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.
Last post we looked at the 8 main reasons moms feel they can't achieve a healthier lifestyle, the top 3 being TIME, COST and ENERGY. And I think they are all very valid reasons. Hell, most apply to my own situation. I believe that the first step to tackling many of these issues (not all, buy many) is getting control of our HABITS. Day in and day out we go through the motions and often get derailed in one way or another by a flat tire, a sick kid or a misplaced set of keys and so on. But still, there is a basic frame work, a routine, that we follow consciously or unconsciously, that guides our actions. It can lead a person to feel out of control or like they lack the motivation or will power necessary to succeed in creating new routines and new patterns. But that, my sweet friends, is not true.
I will grant you, that with enough sleep deprivation, stress, and anxiety our will power is significantly reduced so much so that we eat that day old donut that we don't really like or would not eat under regular circumstances. But even that impulse can be overcome with a better understanding of why we make the decisions we make (what are our triggers) and how to create new, lasting habits that take the place of older, less healthy ones.
According to Charles Duhigg, who wrote the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, a habit is made up of 3 simple elements: a cue (or trigger or signal that leads you to initiate a routine), routine and reward (the gratifying experience that reinforces the routine).
For example. Every day you drop your kid off at school and then proceed to walk home past Starbucks, you order that Venti Chai Latte and when that first sip hits your lips all is right with the world. Your cue is: you take your kid to school. Your routine: You walk home, stop by Starbucks and buy your 5 dollar chai latte and your reward: is that delectable first spicy sweet invigorating sip of sugar and caffeine. From then on its a habit, and you don't feel like you can drop your kid off at school and pass Starbucks without buying and drinking that Chai Latte. But here's where the magic comes in. In order to write a new habit you keep the Cue, Keep the Reward, but change the routine. You drop your kid off at school but instead of walking home past Starbucks, you decide to jog home or walk a different route, when you get home you reward yourself with an amazing cup of coffee or a big cold class of water sweetened with cucumber and lemon. The glass of water reminds you of a spa and since you're kid free you also get to relish in your freedom for the next 3 hours. The jog alone will energize you as much as any chai latte could. While the cup of coffee or water doesn't seem as good as that first sip of Chai, I promise you, after 30 days of trying this new routine, you will definitely be looking forward to that first sip of spa water. Or take the jog and THEN reward yourself with the Chai latte, at least you burned off those 300 calories (we'll work on not wanting the two snickers bars worth of sugar in the chai latte later).
Habits don't ever go away, they lay dormant in a very deep part of our brain and will reemerge if given the opportunity. So, there is a chance that if you start walking past that Starbucks and go in to order a drink you'll end up getting that Chai again. But you are in control of that decision and you can choose not to go by that S'bux, not until, of course you're a little less sleep deprived.
We need to remember that our environment is one of the biggest cues/riggers, we can encounter. It is relentless, omnipresent, constant. But the more aware we become of these triggers, the better equipped we can be to change our routines and habits. If you know that simply going into a McDonalds is going to make it impossible not to eat french fries. If you know that going to a PTA meeting will cause you to stress eat the whole tray of free donut holes. Then you can take the steps necessary to change or avoid those triggers.
Simply trying to resist an urge can make it worse, which is where mindfulness comes in (and its not as crunchy or fluffy as it sounds). Mindfulness is basically acknowledging your feelings in the moment. In the case of habits, trying to quell an urge can only make the problem worse. Instead, notice your feelings when you encounter those french fries or donuts and work to nudge them back in line with deep breathing or other relaxation exercises.
Know yourself...Another powerful tool to breaking bad habits and endorsing new, good ones, is finding a community of people that can help you. We know that in order for habits in order to permanently change we must believe change is possible and belief is easier when it occurs with in a community.
According to Charles Duhigg, when people join groups that make change seem possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real. “It seems more real when we see it in other people’s eyes”. So I want to introduce you to a Facebook group I’ve created to help all of us succeed at getting healthy or just living happy, less stressful lives: The M.O.M Healthy Living Group. Join for tips, tricks, support, recipes and more.
Last but not least is patience. Understand that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a habit to establish its roots. But don't let this dissuade you! It can take as little as 2 WEEKS for a new behavior to feel like a part of your routine. So keep on keeping on and focus on the positive (shaming or criticizing yourself will only work against you). Willpower and habit are, in part, dependent on feelings of confidence and positivity. Just because you break one egg doesn't mean you should throw out the whole carton...if you slip up, just accept the moment and move on to the next one. Report it to your tribe and watch the positive empowerment come rolling in.
Why is it so damn hard to eat healthy? I decided to ask other Mamas the same question. I got hundreds of responses and remarkably, many of them had the same 8 reasons!
Here’s a chart of my results:
Time!! Followed by cost and energy are the 3 most popular reasons most Mommas have found it hard to live a healthy lifestyle. I can empathize with all 3! How can we possibly find time to meal, plan, go to the gym, grocery shop and so on with little needy monkeys hanging from our limbs? It can seem like an impossible feat! There are answers and there are ways of making a healthy lifestyle a little bit easier to attain. I’ll address each of these very important roadblocks and some actionable solutions in future posts. BUT don't you think it is remarkable that, even in todays' society, we don’t have actual solutions to many of these problems!! How can that be? How can a society, that is in constant conflict about health care, take the preventative measures necessary to keep its citizens healthy? Benjamin Franklin said that, “An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure”…Charlie Munger re-wrote the quote to say, “An Ounce of Prevention is worth a TON of Cure”. The smartest people in the world agree that prevention is the best medicine. So what are we doing about it? How do we make healthy living more desirable, attainable and available to everyone (even those without access to this website)? I look forward to exploring this and many other do-able, real life solutions with you in posts to come.
Finally, I want to put it to you, dear readers: What do you find is the biggest challenge in leading a healthier life? Do you agree with the chart above or are their other challenges that need addressing? One Client told me that her biggest challenge was Cheese…for another it was, and I quote, “This Ben and Jerry's in my hand”. I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or shoot me an anonymous email.