We all need actionable steps...we like being told exactly how to do something and to be kept on track. Unless you can afford a personal trainer, a life coach or your very own cheerleading squad, staying motivated and sticking-to-it is tough. Life happens, things get stressful, fried food is delicious. Again, that's why your WHY is so important. Your WHY is your first line of defense against those dissuasive gremlins. So, in an effort to provide you with as much of a framework as possible here's your list of HOW to proceed now that you know your WHAT and WHY:
1. Plaster your WHY everywhere. Do you remember when you were younger and you would create collages of all the things you loved in life? Littler you was wise beyond her years. You were creating, for all tense and purposes, a VISION BOARD. Vision boards are an incredibly effective way of creating a tangible representation of you WHY. When you write down your goals you are 42% more likely to achieve them. With a vision board you are not only writing down your goals but you are also providing yourself with a daily visual reminder of your dreams. It helps you really focus and hone in, even more, on your why. Don't just Pinterest it. Its the act of writing and glueing that can really make this exercise so effective. Then, take a picture with your handy new technology. Look as needed!!
2. Take small, easy, actionable steps. There are some things you just have to quit cold turkey. Sugar and refined carbs are one of them. It has been scientifically proven that if we cut them out cold turkey we can break our addiction within two weeks or less, otherwise we will remain addicted and crave them consistently. But most things aren't all or nothing. When we deprive ourselves of something our brain automatically wants it more! If you try to give up all sugar, all alcohol, all the good stuff all at once, you're likely to give up. Who me? Give up? NEVER! Sometimes it takes a few foibles to realize that we are imperfect...that we need to make choices that fit our stress-filled, often sleep deprived lives.
3. It helps if you get support from those around you. Get your family on board. Tell them your goals. If you need guidance, consistent motivation, and help staying on track find a clean-eating challenge or an online group that shares your goals and cheers you on. My 30-Day Challenge comes with support, recipes, tips, motivation and an online group of other people doing the same challenge. For more info go here, or get in touch and I'll walk you through it.
4. Don't let small fumbles derail you. Just because you break one egg doesn't mean you throw away the whole carton. You aren't failing nor a failure because you slip back into an old habit. Habits are incredibly hard to break and they are always there, in the back of our brains. Haunting us. The path to your goal is not linear. Sometimes there's bumps along the road...sometimes there's really good cake. View these lapses as learning experiences. Okay, so you know you can't control yourself around fried food. So don't put yourself in that position! Make your husband hold the bag of french fries. I promise you he'll really enjoy NOT letting you eat any.
5. Remind yourself of your WHY again and again. Or do a little research. For me, learning about why certain foods should be avoided helps me along the straight and narrow. Want to avoid that McDonald's drive through? Watch a video on how some of the menu items are made...Yuck. Don't know why you're forcing your tired butt to the gym? Take the stairs to your 4th floor apartment and remind yourself that those stairs would be a lot easier if you worked out from time to time. Your why plus knowledge is power.
Everyone looks forward to New Years Day. Its as if everything starts over. New day, new month, new year. The ultimate fresh start! I remember loving the new school year. I'd get lots of new school supplies -- it was another chance at getting it right. Now, in my 30s, I have new goals, but the need for a fresh start sometimes, is the same. Its a chance to start new routines, create new habits. I'm well aware that there is nothing different from December 31st to January 1st. I could start my workout routine on a Thursday. But something about the beginnings of weeks and months and years make me feel like I'm allowed to create a new momentum. I cannot, and will not start a new workout schedule in the middle of the week. Monday is my day. If I fail to launch on Monday, well, the week is lost. Its a terrible mindset. Like, when you're on a diet and slip up: "Well, I ruined it so I might as well eat like crap the rest of the day". Someone once told me, "just because you break one egg doesn't mean you're going to throw out the entire carton". Wise words, but incredibly hard to live by when it comes to diet and exercise.
