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