Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RestAndRenew #CollectiveBias
It's no secret that children are adept at exhausting their parents. It sometimes feels like my husband and I spend every waking moment either at work or chasing our squealing toddler. There isn't much downtime for either of us, and it's been a long time since we've had the luxury of sleeping late or even through the night without interruption. Still, as most parents would tell you, we wouldn't trade our life with C for all the feather beds and R.E.M. on Earth. While the last two years have easily been the most tiring of our lives, they have also been the most rewarding
Still, there are days when I wonder if I might just fall asleep standing up. On those extra sleepy days my son is almost guaranteed to be overflowing with energy. Perhaps it's the universe's way of keeping the family's qì in balance - or maybe it's fate's idea of a cruel joke. Cosmic justifications aside, an over-tired parent and an abundantly engergetic child can be a recipe for trouble. Those are the days when I need to take some extra steps to help muster enough pep to get through the day.
Over the past two years I've developed a few tricks for re-energizing my mind and body. These healthy practices can be a boon on any day, but I find them to be especially useful on the days where I'm feeling a little sleepy.
Morning Walk - What better way to put a positive spin on an early wake-up than going for a morning walk? Exercising at the day's start can help boost energy levels all day long. This is a great example of making the most of a crumby situation - like having your kid jump on your head at 4:00am. If you're up anyway, you may as well do something to help yourself feel better about it. (Chocolate chip pancakes don't hurt either.)
Sneak in a Shower - I am going to go out on a limb and assume that I'm not the only parent who counts a shower as a luxury. Depending on your childcare situation and schedule, an unscheduled shower can be a tricky thing to pull off. But if you can manage it, a healthy spray of water can be just the thing to wake you up. If a real shower isn't in the cards, try just splashing your face with water or even dousing your head in the sink.
Power Nap - An even less likely option than showering for some parents, but again, if you can make it happen, bravo! A short nap, even as brief as 15-20 minutes can do wonders for your overall feeling of wellness. Try and sneak in a snooze while your little one naps, or grab a quick sleep break when your partner or sitter arrives.
Power Snacks - Try snacking on foods packed with energy-boosting vitamins and minerals, like B12, magnesium and potassium. Some great examples of healthy power snacks are almonds, dark chocolate, berries, peanut butter and bananas. Fresh fruit and power greens always make me feel a little better too.
Eat Lunch Outside - A little boost of Vitamin D can help to improve your mood, while the burst of sunlight and fresh air will help remind your body that it is, indeed, awake! If you have your kiddo in tow, this doubles as a way to get some of their excess energy out. Let them play hard while you soak up some rays.
Hydrate - Drinking plenty of fluids is key to good health in general, but is specifically useful for feeling awake and energetic. Being even mildly dehydrated can leave you feeling fatigued, so chug those liquids all day long. Adding a squirt of lemon to your water can add electrolyte benefit too!
Early to Bed, Early to Rise - Strangely enough, I often have a hard time falling asleep on the days I am most tired. This can be really frustrating, and can prolong the torture of exhaustion. I've learned to be pro-active when it comes to recovering from sleepless nights by heading straight to bed after putting my son to sleep. An added bonus to getting to bed early is being able to wake up before my son the next morning. Having some precious alone time when I first wake up is a real treat, and helps make me feel more together all day long.
Dance Party - Nothing gets your blood flowing like good old fashioned exercise. When you feel like you're really hitting a wall try turning up the music and dancing like you've got your own music video. Your kid will love it, and you'll definitely be more awake after a song or two.
In addition to energy-boosting strategies like these, finding a nutritional supplement that works well for you can be a big help. I took Maca Powder for the first time last year while I was trying to conceive. I had learned about the supplement while researching fertility diets, and found that this natural root vegetable, cultivated in the Andes mountains of Peru, has been traditionally used for both food and nutritional purposes. Traditional used for Maca Powder include promoting energy, balancing hormones, aiding sexual function, and the relief of PMS and menopause symptoms.*
I was asked to try out youtheory® Maca Powder previous to writing this post. Having tried several brands of Maca Powder over the past year I could immediately tell that youtheory® Maca Powder was superior in quality to the varieties that I had tried in the past. I found the aroma and flavor of this Maca Powder to be quite mild and easy to blend with everyday foods like smoothies or yogurt. It works especially well in anything with a nutty or spicy flavor. My personal favorite way to enjoy youtheory® Maca Powder is to stir it into pumpkin flavored yogurt.