So back to New Years and resolutions. We decide that January ONE we're going to eat healthier and get fit. We're swearing off sugar and hiking that hill. But what if, on this day, the holiest of holy fresh starts, we get derailed? Then what? Is the whole year caput? Are we failures for not keeping our New Years resolutions? The answer is a big FAT NOOOOO! First of all, we need to stop thinking of our eating and exercise habits as "good" or "bad", "right" or "wrong". It all comes down to one idea: HEALTHY. And we don't need any fresh starts, we just need the right frame of mind. It really comes down to your WHY.
Your WHY is what gets you out of bed in the morning. Your why is what motivates you to eat, work, sleep, parent, work hard, work less, change your habits and kick ass. The problem is, most people don't stop to think about their WHY. They think about what they want, they stress about how to get it but they don't stop and think WHY do I want it? To make a real change, your WHY has be really powerful and meaningful. You can't just think, "because it would be nice" or "because someone told me it would be good idea". Your WHY has to come from the deep part of your chest that yearns for something and hurts without it. And you need to remind yourself of your WHY every damn day. This WHY is what will help you motivate, help you change and will give you the gusto to really succeed the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time around.
So, why do you want to be healthy? Why do you want to exercise? What is your why? I want to be healthy so I can be there for my children, through thick and thin. I want to see them graduate high school, college, get married, have babies. I want to see them thrive! I also want to set a good example for them because I want the best life for them! I want to do all these things and I want to feel good! I know what being sick feels like and I know what feeling healthy feels like. I never want to be sick again. HEALTH is EVERYTHING. So, I'm going to start again. And this time I'm going to plaster my why all over my home, and remind myself, over and over again so that this fresh start sticks!!
What is your why? What would you do for it?
I am often looking for the most holistic, yet effective remedies to stave off the many germs my kids bring home. I've studies herbalism and I'm consistently impressed with how effective simple herbs can be at treating all kinds of ills. Elderberry syrup has hit main stream consciousness and everyone and their mamas are using it to fight off and reduce the duration of viruses. I have found that Fire Cider, though less well known, is an incredibly potent elixir that can help fight those nasty bugs. Fire Cider is a popular herbal folk remedy. The tasty combination of vinegar infused with herbs is an especially pleasant yet spicy and easy way to boost natural health processes, stimulate digestion, and get you nice and warmed up on cold days. Here's a great recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs. And if you don't want to put in the effort you can buy it pre-made HERE.
HOMEMADE FIRE CIDER RECIPE:
Herbal Ingredient Variations
These organic herbs and spices would make a wonderful addition to your Fire Cider creations. You can find them all and more in our shop!
Thyme, Horseradish Root Powder, Rosehips, Star Anise, Schisandra Berries, Astragalus, Parsley , Burdock, Oregano, Peppercorns, Beet Root Powder, Habanero Powder, Bird's Eye Chili Powder, Whole Chili Peppers, Orange, Grapefruit, Lime peels/or juice.
Some might say this is just another "buzzy" concept. Real food...if its on my plate, I can eat it then its "REAL". I'm sorry to say, this isn't buzz or some new method of selling. Most of the food on a lot grocery store shelves is either "fortified", "enriched", or simply made from chemicals I can't pronounce. These quotation mark foods are not real, they're made in a lab to last longer on shelves. I'm just as guilty as everyone else of buying these foods, and believe me, I will do anything to get my kids to eat. That said, having the knowledge and knowing what the better options are will take you one step closer to making healthier choices and, hopefully, leading by example by eating them yourself. So what are "REAL" Foods, exactly?
REAL foods ARE GROWN, not manufactured. Real foods have not been processed or modified and they do not contain unnecessary additives or preservatives. Think fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meat and fish. Eating real foods helps reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer. Since they are whole, natural foods, real foods contain more vitamins, minerals and nutrients than packaged and processed foods and also make you feel full longer. A little tip: these foods tend to be on the outer "rim" of the grocery store. So if you avoid most aisles and stick to the edge you'll probably less tempted to buy the nasty stuff.
Here are 4 other tips for buying REAL foods:
1. Buy Local: Buying local produce means the fruits or veggies have longer to ripen before they’re picked. This means more nutrients for you!
2. Avoid the “Dirty Dozen”: This is the list put together by the Environmental Working Group that highlights the produce that has the highest pesticide residues and higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce items. You can find the list HERE.
