Featured Movin’ Mama: Alison

Meet Alison!

Strazzulo, Alison - Feature Photo - July 2015

We are excited to feature Alison to kick off July, former Miss Massachusetts-turned-Model, who is a 28-year old Movin’ Mama, living in New York City with her husband and 2.5-month old baby girl. Alison is an avid reader and lives by the motto “Everything in Moderation.” We asked her how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she said…

How do you typically start your day?

Cuddles with my baby girl! She’s always so happy when she wakes up in the morning.

What is your diet like on an average day? Where would you like to improve?

I eat different things everyday and I don’t deny myself anything. I believe everything in moderation is the key to healthy eating. I try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. I’d like to try to plan better as far as snacking goes, so that I can have healthy things prepared for quick snacking that isn’t pre-packaged and/or junk food.

*Check out a quick, healthy and energizing snack option, PHAT BALLS (yes you read that correctly) in our Mama-Friendly Menu Section!

What is your favorite workout right now?

Does breastfeeding count as a workout? Just kidding! Walking with my girl is my current favorite form of exercise. We try and walk at least a mile and a half a day- whether it’s in her carrier or with the stroller. I also just discovered a “stroller workout” class in my neighborhood. I’ve only made it once so far, but it was great!

What is one of your recent go-to healthy dinners that you like to cook?

We order take-out a lot, but otherwise my husband is the real cook in the house. We make a lot of Italian dishes, but try and make dinner healthier by baking when possible. We also generally eat organic and gluten-free products at home.

What do you do when you want to have “Me” time?

Me time usually includes drinking a glass of red wine and catching up on emails/phone calls with friends and family.

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms regarding general wellness?

It’s important to give yourself a break. This time is meant for bonding and enjoying your baby. Of course health and wellness are important, but if you stress out too much about it, I believe it becomes counter-intuitive. You just made a human being–so getting your pre-baby body back can (and should) take time!

Name two fitness goals for 2015 and how you plan to track your progress. 

Two of my goals include re-finding my abs, and getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight, taking it one day at a time! I’d like to try and get involved in a “Mommy & Me” yoga class soon, and attend the aforementioned stroller class more often.

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness since the birth of your last child and how are you overcoming it? 

It is really hard to make time for working out with a newborn. Finding things I can do with her (such as walking and stroller workouts ) has helped me to squeeze exercise into my day.

Who do you lean on most for support when it comes to wellness?

My husband is very healthy and encourages me as well. Commiserating with fellow moms and then encouraging each other also helps!

What do you love most about being a new mom so far?

I love it all, but the late-night snuggling and her little smiles are priceless!

Top Postpartum Wellness Essentials (that I am very thankful for!)

musthave

What can’t you live without, now that you’re a Movin’ Mama? I’m not talking about your grocery list of diaper-related items for your little ones…instead, I want to know goodies that YOU Mamas are finding critical to your own well-being. Below you’ll find my personal list of Postpartum “Essentials” that are helping me live a little bit better, everyday.

Share your must-haves in the comment section to add to our list!

Mario Badescu Facial Spray

facial spray

Every morning I wake up over-tired and drained from a long night of feedings and diaper changes. This spray instantly makes me feel refreshed and gives my skin a nice glow.

Nike 24oz. Water Bottle

Nike bottle

My biggest challenge since the birth of my son (and has been always) is staying hydrated. I found with a designated bottle to carry with me everywhere, I have a better chance of meeting my consumption goal (and it’s cute for the gym/runs as well!).

Medela Nursing Pads

nursing pads

After leaking unknowingly in public, I learned my lesson the hard way. It all started with a gray sports bra under a gray dry-fit T-shirt…bad idea. Apparently I wasn’t paying much attention to myself in the gym mirrors, because I left there leaking cluelessly and proceeded to grocery shop… and also have an awkward conversation with an old man out in the parking lot who looked at me like I had 10 heads. After I loaded up the car and finally saw my dried nipple stains, I realized what his problem was. And cried. And laughed. These nursing pads are great to keep in your purse for WHENEVER.

BoB Revolution Jogger

BoB

Per my recent post on the convenience of Running with my little guy, my BoB Revolution Jogger has become a must-have and huge de-stresser for those days when I can’t get out to the gym. It’s a great relief to know that I can break a sweat at my pace on my own schedule/timeline. I love this particular model because it’s super lightweight…my son is edging on 20 lbs, so that was a must for me.

