Featured Movin’ Mama: Leah

 Meet Leah!IMG_2715

Leah is our first Featured Movin’ Mama of September, living outside of Boston with her husband, 11-year-old daughter, & 5-year-old son. This gal is super busy between caring for her family, amping up her education, and running both a small business & farm! As for down-time, she loves to curl up with a good book (when she can keep her eyes open, that is!).

How do you typically start your day?

We have a dog, cat, 5 chickens and a duck, so my husband and I take turns getting all the animals taken care of first thing in the morning. Right now, my daughter is at soccer camp from 9AM – 3PM everyday so it’s been kind of like being back to school. My son gets up super early and will follow my husband around while he gets ready for work. Our daughter usually has to be wrestled out of bed and during the school year has to catch the bus, so I make breakfasts, lunches, and chug coffee before sending her outside…and also get my son over to pre-school a few times a week. On smooth mornings, my husband and I have a few minutes to eat and have a quick cup of coffee together. It’s definitely chaotic, but I think most people with kids can agree that mornings are seldom a calm time of day.

What is your diet like and where would you like to improve?

Breakfast is super important to me, I eat really early with my kids, like a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with blueberries and coffee, then will have some fruit laterLunch changes daily, but I like “Mediterranean” style lunches with a bunch of snacks, or another quick favorite is scrambled eggs in a tortilla with veggies. I cook dinner almost every night and try to plan in advance accordingly. My daughter is vegetarian & gluten-free, which has presented some challenges when factoring in her insane schedule, but I’m getting the hang of it! I really love to cook and teaching my children the value of growing/preparing their own food. Collecting our own eggs, apples and other small veggies from our garden, then using them to make a meal gives me so much satisfaction. That being said, I’m definitely not a purist, I have the WORST sweet tooth. It’s a constant internal battle for me to step away from the sweets. Always room for improvement there!

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

For me this answer is less about the physical side and more about the emotional side. Motherhood is a very romanticized life event. When I had our daughter 11 years ago, it was just “oh how wonderful!” and “isn’t it the greatest?!” While it is wonderful and great and all the happy things, its also an insanely impossible task. You have no idea what you’re doing, you’re exhausted and in pain and outrageously overwhelmed…all while being screamed at by a tiny stranger.

To put it in perspective, my husband was a Marine in Special Operations. During hell week, they deprive you of sleep for days then stick you in a room with the recording of a baby crying on a loop. There’s a reason for that, you know?  I was under the impression that my love and connection with my child would be instant and for me, it wasn’t. It was more of a “labor of love” situation. No pun intended.

Through the struggle of learning what it means to be a mom, and sorting out all the emotions and changes is where our relationship was forged. I still find it difficult to not be defined by motherhood, to maintain my sense of self, but it’s a work in progress. I’m growing with my kids every day, sometimes I feel like I am learning as much from them as they do from me.

I admire my kids as people, they are fascinating individuals. It’s really been the development of social media and websites about parenting where I’ve learned that I’m not alone in feeling like this. Eleven years ago, that really didn’t exist, at least not as fluidly as it does now. If you can wade through all the nonsense of Mommy Wars and women pretending that motherhood is never anything but dreamy, you can find niches of reality that are so encouraging and uniting. I hope that all new and future moms can find that and know that they are not alone.

How have you streamlined your beauty routine since having kids?

The biggest change I have made was chopping off my hair into a pixie. Which I have to say actually had the reverse effect, as I put more effort into styling my short hair than I did when it was long. I can’t whip it into a ponytail anymore and I have some really aggressive bed head that needs to be addressed in the morning whether I want to shower or not. Sea salt spray is my best friend at the moment!

What do you do when you want to have me time?

Yoga. I love to go to yoga class. It’s just as much, if not more, for the mental break as it is the work out. My brain is always running, down to the second I fall asleep, but for whatever reason when I do yoga I can shut it off. It took some practice but now as soon as I walk into the studio I can focus entirely on myself. Plus, the women at the studio I go to are amazing!
*Can’t get to the studio? Check out these free online videos to try at home from DoYogaWithMe.com! All you need is a Mat and a quiet space (hello, nap-time!).

What is one thing that you never had that you want for your kids?

I want them to travel, far and wide. I want them to see as much of the world as possible. I’ve been to 8 states, mostly in my adult life, and one other country when I went on my honeymoon with my husband. That is pathetic! Now that our son is older we plan on trying to take family trips out of the country every other year starting with the Galapagos Islands. Who needs Disney when you can hang out with a 100-year-old tortoise in its natural habitat?!