3. Eat in Season: Not only can you save money eating foods that are in season, but seasonally fresh produce is picked when ripe and fully developed. This means the plant has also had more sun exposure and will have higher levels of antioxidants. See what produce is in season HERE.
4. Wash Your Produce: If you are unable to purchase organic produce, make sure to wash it well in order to remove harmful pesticides from the surfaces of the food. Here is a great fruit and veggie wash recipe:
Once you notice the positive benefits, this choice will quickly become a habit! Start by making just a few small changes. Choose fresh, raw, whole foods and get into the habit of keeping them readily available so you can snack on them at a moment’s notice.
"But buying organic, fresh foods is REALLY EXPENSIVE! I can't afford it, nor do I have time to shop for it!" There are great ways to overcome both the cost and time road block associated with buying REAL foods. Here are a few:
1. WIC: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. If you think you qualify then definitely apply! Local Farmers Markets take WIC! For more information go HERE.
2. Imperfect Produce: Healthy, delicious fruits and veggies for about 30% less than grocery stores, delivered to your door. This tackles both the problems of TIME and COST. Not only is the produce cheaper but you simply order it online! Its a pretty awesome system for getting fresh, in-season fruits and veggies. For more info or to sign up go HERE.
3. Farm to School Programs: With this program you can pick up your box of fresh produce after you drop off your kids at school AND your school gets 5%! This is a great chance to do some good for your school and your family! For more info go HERE.
I have always had a fickle relationship with exercise. At least in my adult life. Weighing the cost benefit, time commitment and more I've been a member and tried dozens of gyms and types of exercise from Pilates to HIIT. Here are my impressions of everything I've tried (in and around Southern California) and either succeeded or failed terribly at (I've put dollar signs next to names to denote cost):
24-Hour Fitness www.24hourfitness.com/- $
This is great lower cost option. I have visited several 24 hour fitnesses across the US and they really try to create a great experience. The pros are cost (make sure you try to negotiate fees!), accessibility (there are a lot of locations so they are close to wherever you are) and diversity of options. They offer classes, have equipment set up to allow for circuit training and some locations have showers and locker rooms. The cons (I've encountered): Not always super clean, the 24-Hour Fitness express locations tend to fill up and you can end up waiting for a machine. The classes are not always consistent and I didn't really enjoy the two I took. The biggest con was that it was super challenging to cancel my membership.
Equinox - $$$
Stepping into an equinox is like walking into a spa. A really expensive spa where everyone is intimidatingly beautiful. They have refrigerators with frozen washcloths dabbed with eucalyptus essential oils and hand sanitizers everywhere. Its clean, it smells good, it has great classes, and a lovely locker room. I'd pay just to shower there. They even have childcare (that costs $12/hr). The draw backs? Money and insecurities. If you are insecure around people that are much better looking than you or can't afford to spend at least $300 in sign-fees and $200/month in membership (plus any additional fees) then this is not the place for you.
Orange Theory - $-$$
I just joined OT and so far I love it! I signed up for their unlimited package which is about $170 a month or ~$11/class if you go 5 days a week. I also got their heart monitor for free when I signed up. OT is a circuit/HIIT training gym. Each class is an hour long and an enthusiastic coach takes you through all the different circuits which includes cardio (treadmill, rowing machine, elliptical and/or bike and weights. Every member monitors their heart rate throughout class and the goal is to stay in the fat burning and push zone for at least 12 minutes to get the most benefit. I love the classes because I'm never board and I'm constantly competing with myself. I burn about 500 calories per class (and for a chick that's 5 feet tall that's saying a lot!). This type of gym isn't for someone that needs to go any minute of the day. Each class starts on the hour so you have to show up on time. It also may be inappropriate for a person that isn't up for a high intensity workout.
Fit4Mom - Stroller Strides - $-$$
I was a member of stroller strides after both my babies were born. I absolutely loved it. The instructors were compassionate and really mindful of my postpartum body. They entertained the babies while I would take a quick jog or did my planks. This is a great class option for a Mom/Dad that's looking to make new friends, doesn't mind bringing their little one along while they work out and loves exercising outside! The only drawbacks for me were when the classes had to cancel due to outdoor conditions or when my LO wouldn't put up with being in the stroller. Otherwise it was a great option for me and helped me get my stride back after baby.