Fiji Nail Polish by Essie

Fiji

Manicured nails just make everything look more…polished (pun intended). But with a newborn, it’s unrealistic to do much of anything in the first few months besides enjoy your baby. Now, with my son nearing the 5-month mark, my nails have become a priority again because it makes me feel more put-together…a small piece of my pre-baby self I’m taking back. So, when I can’t sneak out to the salon, Essie’s Fiji is my personal favorite DIY color that looks great year-round with everything.

Luna Bars

luna

My postpartum diet got off to a rough start, often skipping meals and not consuming enough calories to keep up with my breastfeeding schedule. NOT GOOD. Luna Bars quickly became one of my many go-to healthy snacks that require no cooking and have a slew of nutrients that me and the babe crave. My favorite kind of Chocolate-dipped coconut…tastes like dessert!

Lulu Lemon Wrap Sweater

sweater

I found that whether I’m nursing, lounging, or running in and out of the house to grocery shop, workout, etc. I am constantly looking for a cozy yet presentable wrap to throw on. I adore my baby-pink sweater from Lulu-Lemon, similar to the one shown here but really anything similar will do the trick!

St. Tropez Self-Tanner Mousse

Self-Tan-Bronzing-Mousse-8oz

As a mama, it’s tough even in the summer months to get as much sun as I’d like to with an infant in tow who has sensitive skin…and quite frankly, it’s not good for any of us to be overexposed. This St. Tropez mousse is easy to apply and the color is “on fleek” as the kids say these days. You can buy it in a few different shades depending on your tone from beauty shops like Sephora or Ulta as well as online.

NutriBullet

Nutribullet

So thankful I have one of these, I highly recommend investing in some sort of blender/juicer for your home, for the whole family’s sake (see Kohl’s, $119). I make myself a shake almost every single day, in hopes to pack in extra servings of fruits and veggies that I’ve missed, along with protein typically from greek or coconut yogurt and add chia seeds for energy. Also, this thing is clutch if you’re interested in making homemade baby food!

Vera Bradley Agenda

Planner

I don’t care if you’re a list-freak like me or not, every new Mama has to stay organized. While you may not have a brand new baby on a strict routine just yet, you need some kind of structure in your life or you may lose your mind. From doctor’s appointments to social ones, a planner is a great and stylish way to keep up with and adjust to your new fast-paced life as a Mama! (I found this cute 2015 agenda at the Paper Store, see link $25).

Diorshow Mascara, Catwalk Black

mascara

I don’t have much time for makeup these days, but I do try to make it a point to throw on a little mascara so I feel like I, at the very least, look awake. This has always been my favorite go-to mascara, as it creates a dramatic look and lasts all day.

Share your Mama Must-Haves in the comment section to add to our list!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Jessica

Meet Jessica!

image1Jessica is a 27-year old, stay-at-home (Movin’) Mama living outside of Boston with her husband and 4-year old son. Some of her favorite past-times include sewing, running and spending time by her backyard fire pit with her loved ones…gotta take advantage of these awesome New England summer nights while we can, right?! We asked Jessica what she’s doing to Live Well today, and here’s what she shared with us…

How do you typically start your day?

I typically start my day after my husband leaves for work, when me and my son sit down for breakfast. If it’s a nice day outside, we typically like to go for long walks around our neighbohood and stop at either the local playground or beach to play for a while before heading home.

What is your favorite workout right now, and why?

My favorite workout right now is definitely running. I’ve been running for 3 years now and I love it! I always run outside, no matter what the weather entails. I currently try to run about 5-6 days each week. It immediately relieves any stress I have, and makes me feel instantly energized and healthy.

*Check out an easy-to-follow 8-week running plan from Popsugar.com

Can you share a couple of your fitness goals and how you plan to track your progress?

My fitness goals are to spend time to ensure that I am eating as healthy as possible. Also, I want to work on my upper body strength, to get my upper body to match the strength that I have now in my legs thanks to running.

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness since the birth of your son?

My biggest challenge of wellness since the birth of my son is making sure that I’m making time in my busy day to workout and eat healthy, as there are often times where I find it extremely hard to leave and go for a run (mostly because I hate missing out on spending time with him and my husband!). And when we are out and on-the-go, it can be tough to try and eat as healthy as I’d like to.

