Family

Self Care for Moms of Littles

February 15, 2018

This season of parenting little kids can be extremely exhausting, both physically and emotionally, can’t it? I found that with one kiddo, it was still relatively easy to make time for myself as Ainsley got older, but when two kids were in the mix finding pockets of time for some rest, rejuvenation and self care was even harder to come by. Now that they are both getting a little older, it’s a little easier to find some time for myself but some days can just be downright exhausting. I had one of those days just yesterday, when my cold was wearing me down, and two crabby, cold-ridden kiddos were also needing some extra love, and I really just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep all afternoon.

Now, that’s not a typical scenario, and we are all bound to have days and weeks where self care gets thrown out the window in favor of caring for littles and work responsibilities and family duties, but making a regular habit of self care has been so important for my physical and emotional health, energy and well-being as I’ve transitioned to this role as mom over the last few years.

Care for Your Physical Body

  1. Exercise
    Find a form a physical exercise and routine that works for you. This is a non-negotiable for me. I don’t honestly know how I would have gotten through the early days of two kids without exercise. It gave me the boost of energy I needed when I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open and helped me feel like myself again during a time when I felt so very unlike myself. If you’re feeling like it’s hard to find the motivation, spend some time figuring out WHY you want to exercise and get back into shape.Having a really strong why will keep you going when you don’t want to workout or eat healthy. For me, my why is that I want to be the best, most energetic mom I can be. I want to feel good in my clothes, because when I do, I’m more likely to be active with my kids and think less about myself. I want to be healthy so I can live a long life as an active mommy. I want to set an example to my girls that they can give of themselves AND care for themselves.
  2. Personal Care
    Investing in quality skincare and and makeup is obviously a recommendation of mine. I am always amazed at how life-giving it is to shower, wash your hair, pamper your skin with quality skincare and put on a little makeup. I also love that the skincare I use has given me confidence to go out of the house without a stitch of of makeup if I don’t have the time or energy to put anything on. Make time for yourself, friends. It’s so easy to put yourself on the back-burner during this season. My favorite products for pampering include this skincare collection and this mask.
  3. Occasional Pampering
    I put hair coloring, pedicures, doing your nails at home, and massages in this category. I get my hair colored every 12 weeks or so, pedicures probably every 3 or 4 months and massages maybe once or twice a year, so not very often. But it always feels so special when I get out of the house to do one of these things.
  4. Doctor’s Appointments and Preventative Care
    We spend so much time as moms booking appointments for our littles and going to doctor’s appointments for our kids and making sure that we stay up on those things for our family but neglect ourselves. Book those dentist appointments, get to the chiropractor as needed, don’t delay your yearly skin cancer check or wellness check-up at the doctor, etc.
  5. Eating and Drinking Well
    And by “drinking well” I don’t mean drinking wine and coffee all the time. I mean really hydrating your body every day. Fill up that plate with the foods that make your body feel healthy an nourished. Don’t constantly yoyo diet and binge or live on takeout food. Give you body the love and nourishment it deserves to keep up with those kiddos.

Care for Your Emotional and Spiritual Self 

  1. Time in God’s Word and Prayer
    While I would like to spend more time doing intensive Bible study methods (like inductive study method), I’ve realized that in this season, ease and accessibility is more important if I’m going to make a routine and stick to it. I have found that getting up early, having some quiet time to myself to drink a cup of coffee while reading through a Bible plan on the She Reads Truth app, along with some time to pray for myself and my family members, is the best option for me right now. It’s consistent, quiet, and usually uninterrupted and sets the tone for the day.
  2. Time to Myself
    This is tied to what is mentioned above, but I need to collect myself if I’m going to set the tone for my day. This may just be my personal preference, but I really dislike the days I wake up at the same time as my girls. There is something so jarring about being woken up at the same time as my girls and being needed from the second I wake up. I’ll go as far as to say I *need* to wake up early enough to put in my contacts, wash my face, and make a cup of coffee at a bare minimum before I start my day as a mom.
  3. Time to Connect with Friends
    This is something that I am, admittedly, not super great about sometimes. We have a few standing commitments, such as being HS youth group sponsors, so when we already have a few things on our weekly calendar I don’t love being away from home another night of the week on a standing/weekly basis. But I hope to improve in this area, or remove some of our standing commitments so I can invest in friendships more intentionally.
Food & Recipes