Misc. classes I've loved but not native to a gym:
Pilates - $$$
It doesn't seem to matter where you take it, pilates is expensive. But that's because its so damn good! When I was doing pilates twice a week (with my Mom) I was in the best shape of my life. Its low intensity but you get taller, leaner and stronger. This is great for men and women alike. Especially those looking to strengthen their core or get stronger after an illness or injury. If you do do pilates, I recommend reformer pilates (on that weird contraption which looks more intimidating then it is). And i recommend doing at least one session privately at first. You'll get more comfortable with everything and learn the key components of the practice.
Zumba - $-$$$
If you want to have fun, dance, and burn calories Zumba is a really great option. Never boring, Zumba is a dance aerobics class with a latin flair. If you are uncoordinated that's okay. No one cares how you look because they're too busy having fun themselves! There are a lot of inexpensive Zumba options out there, you just have to look for them. I've found some at the YMCA.
Nia - $-$$
Nia is a lesser known type of workout. Its a fusion between yoga, martial arts and dance. Its a very easy, welcoming environment and open to all levels of fitness. You'll get more in tune with your inner-self and will probably just feel, well, happy after taking a Nia class.
Some of us don't have the option of childcare or can afford the gym. Luckily there are hundreds of great at-home workout options! I live in an apartment with very little space that is already often taken up by toys and I can still do many of these:
Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred - $
This is a DVD or also available on Amazon Prime Streaming. The 30 day shred is a really effective workout and you will definitely work up a sweat and feel the burn. There are 3-levels so you don't have to worry if you're just getting back into the exercise game. Each class is 30 minutes, so if you're working out during nap time or when baby is actually entertained by a mobile, you can get it done. The one drawback for me is that after a week I got really bored of the same workout every day.
Beach Body - $$-$$$
All beach body workouts are great calorie burning, stamina building workouts. They tend to range in price from a little costly to super expensive. Some are easier then others. You can check out the whole line. They also have an online subscription service where you can do any online workout you want for a monthly fee. This is not a great workout if you live in an apartment above the first floor. A lot of jumping around and running in place does not a happy neighbor make.
SworkIt - $
This is an app on your phone. Its fantastic. You can design the length, type and level of workout you want and the app will show you how to do all the moves and take you through each workout. I really liked using this app. I didn't feel like I got enough of a cardio workout in my apartment but I did feel the burn the next day. This is a fab, low cost, home workout option. I could even do it with my kids around. Though, they have a proclivity for climbing on me while I'm trying to do planks and push-ups.
Oh sleep, you elusive bastard. You come to call when I want you the least and are completely unattainable when I really need you, which of course makes me want you more!
Sleep is such a necessary part of our overall health, yet, it seems harder and harder to get enough! Don't let other factors that may actually be in your control Here are some proven behaviors that might be able to help you skip the sheep counting and drift peacefully into dreamland (until, at least, your toddler wakes you up at 3 in the morning).
I totally feel you. There are still some non-drug related steps you can take to help you sleep:
When I was a teenager my parents called me "Mini-Martha"...well that was at least until she was indicted and went to prison. Then it became "Jessie of all Trades". It was a well appointed nick-name. That and "Mischief" (which I can now lovingly pass onto my 5 year old daughter). I have always had interests all over the board. I'm constantly curious about this and that. While some may consider this an attention deficit, I consider it a deep desire to learn as much as I can, and it has, often, served me well. As a result, I'm good in a room, I'm terribly empathic (more on this later), I can hold a conversation with almost (emphasis on almost) anyone and I can often make myself invaluable.
That all goes to s*h*i*t (I spell out all curse words these days but I'm f*u*c*k*e*d when my kids learn to spell), however, when I'm with my kids, who generally consider me a bringer of food, purveyor of toys and veritable sherpa. I mostly jest, I'm sure my many skill-sets have improved their lives. I have read probably every parenting book in existence, I am great MC. "This evening, little lady and gentle-boy, I give you, play dough and a water table"...and I have badass chalk drawing skills. My husband hates chalk, btw, so there will be no chalkboards on this blog or anywhere near this website for that matter.