I am overcoming this challenge by realizing that my runs are essential to relieving my stress and keeping my sanity after spending the day with just me and my active 4-year old! I am eating healthier by making home-cooked meals that my whole family enjoys and by having my son eat healthy as well definitely makes it a lot easier!

What do you do when you want to have “Me” time?

When I want to have Me-time I usually go for a run, go shopping, have a friend over for some wine, or me and my husband love to sit in our backyard by the fire.

Who do you lean on most for support when it comes to wellness, and why?

I mostly lean on my husband right now for support when it comes to wellness, because he understands and appreciates how important it is to me, and does whatever he can to make sure that I am able to take time as much as possible to workout and stay healthy.

What do you love most about being a new mom so far?

So far, what I love the most about being a mom is watching my son develop his personality and knowing that I have a huge part in him determining what kind of person he wants to be. There is nothing more inspiring to me than that!

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms regarding general wellness?

Some candid advice I can share with new moms regarding general wellness is to always make time for yourself, and try not to let the stress of being a mom overwhelm you too much. Also, sleep schedules and bedtime routines are wonderful ways to take the stress out of nap/bedtime, and give you more planned time for yourself!

Why Kettlebells, You Ask?

These single swinging weights and so-called “super sculptors” are an awesome way to work your ENTIRE body in a short circuit. Grab one for your house at Target ($35) or free-weight/stretching section at your gym. I recently tried this specific “Killer Kettlebell Workout” below from Women’s Health Magazine…and died/loved it. Hope this gets you Mamas Movin’ too!
How it Works:
As instructed, starting with the first move, complete each exercise back-to-back without resting. Rest for one to two minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-3 circuits. Follow this routine 2-3 days a week, using a 10- to 15-pound kettlebell.
Move 1: Around-the-Body Pass, REPS: 10
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Hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your torso and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Release the kettlebell into your right hand and move both arms behind your back. Grab the bell with your left hand and bring it back to the front (completing a full circle around your body). That’s one rep. Do 10, then switch directions and repeat without stopping to rest.

MOVE 2: Bent Row, REPS: 10-12

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Take the kettlebell in your right hand, squat slightly, and bend forward from the hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Let the kettlebell hang at arm’s length . Keep your torso still as you pull the kettlebell to the side of your chest, elbow close to your side . Lower back to start. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 12, then repeat on the other side.
MOVE 3: Dead Lift, REPS: 10-12
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Stand with your feet hip-width apart, the kettlebell on the floor between your feet. Squat down and grab the handle with both hands, keeping your back flat . Brace your abs, squeeze your glutes, and slowly push down into your heels as you stand up, keeping your arms extended. That’s one rep; do 10 to 12.
MOVE 4: Figure 8, REPS: 10
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Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, knees bent into a quarter-squat position, back straight, and chest up. Hold the kettlebell behind your left leg with one arm on each side of your leg . Grab the bell with your left hand and swing it in front of your left leg, between your legs, and behind your right leg . Grab it with your right hand and swing it in front of your right leg, between your legs, then behind your left leg. That’s one rep. Continue for 10 reps.

MOVE 5: Half Get-Up, REPS: 5

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Lie face-up on the floor, legs straight, holding the kettlebell in your right hand straight above your shoulder . Bend your left knee, place your foot on the floor, and prop yourself up on your left arm. Keep the weight directly in line with your shoulder and sit up until your back is straight . Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Do five, then repeat on the other side.
MOVE 6: Swing, REPS: 15-20
1009-swing.jpg
 Grab a kettlebell with both hands and stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Squat down until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. Immediately stand and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height . As the kettlebell begins to arc back down, bend your knees and squat, swinging the kettlebell between your legs . That’s one rep. Do 15 to 20.
MOVE 7: Front Squat, REPS: 10-15
1009-front-squat.jpg
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest, elbows bent and close to your body . Keeping your back straight and chest up, push your hips back and bend your knees until they form 90-degree angles . Press down into your heels and return to standing. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 15.
MOVE 8: Windmill, REPS: 5-10
1009-windmill.jpg
Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, weight in your left hand. Raise it next to your left shoulder, then press it overhead . Rotate your chest to the left and look up at the kettlebell as you try to touch your right hand to your right foot . Pause, then return to start, keeping your left arm extended. Do five to 10 reps before lowering the weight, then repeat on the other side.

Featured Movin’ Mama: Liz

Meet Liz!

Voellings, Liz - Feature Photo -  July 2015

Liz is a 35-year old Movin’ Mama of two very active little boys (ages 3 & 4) living out west of Beantown. She is keeping super busy as a full-time Salon Consultant, and loves shopping (don’t we all!) during her limited down-time. We asked Liz how she’s living well today, and here’s what she told us:

What is your favorite workout right now and why?

I go to a gym that does Functional Fitness Training. It trains all parts of the body with different moves such as squats, burpees, sled pushes, tire pulls, pull-ups and push-ups etc.

What are your fitness goals for 2015 & how will you track your progress?

My fitness goals for 2015 have been to stay on track with diet and exercise. It’s especially easy to fall off of your plan during the summer months. Another fitness goal I have is to keep building strength and do more cardio. As a single mom of two young boys, it is extremely hard to find the time for myself to work out.

What do you wish you knew when you first became a mom that you know now?

When I first became a mom, I had NO idea how hard it would be. You have a baby and they teach you how to really love. A love you can’t describe until you feel it for yourself. You worry sick over the little things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. I was always worried about whether or not my kids were hitting a milestone and now that they are a little bit older, I realize that every child goes at their own pace. Comparing them to what other kids are doing only puts unnecessary stress on you.

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness since the birth of your last child and how are you overcoming it?

After my second baby, I did not have as much time to work out as I did with only one. It was more difficult to have the time to get out and do things working full time and having two babies under 2 years old at home. I finally realized that my mental health was being jeopardized when I was not able to work out and take care of myself. Exercise, to me, is the best medicine.

What is one of your recent go-to healthy dinners at home?

I love cooking healthy meals. One of our favorites is organic chicken sausage with vegetables and tomato sauce eaten over roasted spaghetti squash – Quick and easy! [You can check out her recipe here on our Mama-Friendly Menu!]

Is losing the baby weight harder or easier the second time around?

For me, it was harder. Mainly because I had no time to work out. I was so busy working and taking care of the boys. I changed my schedule so that I would go to the gym at 5 am.

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms regarding general wellness?

Make sure to take care of yourself. Your well-being is essential to making you an effective parent. If you do not take time for yourself, it will be really hard to be the best mom you can be. The kids feel what their parents feel, and if you are stressed and not feeling good about yourself, then that rubs off on them.

How do you typically relieve stress?

It all depends on when I am feeling stressed…if the option is there for a workout or walk/run, I will take it. And I love to have a glass of wine at night when I cook dinner…it helps me to unwind from the day! And last but not least, snuggles with my little guys always put a smile on my face!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Liz’s Chicken Sausage & Spaghetti Squash

Thanks to our Featured Movin’ Mama Liz, below you’ll find a very easy and delicious, Mama-Friendly dinner recipe for chicken sausage over spaghetti squash…Mama Mia! Just as good as the real deal.

Spaghetti squash photo

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 package of organic chicken sausage (garlic, spinach flavored)
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • Minced garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Red/green bell pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove all of the seeds. Rub a tiny bit of EVOO on each half of squash and then sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and garlic.
  • Put the squash face-side down and pierce the skin with a fork. Put in heated oven and let it roast for about 45 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork through the skin.
  • Then use the fork to shred the spaghetti squash and make it look like actual spaghetti.
  • While the squash is baking, heat a small amount of EVOO in a skillet pan.
  • Thinly slice onions, peppers, and mushrooms and sauté them until soft (you can also add zucchini and summer squash). When the vegetables are almost soft, add sliced organic chicken sausage (italian or spinach flavor is delicious).
  • Continue cooking that on medium heat until it starts to brown, then add sea salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, and parsley to the pan, and let it cook into the veggies and sausage for a few minutes.
  • Finally, add 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce. (Rao’s organic Tomato Basil sauce is awesome!) and let it all sauté together until warmed.
  • Top the spaghetti squash with this mixture and a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Andrea

Meet Andrea!

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 9.43.41 PM

Andrea is an original Bostonian at heart who now lives with her husband and three children [Two teenage-boys 16, 13, & 6-year old daughter] in Staten Island. From high school basketball games and dance recitals, to her active and (very chic!) social life in New York City, Andrea is always on the go. We asked her how life has changed in the past few years since bearing her third baby and how she’s Living Well, and here’s what she told us:

How do you typically start your day?