Easy, Perfectly-Cooked Salmon

February 12, 2018

Fish is one of the easiest foods to prepare and one of the foods that I think intimidate a LOT of people. Perhaps it’s because I live in the Midwest and finding good seafood isn’t always easy (hint: I buy mine at Costco!) or because people didn’t grow up eating it, but whatever the reason, there is no need to avoid making this protein.

Salmon is one of our family’s favorite proteins. We usually buy the frozen salmon filets from Costco and thaw them the morning we plan to make the salmon for dinner. The girls LOVE when we have salmon with broccoli and cous cous, and I love that we can count on everyone eating their plates clean. #momwin

My perfect salmon cooking method is shown below! We pair it with steamed broccoli and some type of whole grain, or on top of a salad as pictured above. If you’re intimidated by salmon or just looking for a quick and easy way to prepare it, I’m sharing my tried and true method below. It’s simple, hassle-free and versatile!

  1. First, place your salmon on a plate and pat dry with paper towels. If you want to get a good sear/crust on your salmon, it needs to be free of excess moisture.
  2. Next, sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper on one side.
  3. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Place salmon, salted side down, in skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, until salmon develops a crust on one side. Turn over, reduce heat to medium and cover pan with a lid. Cook 5 to 7 minutes more, until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

And that’s it, friends! Delicious, tender, perfectly cooked salmon in under 10 minutes. While the salmon is cooking you can steam some broccoli and make cous cous in about the same amount of time and dinner is ready! Or open up a salad kit and put together a really easy meal in a matter of minutes. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be hard to take a lot of time. 🙂

 

Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby // 9 Month Update (the second time around)

February 6, 2018

swimsuit top / similar style/same brand swimsuit bottoms / collins’s suit

Well, we are here! Nearly to the point where Collins has been out in the world as long as she was in my tummy. I can’t believe that she is already so big and so far into her first year of life. The second baby’s life goes even faster than the first and I am, as always, equal parts delighted and dismayed seeing this little kiddo of mine grow and change. It’s so sweet, it’s so sad, it’s bittersweet. But truly, it’s a JOY to see this little girl grow and the best part is seeing her develop a relationship with her sister and start to play together.

So, nine months feels like a big milestone in the postpartum journey. Or at least it has for me. It tends to be the point where I feel like it’s reasonable to want to look and feel like yourself again, to have given your body time to heal and adjust and to begin to really regain your former strength, fitness and sense of self to some degree. That’s not to say that things are totally back to “normal” (hello, saggy tummy skin!) but what is normal anyway?

Mind After Baby / 9 Months
Mentally I’m in a really great place right now. I still have my moments of insecurity and issues with body confidence, but I’ve been working hard to safeguard and protect my mind from those assaults and, as Ainsley has gotten older, I’ve been VERY careful about what I say around her as it relates to my body during this postpartum journey since she is getting old enough to understand what I’m saying and how I relate to my body. She is frequently by my side during workouts and we talk a lot about exercising to make our bodies STRONG and capable and healthy, not skinny, thin, look good, etc.

I’ve said this from the beginning, but working out for me in this postpartum phase has been critical to helping me have enough physical energy to be a good mom day in and day out. I’m so thankful for the ability and gift of being able to move my body and of what my body has done in the last three years (two babies, two postpartum journeys, etc.) and that has given me a newfound respect and admiration for my physical body that I didn’t have before kids.

Body After Baby / 9 Months
When I look back at the last 9 months, what I see is a lot of really hard work. Hard mental work – learning to pray for patience, grace, forgiveness. Hard physical work – sleep deprivation, carrying toddlers and babies (sometimes simultaneously), challenging physical workouts day in and day out to get back to my pre-baby fitness level. But like all things that are difficult, it’s incredibly gratifying, too. Did I want to fit back into my jeans? Absolutely. But really, I just wanted to be able to feel like myself again, to set a good example for my girls about what self-care and dedication looks like, and to be able to be in a place where I could give my best self to my family. And I know that when I feel mentally and physically fit, I’m a better wife and mom, and everyone in our family benefits from that.