At least in my professional life I have honed in on 3-4 categories of interest.
2) Birth Doula
3) Certified Health Coach
4) Graphic Designer
The arts, birth and healthy living. A trifecta not for the faint of heart nor flighty. Many doulas and artists are all heart but have very little interest of savvy in the business side of their work. I've been blessed that I can brand myself, market myself yet still maintain a balanced heart to brain ratio. But I digress. I look forward to sharing all my many exploits, their successes (and most definitely failures) with you, and how I incorporate them into my life as Mom and Wife. The juggle is real...and I will absolutely be dropping many many balls. Enjoy!
TEA TIME! HERBAL TEA CAN HELP YOUR RELAX, MEDITATE, BOOST YOUR DIGESTION AND HELP YOU ELIMINATE TOXINS
In an effort to improve my family's health I spent a year studying herbalism. Herbarlism has been around long before Western medicine. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world. We tend to forget that herbs, in their purest form are just as good as, if not better than many modern medications. Brewing tea is called an infusion (when brewed overnight, a decoction). It is the most basic way to remove the nutrients and benefits from herbs and barks. There are more herbs than can possible be addressed here but there are some basic herbs that you can probably find in your own home that are considered nervines, adaptogens and bitters. In other words they can help you relax, digest, promote sleep and ease cold and flu symptoms. Here is a list of some of those herbs and how to prepare them. Please speak to your doctor or health care professional before using any type of herb medicinally. Much of my information is from the Herbal Academy.
1. Star Anise
This spice, when infused can ease digestive discomfort. It can reduce bloating, gas, nausea among others. It can also help relieve cold symptoms.
Often found in chai lattes, cloves (as an oil) can be used to relieve tooth ache and as a tea, relieve respiratory and sinus discomfort. It can also stimulate digestion and sooth nausea.
Cardamom is an expectorate (meaning it helps bring up mucous) so it can help with respiratory infections and coughs. It can soothe digestion, bloating and cramping.
4. Cinnamon [Bark]
Cinnamon is a staple found in almost every kitchen. Probably because it is such a powerful spice. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. It can also help digestion. Its amazing in chai or simply sprinkled on top of whatever warm beverage you happen to be drinking. Steep a few sticks with some of the other herbs listed above and you'll have a delicious tea!
Fennel is a miracle herb for digestion. It can also help treat colic in infants, though I wouldn't give an infant anything other than breast milk or formula, unless specifically directed to by a physician. It is also an expectorate and anti-inflammatory. It is also considered a galactagogue, a fancy word for something that increases breast milk production.
Ahhh...I'm more relaxed just thinking about it. Lavender is a nervine, meaning it can calm and soothe your nervous system. It can help promote sleep and can offset some stress hormones. It can also be an anti-inflammatory and supports digestion by relaxing the gut muscles. I love lavender and Clary Sage essential oils mixed in a diffuser to help promote sleep.
Ginger has long been recommended for stomach upset. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Steeping a few thin slices of ginger and some lemon can be a simple yet powerful drink to ease nausea during pregnancy.
Oregano has powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. It an help reduce inflammation and can greatly benefit immune and skin health. I will often put a couple of drops of oregano oil in some water and drink it to help fight off infection. Your breath will smell like pizza but your body will thank you.
My favorite resource for most herbs and spices is Mountain Rose Herbs. If you are interested in learning more about herbalism check out The Herbal Academy. They have a lot of simple courses designed for everyday life and a wonderful Herbarium.
Kids get sick. Its inevitable. And if you're anything like me, every time it happens life stops. Which means, for the first year of preschool, life gets put on hold once every 3 weeks with a 2-3 day break in between. The germs are relentless and the green goobies are nasty. And what is it about little people and their proclivity for sneezing directly in their parents' faces? Those germs can take the biggest manly-man (I should say strongest super mom out, but alas, we're not allowed to be out), out for weeks. There are only so many measures you can take to keep your family heathy. But I will take anything I can get when it comes to my family's health...so here are my recommendations for boosting our immune systems (I am not a doctor or medical professional so please check with them first):
L’il Critters Immune C plus Zinc and Echinacea
Garden of Life Organic Kids Probiotics
Child Life First Defense (this if I think they’re getting sick):
Sambucas for Kids Elderberry Syrup
Healthy Diet - this is the most important thing for kids and adults...heal your gut first!