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

My sister. She doesn’t BS me. She’ll be the first to call me out if she knows I can do more, physically or emotionally. On the flip side of that she is never stingy with praise. She could build anyone’s ego in 3 minutes flat. To me, that is what wellness is…your soul, your body and your mental self all being looked after. She keeps that in check for me.

Featured Movin’ Mama: Meet Lynn

Meet Lynn!

20150805_123536

Lynn is a 31-year-old Movin’ Mama living in Maine [in the best shopping town in New England, might I had!] with her husband and two young children, ages 4 & 15 months. When she’s not working full-time for her state legislature, she loves to spend time Hiking, Home  Improvements, Baking & Reading! We asked how she’s Living Well today and here’s what she said…

How do you typically start your day?

My day starts around 5:30 AM. I get up, do a short, low intensity workout (think abs or a quick arm workout), jump in the shower, get ready for work and head downstairs. I pack my lunch and my son’s lunch for preschool, and by then either 1 or both of my kids are up. So, I’m usually multi-tasking…trying to get both of our lunches packed, while getting them breakfast and attempting to drink my coffee before it’s cold. By 7:20 AM, I’m out the door and headed to work.

What has your most effective form of exercise been since you’ve had children?

Dedicating 25 minutes or less to BeachBody’s focused workouts. I started my weight loss the second time around with T25 program…25 minutes a day for 10 weeks. I lost almost 20 pounds. Since then I’ve toned up with another one PiYo, and I’ve added weights to my routine, because I really want some definition in my arms. Now I incorporate those programs plus TurboFire on days where I don’t have a lot of time, because those tend to be shorter but still intense.

Has losing the baby weight been harder or easier this time around than before?

I would say it’s been easier, actually. After my son was born, I took up running. I ran 5K’s and 10k’s, but I always had to leave the house (which meant someone had to be home with my son), it also took a long time to feel like I got a great workout, and those long runs became boring for me.

This time, I’ve invested in a variety of short, but intense workouts I can do at home. I now have tons of different programs to choose from, I never get bored, I have fun while I’m working out, and the weight has come off much easier with this type of exercise.

What are some things you’re doing to achieve work/life balance?

I work 5 days a week, and am gone from about 7:15 AM to almost 6 PM at night. My time at home is limited, so it’s important for me to make the most of it with my family. Often times, things feel rushed, but at the end of the day I know I’ve spent my time wisely. I focus on my family, my career, and myself.

When I first started this, I was doing my workouts at 5 AM. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and couldn’t give energy to my family. I recently switched to working out right after dinner instead, while my husband gives my kids a bath. I’m done now by the time they come downstairs, and we all relax before bed together.

If this doesn’t happen (we all know about best laid plans, right?), I work out after the kids are in bed. On weekends, my workouts happen at nap-time.

What are your top must-have wellness products as a new mama?

A nice water bottle to stay hydrated, a yoga mat to stay centered and focused, and a good pillow to get some decent sleep!

What is one thing you never had, that you’d want for your children?

Family Vacations. I don’t think I ever took a vacation with my whole family. I want my kids to have those memories.

Can you share a few best practices for healthy eating as a new Mama?

Portion is key! You can eat a giant salad and think it’s good for you, but if you eat too much of anything it backfires. Also, I’m a firm believer in the expression “Everything in moderation“.

I don’t “diet” because I think it sets people up for failure. If you want a piece of chocolate, have one! Just don’t eat a whole bag of chocolate. And lastly, I try for real food. As a culture, we are eating more food-like products than actual food. If you stick to real food, you can’t go wrong. Less is more. Bring it back to the basics.

*Check out Lynn’s favorite guilt-free Banana Oatmeal Cookies from FavFamilyRecipes.com!

Anything you forgot to do with your first that you’re doing now?

Yes! I now make time for ME every day. It was never a priority after I had my son, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because having two is a game-changer. Life with two is busier, more hectic, and much louder. Taking time for me has saved my sanity!

What’s your go-to healthy meal for a weekday night?

Hm… that changes with the seasons, but right now it’s a 90% lean burger (topped with tomato, onion, and avocado on a bed of lettuce; no bun), with a veggie and mashed sweet potatoes.

Finish this sentence: “Being a Mom has made me…”

Truly Grateful.

Featured Movin’ Mama: Sarah

Meet Sarah!