Now, 9 months into this journey, I think I would say that I’m moving out of recovery mode and into fitness maintenance and growth mode. Though I definitely am still paying careful attention to rebuilding proper core and pelvic floor strength, both of which I think are very overlooked as part of the recovery process.

Because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what workouts I’m doing or have done these last 9 months, I have to give a huge shout-out to Beachbody on Demand, which has been a saving grace during this time. I don’t so any of the eating plans associated with the workouts, because like I’ve said before, I’ve gotten to a good place knowing what works for my body intuitively, but the workouts have my heart forever and ever. Early in the postpartum journey I did 21 Day Fix, later moving into T25 and 21 Day Fix Extreme and now I’m 22 days into the 80 Day Obsession, which I’m LOVING. The workouts are longer than I typically do, but they have really pushed me and have been incredibly fun. Joe and I also try to do Crossfit together a couple Saturdays per month – he goes to Crossfit four days during the weekday but I just go with him as a drop-in occasionally.

My best advice if you’re feeling out of the loop of exercise postpartum is to start somewhere small. Go on long walks with the baby in a stroller, do a short high intensity workout (there are lots of good free options online) or even 15 minutes of strength training with some weights at home. Give you body time to heal appropriately and ease back into things. It’s easy to think that 15 minutes doesn’t make a difference but a little exercise is better than nothing and your body will thank you.

Supplements and More 
A few other helpful links to share with you as it relates to supplements postpartum, in case you want to know!

Smoothies // I rotate between Vegan Vanilla Shakeology and Vega Protein & Greens for at least one smoothie per day. When life is busy, making a smoothie is really just the best way to pack in a bunch of nutrition quickly.

Supplements // I have continued to take my Garden of Life Once Daily Prenatal and also take the Garden of Life Women’s Probiotic. I LOVE Garden of Life products and can’t speak highly enough about the company and the quality of their supplements. We also take the Kids Probiotic for Ainsley and she gets so excited to take it each day! I also take the Plexus BioCleanse product, which I think was tremendously helpful in the postpartum period to promote regularity and reduce some of the gas and bloating that can happen while your hormones adjust and recalibrate.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Eating Without Food Labels

January 18, 2018

Friends, can we talk about something that has been on my heart to talk about for a while now? I shared on Instagram this week about how very over food labels and rules I am. Keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole 30. The entire conversation has worn me down into the ground and driven me crazy and today I want to dig a little deeper into my own journey with food to share with you just why it drives me nuts.

If you spend any time on social media these days, chances are you are bombarded with pictures of what people are (or maybe, more importantly, are NOT) eating. I happen to follow a lot of people who eat keto or paleo and a fair share who are die-hard vegetarians. It’s a strange time in history to eat food, isn’t it? Both sides SO very sure that their way is the right way, that you should or shouldn’t eat certain foods. So many rules to follow and research to read.

The year I graduated college I decided to give vegetarianism a try. It had always interested me, but was something I said I could never do because I loved eating meat. But a month-long experiment turned into a few months and then a few years. Over the last nine years I’ve tinkered with my eating quite a bit, trying to find the exact right formula and eating style for my body. I’ve tried Whole 30, I’ve done a “yoga cleanse” which included a lot of yoga and eating a vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet for a month. I’ve been a strict vegetarian and I’ve done a little of everything while pregnant. And over the years I’ve realized a few things.

Gluten isn’t the enemy for my body, I’m not sensitive to full-fat dairy, occasionally my body craves a little meat or seafood. But where does that leave me? When I say “no” to the pot roast 9 times out of 10 but occasionally say “yes!” to a burger in the summer? In a world where we are encouraged to put our eating into boxes, but your style doesn’t really have a name? Well, it gets to why I truly don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all eating style and why it seems that labels and restrictive eating pushes us to eat less intuitively and fit our unique bodies into boxes.