Sleep - this is the hardest part of parenting...sleep is elusive but the more you can get the better.
Sambucas Elderberry Syrup
Probiotic Supplement - Arbonne's Digestion Plus is the best I've tried
Antioxidant and Immunity Booster
Make my husband take this
I use these all the time…they help and they help clear the air of bacteria and viruses and they make my house smell good:
If you want to apply any of the oils topically dilute them 30 drops of oil to 1 drop of essential oils. You don’t have to dilute the oils if you put them in a diffuser. Just 4-10 drops of any oil or a mix of oils for 15 minutes twice a day. You can pick up a diffuser at any pharmacy, whole foods, BB&B or online.
Lavender: For headaches, sleep, allergies
Peppermint: Nausea, motion sickness, tummy aches, fever, headache and other aches and pains
Lemon Oil: For coughs, fevers, immune support and ph balancing
Focus Blend: For mindfulness, colds, flues, immune support
Harmony Blend: To chill everyone out.
Tea Tree: To Prevent Lice, and immune support
Healthy living is a vague concept. What does it mean to live a healthy life? We all know that we need to eat well, get sleep, exercise and so on...but why? Why do we need to eat those things? Why do we need sleep? Why do we need to exercise? I'm going to break down some of the basic concepts of clean and healthy living based on the concepts of L.E.A.N., Dr. Sears 'basic and easy to follow guidelines for a healthier life. Sometimes just understanding why we need to make certain lifestyle choices can help us to achieve our goals.
The government's own guidelines for nutrition have certainly improved over the years but they still don't make it easy. They focus on quantity, not quality. And really, if your diet consists of enough quality foods you won't have to worry about quantity! Our bodies are amazing machines. We make most of the nutrients we need ourselves. Did you know that our liver makes most of our body's cholesterol! That thing we've been told to constantly avoid is made naturally by our body without any contribution from food! But there are some things our body can't make and those are the things we have to absolutely get from food. For example, our body needs 20 amino acids to repair and grow and we make 11 of them! But we need to get 9 from our diet...that's why they're called "essential" Amino Acids...we have to get them in order to fulfill our body's needs. But I digress...let's start from the beginning. There is a lot to consider when it comes to our body and how healthy we want to be but let's start with the basics:
Everyday our body needs 3 macronutrients (a big word for types of food):
1) Carbohydrates (Starches, Fiber and Sugars)
2) Protein (a part of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies)
3) Fats (our brain is 60% fat)
Let's look at each individually:
Ugh, the dreaded carbs...so many fad diets have us reducing or flat our eliminating carbs from our diet. But this doesn't make any sense! Carbs are not bad in general! When they are over eaten or the wrong types of carbs are eaten, that's when we run into trouble. But 50% of our diet should consist of complex carbohydrates. They give us sustained energy, help with digestion and make our body feel good! An easy way to remember what carbs to eat is that a good carb has "friends" - fat, protein and/or fiber. What does this mean for you and your kids? If your breakfast of choice is cereal make sure it follows the 3-3-6 rule: 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and less then 6 grams of sugar per serving. It also means you should be filling your plates with as many vegetables and fruits as you want (with the exception of avocado, mango and bananas which are great for you but should be eaten with a little moderation). The more fiber in your diet the better you poop, the slower you digest sugars which means less blood sugar spikes and you burn more calories a day (up to 250!). When you eat a ketogenic diet you're missing out on all these good benefits of carbohydrates.
Proteins are integral to growing and repairing tissues in our bodies. Since our children are constantly growing (I spend way too much money on kids' shoes that they wear for two seconds) they need twice as much protein per pound of body weight than adults! Adults need about 1/2 gram per pound of body weight and kids need 1 gram per pound of body weight. One of the reasons we need to eat protein is that our body needs 9 essenntial amino acids our body can't make ourselves. You need to get all 9 of these amino acids or our body will use the only thing it can find, our own muscle tissue.