My mornings are crazy getting 3 kids off to 3 different schools at 3 different times, so I really try to make a conscious effort to get up at least 30 minutes before everyone else and give myself some time to wash up, moisturize and get dressed.  Then I make bagged lunches for everyone and of course breakfast. After I drop everyone off, I try to workout at the gym 3-4 times per week.

What is your favorite workout right now, and why?

Currently I am doing a full-body workout including kettle bell swings, ropes or rowing to get the heart rate going so I’m doing everything all in one shot! I love getting it all done within 1 hour.  Then I’ll do 4 exercises, i.e. squat thrust, shoulder press, bicep curls, and tricep dips in a circuit, 3 sets of 15 reps without a break. Then I will pick another 4 exercises like pull downs, rows, chest press and leg press and do the same kind of circuit.  I usually end with sit-ups and always at least a 2-3 minute plank in various positions! I always, always stretch and breathe! It’s extremely important for me to relax, breath and stretch after a vigorous workout!

What do you wish you knew when you first became a mom that you know now?

When I first became a mom I wish I would of accepted more help.  I’ve always been a do-it-myself-er and that’s good in some ways, but it’s nice to let others do things for you and help when they can. It’s such a huge exhausting adjustment being a new mom and sometimes it’s okay to let someone cook you a meal, do your laundry or even change a diaper if they can.

What is one of your recent go-to healthy dinners that you cook?

I love fish for a go-to healthy dinner (Check out one of her featured recipe’s here in our Mama-Friendly Menu).  Fish is just super quick and easy and thankfully everyone in my house eats it. I recommend letting your kids try everything at a young age, even if you don’t particularly like it.

Is losing the baby weight harder/easier this time around than before?

The baby weight thankfully came off of me by the 6-month mark with all 3 kids. You have to give yourself at least that much time and just enjoy your children.  If you’re a fit-conscious gal and didn’t gain excessive pregnancy weight, your body will adjust within the first year. Especially if you eat healthy and actively play with your children, the weight will come off. But when you get over 40 years old, it’s much harder!  This has been the most difficult time in my life to keep weight off…I’m gaining in places I never did before and I definitely can’t eat and drink like I used to, it’s a whole new ball game now for me to stay in shape!

What are a few wellness-related tips you can give to new moms?

A) TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: It’s very important to take some time for yourself even if its just 15 minutes to take a nice shower and moisturize your skin.  Once the babies start talking, then they will be interrupting every shower you take for the next 16 years, trust me! It’s like as soon as the water gets turned on, the buzzer goes off to yell MOM!

B) SPEND TIME WITH YOUR LOVED ONE: It’s hard to remember how that baby got there, but for many like me, it’s because you have a loving husband that has taken the backseat to that baby and is waiting for some time alone with you….so try to make some special time for each other and remember you can’t lose that loving feeling! Date nights are so important whether you make something at home or get a sitter and go out.  If you are married like I am, I’ve realized it’s important to put that first, and everything else will fall in place.

C) HYDRATION: Wine is a great stress reliever and one of my favorite beverages but you also have to make sure you hydrate your body! Drink lots of water all day long. I love starting my morning off with a big glass or 2 of room-temp lemon water before I put anything else in my body. It just gets everything going and your insides feel good!

How have you streamlined your beauty routine since having your third baby? 

My beauty routine is, as I mentioned, to wash my face first thing in the morning and re-apply moisturizer all over! If I am not going to the gym, I like to put a little mascara (Chanel le volume is my favorite) on and my new love is Revlon Colorburst lipstick in honey. I keep one in my bag, car and anywhere else I can. It stays on so well and it’s still moisturizing. The color is great for everyday! My wavy hair is always a challenge, but if I go out at night, I blow it out and curl the ends and then try not to wash it for a couple of days so it will stay styled.  Otherwise, it’s usually in a ponytail or bun until the next time I can blow it out!

What do you do when you want to have “Me” time?

Now that its summer I love to play golf and have a nice lunch or dinner with friends. I also really enjoy dates with my husband! We always have a good time, with lots of laughs and enjoy each other’s company.  I know that’s not just “Me time” so if it’s just me, I absolutely love a deep tissue body massage!