FB_IMG_1427298172972

Sarah is a 27-year-old Movin’ Mama living in Virginia with her boyfriend and two children [boy, 6 & girl, 1 month old]. As an Office Admin (currently on Maternity Leave), it’s no surprise that she finds comfort in planning/organizing her days ahead of time to beat stress, and spends her time reading to unwind. We asked how she’s living well today and here’s what she said…

How do you typically start your day?

I start my day by getting whichever child woke me up first! On an average work day, I would normally wake up around 5:30 AM, take a shower and get dressed.

Even if it is just to put on clean yoga pants and a tank top now that I am on maternity leave, I need that time. It would be to easy to just let that go, but I know that once I go back to work, it will be more difficult to get back into my routine.

Now that I have an infant, I am doing practice runs because I feel like the more I prepare, the less stress going back to work will be for me. I am trying to see how much extra time I need to still be able to get out the door and to work on time, and I also think that if you start your day in a rush or frazzled way, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Can you share a couple of personal fitness goals for 2015 and how you’ll track your progress?

My goals for this year are to get back into shape, and become a healthier person in general. I don’t really keep track of my progress other than how much better I feel day-to-day. I do try to keep track of what I eat, and if I notice it is heavy on “ bad” foods, I try to load up on lots of fresh/raw foods to make up for it.

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

Right now I try to eat a balanced meal, heavy on fresh, light, non-processed foods. I am trying to cut out all fast food, but McDonalds keeps calling to me!

How are some ways you’re achieving work/life balance as a career mom?

It is hard. I was very lucky when my son was younger, as I was able to stay home with him for the first 2.5 years. With my new baby girl, I have to go back to work in a few weeks and it is already killing me.

But, when I am home, I am home. I try to focus all my attention on my children and not worry about the office. When there is something that I need to do for work at home, I try to do it while they are sleeping or otherwise busy.

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

I’ve learned that there is NO perfect way to do anything. You can plan all you want, or have 100 people give you advice, but something will always go wrong and you just have to roll with it. Trust me, even though it did not go according to plan, your child is happy!

Have you had to streamline your beauty routine since having a second baby? 

Not really, because I was never one to spend hours getting ready. But what I do now is, start getting ready, then put my son in the shower and have his clothes picked out while I finish getting myself together. It is harder with a newborn again, but I am finding ways to make it work.

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

Reading. I love to read, I’m a huge bookworm!

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

My sister Courtney is the person I talk to the most about what products are the best for my family. She started really caring about what she was eating and what products she was using a few years ago, so whenever I have a question, or need advice she is my go-to guru. She has really helped me with making choices on everything from food to body wash. I had no clue some of the products that I was using can be really harmful!

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

Each day, take a moment and do something just for you. Even if it is eating a candy bar locked in the bathroom, you really need those few precious moments to yourself to just to breath and de-compress. Trust me, it helps!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Ally

Meet Ally!

Hayes, Ally - Feature Photo - August 2015

Ally is a 30-year-old Movin’ Mama, living outside of Boston with her husband, nearly-3-year-old daughter and brand new baby boy…just 5 weeks old! As a Personal Trainer, Ally’s goal to get back into shape isn’t just for her own well-being, she means business! I asked how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she told me…

How do you typically start your day?

When I am not on maternity leave, my typical morning is waking up at 5 AM so I can get to work by 5:30 AM for my first client! I am definitely a morning person and I always make sure I eat breakfast, because it is my favorite meal of the day. Now that I am on maternity leave, my morning routine is enjoying my cup of coffee and breakfast at home with my family.

What does your workout regimen consist of?

My workout regimen consists of two things: Lifting & Tabata. I love challenging, high intensity workouts because it brings out the inner-athlete in me.  I workout 5 days per week because I genuinely enjoy working out. It is something that makes me happy and makes me a better mother & wife.

Do you think losing the baby weight will be harder or easier this time around than before?

I am currently on that hard journey of losing the baby weight that every new mom has to conquer. I am finding it harder this time around, because I find it’s more difficult to find time to workout, prepare my own healthy meals, and I am just more tired in general!

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

The biggest obstacle in wellness after having my son is trying not to lose myself as an individual. It’s easy for moms to become so consumed with their children that they forget they still have needs. I am currently struggling emotionally as I am trying to be a great mom, yet still be a supportive wife, caring friend, productive employee, etc. Trying to wear so many “hats” can be exhausting, but in the end you have to remember you are number one. You have to love and nurture yourself before you can be all those other things to everyone else. I hope I can remember those words myself and to never forget that I am much more then just a Mom.