An ever controversial and misunderstood macronutrient our bodies NEED fat. You might be saying, I need fat as much as a fish needs water but its true. Our body needs 25 fatty acids to live. Our bodies make all but 2 essential fatty acids: Omega 3s and Omega 6s. We have to get these two fatty acids through our diet. And while the standard American diet is full of Omega 6 fatty acids it severely lacks in Omega 3s. So what can we do about it? The best thing? Eat more fish!! While we can get reasonably good Omega 3s from Avocados, Walnuts, Flax and more, the best we can get is from fish that gives us the best kind of Omega 3 fats: DHA and EPA which help build our brains. Vegan Omega 3s are are harder for our body to process and only give our bodies 3-5% of the DHAs and EPAs we need. If you can't stomach eating fish, don't like to cook it or can't get it into your kids there are some excellent supplements on the market. My kids love the Nordic Naturals Gummies.
There are lots of bad fats out there but the big No-No fat is Trans Fats are artificial fats found in lots of processed foods like cake and french fries. These are fine once in a while but don't make them an everyday habit.
The "E" word. For many of us we already have limited time, energy and money. So, how the hell are we going to get out and do something we don't really like doing? First of all, let's not call it exercise. Let's call it having fun. When you used to go dancing did you have fun? For those of you who like shopping, isn't it awesome?! Those are both fantastic forms of exercise (believe it or not). Do you love seeing your kids (or nieces and nephews, grandkids, students, etc.) laugh and smile when you chase them outside or push them on a swing? Kids know how to inherently have fun and when we have fun with them we are also teaching them to enjoy...you guessed it, exercise. Physical benefits aside (mood lifting, calorie burning, cholesterol lowering, constipation reducing and more), the gift we're giving to our children, when we get outside and move is life altering. It is so important that we move our bodies everyday. And while we can't all get out and run 5 miles at dawn (nor really want to) or afford the $400/month gym membership that has childcare, we do little things to help our bodies and teach our kids good habits. Some examples: Take the stairs (if you're not carting a mega stroller or two squirmy toddlers). Walk 3 blocks instead of driving. Turn off the tv and take your kids outside to play in the park or make a snowman and do it with them!
Oh you elusive beast...I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in...well, since before I was pregnant with my Kindergartner. But that's a BIG problem for my health as well as many parents before and after me. Sleep helps our bodies, heal, grow and reduces cortisol levels. Sleep deficits lead to crankiness, stress, less will power and a lowered immune system. How are we ever going to lose weight if we can't resist that donut? How can we ever feel healthy if our immune system is constantly trying to battle every single germ that comes our way (and there are a lot in preschool). When are babies are new there's really very little alternative to waking up every 3-4 hours to feed them and when a child is sick, sleep is scarce. But there are small steps you can take to getting a little more zzz's. First, make it a priority. I know how much we want to catch up on everything after the kids go to bed, but we need to choose sleep over surfing Facebook or binge-watching Sabrina on Netflix. We need to ask for help and take it when it's offered. Is your mother in law offering to cook dinner and/or clean? Who cares if it comes with judgement. Take her up on it and take a nap! Your husband says he's going to take the kids to the park. Leave the dishes and go lie down. Sometimes we have to prioritize the thing that is good for us over the thing that we want to do. Now stop reading my website and get some damn sleep! (Or you can keep reading...whatever you want).
This is a whammy of a topic and one I will address in greater detail in a different post. But suffice it to say, the stress we put on our bodies and we endure emotionally is very important to regulate and be mindful of. Stress can have a major impact on our moods, our willpower, our sleep, our diets, our parenting, everything. This generation is more "stressed" than any generation before us. Our body's parasympathetic nervous system (stress hormone regulator) is constantly at a low hum when it used to be reserved for situations that involved giant predators trying to eat us. Stress can cause inflammation that can ultimately lead to disease and anxiety that can lead to years of therapy (I should know). Take the time to learn about stress (which I will touch on later) and the steps you can take to control it.