keep this one, right?

Labor Day: Because you’re worth it

Happy Labor Day 2.0 people!

DSC_4458BWDr. Annie is a family physician, mom of 2 with 1 on the way, married to a busy doctor and dedicated to fending for her own non-laboring self-care time.

Kristy, Au Naturale: Massage is not a Luxury

Show of hands on who is stressed about something right now? Literally, anything. Laundry, money, marriage, kids, work, blah blah blah blah.

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Close your eyes and feel your body. Feel where it is tense. Is it your shoulders? Your jaw? Your glutes? Is your brow furrowed or your posture slouched?

Now stop reading. Feel it. Take this time.

Now actively release those muscles and become aware that whenever we think about the simplest thing that causes us stress, our bodies produce this physiological response called tension. It is only the most practiced of us (aka, the Buddha) that can be fully aware of these muscular stresses, and actively manage them without the help or guidance of others.

This is exactly why I do not believe that we can call Massage Therapy a “luxury” any longer. We, as the human collective, are just too seemingly stressed out about our lives and the state of the world to recognize how it is affecting our bodes.

What we end up following, is a cycle of tension, and pain, then anxiety and decreased ability to cope with the pain.

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This has a dire effect on us as a whole being. The way our body responds to stress is three fold. It is physiological, emotional, and psychosocial. Most of us turn to medicine to manage the symptoms. Which has its benefits as well, but what if it were more simple than that?

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The Body is Smart

There are over 50 physiological responses to stress. Overwhelmingly and alarmingly, these responses effect our body systems’ ability to function properly. Below are descriptions of different bodily systems as they respond to stressors placed in our lives.

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The Answer is Antique

The power of touch and “healing” touch has been around for 5000 YEARS. Five freaking thousand years people have been using Massage Therapy and healing therapies to ease the symptoms of stress and illness, be it mental, emotional, or physiological. I say, if it ain’t broke……

Massage Therapy is the perfect antidote to most of the stressful situations in which we find ourselves on our daily grind. With frequent (at least once a month, if not every 6 weeks) Massage Therapy, one can benefit GREATLY.  Pictured below are just some of those benefits outlined.

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But what about our psychological health? It is no surprise that stress creates emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, family tension, short temperament, coping problems, and increase use of improper coping mechanisms. Massage therapy can help by increasing self worth, decreasing blood pressure (aka anxiety), boosting energy levels (aka helping with depression) improving sleep (hello resting awesome sleep face) and increasing ones awareness of their bodily tensions. This latter benefit is important so that we can understand our body’s response to stress, and address is as it presents itself before it becomes a reason to create a problem.

The fact is, no matter what you believe, that we are primitively designed to live in the moment. Most of the animal kingdom, when not hunting, do not spend their time worrying about taxes, relationships, promotions, etc.

They spend their leisurely time sleeping, cuddling, BEING.

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I’ve got $5 that she’s not thinking about TPS reports

Massage Therapy is THIS. Not a luxury, but a primitive and necessary reminder that our bodies, brains, and souls need a time out. We need to allow ourselves an hour (or more) every once in a while to tune out from the world and unplug, and tune INTO ourselves.

As mothers, so often when we experience touch in our lives, someone wants something from us. The new baby needs to nurse. The toddler needs comfort. Our spouse needs…. another kind of comfort. Having someone touch you in a healing way is not a regular occurrence for most moms. For other women, whether you’re single or an empty-nester without the kids hanging off of you, touch might be nearly absent. That hour of nourishing touch is even more important in these stages of life.

So, whether you’ve never had a professional massage or it’s just been too long, now is the time to sit down with your budget and find $50-150 per month for this. We are talking about one Target run for a lot of us here. Only, instead of a few bags of (admittedly cute) stuff you were convinced you need, you now have invested in healing every aspect of your life.

You can’t pour from an empty bucket, people. Replenish your needs so you are better able to share yourself with those who matter to you.

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_n Kristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia.