Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fear & Stagnation via The Croods

I took my kids to see The Croods at the movies yesterday (yes, this is a post about a children's movie!). I have seen it before, but as always, we only get the lessons when we are in a place to receive them. I was quite impacted by the message of the movie...or at least my interpretation of it.

To quickly sum it up, the movie is about a family of cavemen/women. All their lives the Dad has kept them in a cave because that's where it's safe, and his job is to keep them alive. When night fell, he ushered them in, closed the door off with a giant rock and made them huddle together during sleep. They weren't allowed to wander or explore and the word "curious"  was about the worst curse word they could imagine. All the children knew was this cave. So one day the daughter becomes curious about the world outside and follows a spark that has come from a fire, leading her to a boy. She is fascinated by the fire and believes it to be the sun, since she has no concept of fire.

The boy warns the girl of the ending of her part of the world, and suggests she leave to find her way to the mountain, where she will be safe. When this information is relayed to her Dad, all hell breaks loose. He won't have it. The cave has kept them alive this long, it's the only place they can exist. Eventually destruction forces them out of their home, and they have no choice but to travel to this mountain. The movie depicts the Dad, with anxiety at every turn and resistance with every step, both leading to an inability to see beyond the past - and his save little cave that he continues holding on to.
Meanwhile, the others slowly but surely come to accept this new adventure. They embrace the change and are fascinated by the world outside the shell they had been living in. They enjoy the new sights and wonder at possibility. They ride this season of change and quickly realize the life they were living wasn't living at all.

Wow. Can you see the parallels between the movie and real life?

When we resist change and keep ourselves tightly bound in our safe little haven, we miss out. On opportunities. On connections. On experiences. On possibility. On life. Fear keeps us safely secured in the world we have created for ourselves and it's so much more comfortable there isn't it?

When we can embrace change, and become willing to ride the outskirts of our comfort zone, this little bubble of security can expand, allowing in more joy and freedom. Not without fear of course, but fear is okay. Fear is that knowing that a shift in comfort is about to occur, which is a GOOD thing. Fear serves us well, it keeps us safe, but it can also work against us and allow us to falsely believe that security is what life is about.
Freedom, possibility, laughter, love, adventure, opportunity....expansion. That's where growth can be found. And that is what life is about.

Fear this - finding yourself in a dark alley late at night as you catch a glimpse of a hooded man in the back corner. This fear will prepare your body to fight or run. It will alert your senses to make a decision for your survival and safety

Don't fear this - creating a community event to share your wealth of knowledge with others. Standing on stage and looking among the crowd of people all eyeing you up, awaiting your words. Feeling like you want to crawl into a deep hole and stay there awhile. This type of fear is based on illusion. A deep seated belief that you are not good enough, conjured up by the insecurities of others. This fear will keep you safe in your home, never allowing you to fully experience the opportunities and joys life has to offer. OR you can finish your talk, impacting the lives of those who attended, filling you with a sense of purpose and expanding your safety bubble enough to create yet another event to impact even more people.

See the difference? Robin Sharma is one of my favourite people. He continually promotes living with fear every single day, "If you're not scared a lot, you're not doing very much." What can you go out and do today that sparks fear but will open up your world a little more? Now go do that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Guided Visualization for Children

About a year ago I decided I wanted to instill mindfulness in my children. I scoured the internet for resources and meditations I could read to them and came up mostly empty handed. I started just creating my own based on their interests, and it was a big hit. We love to do this practice at bedtime, after jammies are on and teeth are brushed. I tuck them in, and cue them to relax their body with simple phrases they can understand such as "allow your body to really sink into your bed," "feel heavy but safe in your bed", "let your arms and legs fall where they're comfortable." Then I read or create a simple meditation, anywhere from 1-3 minutes at this stage (my kids are 4 and 6. My 18 month old has yet to experience this type of mindfulness).
I wanted to create a sample guided meditation for you to use on your own children. Keep in mind, it's unlikely they remain still or even quiet for the duration of the meditation, and that's ok. Think about the first time you sat in stillness (or if you haven't yet - try it. Try sitting for 5 minutes while working on silencing your thoughts. It's HARD!). The natural instinct when we are outside our comfort zone is to move. And giggle. And distract ourselves. Kids are no different. But with practice, it gets easier for them to remain still and just BE. Unfortunately kids (and adults!) these days have no idea how to just sit with themselves and are continually looking for distractions in the form of movement or noise to cope with that discomfort. It's all about practice. And stillness for children is vital - for managing behaviour and impulse, for developing confidence, improving attention and focus, promoting empathy and compassion (for others and self!), reducing stress...just to name a few of the multitude of health benefits vital for well being.

The Let Go Balloon
Lie back with your eyes closed. Let your body sink into the ground (bed, etc). Let your legs rest as they are, allowing the feet to roll where they want. Place your hands on your belly and take a few deep breaths. Every time you take a breath in (demonstrate for them), feel your belly get bigger as it fills with fresh clean air.

Imagine you are blowing up a balloon with your breath. This balloon can be any colour you'd like. Maybe it's red. Or yellow. Maybe it's blue or green. Maybe it has polka dots on it, or stripes. Or animals or words. It can be small like a mouse, or huge like an elephant or medium sized like a melon. It is your balloon, create it however you would like.
Now, exhale through your nose (pause to demonstrate), slowly letting all the air out of this balloon. Feel your belly lower down, becoming smaller as all the air escapes.

Breathe in again through your nose, feeling your belly expand and once again seeing your balloon in front of you. Maybe it has changed and looks different. Maybe the size has changed. Or the shape. Or the colours. Maybe it's the same balloon you blew up before.

Take some deep slow breaths in and out as you continue looking at your balloon. Play with it a bit - it is your balloon, you can change the colours and shape of it all you want. Try painting it into a rainbow perhaps, or add some details to it. You can hold it or gently tap it to keep it up in the air, or just watch it dance around through the sky.

With your balloon in front of you, think of something that has been bothering you. Maybe someone said something not so nice to you. Or maybe you did something that wasn't nice to someone else and you feel badly about it. Whatever is weighing heavy on your heart, think of that. Take that thought and gently breathe it up into your balloon. If any air escapes while you're doing this, take a nice big inhale through your nose and fill up your balloon with some more air.

See your balloon holding your thoughts that have been making you sad or angry or confused.

Now let go of your balloon. It's ok to let go. You can always come back to this space to make another balloon anytime you want to. See your beautiful balloon carrying your sadness up into the bright blue sky. It drifts above the tree branches, floating above the buildings. It gets carried with the wind up toward the fluffy white clouds. It floats, floats, floats so high you can no longer see it. It is gone. Say goodbye to your balloon along with the thoughts and feelings that aren't making you happy. They are no longer yours to carry. You feel lighter and more joyful already.

I always end the meditation by slowly getting them out of it. You might say something like "now take another deep inhale through your nose and let out a loud sigh as you exhale. Start to wiggle your fingers and your toes and open your eyes if you'd like."

Then you can have a debrief if you think they're willing to share with you, or depending on their age, you can provide them a journal to record how they felt before, during and after the meditation, or just leave them with the experience, which is quite powerful in itself. Have fun <3

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

8 Kitchen Tools to Free up your Time

(Part II of Meal Simplicity Blog Series)

Let's be honest for a second. I hate dinner time. I hate the anxiety that comes with trying to prep a meal with my littlest pushing me so I'll pick him up, my middle child bugging me for a snack and my oldest yelling at me for something I've done wrong in the past 6 years that gets conjured up when her low blood sugar combines with fatigue after a long school day. I hate dinner preparation. For some I could see it being a peaceful time, chopping vegetables while humming a sweet melody. This is not the case for the Moms I know. Or at least, not for me. Post-school is seriously witching hour. It sucks most days. So....dinner for me needs to be quick. I don't have time or patience to spend 45 minutes creating a meal that (let's be honest again) will really only be eaten and appreciated by me. So here's the conundrum. Spending as little time as possible in the kitchen while creating something healthy that has a high chance of being consumed by the little people. Priorities. I encounter this lots with my clients, and part of my solution is to invest in some time saving kitchen tools that serve to save time or effort. Ready? Let's dig in

1. Crockpot

There's a reason this is first on the list. Using a crockpot even once a week will change your life! Just throw a bunch of stuff in it, turn it on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours and voila! Nothing easier than that. I like to throw in a few chicken breasts and cover with my favourite BBQ sauce, simplest meal ever. No excuses. Or get creative. The other day I put in 1 cup of lentils, 1 cup of quinoa and 3 large chopped sweet potatoes, added some organic vegetable broth and some spices and called it a day. You don't need to get fancy and whatever you end up with can be used for a main dish, a side dish, taco filling, wrap filling, salad topper, stir fry addition, omelet filling...get creative! And the good news is that if it ends up tasting terrible, just throw in some more spices and you're good to go. Just like painting, you just can't go wrong! If you need some more ideas, feel free to visit my crockpot Pinterest board here

2. High Speed Blender

It all started about 5 years ago with an infomercial and my love affair had begun. The word Vitamix would send shivers down my spine and eventually my very attentive and loving husband surprised me with one. It's kind of embarassing how excited I was actually. Anyway...I use her it every day, at least once a day. Throw in whatever you'd like and make a smoothie packed with goodness. Add in spinach, hemp seed, chia seed, spirulina, flax oil, matcha, blackstrap molasses...the options are absolutely endless. Nut butters, fruits, cacao powder, avocado....isn't this fun? I actually created a smoothie e-book full of information, including about 15 recipes in it for my newsletter subscribers. If you are interested just head to the home page of this site and fill out the information on the right hand side of the page.
Alternatively, I throw a bunch of ingredients into the jug to make muffins. No pulling out a large mixer, and only 1 dish to clean. Soups are a great option too as most high speed blenders produce enough heat to create hot soups without needing to dirty another dish

3. Juicer

My daily juice is created in our Breville juicer and I am very fond of this appliance. It's as simple as it sounds - throw in whatever fruits or veggies you have on hand (or follow recipes if you like to be safe) and ta-da, fresh juice! Juicing has many health benefits - balance out blood ph levels, they're high in antioxidants which can quickly enter the blood, and depending on what you put into it, can improve digestive system functioning, ease nausea and reduce inflammation. Cheers to that!

4. Citrus Press

Okay this isn't one of the necessary tools (especially if you have a juicer) but it's fun. If I don't feel like taking apart and washing the many pieces of my juicer (ie - if I'm feeling lazy), I slice an orange or grapefruit in half and put it into the press. This leaves me only 3 parts to quickly clean up. I don't buy juice from the store as it's full of extra sugar and preservatives to keep it fresh on the shelf. Fresh squeezed tastes so much better and contains so many more nutrients. Kids love to help, and they learn to appreciated the taste of fresh juice rather than store bought

5. Rice Cooker

I was actually quite hesitant to purchase a rice cooker for the longest time. I figured "how difficult is it to cook some rice?" But let me tell you, it really does make a difference! You can throw in a cup or two of rice with some water or stock and start it up. Or even better, set a delay so it will start cooking later in the day. Once the rice is finished cooking it will stay warm. No more spilling over the edge of the pot. No more burning edges. No more monitoring the stove. I have yet to attempt other grains in it but that will be a future endeavor for sure

6. Food Chopper

I used to wince at those silly informercials promoting food choppers but after receiving one as a gift from my husband one year, I fell quickly in love. Because seriously - what takes the longest when making healthy food? Chopping up so many darn vegetables, that's what. While you can't chop a ton at once, it's still quicker than hand chopping everything. I especially love this for onions, which always seem to fall apart when I cut them up. I would suggest even taking an hour to chop up whatever vegetables you have and throw the mix into a container. You can use this to top a salad with, create a stir fry with or add to your omelet. So many ways to ensure you're getting your veggies in!

7. Garlic Press

My Mother in Law gave me a garlic press many years ago and it's a go-to staple. I've actually never chopped a garlic clove in my life but I envision it being terrible. All you do is place a clove inside the opening and push. The garlic squeezes out the other side and the clean up is simple. And perhaps this will inspire you to eat more garlic. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and boasts many benefits to your cardiovascular system, such as managing blood pressure. Eat up!

8. Dehydrator

This is another luxury item that's completely unnecessary but fun. We use it to make apple chips (just sliced apples) or banana chips (just sliced bananas) or by blending some fruit in your high speed blender and pouring it into the trays to make fruit leather. Kale chips are awesome too and while all these things can be made in an oven, the dehydrator cooks foods more evenly so you don't end up with burnt edges and gooey middles.

I hope you find that helpful. One of my goals as a Holistic Nutritionist is to help families eat healthier with as little effort as possible. I would love your feedback - which appliance(s) do you rely on to keep you and your family healthy?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Simple Meal Planning (part 1 of Meal Simplicity Blog Series)

One of the most common questions I get from my clients is "how can I make meal time easier?" When we are in a rush and hungry (or have kids crying, screaming, tugging at our leg), we reach for the easiest and quickest thing we can find. Which...let's be honest, is not usually the most nutritious choice. Sometimes we sacrifice health for sanity. But do we need to? No!!! Welcome to Part 1 of my Meal Simplicity blog series: Simple Meal Planning where I have included some easy to follow tips to claim your sanity back when it comes to meals

1. Create a weekly theme

This is the basic starting point I use with my clients. The simplest of the simple. I'm a visual person so here's what I mean:

Sundays: Take out or miscellaneous
Mondays: Taco night
Tuesdays: Soup & Wraps
Wednesdays: Pasta
Thursdays: DIY Pizza
Fridays: Casserole
Saturdays: Crock pot meal

This way you have a basic template for the week. Feel free to create your own themes based on your family's preferences. There are so many variations within each category and easy to make healthy. For example:

Taco Night:
You can use sprouted grain wraps or shells and lay out a bunch of ingredients for your family to choose from: chicken, peppers, cucumbers, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole

Soups & Wraps
Soup options are totally endless. It's easy to make a huge batch of homemade soup in a crockpot using whatever leftovers you have and adding spices and stock. Use sprouted grain wraps and again lay out ingredients for your kids to choose from or pre-make their favourites: peanut butter and honey, chicken and cheese, tuna, egg salad (tip - use hummus instead of mayo)

I love using edamame or black bean noodles or even better yet use a spiralizer with zucchini to make zucchini (or sweet potato) noodles. Top with a healthy sauce (ie - one that has 5 or less ingredients) and sprinkle on some hemp seed. You can vary the toppings - mushrooms, lentil balls, chicken, shrimp, etc. Super simple

DIY Pizza
Make your own quick crust from cauliflower or sweet potato. Easier yet use a sprouted grain wrap. Let the kids spread on pizza sauce and ask which toppings they want - the more veggies the better!

This can be a veggie lasagna, a lentil or meat loaf, sweet potato casserole, even a quiche or tuna casserole. To make life easy, I like to go to Pinterest and type in "quick healthy casserole" to get some inspiration

Crock Pot
I like to do crock pot meals on Mondays, the day I know I'm the busiest. Simply throw a bunch of ingredients in a crock pot and turn on low for 8 hours or high for 4. The next blog in this series will be all crock pot recipes so I'll be rounding up some of my favourites

2. Use a tool
My favourite tool in this case is Plan To Eat Basically it's a site to collect your recipes and drag them into a monthly calendar. With a simple click your grocery list will appear, which you can bring with you via your mobile as the perfect check list. Here's a blog post and video I made with some of the benefits and how to use it. You can take advantage of a free 30 day trial to make sure it's a good fit for you

3. Write it all out on a calendar
First, find a super cute template you can use to fill in meals each week - like the 30 found here. We are drawn to visually appealing things, so get motivated however you can!

4. Collect recipes
Pinterest is the Queen for recipe collection. Create specific boards (like crockpot meals) to keep them all in one place. Here is my board for food (I clearly need to work on organization. Ideally I would have a board for healthy snacks, a separate one for healthy dinners, etc). Having recipes accessible all in one place makes it much easier to peruse through for inspiration

Hope you find those tips helpful. Let me know if you implement any of them!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Halloween Survival

I canNOT believe Halloween is almost here! Is it seriously nearing the end of October? Didn't summer just begin?

I have had some discussions lately with my Bootcampers about Halloween so I thought I would share on here things I do to survive this holiday, as an (almost) Holistic Nutritionist.

First off, let me begin this by saying that my children are NOT deprived! Yes my kids know what chocolate tastes like. They have had chips and caramels and lollipops. With the exception of a few junk foods (like pop and twinkies!), they know what candy tastes like (and yes I have seriously had this questions). For them, it's just not the norm. It's something they have on occasion, such as when they go to the movies, birthday parties or events where candy is given out. If they are exposed to crap foods (can I call it that? It's my thing, you know what I'm referring to) either through myself or others, I will definitely limit the amount they consume. For example, they went trick or treating a couple weekends ago (yes already!) at our local zoo and actually collected quite a bit of candy. I allow them 1 piece per day, if they ask for it. I try not to do this in a way that becomes negative for them. I explain to them what sugar does to the body using terms they can understand:

- lets the germs attack their body so they could get sick (immune suppressing)
- will make them want more and more candy (addictive due to dopamine release in brain)
- they will have trouble controlling their actions and emotions (hyperactivity due to rush of blood sugar)
- may cause cavities if they eat too much
- their body might have a hard time pushing all the bad things out of their body, which can make them feeling really sick (taxes the liver)
- can end up making them really tired, making it hard to learn at school (spikes and drops in blood sugar and impaired cognitive functioning)
- can make them cranky (the drop in blood sugar)

A couple notes on this:
1. I don't throw this information at them all at once. How annoying would that be? Instead, I weave these bits of information through our daily life when opportunities arise for me to do so

2. I try not to speak of sugar as being "bad." Labeling foods as good or bad can later create feelings of guilt when consuming such foods, which may lead to disordered thinking and eating later on. I try to go with "everything in moderation." So I tell my kids it's ok to eat candy as long as it's small amounts so their bodies can still be strong and healthy

3. I am always aware of my own habits. How off-putting would it be to preach something while not following your own standards? My kids never see me eat candy with a boundary of them not being allowed. If they see me eating a lollipop, it's during a time they are allowed to do so too

A couple years ago we went through a really difficult time with my daughter who had been tested as intolerant to fructose. It isn't like an peanut allergy when all you need to do is avoid peanut and peanut products (I am not trying to downplay the severity of such an allergy and the measures parents must take in order to keep their children safe. My point is that with fructose, there isn't a clear line of what is acceptable and not).

Dairy may or may not be ok
Fruits may or may not be ok
Wheat may or may not be ok

And in every scenerio there is also quantity and frequency to consider. Maybe she can have wheat but only every third day, and only half a cup at a time. It is such a painstaking process to figure out your child's own needs and requirements. And symptoms are cumulative. Maybe eggs one day are okay but after eating them for 4 days in a row there is a reaction. It was awful to say the least. Like reading a novel in a foreign language, needing to translate every single word as you go. Between the food logs, screaming child in agony with stomach pain, crying because I cut out yet another food group, disappointment over missing birthday parties so she wouldn't be exposed to foods that would cause her to sucked

But there was an upside. My daughter learned very quickly the relationship between food and health. With some observations and conversations with me, she knew that wheat gave her stomach aches. Dairy gave her diarrhea. And sugar caused both. While not always so clear cut, she came to a place of understanding and acceptance that amazed me. So now, when we talk about sugar and the effects it has on the body, my two oldest really get it on a level that's hard for other kids to understand, unless they have had to deal with (either first or second hand) the consequences of eating something not good for their own body.

On that long winded note, for Halloween I just cannot justify contributing to the ill health of children around me. With obesity at an all time high, an epidemic of ADD/ADHD in our I just can't hand out candy and crap to our children. It goes against everything I stand for. And no, I am not depriving anyone of anything. We have this misguided perception that food and junk foods are treats and are special for our children and should be valued. No. My children are valued in other ways and treated by things like outings, stories, movies...experiences.

So for Halloween I hand out other things:
- play doh (Costco has HUGE packages of them)
- stickers
- straws
- stamps
- pencils
- erasers
- glow sticks
- bouncy balls
- toothbrushes
- mini bottles of water
- crayons
- bubbles
- clementines (try drawing a jack-o-lantern face on them)

So many options! And kids react so positively when they see something other than chocolate, chips or candy like every other house.

Yes I let my kids go trick or treating. I used to love it as a kid, and I would never deprive them of an experience. When they get home, they dump their candy on the floor and usually sort it all out. They can keep whatever they want, though I may limit the number, and the rest they put back in the bag. At night they put the bag outside their bedroom door and the Candy Fairy will come take the bag and leave them a toy, or something else that appeals to them (a book, jewelry, etc). I created my own poem this year to add a spin on things. Rather than imagining a fairy eating all their hard earned candy, the fairy is going to do something productive (and healthy!) with all those treats. I'll attach it if you'd like to use it as well. Or you can search it online for other varieties of poems.

With the extra candy, my husband typically brings it to his office where it disappears in minutes. I'm tempted to just throw it in the garbage though. Anyway....let's be honest, who would end up eating all that candy anyway? (yes I'm looking at YOU!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Balancing Mommyhood & Your Sanity

Mommyhood is no joke. It's a role that teaches you how to manage 45 things at once. Sometimes with a smile on your face. It's a role that inevitably means at some point in your life you will be covered in someone else's bodily fluids. Perhaps for an extended period of time. Sometimes multiple times a day. It's a role that leaves you feeling raw, sometimes depleted, frazzled and frumpy. Putting on makeup for me means slathering my face oils on as fast as I can while getting toothbrushes ready for my kids. I live in yoga clothes, and am barely recognizable when I put "real" clothes on. It's been years of this. It's a job that often leaves women feeling unappreciated - little people demand all your attention and care yet somehow you repeatedly seem to fall short of their expectations. Despite pouring your heart into each of them, you cannot extend yourself to the length they desire, and they voice that failure to you when they are caught up in their whirlwind of emotions. Yes, the appreciation is there, they may just be too young to fully understand and communicate it. So you choose to focus on giving, giving, giving...because you know you are helping shape their worlds and ideas of what happiness, fun, passion, unconditional support and love are. You know the payoff to your efforts may not be seen or felt until years from now, but you keep on going anyway. It's your job.
It's hard. Every single day of being on your game, putting on a happy face, oozing energy and embracing changes and loving fully and authentically. It's hard.

Throw in a constantly messy house, an overflowing laundry room, and healthy dinners to somehow cook with a fridge full of rotting leftovers. Lunches need to be made, breakfasts prepared, clothes to pick out for school, homework to complete, diapers to change, garbage to collect, small mountains of crumbs to vacuum (seemingly after every single meal). Not to mention fitting in workouts, reading, studying, quality family time, quiet alone time, hobbies, work, organizing closets and drawers that contain thousands of missing items somewhere in their depths. I'm telling you, by the time my kids are in bed, I am just DONE! So how the heck is this all possible to manage? Better yet, how can it be managed without feeling like you're struggling to stay afloat? While I'm no expert, I have learned some tricks along the way to make it feel that my life is balanced. At least 60% of the time. On a good day.

1. Let go
This is a BIG one for me - a typical Type A personality. I'm driven to do it all, and usually all on my own. Such a flaw of mine that has served me well on many levels yet also comes as a curse. There are things/people/expectations/responsibilities that need to be let go of. Clear the plate so to speak. Delegate what you need to, especially those tasks that are time consuming which aren't allowing you to maximize time with your kids. Let go of believing you can, or SHOULD do it ALL! Hire a housekeeper, even once a month. Hire a Nanny or babysitter to watch your kids while you're home to allow you uninterrupted time to take care of household tasks. Can't afford it? Barter with someone. What can you offer for them to clean your house or babysit your children? Start a group with your friends and every week one of you can babysit all the kids to give everyone else a break. The following week switch, and you can have a break. And don't feel guilty about it! These things will allow you to focus on your children in a meaningful, authentic way without your mind wandering to everything you are needing to accomplish

2. Clean the Kitchen
Making sure the kitchen is clean at the end of the night will save you time and grief during the morning rush. I don't know about you, but when I wake up and wander into a messy kitchen, my whole morning begins on a sour note. One thing I have been doing lately that saves me some sanity is filling the sink up with hot water and soap in the morning and throwing in all the breakfast dishes or leftover dishes from the previous night until I have time to wash them or put them in the dishwasher. This serves two purposes:
First my kitchen has the appearance of being tidy, which prevents feelings of overwhelm and consequently, stress
Secondly, my dishes will be quick to later wash, or ready to load right into the dishwasher without having to rinse every single one, saving me time in the end

3. Crockpot it up
I have been loving my crockpot lately! Such a time saver when you aren't spending time creating elaborate meals. An easy way to figure out what to do with it is to find something you already have in your fridge or pantry and browse through Pinterest by searching that ingredient. For example, if you have zucchini that you want to get rid of, type in "zucchini and crockpot" into the Pinterest search bar to find recipes. Add the word "quick" if you're really strapped for time. I shared on Facebook a week or so ago a recipe I randomly came up with after seeing a butternut squash in my pantry that needed to be cooked. Sometimes I put off cooking squash because I absolutely hate cutting those darn things. So much effort is involved! So I put the entire squash in my crockpot for 4 hours on high, took it out and peeled the skin off (which basically fell off) and removed the seeds. I threw the rest in my Vitamix and added in some full fat coconut milk, cinnamon, garlic and vegetable broth, blended for a couple minutes and voila! Quick and easy soup. So pull out that crockpot (or go buy one!), dust it off and get ready to fall in love

4. 10 minute cleanup
At the end of the day, when the kids are in bed, set a timer for 10 minutes and tidy up. 10 minutes isn't a daunting amount of time when you'd rather kick your feet up and call it a day, but it's enough to make a good dent in an ever-accumulating pile of stuff. You'll appreciate it in the morning

5. Recruit your Spouse
If you feel you are drowning in responsibilities 98% of your day, it may be time to reach out to your spouse or significant other. Decide which tasks he or she can take on for you, or help with. I expressed my overwhelm with my husband months ago. Specifically in regards to the state of our house. Since then he will unload and load the dishwasher every night and tidy up the kitchen. It's not a huge task for him but it makes a big difference to me. Having the load lightened even a little bit can do wonders for your stress levels. Communicate. Delegate. Celebrate. This is my new mantra for survival around here.

6. Brain Dump
I recently participated in an online program and this was one of the tasks we needed to complete. It's one that I enjoyed a great deal. A good time to do this is before bed, so you don't have scattered thoughts and ideas keeping you up at night. Take a piece of paper and set your timer for 15-20 minutes. Write down everything you need to do. If you need an additional 5 minutes, continue on. Fill that page (and gasp at how full it is!)

7. Prioritize
Expanding on the brain dump idea, at night before you go to bed, spend some time deciding what needs to be done the next day. I will get into this in more detail in another blog post but for now, star the 3 most important things from your brain dump that need to be done. The next day focus on accomplishing those three things first. If you have time, continue on through your list, but if you aren't able to tackle anything else you can still feel accomplished that you completed those most important things

I hope those tips are helpful. Comment below with any tips you have of your own, I would love to hear them. I have been asked a lot lately about balancing various aspects of life and I will happily share ideas and tools I have been using to manage my 3 children and an at-home business. It doesn't have to be impossible or daunting, it just takes some implemented strategies and systems that are known to be effective. And a little bit of effort of course

xxoo Rachel

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Self Care for Moms

Every single time I leave the house with my three children (and I mean EVERY time), a stranger inevitably will remark how busy I must be. To which I smile and affirm their assumption. The second thing I hear on a very regular basis is something along the lines of "what do you do with all your free time?" (said in a sarcastic tone), or "you musn't have any time for yourself!" I generally offer a pleasant smile and remark "I make time" without really delving into the details (since the disbelief on their face speaks volumes)

I am always surprised when I have new clients coming to me and confessing the time with me is the first thing they have done for themselves in months. Years even. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I have been there. I have experienced the day-to-day chaos of little ones constantly demanding your attention, shoveling food down my throat because I have to tend to everyone else first. I have spent days in my pajamas. I have plopped myself on the couch for hours after putting my kids to bed, not an ounce of energy to be found to do anything but exist.