What are a few best wellness tips you’d like to share with other new moms?

  • Moderation is key: Don’t over exert yourself trying to do it all, indulge when you want, portion control, & balance work & play!
  • Rest & Recover: I’m a huge believer in rest. Moms, especially new ones, tend to not get enough sleep, but your body, mind & soul need that sleep more then you think it does. The same goes for working out. Sometimes people overdo it and think they need to work out for hours a day or 7 days a week. But I promise you MORE is NOT better! Rest, Recover & Repeat in all aspects in life.
  • Be Your Own Best Friend: You are doing the best you can. Support, praise and help yourself like you would your closest friend. Positivity and self-confidence goes a long way.

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

When I want “me” time I workout. It’s makes me feel good & strong. It clears my head while at the same time, it energizes me to be the best mom I can be. People may think I am selfish when I say “I need to work out,” but it is not a superficial part of me. I genuinely need to work out to de-stress, feel empowered and be happy. Plus, I think it sets a great example for healthy living to my children.

What’s your favorite go-to, light weeknight dinner?

Right now I love cooking chicken on the grill. So I try to cook a bunch of chicken for the week and then make different meals out of it. Right now, since it’s summer, my favorite meal is an Avocado-Caprese Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette from JoyfulEats.com.

You’re in the grocery store with a full cart and your baby starts crying frantically…what do you do?

If I’m in the store with a full cart and my baby starts crying frantically, I am definitely one to get embarrassed easily, so I would try to calm the baby down immediately. But regardless if that worked or not, if I have a full cart I am DEFINITELY going to pay for the food…crying baby or not. I always finish what I started!

What was your own Mama right about?

My own mother, who has become my best friend and fountain of knowledge since I had my children, was right about everything. I can’t believe how much of what she told me growing up actually comes out of my own mouth now and I see myself doing as a parent. Without her, I wouldn’t be the mother I am today, nor would my family be able to function as we do. Girls, your mothers know best, appreciate them and listen to everything they say!

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

Being a mom has made me more grateful. I see life in a different light now and I am more appreciative of the small things. Things I used to worry about seem so minute compared to my children’s needs and wants. Being a mom has made me appreciate the simplicity of life and the joy of family.  I am extremely grateful for both of my children (and my husband!), the life they have given me, and the positive outlook I have on life because of them.

Featured Movin’ Mama: Vanessa

Meet Vanessa!
10501751_10100268752794227_7392131661365488052_n

Vanessa is a 29-year-old Movin’ Mama of two little boys (4 & 2) living in Boston with her husband. Vanessa is a former college basketball star – turned – FitMom, who now works full-time as a Customer Success Manager at an emerging technology company. We asked how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your day?

Early! During the work week, my alarm goes off at 5 AM. My husband takes care of morning duty with our boys so that I can get into work on time, and then I pick them up at school in the early evening. My mornings are mainly about me…starting with a cup of coffee, a shower, and putting my “face” on, as I like to say! I always feel more put together knowing I have my make up on. By the time 4 PM rolls around, I am in mommy mode, so I enjoy my mornings as that is really the only time I have alone and to get my mind right to tackle the day.

What does your workout regimen consist of today?

I played basketball at a collegiate level and was essentially “paid to play” for four years. I was blessed to have been given the opportunity to receive a full scholarship and walk out of college loan-free, however the level of commitment and dedication was more than I had ever imagined it would be. I had my fun in college, but exercise was taken to a whole other level.

After graduating from college, I got married and had my boys 22 months apart, and can honestly say I did not work out for a good four years while I was having children. Because I was so into exercising most of my life and loved working out with a purpose [to win to basketball games], it was difficult to get myself into a fitness regime to simply lose the weight. As most moms know, whether you have a full-time or part-time career, or you are home with your children everyday, finding time for yourself to go to the bathroom is difficult, let alone leaving the house to go to a gym!

Long story short, when my youngest son turned 9 months, I started a new job and I was extremely overweight…the heaviest I had been outside of pregnancy. I was introduced to a BeachBody workout program that I was able to spend only 25 minutes, 5 days/week in the comfort of my own home. Finding that 25 minutes was difficult but I did it…at 9 PM at night after I put my kids to bed! It was beyond difficult getting back into a consistent regime, but when I finally committed myself, my mind and with the support of my husband cheering me on, I jumped right in.