So what makes youtheory® Maca Powder a great supplement for tired parents? Maca is regarded as a “superfood" and is an "adaptogenic botanical”, meaning that it helps the body adapt to stress and supports normal functions throughout the body. It's considered safe for long-term use, and it can benefit both men and women by helping to encourage healthy hormone levels.*
Nothing messes with my mood and energy level like having my hormones swing out of whack, so I pretty much LOVE Maca Powder. Since this supplement is also used to support reproductive health*, I'm crossing my fingers that making Maca Powder a part of my daily routine will help my body get in better shape for baby-making. We're currently trying to conceive without the use of prescription drugs or treatments. (Mostly because we can't afford that path financially, but also due to the fact that my toddler is still not ready to wean. Ugh.) Cross your fingers for us!
And while you are doing something nice for me, do yourself a favor and think about how you're going to give yourself a little extra energy every day. Will you pledge to take power naps, make morning walks your new healthy habit, or maybe try adding a supplement like youtheory® Maca Powder to your meal plan? Let me know what you're planning to try (and how it works out for you) in the comments below!
Want to learn more about the benefits of youtheory® products and see how others are using them? Check out RestandRenew.com for more info. You can also follow youtheory® on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Look for youtheory® Maca Powder and other Maca Powder products on Costco.com, and FYI - you don't need to be a Costco member in order to shop on their website!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association
It sometimes surprises people to find out that I didn't really learn to cook until my mid-twenties. When I was 25, I could boil spaghetti, but that was pretty much it - despite having worked in restaurants since I was sixteen.
It wasn't until Scott Bobleo (my then boyfriend and now husband) ran into a health problem that I opened a cookbook in earnest and started really learning about food.
I shared this story in detail on The American Heart Association's blog. Visit the AHA blog to find out how breaking up with salt ended up changing the course of my entire life.
Recently I was invited to try out the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker, and I must say, it couldn't have come at a better time. I've been under a lot of stress lately and I've noticed it taking a toll on my overall health and sense of wellness. I find myself fighting low feelings more and more often, and my body - well, that just hurts.
I'm stiff, sore, and far more plump than I'd like to be. It's becoming clear to me that something has got to change.
While there isn't much that I can do to eliminate the issues that are causing me stress, I am not completely helpless. I have control over something with the potential to be life-changing - my mind! I may not be able to stop life from being stressful, but I can choose how to respond to and cope with that stress.
By being more mindful of my moods, breathing, and activity level, I can face every day armed with tools to lead a happier, healthier existence.
So where does this little gadget fit in? The Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker is a small wireless device that tracks my heartbeat, breath, and movement. That data is sent to a companion app on my smartphone that keeps a record of my physical and emotional state during each day.
The tracker even alerts me when I become tense or have been sedentary for long periods of time. In this way, Spire makes mindfulness more attainable by alerting me in-the-moment. It even suggests breathing exercises and meditations to lead to a more mindful behavior change - either helping me reach a calmer and more focused state or even becoming more active.
Over the past week of using my Spire Tracker I have already become far more aware of both my mental state and my level of physical activity. I've even discovered anxiety triggers in unexpected places. Writing grocery lists, for example, really gets me going! I had no idea how much that simple task stressed me out, and it's something I often end up doing several times a week.
Thanks to my Spire, I've been re-thinking my approach to grocery shopping and meal planning. If what we are doing now causes me this much anxiety than clearly we need to simplify our routine. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.
Using my Spire has also been a huge wake-up call for my physical fitness. I think I just assumed chasing a toddler day in and day out made up for dedicated exercise time. I was shocked to see that even on my busiest days my daily step count fell well under the recommended amount. No wonder it has been hard for me to lose weight. I'm just not moving enough.
Curious about the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker? Click here to learn more.