After Ainsley was born I stopped restricting myself, started eating MORE, starting working out LESS time but more focused in my efforts and allowed myself to eat what felt right for my body it seemed as if I hit a metabolism super charge button. I feel my best, look my best and don’t feel like I’m a slave to food or food rules anymore.

Since I have shared with you all about my food journey over the years, what I’ve found that works for my body looks something like this:

-I eat a LOT both in volume and calories. I’m fairly sure that over the years too much cardio and too little food was causing a lot of harm to my body, hormones and metabolism. I workout much less than I did pre-kids, but I’m smarter and more focused with my workouts using Beachbody On Demand videos that are typically about 30 minutes in length. I’m no longer a calorie counter, because it makes me crazy, but rough calculations are that I consume around 2,200-2,500 calories a day on most days.

-Intermittent fasting has been a recent game changer for me. I decided to give it a try after listening to this podcast and doing some of my own research, and while it was certainly challenging at first, it really has been wonderful to give my body a break each day to not eat. I usually stop eating around 6 pm most days and don’t break my fast until around 8-10 am the next morning. And then I get all my calories eaten in a very short window and feel totally stuffed. 😉

-My diet is about 90% vegetarian. I still prefer to eat mainly vegetarian, but I do occasionally have lean protein at dinnertime with my family when it sounds good to my body or when I’m out at dinner and healthy vegetarian options are limited. I choose health over eating rules any and all days of the week. We live in the Midwest so there are times when the only vegetables to be found are iceberg lettuce and corn. In that case, the healthier choice is the fish, chicken or lean beef and I’m OK with that.

-Vegetables are still the largest part of most every meal I eat. I LOVE veggies and eat a lot of them throughout the day. I also eat a lot of beans and legumes as a source of plant-based protein.

-I don’t drink milk often and prefer unsweetened almond milk, but full-fat Greek yogurt and half and half in my coffee are life.

-Gluten doesn’t bother me. End of story. When I was struggling with sinus infections and sickness it was suggested by some that I eat gluten and dairy-free but doing so didn’t resolve my issues and adding them back in didn’t make my symptoms any worse. I don’t eat refined carbs like white bread, pasta or white rice very often but I do eat plenty of sprouted grain bread, some occasional whole wheat pasta, etc.

-Close to 300/400 calories in my diet each day comes from peanut butter. #peanutbutterforlife

But the thing is, that’s just what works for ME. Your body could be totally different! Finding what works for you and your body is unique and it’s worth the effort to tinker with and discover your unique formula over time, regardless of food rules and regulations. Like I said in my Instagram post, I think the only thing we can agree on is that vegetables are good and sugar is bad, right?! 😉

I would be so curious to hear what works for YOU and your body! I have a feeling we will get a lot of different answers.

Madison

Family

Safer Skincare in the New Year

January 5, 2018

Happy Friday, friends! As we embark on a new year, I know a lot of you are in the business of making resolutions. Resolutions about health, wellness, family, faith and more. It can be both inspiring and overwhelming, can’t it? I’ve been doing a lot of goal-setting and planning over here, including the following:

-Push myself outside my comfort zone
-Set big, scary goals
-Be consistent and diligent in prayer for others
-Work hard at work; rest and fully disconnect when it’s time to rest
-Make commitments and stick to them
-Invest in people
-Love my body
-Invest in quality in all things

About four years ago, one of my resolutions was to make cleaner, healthier choices in my skincare, cosmetics and household cleaning products. It was around the same time that I discovered Beautycounter, when we were deep in our infertility journey and I was desperate to find anything that could help. I also desperately wanted a “big girl” skincare routine rather than a random assortment of products from the drugstore, because I wasn’t getting any younger.

I’m so thankful that Beautycounter came into my life when it did, and if you’re sitting in a similar position and have a desire to learn more about safer skincare and personal care products, I’m hoping that sharing more in the month of January may be helpful to you on your own journey to healthier living.

I posted this video to my Espresso & Cream page on Facebook, but through it was a worthy kick-off video to share here as well!

Here’s to making healthier, safer choices in 2018. And as always, thank YOU for being the absolute best of the best.