25 minutes was not difficult and it was just the right cardio and core training I needed to get my body back to where it was pre-kids. In just ten weeks, I lost close to 35 pounds. It was worth every late night! I still commit to this workout regime about 3 times/week and incorporate other programs from BeachBody as well. I also have been recently taking Pilates classes and running more outside.

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

I get my hair done. I absolutely love everything about getting my hair done and I love switching it up all the time. I have hair ADD!

Has losing the baby weight been harder or easier this time around than before? Why?

Losing the baby weight after my first son was not that bad, but I had never lost all the weight from my first before I got pregnant with my second. I had around 10 pounds that just lingered after my first. I will say I nursed both my sons for 20 months, and never experienced the weight loss that most mothers do from nursing. It had the reverse effect on me…burning a ton of calories feeding my children made me looking for food after.

Additionally after my second son, I started putting weight on when he was around 7-months-old. It took me from the time he was 7 months to 9 months for me to get my mind right and commit to a change, not just for the weight loss but for my mental and physical health. I have always been a very energetic person and I was slowly losing that as more weight was being put on.

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me…

Question everything; and realize that there isn’t always a right answer, sometimes you have to go with your gut and hope for the best!

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

My biggest challenge is finding the time to make healthier choices with my diet. Packing snacks, lunches and even planning weekly meals takes time and it is so easy to cave and just grab unhealthy snacks or eat out.

I am now a year into this new healthier lifestyle, and finding the time to make healthy decisions can still be a challenge. But now that I see how I look and I know how I feel, it has just become my new routine. I am more conscious about what I buy and what is in the house.

To the best of my ability, I plan out our meals and cook at home around 4-5 times a week. I have my cheat meals of course, but they are very few and far between!

What are some best wellness tips you can share with other new moms?

  1. Get as much sleep as you can!
  2. Take time to eat well-balanced meals and drink a ton of water!
  3. Move your body every day. Even if you can’t possibly find any time to work out, get creative! Do squats while getting your baby to sleep. Go on plenty of walks while your baby sleeps. Anything helps and beats just sitting around. The goal is to keep releasing those endorphins!

What’s your favorite go-to for a light weeknight dinner?

My husband makes this very yummy 3-herb-chicken. He will marinate cilantro, mint, and parsley in olive oil, lemon and garlic. Grill the chicken and then put the marinade all over it! We typically have couscous on the side with a tomato and cucumber salad…We have this almost every week.

What was your own mother right about?

That my children are not me. They are individual people with their own likes and dislikes and their own ideas. I am here to give them guidance, but in the end I have to allow them to be who they are and accept them no matter what! Just simply love them.

You’re in the store with a full cart and your baby starts crying frantically…what do you do?

Open up a snack and or a Disney Jr app. They both will help you get through some of the hardest cries!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Alyssa’s Breakfast Muffins

Egg Muffins
Some breakfast must-haves from our Featured Movin’ Mama Alyssa!
EGG MUFFINS:
Ingredients:
  • 8 eggs
  • Skim milk
  • Your preferred lean meat of choice (chicken, turkey sausage, etc.)
  • chopped baby spinach
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped mushrooms
  • shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Directions:

  • Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray
  • Beat eggs and a splash of milk and pour a little into each muffin tin.
  • Sprinkle in just about any meat or veggie you want, with mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  • Add chopped veggie mix
  • Bake at 350 degrees until eggs are set and Viola!
BANANA BREAD MUFFINS (GRAIN-FREE):
Ingredients:
  • 4 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup of almond butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Directions:

  • With a hand mixer, beat bananas, eggs, coconut oil, almond butter, and vanilla.
  • Add in coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and mix well.
  • Pour into greased muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean! So delicious!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Alyssa’s Turkey & Veg Bolognese

GroundTurkeyBolog-thumb-596x350-124329
From our Featured Movin’ Mama Alyssa, a great dinner staple to enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (or cayenne for heat)
  • Jarred marinara tomato sauce (we love Rao’s organic marinara)
  • 28oz low sodium diced tomato
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (broccoli, squash, carrots, red peppers, onions preferred)
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  • Brown ground turkey with salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste
  • Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, frozen mixed veggies with several handfuls of baby spinach, and mix until wilted and bubbling. Set on low.
  • Add in 1/2 cup quinoa cooked in water
  • Sprinkle parmesan on top and enjoy!