Eight Tips for Creating a More Mindful Home
Spire asked me to share some of my own tips for making mindfulness a bigger part of everyday life. For me, life revolves around my home and family. I try my best to incorporate the practice of mindfulness into our daily routine simply by making an effort to be emotionally present. I look for moments of love and wonder between the spilled milk and temper tantrums.
I try to remind myself that no matter how hard life can be sometimes, this is exactly where I want to be. These are the best days of my life. I don't want to miss them.
Beyond embracing an overall philosophy of mindfulness, there are a lot of small changes you can make in your home to make it more conducive to being present. The following tips are shared from my own experience trying to become a more mindful mama.
As always, I encourage you to take what resonates with you from this list, and leave the rest. You do you. No one can do it better.
Impose Tech-Free Zones
I try not to make a habit of staring at my phone or zoning out in front of my tablet. Still, I find that my husband and I have a tendency to waste our precious time alone together scanning social media or news headlines.
One way to combat our weakness for technology is to designate certain areas of the home or times of day as tech-free. That means that anything with a screen, whether it’s a phone, tv, or computer, must not be used. For us, that’s every meal time and the last few hours before our son goes to bed.
I’ve considered making the living room a permanent no-phone zone, but the idea hasn’t gone over too well with my husband. Yeah, that’s one big catch. You’ll need to find a plan that your entire family feels comfortable with and fully supports. Otherwise, it may feel more like a punishment than an opportunity for mindful togetherness.
Tip: Another way to approach this issue is to implement the opposite rule, giving family members free reign to binge on screen-time during designated times of day.
Make Your Bed
This is a truly simple practice that has afforded me an abundance of peace of mind. Before starting your morning routine, try and take a few moments to make your bed. Pull the sheets tight, tuck them in with care, and fluff up your pillows. This tiny act of tidying can help the day ahead feel less overwhelming.
Take it a bit further by flopping down on that freshly made bed and just breathing for a little while. Even if you only have a minute (literally) to spare, spending it in quiet reflection can help you feel relaxed and refreshed. If you can, try repeating this mini-mediation after getting home from work, or right before you put the kids to bed. It works all day!
Tip: Try creating a tidy space for mini-meditation at the office, in your car, or anywhere you can catch a minute to yourself.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into the habit of throwing things away. Almost everything we use on a daily basis is available in a disposable form. Not only is the careless consumption of materials wasteful and troublesome for the environment, it also discourages mindfulness. We use things up and then throw them away without a moment of consideration for where it came from or where it is going.
Instead, try taking the time to think about the things you use everyday and how you might make more or better use from them. Practices such as recycling, up-cycling, and composting are all wonderful ways to stay mindful of our role in the world and to feel connected to the eco-system as a whole.
Making an effort to sustain natural resources can help us remember that we are part of a global community!
Tip: Investing in sturdy, re-usable objects like food containers, dryer balls, and water bottles can impact your home’s footprint drastically!
Detox Work Spaces
Clutter can be extremely distracting, especially when you are trying to focus on a job. This is not only true for the home office, but also in the kitchen, laundry room, garage, or anywhere else that you are required to focus on a task. De-cluttering those spaces can make anything from doing laundry to working on homework far more pleasant.
Start by thinking about what job the space is meant for. Take a hard look at the area and eliminate anything that doesn’t help you get that job done. This allows you to be present for the task at hand. So while you are doing the dishes, you can JUST do the dishes. You may even find it to be a pleasant escape from outside stress.
Tip: Try hanging art with inspirational images or positive messages in work spaces.
Create Shared Spaces
We’ve all got important things to do, but by creating spaces in your home that include everyone’s needs, you can at least do these important things together. Take some time to make sure your family or living room has space for everyone in your family. That means plenty of seating, toys and books for little ones, and work surfaces for doing homework, folding laundry, or sharing snacks.
Once you’ve got everyone together, don’t forget to enjoy it. Maybe strike up a conversation with your spouse or offer to let your little one “help” with whatever you are working on. Or, simply sit back and observe your loved ones just doing what they do.