After I had my first child in 2009, my world was completely rocked, to which I think many first time Moms can relate. Suddenly my time wasn't my time anymore, it was someone else's. It didn't matter when I was hungry or tired, someone else's needs took priority and it was a tough adjustment, especially those first 6 weeks. When I had my second child in 2011, I became a seasoned veteran, and I instinctively knew I needed to care for myself FIRST if I wanted to stay sane and hold on to my identity in any way. When he was two weeks old I began weight lifting 5 or 6 days a week. I explored new interests, made new friends and was determined to not get lost in the role of Motherhood.

Now here I am with 3 children and I feel as though I finally have a pretty good handle on what it means to balance myself with ME and my children, and everyone else I choose to share myself with. You know when you are on a flight and the attendants go through safety procedures? They always tell you to put your own mask on first before anyone else's. The reasoning for this is that you cannot care for another human being unless you are tapping into your own oxygen. Without it, you would die and so would the person or people you are responsible for

Such is the metaphor for life, though perhaps not quite so dramatic. If you aren't equipping yourself with "oxygen" (in the form of love, passion, exploration, creativity, meaningful relationships), you are not equipped to guide another in a way that is meaningful or complete. So in the chaos of everything that is life, how does one begin self-care?

1. Carve out the time
If things don't get scheduled, they just don't get done. So write it out in your Mom calendar if you need to, for all to see. Schedule it in your life to show the value you hold in self-care. Is it before the rest of the house wakes up? In the middle of the day? Later at night? Or even better, a mix of all three? You don't need hours here. It could be a 20 minute bath. No excuses, everyone can find 20 minutes.

2. Communicate the importance
My husband can feel it coming when I haven't taken enough time to care for myself. I start to feel agitated at anything and everything and hold an unpleasant look on my face. He will then casually state that he can deal with the kids and I should get of the house. If your husband or partner, or friends and family members aren't in tune with your moods quite as well as he is (yet), make sure you communicate to them the importance of caring for yourself. Some people may not get it. Some people live their lives believing that indulging in pleasurable things is selfish time wasted. I can assure you these are the people who later go on to deal with high blood pressure and heart disease, or will eventually require the help of meds to get through their days. Your job is to demonstrate your unwavering support for yourself. How everyone around you responds is not your concern or responsibility.

3. Find things you love
Spending time with yourself can easily become last priority when you're a Mom. There are so many other things that could be done instead. So if you're going to be away from the kids and home and corresponding responsibilities, you need to make sure that the space you fill that time with is something that fills you and brings you joy. Otherwise, let's be honest, it won't be worth the hassle. Here are some ideas:

- walk in nature
- epsom salt baths
- reading a good book
- laughing with good friends who raise you up
- fitness
- yoga
- meditation
- cooking
- trying a new class (cooking, sewing, fitness, scrapbooking)
- writing
- painting
- creating things with your hands
- giving yourself a mani/pedi
- enjoying a tea at Starbucks all by yourself

My typical day of self-care looks something like this:
5:00-6:00 I work out alone in my home gym, listening to a playlist that matches my mood or to a podcast if I don't need the extra motivation)

1:00-2:00 I may spend 30 minutes or 60 minutes during my son's naptime doing something for me. Sometimes it's a hot epsom salt bath while reading a book, sometimes it's sipping an herbal tea while reading interesting articles, sometimes it's listening to podcasts while prepping dinner. There's always some element of love in this hour

8:00-10:00 I have a couple hours of quiet after the kids go to bed. Oftentimes I spend time working, other times I'll just take the last half hour to read in bed. Sometimes I connect with others by sending little love notes out to them. I love nights for setting goals and intentions for upcoming days and weeks

I also go to a yoga class at least once a week. It's something that fills me up and allows me to be in a room full of like minded people. Every Wednesday my in laws spend the day with my youngest and the day is mine. While I devote the day to work, I spend the first couple hours working at Starbucks with a Jade Citrus Mint tea in hand, a small pleasure that allows me the ability to get work done while treating myself to something I enjoy.

How are some ways you care for you? Leave your ideas for us Moms who could use some pampering