Use a Tidy Timer
Establishing a reasonable clean-up routine is a great way to set boundaries on the stress of a messy home. Pick a time of day when everyone is home and available. (After dinner or before breakfast works for a lot of people.) Decide on a reasonable amount of time to dedicate to cleaning up. 30 to 45 minutes is a good time frame, but even just one 15 minute group cleanup can make a big difference.
Turn on a timer, then get to work. If the whole family cleans as a team you should be able to tackle at least the most important jobs in no time, and you can prioritize better if you know you have a time limit to work with. When the timer goes off, stop cleaning. Just stop. Let it go, and free your mind to focus on something more important, like spending some quality time with your loved ones. The key is to only think about cleaning up only when you are cleaning up.
Tip: Try adding a longer weekend or day-off cleanup time to tackle bigger jobs, like cleaning the windows or mopping the floors.
Whether it's a house plant or a backyard garden, caring for things growing and green can help lift your spirits and give you a sense of connection with the earth. Sharing this connection with the people you love makes it even better.
In a way, gardening can also be a form of meditation. Taking the time to pause and observe the plants that you tend can also help ground you in the present. If you approach the daily task of maintaining your plants with this intention, the benefits of the habit are easily increased.
Tip: For super low-maintenance plants, look for succulents, cacti, and air plants.
Make It Good
This little phrase comes from my chef in culinary school. He asked us to always keep the thought in mind, no matter what kind of food we were cooking or what kind of setting we worked in. He tried to teach us that taking pride in the task at hand, no matter how simple that task may be, would lead to a sense of joy and satisfaction.
I've found this to be true in so much more than cooking. Whether you are whipping up a pan of scrambled eggs or reading your child his favorite bedtime story for the umpteenth time, choosing to make an effort in that moment to do what you are doing well can make it much more enjoyable. And, it keeps you anchored in the moment rather than counting the moments until the chore is over.
Tip: You don't have to be a perfectionist to take pride in everyday tasks. Try to find the fun in honing your skills and don't let the imperfection get you down!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
When the spider bites. When the bee stings. When you're feeling bad.
The practice of using poultices to draw out toxins and cleanse wounds is age-old. This is pretty much medieval medicine we're talking about here.
While great advances have been made since people started slopping mud onto insect stings, there is still some virtue to be found in the original idea.
Bentonite Clay, most well known under the Aztec Clay brand, is extremely effective at pulling out nasties from deep under the skin. This makes it a great first-aid treatment for bug bites, bee stings, or spider bites.
You can mix this with plain water to make the most simple of treatments, but I like brewing a cup of chamomile tea instead. The soothing anti-inflamatory properties of the tea can help take the edge off any itchiness and discomfort you may be dealing with.
The addition of honey is totally optional as well. Manuka honey is the best choice. It is a bit pricey, but the only variety of honey that has been documented to have real medicinal and antibacterial properties. (You can geek out about that over here.) All honey, however, is known to have humectant properties. That means that it can help draw moisture and keep things well hydrated. That's a helpful quality to have in a poultice too. Also keep in mind that honey may not be safe for kids under one year old.
Reality Check: Just in case this doesn't go without saying, this is a home remedy - on par with gargling salt water to treat a sore throat. It's lovely and all, but no replacement for modern medicine. If you have a serious injury, an allergic reaction, or a gnarly festering wound, get thee to a doctor! Post. Haste.
Honey & Chamomile Clay Poultice
Makes about 1/2 cup
- Whisk together clay, tea, and honey.
- Refrigerate any unused portion in an airtight container for up to one week.
How to Use
- Apply a liberal dollop of the clay poultice to a piece of gauze.
- Using medical tape, adhere the gauze to the skin, covering the sting or bite with the poultice.
- Let the poultice set for 2-3 hours before removing. Cleanse the skin and dress the wound accordingly.
- Repeat 2-3 times per day as needed.
What are your favorite methods for treating bug bites and other minor injuries. Share your tips, recipes, and links in the comments below. I'll share my favorites on Twitter and Facebook.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Mother Dirt.
I used bacteria-based products to care for my skin and here's what happened.
So by now we have all heard how important probiotics can be to our overall health. We usually think of these kinds of "good bacteria" when it comes to our guts. Including fermented foods like saurkraut, kefir, or kombucha is an easy way to introduce helpful flora into our body.
But do you ever think about promoting helpful bacteria for other parts of your body? Your skin also relies on these kinds of flora to stay healthy. If you've ever suffered from a bout of candida than you know just how unhappy your skin can get when this balance is disrupted.
Like pretty much every other aspect of our lives, the natural biome that your skin maintains can be thrown out of whack by many of the modern conveniences we love so well. Commercially produced cleansers, lotions, and shampoos often include ingredients that can disrupt the skin's natural balance and biome, making it hard for your body to care for itself naturally.
Enter bacteria-based skin care. What a concept! Mother Dirt has formulated a very simple product line (just one head-to-toe cleanser, a shampoo, and a mist) that revolves around promoting the skin's natural biome. The method here is to cleanse your skin and hair using simple products that won't disrupt the natural bacteria on your skin and scalp, and then supplementing that bacteria with a twice-daily mist.
In addition to helping nurture a healthy skin biome, Mother Dirt products are intended to help users reduce their dependence on other supplemental products such as toners, moisturizers, and serums. The company argues that too many natural resources are wasted in the production and use of unnecessary beauty products.
I couldn't agree more on the virtues of simplifying one's personal care routine. After a quick glance at the ingredient list I was happy to try out Mother Dirt's product line. When my samples arrived I got started right away.
I was curious to see if the claims and experiences I read about in the company's brochure would hold true for my skin as well. The testimonials on Mother Dirt's web site report improvements in softness, texture, pore size - you name it.
How It Works
Mother Dirt pairs two simple cleansers, a head-to-toe foaming wash and a shampoo, with a face and body mist fortified with skin-loving bacteria.
Mother Dirt Cleanser is used to wash your face and body. It contains no bacteria, but is formulated to cleanse gently without disrupting the skin's natural biome.
Mother Dirt Shampoo is used to wash hair. Like the cleanser, this is a gentle cleanser that helps support your scalp's biome and natural balance.
Mother Dirt AO+ Mist is used after cleansing. This is the product that contains helpful bacteria. Spritz twice daily on your face, scalp, and all over the body. It's particularly helpful in battling bacteria in the sweatier regions of the body. (Think armpits!)
What I've Noticed
I've been using the cleanser once a day, the shampoo twice a week, and the mist twice a day for the past week. While my skin didn't transform overnight, I have noticed an improvement in overall wellness.
I have noticed some shrinkage in my pores, which is pretty encouraging since this is an area where I've been struggling with my skin for some time. I'm planning to give myself a charcoal masque this weekend to see if I can help the process along further.
Summer also has a tendency to send my skin's oil production into overload. Since I started the Mother Dirt products this has mellowed out quite a bit. My skin doesn't feel overly dry either, but I do wonder whether or not the spray will be enough when the weather cools off and starts drying me out. Will I need to add a moisturizer to the routine? We'll have to wait and see. For now, the balance feels just right.
This might be a little TMI, but obviously Texas summers are incredibly hot and sweaty. The brochure for Mother Dirt suggested spritzing sweaty spots of the body with the AO+ Mist to help manage bacteria that can cause body odor.
Since my favorite deodorants use essential oils and carrier oils to battle stinky bacteria, I was very curious to see whether or not these products would work, and they did! I noticed a difference right away.
After my first shower with the cleanser and body spray with the AO+ Mist I noticed a difference in my (ahem) personal funk factor.
What's Not to Like?
The only real gap I see in the 3-piece product line is the lack of exfoliation. After about a week of using the Mother Dirt products I can tell that I'll still need to use a scrub or exfoliating mask to occasionally lift dead skin.
This may not be the case for everyone, but personally, I need a good scrub now and then! I can also foresee the need for periodic moisturizing with my usual favorites, raw shea butter or rose hip seed oil.
Overall, I'm going to give bacteria-based skin care a big thumbs up. I look forward to continuing with these products to see how my skin reacts to a long term routine.
Ready to Try it for Yourself?
You can learn more about bacteria-based skin care and shop for Mother Dirt products at MotherDirt.com.
If you've already tried Mother Dirt, I'd love to hear about your experiences with bacteria-based skin care. Share your story in the comments below!
Hubby and I were both endowed with very thick heads of hair. For the most part, I'd say that my dense tresses are a blessing. After working in the natural beauty industry for over a decade I have met enough people on the opposite end of the spectrum to know that having too much hair is a much easier problem to solve than having too little. So I'm grateful, and I know my husband is grateful, for all of this crazy hair we have between us.
But there are times when having thick hair is kind of a pain. Keeping a healthy and happy scalp beneath a head of long, dense hair can be challenging - especially for people like my husband who have over-productive scalps. He has a touch of psoriasis too - which complicates things even further. The battle against dandruff is constant. The danger of build-up and damaged hair is around every corner, and itchy, dry scalp conditions are constantly a problem.
A natural beauty author's husband with serious scalp problems? No, sir. It just won't do. My mission to help soothe his head is not only a labor of love but also a matter of pride. I can't have my loved ones walking around all flaky. What will people think?
So, I invented this recipe to help both of us get our irritated scalps back to their happy place. I started off with a big chunk of manuka honey, a unique variety of raw honey that is believed to contain antibacterial properties. Honey is also a natural moisturizer so it's perfect for soothing cranky scalps.
I blended that marvelous manna with half a banana, a squirt of apple cider vinegar, and a splash of moisturizing apricot oil. These ingredients are meant to soothe, balance, and moisturize. If you're scalp is troubled try giving this recipe a try for a few nights and see if it makes any difference. We both loved it and I hope you will too!
Manuka Honey Scalp Masque
Makes about 1/4 cup (enough for one use)
This sweet and sticky scalp masque calls for manuka honey - an exotic variety of honey that is prized in the health food community. If you don't have manuka honey available, just use any variety of honey you have on hand. Apricot oil is a favorite of mine for hair care - but jojoba, avocado oil, or sweet almond oil would also do very well in this recipe.
- Mash the banana as finely as possible - or use a food processor to blend it into a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the manuka honey and apple cider vinegar.
- Add the banana and whisk until smooth. If necessary, you can push the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or food mill to smooth its texture.
- Slowly pour the apricot oil into the mixture while whisking vigorously.
- Use right away or refrigerate for up to five days.
- Part dry hair into small sections using clips or hair-safe bands to keep them secured.
- Apply the mixture directly to the scalp - in between the parted sections.
- Remove the clips or bands and use your fingers to massage the masque onto your scalp.
- Cover your head with a scarf or cap (keep in mind that the masque may stain fabrics) and allow the masque to set for up to twenty minutes.
- Rinse with warm water and follow with hair wash and rinse as needed.
Disclosure: This post includes a sponsored mention of Prevention Magazine's R3 Summit. My opinions are my own.
When I was invited to this year's R3 Summit by Prevention Magazine I wondered what my big takeaway would be for 2016. Last year I attended with Baby C strapped to my chest. He made a great companion for the day, but his need for a nap meant not staying the whole day. I thought that surely this year would be different. With C left safely at home with an Auntie I would sit in on every session, partake in each wellness workshop and even get in a workout or two. I was really excited for Mama's day out!
The universe had other plans and managed to hit my poor boy with a nasty cold at just the wrong time. Instead of spending that Saturday at the Summit I stayed home and cared for my sick little boy. Trading yoga and celebrity interviews for boogers and nebulizers stung a little - but I know that I made the right choice. Besides, I hadn't missed the entire Summit. I did sneak out the night before for the opening reception and Bob Roth's talk on meditation.
Bob Roth, also known simply as Meditation Bob, has been teaching people from all walks of life about meditation for decades. His particular specialty is called Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based meditation touted by both celebrities and Roth's non-profit, The David Lynch Foundation, for lowering dangerous cortisol levels, reducing stress, and helping to heal a laundry list of psychological issues from addiction to PTSD. The David Lynch Foundation provides TM training to inner-city students, veterans, and other communities who can benefit from their help.
Roth's talk left me inspired to make meditation a priority in my own life. While I do have a habit of meditating that habit is pretty undisciplined. I tend to meditate when the mood strikes me. Experts, like Bob Roth, recommend twice daily meditation, so moving forward I am going to make that my goal.
Now how does a busy working mama make time for meditation? For me, the key is choosing practices that work with my erratic lifestyle. That means that the techniques must be brief, targeted, and very simple. Here are a few ideas to get us all started.
Mindful Mama: This is the meditation that saw me threw countless sleepless nights during my son's first year. It is a great coping practice for those times when you are feeling totally tapped out and pushed to your limit. Start out by taking a few deep breaths and deciding to quiet the swirling thoughts and persistent desires (like your need for sleep!) going on in your mind. Shift your focus to observation mode. Take a moment to simply observe your body and the space that surrounds you. Feel the air on your skin, the weight of the child in your arms. Focus on the breath rising and falling from your chest and from theirs. Feel the hot baby breath on your neck or the soft rug under your toes. Listen to the quiet (or the buzzing chaos) of the world around you. Try to exist in that moment, aware only of the present. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
One Track Mind: This meditation works well for those sacred moments when you are actually alone. This may not happen often (or at all) for some mamas, but if you have a ten-minute window during the day of peace and quiet this is a simple way to make the most out of that precious solitude. Pick a single song to use as both the focus and the timer of your meditation. There aren't really any rules for which song to choose, but I like using instrumental music that feels calm and soothing.
1-2-3: I like to practice this visualization-style meditation right before going to sleep. It helps quiet my mind after a busy day - not always an easy task! Start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. When you are ready to begin, inhale as you visualize the number one and repeat the word "one" over and over until you finish your breath and exhale. Repeat this with the number two and so on up until the number ten, then back down to number one again.
Mama Mantra: When I was getting ready to have my first baby the midwives in our practice advised creating a mantra to help get through labor. I didn't come up with my mantra until about four hours into active labor, but when it came to me it was just right. During the night I labored I repeated the mantra "Just one minute" through each contraction. Later, after my son was born and I found myself losing my cool during the long sleepless nights I brought the mantra back. Only this time I repeated "just one year". To use the mantra I would close my eyes, breath deeply, then repeat the phrase as I also visualized the words in my head. I would repeat this for several minutes or until my feelings of frustration, anger, or despair subsided.
Do you have your own daily meditation? I'd love to hear about more methods for including meditation in your daily routine.
It might seem a little late in the year for goal-setting, but you know what? I've never been a slave to tradition so I'm not letting that get in my way. Besides, January is for resolutions and what I'm doing here is setting some achievable goals for myself on the anniversary of having given birth to my first baby. The last year has been a doozy, but I think twelve months is long enough to give myself a pass on getting fit. Now it's time to get back on the right track.
1. Eat a Salad Every Day
Not just a side-salad, mind you. I'm challenging myself to replace one full meal (lunch or dinner) with a salad every day of the week. I'm hoping this will be a simple way to reduce my intake of carbs while adding more veggies and greens to my diet. I'm going to do my best to track my progress on Instagram. You can follow #saladaday to see a bazillion other folks on the same mission.
2. Cut Out Added Sugar
I have been SO BAD about sugar lately. Every time I turn around I seem to be nibbling on a cookie or stress-gulping a milkshake. When I was pregnant with C I lost weight more effectively than ever before and the biggest change to my diet was completely cutting out added sugar. I tried to keep my sugar consumption down to 30g or less a day - and allowed myself one serving of fruit or berries every day to satisfy my sweet tooth.
3. Exercise Every Day
This is another thing that I was excellent about during my pregnancy but horrible about ever since. By the end of my pregnancy I was swimming twice a week and going for long walks every day. It felt wonderful, and I've actually missed the activity a lot. It's been really hard to find the time or motivation to get outside or to the pool, but I'm determined to change this as well. We're going to start going on trips with Hike It Baby and taking advantage of our family membership to the YMCA. The only problem now is my hair. I still haven't figured out a natural solution for getting chlorine out of my hair! I'm thinking about investing in a cute retro swim cap.
Do you have any health or fitness goals to meet this year?